Record Reviews - May, 2003

Black Lips “S/T” CD

Primo Back from the Grave-slash-Teenage Shutdown pound 'n' thud from these out-rage-ous Atlantan teens – and they ain't the one-trick ponies their 45s suggested, either. Tunes do range the typical trash-rock gamut, from dirt-caked shakers ("I Got a Knife") to slurred dirges ("Sweet Kin," "Stone Cold") to teen-jive jangle ("Ain't No Thing"), but there's a lil' unexpected Killed by Death psychosis scattered in between the copious '60s salutes, which elevates this particular gang above and beyond the non-existent competition. Believe the hype. (EL)
(Bomp! Records P. O. Box 7112, Burbank, CA 91510)


Briefs "Off the Charts" CD/LP

No doubt about it, this release has to be considered a bit of a letdown.  That doesn't mean it's not good, it just means that it's not up to the extremely high standards the Briefs have set for themselves after the great Hit After Hit and a series of near perfect singles.  In fact, three of the best songs on here ("(Looking Through) Gary Glitters Eyes", "Ain't It The Truth", and "We Americans") already appeared on said singles plus a comp track is reused making this more of a collection of songs, rather than a true album.  Out of the new songs "Tear It In Two" is a fabulous poppy ballad while "22nd Century Man" is a genuine punk hit and the five other songs range from just good ("Ouch Ouch Ouch") to downright crappy ("Who Made You So Smart?").  Thumbs up on the snazzy design and artwork though.  (JG)
(Dirtnap Records P.O. Box 21249 Seattle, WA 98111)

Catholic Boys “S/T” CD

Been following these four gents since early in the game, and it's been an interesting trip. Started out as two ex-Teenage Rejects, a Shutup, and a Strong Come On – the previous single’s line-up – who gave the obvious and straightforward tip o' the cap to '70s Clevo p-rock: Dead Boys, Electric Eels, Pagans, etc. Now, they're one less Shutup and one more ex-Reject (Eric "Animal" Apnea, on skins), and they've morphed into a Die Kruezen meets Devo meets alla the aforementioned influences type thing. And, as this disc indicates, they're a better band for it. They've "evolved" into a almost hardcore-sounding outfit. Got me?

Seriously, though: Haven't heard an unapologetically "punk" release that's THIS DAMN GOOD since, well, their last single – and this is better.  “Get Loose” plucks (early) new wave’s few redeeming qualities and transplants ‘em onto a KBD acetate.  “I Am TV” Registrates and Iggy-wiggles.  And "Latch On" – Piranhas without pretense – just might be the song of the year on the disc of the year by the band of the year. So, uh, why don'cha latch on yourself, sleazy? This ride’s just takin’ off! (EL)
(Trickknee Productions)

Catholic Boys “Brainwash City” 7”

If you’ve slinked around the Internet a-tall in the past few months, you’ve probably seen a mention of fellow columnist/reviewist/proctologist Filthy Rich’s claim that the Catholic Boys are the apex o’ current punk rock.  And if you haven’t yet heard or seen the band – for shame! – you probably rolled your eyes, sighed, or just plumb didn’t give a fuck.  ‘Sides: With alla this straight-up r’n’r all over the place, who likes punk rock anymore?

I do.  ‘Specially when it comes to this band.  The Catholic Boys are an intense, blistering group.  They steamroll ‘n’ pummel with an energy all their own.  They (musically) punish in a Pagans-meets-Dead Boys-cum-Fun Things vein, (lyrically and vocally) mind-fuck you with creepy, nightmarish visions of sci-fi violence that’re unique to the juvie mindset – comical and vaguely disturbing all at once.  And they ARE the best punk rock outfit around today, so buy this single and re-invest in an r’n’r offshoot that hasn’t grabbed the ear this ferociously in a long, long while. (EL)
(Kryptonite Records 2324 Wisconsin Ave. #53 Milwaukee, WI 53233-2117)

Clone Defects "Shapes of Venus" 7"

One alb track (the killer r'n'r power-pop "Shapes of Venus") and a single-exclusive buzzbomb (the mostly-instro punk violence of "Gonna Stick You") prove exactly why the 'Defects reign Dee-troit. Casual fans might wanna avoid this one, due to the two-song novelty factor, but real-deal junkies like myself'll bite. Great companion to the full-length. (EL)
(In the Red Records P.O. Box 50777 Los Angeles, CA 90050)

