Record Reviews - November, 2002

Absentees "Illegal Listening Device: 1979-2000" CD

Lately, the whole "I need to buy a new Killed By Death so I can hear some rippin’ punk rock" line of thinking has been rushing through my head. Low and behold, I find this CD in my PO Box. Yesssssss! This CD spans The Absentees’ output from 1979-2000, including the highly sought-after debut single. Then you are given a half dozen unreleased tracks...a treat indeed! Also included are the 1999-released "Firepower" CD and 2000’s "Neighbors Against Narcs" (which I reviewed a while back), both in their entirety. Up until the "Neighbors Against Narcs" material, The Absentees were sort of messing around with a sound similar to Angry Samoans or Wimpy-era Queers. However, the "Narcs" stuff shows them coming into their own…and it’s fucking great. Minutemen meet The Dead Milkmen, with an added theme of police brutality, not to mention pop sensibilities. I’m not saying "emo" because I don’t like that guy...He’s a narc! I’m not comfortable enough to do a LP like "Neighbors Against Narcs"…but The Absentees are...If I let it all hang out...If I let it all go...If I open up the gates...I may never come back. Don’t believe me? Just ask Sugar-Bear…Seriously, this CD is great. If you’re a fan of Killed By Death punk, this is a must. A MUST!!!! More. More. More. Yesssssss! (SAB)
(Artifix Records, POB 641 Moreo Valley, CA. 92556-0641, www.artifixrecords.com, artifix@artifixrecords.com)

Bad Form "No More Neo No Wave, It’s The Bad Form" 7"EP

To tell the truth, I’m not quite sure to make of this. At first, I thought this was crap, but now I’m not so sure. Their singer is cut from the chain smoking, glass gargling, leg-caught-in-a bear-trap mold, which usually is a big turn off for me, but it actually works pretty well with The Bad Form`s art damaged, KBD meets boogie rock sound. The choice cuts here are "No Dinner" and "Sell Yourself", both of which are highlighted by some frenzied guitar mania that hits the spot quite nicely. This may not be the best record to put on during your next make-out session, but it’s perfect for the next time you feel like spasmodically dry humping a drawer full of knives. (SS)
(Youth Attack Records, POB 126321, San Diego, CA 92112-6321)

Bad Machine "Rip Your Heart" CD

This is pretty similar to The High Beams…except Bad Machine’s jeans are dirtier. Cowboy hats. Chain wallets. TRUCK STOP PUNK. Bad Machine is like a Skynard version of Turbonegro…Southern Fried Death-Punk. I don’t hear any Jam influence in Bad Machine like I heard with the High Beams. Bad Machine is big rock of a lesser degree. They’re solid and the songs on this CD are good. If they had been around in the mid-70s maybe you would see them on those commercial TV rock compilations. Like most of us, Bad Machine was born about 15-20 years too late. HOWEVER, you could look at them as being EARLY for the NEXT WAVE. Either way, there is a market for stuff like this. Unfortunately, it’s a big market, with lots of competition. One day, you will wake up and see bands like Bad Machine everywhere. All the majors will need one or two in their hand or they’ll walk around in their Armani suits feeling cheated.

Bad Machine is a band taking their knocks right now. I hope they continue doing their thing and make others work for them as opposed to them working for others. On "Rip Your Heart", I see a band that’s playing AT YOU, not FOR YOU. I respect that. Yeah, you can yell "Livin’ in a Freak Out World" out at a live set. If they hunker down and rush to play it for you, I’m wrong. If they do play it, that’s OK…they are still playing AT YOU. If they work it in JUST for you, I guess you missed the point. Just because you go and see a band doesn’t mean they are your fucking slaves! The Bad Machine: at you not for you!!!! You can’t buy advice like that from just anyone...come along with me to my secret evildoer
cave. (SAB)
(Deadbeat Records, PO Box 283, Los Angeles, CA.90078, badmachine@mail.com)

Baseball Furies "Greater Than Ever" LP

I always miss the boat. I’m never current on anything. Old news is new news to me. For example, I didn’t find out Wilt Chamberlain died until a year later. Records…I don’t buy ‘em until they’ve been out for at least a month. I was actually kind of on time on buying the Furies record. My esteemed colleague Mr. Jeff Greenback claims, "Allow me to be bold - if you do not love this record you are a moron." I guess I’m a moron. I just can’t get into it. There are a few really good songs, including "I Hate Your Secret Club" and "Wasted Life", but the record as a whole is disappointing. People say this is no bullshit, no gimmick punk. I gotta disagree. There’s a shtick, which is we’re so messed up. Oh, we’re so messed up; we have no fun at allllll. Look at us, we’re outta control. It’s the same shtick the Clone Defects use. The Baseball Furies (man, the Warriors are on my top ten favorite movie list) are like guys that take a lot of drugs, work shitty jobs at factories or warehouses, and go fuck local sluts in the boiler room during lunch break. When I listen to this, I don’t feel like playing it again; the songs don’t really stick in my mind. Oh…and the production sucks too. I’m really tired of this Jim Diamond shit. Oh, but he gets such trashy sound. Yippee skip. Anyhows, the vox are all buried. I’m sure it meant to be, but I don’t like it. And if I don’t like it, then I’m right. Why????????????? ‘Cos I’m outta sight, dyno-mite, and yr mom is goin’ down tonight! I’m sure people are like "Troy, you don’t know shit about Rock’N’Roll". Maybe yr right (yr not fucker). But goddamnit, I’m gonna explain myself the only way I can. I’m on drugs. Which ones is yr guess, fucko. Is it smack, crack, fat sacks of wacky toback? Now ladies, I got a foggy notion that yr all out there just shaking with anticipation as I type these mystical magical words. Rest assured, I’m packed, stacked, and on the muthafuckin a-ttack! (TC)
(www.bigneckrecords.com)

Blacks "Last" 7"

I seem to recall another band called The Blacks, although I‘m not sure they had ties to this The Blacks or not (there was another Blacks from Sweden - Ed.). Either way, this is a pretty damn fascinating single. The ‘A’ side, "Take this Town", is coupled with the shorter "Mutate Radiate" on the flip. For some reason, I approached this record thinking it was a garage-punk record. Well, it’s not. It’s better. The Blacks remind me of Circus Lupus, who liked grind a lot more. Need I mention a grind band? By saying some general term as "grind", I figure those who know it, know it. Those who don’t have to figure it out. Grindcore is something best experienced and decided upon there. Anyway, I don’t listen to grind, or much "heavy" music for that matter. However, when stuff like this comes along, I am glad it does. Both songs groove nicely, especially "Take this Town", which features long, noisy introduction that really got my blood boiling. The Blacks are thick and heavy, especially for a three piece. Their music is angular and jerky, which is present in "Mutate Radiate". That’s why The Blacks bring to mind Circus Lupus. Some bands you couldn’t nod your head to if your life depended on it. I like it when I have a rhythm going and BAM…the song’s tempo changes and I’m left readjusting. The band around right now that does this sort of thing best is Les Savy Fav, but The Blacks have just enough for me to say something. Yeah, I wish all hardcore punk was this fun. Unfortunately, it’s not…but those special few greats are finding me. One thing that TOTALLY sucks is that one member of the band died while on tour, or that’s what the insert sez (Chad Kerr). I mean, I wouldn’t put it past a band to print something like that as a joke of some sorts, like if maybe the guy left the band on bad terms or something. But, in this case, it sort of saddens me because I would love to get another 7" or a full CD of this band. I guess it’s still possible, but how many people out there would go as the World Trade Center for Halloween? OR joke about a band member dying on the road? I never do what I do for justification...I do it just because it HAS to be done. Good Record. (SAB)
(Chemical Valley Records, 205 E. Alturas, Tucson, AZ. 85705)

Crimson Sweet "Livin' In Strut" CD

Crimson Sweet has put out some ver-cool product in the past, but I really wasn't ready for what this album contained. They've made a distinct pop move from their more rough/arty/obtuse earlier outings, which usually spells death (or at least a nice, swift kick to the ass-groin), but in this case, they've come out the other side MORE engaging.

This is a great album, the kind that digs its fingernails in your cortex upon your initial run-through. You get punkers ("I Want to Live"), Rock-poppers ("Hello New York"), the grandiose (the stunning "Airport Novel," probably the best thing on here), and sublime moments of beauty (the gorgeous "White Heart"). Everything sounds bittersweet 'n atmospheric, and vocalist Polly is one of the most richly-powerful yelpers practicing her trade right now. One of the year’s best, and with the amount of quality releases over the last month or so, that's a mouthful. (TK)
(www.ononswitch.com)
(ON/ON Switch, PO Box 641122, San Francisco, CA 94164-1122)

Cutters "Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!" CD (and apparently) 8-Track Cassette

This is a tough one. The Cutters occupy a space somewhere between power
pop and indie pop like Dressy Bessy. While this sounds like a surefire path to success with me, I’m sorry to say this doesn’t really set my world on fire. The riffs are definitely right on, but unfortunately the melodies don’t pack the kind of punch that’s needed with this kind of stuff. I feel bad about saying that since they look like really nice people and they’re on the right track, but I’ve got to be honest here. Then again, what do the opinions of one lone reviewer matter to a band that has (according to their press kit) opened for the Beatles? (SS)
( www.blackjackhumbolt.com )

Dancing Cigarettes "The Gulcher Recordings 1980-1981" CD

P O P D O O R M A T!!!!

I’m going to open up a can of honesty here: The Dancing Cigarettes are probably one of the best bands I have ever heard. And the first seven tracks on this CD, all of which are studio, are quite honestly some of the best songs ever written. The Dancing Cigarettes. Remember them from the Gulcher Compilation Red Snerts? Total dislodged technology...The real dissonant break-wrist song? "Broken Windows"…The Dancing Cigarettes stood out on Red Snerts...This CD captures their first four song 7", the track from the Red Snerts compilation, and two outtakes from the same session as the first EP. Musically, The Dancing Cigarettes remind me of a mix between The Embarrassment’s pop sensibilities and Captain Beefheart’s avant-ness…maybe some Talking Heads monotone vocal styles, but closer to Pere Ubu on their studio work. Some AMAZING-AMAZING stuff. The remaining twelve tracks is a live recording of a bunch of songs that ended up on latter Cigarettes projects. They have a Devo feel to them, but are still fully capable of blowing my head off. I write this with my severed head directing my body from its perch on some shelves next to the desk. My head sits beside a hexagon fishing tank, which holds a Chinese Fighting fish named Scott. Anyway, the sound quality on the live stuff is decent…I’m getting off on it pretty nicely. Good visuals…No stomach pain. But man, the first seven songs left such an impression on me. The live stuff is good, but the real treat is the first seven songs.

