Record Reviews - September, 2002

A-Frames "S/T" LP

The A-Frames present us with an eponymous LP that is dark, droning, and robotic, yet undeniably refreshing. The loping bass, the peculiar guitar, the plodding drums, they combine like elements to create a musical compound that is both positive and negative; unorthodox, yet infused with the pop sensibility of the future. This truly is punk rock for the year 2025. "Chemical", "Electric Eye", "Transgenic"….all of them songs that seem like they shouldn’t be getting stuck in your head, but they do. The songs get you to the point where you think this shit might just be completely ridiculous, and then the music just sucks you back in amazement at the perfect simplicity of it all. Witness the creepy voyeurism of "Surveillance", the technological sterility of "Nobot", or the face-hammering conclusion of "Plastica" and tell me this isn’t genius of some sort at work. You should all rejoice the A-Frames have stepped out from behind the oblique oddity of their singles and given us this LP, a reminder of everything that is great and unusual about this shit we call music. One of the finest and weirdest albums you are going to hear this year. (RK)

Alcoholic Helltones "Trashed" 7"EP

Need I remind you that Texas is the drunkest state in the Union? With The Alcoholic Helltones, I was expecting a not-so-good, cookie-cutter version of the frantic, Rip Off TX combos, like The Dirty Sweets. NO! Only by appearance! This here is some weird 60's garage/70's punk hybrid that sounds much more Memphis than Austin. Bassy, fuzzy and just the right amount of organ, not bad. Ultra-lofi production reminiscent of the first Motards single, which is a good thing to emulate. Any way you look at it, very drunk. (MC)

Buff Medways "Steady the Buffs" LP

To be honest, I haven’t listened to a Childish LP as much as this one since Conundrum or The Good Times Are Killing Me. It’s completely fucking ace, actually blowing This is This right out of the water. It has also made me realize why I have bought all these Billy-band albums over the years: I like the security they provide in an increasingly shitty rock landscape. I know exactly what I’m getting for the most part, but changed just that slightest bit every time to keep it new, yet still comfortably the same…alright, enough of my idiot theories. This LP just does what it should, and that is to deliver the rock-and-roll goods. Of course, there’s some overlap from previous singles, but they are all stellar cuts. ("Archive from 1959", "Dawn Said", "Sally Sensation", etc..) Billy also manages to cover himself, reworking Thee Headcoats "Troubled Times" into the ripping "Troubled Mind", then covers Townsend’s "Ivor" (from the Sympathy single), and then pulls a cover double-whammy by redoing Steve and the Jerks cover of the Davies penned "Misty Water". "You Piss Me Off" adds another classic ripper to Billy’s acid-tongued canon. There’s a bit more of a Beat/Mod feel to some of this material, but you’ll be surprised at how hard a lot of these songs rock. This band just sounds fucking great, and this album is superior shit: outstanding originals, great covers, thick sound, and just good old not-so-clean fun. (RK)

Cripples "Dirty Head" CD

The Cripples are a pop-punk version of The Screamers. AND THEY'RE GOOD!!! Sorry, I know you‘d probably want to hate something like this, but it‘s impossible. This is damaged and delightful…like rotten candy. If you were to take some over-the-top-pop band and force them to listen to "122 Hours Of Fear" over and over and over again and you probably get something like this...except it would be way better than anyone ever expected. There are whoa-ohs and na-nanna-na-nas AND crunchy, keyboard/synth mayhem. Weird combo that totally works for me. Dirtnap has yet to deliver a non-killer LP. (MC)
(Dirtnap Records, PO Box 21249, Seattle, WA 98111)

Easys "You're High Maintenance (And I'm No Mechanic)" 7"

The Easys are basically the house-band at The Parkside, a great venue in SF. Nearly every show I‘ve seen there has ended in me vomiting…and The Easys have played most of those shows. So, by that logic...The Easys make me puke. For me, puking is a big relief. I tend to feel like total shit and fall down before puking. During and immediately after puking, I feel a rush of joy and gratefulness...the pain is gone afterwards. So...and I think you see where I'm going here...shit sucks really bad in SF and then The Easys play all the time, whipping everyone into a wild punk R&B frenzy...and I puke and feel better. Everybody wins. This is their first record. It's damn good and hopefully the first in a string of releases. Russell Quan picks his nose and plays drums for this band. He's joined by two ex-Rehabs and my vomit. (MC)
(Just Add Water Records, PO Box 420661, San Francisco, CA 94142)

