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Razorcake #87

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Record Reviews

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Eight Year War: CD
Well lookie here. A baldie in tattered bell-bottoms and tennis shoes. Don’t that just beat all? –Jimmy Alvarado (Headache)

Split: 7”
Let’s Pretend is really shaping up to be the best little punk label you’ve never heard of. Every release I hear from them gets consistently awesomer and awesomer. Steer Jockey busts out some cock-rockey (yet still lo-fi enough to be listenable) punk that’s a little too heavy on the goofy effects pedals and guitar wanking, but still pretty enjoyable. Is somebody from the Sass Dragons in this band? It sure sounds like it. Big Jesus follows up with some Zeke/ Dwarves-when-they-were-good type fast dudely punk that slows down into some Sabbathy bong rattling and then speeds back up into uptempo snottiness that evokes Grimple or Filth. God damn Carbondale; keep ‘em comin! –ben (Let’s Pretend)

Missed the Boat: CD
East coast pop-punk group who befriends the likes of the Ergs and the Unloveables (in fact one of the songs has a bridge that is a nod and a wink to the Unloveables’ “Feelin all Emo Since I Broke Up With You” song. Only the lyrics here go: Feelin all emo since I ran out of weed! Hahahahaha....uhm, okay, maybe you had to be there). Think Wiggle-era Screeching Weasel. Oh they also have a super duper cute gal on bass and a Middle Eastern lookin’ gent on guitar. –Mr. Z (Cold Feet)

Rocket Surgery: 7" EP
…if Mutant Pop Records was still in business, which it isn’t, the presence of the Steinways would cause Timbo to spontaneously combust in an explosion of piss, shit, snot, cum, blood, saliva and undocumented brain goo, so, in retrospect, it’s probably for the best that Mutant Pop is no longer with us. Ten funny as hell—yet strangely meaningful—pop punk songs on a seven-inch 45; tight as the Ergs, but not as jazzy; three tunes merely short, the other seven ultra-brief indeed. I kinda think you need this. Actually, I’m certain of it. BEST SONG: “Milk Was a Bad Choice” BEST SONG TITLE: “(My Girlfriend Is A) Crazy Fucking Cat Lady.” I hear ya. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: “You can also learn a great deal about pianos by visiting www.google.com and entering ‘The Steinways’ into the empty text field.” –Rev. Norb (Don Giovanni)

Unoriginal Recipe: EP
This ‘lil EP is leaps and bounds ahead of the band’s debut CD. The songs are more complex and layered and, quite frankly, catchier. Wow…what a punch. I’m real bummed though. Why, you ask? This EP came to me as CD-only. The 7” and all of its re-presses sold out the day they arrived from the plant. Nothing but evidence. This band will be huge in zee pop punk world. –Mr. Z (It’s Alive)

Gorilla Marketing: CD
The Steinways are funny, for two reasons. The first is literally. Every time I see them, I’m usually cracking up by the end of their set. The other is when their first full-length came out a while back, it had some really great pop punk songs on it, in between a bunch of songs that were basically three chords, one quick lyric, and done in about five seconds. Since then, it felt like a bunch of people gave them shit, saying, “Yer songs are good! Keep writing songs longer than like, five seconds!” and so this time around, the quick songs are gone (they’re all at least a minute now), and it feels much more consistent. Musically speaking, it’s not too different, as they remain a band who’s clearly heavily influenced by all the classic Lookout!, Mutant Pop, and so forth trademark pop punk, but without just being another (insert-another-band-here)-core rip off. It helps that there’s a very Off With Their Heads-esque “I’m broke/hate my life right now” theme to a bunch of the songs, as well as the fact that they don’t take anything too seriously (including taking what would normally be some bands throwaway/“jokey” song like “Sweatpants,” and making it a legitimately fucking great song). In hindsight, it’s getting to the point where reading this will take longer than listening to the a-side, so I’ll just end with this: The “I’ve got a five dollar bill and a coupon for two/let’s go to Boston Market so I can show you how much I love you” line fucking kills me every time. Awesome. –Joe Evans III (Cold Feet)

Gorilla Marketing: CD
This album suffers from what I will call Boogada X3 syndrome. Basically, much like with the aforementioned Screeching Weasel album, it seems most of the components of a good pop punk album are seemingly in place, but I feel really indifferent to most of it. If anything, the self-consciously nerdy and silly lyrics miss more often than hit for me (e.g. “I sit here with this McRib, My mind still wrapped around you”). I find the vocals a little annoying too. –Adrian (Cold Feet)

