Record Reviews - December, 2001

American Monsters/Betty Gone Bad "Split" 7"

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. (Fill in the blank) is a fantastic live band, but unfortunately that same energy doesn’t come across well on record. You can add the American Monsters to this list as well. Live they’re a bundle of energy and spontaneity, but these two songs don’t really capture that. That’s not to say that this doesn’t rock, it does, but I was just expecting it to be a bit better. "Gorilla in Sharkskin," is a good song in the classification-defying vein of the Peechees. I love when a band sounds totally original, yet still keeps enough of a rock ‘n’ roll edge to keep things from getting self indulgent. Their other song on here, "Kotton Kat," is alright, but works way better live. As for Betty Gone Bad, they aren’t exactly my cup of tea, but I guess they’re okay. The first song with the guy singing is sorta reminiscent of early Jawbreaker. That should tell most of you all you need to know. (SS)
(Modern Radio, POB 8886, Minneapolis, MN 55408)

Beehive & The Barracudas "’Plastic Soul’ with The White Apes" CD

I am at a complete loss for words. Yep. Hmmm… Ugh… Let me think. I had better elaborate, right? Beehive & The Barracudas are just what I needed at just the right time. I am a little confused by the liner notes. Apparently, the band features members of Rocket From The Crypt, The Hot Snakes, Tanner, and the Red Aunts, and collaborations with The Insects and The White Apes...or something close to that. Not really the important part… Beehive & The Barracudas create a splendid, sleazy, stomp-ready, mix of punk (no, not like Sum 41), pop (no, not like N’Sync), and good old R&B (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! No, not like that fuckin'’ R. Kelly shit, you moron...now go crawl back in yer hole). Simply incredible! Sign me up! Right now! (MB)
(Swami, P.O. Box 620428, San Diego, CA 92162-- distributed by SFTRI)

Brother Brick "The Same" 7"

From Australia? Dude. The Hellacopters do not sound like Foghat. These guys sound like Foghat. Take that for what it’s worth. (MB)
(Rockin’ House Records, P.O. Box 12705, Reading, PA 19612-2705)

Burning Brides "Fall of the Plastic Empire" CD

Neo-gothic punk-rock sounding like a mix between Iggy Pop’s solo stuff and Queens of The Stone Age. I get the feeling this band really get off on Greek mythology for some reason. Some of the more solid songs include the title track, "Plastic Empire" as well as the revved up first track, "Plank of Fire" with a few more notable mentions with "Stabbed in the Back of the Heart" and "Glass Slipper."

I picked this CD up at a local sighting of the band. They played a pretty tight set, tight enough to make me choose their CD over a Drapes CD; I only had enough money for one, so I suppose that’s saying something.... But when I approached Dimitri Coats from The Bride’s (as I often will approach bands to let them know I appreciate their set because I CARE) he took one look at my bootleg Strokes pin and said half-laughingly pointing and saying, "You like those guys?"

"Of course I like The Strokes. Don’t everybody? They’re fucking great!"

He stopped. Why? I’m not too sure. I was taking pictures and handing out copies of the Neus Subjex, so maybe he was afraid he would insult me and I would slag him with my one page prospectus on Neoteric punkwave/Cincinnati punk-rock or something.

Nope. Remember. I CARE!

Who cares if he don’t like The Strokes! In fact, I hope he and millions of others sorta don’t because that means next time they come around I won’t be so fucking crowded when I’m trying to get some good live shots. I know from interviewing The Strokes firsthand that the Strokes have integrity enough to do WHAT THEY WANT despite popularity AND CONTINUE. It just SO HAPPENS that what they are doing is what is secretly being craved for from fuckers like me. In short, The Strokes will ENDURE.

So Dimitri Coats don’t like The Strokes, and probably thinks even less of me because I do. How exactly should I take what he did anyway? The IRONIC things is that of everyone I talked to that night at their show, it seemed like I was the only one who really liked them.

Everyone that rode in The Gobo (my car) to the show thought I was fucking NUTS for buying their CD. They laughed at me. They laughed at The Burning Brides... So in a way, my fellow show goers were doing the same thing to me that Dimitri Coats did TO ME. Dimitri was nicer, I will admit that, but it’s still the basically the same thing.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been at this particular place though. It almost feels like home. No big deal; I WILL ENDURE.

The Burning Brides were, and are pretty kick ass. It brakes up the monotony of my CD’s every once in a while. I’m on the lookout for more of their releases.

FELLS LIKE HOME. (SAB)
(wwwfile-13.com)
(File 13 POB 2302 Philadelphia, PA. 19103)

Clinic "I.P.C. Subeditors Dictate Our Youth (Singles Collection)" CD

I first ran across Clinic in some sorts of mainstream Alternative maga-zine that I had bought to read up on an interesting looking Strokes article. I was enthralled by a picture of Clinic who were wearing English colonial style jackets and doctor’s masks. The article described them as LL Cool J meeting The Velvet Underground... Just weird enough to make me remember them when it came down to CD buying time.

I got the singles collection first. It’s a collection of four EP’s released by two labels, Alladins Cave of Golf and Domino. I suppose Domino won out because this CD, as well as their full-length just has a Domino contact.... There are nine tracks here that pretty much are broken down much like you would expect singles to be broken down.... Five of the tracks represent the more dreamy Velvet Underground side of The Clinic, with the remaining falling somewhere in-between Stooges meets Suicide type Neoteric lunacy. The Clinic kinda exist in their own world, much like their English counterparts The Fall, and have mysterious song titles that make you ponder at their true meaning i.e. "I.P.C Subeditiors Dictate Our Youth", and do this trick and title their faster songs with initials i.e. "D.P." and "D.T.". The Singles collection is well rounded and really grows on you after a couple listens. It made me.... It made me rush down and pick up Internal Wrangler the following week.

It’s been awhile since I have heard anything real memorable from the UK. Well, as it would turn out, Clinic, accompanied with Bunny (more on them later) would signal that The Neoteric Punk/wave has hit the British Isles!

