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Record Reviews

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Same Bodies, Same Faces: 7”
This band’s last record, 2006’s New People Make Us Nervous, left me completely speechless. I hadn’t heard a knack for combining near-perfect pop songs and goose bump-inducing lyrics since hearing “The Science of Myth” for the first time. It was upsettingly good. The Same Bodies, Same Faces 7” continues in the same vein, just oozing catchiness and sincerity. Folks are quick to make Buzzcocks comparisons or plaster on the power pop label whenever a pop punk band doesn’t reek of Ramones influence, but I really think that Statues rises above the completely obvious. With a once-over, one can find elements of all of the above stuff in Statues’ sound, but there’s just something indescribable going on here; something that gives me the shivers. I’m hard-pressed to think of a current band that I like more. Incredible. –Dave Williams  –Guest Contributor (Deranged)

Broken Hands: 7” EP
Much like I inadvertently learned quite a bit about the day-to-day working class Britain from listening to Jam songs over and over again, Statues are power popping me through a short history of middle class troubles of modern day Canada. It works on two levels. 1.) The music is airtight, happy, bright, and bouncy—all hallmarks of great power pop. 2.) The lyrics belie some grave misgivings they have of their lot in life and the songs themselves work as both temporary salve and, hopefully, the antidote. It’s that unresolved tension and a Pointed Sticks cover that make this a great 7”. –Todd Taylor (Plastic Idol)

Terminal Bedroom: CD
A collection of four previously released 7”s (on three different labels) in a handy CD package. The underground world is getting sick with power pop (it goes through cycles. Yesteryear’s surf and garage is today’s power pop), and the measuring stick is simple: how’s the songwriting? These Canadians, curiously but effectively take the Dilbert, casual Friday office-dweller approach. The bleakness of office bureaucracy is boarded up against Elvis Costello’s early work (I can’t stomach the Burt Baccarat collaboration stuff, personally), and holds up to the standard bearers of the early ‘00s, The Exploding Hearts. The pacing, the drive, and the bouncy, fleshy bits are all in place. Even though I have half of the 7”s already, I found myself popping this on quite often to listen to the stuff I didn’t have. Catchy, intelligent. –Todd Taylor (Deranged, derangedrecords.com)

“We’re Disparate” b/w “To the Top” and “Young Enough”: 7”EP
Equal parts Dilbert, The Jam, and Allan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. You could say that it’s geeky (check), you could say that they’re bouncy and non-ass power pop with sharp punk teeth in their chainsaw (check), and you could say they’re working class without the nutty boots, birds, braces, dual, fat-fingered patriotism (check). Rural Canadian spectacle rock is a go. Haven’t heard one bad song from this trio yet. –Todd Taylor (House Party / P.Trash)

New People Make Us Nervous: 8-song LP
This is a re-issue of the getting-hard-to-find debut LP by Canada’s Statues. It’s firecrackery power pop and I stand by my previous (hugely positive) assessment that they’re the best Dilbert punk band on the planet. But I’d like to augment that with two other reference points. William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and The Who’s Quadrophenia: two well-known works that are examinations on class and, ultimately, indictments of greed and avarice perpetuated by that class structure. Piggy gets murdered. Ace Face’s Vespa is ghost ridden into the sea. Right below the surface action is a structure that has been in England for centuries and adopted by Canada. (They do share the same Queen.) It’s the mundane stuff that all slowly adds up to a boil, and the Statues have got its pulse: Standing in lines, separating fences, processing orders, satellites monitoring movements, bosses monitoring mistakes, the inability of technology itself to make human connections, telemarketing prompts during dinner, being forced or coerced to rate your own productivity on a scale of one to ten, and middle management scapegoats. It’s the death by a million little bites of modern middle class life preoccupied by the illusion that the ladder to a more fulfilling life is through making more money. And like both Lord and Quadrophenia, in New People Make Us Nervous there’s this tension, this impending snap; for the storm, for rebellion, for revolution, for the return to a natural state that doesn’t involve corporations in collaboration with the state. And that’s what the Statues sing about, so bouncily that you might miss it if you’re pumping your fist and spilling your beer. And that’s part of what makes The Statues so fuckin’ great. –Todd Taylor (Deranged)