Promise It’ll Never Happen Again: LP
Short attention span Pop Punk. Two capitals “P”s. Near-helium voices. It’s sorta like hearing the teddy bear section of a toy store play punk, with occasional swearing. Jokey. Ramones, Ronettes, Ritalin. “Didn’t they have a single on Mutant Pop?” Perhaps Parasites. Proficient and controlled. Definitely Queers. Stalker songs masked as “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” songs. Self-effacing, sarcastic, spastic, self-aware. One song in Portuguese (?). They were around for six years and have since broken up. This LP’s a harvest of scattered comps, singles, and alternate versions. For fans of Dirt Bike Annie, Copyrights, Teenage Bottlerocket. “I swear they had a CD-R released by Mutant Pop.” –Todd Taylor (Don Giovanni / It’s Alive)

Irreconcilable Differences: Split 7”
The Steinways: They’re starting to gain some momentum in the pop punk world, but it’s almost like they’re a parody of the genre in question. Either way, their style of pop punk by the book may get a little stale at times, but they have the humor and energy to pull it off. The Peabodys: I had never heard of this band before this release, but they seem appropriate to hold the B-side. I won’t say they’re metaphorical twins to The Steinways because they’re not, but there are enough similarities to make you think twice about it. Each band does four songs and the last one on each side is acoustic. This record will definitely be getting more spins. –Bryan Static (Incessant Drip)

Split: 7”
The Steinways come forth with one of their best songs ever on this split with the Varsity Weirdos that was put out as a limited release intended to go out as thank you gifts to those who made it out to Adam and Jenna Alive’s wedding in 2007. Super cute layout work by Stefan of Stardumb records, too! Only 150 or so of these were made, so if you absolutely need to hear this, I might be willing to rip it and send it your way… for a price. –Mr. Z (It’s Alive)

Post Grippo Empire: CD
This mysterious three-piece from the lovely state of Ohio offer up a loud and in-your-face seven-song platter here. ‘90s-era DC guitar rock seems to have gotten some recent spins before this recording popped out. Swiz, Bluetip, and Shellac roll off my tongue after first listen. Jagged and abrasive, I’m sure this will bring converts to the table after one playback. One song is called “Pop Song in B.” Is this the first one? Only Rev. Nørb knows for sure.  –Sean Koepenick (Self-released)

Big Table No People: Cassette
If you like a good deal of melody in your music, you might not like this tape. That said, if you are getting ready to rob a bank and need to get psyched up, this could be just the thing. Skilled, calculated, dissonant.  –Bianca (New Village Tapes, newvillagetapes.com)

Respect the Dead: CD
Why did I get such a huge pile of psychobilly (direct from the distributor, not Todd’s fault)? I can’t think of one instance where I have ever reviewed it favorably. Stellar Corpses are probably the prime example of everything I hate about psychobilly, so maybe according to psychobilly, they’re the best damn band out there. Huge posturing in the photos, terrible rhyme schemes and simple lyrics (which lead me to believe there’s not too much going on upstairs), and the typical horror theme (because they’re so fucking original). I did raise my expectations when I saw a song named “Cemetery Man” (a fantastic Italian horror movie from the mid-‘90s staring Rupert Everett). Come for the reference; leave for the music. –Megan Pants (Hairball8, www.hairball8.com)

Vampire Kiss: 7”
I’m way into the upright bass playing on this record. I don’t know if there’s any virtuosity going on, because I don’t know shit about upright bass. I just know that I hear a lot of psychobilly records with very neutered upright bass, as if they arbitrarily grabbed a jazz band kid, gave him a pompadour, and made him a member of the band without first indoctrinating him in the style. The upright bass playing on this record is a perfect rumbling undercurrent that’s like a knife to the neck, poised to cause serious harm. The rest of the music isn’t too shabby either. It’s nice and malicious. If there’s a weak link, it’s the vocals, which seem too clean and restrained. Needs more howling. Also, it’s probably not fair to call this psychobilly. Some of the tropes are there, but there’s not much of the ‘billy. The band draws just as much from melodic punk and even thrash, particularly on the B-side. It all comes together nicely.  –MP Johnson (Chapter 11)

Moral Debauchery: 7”
These kids have the perfect U.K. punk look down: magazine cutout letters on the sleeve, a picture of the punk boy on the shitter, the studded jackets, names like “Hooligan” and “Peter Paedophile,” the sort of shit that usually gets hammered in by the mall punks. But that doesn’t matter, because “Raspberry Cripple” rocks in a stripped down, trashy way that makes my belly feel nice and warm, like when it has just been filled with a few shots of whiskey. Flip the record for two songs that have less excitement, but are almost equally enjoyable. –bree (Puke N Vomit)

“Hold Tight”/”Let Go”: CD-R
Dunno if this is the same Step Dads responsible for the two forty-fives I reviewed a while back, but if so, the sound is markedly different. Less trashy and more traditional punk/hardcore in sound is the order of the day here with lyrics on a more personal bent. Not horrible, but not particularly interesting, either. –Jimmy Alvarado (Useless World, uselessworldrecords.com)