F.M. Knives "Useless And Modern" CD

Let the record show that I hate reviews claiming that some record is the "Best Record of the Year" or something. It usually leaves the person reading the review let down when they actually buy or hear the record in question (assuming people are buying the records I say are good and hanging on my every word). However, I have faith in the readers of this zine, and assume you have the ability to immediately recognize something GREAT when you hear it. And...after too many listens, numerous road trips to Sacramento, and hearing their songs in my sleep, I can now say the following with the utmost confidence: The F.M. Knives' "Useless And Modern" album is the best record of 2002. I'm sorry...really...I am. Anyway, there's no need for me to type that in caps, or underline it, or use exclamation points like they are going outta style...that sort of thing might lead you to believe that I was talking out of my ass, being "Mr. Record Reviewer Asshole". No. The above statement is a fact. There's only one other record released this year that flirts with the greatness of this one (A-Frames LP), and the same guy put both records out. Anyway, yeah...this is the best and I'll bet a testicle that it will remain that way come December (I just bet a nut...goddamn, that Piranhas record better get delayed).

If you've met (or even been in earshot) of my fat, drunk ass over the past 2 months, you've probably heard slurring "sentences" much like "Boys'n'PVC...burparrrgh...Kids'n'Buzzcocks...hrouarburp...FMKNIVES!" far too many times. I apologize publicly to all of you, including the F.M. Knives band members (I even apologize in advance for this review). To those lucky enough to have avoided my drunken yet loving, verbal rim-jobs regarding this band, it's officially too late for you. Brace yourself.

At its most basic and generic, punk rock sounds like this: it's bounceable and/or danceable, it's got varying degrees of rudeness, and you can sing/yell along to it, and most records get by with one of those aspects missing. F.M. Knives do it all...but they also throw in some vocals and melodies that would make The Buzzcocks totally melt with envy, add a guitar sounds that cuts to the bone, and smother every tune with hooks. This is SWEET AND SLASHY. It's perfect. It's like all those great records that no one is capable of making today because they are too busy striking poses or too stupid to care about good tunes and good sounding records. This is not a stupid band. One listen and you can tell what they were trying to do and they fucking did it, from the tunes themselves to the excellent production to the fucking cover art. For me, that's what gets me going about bands: having a good idea and just fucking doing it. Seems like such a rare quality these days. No tough guy/girl band photos, no sneers, no leather. Just four guys, instruments, record collections, non-posey attitudes and know-how. This record sounds as authentic as all the classics its influenced by, and that's no fucking joke.

When EXACTLY was it that we all became synth-crazed mod twats? Has it always been that way and I just wasn't paying attention? I don't know...I fucking love all that stuff though, pretty much all I listen to. But I love this too. What's so refreshing about The F.M. Knives is that they don't do a goddamn thing except play perfect fucking punk rock songs. That's it. To top it all off, I've seen them drink Smirnoff Ice and I am STILL blown away. Now that’s a fucking band. (MC)
($10.00 ppd. to: Moo-La-La Records, 1114 21st St., Sacramento, CA 95814)

Hate Mail Express "12x4" CD

Ahhhhhhhhh...the not so soothing sounds of Hate Mail Express. From (my) neighboring community of Santa Cruz, CA come 4 kids who never saw the 70s. This is the sound of NOW! WI-WI-WILD YOUTH! I like it! I saw them play with The Rock'n'Roll Adventure Kids and Gravy Train!!!!, two tough and strange acts to follow. Guess what? They brought the fucking house down, stomped on it, rebuilt it and then tore it apart again. They're sweet looking kids, their grandmothers probably love them. But they're far from angels. Imagine The Drags' trashiness coupled with The Modern Lovers' fake innocence. Very romantic (Corbett of S.P.A.M. considers them rock'n'roll poets...what a hippie) and a good time, whiskey-fueled, rock band that is tough in their innocence. (MC)
(S.P.A.M. Records, PO Box 21588, El Sobrante, CA 94820)

Loose "Untamed" 7" EP

Total Radio Birdman worship from Italy! Yeah! Best listened to at loud volumes, Loose has that special brand of blaring guitar-work and bellows from the gut that’ll sucker-punch any fiend of rock and/or roll. 4 songs, hey! (JD)
(Rockin’ House PO Box 12705 Reading, PA 19612-2705)