Nikki Corvette "Love Me" 7"

Hands down the best single Rapid Pulse Records has ever released!  The leader of one of the most rockin' "girl groups" of all time, Nikki Corvette (of Nikki and the Corvettes, duh) is back for the first time in eons to please your ears with two tunes that could have been alternate takes from the 1980, bubblegum power pop genius Nikki and the Corvettes LP.  This time Nikki has teamed up with Travis Ramin who has been involved with a number of great, recent bands like The Fevers, Candygirl and Tina and the Total Babes to craft two absolute pop gems.  Either song, "Love Me" or "What's On My Mind" would have worked as the A-side as both deliver catchy verses with a chorus full of amazingly huge hooks.  One of the best  pop singles of the past few years.  (JG)
(Rapid Pulse Records P.O. Box 5075 Milford, CT 06460-1475)

Deadly Snakes “Ode to Joy” LP/CD

These Canucks have gone progressively more-produced since their first killer blues-trash-with-horns alb, Love Undone. They've also gone progressively mellower, but I hasten to mention that they can still knock about with the best of the semi-pro-sounding '60s gang – even if they’re starting to lean closer to Melloncamp than Memphis. What I mean to say: Ode to Joy, while no Love Undone, stands on its own as a great blend of early Them, drunken sing-a-longs, and folk-tinged regret, all peppered with liberal doses o’ brass, organ, ‘n’ handclaps.  Might even be better than I’m Not Your Solider Anymore.  Regardless, this one’s a real hoot and a wise purchase.  (EL)
(In the Red Records P.O. Box 50777 Los Angeles, CA 90050)

Feast of Snakes “S/T” 12”

Swampy Scientists-soundin' scree that sinks – with slide guit – into a soggy sour-mash surreal state sought by Suicide if Suicide had screamed and seared souls with strings instead o’ synths. This platter’s psychotic as all hell and angry to boot.  It’s also a near-guaranteed year-end top-tenner.  It, like, gets you there, in a grain alky-hall sorta way. (EL)
(In the Red Records P.O. Box 50777 Los Angeles, CA 90050)

Final Solutions “Eat Shit” 7”

Rockin’ Killed by Death-inspired trash that keeps it simple, fun, and stupid.  “Eat Shit” hearkens back to past ridiculo-anthems like Freestone’s “Bummer Bitch” or the Lewd’s “Kill Yourself” (in both sound and ‘tude alike), but there’s an odd and welcomed and oddly welcomed wavey touch with the electric keys that makes it that much better.  The other gem on this four-songer, “I’m a Victim,” carries pissed-off-pop a few rungs up the ladder and warrants a million or so successive spins.  And: Jay Reatard on the skins.  How can you lose? (EL)
(Therapeutic Records P.O. Box 13643 New Orleans, LA 70185)

Flip Tops "Secrets and Lies" 7"

Yeah!  The Vinyl Warning hit factory strikes again!  The Flip Tops deliver with three quality hits on one piece of wax.  "Secrets and Lies" is a jaunt into uncharted territory for The Flip Tops with its slower pace and ultra poppy feel.  I love it!  It's perhaps their greatest song to date, but I'm a pop guy, so whadda I know?  The b-side features "Hitman" a total ripper that competes with the best of them on their garage punk smash All Worked Up on Rip Off Records.  There is NO FUCKING WAY that you can listen to "Hitman" without getting the chorus burned into your brain.  "Well I'm a hitman, baby!  Well I'm a hitman, yeah!"  The third song "Cold Blood, Black Heart" is a real rock'n'roller that does a good job of finishing off a must get single.  (JG)
(Vinyl Warning P.O. Box 2991 Portland, OR 97208-2991)

Horrors “Vent” LP/CD

I dunno, man. The blues're apparently where it's at for discerning r'n'r types who're all about proving pre-Stripes connections to the music these days. Me? I'm a fan – of Johnson, Waters, Wolf, blah, yadda, etc. This stuff, though, toes the line currently re-drawn by bands like the Black Keys, who make Stevie Ray Vaughn look like Blind Lemon Fuggin’ Jefferson. I mean, the production's cool (Greg Oblivian turning knobs – reportedly improving upon the trash-prod of their first, which I've [admittedly] never heard), and the tunes are surely worthy, but the vocals – THE VOCALS, WHICH ARE BLUES-NECESSARY – sound so goddamned obviously whitebread-cum-soulman that I'm out the door and in your fridge, stealing all kindsa food and shit. Not that the alb’s bad, per se. Still – eye with caution, friends. (EL)
(In the Red Records P.O. Box 50777 Los Angeles, CA 90050)

