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Record Reviews

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Casual Victim Pile 2: LP
Nice collection of current Austin bands. Seems that city has never really had a lack of worthwhile bands, unlike many of the more “famous” scenes like LA, NYC, or SF. The styles run the gamut of hardcore punk to pop. Some stuff is ehh, and then some stuff is “Holy fuck! I need to get everything this band has done!” awesome. Standouts are Literature, RayonBeach, Crisis Hotlines (do they have records out yet?), Women In Prison, Serious Tracers. Comes on white vinyl and a digital download card. –Matt Average (12XU, 12XU.net)

I Think We Should Stay Away from Each Other: LP
In this era—where the label sampler disguised as a compilation has gone online or marketed as a free giveaway at shows with paid security—released-on-vinyl, fan-based compilations are like collages to specific music scenes or tastes. It’s a trend I encourage. Well, the good ones, like this one, I do. And, it’s perhaps because a really nice, enthusiastic local guy, Aaron Kovacs, put this compilation together and I’m enjoying watching Summer Vacation, the band he’s in (and who is also on the comp) develop, that I’m more susceptible to its charms. I dunno. Perhaps it’s that Aaron’s around nineteen or twenty, putting him at nine or ten when Razorcake started, that there is some hope, you know? Here’s a new generation, not only choosing what to collect as a batch of songs, but organizing it, and earning the money for the printing and pressing. This comp has the feel of the best of Plan-It-X: DIY punk with folk and acoustic leanings, open to jumping around in wild abandon. It’s got the feel of a well-paced mix tape, mixing well-known bands like Underground Railroad To Candyland, Andrew Jackson Jihad, and Japanther with lesser-known excellence like Jehovas Fitness, Pangea, and many more. Recommended. –Todd Taylor (Lauren, laurenrecords.bandcamp.com)

The New Hope: 2 x LP
Hardcore USA, circa the early/mid-’80s: Pitifully few legitimate places to play, no big money backing and big budget recording sessions for million-selling albums or tours, no internet making all the information on a band one could want—plus recordings—literally at one’s fingertips, and it seemed like pretty much everyone outside of your small pack of punker pals were out to kill asshole freaks like you. The concept of punk-as-career-move wasn’t even enough of a blip on the radar to be considered a joke, and those who aligned themselves with “the scene” and picked up an instrument to bash on or went to a rented hall/backyard/basement show often did so because they believed in something that had a value that transcended the usual lure of fame and fortune. What resulted was some amazing (and yes, some admittedly pretty crappy), surprisingly diverse music coming from different clusters of groups in places not identified by the mainstream as hotbeds of musical culture—Tempe and Phoenix, Dallas and Austin, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland, Washington, DC, Lawrence and elsewhere. Some of these clusters of bands stuck out in the middle of nowhere pooled together and managed their statement of existence via what was then a critical musical avenue for the average punk band, the compilation album. Some, like Flex Your Head, Boston Not L.A., Get Off My Back, Master Tapes and Cottage Cheese from the Lips of Death, featured what would end up the only recordings by bands that may have ruled the roost at home, but likely would be known to only a select few just fifty miles away. The New Hope was Northeast Ohio’s definitive statement circa-1982/’83, a thirty-song collection featuring a number of the area’s hardcore elite—The Guns, Positive Violence, Spike In Vain, Agitated, No Parole, The Dark, Zero Defex, Outerwear, Offbeats, PPG and Starvation Army—offering up their individual takes on “hardcore,” ranging from the brooding virulence of The Gun’s “I’m Not Right,” to the hyper-speed thrashing of Positive Violence and Zero Defex, to more addled approaches from Spike In Vain and The Dark. Nearly thirty years down the line, virtually everything here stands up well, with the hard work and dedication put into the project still shining through. A one-sheet included here presents shrunken images of the pages of the comp’s original booklet, along with some liner notes helping to give context and insight into just how much effort was put into putting this out the first time ‘round, and Smog Veil has upped the ante by including an additional LP’s worth of material from each band. Things have definitely gotten a wee bit easier in Hardcore USA circa-2011 in terms of recording, releasing, performing and networking, but reissues like this are still invaluable, not only because the music on ‘em is so kick ass, but also because they serve as evidence that those needing to get their point across will inevitably find a way to do just that. –Jimmy Alvarado (Smog Veil)