It’s the uncovering and rediscovery of music like this that will move people like me to search for true meanings. Asking a lot of questions will bring you to a band like this. A sound like this. A noise like this. The Dancing Cigarettes are not JUST a band, they are sonic saviors. There’s something mentioned about a ‘mature’ Dancing Cigarettes sound in the liner notes. There’s also a blurb about a CD that came out in 1995 called The School of Secret Music on some label by a guy named Paul Strum called Turnstyle. All I have to go off of is a website (listed below). Travel with me. I see this CD to the "Secret Music" CD as Blister Pop is to The Embarrassments Heyday double CD...Together, lets uncover more of this so-called "Secret Music". Indeed! Lets leave all concepts of "modern music" behind! The Neoteric Punk/Wave tide is coming in. You can see it... Such pretty colors. Silver...Sonic art is what we want and we want it now! (SAB) (Gulcher Records, GulcherRecords@aol.com, www.popdoormat.com)

Dillinger Four "Situationist Comedy" CD/LP

Oh shit! The apocalypse is definitely upon us. For the first time in
recorded history Fat has released a good record. It truly causes a chill down my spine to think of what may be next. Steven Spielberg making a good movie? Punk Planet getting a columnist with a sense of humor? Greg Lowery sending us promo copies? If this record means what I think it does, all of these and more could become a reality sooner rather than later (well except that last one...that ain’t ever happening). Since it’s only a matter of time before the Jerry Fallwells of the world join forces in order to get this album banned (and you know Fat will cave in since they’re a bunch of pussies), my advice is to get it while you still fucking can. Besides being a potential harbinger of Armageddon, this is actually a pretty great record. The not-so-winning formula of Eric singing all of the songs they employed on "Versus God" (see I TOLD you this shit is getting banned!!!), is a thing of the past here, and Paddy is back where he should be: singing half the songs. Consequently, this is more in line with how they sounded on "Midwestern Songs", which we all agree was their finest moment, right? I wouldn’t put this quite up there with the aforementioned LP, but most bands never make a record that great, let alone twice. In short, if you were ever a D4 fan, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t dig this record as well. Recommended...unless of course you’re a televangelist or a Catholic Boy. (SS)
(www.Fatwreck.com)

Electric Eye "Muscle" 7"EP

The Electric Eye are all over the place. The title track is furious, snotty punk Rock'N'Roll with incredible power. Reminded me of THE BASEBALL FURIES. "Gonna Get My Way" switches gears completely, offering up a fuzzy, 60's punk feel (which is fitting since this band is composed of ex-REAL PILLS). The single is rounded-out with "High Energy", which sounds like MC5 gone horribly and brilliantly wrong. Of course, it all works to great effect! GREAT single! (MC)
(www.vinylwarning.com)

High Beams "Hallucination" CD

Hey...This is pretty damn interesting. Not fuzzed out, last cigarette Rock and/or Roll. This has more of a wave approach. In fact, around song three, I am hearing some definite Jam in there...It’s that good Jam too. Not the boring shit. I mean, let’s all face facts…The Jam isn’t known to be consistently good. Their debut was OK... Afterwards, they were hit or miss on much of their material. Some really good songs and some BORING songs. The High Beams remind me of the good stuff. Mid-tempo tunes with some edgy guitar leads sprinkled throughout. "Hallucination" hits hard to the savvy music listener. Lots of finger pointing at speakers saying "yeah" when this is playing at the party. The title track to this CD is SUPER!!! It makes me jittery. The High Beams have the slop. Like they don’t wash their hair or something...Greasy pork sandwiches out of a dirty ashtray. Sitting at a bar…drinking bottled water…

Solid. Solid. Solid.

A while back, I reviewed The Cunts from Chicago. If you got that; and liked it, then this is right up your alley. Not as spaced out in parts, but you gotta love the straightforward rock that The High Beams throw your way. I know I do and I’m a fucking new-waver. This CD fucked up my solid color shirt, single row spiked bracelet, pink and black jelly bracelets and barefoot, flame-footed ass! I’m a fan! The High Beams won me over. Music prevails!!!! Stay on the beam!!! Not JUST the Jim Beam either.......... Nipples: HIGH BEAMS!!!! (SAB)
(Deadbeat Records, PO Box 283, Los Angeles, CA.90078, thehighbeams@hotmail.com)

Hot Hot Heat "Make Up the Breakdown" CD/LP

I was so wrong. These guys just cashed in to Warner. I wouldn't be surprised if they showed up on the cover over of some hip "indie rock" mag (probably of British origin) that I've heard people talk of, but never actually seen and could fucking care less about. Does the cash in element really matter? I guess that depends on your own personal opinions of what's right and what's wrong in today's funny world, but, personally, I think I'd be quite a cock if I held that against them.

There's no doubt that this record is much more palatable for mass consumption than their five song EP from a few months ago, and if you played this and their singles comp back to back, it would be virtually impossible to tell it was the same band. A change that drastic in that short an amount of time is usually a surefire sign that some serious "we now suck total ass" action should be occurring, but amazingly, somehow, Hot Hot Heat have managed to pull it off. This record is not life changing, but it certainly does not disappoint. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that it surpasses the sum of all of their earlier work with just a few songs. The majority of the songs are super infectious and the words are really easy to sing along to, which is a sign of a great pop album. And that's what this is - pop! I will finally admit that the Cure comparison that keeps on popping up makes sense, but only really in the voice and a couple of the slower parts. By and large, the new wave/dance/synth thing that was pretty prominent on the last EP is gone, except for a few brief appearances. They just toured with Radio 4, but I don't really see them to be with that crowd anymore. I'm hearing more influences like Elvis Costello, and Joe Jackson with some whiny vocals and piano/snyth parts played over a simple punk foundation. Does that sound like a recipe for making millions? I guess we'll see. By the way, if I had to guess, I'd say that the large majority of people in the "rock underground" will hate this record. Let's see them print that on the back of their major label debut! (JG)
(www.hothotheat.com)
(Sub Pop PO Box 20367 Seattle, WA 98102)

Hot Hot Heat "Make Up The Breakdown" CD

I think you could easily put Hot Hot Heat into that loosely-named school of bands that write danceable indie-rock. I don’t dance often. My ass only moves for two bands right now: The Dirtbombs and Harold Ray: Live In Concert. Beyond that, I’m bobbing my head and leaning on the bar. If you ask me, Hot Hot Heat is basically the type band that attracts ex-ravers and ex-goths to rock shows, which I witnessed recently when I saw a band that will remain unnamed due to the fact that they might get good again and decide not to suck. Anyway, when I saw them, it was all sandals, fucking pacifiers, glow-sticks and the moonwalk. AND THE SINGER HAD A FUCKING MINI-MULLET 80s DORK HAIR TAIL THING. I imagine Hot Hot Heat coming off the same way, except more of those K Records folks would be around, looking gloomy during the catchiest tunes. FUCK! I must be filled with hate today. I just got The Hunches album, so you’ll have to excuse me. Anyway, this record is typical of that sort of shit, although quite pop-focused. Cross Joe Jackson and Modest Mouse’s "Tundra/Desert" and you’ve got the right idea. I think that’s kind of like performing surgery in a moving vehicle, but hey, to each his own. (MC)
(www.subpop.com)

Hot Pockets "Kiss’N Run" LP

This band has always been kinda hard to track down. They’ve got a ton of releases, all of which have come out on European labels of various sizes. Some aren’t even around anymore. I think I have their first 2 or 3 singles, and I remember digging them, but not giving ‘em heavy rotation. I reviewed "Mess Of Fire", a previous long player, and wasn’t terribly impressed. It lacked punch in just about every area. I thought they had all split up now, but here is an LP compiling singles stuff, unreleased whatevers and all that jazz. I’m pleased to announce that this LP is completely dud-free. It all smokes actually. Perfect trashcan production too. Alien Snatch is starting to show a consistency similar to Screaming Apple, and I don’t think they’ve ever put out a bad record (might be wrong, fuck it). A roster that moves from obscuro-trash, sugary-sweet power pop, straight garage and pop-punk and the occasional rude ‘tude release. Naturally, The Hot Pockets are representative of this and manage to do it all really good. Wasn’t someone from The Spaceshits in this band at one time? Who knows? Those folks are in every band. Whatever. (MC)
(www.aliensnatch.de)

Hunches "Yes. No. Shut it." CD/LP

Pretty cool full-length from the band that released what may have been the best single of the year just last month. The production is pretty fucking amazing and makes up for some of the weaker songs. There are least four verifiable scorchers on here, all in a proto-punk/blues vein that reminds me of roughed up Pagans basement recordings, or maybe the Blowtops if they took things down a couple notches, all with some latter-day Scientists distorto-blues mixed in. Ex-Jetpack and Real Pills members who wear their Electric Eels worship on their sleeve. I heard Rip Off turned them down, which is probably a good thing because these guys belong on In the Red. Definitely worth a purchase. (RK)
(www.intheredrecords.com)
(In the Red Records, 1118W. Magnolia Blvd., P.O. Box 208, Burbank, CA 91506)

Hunches "Yes. No. Shut it." LP/CD

Goodgoddamn! I laid hands on the Hunches’ now-legendary "Got Some Hate" 45 some months back, utterly clueless as to what to expect from this young, energetic and altogether abrasive trash-punk-garage four-piece. When I threw it on, it blew me away - Clevo-screech meets Reatards meets KBD meets Stooges meets, well, any kind of music I’ve ever sincerely cared about - and after about ten-in-a-row repeated listens I sat (read: curled up ball-like) in the same corner for about two or three weeks, drooling, whispering "Huncheshuncheshuncheshunches" at inaudible levels, pawing at the walls and incessantly pining away for an upcoming album that I knew would more’n likely wipe dumbfuck grins offa dumbfuck faces after an apocalyptic release. Like, wow. That good.

And not surprisingly, Yes. No. Shut it. lives up to any kinda hyperbole I’d previously prescribed to it. It’s also a strong contender for the top slot in my year-end list. Anyone who doubts my word need not look any further than "Explosion," which is the album’s pinnacle tune and, really, the most eerily visual bad-trip musical force I’ve ever had the pleasure of reckoning with. (Upon hearing said song for the first time, my over-active imagination conjured up images of a resurrected John Lee Hooker - possessed by the evil spirit of whatever-the-shit took over that lil’ girl’s body in The Exorcist - calmly sitting head-down on a lit powder keg, stubbornly picking at a beat-up guit whilst rasping out his vox in a way that only an undead [and still inexplicably soulful] blues icon can. Anyway, upon the ghastly utterance of "Someone told me that I might be better off dead," decrepit Demon-Hooker, pure white eyes and all, literally EXPLODES, along with the ol’ powder keg; a caterwaul of guitar, drums, bass et. al. thunders down like sweet motherfuck, along with chunks o’ the old guy’s clothes ‘n’ flesh, and the tune commences. His voice still somehow reverberates in screams from a nether-region that exists in an unholy parallel dimension, while the rest of the band, who are presumably residing here on Earth, play on. He/it rattles off a few chilling voodoo calls-and-responses ("EXPLOSION/What d’ya say?/EXPLOSION," etc.), and again, they continue to play on. Then - THEN - when the tune slows down to a finish, Demon-Hooker exits the spirit realm and reverts back to decomposed flesh form, pure white eyes and all, and he’s back to sitting on an un-exploded powder keg, and the [unbroken] circle repeats, again blowing shit all asunder just before the close! And finally, when the song ends, Demon-Hooker, the keg, everything - POOF - gone!)(Yes, I’ve looked into medication.)(You should hear my description of the next [and second best] track, "Hurricane": Suicide tumble with lions in the middle of a, well, gawrsh, hurricane. When the Reatards approach the edge of the scuffle to laugh at Rev and Vega, Mike Hudson - who’s wearing a leather jacket over a leopard-print singlet, in addition to golf cleats - pulls up on a hellish motorcycle that’s carrying a few hundred tons of sheet metal and raw meat… And I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination.)

