Record Reviews - March, 2002

Catheters "Static Delusions and Stone Still Days" CD

This, the second full length from these lads from the Pacific Northwest, comes to us courtesy of SubPop Records. Are we considering SubPop a major label yet? Just wondering… Anyway, these "kids" have been around the block a few times already. Some of them were still in high school when they put their first record out, and now I am assuming they have graduated and could even be college boys at this point. Their recording career started out with two great singles a couple years back (one was on Empty, and the other, better one, was actually one of the SubPop singles of the month). Then they released a self-titled full length on Empty, which was literally empty. Devoid of any of the fire or anger they showed on the singles, their material was reduced to below average Stooges/Stones swipes that lacked any of the creativity of their earlier output, and barely held ones attention. Then last year they released another scorcher of a single on Kapow! Records ("You Can’t Stay This Way Forever"), seemingly showing us they are still capable of writing great songs, if not making a great album. So, when I was about to listen to this full length, my expectations weren’t very high. The Catheters surprised this time though, as this album actually holds up pretty well after repeated listening. There are some catchy tunes here, reminiscent of their better singles, full of piss and teenage blood. The Dead Boys/Dolls cops are somewhat obvious, but who the hell isn’t copping Thunders’ riffs these days. The singer has the Bators punk rock sneer down pat, and has a great delivery. The vocals are really the main reason to listen to The Catheters, as the music could be called somewhat pedestrian. Yet they manage to rock enough to sustain interest through some hard riffing and creative guitar work, although the production is definitely too polished.

Comparison-wise, you could say they rock like the best Electric Frankenstein or early Hellacopters tunes, but without those bands’ shortcomings. Or they do what The Black Halos tried to do, but never could: sound good and not suck. Thankfully, The Catheters don’t seem to have fallen for the Southern Rock schtick many bands have adopted these days. (The Hellacopters, Zen Guerilla, Tight Bros., etc…) Things manage to stay pretty sharp, without degenerating into fuzz-fest boogie stomps or wanking guitar solos. Things only go bad for the kids when they try to slow things down, which they do a couple of times on this album to bad effect. When they keep the songs fast and rockin’ they score most of the time. The first five songs are all keepers, and then they run out of gas around track six. Attention wanes for a couple of songs, then they throw another good straight punk number in around track nine, toss off a couple more throwaway tunes, and finish with a solid number, the anthemic "What Have They Done to You?" Overall, seven good tracks out of eleven and the first five smoke enough to get me to call this album pretty good. Or at least much better than their first… It isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but these kids cook pretty well when they want to. Young, loud, and snotty, indeed.

Of special note is the packaging, which is done purposefully off-center and made to look like a misprint. There is a disclaimer on the front of the disc that claims it is part of SubPop’s "ongoing effort to subvert the ordinary." Are we talking about the same label here? And is a label that says "NOTICE! CONTAINS ART!" really necessary? Well, this is the best thing SubPop has done in a long time (not counting the Radio Birdman reissue), since I can’t remember the last time I bought a record on SubPop. (The Go? That Hookers single?) And isn’t "The Catheters" one of the most uncomfortable band names ever? (RK)
(SubPop Records PO Box 20645 Seattle, WA 98102)

Conflict "Now You’ve Put Your Foot In It" CDEP


Hi, Shawn… Conflicts/Cornflakes…is a politico/anarcho English punk rock band. You know ‘em…fast tunes…that all sound the same… This CDEP has two studio record tunes and two live tunes…"These Things Take Time"…REGGAE! I don’t know…4 tracks? (JD)
(Go-Kart Records PO Box 20 Prince St. Station NY, NY 10012)