Hurrah! (SAB)
(Domino Recording Company Ltd. PO Box 4029 London SW15 2XR)

Daycare Swindlers "In Loving Memory" CD

They mix rock and hardcore, but not in every song. What they do is they’ll play one rock song, then a hardcore tune, then some song that sounds like Porno for Pyros, but really, really bad, and so on. And their drummer just isn’t good enough to play hardcore… I feel the agro-ness taking over… My dick’s getting bigger… Roar. (JD)
(www.beatville.com)
(Beatville Records, LLC PO Box 42462 Washington, DC 20015)

Deathray Davies "They Stuck Me In A Box In The Ground Pt. 3" 7"

The Deathray Davies’ songs are very remindful of the whole early 90’s, stay up all night and watch 120 Minutes nerdy alternative pop videos. Hey! I did that that, so shut up! These kids combine Sonic Youth’s guitar notes with Teenage Fanclub’s pop tune hooks. The B-Side’s "Without A Trace" is their more upbeat tune and I like it cause I like alternative pop that’s kinda melancholy and oh so infectious. But the A-Side’s "They Stuck Me In A Box In The Ground Pt. 3" is too slow, uneventful, and wearisome for me to pay any attention to it. So one song might not be enough for you, but it’s enough for me. (JD)
(www.hasanyoneevertoldyou.com)
(Has Anyone Ever Told You? PO Box 161702 Austin, TX 78716-1702)

Dewey Defeats Truman "The Road To Nowhere Maps E.P." CD

Boy, doesn’t that title just scream of EMO? Emo bands…always trying to be clever… You’re not…by the way… I mean, Dewey Defeats Truman? Actually it’s - dewey defeats truman. Cause you know, they’re clever. I’ll be honest in that I like Dewey Defeats Truman’s music. The music, chord progression, guitar licks, whatever you want to call it…it's interesting indie/mellow stuff. It keeps my attention. It’s just these lyrics. Get a fuckin’ gun and get it over with already! The lyrics ruin the music. "Fly Below The Radar…" That’s not fuckin’ deep, man. You can keep your promise rings, or whatever. The only thing I promise to do is destroy you. Now go cry about it. (JD)
(www.hasanyoneevertoldyou.com)
(Has Anyone Ever Told You? PO Box 161702 Austin, TX 78716-1702)

Dirt Bike Annie/Kung Fu Monkeys "The Wedding" 2X7"

I miss Mutant Pop Records. Sure Tim out some shitty records (like the Automatics, and Mute Ants) and distroed some even shittier ones (like, ugh, Darlington), but at the end of the day all that matters is that he put out a bunch of awesome records by bands that no one else would take a chance on. Two of the best bands he ever put out records by where the Kung Fu Monkeys and Dirt Bike Annie. Both of these bands are a bit atypical of the clichéd pop punk sound that was associated with Mutant Pop. DBA is way more power pop than pop punk, while the Kung Fu Monkeys are quite simply one of the greatest (and wimpiest!) pop bands around. Both of these bands could mop the floor with pretty much anyone on Lookout circa 2001 (yeah I know that’s like saying you can beat up a first grader in a wheelchair, but still).

The format of this record is kinda odd. It’s two 7"s with each band contributing a pair of original songs with the b-side of both being the other band covering the band on the a-side. Confused yet? As far as the music on this goes, the two DBA originals on here are both really good. One’s a departure from their usual style that uses a sequencer reminiscent of Atom and His Package (well at least the 2 AAHP songs I’ve heard), and the other is straight up power pop. The Kung Fu Monkeys win the battle on this one however. Their songs on here are a bit wimpier than normal, but still retain all of their usual charm and pop sensibility. One of these songs, "A Kiss On Your Back Stoop" is such a perfect pop song it coulda been on Revolver or Rubber Soul. It’s the kinda song you play again and again but never get sick of. As a matter of fact that’s just what I’m gonna go do! Recommended if you like the pop. (SS)
(www.whoaohrecords.com)
(Whoa Oh Records, 52 McLoughlin St., Glen Cove NY 11542)

Girlush Figure "Target You" CD

Ran across this band when I played an opening slot for them with Zero Crag. They totally took me by surprise as many other bands have this year. I’m not too sure how they really took me personally though because I met the bassist through a old Dayton, Ohio friend and one of the first things that come out of my mouth was pointing out the fact that they were selling thong panties as part of their merchandise and I asked, "Do you have those in 2X?" Later that night the ‘Figure rocked out and had me searching for their merch agent to buy a CD long before their set ended because I was afraid, for some reason (and I tend to do this often), they would run out of copies and I wouldn’t get one.

Target You is chock full of fem-angst like combining the sounds of Kleenex/Liliput with that of Bikini Kill. Hard. Driving. Fast. Loud. I’m totally surprised Kill Rock stars hasn’t gotten a hold of this band yet, it’s right up their alley! This CD features ten tracks of actual songs clocking in at nearly 29 minutes worth of music with a eleventh track being hummed version of "The Star Spangled Banner", which I couldn’t figure out WHY it appeared on the disc. It left me only asking questions-good job! "Scenester", "Target You", "Miss Fuck You".... Don’t be too surprised if this CD don’t end up in my Blank Generation year in Review.

Hailing from Virginia I have a feeling that you, the humble Blank Generation viewer haven’t heard the last of me spouting about the greatness of the ‘Figure.... I hope this band is around for a long long time and I hope they continue to release music and play shows that knock people for loops. (SAB)
(Girlushfigure@hotmail.com)

Jesse Hector & The Gatecrashers "EP" 7"

With 30-some-odd-years of experience under his belt, Jesse Hector returns (apparently) with a sweet, sweet fusion of the rockabilly, mod, and punk-influences of his past projects, and puts an entire generation of younger rockers to shame in the process. This four-song EP drops three originals in your lap (ouch! that hurt), and an excellent version of "Summertime Blues." Yeah, so maybe Jesse Hector is old enough to be your dad. But how cool would that be? Exactly… (MB)
(Rockin’ House Records, P.O. Box 12705, Reading, PA 19612-2705)