Kidnappers "Ransom Notes & Telephone Calls" LP

I was a huge fan of the two High School Rockers singles so when I heard that they had reformed as The Kidnappers and had an album out on Alien Snatch! I got pretty damn excited.  And for good reason - this record is top notch!  The absolute basics are still the same with a simplistic 1-4-5 chord structure to a lot of the songs, but instead of going for a more toned down Ramones meets Supercharger overall feel as the HS Rockers did, The Kidnappers make everything louder, faster and about twenty times more exciting.  It sounds like they're no longer constrained by the feeling that they had to sound a certain way and can now write songs that are much better suited to their talents.  There's a lot more of a rockin' swagger to this record which makes things more interesting and the vocals by Beat-It are totally screamed now as opposed to being "sung" as they were before.  They even have the sense to do a spot on cover of Loli and the Chones' "Everybody Hates Me".  This album is a total adrenaline shot right to the heart!!!  Highly recommended.  (JG)
(Alien Snatch Records Morikeweg 1, 74199 Untergruppenback Germany)

Kill-A-Watts “Then and Now” 7”

The ‘Watts dig two lower-than-usual snot-blasts outta their pre-Rip Off vaults, back ‘em with two newer tunes, then serve all four up for you, the eager listener, to enjoy.  And – hey! – if you’re anything like me, you will (enjoy, that is).  Though side THEN suffers a lil’ from oversaturation of the whole juvie aesthetic, side NOW (particularly “Mace Can”) delivers in the catchy, amphetamine-driven Registrators meets Teengen maneuvers that we’ve all come to expect and appreciate from one o’ Wisconsin’s finest. (EL)
(Kryptonite Records 2324 Wisconsin Ave. #53 Milwaukee, WI 53233-2117)

Kill-A-Watts “Let’s Get High Voltage” 7”

It’s called “Let’s Get High Voltage,” but the real smoker here is “Girl’s Livin’ Dead” –the best thing this four-piece has ever committed to wax, and certainly worthy of the cash you hide away in that ol’ rusty coffee tin.  “Teengenerate with tits!” screams T. Trickknee with glee, and he ain’t lyin’!  Grab, grab, grab. (EL)
(Flying Bomb Records P.O. Box 971038 Ypsilanti, MI 48197)

Locomotions "S/T" LP

Wow!  Mr. Martin Savage is back with a new three piece destruction unit known as The Locomotions!  This is a super stripped down record with one distinct guitar track, one distinct bass track, spot on drumming and usually just one vocal track (with a ton of screaming, of course) that give rise to a primal, garage rock sound.  By no means is it a sloppy or shoddy sounding recording, it's just that this stuff sounds best when it's recorded simply which this record definitely is.  There are a pretty wide spectrum of sounds on here ranging anywhere from bluesy garage punk to trashed out, poppy glam to a freaky, almost psychedelic instrumental.  The real highlight track, in my opinion, is the absolute scream-fest "Come and Get It" although the quite poppy "Make Up Your Mind" does come close, as do their versions of the Dirtbombs' "Headlights On" and The Dogmatics' "Saturday Night Again".  Another must get record from Alien Snatch! who continue to impress with not only the sounds coming out of the grooves on their records but also with the nice, thick wax and the great sleeve designs and jet black paper sleeves.  And if we're lucky The Locomotions will soon be back with some new songs recorded at the legendary Toe Rag Studios!  Stay tuned!  (JG)
(Alien Snatch Records Morikeweg 1, 74199 Untergruppenback Germany)

Modey Lemon “Enemy” 2x7”

Fug alla that two-man hype – the Modey Lemon, gimmick or no, devastate.  ‘Specially live, ‘cuz their drummer’s a goddamned pounder and the guit-singer dude ain’t bad, either.  And cohesively, they churn out a moody ‘n’ dark riff-rock thang that’s basically unmatched right now, though I’m pretty sure no one’s “with it” enough to make a pass at that specific kinda thang anyway.