Holiday Cops: LP
A decade ago, around late August, was the last time I worked for anyone else. I was fired from Flipside (a punk zine that existed from the summer of 1977 until that day). Fired isn’t a strong enough word. Locks were changed at night. I had to go seek my boss out. Confrontation wasn’t his scene. I wish The Statues were a band then. I’d’ve put them on the record player as a motivational tool before heading over to soon-to-be-ex-boss Al’s house. You see, The Statues are unmistakably punk and hummy, but they’re not pop punk. They’re more like sweater vest power pop. But that sounds a little douchey and the Statues aren’t douchey. They’re just a little Dilberty, more than a little Office Space-y, nine-to-five, forty hour death sentence rock, ties-are-nooses, Smalltown-friendly punk. They’ve got the deadening effect of mundane work at the crack of someone else’s whip vibe down. And they always make me think of literature. This time out, it’s Orwell, living in a grey world with conflicting directives. I like The Statues. This isn’t my favorite record by them—it’s less crunchy and less diverse than the past couple outings—but I’m still a big fuckin’ fan and I’m not gonna fire ‘em anytime soon. –Todd Taylor (Deranged)

“Green” b/w “Old Songs” and “Record”: 7”
The hardest reviews to write are the mediocre ones. The bands and records that don’t hit, nor do they deserve any sort of derision. They elicit no strong feelings. But I feel obligated to write something, log it in, basically say that I received and listened to the record that was sent in the mail and had a nice handwritten note attached. It’s part of the social contract to which we’ve tacitly agreed. I wish I liked Stay Clean Jolene, a British band, more than I do. They’ve got the earmarks of what I’d potentially like: All (in the bass) and Leatherface (in the guitar fills). I gave them a full five days of listens, but it’s just not sinking in. Reminds me of a band like Nothington, who I’ve seen several times opening for bands I was excited to see, found them okay, but don’t remember a single song and would never seek out their music. Sorry. Excellent, honest labels are backing these guys. –Todd Taylor (Eager Beaver / JSNTGM / Drunken Sailor / Rad Girlfriend)

Self-titled: LP
It’d be easy to simply compare Stay Clean Jolene to Leatherface, Broccoli, Snuff, and Annalise and leave it at that. And, truthfully, it wouldn’t be too far off the mark. Stay Clean Jolene absolutely boils down the best of what its English predecessors has given us into a wonderfully concise, immediately memorable package. But there’s more at work here than all of that. There’s an accessibility that the aforementioned legends often lacked. A knack for wheat-over-chaff that pummels with hooks, at times reminiscent of Hot Water Music’s Cautionor perhaps even The Loved Ones’ Keep Your Heart: big, succinct anthems that expertly balance grit and sheen. Here’s hoping that Stay Clean Jolene can make a deservedly huge splash on both sides of the pond, because this is a band and a record that should appeal to all walks under our giant punk umbrella.  –Dave Williams (Dead Broke / Drunken Sailor / Eager Beaver, eagerbeaver.shop-pro.jp / JSNTGM)

Self-titled: CD
These dudes from Manchester, England, sound so much like an up-tempo version of Gaslight Anthem that I had to check if there were any ties between those bands. To my knowledge, no ties exist, and the more I think about it, the basis for my comparison is the hoarse vocals and the melodic power of the music. All in all, Stay Clean Jolene offer a filling plate of twenty-first century punk, and one that I’m liking more and more with each listen: the melodies are fast and tight, the vocals have a raw intensity and sincerity that I really dig, and the harmonies that start making themselves known upon further play really sew it up and sell the whole thing for me. Let me bookend this review with a better comparison: Stay Clean Jolene sound like a cleaner, less metal-y version of Venerea.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Just Say No to Government Music / Bombed Out)