Los Olvidados "Listen to This" CD

This is Volume Two of Alternative Tentacles’ new Skate Rock series of full length albums from forgotten eighties bands. First of all, AT should stop fucking around and reissue the old Thrasher Magazine "Skate Rock!" comps immediately. Do we really need a full Drunk Injuns reissue, a band whose mystique far outweighed their musical prowess? Who can stand to listen to Mofo’s comical vocal warbling for more than one or two songs? The best "skate rock" came from bands that transcended the genre. (Big Boys, Agent Orange, and a couple others were far more than just skate rock bands.) The others operating strictly in the genre were notable mostly for the pro skaters in the line-up. I will admit that some of these bands and songs do deserve to be remembered, and it’s all very nostalgic, and we know nostalgia sells. So, we end up with an album from Los Olvidados: semi-legendary, if just for the fact that they never released an album of any sort, and a band that always got good word of mouth from the few that actually heard them. I decided to bite on this one, and was pleasantly surprised. This isn’t just your run of the mill juvenile skate rock. It’s like the fucking Dead Boys playing skate rock at times. No songs about skating specifically, thank god (Suicidal Tendencies "Possessed to Skate" was the high water mark for that shit, and it should have ended there). There are a couple lapses into the lyrical stupidity common for the genre ("Bang Bang You’re Dead", "Give Me Liberty or Gimme a Gun"), but it was the Eighties, so we’ll give them a break. "So Dull" is such a great Stiv-esque song I can’t believe it. There are some other great melodic punk numbers, and it all sounds good production-wise as well. It gets into more thrashed-out Cali-punk style towards the end, but it doesn’t degenerate into tiresome hardcore like you think it would. Good straight punk from a band that actually seems to have lived up to their hype. Guitarist Mike Fox became Wholley Smokes and went on to play in Epitaph-era Dwarves, and bassist Ray Stevens went on to play in two of the more decent skate rock bands, Odd Man Out and The Faction. While I can’t vouch for the other volumes in this series, Los Olvidados is worth it for those looking for a blast of eighties-style nostalgia. So, what’s next? The Greatest Hits of Skatemaster Tate? A Boneless Ones discography? The Beyond Possession collection? The possibilities are frightening. (RK)
(Alternative Tentacles, PO Box 419092, San Francicsco, CA 91414)

Mommy and Daddy "S/T" CD

"The Sonny and Cher of electropunk"

If that doesn’t peak yr interest I don’t know what will. With drummmmmachine loops and fuzzed out bass lines, Mommy and Daddy are a duo that plays some odd no wave punk that gets more addicting after each listen. Campy…lame band name…whatever yr thinking Mommy and Daddy be will be sure to punish you if you don’t do what they say. Check them out, like, NOW! (JD)

Registrators "no Fantasy" 2X7" EP/CD

I think I’ve finally come to terms with the realization that the Registrators peaked with Sixteen Wires after listening to this disc. It was hard for me to dismiss such a once great band, but I think it’s finally time to cut bait. The boys are going for the Futuristic sound and look these days it seems, from the album art to the sterile recordings. The songs here sound like they were recorded in the janitor’s closet of a million-dollar studio, and it’s not a good thing. The sound is way too compressed, as if they have squeezed the soul right of the music. It’s power pop that plods along pleasantly enough, yet doesn’t do a thing to get your attention. Gone is any bit of the sense of urgency or dynamics that Sixteen Wires had so much of. Every mechanical-sounding drum track sounds exactly the same, as if they’re backed by one of those wind-up drum playing monkey toys. I don’t know if that’s what they were going for, but they get it down perfectly. I’m not going to say it’s an absolutely terrible record, because it’s not. It’s just generic power pop that lacks personality for the most part, and is remarkable only for the fact that it sounds so odd. I won’t bother recommending a track because they all sound identical. (RK)
(WaveForm Records 2-3 Kanda Awajicho, Chiyuda-Ku, Tokyo 101-0063 Japan)

Sagger "Skull Rider" 7" EP

Real cool Mistreaters- like guttural noise from the label that has cornered the market in this stuff. These guys are a good definition of the "Big Neck sound", if there is such a thing. Four quality tracks, one of which has something to do with Dungeons & Dragons, rock-and-roll, and rolling dice. Now that’s truly scary. Another winner for Big Neck, and some more quality tracks for the Bloodstains Across Wisconsin comp LP that should be out in about fifteen years. The only bad thing about this record is the cover art. What is that, a buzzard hauling a sack of laundry? A vulture with a hunchback? I don’t know, and I don’t really care because this shit is top notch. This is what Estrus should be putting out these days. Kill-A-Watts fans note: that’s Ryan "Sir Snacks-A-Lot" Kill-A-Watt on drums. Go and buy now. (Wasn’t Sir Snacks-A-Lot the name of one of the Go-Nuts though?) (RK)
(Big Neck Records PO Box 8144, Reston, Virginia 20195)