(International) Noise Conspiracy "A New Morning, Changing Weather" CD

Now I understand that The (International) Noise Conspiracy has come under quite some criticism by the "hipsters" (oh wait, that’s us) for the ‘Nation of Ulysses!/The MAKEup = Refused/The (International) Noise Conspiracy’ equation, and I’ll admit that there is a bit of (a lot of) a contradiction to copyrighting your anti-capitalism literature, but let’s overlook these things for one moment. The (International) Noise Conspiracy is an incredible band, which is tough to say for most bands linked to Burning Heart or Epitaph (seriously, any label that let’s go of Zeke and The Dwarves while endlessly plugging The Voodoo Fucking Glow Skulls is a label to be wary of). Their first two albums were exceptional in their own ways, but pale in comparison to this release. A New Morning, Changing Weather shows that they’ve finally matured and begun experimenting with other realms of sound; pulling a wider range of influences into their work. The Who meets Refused? Perhaps… I’d love to see Roger Daltry and Dennis Lyxzen have a microphone-lasso competition event. "Up For Sale", "Born Into A Mess", and "Capitalism Stole My Virginity" serve up the usual hardcore punk (scrambled with a heavy psychedelic/garage-era personality) that has made them so popular, while "Bigger Cages, Longer Chains" sounds as though they borrowed Otis Redding’s horn section to create a very soulful song about (what else?) abolishing work. The title track, which serves as the last song, is by far the best song on the album (in this reporter’s humble opinion) and wraps things up rather nicely. Good job! (MB)
(Burning Heart Records, 2798 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026)

Jumpin’ Beans and the Moustaches "Born in the USA" 7"

Eric over at Goner has a ton of things by this twisted Maine "band." Yes, they do a Springsteen cover. Yes, it’s cool. Lo-fi slop hiding out between the Screaming Mee-Mees and the Evolutions. Much recommended for fans of talentless scuzz rock. (TK)
(Ball Records, P.O. Box 152 Gardiner, ME, 04345)

Kent 3 "Spells" CD

This CD really floored me. I’ve just HEARD OF Kent 3, and until now, never actually HEARD THEM. I even heard some rather interesting touring stories about them, but never heard them themselves.... Wow, pretty impressive stuff on this disc. Spells builds up to peak at the tracks "Bellingham High" and "The Changelling" then again at "Ants" and from there you’re kept up ‘til the last track "The Pines." Kent 3’s songs remind me of songs that were written from the body of much larger short story versions of the subject matter. Basically, what I am trying to say is that if Edgar Allen Poe was alive in the ‘HERE. NOW’, he would probably be in a band like The Kent 3 and write songs like "The Pines." Whereas, anyone will always have their favorite stand out tracks on any release that they feel really define the whole release, Spells is one of those releases that each song is one treat after the last. The Kent 3 have folk-country-blues underlying currents to their music at times, hard hitting Kill The Hippies Neotericness type arrangements to their songs at other times, and I can even hear a gothic dark mythological sense to their songs also. Spells is a solid and defining release and I hope to hear more from them in the near future. Until then, I’m going on a sleep walk thru the city of death.... (SAB)
(Burn Burn Burn 1111 E. Madison PMB 287 Seattle, WA 98122)

King Brothers "S/T" CD/LP

I’ve heard lots of good things about these guys, and hey they’re from Japan and all, so I figured I’d check em out. Unfortunately their reputation seems to be unfounded. This is just awful. I think these guys imagine themselves occupying some middle ground between the Blues Explosion and Guitar Wolf (both of whom they thank), and sure they’ve got the noisiness and fucked up blues progressions of the aforementioned bands, but there’s one important thing they lack; good songs. All of their songs are just beyond plodding. Imagine watching a tape in slow motion of a fat guy on Valium trying to run a marathon through a river of shit. That’s exactly how I felt listening to this. I want my 8 bucks back! (SS)
(www.intheredrecords.com)
(In the Red, 118 Magnolia Blvd. POB 208, Burbank, CA 91506)

King Louie One Man Band "S/T" 7"

Anything containing Louie just gots to be worth owning, and this is all Louie. So, there ya’ go. The A-Side is a fucked-up rocker similar to Lightning Beat Man. The B is a jangly blues/country thinger. (TK)
(Therapeutic Records, U.N.O. Box 534, New Orleans, LA 70148-9998)

Les Dirty French Men "You A Cop?" 7"

Les Dirty French Men…… Okay… These guys have this garagey, Rip Off Records, rock ‘n’ roll thang goin’ for ‘em… They have all the elements… Snotty, screechy, teenager-ish vocals, ear piercing g-solos, thick bass lines… But…their song "You A Cop?"… It’s not catchy or fun… It’s not a song that I’d run home and listen to everyday after school like I would with say…The Rip Offs or…The Statics… You know many times I’ve listened to "Jellystone National Park" by the Statics? It’s gotta be up in the thousands… So… Les Dirty French Men…… Okay… They do a decent job on "Spendin’ All My Money," so I’m not counting these boys out yet… But…you know… Write better songs. (JD)
(www.dartrecords.com)
(Dart Records PO Box 1843 Fargo, ND 58107)

Le Tigre "Feminist Sweepstakes" CD/LP

Le Tigre were one of a handful of bands I really got excited about after hearing them for the first time earlier this year, but if Feminist Sweepstakes is a clear indication of the direction the band has permanently headed in, then all I can say is, "What a waste."

Le Tigre’s self-titled album is a damn near brilliant nouveau-new-wave record, crafted with great punk guitar crunch, sampled pop-synth and electronic drumbeats. It was also infectiously catchy and fun to listen to. Somewhere along the line though, Kathleen Hanna and the women of Le Tigre must have decided that the "electronic" element of their music was where the new revolution was heading and the result on Feminist Sweepstakes is an album that sounds as though it has been completely pre-processed and emotionally drained by computer technology. Unfortunately for Le Tigre, the end results of the fruits of their labor come off sounding as though it was processed through that old Commodore 64 computer that your parents have collecting dust in the attic.

It’s not that Le Tigre don’t have a wealth of talent, as Kathleen Hanna alone is one of the most talented and original artists in music today, but Le Tigre’s dips into straight electronica and sounds downright amateurish and comical (see the exceptionally bad "Fake French" for a perfect example). The sampling is badly mixed and painfully outdated, as if the girls borrowed their sampling skills from a late-80’s Sir-Mix-A-Lot record. While that may or may not be intentional, the fact of the matter is that lackluster sampling as such only really holds up on songs intended to be a parody, and judging by the subject matter of Le Tigre’s songs, it most definitely is not intended for that purpose. Worst of all, the guitar playing on this record is drowned out and sounds completely fake and flat – no power or backbone whatsoever.