Voodoo Rhythm Volume 3: CD
Truth be told, I usually much prefer Voodoo Rhythm’s sampler compilations. This is a bold statement, seeing as I think the vast majority of samplers are fairly disposable, and it’s not meant to imply Voodoo Rhythm’s individual releases are not worth a listen. What sets theirs apart from so many others is the scope of styles the label specializes in—rockabilly, swamp-rock, country western, garage rock, ‘60s trash, bluegrass, punk, and a myriad of combinations of all the above —makes for an eclectic mix of sounds to keep you on yer toes. The result sounds less like, say, Epitaph’s Punk-O-Rama series—where all the bands sound like variations of the same song—and more like a radio show specializing in shit that rarely gets played on the radio anymore. This, like its predecessors, is a nice hodge-podge of stuff that’s pretty danged consistent in quality and features tunes from the likes of The Monsters, The Juke Joint Pimps, Hipbone Slim And The Knee Tremblers, Movie Star Junkies, Reverend Beat-Man (whose psychotic dance floor stuffer “Jesus Christ Twist” is the pick to click here), Andy Dale Petty and many more. Those looking for a quick teaser of future musical acquisitions and those who prefer something to plop into the car stereo and rock out to on the way to wherever will both find many tantalizing bits to savor here –Jimmy Alvarado (Voodoo Rhythm, voodoorhythm.com)

Wolf Party: LP
Hot damn! Want to know what the current NZ garage rock scene sounds like? Then pick this compilation up. Released by Tape Man, Wolf Party is a burner. Hardly a dud in the mix and some of the finest surf and garage rock you’re bound to hear anywhere. Obscure even in New Zealand, these bands are part of the real underground—The Wrongdoings feature an ex-member of the Axle Grinders; The Don Kings have the head of Perpetrator Records on bass and Tape Man… well, he’s Tape Man. A lot of love, pain, and sweat went into this compilation. Pick it up while you can… reportedly, only two hundred copies were pressed. (P.S. Anyone know where Celia Mancini is at?!) –Ryan Leach (Stink Magnetic Tape, phatsherkes@gmail.com)

I Don’t Want to be a Part of Your So Called Punk: CD
Twelve tracks of punk, ska and metal, courtesy of Fork, Freedumb, Vaya con Satan, and others. I know the bands themselves aren’t responsible for it, but the irony of this compilation’s title is that every one of the tracks here sounds like it’s trying very hard to fit within a given pigeonhole, with none really aiming to set a new bar or break out of the box, so you’re left with pretty much more of the same ol’ same ol’. –Jimmy Alvarado (Kraft Pest, kraftpest.com)

3 v 1: CD
Yeah okay, I am gonna do my best here to figure out what’s going on with this CD because google translate is just not helping. You know how a single word can have several different meanings? None of the possibilities for these band’s names makes sense. It took me forever just to figure out that this is all in Czech after I assumed German. It’s a spilt between three bands: Čertůf Punk, Do Řady!, and Šanov. There are twelve tracks, but I can’t tell for sure which band did what because the way the songs are ordered and listed is confusing. With that in mind, please forgive any false information that I am about to give you. Šanov is the metal band with the growling vocals. No thanks. Čertůf Punk are the street punk guys with the superfast guitar and drums and predictable song formulas. Okay. Do Řady! plays catchy punk rock in a way that’s hard to describe because I’m not used to it, but I could definitely see myself singing along if I understood what they were saying! Definitely the best band out of the three and I’ll be listening to their songs again. One more thing I want to mention about this CD: there’s a phrase in English on the cover that I thought was really weird, “Old Punks Never Die.” What? Never? I’ve heard that “Punks don’t die when they turn thirty, they start writing books.” But eternal life? Really? Stateside, we’ve seen plenty of punk rock veterans pass away over the last few years. So I don’t know, maybe the punk rock fountain of youth is over in the Czech Republic and we all need to head over there once we turn fifty. What do you think? –Lauren Trout (Papagájův Hlasatel, phr.cz)