Perhaps the best aspect of this album is that it offers something for anyone who has even a passing interest in any worthwhile offshoot of basic and noise-laden r’n’r. There’s scattered "art" here and there (aforementioned Suicide influence and an Electric Eels cover), there’s a few VU-like pounders ("Same New Thing" and "Lisa Told Me" come to mind), there’s blues, there’s ‘60s garage/psych, there’s angry anthems ("Chainsawdomy" and "Got Some Hate"), there’s permutated riff-rock ("Let Me Be"), there’s all sorts of shit that anyone who cares about anything musically primal will consciously weed out and subsequently enjoy, though they may not go as overboard with the whole process as I obviously have here. Those who will find real solace in this album, however, are those who’ll dig every type of ruckus that the Hunches dish out, and they probably will go overboard, ‘cuz the band deserves it.

So, to recap for those of you who scroll to the bottom of obnoxiously long reviews, buy Yes. No. Shut it. toot-sweet. It’s one of this year’s essential releases. Naw, fuck that - it’s this year’s most essential release, so, y’know, sell some blood if you have to. (EL)
(www.intheredrecords.com)
(In the Red Records, 1118W. Magnolia Blvd., P.O. Box 208, Burbank, CA 91506)

Hunches "Yes. No. Shut It." CD

It may seem odd to say an album was "eagerly awaited" when it followed the debut single by a month 'er two, but in this case, the debut was so fuggin' perfect 'n evocative of expanded vistas in the stretched-out format, well...I was both eager-y and beaver-like. Like Filthy Rich said when I handed in my review of said single, "geez, it's almost embarrassing the way we're all falling over this thing." It really is/was that good, though.

While the single was like a flash fire up yer nose-holes, the album is more akin to falling head-first down a vast, flaming, 500,000 gallon oil drum. You're immersed in flames/soot/greasy petrol, and you can't help but breathe it all in, to the possible detriment of yer physical/mental well-being. It ain't at all pretty, but every time you hit the bottom-end, you feel the need to pull out the bullhorn and yell fer Lassie to yank you out again so's you can start the hell-ride over. Each successive trip, your surroundings become more familiar, more thrilling, and even the smallest elements more lucid.

Ya' get rave-pounders like "Explosion" (with the creepy kid intro-outro), Jim Thirwell-isms (vocal-lyrically) like "Oh Woe is Me," and even raht purdy moments like "The Ballad" (the "I'm in love with the Mystery Girls" line has nothing to do with the ape-core band from Green Bay, but I play pretend anyway). "Lisa Told Me" is the best tune I've heard this year. Seems like a Velvet Underground trib of sorts, with the title, the vocal phrasing and the overall bitter-sad tone of it all. Maybe I'm crazy, but I'll bet it was intentional -- the Hunches seem fully in control of the ride...then again, the caked-in-stool production and the knowingly-loose instro-play lends itself quite nicely to tab-rasa interpretation. I'm a flaming oil can, and so are the Hunches. Essential. (TK)
(www.intheredrecords.com)
(In the Red Records, 1118W. Magnolia Blvd., P.O. Box 208, Burbank, CA 91506)

Hunches "Yes. No. Shut It." LP

In a single month, you'd think that In The Red Records would be content to just release one astonishing and highly anticipated album. No. They had to go and release Piranhas and Hunches albums in the same month, forcing music lovers to give equal playing time to two monster releases, both of which are strong enough for you to devote several weeks worth of nearly-exclusive listening. Yeah, they fucked us...

So, The Hunches...I'm guess most folks nabbed up their recent single. Were you as impressed as I was? They even came down to San Francisco to show just how far down we've dropped on the Rock'N'Roll know-how scale. Yeah, they ripped the crowd a new asshole and the singer was a bloody mess. I was immediately reminded of when I saw The Reatards quite some time ago. I felt danger and glee simultaneously when I saw The Reatards, and The Hunches have been the first band since to produce that amount of excitement in me while attending a small SF bar show. I think The Reatards are probably the best point of reference for their sound and attitude (although probably a little less disgusting and jaded). Lots of folks ignored Jay's songwriting capabilities when he was in The Reatards (I think I probably did...a little). That guy can write a hell of a tune, no doubt about. They aren't story here though...

I guess that's what I'm driving at here: the big reason why I'm blown away by this release is that the songs are so fucking well written. There's not a single dud! They do it all here: all the noisy, bluesy stuff In The Red has become famous for, semi-catchy bashers and true odes to hate and frustration. A couple of tunes ("Lisa Told Me" stands out here) begin with a sweet'n'sour guitar line, sort of like how Radio Birdman began lots of their songs. Yet, you get the idea that it's all going to go horribly wrong...which, of course, is exactly what you're hoping for. Seemingly out of nowhere, The Hunches have become one of my very favorite bands. (MC)
(www.intheredrecords.com)

Kill-A-Watts "Lets Get High Voltage" & "Microwave My Heart" 7"s

Two new shit-hot slabs of that punk-as-hell electrorock the Kill-a-Watts are famous for. The youth of America would be in much better shape if they’d dig these kids instead of some mall-punk crapola. They’ve taken the so-called "Rip Off" sound to new heights utilizing the finest in snotty guy/girl vocals, incredibly good short-and-to-the-point punk songwriting, and the force of nature known as Mechadrum. Both of these should warrant immediate purchase, but if you’re short on change buy the Flying Bomb "Lets Get High Voltage" EP first, for both the Chantry-esque cover art and the fact that "Girl’s Living Dead" is one of the best songs they’ve done. Then go get a fucking job and buy the other one you poor bastard. It’s part 4 of Hate Records’ new Music for Haters series, and has Wauwatosa’s favorite children burning through two originals and a Testors cover. Don’t miss ‘em live either. (RK)
(www.flyingbomb.com)
(Flying Bomb Records PO Box 971038, Ypsilanti, MI 48197)
(Hate Records via S.Giovanni in Laterano 194-00184 Roma-Italy)

Lost Sounds "Rat’s Brains and Microchips" LP/CD

It’s just not fair to measure the Lost Sounds with same gauge used to evaluate any other band in existence anymore. They are operating on a level that most other bands can’t even conceptualize, much less hope to play on. This new disc blows away anything in its path, including any previous Lost Sounds record. It’s bigger than us all. Say what you what about the metal tendencies that show up here, I think this is the band at their finest hour to date, the Black Wave concept/genre at its most fully realized moment. Black Metal + New Wave = Black Wave, and Rat’s Brain’s… combines the best facets of say both Tubeway Army and Coroner to be simplistic about it. But like I said, it’s bigger than us all. Not as garage as Memphis is Dead, not as sprawling as Black Wave, but a logical progression from where they left us last; a concise statement of where this band is at and a hint at where they are going, which should be far, far away from the underground scene. It’s creepily grandiose, darkly magnificent, made of equal parts rock, rage, and science fiction. I was one that always said they shouldn’t stray too far from their garage-punk roots, but fuck that. Let them go, because they are showing us things far more interesting than we could have ever imagined. When you’re done with all the punk-rockin’ and garage-stompin’, listen to this and hear what can result when a band stretches the parameters of what you think music is. For once, a record that actually exceeds expectations and it’s frightening to think that they just keep getting better. Jay and Alicja keep pushing the envelope back and forth until it falls right off the edge of the earth, coming up with sonic creations that are light years ahead of the competition. Songs that sounded great as demos will leave you speechless in their fully fleshed-out/produced mode. And by the way, the production on this record kills. Such a focused attack on our musical sensibilities shouldn’t be allowed, and anyone who says this isn’t the album of the year is just kidding himself. (RK)
(www.emptyrecords.com)
(Empty Records U.S. P.O. Box 12034 Seattle, WA 98012)

Lost Sounds "Rat’s Brains and Microchips" LP/CD

How do you review material by your favorite band? If you’re me, you usually don’t. You leave that particular task to the next schmuck, because you know your analysis of the album/disc/single in question is probably going to be biased as all hell; on the other side o’ the wooden nickel, you know that thrusting forth a negative review might possibly anger the band and - oh, the horror - result in a few more hash marks on the dog-eared "Enemies Made" list that you keep under your stained mattress. And that’s just bad business.

Well, fuck that. For better or worse, both concerns no longer mean a goddamn thing to me. (You’ll notice that lengthy reviews no longer amount to bean-hills to me either. No idea why. Too much caffeine? Too much Aesthetics of Rock? Too much Shawn Abnoxious? Fucked if I know or care to find out.) I stopped worrying about what the r’n’r crowd thought of me a while back.

Which brings me to the Lost Sounds’ Rat’s Brains & Microchips, an album that assumedly charges forth from ambivalence/hatred to/for the same clique (which has accepted ‘em regardless). Not that they ever cared at all, but it seems like the band cares less now about garage/r’n’r conventions than they ever did before - so much so, in fact, that the production on this album does more to pave the way for keyboarded black-metal dabblings than it does the garage-touching-new-wave stylings of past efforts. Is that good or bad? It’s good, but I won’t lie - I liked Black-Wave better. Probably because it represented a perfect balance between wave and garage, whereas Memphis Is Dead leaned a bit more toward garage and, as I already said, Rat’s Brain’s & Microchips leans more toward wavey near-metal.

But, shit, forget alla that. What we have here is still an amazing alb. Three of the songs present are three of my favorite Lost Sounds tunes to date ("You Don’t Know Remote Control," "Energy Drink & the Long Walk Home" and "Blackcoats/Whitefear"); also, Jay and Alicja are still the best modern songwriting duo around, and their voices still ring angry ‘n’ true throughout each number. Like Sonny & Cher, only with death-obsessed synths careening into guitar, or somesuch. In other words, friend, proceed with your purchase. (EL)
(www.emptyrecords.com)
(Empty Records U.S. P.O. Box 12034 Seattle, WA 98012)

Lost Sounds "Rat's Brains and Microchips" LP

A new Lost Sounds album! Now...don't ask me how much of this was on or wasn't on previous singles/limited-edition CDRs/whatevs, because I'm REALLY bad at keeping track of such things. Suffice it to say, some of this WAS on previous hoo/ha/clam-cocks, though they sound as though they're different recordings. Now, I said the same thing about the Baseball Furies album last month, and I was WRONG (as I was informed by the band), but this time, I promise...ahem.

Anyway, where does a band go after releasing an album as brilliant and archetypal as "Black Wave?" The answer is, ya' pretty much keep yer momentum going. This isn't the departure that "Wave" was from "Memphis is Dead," but there are (not so) subtle metallic touches on the guitar at some points, more ambitious arrangements, and...cello (they've actually been touring with a cellist recently).

As with any Lost Sounds release, the bottom line is how good the songs are, and there are some doozies here. "Energy Drink and the Long Walk Home" is as good as anything they've ever done, and it includes some of Alicja's best vocals to date ('n that's a high bar)...haunting, majestic, catchy and powerful all at th' same. Jay checks in with "Blackcoats/Whitefear," which still (this far removed) harkens back to some of his Reatards material. This is a good thing -- no matter how far out they get, you can always count on some concise, no-nonsense rock tunes, and his are usually stellar. "Remote Control" could be placed anywhere on "Black Wave," and nobody’d notice.

I'd have to say that this is a small notch below "Black Wave," partly due to the fact that "Wave" was such a refreshing blast, and partly because it seemed more cohesive...but ya' really can't go wrong with a Lost Sounds record right now, or in any foreseeable future. There isn't a BETTER practicing unit out there, so open that wallet-purse, cancer tits! (TK)
(www.emptyrecords.com)
(eMpTy Records, P.O. Box 12034, Seattle, WA 98012)

Lost Sounds "Rat’s Brains & Microchips" CD

I guess you can say I live in my own world. IF this is a problem that’s YOUR problem...