Eyes Like Knives "S/T" CDEP

This band reminds me of another band…another band I don’t like. Let me see… It’s not quite emo… It’s not quite punk rock… It’s not quite indie-rock… Anyway, ‘kay, so, Eyes Like Knives did a great job recording this EP. The guitars and bass and drums, and even the vox, are all thick and warm, like a vinyl recording. I wanna know their secret. Wait! I got it! Mix Fugazi (that's the band I don't like) with the Explosion (I like those guys) and you shall get Eyes Like Knives (I like these guys too). Except for the first track, I dig this CD (mostly due to the great female backup vox that add a whole new dimension to their tunes), so try ‘em out. Oh, and props on the creative artwork. That silver ink better not get on my CD lens… (JD)
(Eyes Like Knives 1084 Boylston St. #2 Boston, MA 02115)

Gasolheads "Red Wine & White Russians" 10"

Can’t go wrong with a title like that…or can you…NO! Of course you can’t!

The Gasolheads still have the (better) Safety Pins sound. So, like, booze it up and turn it up like the animal you are. These Frenchies (France is my home country, you know… Gotta support!) have the fast rock ‘n & or’ roll noise with catchy, danceable licks that make me gyrate. Fun. (JD)
(Dead Beat Records PO Box 283 Los Angeles, CA 90078)

Generators "State of the Nation" 10"

Moving on and moving forward, Deadbeat gives us the new Smogtown. Well, that moving forward stuff may be questionable to a degree because I wouldn’t consider a clone or a replica of something an improvement, after all something could be lost in the process.

The Generators The Smogtown; this is one sentence.

Whereas The Generators are LIKE Smogtown, I do see some degrees of separation. Plain and simple unlike the war on terrorism, The Generators State of the Nation 10" is not as up and keen, as hard hitting and revelatory, as The Smogtown Beach City Butchers 10".

There’s something lost in the process. That is one sentence.

You see, I don’t think recent Smogtown releases are as good as Beach City Butchers 10". Deadbeat really captured something on that record. Generators State of the Nation could very well be the follow-up to Smogtown’s Beach City, maybe even more so than Smogtown’s Furhers of the New Wave LP. Generators State of the Nation is nowhere near the heavy hitter that Smogtown’s Beach City Butchers is, but it’s NOT BAD.

Not Bad. That is one sentence.

Eight songs… Once again, quality production in fact, a little too clean really, but nothing to whine too much about… Some decent New beach punk in songs like "Here Comes the Plague", "Fantastic Disastor", and "Voices in His Head" a cover of The Cock Sparrer song "Running Riot" is part of two live songs from the 2001 Holidays in the Sun festival in San Fran-frisco. Cock Sparrer… Yeah, that’s so 1997…

Miami Vice Soundtrack LPs and Shock Troops… I listen to both at parties for the same reasons now, nostalgia…

I know the way things are.... I think The Generators have other material out, probably on Disaster Records or something I’m guessing… But THIS time I’m not going to run out and follow up this 10" with a sub par "full-length" follow up. Deadbeat seems to capture bands when they are at their peak, so I will probably just leave The Generators here, where they at least have a decent standing with me. (SAB)
(Dead Beat Records PO Box 283 Los Angeles, CA 90078)

Generators "State of the Nation" 10"

The Generators… You know I used their full-length CD to squish a spider? I kid you not… That fucker was asking for it… Both the CD and the spider… Creepy crawly things…yuck!

I DID like that 7" the Generators put out on TKO Records. But that CD wasn’t produced right…all clean and shiny…and certainly not punk rock. Anyway, THIS 10" IS more like their 7" on TKO. More gritty…still catchy…UK styled punk rock. Like the US Bombs… They have a song called "Tough As Nails"; and that always brings up my friend Jim – who IS tough as nails. Don’t fuck with that guy… Where was/am I? Oh yeah, Cock Sparrer IS soo 1997… (JD)
(Dead Beat Records PO Box 283 Los Angeles, CA 90078)