On the self-titled album, guitars (and the occasional sequence of fabulous keyboard playing) gave the songs their strength. If Le Tigre wanted to abandon their strengths to focus primarily on the electronic element of their music (an obvious weakness as evidenced by the songs on this record), it is implausible to imagine why Kathleen Hanna, given her long standing relationship with Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys, didn’t get him to produce this album, or at least help out a little with the sampling. Fans of the band can take comfort in the fact that they did managed to churn out a few great songs on the record, particularly "F.Y.R." and "My Art." However, both of those songs are now staples of their greatly-superior live set, so I’d suggest to just check them out live if they hit your town, but skip this and get their wonderful first album instead, if you haven’t already. (SA)
(www.mrlady.com)
(Mr. Lady Records, P.O. Box 3189, Durham, NC, U.S.A, 27715-3189)

Lucy Loves Schroeder "Lucy Is A Band" CD

Total Muffs/Fastbacks/but more on the Muffs side of the moon/pop punk. Let’s see… Fans of Josie and the Pussycats, the Donnas, Eyeliners, umm…more name dropping…did I say the Muffs…?…Breeders… Lucy Loves is a good pop band…they lack attitude though… But fans of crunchy pop tunes’ll eat this up faster than their daily bowl of Frosted Flakes. (JD)
(www.beatville.com)
(Beatville Records, LLC PO Box 42462 Washington, DC 20015)

Maggots "The Condition Is Incurable" CD/LP

Sly… This band is very sly. They have a cool garage/rock ‘n’ roll sound that feels like suede…velvet… The Maggots, yeah, they’ve grown outta the total Makers gig. They’ve dug into something that’s their own. If you can’t get enough of the 60’s, you won’t get enough of the Maggots. (JD)
(www.badafro.dk)
(Bad Afro Records Poste Restante, Frederiksberg Alle 6 1820 Frederiksberg C, Denmark)

Midnight Evils "S/T" CD

"Yeah Babies!" Look at that cover. That’s how you have F-U-N, fun! Beer in yr hand, or joint, or needle… With heavy guitars on overdrive and flyin’ solos combined with that ‘beat down by the world’ voice, the Midnight Evils are fury, power, attitude, and fucking fun! These guys are as hard hitting and rock ‘n’ roll as the likes of ZEKE. And we all like ZEKE, riiiight? "Loaded And Lonely," "Bitch Like You," "Terminal Haze," "Got Me By The Balls"… These song titles are the life that the Midnight Evils live by, and you should too. (JD)
(www.dartrecords.com)
(Dart Records PO Box 1843 Fargo, ND 58107)

Mud City Manglers "Tired of Losing" 7"

A blaring return to glory after a disappointing full length from these Pittsburgh degenerates. Yeah, the Lyres cover is merely OK, but the A-Side is right there with "1234 Motherfucker," which means it’s on par with some of the greatest rock-punk of the last decade. Similar to the Candy Snatchers, but more slammin’ and far better on record… I shoulda’ never written these goobers off. (TK)
(007, 534 East 14th Street #15, New York, NY 10009)

Numbskull "The Great Brain Bake-Off" CD

This CD features a mid-eighties Cleveland act that fall somewhere in-between Captain Beefheart and Flipper that reminds me of something I would have/should have heard on Touch and Go. Numbskull "play" fuzzed out art-damage rock and roll. No one said it would be easy and Numbskull prove it.

The CD starts off on a high note with a medley of two songs called "Fifteen Seconds" and "All too Clear" with my interest barely peaking again with the track "Lost in Time." Some songs feature some sorts of electronic noise that resembles record scratching at certain times or just plain ol’ keyboard stuff other times... In-between all the songs, or at the beginning of each track (depending how you look at it) there are snippets of interviews and at the beginning of the last track, part of some sort of radio show.... "Pack in the air guitar"????

This CD was a pretty good listen, but I can’t say I would have been very impressed if I had spent the upwards of $12.99 or whatever a CD cost nowadays, to get myself a copy. Maybe the material from this disc would have been better received as a split CD with another band.... I don’t know. I get a feeling of mediocrity when I look at this disc in hindsight after the CD player is turned off and the CD is filed away in my COLLECTION. That’s something I’m not used to with Smog Veil, so forgive my vagueness. (SAB)
(www.smogveil.com)
(Smog Veil Records774 Mays #10-454 Incline Village, NV 89451)

Pattern "Non Stop" 7"

First of all, I was way to big of a Peechees fan to avoid comparing this to them. Is this as good as the Peechees? No. Is it still a fairly great record? Yes. While the Pattern aren’t quite as original and inspired as the Peechees where, they still can kick out the booty jams with the best of em. Take out the seventies punk and the off kilter KRS elements of the Peechees and add a bit of some late sixties/early seventies sounds and you’ve got the Pattern. This might be what is sometimes referred to as "riff rock," but since I can’t say I’ve ever heard a "riff rock" band (does Turbonegro count?) I wouldn’t be the one to tell ya. They’re definitely "heavier" and "groovier" than the Peechees. "No Books" is a pretty straight forward rockin’ number that performs its duty (that being, of course, to rock) well enough. The real treat on here tho’ is the B-side "My Own Age." It’s a little bit darker and moodier, but manages to provide an excellent showcase for both Christopher’s patented vocals and the guitar player(s) killer riffage (I can’t believe I just typed that). If the Pattern come to the Twin Cities, I’m, like, so there dude. (SS)
(Gearhead Records, POB 421219 San Francisco, CA 94142)

Les Blacks Amazing Pink Holes "Breakfast with the Holes" CD

From the ruins that is planet Pink Hole, located on an elliptical orbit around a dying star near you, The Pink Holes return!

The first six songs on the CD represent the second Pink Holes LP where the title of this CD comes from. The remaining twelve songs come from unreleased sources or hard to find releases. Six of the tracks come from a 1988 session which I would say is the best Pink Holes stuff ever recorded. Songs from the session include the ripping "Frustration Factor", "Crazy Slut" and "Fungarian Function." The other highlights include various tracks from various recording sessions and hard to find released material and a catch of early demos from 1982 with the original line-up.