A Tale of a Rotten Orange: 2 x CD
A double disc compilation featuring twenty-four bands over thirty-nine tracks as the first release by a new label called Orange Fight Records. I assume the label is based in the OrangeCounty area, due to the fact most bands on the record are from that region, but I could not locate a mailing address to verify that fact. I was unfamiliar with all the acts appearing except legendary OC punks the Crowd who contribute a mid-tempo punk rocker entitled “Masquerade.” The overall sound of the comp is a definite throwback to the early ‘80s OC punk sound, as well as ample skate rock vibes from the same era, but it varies enough from track to track not to test the listener’s patience with a completely one dimensional sound. While nothing on the disc struck me as bad, none of the songs stoked my interest to want to hear more by any of the bands. A respectable, if middling, mediocre punk rock collection. –Jake Shut (Orange Fight)

A Tale of Rotten Orange: 2 x LP

Just a little over ten years ago, there was a somewhat healthy music scene here in the SoCal area. A few bars would host punk, punk’n’roll, whatever the fuck, on a weekly basis. There were times I would be at shows at least four times a week. Often traveling from L.A. to OC to catch bands like Smogtown and the Stitches. Saw some great shows during that time and saw a lot of crap as well. For every Smogtown or Stitches, there were at least ten mediocre bands behind them. After awhile, the garbage bands began to stink so bad it was hard to want to leave the house to watch one good band. It gets old paying a cover charge, then stand outside the club while some band drags on and on inside. Listening to this comp tells me that not much has changed since then. There’s some good stuff on here like Crazy Squeeze, The Dogs, Social Task, The Hitchhikers, Smogtown, Stitches, and Foul Response. But the majority of what is on here outnumbers the good. If anything, seek out individual releases from the mentioned good bands.



–Matt Average (Orange Fight, orangefight.com)

Retro as Hell – A Tribute to the Dehumanizers: CD
The title here says all you need to know to suss out what you’re getting into here, with Raw Power, Potbelly (who sound like early White Flag here for some reason), Luxury Esc., Demoni, Barista Suicide, Trauma, Reptilicus Maximus, The Upstairs, Coven (apparently not the ‘60s band responsible for “One Tin Soldier” on the Billy Jack soundtrack) Crom (who turn an originally two minute song into an eleven second song), Citizen Useless, Astrobalance, RXGF, and Howlin’ Houndog each taking a tune from the Dehumanizers’ oeuvre and ostensibly making it their own. The results are about par, meaning the whole endeavor is likely more an honor for the band than it is a revelatory experience for the listener. A song or two might qualify as “good,” but the overwhelming majority tunes here are pedestrian at best. –Jimmy Alvarado (P.I.G)

Seriously!, Volume 1: 7"
Holy crap, a regional comp that doesn’t blatantly suck. Now there’s a rarity. Seriously! features four Washington bands that all manage to deliver the goods. Snuggle sounds more aggro than I remember them (though I remember their earlier work tending to drag on a bit, and the song here follows suit). One Day’s song is ferocious and fuzzed-out and sounds like something that coulda been on a long lost EastBay comp like Benicia or Lest We Forget. No Hi Fives To Bullshit know the meaning of brevity and also sound strikingly like Crimpshrine, and Know Your Saints deliver a slower, simmering tune that showcases the fact that they’ve definitely learned their way around writing a song. Not a dud in the bunch, and everyone involved should be stoked. Nicely done. –Keith Rosson (Abandon Hope)

This Is Peterborough Thrice: CD
A disc showcasing the local talent from the city of Peterborough in the U.K. Twenty-one tracks and the great majority of it is an icky mix of alternative radio, bland-ass indie rock, sappy acoustic numbers, and overproduced soulless pop punk. Three of the bands, Taconite, Dun2Def, and The Destructors, contributed some mediocre street punk that did not make my finger immediately itch for the track skip button. A band called the Castros offers up some snappy indie rock with ample English post punk vibes which was decent. The best of the bunch is the song “Decadence” by Five Go Mad In Europe, which does an enjoyable imitation of The Fall with deliciously offbeat meandering. But, on the whole, this is a very bad record. –Jake Shut (Rowdy Farrago)