King Khan and His Shrines "Three Hairs and You’re Mine" LP/CD

Coming off what I considered to be the best EP of the year 2001, the hilarious "Spread Your Love Like Peanut Butter" on Sounds of Subterranea, the Shrines have dropped the adjective "Sensational" and also dropped their first full length on us. King Khan is, of course, the man we used to know as Blacksnake from The Spaceshits, doing his best James Brown/Screamin’ Jay Hawkins impersonation. (Complete with skull in hand on album cover.) Khan and the Shrines play up the jungle/voodoo angle on this release, foregoing some of the party R&B and crude hilarity of the EP, but still managing to ooze sex out of the grooves. It’s a great party record, just with some more straight-ahead garage rockin’ numbers. The horn section and organ are featured more prominently, with a little too much organ at times, but what the hell. This shit is all about excess. There are a couple of slow crooners for the slow dance crowd, and a cool cover of "Crackin’ Up." The title track smokes, as does "Kukamonga Boogaloo," "Saba Lou" is some cool voodoo-rock shit, and "Tell Me" sounds like a straight up JB’s number. "The Mashed Potato Itch" is nice and trashy, but doesn’t live up the greatness of its title. Still, this is the coolest shit as far funk-soul-trash-voodoo-rock-R&B-soul goes, and will cause chicks to shake some ass. Sexy and soulful, yet trashy and dirty as well… An excellent entry into the abundant list of ex-Spaceshits bands, and probably some of the most original shit around, even though it isn’t exactly original. Produced at Toe Rag by Liam Watson and issued on Lightning Beat-Man’s Voodoo Rhythm Records. Get a hold of the guys at Cargo Distribution or e-mail the Beat-Man himself to get a copy in the states. (RK)
(Voodoo Rhythm Records Scheibenstrasse 53, 3014 Bern, Switzerland)

Nubs "S/T" CD

The Laziest Fucks in the World have finally graced us with a full-length release after twenty-two years, and it’s worth the wait. My only complaints are that it doesn’t include one of their best songs, "Love is a Drag", and that some of the mix could use some dirtying up. But, whatever, there’s enough good shit on this CD-only release. It includes their first single, "Job/Little Billy’s Burning", which was originally released in 1980, plus twelve recently recorded tracks. The amazing thing is that, other than a slightly bigger recording sound, there isn’t much of a difference between the newer stuff and the two older tracks; it’s still simple, snotty, stripped-down punk rock, except for a few, slower rock numbers. A friend of mine pointed out that this stuff sounds like early Southern California beach punk, and he’s right. Except, these guys don’t sing about surfing and skating, but about fucking dead bodies, killing everybody, letting your baby drown while you go score downers, and having no legs. Jim Stockford and Dave Muniz still sound like goofy, high-strung teen-agers living in the most dysfunctional homes and neighborhoods ever. Here are a few snippets: "the dick pulls out of the asshole/it withers as it drools" (Morgue Watch); "baby’s in the bathtub feelin’ no pain/mommy’s in the bathroom huffin’ cocaine" (Ivory); "I’ll find you, I’ll kill you, I’ll freeze your stumps/just so I can feed you to some retarded chumps" (Chainsaw Love); and "I can look inside your head/I can see you want me dead/Don’t take it out on me in bed" (You’re too neurotic). I’m seeing black and yellow checkers all over my walls and want to pogo through the roof. (SH)
(The Nubs P.O. Box 210418, San Francisco, CA 94121-0418)

Rocket from the Tombs "The Day the Earth met the Rocket from The Tombs" CD


Like the back cover sez: One of the greatest albums NEVER recorded. As the dust settles more and more on the real unabridged history of punk-rock there has been some great re-truths to the whole glorious mess that has elevated the Cleveland scene to that of great importance.

Reference point one: The Electric Eels
Reference point two: The Pagans
Reference point three: Pere Ubu
Reference point four: The Mirrors
Refrence Point five (reluctantly): The Dead Boys

Cleveland - The Hole truth and nothing but the truth.

Continuing their focus on Ohio past and present, Smog Veil accomplished the astronomical task of assembling a collection of demos and practice tapes from a band accumulating members from Pere Ubu and The Dead Boys before those bands existed. Fucking astronomical!!!