There’re some humorous and insightful liner notes from past Pink Holes including some rather uneasy notes from Bob Sablack/Dick Hurtz showing that as crazy and wired as The Pink Holes were, there were limits to what could and could not be tolerated. It all makes sense really....past comparisons I have used in describing the Pink Holes still surface and are relevant.... Imagine a Ramones charged Cramps mixed with Dead Milkmen like outlooks on the world. Even though some Pink Holes songs are more memorable than others I will take all they have to offer with no complaints. I like my decadence and depravity with a side of fries and lotsa A-1 Steak sauce. (SAB)
(www.smogveil.com)
(Smog Veil Records774 Mays #10-454 Incline Village, NV 89451)

Radio Shanghai "Huv I the Right?" 7"

Radio Shanghai is among the very best of the current crop of Japanese neo new-wave power pop bands. This release finds them upping the new wave quotient, with keyboards aplenty and tons of quirky extra touches. The A-side is a barely recognizable cover of a Honeycombs song, which improves upon the already great original quite a bit. There’s this part where it breaks down into a handclap that’s just fucking brilliant. It’s the kinda song that’s so catchy it stays in your head all day. The flip side is a new version of "Artificial Life" from the Ad Vice comp (but for some reason they call it "Artificial Work" on here) that benefits greatly from some tasteful keyboard parts. I’m salivating at the thought of these guys putting out a full length. Lucky for you this is easy to get in the States right now (www.nice-neat.com), so I’d snatch it up before it’s too late and it’s out of print. (SS)
(Target Earth Records C/O Masao Nakagami/505 Lupinus Hiranuma, Nishu-Ku, Yokohama. 220-0023, JAPAN)

Reds "It’s About Time" CD/LP

The Reds. The Reds. The Reds.

I like the sound of that. The Reds.

The last record. The last chance to dance.

You know these pricks never came over to the East Coast.
Fuckin’ pricks.

This is sad! I’m fuckin’ sad! This is the fuckin’ Reds we’re talkin’ about!
They saved Rip Off Records!

The Chronics…no!
The Kill-A-Watts…no!
The Metros…no!
The Teenage Rejects…no!
The Wongs…no!
The Zodiac Killers……no!

It was the Reds.

I’m ending Rip Off Records’ silver age with It’s About Time.

And "Dead End Town" will forever be my favourite Reds song, 4ever… (JD)
(www.ripoffrecords.org)
(Rip Off Records 581 Maple Ave. San Bruno, CA 94066)

Reds "It’s About Time" CD/LP

Damn straight. I’ll make this as short and sweet as the album: Twelve new songs from this punk-ass Texan quartet (heh-heh...I just called them a Texan quartet) that don’t just serve up, but rather dish out, some crazy, crazy r’n’r. A little poppier than the last one, but better I think. Do not miss out on this. I repeat, do not miss out. (MB)
(Rip Off Records, 581 Maple Avenue, San Bruno, CA 94066)

Reverends "Whiskey River" 7"

Look, if they had a good time making this little record and somebody out there liked it, then that’s all that matters, right? As for me, I don’t think that The Reverends sound as hard-hitting, offensive and controversial as they’d like to be; or at least their cover art would lead you to believe… (MB)
(www.benicetomommy.com)
(Be Nice To Mommy & Shove Records)

Riverboat Gamblers "S/T" CD

This record was a long time comin’… The Riverboat Gamblers, outta Texas (which was at one time a country [little bit of trivia for ya]), are a garage rawk-n-fuck-yr-rolls-just-leave-the-R-O-C-K rock [!] group that leaves every other garage punk band in the dust! Just give it up kids! You might as well find a cozy little spot on that sandy desert ground cause yr gonna end up like the buffalo – EXTINCT!

Welcome the Providence of Texas! "Sit The Fuck Down!" (JD)
(www.beatville.com)
(Beatville Records, LLC PO Box 42462 Washington, DC 20015)

Rocket 69/Dion Blade & The New Kings Of Rock "Split" 7"

What? You mean this isn’t a Hellacopters/Speedealer split 7"? (MB)
(Rockin’ House Records, P.O. Box 12705, Reading, PA 19612-2705)

Rocket 350 "American Grease" CD

Standup Bass! I’ve always found "upright" bass players sexy. There’s just something about a guy who can handle a large piece of wood that just makes my heart pound. When I saw Robert Gordon year’s back he had a standup bass player too. Rob new what was up. So Rocket 350… Rocket Rockabilly… Yeah, I hate this stuff. Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent…The Stray Cats… I hate it all. Why? No power. No dynamics. No, no, no. But hey, if that’s your bag? You know…ride the rocket 350 train…and fuck me! (JD)
(www.beatville.com)
(Beatville Records, LLC PO Box 42462 Washington, DC 20015)

Scared Of Chaka "Crossing with Switchblades" CD/LP

Yes!!! Finally! After releasing like 4 or 5 (if you count "How to Lose") albums, Scared of Chaka has finally lived up to their potential and delivered the knockout album they always had in em! This isn’t to say their other albums weren’t good, they usually where, but it’s they where also horribly inconsistent. Luckily that’s a thing of the past on this album. Almost everything on here totally rules. It starts off like a lion and a jet engine getting in a roaring contest and from there it just maintains a consistent level of excellence. The second song - the best garage pop song of the year! The next two songs - crazed, raw, garage blasts that grab ya by the throat with talons like a fucking hawk! Okay sure the next three songs are kinda mellow (but still really good), but that’s just to give you a chance to catch your breath before the second half of the album takes off like a supersonic jet. I don’t really understand how anyone reading this could not like the song "Glass Socket/Broken Jaw." Like Triple H, it’s just that damn good. After that it’s all a blur: there’s a ruling instro, a fantastic Zombies cover, an awesome pop song, and a few rockers the way only SOC can make ‘em. One of these, "Shake It (Oh Yeah)," is garage rock in its purest, most undiluted form. It’s like a caveman on amphetamines doing 120 on the Autobahn. It’s the sound of getting way to drunk at a party, beating some guy up and then sleeping with his girlfriend. It’s the perfect soundtrack to breaking your head repeatedly through glass. In short, it’s one killer song. Top it all of with the second best garage pop song of the year in "I Don’t Wanna" and you’ve got a recipe for a total non-stop rock ‘n’ roll riot. Yeah! (SS)
(C’mon this is on Hopeless; it can’t be that hard to find.)