The Lost Sounds. A band that I have liked from the start. I mean, shit! Keyboards! If ever a band really shook up anything in the past 5 years, there’s no other band that can say they did what The Lost Sounds have. The Lost Sounds have changed perceptions of what music is to a lot of people…not just in my reality, but others! In some ways, I see The Lost Sounds as a band that was in the right place at the right time...It had to be someone, so why not them? You’re either WITH US or your planet is on my list for invasion! I mean, The Lost Sounds are at that point in their career, and I surmised this after hearing "Blackcoats/White Fear": The Lost Sounds are like the Germs. You either LOVE them or HATE them. Your either flipping their records one right after another or your not flipping them at all…I guess what I am saying is that The Lost Sounds are one of the best bands to ever inhabit my reality. I’ll even step things up a notch: The Lost Sounds are one of the best bands EVER. I say that NOT CARING WHAT YOU THINK. It’s true! I’m just bringing all of this out now, right here in the open, so in 10 years you can look back and say I was right. I will be dead by then, so I won’t really get to enjoy you eating shit, but that’s OK. I have not only accepted that I will die (soon), but I have come to look foreword to it...

This disc plays like sonic platinum! Rat’s Brains shapes scenes or maybe SHOULD shape scenes. Forming planets around suns.... Shit yeah! Thirteen songs...Some of the best songwriting I have ever heard. Everything sounds TIGHT and solid, with every thing in place perfectly. Rat’s Brains is what happens when you get a focused band behind a red-light. Everything just clicks. I have already mentioned "Blackcoats/White Fear", but there’s so many great songs on here..."Total Destruction"…"Energy Drink & The Long Walk Home"..."Rats Brains & Microchips", which starts off with cellos…depth... like the deepest part of the ocean. It sets off the whole release. "Total Destruction" should be the song that’s played when Monday Night Football comes on..."Read a Requiem Mass for Me" sounds like something from the Breaking Glass soundtrack. Trademark male/female vocals splatter the disc like any other Lost Sounds release. This time around they have a full five piece with guitars synths...The whole 9 yards. The Lost Sounds are Neoteric Punk/Wave, no doubt about it.

Anything goes with The Lost Sounds and they know it.

Crimson Sweet.

Kill The Hippies.

The Spits.

Radar Secret Service.

The Lost Sounds

These bands rock my planet.

You should really do yourself a favor and pick out your three favorite LPs. Take them and trade them in for as much money as you can. Then go and get this record, a pack of the cheapest batteries you can find and as much beer as the left over money will buy. Put the record on. Wash the batteries down with the beer. Its called Alkalizing…and I just made it up seconds ago. I don’t know what will actually happen IF you do this, so be sure to let me know. It’s all I got right now. The best records propel your own creativity. The Lost Sounds just did it with mine. Really, the best records make you feel like dying. I know what I am talking about. I have the case studies to prove it. You could come over to my house and see that, simply playing a series of certain records, you would leave my place ready for death. It’s a completion thing.

As a musician, I can’t compete with a band like Lost Sounds. As a person, I don’t deserve The Lost Sounds. As a music critic, I despise The Lost Sounds, if only because I can’t say anything single bad fucking thing about them. They rule! Bands like Lost Sounds are in a class of their own. ALL OF YOU LISTEN TO ME! You, over there who just got done flogging your meat to computer porn. In this world and this reality, we don’t deserve PHENOMENAL records like this, but we’re the only audience they‘ve got. We’re the luckiest fuckers alive. (SAB)
(Empty Records, PO Box 10234, Seattle, WA 88012, www.emptyrecords.com)

Dan Melchior’s Broke Revue "Bitterness, Spite, Rage, and Scorn" LP/CD

I was a huge fan of their last record "Heavy Dirt", and this new disc might even be better. Melchior is a true English gentleman of rock, and possesses one of the greatest voices in today’s garage-punk world. Hard-working music from a hard-working band (I’ve already seen them live twice this year), that is equal parts Medway-garage/blues and Nuggets II freak/psych-fuzz. Their live show is hypnotizing, raw, and rocking all at the same time, which is everything this album is as well (and the bass player looks strangely like Crispin Glover). Both catchy and haunting, you’ll be hooked by third song on this record, trust me. (RK)
(www.intheredrecords.com)
(In the Red Records, 1118W. Magnolia Blvd., P.O. Box 208, Burbank, CA 91506)

Dan Melchior’s Broke Revue "Bitterness, Spite, Rage & Scorn" LP/CD

Saw this group effortlessly blow the Modey Lemon and the Immortal Lee County Killers off the stage at Champaign, IL’s High Dive a few weeks ago. Not an easy feat, as you well know - especially considering the fact that the Melchior clan had almost zero movement amongst the four of ‘em. That sorta thing usually warrants a demerit or two, but the band’s music (and the few beers I’d ingested earlier, no doubt) had me transfixed from chord one. Such freakbeat-cum-Childish garage bop is rarely done so well.

As it turns out, Melchior and his Broke Revue are just as appealing on record as they are live. (I’d never bothered to check out their first long player on In the Red. Bitterness, Spite, Rage & Scorn had me slappin’ my head with regret, as I realized that I’d starved myself of some prime garage/R&B stomp. Well, starved no longer, I latched onto this fucker with a death grip and probably won’t let go any time soon. It’s chock-full of actual songwriting! Most garage bands don’t do that anymore!) Melchior’s deadpan vocals send a cold, impersonal coffin nail through each meaty ‘n’ reverb-heavy blues ditty, and the no-frills/non-obvious hooks of each song will spend days at a time in the listener’s polluted brainpan. I mean, I’m still trying to work "I’m a hungry ghost/somethin’ somethin’ tough/I swallow all your love/and you’re shit out of luck" outta mine. Get? Get. (EL)
(www.intheredrecords.com)
(In the Red Records, 1118W. Magnolia Blvd., P.O. Box 208, Burbank, CA 91506)

Dan Melchior's Broke Review "Bitterness, Spite, Rage, & Scorn" CD

Here I go, writin' myself into another review...throat-clearing noise...a month ago or so, I arrived home after work, looking forward to the Melchior/Modey Lemon/Lee County Killers festivities later in th' eve. Thought I'd take it easy on a work night, show up before the bands, nurse a beer or two, and head home to slumberland. Got a call -- there's a party, booze, 'wind, and Dirtbombs blasting in the background. Fuck. Went to said party, threw down monstrous shots chased with wine 'n hits of the old mary-j-'wind, and felt like I was d-e-d within about a half hour. Left my car, got a ride, and tried to stand up straight 'n all (couldn't even form werds) during the 'Lemon...who were a fucking REVELATION at that point. Man, I couldn't figure out if they were really that damn good, or if it was the state I was in.

Stood there swayin', hoping Melchior (who I'd heard so many good things about) would keep me from falling on my face, but alas, I was not as inspired -- quite possibly my aforementioned fucked-up-edness had more than a little to do with it, because if you put this album next to the (good, not great) Modey Lemon album, it ain't even a contest.

Dan is an ex-Brit living in New York, and he's worked with Billy Childish before. You can definitely hear the Headcoat-echos on here -- literate, down-dirty Ameri-roots that still manage to conjure up Jolly Ol' you-know. What's most amazing about this album is how a relative youngster like Melchior (he's in his 20s) can produce such a SURE and COMPREHENSIVE package -- from the artwork to the tunes to the lyrics to the hauntingly-coarse vocals, this all makes sense as a "piece." And while Billy shoots out product like the Nuge on opening day, Dan obviously takes time to craft everything in order to guarantee that each shot is a kill -- every song on here is a goody.

If you are a fan of the stuff that's come out of Toe Rag over the last decade or so, you'll be wetting yourself good. The thing is this album pisses all over relative worthies like the Armitage Shanks, so get on it! (TK)
(www.intheredrecords.com)
(In the Red Records, 1118W. Magnolia Blvd., P.O. Box 208, Burbank, CA 91506)

Mexican Blackbirds "Ain’t Got The Time" 7"EP

Some major fucking earthshaking here...Out of nowhere: The Mexican Blackbirds!!! I remember exchanging e-mails with the lead voice, Chris Trashcan. He mentioned ‘something’ about being in a band that had a Motards type sound. But man, I never realized...He is a fucking titan!!!! The Mexican Blackbirds are not JUST another band that should be on Empty Records. The Mexican Blackbirds are a band that should make a label like Empty drop EVERYTHING (except the Lost Sounds) and begin to build a new label sound centered on bands like this one. The fucking Blackbirds aren’t JUST a band, they carry a fucking torch! They’re keeping it alive!!!!

Random thoughts…four songs. Texas punk in Washington. Ripping new holes punk rock. Sloppy. Gritty. Knife sharp guitar hooks...Four-more-beers-garage-punk that makes me miss the Motards. Stuff that, without rushing to my record collection, brings to mind some EV Records/Ryan Richardson type punk. Really Red. The Mystery Dates. This is some great shit. Each song is the shit by far...Tough as Nails. I see a good thing here. Everyone reading this should look into getting a copy. Fuck the Catheters. THIS is the stuff. The good STUFF. This is top shelf "Chuck-Yeager-should-have-been-an-astronaut" type stuff. I mean, in today’s garage-punk market there is PLENTY out there. It’s up to people like me to sort through the stuff and tell you, the avid music listener, what IS and IS NOT worth your time. Shawn Abnoxious……….Favorite TV Show: X-Men Evolution………Favorite Movie: "The Big Lebowski"……….this is me. SHAWN ABNOXIOUS!!!! It don’t get no more real than this…than me!!! Your reading something I wrote, and that means that you are BELOW ME. Hungry? Well, I fucking got Rock and/or Roll here and the mustache to prove it...Wait, that didn’t sound too good...Oh well. The Mexican Blackbirds are DEFINITELY worth your time. Now, back to MY blackout! K-kaw!!!! I’m awaiting my Mexican Blackbirds armband. K-Kaw!!!! K-Kaw!!!! Love you too. (SAB)
($4ppd to: The Mexican Blackbirds, PO Box 7569, Tacoma, WA. 98406,www.themexicanblackbirds.com)

Mighty Ions "Face Rakin’ Rock" LP

When I think of wrestling these days, I get depressed. It fucking sucks. I mean, all this "EXXXTREME" shit is sooooo fucking lame. It’s not wrestling. It’s not Rick Rude fucking other wrestler’s wives. It’s not Randy Savage spiking the ring bell into Ricky Steamboat. It’s not Road Warrior Animal beating the shit out of Larry The Ax. And all the fucking Von Erichs are dead! C’mon!!!!!! Anyway, these Mighty Ions dig wrestling. REAL wrestling. The Mighty Ions were a New England punk band from the 80s, made up of familiar faces from Unnatural Axe and various incarnations of G.G. Allin’s bands (all-time great "Don’t Talk To Me" is present here, and was written by an Ions member). It’s a pretty fucking fun record. And the tunes? This is some straight up Boston, Real Kids/DMZ Bomp-sounding power pop/punk. All the tunes are good…but there’s one that definitely takes the cake. They have a tune called "Pedro Morales", which is probably the single coolest fucking song I’ve ever heard about wrestling (and I own "The Wrestling Album", "Piledriver" and Freddie Blassie‘s "King Of Men" 10"EP…on red vinyl…not a lie). Not only did they pick a fantastic star of the squared-circle to immortalize, they did it in an absolutely perfect way: by sending up "California Uber Alles" (I’m sure you can imagine what the chorus sounds like…pure genius). Seriously, probably the best wrestling meets Rock’N’Roll moment since Handsome Dick’s rant on "Go Girl Crazy!". Give ‘em the belts! (MC)
(Alien Snatch Records, www.aliensnatch.de)

Modern Machines/The Fragments split CD

First of all, split CDs are a BAAAAD idea. OK, now that THAT ugly biz is behind us, I just don't know what to say about this release. Both bands are part of the local Wisconsin touring circuit, meaning they play/are pals with the Mystery Girls, Leg Hounds 'n Catholic Boys (in fact, Fragments drummer Eric Apnea is IN the Catholic Boys, and also pounded skins in the Teenage Rejects 'n Lookers...Nate of the Modern Machines has written songs for bands like the Leg Hounds). The thing is, both bands play punk rock-pop with a northern Midwestern (think Husker Du/Replacements) whiff, which ain't usually my bag...or, most likely, yours.