Ambitions: EP
Bless this lot from Sweden for keeping the straight edge flag flying. Typical graffiti style cover with bald and hooded dudes, songs about ambitions, judging, and being above the influence. The music is ‘88 youth crew with breakdowns, you know the drill. Fuck it, I love this shit. I get it, they aren’t reinventing wheels, but who gives a fuck, if you dig current straight edge you will be all over this and the other discs these dudes have put out.  –Tim Brooks (Refuse)

Four Songs: CD
This five piece from Philly is embracing the old school East coast hardcore style of the ‘80s. Four songs in eight minutes and everything seems to slightly remind me of Youth Of Today or the Gorilla Biscuits. Chanty vocals with decent hardcore riffs behind them. It’s not original but worth taking a listen. I think this is what the new school kids are doing that crazy windmill arm swinging shit to in the mosh pit. –Buttertooth (Monkey Wrench)

Self-titled: EP
I guess this is more of the “modern-hardcore” thing. I say this because the playing is not as urgent or desperate and pissed as the more traditional hardcore bands are. Really clean sounding, and it seems these guys really know how to play their instruments. Sort of like a more tuneful Undertow, with a slight rock edge. It’s a wonder these guys haven’t been picked up by Revelation or Bridge Nine yet. –Matt Average (Anchor)

Self-titled: EP
I guess this is more of the “modern-hardcore” thing. I say this because the playing is not as urgent or desperate and pissed as the more traditional hardcore bands are. Really clean sounding, and it seems these guys really know how to play their instruments. Sort of like a more tuneful Undertow, with a slight rock edge. It’s a wonder these guys haven’t been picked up by Revelation or Bridge Nine yet. –Matt Average (Anchor)

Old Salt: 7"
Sometimes a record is so boldly generic, so stunningly uninteresting, that one’s mind seizes up in a sort of reverse satori that dulls the eyes and slackens the jaw; where all you’re aware of is the flickering of your brain’s pilot light and thoughts freeze still like frost on a window pane and there’s simply fucking nothing to say. –aphid (Soul is Cheap)

Brains of Britain: CD
Singer/songwriter, one man band kind of stuff from the U.K. Using the term “queercore” might be misleading, as Mr. McCabe employs elements of electronica and ‘80s-styled alt-rock to great effect. McCabe does seem to possess a particularly endearing snotty vocal and lyrical quality that actually keeps things interesting though, making this one a keeper.  –Garrett Barnwell (Maneki-Neko, ste-mccabe.co.uk)

Self-titled: CD
When I do reviews, I usually disregard any one sheets until I’ve actually listened to it. I don’t want them to taint the experience, which is usually all they’re good for. So at first blush on this record I’m getting a fair amount of Chuck Ragan / HWM and Against Me! love. For the most part, it isn’t too overbearing or embarrassing; however, “You’ve Been Superseded” sounds a whole lot like AM!’s “How Low.” Other than that, I don’t really see any other dead rips on here. It’s half decent Florida-at-times-acoustic punk with a really decent recording. Revelations on the one sheet: the actual liner notes include that Heather Gabel did the art for this, they’re from St. Pete/Naples, and it was recorded at Crescendo. All of which explains a lot of what I’m hearing here. Anyway, it’s definitely decent but nothing I’m going around screaming about. Very nice work on the packaging though. –Steveo (FDO)

Split: 7”
Hailing from Japan, The Steadys dish some snappy-ass power pop jams. So fresh and so clean. I mean really to the T, literally, like a squeaky clean Mr. T Experience. Slick stuff. Grandmas Boyfriend is a bit more rock’n’roll. Mix of lo-fi ‘60s pop, with tinges of Weezer in “Dirty Surfboard.” Reminds me of fellow San Franciscans Midnite Snaxxx, and new comers Dancer, but perhaps not quite as good. Not that it’s a dis or anything.  –Camylle Reynolds (Dirty Rabbit)

We Can’t Stand This World: 7” EP
The Italian kids responsible for the music here offer up four hellafied tight and catchy punk ditties that could’ve easily held their own against the Dangerhouse stuff back in the late ‘70s. Seems like Zodiac Killer is trying to make an end run on and corner the market on the catchy, rock end of the punk spectrum, and it seems to my they might be succeeding. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.myspace.com/zodiackillerrecords)