Scientists "Blood Red River" CD

Some young mumble-fuck recently remarked re: this band that, "their early stuff is great power pop. I dunno’ about the latter stuff, but you can probably ignore it." No, no, Spanky – you got it backwards. Confections like "Frantic Romantic" may tickle yer fuck bone, but the later art/swamp/kill/drone shit guts it like Sorority Gal #7 in "Dormroom Massacre 6…"

When I was a yoot in the mid (sucktime for rock ‘n roll) ‘80s, I picked up every piece of vinyl I could find from these boot-scooters, which was an ass-load. Some years back, I made a decent amount selling ‘em off, cuz hey-ho – "Rev Head" was as committed to memory as "Skulls" or "Street Where Nobody Lives" or "Stranded," so, like, SO? That being said, I haven’t listened to this unit in years. This ‘82-’84 vaulter sounds like how I ‘membered it – 2-note bass thunk, precision skins, swamp guit-noise and simple/stupid/profound lyrical action. The Suicide influence is even more prominent than I remember, probably because I’ve listened to a good bit of ‘em over the last few years, which makes Byron Coley dead on once again.

Suicide/Cramps meet and form a new minimalist rock archetype. The greatest tribute album ever is a Scientists’ trib called "Set it on Fire." Capt. Beef cover… Best rock ‘n roll band in the world during that two-year stretch? Later vault action to come. (TK)
(Sympathy)

Tina & The Total Babes "She’s So Tuff" CD/LP

Yeah. Tina and her three guy-friends kick out ten mesmerizing jams for you and me, kiddo. I’ve heard of having a song stuck in your head before, but an entire album? Who cares if most of them are covers? Works for the Detroit Cobras… Sounds like a brawl at a high school prom… Better than the Bobbyteens, tougher than Josie and the Pussycats… Way tougher, Joe…and you know this… (MB)
(SFTRI)

Trembling/New Grenada "Split" 7"

The Trembling are this darling little pop punk group that have the attitude of cool. It’s a cool attitude to have, but one that, for some odd reason, not many people are gifted with. So the Trembling…this girl fronted group with a casual demeanor, they’re punk. Some people might argue with me about that. They don’t have the rawness, the wrath, they’re "shooting blanks," or whatever… I’m telling you, man, they don’t need any of that cause they’re cool. And sometimes that’s just all ya need.

Now, New Grenada is whole other story. They’re this indie rock band who are quiet, mellow, and withdrawn. Their song, "Oberlin," is a leisurely romp into space. It’s a space case. You see, nothing happens in the song. It’s just there. It just moves along the space-time continuum without any comets of white and blue that could fascinate your mind, ears, and eyes. My spaceship’s passing right by in the ‘hyper-space’. (JD)
(www.newgrenada.com)
(Plumline Records PO Box 213 Marysville, MI 48040)

20 Dollar Whore "Teenage Fuckin’ Boredom EP" 7"

Atrocities of mass proportions… That’s what $20 Dollar Whore is all about. These kids live over in Finland and kickout some fan-fuckin’-tastic 70’s punk rock! Think the Heartbreakers with the snippiness of the Buzzcocks when they were but little babes. Like a nice, thick fuzzball draggin’ on yr turntable. Totally snotty. Totally out of control. Totally punk. Misery loves company, so join in on the hate. (JD)
(www.bigneckrecords.com)
(Big Neck Records PO Box 8144 Reston, VA 20195)

Uniform "Black and Vain" CD

Before I get on with the review I feel there is something I have to say about the label this CD is on: Morphius. I love them BUT I can hardly find any of their releases. I don’t know what it is about Cincinnati, but even though my personal record store of choice, a record store I feel is one of the best record stores in the region, there is still trouble finding their releases. I even called the label themselves to try and rectify the situation.

I told them their distribution sucked.

I told them I had been looking for their releases in stores and from a recent trip to Atlanta, Georgia I asked personnel at WAX-N-FACTS about releases by Morphius and The Fuses and they were like, "Who?"

I told them there was one band on their label that I had read about in Maximum Rock and Roll, who I couldn’t remember BUT one that I had looked for, couldn’t find it and just sort of forgot about.

This band turned out to be called National Razor, and I can’t find their shit either. If they had any promo copies left I was told I would be sent one. If not, they would let me mail order one for base cost. Even though I KNOW this isn’t how shit like this is supposed to go down; if someone REALLY wanted to hear my band and I figured it was probably going to get a good review, I WOULDN’T be talking ‘Base Cost’ bullshit, BUT THAT’S OK! I’m not above buying records now just because review material in the past few months has drastically reduced my record buying allowance. I still buy CDs; it’s just now I can be more Lewis & Clark about it and build up my music collection of Les Savy Fav releases.

I understand how there is supposed to be some form of struggle to find worthy music. In fact, I endorse it. With that in mind, Morphius, I KNOW, is one of the best labels out there. Consistently releasing product that gives me the fucking heebeegeebees. Good job.

So what it boils down to is that if you can find Morphius releases, good for you. If not then it doesn’t matter how much you like this review, if you can’t go down to your favorite underground music store and find their shit, you’re OUT OF LUCK.

***
So, The Uniform!!!!! Now this is a band I have liked since I first heard them. On past releases they have matured, seemingly alongside The Fuses, into a driving force of the Neoteric Punk/Wave. I know, I just know, that everything would be a bit more dull nowadays without The Uniform.

This CD didn’t strike me as hard as their splits with the Fuses...at first. After several listens I re-noticed the comparisons to Gang of Four and Mission of Burma, but on Black and Vain I could hear something more, and totally out of place: The Flesh Eaters! Yeah, Chris D! On Black and Vain there is an inherent stripped down art-folkness to it. Exposed and bleeding… Real and saturated with even angst… That GOOD angst where someone approaches you and calmly sez, "I hate your Fucking guts" and then hugs you. That shit is freaky.

Compared to past Uniform releases, Black and Vain MAY seem a bit more reserved but don’t mistake that for weakness. Black and Vain has underlying currents of greatness. EXCELLENT songwriting and structuring…

"Calling All Eunuchs"
"These Guys are Geniuses"
"Dictionary of Deconstructionalist"

Some great fucking songs! I get the inherent feeling that Black and Vain represent a turning point for the Uniform, all for the better too. The Uniform is one of those bands that spend their entire career releasing kick ass music that HARDLY ever gets noticed for one reason or other.

I am noticing.

Let’s change that. Lets not wait until 2009 to buy a box-set of hard to find rare and unreleased Uniform tracks to really appreciate this band. Let’s activate the HERE. NOW.