I've seen both bands dozens of times, so I didn't really expect to go all batty over this thinger, and I didn't, really, when I first popped it in. But then...hungover morning, unable to move, I popped it into the player and sprawled out on the couch, eyes closed...suddenly, I was 15 again, out in the sticks, moping around to the sounds of "Let it Be" and "Candy Apple Grey." Well, lemme tell you, I don't have time for mopin' anymore, and I'm no fan of mopey-type behavior, but it was a nice ride back in time. I hit "play" again and paid closer attention, realizing that HELL, I really like this CD. Not sure if it's because I know the parties involved, or whether it's just refreshing to hear this kinda' stuff RIGHT NOW (because no one else is mining this vein currently), but I thought I'd let you know, nice feller that I am, in case this sounds like yer thing.

The Modern Machines have stronger songwriting ("Cooler Than Now" is a hard-hitter I'd play for music fans of any stripe, and Nate's lyrics are brilliant), but the Fragments have the MONSTER DIN rhythm smack of the aforementioned Eric Apnea, who's turning into a punk rock Keith Moon -- slopping-down-the-stairs kick-wallop. Ya' can't fully grasp how good this guy is on tape yet, but he's absolutely captivating in a live setting. Eric's (literally) in about 8 bands right now, from noise to hardcore to garage to pop, and I'll watch any one of 'em just to see him flailing around like Animal from the Muppet Show. Not sure if his style necessarily fits their material, but for rockers like "Thin Lizzy," it really doesn't matter.

So yeah...Minneapolis meets the (other) Bay Area...you make the call. I dig. (TK)
(www.newdisorder.com)
(New Disorder Records, 115 Bartlett St., San Francisco, CA 94110)

Mooney Suzuki "Hot/Shitter" 7"

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This record is the biggest waste of cash EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!! I knew they where headed downhill after that last album, but I had no idea the fall would be this sudden and this steep. Whoever thought it was a good idea to release a single comprised of two instrumentals, and SHITTY ones at that, is just begging to have their ass violated by my shoe RIGHT FUCKING NOW! I felt like I just got something up the ass when I played this. I dunno if this crap is Dave Crider`s or Sammy James` fault, probably both, but guys!!!! C’MON! That is so fucking shifty it defies description. You could have at least put a warning label on here like the ones on those Rollins spoken word albums. Then again "Warning: this seven inch contains two cast-off instrumentals that weren’t good enough to make it onto our half-assed album which already is comprised of 1/5 NOODLEY INSTRUMENTALS!!!!!" probably wouldn’t sell too many records. At least it would be honest. Since most labels and bands obviously don’t have the stones to issue such a warning I’ve devised my own rule of thumb: any record that has a picture of a toilet on the front cover probably belongs in one. Sadly it looks like these guys are starting to believe their own hype and think they can do no wrong. I think the label on the first Rip Offs single said it best: MUSICIANS SUCK!!!!!!! (SS)
(Estrus Records, POB 2125, Bellingham, WA)
(www.estrus.com )

Pebbles Pink "Pistachio Candy" CD

Have you ever had a dream where you lived in an idyllic, hippie-free version of the mid-sixties and spent all of your days hanging out with cute girls, wearing cool clothes, and listening to really pretty pop songs? Well, I haven’t either, but at least now I have the soundtrack to that dream in the form of this record. The Pebbles are the great girl group that the sixties forgot. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anyone that plays music that’s this flat out charming anymore. Maybe it’s because they’re from a country where even warning signs are really cute (Seriously, Japan is by far the cutest country on Earth...there is stuff here that’s so cute is frightening). Add to their charm diabolically infectious melodies and all sorts of neat flourishes (harp, anyone?) and you’ve got a formula that can’t be beat. This is a must for all fans of sixties girl groups, Japanese punk, and just good pop music in general. (SS)
(www.nice-neat.com )
(1 + 2 Records Clean Nishi-Shinjuku Bldg 1F, Nishi Shinjuku 7-5-6,
Shinjiku-Ku 160-0023, JAPAN)

Piranhas "S/T" CD

Okay…so maybe everyone and their third cousin’s ex-girlfriend’s mailman has already chimed in on this, and most people out in Blank Gen land are already hip to these guys, but the question is are you? Look buddy, there’s no neutrality where the Piranhas are concerned. Either you’re with them, or you’re gonna get your ass chewed up like raw meat thrown in a cage full of wolverines. These motherfuckers are the sort of people who run marathons wearing socks made out of broken glass...do you think they're afraid of you?!?! The Piranhas are THIS CLOSE to complete entropy at all times...they don’t have any time for fucking around. They don’t even bother with amps...they just drill a hole right in you fucking skull and plug in. Future Primitives. Robots beating clones over the head with keyboards, then dragging them back to their caves. No matter what you do, The Piranhas are gonna go ahead and have their way with you....your only option is to go ahead and enjoy it. (SS)
(www.ononswitch.com)

Piranhas "Erotic Grit Movies" CD/LP

Usually anything that even references Pere Ubu in the slightest bit sends me running, but I’ve taken a liking to a bit of this neo-"Art-Punk" stuff, The Piranhas in particular. When they first surfaced Jimmy Hollywood couldn’t quit talking about them so I picked up the first LP and single and had to agree the shit was primal to say the least. This new record is no exception; lots of jerk-and-go starts and stops, off-center keyboards, vocal howling, crazed lyrics, and when they do manage to work up an organized head of steam they are simply pummeling. If you buy just one art-punk record from the gutter this year, make it this one. (RK)
(www.intheredrecords.com)
(In the Red Records, 1118W. Magnolia Blvd., P.O. Box 208, Burbank, CA 91506)

Piranhas "Erotic Grit Movies" LP/CD

Ordinarily, I’d scoff at anyone who tried to describe a band’s sound using a phrase as seemingly overdramatic as "future primitive." But right now we’re talkin’ about the Piranhas, and future primitive is all too appropriate. That two-word tagline succinctly captures the spirit of a group that’s both forward-thinking and genuinely brutish in its no-bullshit approach to r’n’r art.

Though the press release says "Flag-meets-Ubu," I’ll offer my own description: "The Residents capture a teenaged troglodyte who’s been raised by apes/wolves and, by way of electroshock therapy, make him stutter/moan/gasp/grunt/scream/growl out some tuneful noise that hearkens back to the days when men killed their own meat with bare hands; after they train monkey-wolf-boy to, ah, ‘sing’, the Pagans subsequently kidnap the Residents and force ‘em to forego electro chops for beat-up guitars ‘n’ drums ‘n’ bass ‘n’ [only one] keyboard ‘n’ such, and I’ll be goodly goddamned if they [meaning the monkey-wolf-boy and the newly slummed-out r’n’r Residents combined] don’t churn out some of the most insane-yet-still-conventionally-rockin’ non-pretentious artsy-fartsy ACTION that I’ve ever heard."

Really. I mean, I wasn’t too happy when I first heard Erotic Grit Movies - it initially sounded like an abstract departure from their relatively straightforward keyboards-over-aggressive-punk self-titled 12" - but after cornering myself into repeated listens of the just plain mean hooks of "Girls Like it Too" (‘60s stomp meets angular noise - cool!) and "Weird Things Can Happen," just to name a couple, I’m not so sure I knew what the fuck I was talking about to begin with. That is to say: Their new stuff’s so good that I’ve nearly forgotten about anything else they’ve done.

Well, OK - that’s a lie. I’ll still dig into their self-titled release, but the fact that I now prefer Erotic Grit Movies over their older stuff is, to me at least, fuggin’ nuts, because it means that someone’s topped an album that I’d long considered to be one of modern art-punk’s few redeeming qualities…Even if that someone is the Piranhas themselves. (EL)
(www.intheredrecords.com)
(In the Red Records, 1118W. Magnolia Blvd., P.O. Box 208, Burbank, CA 91506)

Piranhas "Erotic Grit Moves" CD

The best thing Joe Domino ever did (fuck this site, and fuck all that charity work for wayward boys) was tape me Piranhas stuff way back when. It was so refreshing, unique and outta' time, that I immediately went out and tracked down everything I could...which was that mini-LP and single. The last single hinted that their off-time had changed the original chemistry a bit -- whereas the first couple releases were pretty song-oriented (really), the new stuff was to be more fractured and fucked up.

With that in mind, I was ready to spin. Yup, this is definitely a continuation of the sound found on that single -- seemingly-illogical skronk with that GREAT, archetypal Piranhas SOUND. Now, I resisted at first...well, shit, I LOVE those first couple releases. But then I thunk, "deal with it. They're never looking back." And that's the best advice I can pass along -- forget about the Piranhas ever revisiting "Future Primitive," and enjoy the epileptic roller coaster. Repeated listens clearly show that there are puppeteers controlling the works, but they's sauced to the fucking gills. Ya' won't be humming any of these tunes in the shower, but then again, how often do you bathe, you dirty fuck? Turn the record up to 10 and soak in it. (TK)
(www.intheredrecords.com)
(In the Red Records, 1118W. Magnolia Blvd., P.O. Box 208, Burbank, CA 91506)

Piranhas "Erotic Grit Movies" LP

It's been a while since The Piranhas released any new material. Even still, you see at least one Piranhas review a month here at Blank Generation. Why? The simple fact is that this is a band that anyone claiming to dig Rock'N'Roll, or at least the brand that we cover, must listen to. It has nothing to do with being cool or in on the secret, but everything to do with excitement, danger, sprit, sound, power and soul (coincidentally, these qualities are what makes this small corner of the sonic landscape so fun and rewarding to inhabit). What immediately struck me about The Piranhas was that, in their delivery/assault, they simply demanded to be heard, regardless of whether or not you agreed or dug what they sounded like. I think this quality is common among all bands that "get it". I doubt Rocket From The Tombs, Pere Ubu, The Electric Eels, Suicide or The Stooges gave a shit who hated them or who loved them. They did it simply because they had to.

When I got the first Piranhas single, it was virtually impossible for me to seriously listen to other singles for weeks. What was the point? They did there what most bands only dream of accomplishing in an album: a fully realized sound that was unlike any other available at the time. On that single, and on the following LP and second single, they took everything I love about punk and just gutted it, ass to earlobes. They took everything necessary: a buzzsaw guitar, a screeching maniac, a decent groove and a broken keyboard (things not unheard of or groundbreaking) and just obliterated everything in sight. Those releases are some powerful fucking records, and they stack up among the best in recent memory. If those releases were all that they had left in their wake, it probably would've been enough for us...it would've been better than nothing.

