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Razorcake #89
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Record Reviews

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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)

One For The Good Guys: CDEP
I still think this is super fast, Kid Dynamite-inspired hardcore (see issue #38). The CD version of this has two more B-side type songs than the 7”, yet it is still one sided. –Joe Evans III (CD EP)

An Evening of Bad Decisions: CD
This falls into what I want to call Loved-Ones-core. The music is enjoyable enough while it’s playing, but there’s a sameness to the album that renders it unmemorable, much like the Loved One’s Keep Your Heart. The music itself is somewhere between the Loved Ones and the Explosion. As it is, this is a band I would be excited to see as an opener for some other bands I’m into but would be indifferent to if they were the headliner. If there are some more adventurous production or musical chances on their next album, I feel like Static Radio could really put out a record to be reckoned with. As a minor aside, this has some of the most boring cover art I can recall. It brings to mind an oversaturated photocopy of a piece of burlap. –Adrian (Black Numbers)

We Are All Beasts: LP
After hearing the name tossed around for years without ever checking them out, Static Radio NJ has finally wormed their way into my musical subconscious. And, surprise, surprise, it’s not bad. Lifetime meets Bouncing Souls. I wonder if they put the NJ in their name so that everybody thinks of those two bands first? There’s also that hard to avoid Hot Water Music comparison because the singer kind of sounds like a cleaner Chris Wollard. It’s not so surprising that no one’s ever authoritatively told me to check them out. The record, while solid, is no award winner. I recommend checking them out because my bet is their next record will be even better. –Bryan Static (Kiss Of Death, kissofdeathrecords.com)

Sons of Boy: CD
The Good: These cats really know their way around their instruments and have the sense to really mix up styles—ethereal post-rock, blues, and noise are all in evidence. The Bad: There’s also a heavy dollop of prog rock here, which really showcases their ability to play on this mostly instrumental release, but after a while gets about as interesting as an ELP album. The Fucking Awesome: Artist John Casey deserves hugs—and lotsa cash—from everyone in the band for the faboo illustrations he gave ’em for this release. –Jimmy Alvarado (Joyful Noise)

Tune Out the Static: CD
Punk has become so fragmented that each scene does not support one another. Case in point: this band falls under the twenty-one-and-over bar punk scene. A kid with patches on his or her hooded sweatshirt would probably not be into this. The average guy who actually has seen Black Flag and goes out once a month to drink beers with old buddies would go see this band. Even though this band, I believe, hails from Virginia, they have a very beach punk, SoCal sound with mid tempo numbers that have a drunk snottiness to them. They hold their own musically and aren’t half bad. Better enjoyed live than at home, in my opinion. –Donofthedead (Stations)

Leave Your Name: CD
What’s left to say about “mullet” haircuts anymore and what’s left to say about “emo” anymore? They’re both tragically bad exercises in compromise and like a mouse in a Chicken McNugget suit, they both have been passed out of the exit chute of the cultural rear-end of this American Society of ours. Bring on the next bad idea.  –aphid (Jade Tree)

self-titled: CD
Really, disgustingly, ass-rockingly, I-can’t-believe-I-just-heard-that, better-than-it-has-any-right-to-be awesome. Combining new wave, blip-and-twitter and drone-core, pop hooks that go off like a neutron bomb, understated croons that sound more like breathy shoegaze from the 1990s and introspective lyrics fit for late-night sessions of wondering why life isn’t better than it is, this EP blows the doors off of… well, pretty much everything else I’ve reviewed for a long time. The songs describe a yearning for something else, carving dreams of better times out of musings about claymation being replaced by computer graphics and wanting to be on TV. They are nothing less than great.  –Puckett (Jade Tree)

New People Make Us Nervous: LP
Intelligent lyricism, indie-rock sensibilities that don’t come off as lame, strong pop hooks and punk rawness make for an interesting listen in this case. This was pretty swell. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.radio81records.com)

Aux: CD

Three-piece from Ontario, Canada, this record is a re-release from 2004. Taut rhythms, grinding guitar parts, and melodic vocals make this a real treat for my bored ears. Think of Joe Jackson (without the wimpy piano) fronting The Plimsouls and you’ll begin to get the idea. “Barstool” mentions something about flying beer bottles and “Step Up”’s infectious chords will spread through your bloodstream like a viral infection. “Signals” also completely rocks. Aux wraps up with “There Are Things I Think You Should Know,” which is hard to say ten times fast. If you can’t find your Thin Lizzy vinyl at your next late night pops party, this will do the trick. Too bad they left The Flock Of Seagulls cover off this platter. Maybe that and “The Great White North” on the next one.

–Sean Koepenick (Pelado)

Same Bodies, Same Faces: 7”EP
I’m sure these guys are sick of the Tranzmitors comparison because they’re Canadian, pour their hearts out into power pop, have releases on the same label, and, basically, kick a ton of ass, but we go with what we’ve got. Lyrically, this comes across like the movie Brazil and the black sheep bolting in the opposite direction of the flock on the cover of Minor Threat’s Out of Step. Work suuuuucks people into fluorescent-tinged, lock-step, grey-raced bean pushers. Music’s a beautiful fuckin’ rainbow in the darkness. And if a band holds up Elvis Costello in a chalice to make your butt shake, more the better. They make the GG Allin cover sound like it was originally released by The Jam. I’m a goddamn sucker for this stuff. –Todd Taylor (Deranged)

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)

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