***
I’m serious about my music. I care. Caught in the Crossfire, I do what I do because I am passionate.

PASSION!
I
FUCKING care! (SAB)
(www.morphius.com)
(Morphius Records POB 13474 Baltimore, MD. 21203)

Unknown Mystery 60’s Supergroup "Volume II" CD

So at first I’m thinking to myself, "This has got to be a joke," but I don’t think it is. This really is in fact an Unknown Mystery 60’s Supergroup. Apparently, it all began when a reel to reel tape was purchased at a flea market in Philadelphia. The identity of the band was unknown...a mystery...super...um...Distortion Records released the material on CD in November of 1997 under the name (which I feel I have already said too many times) - The Unknown Mystery 60’s Supergroup. Enter the people from Octopus Recordings (who I’d like to apologize to for my delayed review). They issued requests for any information leading to the identity of these musicians in numerous classified ads. Fans, friends, and relatives responded and pointed Octopus in the direction of the band’s drummer, who gave up photographs and tapes (which made this volume possible) in exchange for continued anonymity. What an intriguing tale, right? Anybody who likes the "Nobody to Love (Mid-60’s Teen Folkpunk: 18 Tales of Tension & Trauma)" compilation on Teenage Shutdown is bound to get a kick out of this. (??)
(www.octopusrecordings.com)
(Octopus Recordings, P.O.Box 915, Wilsonville, OR 97070)

V/A "Cheese Borgers Pie and Ears Volume 2, Cleveland: Old scars-New Blood" CD

First off, let me state that after all the shit I read in stark criticism of "Pie and Ears Volume One" in some publications, I would regard myself to be captious of, it wasn’t such a bad release at all. In every way it filled its mission parameters, like this, the second volume- FOLLOW UP if you will.... But this volume is even better. It’s kick ass I would say....even.

Second off, this "Pie and Ears Volume" is the closest thing you will ever get to a legitimate sequel to the Terminal Records infamous "Cleveland Confidential." Featured tracks include murderously-dervish-intense and unreleased tracks from The Bronc’s (AKA The Broncos) performing "Last of You" a song I am downright surprized hasn’t been on a volume of Killed By Death by now, The AK-47’s "Monster Movies" which along with the other Confidential find’s has a real Texas style punk feel, The Impalers doing a snarling umber called "Twisted", The Styrenes doing a Pagans re-make of sorts of "Eyes of Satan" (but its not really a re-make because The Styrenes also feature Mike Hudson), The Clocks with the second most impressive track of the whole CD and definite stand out of all the Confidential finds, "Family Feud" but really, THEE standout of all the standouts on the CD is the track from Bernie and The Invisables called "I don’t know where I Am". Fucking GENIUS! PREMIUM! I know Frank at Smog Veil will eagerly read this review when it’s posted.... Dude takes notes! Take this note:

More Invisables!!!

NNNNNNOOOOOWWWWWW!

As well as the rare Confidential finds, you have return performances from The Breathing Blankets, Pink Holes, New Salem Witch Hunters, 2 Bobs, St. Jayne with a return track from Reason Seven really showing a lot of strength and promise. Besides the Confidential finds, Reason Seven hit all the right spots. Hey Frank, make another note:

More Reason Seven!!!

NNNNNNOOOOOWWWWWW!

New additions to the Pie and Ears legacy include new tracks from past Cleveland acts like Generics, The Idiot Humans, The Kneecappers (I’m actually not introduced to this band here, I have been a fan of theirs for a while now; great band, strong track!), The Pink Holes, The Disciples of Death, Floyd Band, The Monitors, Terrible Parade and The Offbeats who I actually have original 7"s of believe it or not.

The quantity of newer Cleveland bands on the compilation is small but still significant. Included are Stepsister, Phestur and a band that has even came up several times in music scene discussions in my close circle from time to time, The Chargers Street Gang.

I could see though that maybe the mission parameters could change a bit for upcoming volumes. Smog Veil is doing a great job at what they are doing, but I would love to see an expansion into surrounding Ohio scenes including past Ohio bands and newer Ohio bands. Hell, if there was just a small expansion to include Akron/Kent that could open up a whole new perspective. The proverbial well could be tapped of past Clone Records releases and newer Kent/Akron bands like CD Truth, Kill The Hippies and Radar Secret Service. But fuck, I’m not complaining here, I am just begging for more. I like what Pie and Ears does. I am eagerly awaiting more. (SAB)
(www.smogveil.com)
(Smog Veil Records774 Mays #10-454 Incline Village, NV 89451)

Virgin Mega Whore "The Door Knob of San Diego" 7"EP

The hot pink sleeve warns: "100% Nothing". That’s what got me to buy this record. Oh yeah, and the picture of a guy sucking off a strap-on worn by a topless woman. Oh yeah, and the other picture of a new-wave punker sticking a nail into his pee-hole. I know where these folks are coming from. Damage, anyone? Punk Damage, New Wave Damage, Hardcore Damage, Synth Damage, Sex Damage. Just plain…I don’t need to say it again. Virgin Mega Whore has brought us no wave punk that destroys sex. They say it themselves: "There are too many uses for things." They’ve gotta have some connection to Le Shok or The Locust or something of that nature (or lack thereof). Punky abuse interspersed with samples of maniac sexual dialog, Iggy’s "TV Eye" roar and Ian MacKaye’s "DON’T YOU FUCKING GET IT!!!!!!!!!" Do you get it? Will you get it? You probably should. (MC)
(Youth Attack! Records, PO Box 126321, San Diego, CA 92112-6321)

Wanna-Bes "S/T" LP/CD

Some would say that punk rock, at it’s best, is all about breaking rules. They would be wrong. The best punk rock doesn’t just senselessly defy convention in an ineffectual attempt at propagating a "rebellious" image; rather it follows a strict set of guidelines. Many of you may be aghast at this statement. I can hear you now, "But Steven in the Yah Mos review weren’t you praising them for eschewing common punk rock musical forms?" Yeah I was, but see the Yah Mos, while musically unorthodox, do follow the rules, whereas the aptly named Wanna-Bes do not. What are rules I’m blathering on about? They are elucidated in the sacred tome known as the Steven Strange Punk Rock RuleBook. Now you may be thinking, "Who are you, Steven Strange, a guy who’s only been reviewing records for like a month, to dictate a set of rules to bands who sometimes are comprised of guys who have been in the scene since you where in elementary school?" I’ll tell you who I am bucko; I’m a guy who buys a lot of records. As a guy who has purchased a bunch of records over the past seven years, I think I’m more than qualified to realize when something sucks. And certain things always suck, thus I’m left no recourse but to enact a set of rules in hopes of saving myself the agony of being exposed to them.