That said, "Erotic Grit Movies" is far superior to all of their other recorded output…by a fucking mile. Compile all the bile and ferocity found on the other records and cram it all into one release. Even then, you’d only be half way there. It by no means renders the other records obsolete (how could it?), but it simply offers more in just about every area. All the elements of what made the other records great: the tunes, the production, the delivery, and the madness, are all amplified and kicked up a notch. If anything, this record feels more urgent than the first spin of "Garbage Can". What's even more startling is that I knew I loved this band before I heard "Erotic Grit Movies". I considered them to be one of the very best bands around. This LP not only reaffirmed that belief, it made me realize just how much I like The Piranhas: a whole hell of a lot more than I thought I did. (MC)
(www.intheredrecords.com)
(In the Red Records, 1118W. Magnolia Blvd., P.O. Box 208, Burbank, CA 91506)

Plus Ones "It’s a Calling" CD/LP

I wanted to like this. I was a quasi-fan of the Plus Ones EP that came out a few years ago, and I really liked some live songs of theirs I got off Audiogalaxy, but I just can’t get into this. The problem here isn’t necessarily the songwriting, although that is a bit uneven, it’s the production. There’s really only one word that accurately sums up how this sounds and that word is "PUSSY". Really, really pussy. Like, if you took all of the pussy the participants at a gynecology convention are subjected to in a year’s time and multiplied it by a hundred, you still wouldn’t be anywhere close to how pussy this sounds. I’m sure Plato had the production of this album in mind when he pontificated on the form of the pussy. And that’s a shame because there are actually some pretty decent tunes on here. "Natalie Please", "Touring In the Fall", and "All the Boys" were all great songs when they played them live, but the production here strips them of every last trace of energy and vitality. I hope this isn’t what the band was going for, but I must say I have my doubts. After all, teenage girls do dig some pretty terrible music. Sadly, due to the testosterone free production, this album would be more at home next to the likes of Dashboard Confessional than it would an awesome power pop band like the Fevers. (SS)
(Asian Man, www.asianmanrecords.com )

Puffball "Solid State (Eight Track)" 10"EP

Maybe it’s because I went from reviewing The Lost Sounds directly into listening to this and writing this review, but Puffball doesn’t sound all that interesting. Nothing personal. Cars. FAST cars. Denim. BLUE Denim. Puffball, the most menacing of all last cigarette Rock and/or Roll band names: PUFFBALL with a eight-ball in the ‘B’ of the band logo! PUFFBALL!!!! 70’s big muffin rock that reminds me of a mix between Motorhead and The Hot Dogs. I hear some wah. It’s pretty OK...This isn’t a bad 10" at all...I mean, what do you expect after The Lost Sounds? Probably 99% of anything out there sounds dull compared to their new one...I think you, the desirous reader, can determine from what HAS been written in support of this 10" IF its up yer alley or not. Cars. Denim. Rock and/or Roll. Motorhead. I will further add: Skull and pistons…Sweden.

My family had a Siamese cat named "Puff", who in no way had anything ‘puff’ about him. He was a shorthaired cat. I never understood that name, but I grew to love it. Now, my folks have a cat named "Baby" or interesting enough "Kitty". I call her ‘Sylvia’. I think she likes that name best. (SAB)
(Deadbeat Records, PO Box 283, Los Angeles, CA.90078, puffball@malarnet.com)

Radio Shanghai "Spur.....?" CD/LP

Writers block is a terrible thing. I’ve had this record since February, and here it is August (ooops…-Ed.) and I’m just getting around to reviewing it. Shameful. You see, there are times when I don’t feel up to the task of putting my thoughts about certain records into words. Frustratingly enough, this only ever happens with bands I really care about. Basically what happens is that I don’t feel like my abilities as a writer are strong enough to describe my feelings on certain records. Case in point here. I’ve been enamored with Radio Shanghai from day one. That’s not hipper-than-thou bragging, it’s a fact. When I heard their first single I flipped over their unique mix of creative new wave flourishes and top notch power pop. Immediately they jumped to the top of my "I’ve got to get everything this band ever releases" list. After that I didn’t hear much from them for a while. They turned up on the "Ad Vice comp" which, as bad luck would have it, ended up selling out before I could get a copy. Right when my chances of hearing more Radio Shanghai where looking slimmer than those of a pop punk kid getting laid, I discovered their third single for sale at www.nice-neat.com (go buy it if you have taste). Much to my delight, it was even better than the first. Shortly after that I ended up getting a hold of the "Ad Vice" comp and a CDR of their second single. The A-side was possibly one of the best songs of the past five years. Needless to say, I was looking forward to hearing more Radio Shanghai with the giddy anticipation now reserved exclusively for hanging out with some of the most beautiful girls in all of Japan (as luck would have it, the prefecture I’m in right now is known for having the most beautiful women in all of Japan).

Well I’m still waiting on a beautiful Japanese girl, but this past February my wait for some more Radio Shanghai was finally over. I saw this on Recordshopbase.com and two weeks and $24.00 later, it was finally in my hands. In the five years since I was first floored by their debut single my expectations had been building for this album. A lot. I hastily put it in my CD player expecting not only to be blown away, but also to hear an easy contender for album of the year. What I got was a slight letdown. Wow, there was a surprise! The biggest problem for me was that of the ten songs on here two had already been previously released and one was a joke song (well, I *think* its a joke). Sure most of the songs where great, and a few where amazing, but based on what I’d heard from them before, I was expecting the whole album to be jaw-dropping. Of course the fact that I just paid double the US price of a CD for this didn’t help matters either. Still don’t get me wrong, I did like the album quite a bit. The problem for me was how to write an accurate review that represented my very mixed feelings on this album. As is usually the case in situations like this I decided to wait awhile to gain a more accurate perspective on this.

It’s now seven months later and I think I’ve got it. It’s something I’ve known to be true for a long time, but this really hammers it home. Fuck expectations. This, on it’s own merits, is a great record. Maybe it’s not going to be my pick for album of the year, but that’s okay...someone’s gotta be number nine! A record with pop songs as perfect as "White Noise In My Hands" and "Blind Beat" can be forgiven of the sins of brevity, recycling previously recorded songs, and inconsistency. Besides, this album has more than it’s fair share of aural delights (I cant believe I actually used that expression...however I can believe that I’m too lazy to change it two month later) from the exuberant pop of "Away From the Other World" (Joe, upstrokes do not necessarily equal ska!!!) to the soft as a pillow version of "2-D Girl" (the sped up single version is the one I mentioned earlier as one of the best of the late 90`s). In short, my unrealistically elevated expectations prevented me from just how essential this really is. It may not be as amazing as it could have been, but Radio Shanghai, at their worst, which this is far from, blows away tons of decent bands at their best. That’s why you can bank on me being in the front row of a Radio Shanghai show sometime before I go back to the States. I’m just trying not to get my hopes up too high…(SS)
(Loft Records, www.loft-prj-co-jp/record )

Red Light Sting "Our Love Is Soaking In It!" CDEP/LP

My penis looks big all night long. I think my sister is a slut. And then I grew pubes. I wouldn't touch you with a tampon. When in Rome, collect the bone.

My new mantra? The start of my resume for a writing gig at Horizontal Action? No silly, just the wacko song titles from the new Red Light Sting EP. The Red Light Sting can get away with such nutty tomfoolery and not come off looking like nimrods because they back those titles up with some pleasantly devastating and totally original sounding songs. There are not many bands out there today with such a distinctive (and impossible to pigeonhole) sound who still manage to write killer songs that go well beyond the standard, verse chorus verse shit that can, frankly, get a bit tiresome after a while. Each and every song works on its own. And many songs have multiple great parts, where by the time you get to the last great part in the song you've forgotten what the first great part was, and then when you do remember what the first great part was, you can't remember if that was even the first great part from the current song, or whether it was another great part from another song. Confused? That's the beauty of this mini album. I have no idea what the fuck each song is going to end up like when I hear the song start, and I've listened to this thing at least 25 times!!! That is insane! If that isn't a sincere endorsement of what I'd consider an amazing record I don't know what is!

So, anyway, there's no way I could really do this justice by describing it, but here are the basics. The vocals are somewhere between some Refused style screaming and some Sting-like yelping, with some nicely timed high pitched girly back ups. The lyrics are pretty cool and not so obtuse that they don't make any sense at all. And the music has some insane hardcore parts, some weirdo, arty, note-rock guitar parts, and there's a whole heap of nice, varied noises courtesy of the synth. It makes sense that this was put out on Sound Virus (a totally killer, new-ish label, with a keen sense for not only the sound but the look and feel of their records as well, I might add) as this has Blood Brothers type parts, Sick Lipstick type parts and some Liars type parts. It completely destroys their first two EPs (the Rub 'Em Down EP, and the split with corporate America's next darlings (oh, c'mon, be nice) Hot Hot Heat). I'll admit that some might find The Red Light Sting to be an acquired taste, so if you want a litmus test try out the Sound Virus site and check out the mp3 for "When In Rome…" Oh shit, I almost forgot the best part - the 10 second screamed intro AND outro of a super hardcore, bordering on cheesy metal sounding "…and we're the Red Light Sting!!!" (JG)
(www.sound-virus.com)
(Sound Virus PO Box 55783 Valencia, CA 91385)

Reigning Sound "Time Bomb High School" LP/CD

So, Greg "Oblivian" Cartwright - he’s probably the best proper singer/songwriter around these days. The guy can rip out a rootsy ass-stompin’ rock ‘n’ roll number just as easily as he can lay down a pretty ‘n’ somber ballad, and the Reigning Sound’s second well-crafted long player, Time Bomb High School, serves as evidence of such. Of course, we all know that the former type o’ tune is preferred (I’ve always favored "Part of Your Plan" over "Bad Man," but that’s just me); however, this alb does a good job of blending the piss with the posies, so the A (all shuffle/ballads) is just about as digestible as the B (all hip-shake r’n’r) - even for a barely out-of-teens impatient like myself. Rarely will you hear songs as infectious and heartfelt as "Time Bomb High School" or "Straight Shooter." What’s more, you’ll almost never hear a set a pipes as soulful as Greg’s backed by a tight and overqualified ROCK band - that’s reason enough to pick this one up. And you’d better, if you know what’s good for you. (EL)
(www.intheredrecords.com)
(In the Red Records, 1118W. Magnolia Blvd., P.O. Box 208, Burbank, CA 91506)

Sailors "Play Turning the Other Cheek" CD

Right around the time I started getting the dizzying run of great, late 2002 releases (Hunches, Lost Sounds, Crimson Sweet, etc.) I had a bunch/bevy of shmoes staying at my place for the Leg Hounds CD release show in town. There were people from as far away as Kansas (Jesus, don't ask), and the crowd ranged from jaded record Nazis to ordinary Joes (like Eric "Seatlicker" Lastname). I played the heavy hitters amongst the beer drinking and 'wind smoking, and there were nods of approval all around. When I threw on the Sailors, though, the damn dam burst.

Ya' see, the Sailors are FUN. The Sailors are OFFENSIVE. The Sailors will liven up any party, unless you're camping with homo-hating woodsmen. The Sailors are a fucked up blender-mix of the Frogs, Turbonegro, and some garage band that doesn't suck shit. The Sailors can PLAY. The Sailors write great and catchy tunes, with titles like "YCMA" ("Your Cocks My Ass"), "Trim the Bush," "Young Faggot From China," "Violent Masturbation Blues" and "I Punch You." Amazingly enough, the songs actually go beyond the title-potential.

The Sailors are from Australia, where (perhaps) this is acceptable behavior. Word is they're the hottest thing going over there, and that they're considering risking life & limb playing in front of rednecks in the good ol' USA. Please consider buying multiple copies so this happens...unless yer a Euro, in which case...ah, fuck it -- unless you're fun-aversive woodchipper, you need this album.