Devil Inside: LP
Hell f’n yes! A much-needed shot of adrenalin right here! The Steaknives, from Italy, are back with their debut LP that is nothing short of killer. Mix up early L.A. punk like the Bags with early hardcore and you get these guys. The songs have urgency, are delivered with convincing attitude, and the playing is as raw as it is razor sharp. They never really jump into super speedy assaults (“Big Money” is about as fast as they get and it still packs a wallop!), which allows them to retain the power and the punch of the music with mid tempos, and time changes to bring everything down to a knuckle-dragging lurch that reminds me of early ‘80s OC hardcore. All the songs are great. Not one clunker in the mix. The title track has a nice dose of urgency that shifts between fast to mid tempo without missing a beat. The vocal delivery kind of reminds me of Frank Discussion. Whoa! Decent cover of Bad Brains’ “Big Takeover”. However, I would prefer to hear another original song from these guys. Great record. Hunt this fucker down. I’m on the search for their debut EP from a couple years back.
–Matt Average (White Zoo, whitezoorecords.com)

Against You: 7” single
Excellent new single from this band from Italy. Maybe a bit more thrashy and aggressive than their previous records. They seemed to have incorporated a slight oi influence in their sound—particularly in the chainsaw sound of the guitar—but they still retain the early U.S. hardcore sound of before. The riffs are repetitive and simple but effective as hell. They can rage like a wild storm then slow it down for a few moments to allow the listener to collect themselves before it’s back into the maelstrom. The title track reminds me a bit of the Business, but slightly faster and more towards their early hardcore sound. The lyrics are delivered in rapid-fire fashion; there are some nice leads from the guitar to add more layers. Then, in a flash, it’s over, and on to the next side. “Victims” is a bit more fast and reckless. The chorus of “We are the victims!” plants itself into your brain quickly. Seek this one out quick. There are something like 300 pressed and that’s it. –Matt Average (Surfin’ Ki, facebook.com/surfinkirecords)

Potshots: CD
Nice blurring of the lines between the classic Clay Records style of English punk, street punk, and American hardcore from a band outta Dublin. The tempo changes and million-chords-a-minute song structure keep things from getting stale and compliment the sarcasm-infused lyrics. The demo quality of the recording slightly saps some of the tunes’ power, but the obvious work put in by the band manages to shine through. –Jimmy Alvarado (punkshitrecords@hotmail.com)

Assholes and Hand Grenades: CDEP
Silly-ass band name? Check. Short, rudimentary, yet strangely proficient songs with titles like “123456 Hamster,” “Birth Certificate Blues,” and “I Love 2 Watch U Explode”? Check. Lyrics like “I like chicken, you like panthers/Let’s all dance like Danny Glover”? Check. Cover art that looks like it was drawn by a right-handed autistic kid using her left hand? Check. It’s official, folks: Jimmy’s got a new favorite band for the week. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.jerkbeast.com)

Moist Lord: Cassette
Five tracks of some seriously fucked gabber/electronic/experimental noise immersed in paranoia and sacrilege. This isn’t music to listen to anywhere but in your room alone or with like-minded individuals, though, at times, I can picture it being blared at some shitty club full of soulless clones when suddenly the security sprinklers start to shower everyone with piss. Recommended for anyone who’s looking for anything but a good time. –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, steamywolves.web.com)

Demo 2015: CS
Seriously catchy up-tempo punk brimming with Pacific Northwest darkness. This may be a demo but Steel Chains sound like a band with a few tours already under their belts. If you’re into Red Dons, Daylight Robbery, and Arctic Flowers then get ready to hear your new favorite band. I’m getting more and more impressed with every listen.  –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, no address listed)

Cockpuncher: CDEP
Cockpuncher? I don’t know about that, but these four marvelous and exciting tracks take a sound like Rocket from the Crypt and devolve it a little bit in the direction of the Youth Brigade. Wait, the last track isn’t exciting. –Cuss Baxter (Self-released)

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