Take what you will and leave the rest to rot, those of you following my writings will know of my less than supportive, what I like to call an "un-belief" in the thing called The Dead Boys (I prefer the REAL sound that was The Pagans) and to tell you the truth I have as much reverence for Pere Ubu than The Pagans. I number some Pere Ubu tracks as very influential to what I now deem the Neoteric Punk/Wave.

Rocket from the Tombs is another chapter, not the first, but definitely one of the first three, in the hidden history of punk-rock’s beginnings. Charged by danger level rock and or roll like The Stones, Alice Cooper, Velvet Underground and The Stooges, Rocket from the Tombs took what influenced them and took it to the next level.

The sounds survived the sonic reduction. We were left with a Final Solution of our own that was...

A Final.

Look at what this band did, and the fact that they were called Rocket from the Tombs; this band is long DEAD, a true rocket from the tombs exploding and making one realize, Cleveland is more than a rust belt midwestern city...

"30 Second Over Tokyo"
"What Love Is"
"Life Stinks"
"Sonic Reducer"
"Down In Flames"

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. The same thing I was thinking.... Wow, this band sure does a lot of covers; those are all Dead Boys and Pere Ubu Songs...... HAHAHAHAHAHA, but seriously....get a life, I’m STILL looking for one of my very own...(vampiric; we all’s gotta be SOMETHING)

Rocket from the Tombs is superior to the Dead Boys, and more closer to Pere Ubu than one might think, at first. Cut it either way in generous proportions, this is some intense shit. A MUST HAVE.

Listening to the disc, reading the liner notes… Just as I believe a movie should be written and made about the Texas punk scene, a better one would be a movie chronicling the Cleveland/Ohio scene including the Electric Eels and Rocket from The Tombs.

Dave Thomas as himself… Stiv Bators, the beginning of the end… The kid in back everyone hated, but needed to brake it all in half and set the pieces in motion. The Electric Eels as the true mover and shaker artists they were.

I have just one more thing to say before you go out and get this:
After The Electric Eels Eyeball from Hell.... Rocket from The Tombs...It all makes sense now..... (SAB)
(Smog Veil Records774 Mays #10-454 Incline Village, NV 89451)

Sunday Drunks "S/T" CD

Now here you got some good shit. The promo sez something about this band being three parts of a Dallas band called The Mullens. I have heard OF them, but never HEARD them... Maybe I should do some back catalogue work because this CD is really pretty damn good.

Rockin’ punk and rockin roll. You know that time when you were drinking all day long and you reach that point where you begin drooling? Its not like you can help it or anything, that sorta shit just happens. Well, a CD of the Sunday Drunks caliber would definitely fit in at that moment.

The Sunday Drunks is a cheap beer band; like Pabst Blue Ribbon or Miller High Life turned dark beer drinking. The Sunday Drunks are a prime example of a punk band that’s progressing leaving three chords and cheap beer being for expensive guitars and ‘better’ beer. Dark beer being better is something I personally don’t agree with, but extensive micro-brew knowledge is something that I could see a band like The Sunday Drunks being involved with.

Yeah, the Cryin Out Louds and The Motards ARE gone, like the promo sez… Even though I don’t see The Drunks being anywhere near a band like that of The Motards, it’s like I said, it is pretty damn good though. Maybe if The Motards had kept it together it could have turned into something like this.... In fact, yeah, I think it DEFINITELY could have. So that shit about The Drunks NOT being as up there as The Motards, shit, now I’m seeing The Sunday Drunks as a Motards continuance. The Sunday Drunks are a Motards that found a better studio.

Packed with twelve all-original tracks, The Sunday Drunks have some real blast here. As the release progresses it gets nothing but better and better. Starting off on a strong mark with "Tarred-n-Feathered" it reaches Point: Critical about halfway through with "When Your Gone", "Take a Fall" and "One on One".....