Autopilot Stuck on Get Down: CD
If ya like your music meaty, ballsy, and ferociously smokin’, then this here gut-pummeling platter of heavy, thundering rock’n’roll fury is all you’ll ever need to thoroughly rattle your cage! Step Sister raucously carry on the monstrously maniacal tradition of AC/DC, Circle Jerks, and Motorhead while loudly crankin’ a skull-splittin’ roar of over-amped powerchord-driven madness, meanness, and nastiness. This is a raging sonic squall that’s ten times more intimidating than Lemmy’s snarling leer and damn near as ugly as the numerous tumor-like warts that adorn his pock-marked, weather-beaten face! It’s an unholy, cacophonously rockin’ auditory storm that boisterously sings the perverse praises of booze, wild women, barroom-brawlin’ brashness, and other sinfully debauched aspects of rock’n’roll’s sordid party life. If Step Sister were a drug, I’d be gluttonously overdosing on ‘em right about now. They’re unbelievably powerful and downright invincible; as raucously wrathful as it gets! –Roger Moser Jr. (Smog Veil)

Hooligans: CD
The cover of this album displays a lip being flipped over with the word “HOOLIGAN” tattooed underneath it. It’s angry (indignant), it’s anthemic (sing along if you wanna), it’s New York Hardcore (with the X replaced by machetes). STEP2FAR: This is your standard NYHC that you’ve been listening to since you were a wee lad. No new ground being broken, but that’s not the point. I mean its all about tradition anyways, right? Where are the gang vocals though? Spider Crew: Oh, there are the gang vocals. And not just that, they’ve got two guys singing. This band is huge! Not only do they have two vocalists, but they have two guitarists, a bassist, and sporadic usage of the infamous double bass. I have the feeling that this band can floor everybody in the Vets Hall when they play. Do you wanna hear another song titled “Punks n’ Skins”? If you do then you should buy this split. –Daryl Gussin (Street Anthem)

Baby It’s Over: CD
Rock'n'roll band with a bit of ‘60s influence added in to keep things interesting, which seems a moot effort considering how totally uninteresting this is. –Jimmy Alvarado (Licorice Tree)

Deja Vu: 7”
I get a feeling off this slab that there is something at play here that I don’t understand. Four songs featuring heavily distorted vocals that blare over repetitive, heavy guitar riffs underscored with minimalist ‘80s drumming. It does not appeal to me, but I think it is representative of that distorted dance music that people in the tight pants and neon, Ray-Ban looking glasses dance around their apartments to between film class and their jobs at Buffalo Exchange. I’m not one hundred percent sure, but I think this is young people’s music. I promised I would not become one of those punks who dismiss everything young people like, but I don’t get it. –Billups Allen (NMG, no info)

Face the Truth: CD
This album is, well, pretty goddamned average. There are the greats and the losers. The tracks most worth a listed are “Pencil Rot” and “Baby C’mon.” They really breathe a lot of life into this record and are perfectly amazing songs. Other than that, it sounds like a lot of catchy filler. The record reminds one of Weezer with less guitar. Lyrically it is very strong, but the sound is extremely commercial; real radio material. I’ve heard most of it before, not to say that it’s a bad album, just nothing new. –Guest Contributor (Matador)

Split: 7"
Two Texas bands, some ex-members of old favorite bands (The Fells, Cryin’ Out Louds), two songs I really like (one from each band) and other songs I forgot immediately. Expectations too high. Keeping the wheel turning here, but there’s worse out there. –Speedway Randy (Self-released)

Keep It in the Family: 7”
Cheetahs: “Mama Train” is a balls-out rocker that had my head bobbin’ nice, and the same goes for “Future Lost.” Stepsister: Same thing here. Both bands deliver some solid rock/punk that gets them toes a-tappin’. A keeper. –Jimmy Alvarado (Smog Veil)

Keep It in the Family: 7”
Cheetahs: “Mama Train” is a balls-out rocker that had my head bobbin’ nice, and the same goes for “Future Lost.” Stepsister: Same thing here. Both bands deliver some solid rock/punk that gets them toes a-tappin’. A keeper. –Jimmy Alvarado (Smog Veil)

Caffeine, Beer & Quoting Movies: 7” EP
Oddly enough, while I wouldn’t call bands like Hot Water Music or Kid Dynamite “beginner bands” (as in the kind of stuff someone gets into at a young age before finding the “really good stuff”), yet there’s practically a whole genre that focuses on that stuff as a prime influence. This falls under that territory (coarse vocals, with some “hardcore” moments despite being fairly melodic all around), and while, admittedly, I was ready to blow it off, I didn’t hate it by the end of the few songs here, thanks to some ‘ricks (what I’ve dubbed “guitar riff tricks”) that I tend to enjoy. –Joe Evans III (Neutral Territory)

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