So why’d their album bore me?  I dunno.  But the double-single don’t!  It’s tits!  It’s solid gold, thru ‘n’ thru! “Enemy,” this release’s anthemic standout,  shakes ‘n’ shimmies through a funky, permutated MC5 rip riff and delves into a weird Ubu noise-deal somewheres in between, then squeezes back into the fray long enough to get bruised ‘n’ boozed.  “You Bug Me” kinda works along the same lines, and other tunes don’t disappoint, either.  If you’re gonna pick up anything by this combo, start here. (EL)
(In the Red Records P.O. Box 50777 Los Angeles, CA 90050)

Morticia's Lovers "Rock'n'Roll Overdose" LP

It's a fact that a lot of great labels start off the same way - put out a few singles to build a loyal fan base and then hit the world with a killer first full length.  Rip Off did it, Dirtnap did it, as did Mutant Pop, and it looks like Zaxxon Virile Action have joined the club with Morticia's Lovers' Rock'n'Roll Overdose.  This LP is my first time hearing this Italian band and I have quickly become a fan of their sloppy brand of catchy garage punk.  It's not an overly original album, but since when did great records have to be?  Morticia's Lovers get by quite well on referencing their punk rock and power pop forefathers in the songwriting while mixing in some distinct, slightly off kilter, Italian accented English vocals.  They even do a good job of updating some punk and power pop hits from the past with trashy versions of "Rock'n'Roll Girl", "Boredom", and "Do the Uganda".   Actually, if you combined the bands that played those three songs originally (The Beat, The Buzzcocks and The Controllers, respectively) into one band you'd have a keen sense of where Morticia's Lovers are coming from.  The perfect record to play at the post-bar party where everyone comes stumbling home, rip-roaringly drunk and still wants to get it on.  (JG)

Strawberry Mud Pie! "You Sing! Me Play!" CD

I don't know about you but when the months and months of damp, wet dreariness, otherwise known as "winter" on the Canadian west coast begin to turn into spring I start feeling a whole hell of a lot better, especially when I come across records as shamelessly fun and giddy as the debut full length by Japan's Strawberry Mud Pie!, which is the perfect soundtrack album for the sunny days and lazy weekends of spring and summer. 

You Sing! Me Play! besides being an excellent title for an album by a band that doesn't seem to speak that much English, is a 12 track poppy garage punk behemoth of a record.  It's been a long while since I've been this impressed with the quality of songwriting on a straightforward record where each song employs the use of only 3, maybe 4 chords.  There's no way a band like Strawberry Mud Pie! could ever be called original but they sure as hell are quite distinct due to Mika Mirinda's beautiful, hypnotizing, high pitched female voice (singing 90% of the songs in Japanese) over top of the buzzsaw guitar licks.

I give this album my highest recommendation to all 3 chord garage punk fans who like things a bit on the saccharine side (they're wearing Reds and Queers shirts on the inside if that helps you any).  If you listen to this and don't find yourself singing along, bopping your head or tapping your toes to songs like "Hohoo", "Teenage Girl Depression" or "Surfin' Johnny" you're simply a grumpy, old fuck.  (JG)
(1+2 Records - no address provided)

Triggers "Shoot Your Mouth Off" CD/LP

The savage bunch of miscreants known as The Triggers have graduated from the totally cool, yet pretty small time Portland labels Jonny Cat Records and Vinyl Warning to the equally cool, but a step or two up on the punk rock label food chain, Dirtnap Records.  The first thing you'll notice is the incredibly beefed up sound which is higher in fidelity than their amazing first two singles and their decent split with The Flip Tops.  I really like the sound, especially the drums, but I think a lot of the amateur charm, which made their earlier records so great, has been lost.  There are a few real punk hits on here like "Lets Mutate", "Stay Away", and a redone version of "Clones", all coming off like a modern sounding Avengers with the blasé female vocals on top of some pretty straightforward songs.    But the "every song has vocal parts that follow the guitar parts" writing style (hence the aforementioned "amateur charm") that dominated on their prior work is mostly gone.  Maybe I'm being a cock, but I think I don't like this as much because it's actually "better", if you know what I mean.  (JG) 
(Dirtnap Records P.O. Box 21249 Seattle, WA 98111)

© 2003