A Tale of Rotten Orange: 2 x CD
Took a thorough look at the credits provided, ‘cause this has that Rick Bain/Hostage Records sound all over it, but no, it looks like this is this label’s inaugural release, and a doozy it is. Two discs of grade-A punk from south of the (L.A. County) border from both legendary acts and new jacks alike—Druglords Of The Avenues, Disguster, Narcoleptic Youth, The Piss Pops, The Dogs, Crazy Squeeze, The Boners, I-9, The Crowd, Social Task, Broken Bottles, The Hitchhikers, Bonecrusher, Smogtown, The Junk, Fork Tailed Devils, Killing California, The Loyals, The Stitches, Foul Response, No More Saints, Neon Maniacs, Raw Helmet, and The Uncivil all contribute at least one song to the ensuing shenanigans. Omitted from the proceedings are the endlessly boring pop punk and ska acts that too often these days are propped up and handed the OC punk flag to run right into the ground, and instead the listener is treated by what is arguably the true OC underground sound, with styles ranging from the rock/punk to the trashy to the hardcore spectrums and back. Good stuff all the way ‘round and destined for a slot on upcoming year end lists of this year’s better comps.
–Jimmy Alvarado (Orange Fight, orangefight.com)

Buffalo Brutality: EP
I can’t remember the last time I’ve listened to a comp that was half way decent. Let me think.... Hmmm... Ummm.... Let me think... err... Nope, can’t remember. It has been a while. Welp, this comp is actually pretty good, and not one with a couple good songs and the rest shit. This one is good the whole way through. Focused on Buffalo, NY bands, this delivers on the hardcore, grind, and thrash fronts. Resist Control crank out two songs of hardcore with some Infest influence, though not a direct copy. Ordinary Men And Women blow my cloudy mind with some down-tuned, bass-heavy lurk. What I wish MITB would have sounded like. Avulsion, who should get some sort of reward for still being around (I remember them well from the ‘90s), have one song of their patented grind that’s tighter than hell and hits with brute force. Morax have a bit of crust side in their sound. I like the rawness of the guitar here. Inerds, Scheisse Krieg, and Ancients Of Earth keep the needle in the red. A comp worth picking up...
–Matt Average (Warm Bath)

East Infection: 7"
Mess Folk: I mistakenly put this record on at 45 rpm and thought this was some seriously deranged fast and noisy rock with a screechy female lead singer. Cool! About thirty seconds in I realized my error, started the record over, and realized this some seriously deranged slow and noisy rock with a male lead singer. Still cool! I don’t even know how to place this: like if The Cramps scrapped their rockabilly influences in favor of Scratch Acid? Meat Curtains: More deranged rock and roll. The guitar player is playing the same repetitive four-chord riff over and over again while the drummer beats the shit out of his drums and the lead singer screams incoherently over it all. Awesome! Strawman: Straight forward rock and roll. Not all that bad, but not particularly memorable. The Shats: Garage rock that could have easily been written by someone from Denton, TX (aka Mind Spiders, Bad Sports, etc). Pretty damn good! Oh, I just realized both bands on the A side are from Nova Scotia and both bands on the B side are from New Brunswick. Nova Scotia by a mile! Three cheers for the underdogs!
–Chris Mason (Foul & Fair)

Bloodstains across British Columbia: 7” EP
Though the title might be a bit misleading to fans of compilation albums featuring tons of moldy punk oldies, this is a collection of thirteen bands each delivering a one-minute tune about the titular Canadian locale from whence they hail. The sounds mined here are well varied—vaguely ‘60s pop, skronk, punk, trebly indie-rock, even a band that sounds like they’re on a Urinals bender, and so on. The bands could’ve easily just knocked off and sent over any shit, but by the sound of it, they took the idea seriously and delivered some pretty good listening and, as a result, a strong regional comp. –Jimmy Alvarado (Mammoth Cave Recording Co., mammothcaverecording.com)