The debut ("Violent Masturbation Blues," on the same label) may even top this one, if only on the strength of "I Punch You," a song so catchy that you WILL be singing it (and hand-clapping along) for weeks after a single listen. Just ask anyone who's been around me and a song-receptacle over the last few months. The chorus, repeated over and over (‘n clappity-claps):

"I punch you with the fist of my cock/I punch your ass with the fist of my cock"

Brilliant! Get 'em both! Then punch someone you love/hate with the fist of your clit/cock for good measure! (TK)
(www.dropkick.com.au)
(Dropkick Records, 38 Advantage Rd, Highett Vic 3190, Australia)

Seger Liberation Army "Heavy Music" 7"

You WILL dig this. The SLA is Tom Potter, Diamond Jim Diamond, and other garage no-goodniks (including another Dirtbomb and a New Bomb Turk) raiding the vaults of one Mr. Bob Seger. And not Silver Bullet Band shit either, we’re going back-back-back to the late Sixties Bob Seger and the Last Heard days when he was still a little known garage doofus releasing records on local Michigan labels. Here, "Heavy Music" is backed with "Chain Smokin’", two prime slices of Detroit garage fuzz. The SLA turn in great performances on both tracks, in that Ghetto Recorders sound decked out with ample amounts of Dirtbombs-fuzz kinda way. It honestly rocks like all hell, and there’s already another volume in the works at the Big Neck hit factory which is supposedly even better than this. And if you’re like me and think everything Tom Potter touches is gold then get this superior slab ASAP. (RK)
(www.bigneckrecords.com)
(Big Neck Records PO Box 8144, reston, VA 20196)

Sick Fits "S/T" CDEP

This ain't bad for what I'd assume is the first, D.I.Y. effort by some young chaps from Canada's stodgy capital. The "every instrument bleeds into the other" recording style doesn't really help these songs and the vocals could stand to be a little louder and tougher for my likes as well, but there are some fine Stitches influenced punk bursts buried beneath the muddy sound. Give these boys a slight recording budget and a little while to develop and I'd actually consider not kicking you in the nuts when you said that good bands come from Ottawa. Oh, and in a beautiful show of (intentional?) amateurism (or maybe a subversive nod to The Buzzcocks) the first song and the last song share pretty much the EXACT same guitar "lead" throughout! And, I don't think my CD player likes this disc too much as the chipping paint flecks from the hand splattered disc seem to bother it. (JG)
(no address provided - or else one was and I lost it)

Spits "S/T" CD/LP

I have a whole new amount of respect for The Spits after seeing them live and then hearing this album. Yes, I like the first "album" and the singles quite a bit, but I think I might have thought that they were just a few dumb guys that lucked into stringing a bunch of good songs together. Well, call me stupid, because The Spits know exactly the fuck what they are doing and they are doing a mighty fine job of it.

This album is so much better than their earlier material that I don't know if I'll ever be able to appreciate the early stuff they way that I used to. I think the main reason for me to say that has to do with the greatly improved production, which is huge sounding and ultra tight. All nine songs here are total keepers ('cept they shoulda nuked the dumb, fake prank call crap and the on purpose fuck ups at the start of one song). Every single song could hold its place as the A-side on a hit single. Songs like "No Place to Live", "PCT" (instead of "Action, Time and Vision", we get "Passion, Crime and Treason") and the quite astounding "Take Back the Alley" will probably be anthems for future punks of the world. So buy this record, bucko, and go see 'em when they come to your town, cuz kids will be coming up to you in 20 years saying shit like "Holy fuck! I can't believe that you saw the Spits when you were my age!" and you'll feel all hip and get to tell 'em about how you were so cool "back in the day" and how you used to hump all these hot punk babes, when the sad reality is that you were a total record obsessed nerd with no friends, who got shot down more often than that chubby kid at school, Ernest K. Poindexter, with the reversible pants. Ouch. (JG)
(www.slovenly.com)
(Slovenly Records - no address provided)

Spits "S/T #2" CD

What band holds the title of "STUPIDEST FUCKING BAND ALIVE"? The Spits!!! Quite simply, they're just fucking morons...cavemen...and they rock harder than most of the other bullshit out there. They've got so many things going for them in the "dumbass" department:

A) They are lewd.

B) They have 2 self-titled albums...and I don't even think they did that on purpose. There probably just forgot because they were busy huffing or something.

C) Both "albums" feature only 9 tunes are barely scrape past the 15 minute mark.

D) They sing about drinking beer in alleys. Not in a tough, "streetpunk" way, but in a "Giant Fucking Loser" way.

IT'S JUST TOO FUCKING PERFECT. It's fun, infectious and the worst possible thing you can do to your mind, body and ears. Brilliant ineptness. (MC)
(Slovenly Recordings, PO Box 204, Reno, NV 89504)

Spits "S/T" CD/LP

Call it what you want. "Spits II", "Wheelchair", or whatever, this second disc full of Spits music is perhaps even more boneheaded and great than their first "full length". Records that clock in at under twenty minutes are always cool with me. What more is there to say about the Spits really? We’ve drooled over them for the past year, and they don’t disappoint. A straight-on punk attack bolstered with dumb keyboards and even dumber lyrics. America hasn’t seen anything this spectacularly retarded since the days of the Gizmos/Afrika Corps, whom they even had the good taste and reverence to cover at one point. It’s catchy, fun, simple, and stupid, which is what good rock was all about last time I checked. Pound for pound, you’re not going to find a more entertaining record this year. (RK)
(www.slovenly.com)
(Slovenly Records)

Stooges "Declaration Of War: The Best Of The Funhouse Sessions" LP

A few years ago, Rhino put out a limited edition box set that collected every inch of tape recorded for The Stooges 2nd album, "Funhouse". As you can imagine, it was probably a lot to wade through and fanatics (like myself) would be the only ones interested in having such an item. That said, there is some stuff on there that is literally just as incredible as the official "Funhouse" album. Which brings us to this LP. One incredibly smart person decided to take the cream of the crop and commit it to wax, bootleg style. The result is basically a completely different version of one of the greatest albums ever (in my opinion), and who wouldn't be interested in that??? You get alternate takes of classics, tons of drunk'n'drugged IGGY studio screaming and banter and two tunes that never saw the light of day. As essential as any bootleg you'll ever come across and a mandatory purchase. (MC)
(c'mon...it's a boot...try your local record store)

Teengenerate "No Time" 7"

Normally I wouldn't bother reviewing a reissue, but I consider this more of a public service announcement than anything else. You see, this record contains the original appearance of "Gonna Feel Alright", one of the best, if not *thee* best, songs of the nineties!!! There’s also one song on here that didn’t make it onto "Smash Hits", and it’s a good one. This is a super-limited repressing of a record that wasn’t too easy to find when it first came out, so if you're anything like me, that should be all it takes to sell you on this. If not, I dub thee king of the puds. (SS)
(www.nice-neat.com )
(Dog Meat, GPO Box 2366V, Melbourne 3001, Australia)

Thee Trash Brats "American Disaster - Special Edition" LP

I write for a magazine where nearly every record that gets sent in for review has a car and/or a bikini-clad silicone woman on the cover. Either horrible redneck "punk" by way of Black Oak Arkansas or some wanna-be junkie dogshit. I’ve reviewed oooooooooodles of shit like that, and its definitely taught me just how worthless stuff like that can be (it always is), as if that point needed further evidence to make it valid. I guess you don’t know if shit stinks until you smell it. Anyway, in the shitty bios these middle-aged doper bands send, they regularly mention that they’ve either played with or are "influenced by" Thee Trash Brats. I dunno…you tell me. Anyway, this band has seemingly been around forever and has only written ONE decent tune, which is "Must Be The Cocaine". I don’t even know why I like it. Maybe it’s because I always wanna do coke, but I’m afraid my heart will explode. I ONLY WRITE ABOUT ROCK’N’ROLL FOLKS!!! I think I really dug the sleeve of the single the song was featured on…a giant pile of coke with the song title spelled out in the mirror. I think they covered The Zero Boys on the flip too, which is OK. I have no idea what makes this a "Special Edition"…I presume that now that it’s on vinyl, it’s "special". Regardless, "Must Be The Cocaine" is on here, and that’s funny for about 2 listens. Yeah…that’s basically Thee Trash Brats. They look like Hedwig and The Angry Inch too. (MC)
(www.aliensnatch.de)

Treeberrys "Talkin’ About Treeberrys" LP

Treeberrys might find their way onto that list you‘ve got going that features really great Japanese bands, but their placement on that list solely depends on how you feel about pop, and in their case, 60s pop. I dig pop. There’s nothing wrong with a little pop…power recommended, but optional perhaps. In fact, I can’t really think of two things more "pop" than trees and berries. Maybe bubbles are poppier, but then we’d be crossing genres and I don’t wanna get into that…this section is already late. Fuck it, I’m going to write THE WORST RECORD REVIEW IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE! Starting…yikes…I was gonna say "STARTING NOW", but this shit is already looking grim…

Let us deconstruct the band name. "TREEBERRYS". Immediately, what do you recognize? Yes, bad spelling. This can be attributed to them being incredibly stupid, which is always a plus when it comes to Rock’N’Roll. However, I like to think that they are going for that whole "Japanese rockers who have yet to master English grammar" thing (a la "She’s A Dumb" or "She’s So Vibration"). I think that makes sense. Next……….Don’t most berries come from bushes? In the minds of The Treeberrys themselves, was this a conscious decision, or is it back to the whole grammar thing? We’re they shunning bushes in favor of trees? Assuming they were, does that make them a band that likes dicks more than pussies? And since they are all guys, are they a homocore band??? Doubtful, although Pansy Division is starting to sound like The Kinks. Maybe, for some inconceivable reason, their band name was chosen to best inform or demonstrate to listener some element of the band’s motivation, sound or influences. How can we uncover this riddle wrapped in vinyl? Gotta dig deeper I guess…

"TREES". Where are most trees located??? Forests? Yeah…but there are a whole lot in yards too (obviously stretching). That’s it. YARDBIRDS. Now "BERRYS", or for the sake of your brain, "BERRIES". Name some berries…strawberries, blueberries, uh…Dominoberries. I’ve got it: muthafuckin’ RASPBERRIES. Treeberrys = Yardbirds + Raspberries. Yardbirds might be a little off, but I just got the new issue of Ugly Things, and I figured it would be a really intelligent and cool "rock writer" thing to do to mention The Yardbirds. I stand corrected. I guess ol’ U.T. zine has got me in one of those moods again. Yeah, you heard me bitches! Fuck the A-Frames and all they stand for!!! I want a 28 page article discussing the entire situation surrounding the writing of the song "Moulty" by The Barbarians!!! I wanna have hair and Rickenbackers and mod boots!!! Honestly, they do sound like The Raspberries though (I just couldn’t come up with a theory to prove a relationship between "Rasp" and "Tree"…guess that‘s why I write for BG!!!). That’s a good thing, if you totally wipe that Eric Carman tune from "Dirty Dancing" outta your mind. "Talkin’ About Treeberrys" is actually a mighty fine record. Although, and I think I’m stating the obvious here, but it’d be waaaaaay fucking better if it was called "Talkin’ ‘Bout Treeberrys". That’s just more 60s. There is literally NOTHING more 60s than having 2+ apostrophes in you’re album title! NOTHING! Thank you, GOODNIGHT! (MC)
(www.soundsofsubterrania.com)

Twinkeyz "Cartoon Land" LP

Common logic when I was a youngster was that rock 'n roll was great in '66, then the hippies and ponytails killed it until around '76-77, when the Ramones, Saints, Pistols, et al, resuscitated the beast. In the mid-period, all we had for primal r 'n r were the MC5/Stooges, VU 'n NY Dolls. Well, that's obviously hogwash -- I think I've actually come to dig the just-pre-punk stuff MORE that the shit that was launched after numbnuts got a hold of Ramones and Pistols records (though much of the material on the better Bloodstains & KBDs can't be denied).