Sagger "Mind Wrath" 7"

Fuck, another Sagger record! Trick Knee would be better at explaining what these kids are all about but here it goes… Evil! Ev-Fuckin’-ill! Sagger is lofi, and garagey, and pissed off! One guitar, one set of drums, and one kid screamin’ and shakin’ like he’s possessed. Feel the vibrations…TODAY, DEAD BOYS! (JD)
(Goodbye Boozy – Via Villa Pompetti, 147-64020 S. Nicolo [TE] Italy)



Scat Rag Boosters "I Mean It’ 7"

Ah Montreal… Ah Canada… I was just there you know…really… I was up visiting Shaun Anagram, record shopping and all that jazz… They didn’t have the jazz festival going on, but I still had a blast… There are all these sex shops up there…it’s weird… New York has gotten so clean with that stuff…I’ve forgotten… It’s like people can’t get laid up in Montreal or something so they need all these sex shops, even the women… What they really NEED is more drugs…

Anyway, that’s where the Scat Rag Boosters were from…Montreal. A lofi roar of garage rock ‘n’ roll much like those southern belles at Goner Records. If you’re into the Oblivians/Reatards/Persuaders vibe then you HAVE to hear the ‘Booster…R.I.P… Yeah, they’re long gone…but vinyl…that shit lives FOREVER! IMMORTALITY! (JD)
(Goodbye Boozy – Via Villa Pompetti, 147-64020 S. Nicolo [TE] Italy)

Sick Lipstick "S/T" CD/12"

Killing your senses with a sonic-boom of the no-wave, The Sick Lipstick! Ex-Black Cat #13! The Sick Lipstick with fuzzzzzed|out/phazer keyboards and screeching guitars that’d make Thruston Moore proud, these kids rocket through the neoteric© punk/wave like a shot to the head. They explode to "The Bloody Ropes," Creamy Plastic Pink Leotard," Sermon From Between His Legs," "Smudged Lipstick," "Cardinal Newman" (Nervous Gender!!!), and "Let Me See Your Woman’s Bump!" Don’t stop the push button panik! (JD)
(Sound Virus PO Box 55783 Valencia, CA 91385)

South "Chomp!" CD

The South, who are from the south, me thinks, are a band that mixes the hardcore screams of Crucifix with more transparent crests of indie music. Not totally pussie and not totally raw, the South have a fondness for fury and melody. Another odd blend that tastes great…like peanut butter and jelly. The South – one choice sandwich. (JD)
(Dead Tank Distro 3109 Fort Jackson Dr. Jacksonville, FL 32246)

Subtonix "Tarantism" CD/LP

The first and last record from these San Francisco dead-girls… The Subtonix broke up. But at least they’ve left us with a 10-song album of horror synth-punk that’ll put a stop to gothic kids of new. The Subtonix are a sister band to the Lost Sounds. They are intense on the keyboard effects and like dark places… Not as overly apparent as the Lost Sounds, these girls go for the introspective view of life and death and aim for the throat. Solid, like a tombstone… (JD)
(Troubleman Unlimited 16 Willow St. Baymore, NJ. 07002)


Sweet JAP "Virgin Vibe" CD

First of all, I’ve vowed to review all new Japanese bands records’ without any comparisons to Teengenerate and/or The Registrators from now on. Sweet JAP have a mighty fine album full head-on punk rock destruction here. They kick you in the balls right out of the gate, and don’t let up until about four tracks in, when they stop to add some roll to the fucking rock. Then they start back up with the ultra-rocking shit again a few songs later, delivering the head-kick pinnacle of "Punk Vibe" somewhere near the end. Speedy and powerful punk with wonderfully shouted vocals that bring to mind the Baseball Furies at points. I guess this is import only on 1+2 Records for now, but supposedly Big Neck is releasing the CD version domestically. Great stuff that should make a lot of people’s Top Ten lists this year. (RK)

XBXRX w/ Quintron + Miss Pussycat/The Sick Lipstick "Split" 7"

XBXRX was around for a while, I think…though the band broke up… But yeah, if yr a scrupulous alley cat you’ll wanna check out their keyboard beat no-wave/punk and blast off into space like me. Orbit around two tracks of killer attitude and way far out weirdness. The Sick Lipstick…yeah! One tune, "Teenage Robots," it’s just full of ear-piercing guitars and sound synths. Over the top no-wave/punk for the eons… (JD)
(Deleted Art c/o Samsonowitz, Lars Kaggsgatan 43A, 415 04 Gothenburg, Sweden)

© 2003