As I said earlier the Wanna-Bes break more than a few of the rules in the SSPRRB. As a service to you, the Blank Generation reader, I am going to list a few of the violations made by this album in hopes that I can spare you the torture I had to endure with this.

1) No punk rock album should ever under any circumstance feature a drawing of the band on the cover. This album is particularly bad since not only is the cover a lame drawing, but it’s a lame drawing of the band just standing around like total dweebs! I mean, c’mon if you’re gonna have a drawing of your band on the cover at least have the common sense to feature your band rocking out (ala "Road to Ruin"). Why not just use a fucking photograph if you’re gonna have your band standing around doing nothing on the cover?

2) Any band that writes songs with titles like "Vegetable" and "Medication" in an attempt to sound like the Ramones totally and irredeemably sucks. Actually when bands do this I’m never quite sure if they’re aiming for a poor man’s Ramones or a poor man’s Riverdales. One thing is certain however, the results of this usually end up sucking more ass than a toothless crack hustler. Everyone knows the Ramones where one of the greatest bands of all time, but biting surface elements of their sound and aesthetic does not a great band make. Quite the opposite; it makes them indistinguishable from the plethora of bands doing this shit. The Ramones where great because of their energy and songwriting, not because they sang about sniffing glue.

3) Bands should never release albums wherein the best songs have previously appeared on singles. Actually this rule isn’t set in stone, but when the best songs on an album weren’t the best songs on the single they originally appeared on, you know you have a problem. It also doesn’t help when the new versions are so overproduced they pack all of the punch of a ninety five year old paraplegic on life support.

4) There is never an excuse for a band to write a song about a video game (unless it’s well disguised) especially a video game that was recently made into a movie starring uber-skeeze Angelina Jollie. Never.

5) Bands should always stick to their strengths and avoid trying to be something they’re not. The Wanna Bes in evidence on their old Mutant Pop seven inch where an above average wimpy pop punk band. It’s so embarrassing I almost feel bad for em when they try to rock out on this album. Witness such stinkers as the aforementioned Ramones rehashes, the video game song, the ironically titled "This Party Sucks," and "Twilight Zone" for proof of this claim. I wouldn’t feel quite as bad about buying this if they stuck to the wussy pop punk sound like on songs like "Hello" and "Ways to Go," but as it is, rather than rocking me to Russia, this one left me feeling hosed like Dee Dee Ramone after a long, hard nights work on 53rd & 3rd. What the hell happened to Lookout? Recommended like Syphilis. (SS)
(Lookout Records)

Wildbunch "Danger! High Voltage" 7"EP

I’m gonna be totally fucking embarrassed when it’s time to tabulate my 2001 top ten list. EVERY SINGLE RECORD IS PROBABLY GONNA BE BY A BAND FROM DETROIT! I’m fucking disgusted with myself. I’ve been licking the collective butthole of this entire city for waaaaaaaaay too long, with good reason too. I foam at the mouth for all those bands, as most of you probably do. Everything on Tom Perkins rocks. Everything on Italy rocks. Sympathy’s continuous plundering of the area also rocks. And, last but not least, Flying Bomb rocks really hard. They do those Christmas singles, they did the fantastic MHz single earlier this year, and now this Wildbunch single. Fuck. Unbelievable. "Danger! High Voltage" (featuring Jack White) sounds like Captain Beefheart fronting Devo, trapped behind a distorted wall of fuzz, sax and synth. Fast, bulbous, uncontrollable. The two heavy tunes on the flip, "Neurocameraman" and "She’s Guatemala", continue the dance party. Play. Flip. Play. Over and over and over again… Man, the song titles even rock. (MC)
(www.flyingbomb.com)
(Flying Bomb Records, PO Box 971038, Ypsilanti, MI 48197)

Yah Mos "Undefeated" LP/CD

At first I was a little disappointed by this. The Yah Mos songs are a bit askew of what I normally listen to, so I found myself scratching my head over this. Then a funny thing happened. I found myself listening to this over and over, and with each subsequent listen it began to grow on me more and more. Now I’m convinced. The Yah Mos attacked their songs with the kind of manic intensity rarely seen nowadays. At times this sounds experimental, but never in a contrived, arty way. This is the sound of a bunch of guys keyed into the same primal source, brave enough to blaze their own trail, conventions be damned (but still trying to actually, y’know, rock). I’d be hard pressed to think of a single band that sounds like this. The first song pounds and throbs with all of the power of a tribal initiation rite. By the time you get to the quasi-hardcore "Off Yr Parents" you may get the feeling you’ve been drugged, abducted by a band of raving lunatics, and taken to a place far away from home. Don’t be alarmed; but rather, as many a guru has advised, go with it. The final song on this has the dubious distinction of being possibly the greatest song about punk rock ever written. Many of you may be put off by this being on a label like Gern Blandsten, but if these songs where released on some "Killed by Pud Stains Across North Eastern Iowa" compilation I bet these guys would be looked upon as legends. Do yourself a favor. Succumb to the Yah Mos brand of insanity. You may be alarmed at first, but you’ll thank me later. (SS)
(www.gernblandstenrecords.com)
(Gern Blandsten/POB 356 River Edge, NJ 07661)

Yum Yums "Singles ‘n’ Stuff" CD

You know the drill with these guys. What you’ve got here is 26 candy coated, chewy centered power pop treats guaranteed to cause tooth decay, gut rot, and to spoil your appetite before dinner. But hey, who the fuck needs dinner anyway when you’ve got snacks like this?!?! The particularly bright amongst you may have surmised by now that this is a compilation of singles and other odds & ends. As such, it’s heavily weighted towards covers, but don’t let that scare you cause I’m sure most of you haven’t heard the originals of a bunch of em (I know I haven’t) and even if you’re already familiar with a song pretty much everything these guys touch turns to gold. Highlights include: their first single, the way overproduced (but in a good way) single version of "Be With Me" (which I guess was a huge radio hit in Norway), the new song written by Paul Collins, and the utterly fantastic "Never Let You Go" which is worth the price of admission alone. Be warned though; you may end up needing dentures after this one. (SS)
(www.screaming-apple-records.de)
(Screaming Apple Records, Dustemichstr.14, 50939 Koln, Germany)

 
 
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