I’m going to pull some straight up gold out of my hat. To understand what I’m about to say you better have followed my reviews close because I’m going to talk about a Cincinnati local now that I think have something on The Sunday Drunks. That band is The Hypochondriacs. What The Hypochondriacs have on the Drunks is the fact that I know them personally, and the locals are more important than the best band of the style in the world from anywhere else. Go ahead and go down to the Blank Generation (dot com) search engine and look them up. The Hypochondriacs. The Hypochondriacs have that good ol’ fashioned rock and or roll sound, but something that The Hypochondriacs have that the Sunday Drunks DON’T have (because the Hypos are now drinking dark beer on a regular basis), besides the luck of being local, is a rawer more dirty-gutter struggle punk sound. Hearing The Sunday Drunks made me realize, once again, how pertinent The Hypochondriacs are. It also made me realize that if I was in a position that Tom has with Deadbeat, I would maybe try to fly out to Ohio and try to capture some of the wild talent out here with bands like The Hypochondriacs that extends to Kill The Hippies, the Gazelles, and others. But hey, no problem. The Sunday Drunks really won me over.

Hats off to dark beer punk! (SAB)
(Dead Beat Records PO Box 283 Los Angeles, CA 90078)

V/A "Underachievers #5" CD

I listened to this comp. featuring current, Tucson, AZ underground bands while driving from thrift shop to thrift shop in Stockton, California. The sounds totally fit the landscape and atmosphere because the two towns are so lazy, easy-living similar, except that 1. Stockton’s got way better thrift stores, and 2. Tucson’s got way better bands and music venues. And, please, don’t try telling me about Value Village, Pavement [okay, that 10" is killer], Chris Isaac and the Antidomestix, or the Java Hut.

Maybe Stockton does have good, weirdo, non-NOFX, ska or Weezer-wanna-be bands, but we don’t know about them because they don’t have a guy like Star Time Records mogul, Scott Moody to put their stuff out. Of course, as with most local scene comps, this runs the gamut from rockabilly to death metal to new wave, so not everything will be to every narrow mind’s liking. I think some of the material just plain sucks, like the annoying Bebe & Serge track "She’s Got Your Man (Cricket)", the plodding metal of Cloven Hoof, or the lead vocals to the Weird Lovemakers’ cover of "Uncontrollable Urge." Another typical local scene comp. thing is for otherwise great bands to submit throwaway tracks, of which there are a few of here.

Still, there are enough good songs on this to make it well worth your while. Fuck, that Screenz tune, "Get Away This" is worth way more than a measly ten bucks; I really can’t describe how great it is. It features a distorted guitar and a synth playing the same somewhat atonal, modernist line, but they’re not hitting the same notes. The drums pulse like a keg-of-beer, eight-ball-of-cocaine hangover headache. In the background, a two-year-old on helium and roofies is whispering something deadly and indecipherable in your ear. GOD, WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? Man, these guys are creepy, and would make the Electric Eels proud and violent.

The Resonars’ track, "Pretty Little Rose", on the other hand, would make the MC5 proud. Ever lament the fact that most, if not all current, supposed MC5 bands are not rock n roll bands like the MC5, but rather bad hard rock acts like Mountain? Well, cry no more. You also don’t have to cry anymore if you’ve been just dying for gay Mexican cops to don muppet outfits and rip through some pretty killer surf rock, as the Los Federales do on "Theme from Dude Beach." Shit, there’s actually a bunch of good shit here: a stoned-out raga from Sun Zoom Spark, trashed-up, wreckless punk from The Ficas and Dickless Torso, Cure-style new wave from Teen Suicide, Young Marble Giant-like, drumless pop wave from Super 78, dirty emo punk with perfect guitars from Hobart, layers of feedback and screams from The Blacks, and excellent organ-driven rock, with maybe the best vocals on this comp. from The Okmoniks. Well, the Okmoniks’ vocals are probably equaled on a different level by ZTTF’s hilariously fucked-up, government-conspiracy punk song "Pee Pee Control". "Now, they’re gonna control your little weenie", or something like that. Now I wish Tucson and Frisco could be squished together. That would be fucked-up. (SH)
(Star Time Records. PO Box 43091, Tucson, AZ 85733)

© 2003