Before there was a blueprint, there was Debris, Simply Saucer, the Electric Eels, Pere Ubu, Screeming Mee Mees, Gizmos, and a host of retards upset with the state of the recording industry going off into space with only some Cooper/Silver Apples/Stooges/Velvet Underground/Nuggets records to guide 'em.

The earliest recordings on here may be from AFTER the first Ramones record (1977, to be exact), but the parties involved were already in their late 20's, nostalgic for the Sacramento Valley garage band greats (which is where they hailed from) as well as Bay Area psych-units and the early '70s Glam scene. What you get is intensely-personal bedroom/garage psych that knows how to pull grand punches when it wants to (like their most known track, the goofy "Aliens in our Midst"). Really great stuff...the liners claim they were a huge influence on later, better-known locals like the Dream Syndicate, Opal and the Game Theory (perhaps the best power pop band you've likely never heard), which is believable. Much recommended! (TK) (Anopheles Records)
(P.O. Box 170045, San Francisco, CA 94177)

Ultra Maroon "Lifeless like Blood" CD

Well, I am pretty sure that back there in that Blacks review the deceased band member wasn’t a joke. This CD is dedicated to his (Chad Kerr’s) memory. This CD in fact features an ex-Black, Dick Solomon who played drums in The Blacks. Dick teamed up with Mike Pierson to create, at least this version of, Ultra Maroon. This is a two man act that’s pretty damn tight. Musically, it reminds me of The Minutemen or Firehose, except the songs are mostly instrumental-- something I am getting more and more use to, with minimal self-described "vocals". Ultra Maroon impressed me but man, with the right vocalist and lyrics they could have been a band that really changed my perception of music. It’s THAT good…or rather, Ultra Maroon have THAT MUCH potential. They know not of their possibilities until low-lifes like me fucking drool...What’s more to say? With mostly all instrumentals, I feel HALF the journey is complete. I mean, I’m a person that understands the internal workings of bands. It’s difficult to describe! The whole deal and all. If anything it’s getting harder and harder for bands to form, gel, and retain a working relationship for the years it takes most bands to reach their potential. I bet for Mike and Dick, it’s no different. I can’t escape the feeling that what I heard on "Lifeless Like Blood" is just a starting point for this band. Sure, with something like this under their belt to throw out there, they will probably find some people to join in, like that vocalist and stuff. I dunno. I’m just babbling really. I see so much of what CAN BE. The Ultra Maroon could be kings of Arizona or something in my eyes.

I see...shrouded images of a music community where we all sit huddled together in the center of an abandoned town with makeshift fires burning in 55 gallon drums...The Ultra Maroon show up and they are greeted with hugs instead of hellos…Kisses to the cheek instead of looks from the meek. Let me share my oxygen!! "Welcome home," we all say. The complete tribes...Omaha to Normandy and back...Gold...Welcome to UZA! (SAB)
(Star Time Records, PO Box 43091, Tucson AZ 85773, startimerecordsaz.com)

V/A "Music for Haters" 7"EP Series Volumes 1-4

NOTE: The package that contained these singles was retrieved at the post office by a Moody Blues fan with a handlebar mustache…

I suppose this is the beginning of a new thing with Hate Records, which has really grown to be one of my favorite labels. Hate Records is getting the mark of consistency with me, releasing one great record after another. A Singles Series started by folks who this good of an ear is great news. I just wonder if there is a subscription or anything. There was no promo sheet with any of these records giving me the lowdown on what exactly Hate Records is doing, so sorry for the vagueness. Inconvenience!!!! IN THE DARK!!!! I do know that the first two volumes are limited to 250 with some of each pressing appearing on colored and black vinyl with the third and fourth volumes being limited to 500. Colored vinyl on these? Your guess is as good as mine on this one. Each volume is hand numbered with one and two appearing cosmetically similar and three and four sharing design likes...Logistics aside, these are all rrrrrrrrrright up my alley!.

Single #1 features THE INTELLECTUALS...WOW!!!! This band is really hard hitting. Four songs from an apparent two piece, even though some elements of a "mystery piece" are witnessed. Keyboards sprinkle a couple songs here and there. YEAH! A Guy playing frantic blues charged chords clean and choppy with a gal hitting drums. Sounds familiar don’t it? I m’ not going to say anything more, but this duo is better than the other one that comes to mind, trust me. Hate really found a winner with this band. I want more of this and reading the insert I can see that The Intellectuals appear courtesy of Cactus Records. Singing songs about sex, drugs, sex and more drugs, I didn’t get bored once while listening. I feel good.

Single #2 is PUNKIDS.S., who along with The Intellectuals are from somewhere in Europe (I want to say they both are from Italy but I dunno). Gosh darn…we have a new wave of RE-Punk (revivalist punk) right here in the new millennium! PunkidS.S., whose name strikes me as odd and one that I figure MUST translate into something cooler sounding in some sort of native tongue, looks like a pop punk band, but rage like The Broken Toys...Great guitar sound!!!! This 7" is a hard hitter, the hardest out of the series. Four songs of snotty, minimal, bouncy old school punk like Jolt or Eater or the aforementioned Broken Toys. This is the type of record you play for your friends when they come over and they are immediately jealous that they don‘t already have it. This 7" shows a ray of hope for the new kids. I’m definitely looking out for more PunkidS.S stuff.

Single #3 begins a change in look and format in the series, with a color cover and just a straight 45. The Flakes! The A-side features "First I Look in the Purse" which, along with the flip "I’m Movin’ On", sound like cover songs. The Flakes are either SO GOOD that their original music feels familiar or these tunes are actually covers. I COULD research this, but that’s for losers. This 7" is good. It fits in nicely with the series, but since tit only has two songs, you get into some real ethics over pricing argument. I know these records are going to be sort of expensive here in the states. They are imports, after all. At my local store, it wouldn’t be uncommon for a import 7" to reach prices close to $6. I‘d be much more willing to drop $6 bucks on 4 tunes rather than 2. THAT‘S MY DOPE MONEY WE’RE TALKING ABOUT! Either way, expense is expense.

Single #4 features a band I actually know something about: THE KILL-A-WATTS! I am pretty sure The ‘Watts have a recent LP and 7" on Rip Off Records. The three songs on this 7" was my first exposure to them. Not bad either. I think they would benefit from a better recording, but it’s pretty ripping just the way it is. The first song on the B-side had female vocals and reminded me of Kill The Hippies to boot. The second song on Side B is a cover of "Primitive" by The Testors. That’s it! The ‘Watts win my heart! Any person in any band that even know of The Testors wins points in my book. That person either has first hand knowledge of The Testors OR knows someone with the knowledge meaning they have good taste in those they pick as band mates. The fact that they chose "Primitive" really shows a serrated edge to this band and totally makes me want to check out their other stuff.

The "Music for Haters" Series is undoubtedly for the die-hard singles freaks, so I don’t know how it will play out. I hope I get future volumes to review for free so I can hear some more Moody Blues while I am waiting to sign for a package at the post office. Hate Records is making an even bigger name for itself by sending me review material. Ciao! (SAB)
(Hate Records, via S.Giovanni in Laterano, 194-00184 Roma, Italy, wildblues@tiscalinet.it {Intellectuals},shockyoudead@hotmail.com {Kill-A-Watts})

Walking Ruins "Fall of the House of Ruins" CD

Man...I remember this band. This CD is a re-issue of sorts. Like the inside sez: Originally released on Ruined Records in 1996...For some reason I want to think that I seen an ad for this way back when in an issue of MaximumRockNRoll and put it on a list of wants...After all, I bet what interested me was the Bloomington Address...IF my memory serves me correctly...Wow, funny how stuff like that works out.

The Walking Ruins are one of those bands...no matter how new they are to you, you’re somewhat familiar with them. Bands like The Walking Ruins are the bands whose rosters are full of punk scene veterans that always seem on the edge of breaking into something bigger. They can seemingly play anything and, through the years, just meander through bars, basements, and UAW halls, one right after the other, never seeming to get the respect they deserve...These bands are everywhere in most scenes. Which one is yours? In Cincinnati, it’s The Slobs. The Slobs are a fucking phenomenal band, the kings of Cincinnati Punk. They’ve been around since 1990 or so. They have influenced EVERY band and fan in the city to some degree. They have released records and did short tours, even opened up for the Vibrators when they came through recently...They should be doing LONG tours. Coast to coast. Living the Rock and/or Roll lifestyle 24-7. New CD every year. EPs...the works. But, here they are STILL in Cincinnati. The best thing about it all though is that they STILL are at it, on their own terms, after all these years. Sometimes these bands "make it", other times they "make it" in other more important ways.

I have a feeling The Walking Ruins and The Slobs share some similarities. That’s pretty cool if you ask me. Still, after all these years writing, playing and listening to music, I use bands like The Slobs and The Walking Ruins as my personal meter stick, checking myself in comparison to them before moving on. I do what I do on MY terms as much as I can…but fuck! I’m still learning! Me, calling the shots!!!! I learned it from guys like The Walking Ruins. (SAB)
(Gulcher Records, GulcherRecords@aol.com)

Yum Yums "Blame It On The Boogie" CD/LP

A few months ago, Joe issued a challenge for someone else to write a
review of this, as he’s never really been a big fan. Not being one too content
myself with one of my favorite bands getting slagged, I’ve gladly taken the
responsibility upon myself. First of all, let’s get a couple of things straight. Are the Yum Yums wimpy? Terribly. Herman’s Hermits might be able to take ‘em in a fistfight. Are the Yum Yums sappy? Definitely. Some of their lyrics would make Paul McCartney blush. Are the Yum Yums a gutless bunch of emasculated hacks pushing limp-wristed crap as authentic power pop? Most certainly not! They may be many things, but first and foremost, The Yum Yums are a power pop band of the highest caliber, possibly the best in the world.

This album only serves to further plead the case for their supremacy. "Sweet As Candy" was a damn fine record, an instant classic in fact, but this one just may be even better. The level of quality maintained on here is simply astounding. Out of fourteen songs, more than half are incredible, with the rest sitting comfortably in the range between "really good" to "great" (okay…there is one stinker, "I Wish You Could See Me Now," but even that Donnas name-checking song is made tolerable due to a really cool bridge). Another thing worth noting here is that the bass player sang and wrote two of the songs on here, both of which are among the brightest points of the record. Don’t let the fact that some of these songs where previously released scare you off. Remember, TONS of classic records are like that! Hook filled songs like "Here Comes Summer," "Boogie Fever," and "It's Gonna Be a Hit!" may not win this "classic" status in everyone’s eyes (though they should!), but you'd have to be one heartless codger not to have a total blast listening to them. And at the end of the day what’s more important in a record than that? I predict this and the Gimmies album are going to have a photo finish for album of year. (SS)
(Screaming Apple Records, Dustemichstrasse 14, 50939 Koln, Germany)
(or get the Japanese version, on 1 + 2 records, at www.nice-neat.com )

 
 
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