Calvinball / Rumspringer / Mayflower / The Dauntless Elite: 4-Way Split: 7”
Calvinball: Gruff punk rock that’s not breaking any new ground but has enough anthemic energy to keep things interesting. Rumspringer: This is really weird, because I recorded a different version of this song for the band several months ago and I’ve heard that other version a million times before—so it’s hard to listen to this without getting caught up on how those subtle (and not so subtle) imperfections are no longer present. But that’s clearly just me because next to no one reading this has ever or will ever hear that version. Rumspringer is one of the best DIY rock bands around (don’t call them a “punk” band). They’ve written some of the best songs of the last several years and this one is right up there. Mayflower: Pretty much the same as Calvinball. I’ve heard this song a million times before by thousands of other bands, but somehow I’m not sick of it yet. The Dauntless Elite: Fuck yeah! How can you not love this band? Bouncy and catchy punk rock with a cockney accent. I have no clue what half of the words in this song even mean, but that won’t keep me from trying to sing along. –Chris Mason (Not Shy Of DIY, notshyofdiy.com)

Here’s Your Donkey Show: CD
People always ask about the donkey show thing. It doesn’t exist. I’ve yet to meet a human being who can vouch for its existence. You want a fucking donkey show? Here’s your donkey show! I uploaded this album to my iPod without putting any information in, so I wouldn’t know the names of the bands and attempt to circumvent any bias. You see people, I’m from Tijuana, this is my scene, and I’ve seen most of these bands a bunch of times. In fact, I’ve been going to Bumbklaatt shows for about a decade now. Like most scenes in big cities, this spans a few genres such as hardcore, punk, ska, and… well, I guess that’s it. It’s a great compilation featuring the best Tijuana has to offer, which is Bio Crisis, Teenage Kicks, DFMK, and Bumbklaatt. There are also three non-TJ bands, one of which, Dias De Radio are straight off a late ‘90s Hellcat comp. That song alone almost made me want to spike my hair and break out a certain jacket that hasn’t fit in years. –Rene Navarro (Blood Pact, bloodpactrecordstijuana.com)

Midwest Thrash Attack: Double 7”
If you see me walking around with my skull burst open and bits of my brain shooting out like meaty popcorn, it’s because of this four-way split of Wisconsin and Minnesota hardcore bands. It starts with two bands of yesteryear, including Stand Off, a name I never thought I’d see on a new piece of vinyl. They were around in the mid ‘90s, a precursor to Remission and Wartorn, but more on the straightforward American hardcore end of things. Damage Deposit keeps it hardcore and keeps it Midwest with a Die Kruezen cover. The second record starts with current Minneapolis mosh kings, In Defence, and an answering machine message from a disgruntled parent complaining that his son went to a show and got an Easter egg full of pubic hair. The message almost overshadows the awesome hardcore songs that follow. Almost. Choose Your Poison serves as the modern Wisconsin band with a quick burst of aggro that’s gone too fast. –MP Johnson (Give Praise)

Speed Kills…But Who’s Dying?: CD
Three bands here repping a nice spread across the hardcore spectrum with five songs each. On one end you have Sheisse Minnelli (a play on “Liza Minnelli,” with the first word in their name translating to “shit”), who are more or less a straightforward hardcore band. They keep the tempos ratcheted up, with some interesting chord and tempo changes, and liberal doses of humor and intelligence in the lyrics. On the other end you have The Shining who, while also keeping things quite zippy, go with a more “metalcore” (as we would’ve said in the mid-’80s) sound, with muffled chugga-chugga guitar strumming and screamed vocals. Between the two we have the belles of the ball here, Verbal Abuse, turning in work more along the thrashy lines of Just an American Band than Rocks Your Liver. No surprise, this considering Nikki Sikki is back manning the mic, and as an added bonus they even serve up a ramped up cover of Sick Pleasure’s (is it a “cover” if the singer sang for that band as well?) “Three Seconds of Pleasure.” While the new Verbal Abuse stuff is hands-down the reason to pick this up, and it’s fuggin’ aces to hear they’re back in such fine form, all three bands turn in admirable work, making this definitely worth the search. –Jimmy Alvarado (Just 4 Fun, j4f.dk)

City Limits: Down and Out in Toronto and Montreal: LP
Twenty-three songs by twenty-three bands who all hail from the fair cities of Toronto and Montreal, Canada. Plenty of household names (Career Suicide, Inepsy, Urban Blight, Brutal Knights, School Jerks, Burning Love) some eyebrow raisers (Mad Men, Foreign Bodies, Mature Situations) and um, the rest. Such is the curse of a compilation album with this many bands on it: too much filler. At first glance, the better-known bands make this record seem like a steal because, yes, the good songs are really fucking good. But upon closer inspection, the intent of giving some seemingly deserved, lesser-known newer bands some exposure doesn’t quite meet the standards set by their predecessors. Also, the fact that all the best songs are almost all on the first side of this platter makes me wish this were a single-sided LP. –Juan Espinosa (High Anxiety / No Idea)

Crack Rock City Volume II: CD
Seriously, if there’s a Crack Rock City Volume III, I’m buying a gun, finding some kinda bell tower, and people are gonna die. (So, yeah, I wrote the previous sentence like a month ago, and it seems mighty fuckin’ insensitive in light of recent events in Norway. I obviously wouldn’t shoot anybody over a bad record. If you’re offended, get a life. This CD still sucks though.) –Ryan Horky (Pirated)

Kill Rock Stars: LP
This is a special limited Record Store Day version of Kill Rock Stars’ first release, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the record and the label. That many of the bands on this comp are now considered “legendary,” or “classic,” is a testament to how smart the folks at Kill Rock Stars were at putting together a collection of some of the best bands of the era. Featuring tracks from Melvins, Bikini Kill, Nirvana, Nation Of Ulysses, Mecca Normal, and others, this album is more than just a document capturing a particular era of music, it is also a collection of some of the best music of all time. Fans of great independent music of any stripe owe it to themselves to add this comp to their collection. I can’t recommend this enough –Paul J. Comeau (Kill Rock Stars)

We’re All in This Together: LP
A hardcore punk comp here with four tracks each from Triple X, MDC, Hanker Hoax Haphazard, Asspiss, and Crackbox. Music’s good, but the advertisements stuffed in for good measure—one for the Institute for Anarchist studies, one for Asspiss’ Fuck Off and Die seven-inch, one for the label’s other releases, an Asspiss stencil, and a patch with the label’s logo on it ostensibly so some punker can give ‘em some free advertising at a show—seems a bit capitalist-overkill, considering this looks to be some sorta anarchist-themed release. Then again, the white vinyl and great cover art’s gotta get paid for somehow, I guess. –Jimmy Alvarado (Suburban White Trash)

12th and G, Chino, CA: LP
One yardstick to hold up a comp of a super-down DIY place (1919 Hemphill, 924 Gilman) is looking at the listing on both sides. (This doesn’t work as well digitally. I’m looking at you, interwebs.) But don’t treat them as sides of a record. Treat them as two shows. Would I go to side A’s show? Side B’s? And even if you don’t know all the bands, are you in good hands? Do places make friends? No—12th and G was just a leaky warehouse with a skate ramp, a fridge, and a PA—but the people inside those places can. Friendly, honest, fun-loving, down-for-the-cause people. Not hypothetical circumstances, not a fantasy football version of punk rock or a corporation rock version of punk. This is rent-to-pay-is-not-an-excuse-to-be-a-douche-to-bands punk rock. And the comp. reflects the guiding principles of 12th and G. well. It’s unmistakably DIY punk at its core, but it’s unafraid to lend high fives to bands who also dip into metal, hip hop, and the mellower fare. The strongest testament to this comp is that it’s a direct, honest reflection of music that’s being made in America today; of music that came through their doors, to music that they helped nurture by providing a genuinely great place to play. Due to cops on the interwebs (again, fucked by digital) being bummed that the city of Chino wasn’t getting their graft and kickbacks—and under the guise of “protecting the children”—the warehouse was shut down in April, 2011. This comp is a love letter. I intentionally didn’t mention one single band in this review because it’s bigger than just one band. It’s a matter of trust, like when Donna Ramone or Horror Tim or Marty Ploy or Christina Zamora say, “Dude, just listen to this band.” You put time aside in your busy schedule and just listen to some really good shit. –Todd Taylor (On The Real, ontherealrecords.tumblr.com)

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