Record Reviews - September, 2003

Bags “Disco’s Dead” EP
 
Everyone wants to hear more Bags music. Obviously, they were one of the best early LA Masque-Era punk outfits, but they sadly left us with a meager amount of recorded output. Artifix Records attempts to fulfill this jones for punk geeks across the world with the release of three previously unheard Bags tunes from the band’s heyday. Well, you can’t say the label didn’t try. “Disco’s Dead” is kind of lame and dated, but sounds OK quality wise. Certainly not as ferocious as this band could be at their best, and definitely not essential at all. The B-Side contains two live tracks hidden under a layer of recording murk so deep you need scuba gear to tell if the songs are any good or not. A disappointing release, but give Artifix credit for taking care in releasing it. They warn of the “limitations of the source material” on the sleeve, and what were we really expecting, anyway? Unearthed tracks on par with “We Don’t Need the English”? If such songs existed, they would’ve been booted years ago. The sleeve contains excerpts from the lengthy interviews with Alice and Pat from Jack Rabid’s ‘The Big Takeover’ mag, and proceeds from the record go to AIDS research donations in guitarist Craig Lee’s name. Even if the material wasn’t very strong, it’s a nice effort overall, and I hope better things come from Artifix’s upcoming release of a whole disc of unreleased KAOS material. (RK)
(www.artifixrecords.com)
 
Bamboo Kids "Suck The Life Out Of Me" 7"
 
Kind of a garage take on power pop -- "Teen Jangler" Teenage Shutdown meets Power Pearls. The A-Side has the better tune, whereas the B kicks up more dirt. Good band, good songs, and that's that. Heard they have more of a "Dollsy" feel live. (TK)
(Pro-Vel Records, www.provelrecords.com)
 
Clorox Girls "S/T" 7" EP
 
A very entertaining record from some goofy looking kids from Oakland, released by a label from Portland. Let me just say that thank God these kids aren’t playing more neo-new wave or street punk crap. It’s pretty raw and simple kinda hardcore punk, running on some borrowed riffs and juvenile lyrics. Think The Tie Reds if they were going for a Los Huevos/early Red Kross sound instead of the Penetrators/Supercharger mish-mash they were. Very charming, in a borderline incompetent way. One of the more promising singles I’ve heard this year, and it’s on clear vinyl, the label of which bills them as the Lorox Girls? Seems to be a split release with Televison 14 records or something, but Johnny Cat gets top billing. Recommended. (RK)
(Johnny Cat Records, P.O. Box 82428, Portland, OR 97282)
 
Coach Whips "Ghost of a Chance" 7"
 
Not sure how many people(s) are in this band, but it ain't many, ya' dig? Guit/drums/maybe keyboard. Heard much genuflecting regarding these folks in "garage" quarters, but I dunno...s'OK...probable Bantam Rooster influence. More in the vein of, say Superhelicopter or Blue Balls, though. I'd say it's less likely to smash yer teeth than 'copter, and the songs don't stick in me noggin as much as BB. I like it more than I'm probably indicating here, just wuz hoping for a killer. The last song is the highlight for me, as it mixes things up a lil' more. Just in -- I guess the album is better, or different, for differently better, so say a couple know-types. I'll have to go check that out... (TK)
(no address)
 
Evil Army “Conquer Human Life” 7" EP
 
Relive the glory years of the late-Eighties metal crossover, the heyday of DRI, The Accused, Exodus, Leeway, The Cro-Mags, and dozens of others, when thrash still ruled and before death, grind, and cookie monster vocals became de rigeur for true long hair metal-heads. This is really good shit, similar to “Haunting the Chapel”-era Slayer or the first Testament record, or maybe even “Reign in Blood”, minus Rick Rubin and a bit of the speed. It’s quality, and the songs cover all the thrash/speed songwriting basics, from horror movies (“Friday the 13th”), to vigilante psychosis (the Taxi Driver inspired “Scum of the Earth”), to traditional “don’t-cross-me-I’ll-fuck-you-up” anthems (“Wrong Approach”, which is probably the best track here), to apocalyptic visions (the title track). This will make you long for the days of sneaking out of the house in 8th grade to go catch an all-ages triple bill of Dark Angel /Destruction/ Obituary at the River Rock Café. These kids are playing this shit authentically (meaning shirtless), with some malicious sounding chops, and without being at all cartoonish (at least not intentionally, which is good. Metal bands need to take themselves seriously or you end up turning into fucking Anthrax: a not-so-funny joke after seven LP’s). Anyway, this is a great package: quality riffage, great artwork, red vinyl, insert with lyrics, and a genuinely creepy back photo of the Army exhibiting some Southern hospitality. Metal seven-inches need to come out more often, and we have the eclectic tastes of Contaminated Records to thank. And if you play it on 33 it sounds just like Entombed! It’s like two records in one! If you were never a metal fan, well, you probably won’t dig it, but I’ve listened to this more times than I’d like to admit in the past week. (RK)
(www.contaminatedrecords.com)
 
Evil Thingies “S/T” 10"
 
Might I lead off with the fact that the packaging on this "thingie" is perhaps the best I've seen in years? I mean, everyone who ganders it rolls it around their fisticles and "makes an offer" without even hearing what it sounds like. And what does it sound like? Kinda' '80s garage revival, but a bit more muscle than most of those bands mustered. Slight stench of Munsterism, good (but not overwhelming) tunes. Pretty similar sounding to the (Aussie) Crusaders record from a few years back, but not quite as good. Production is great & loud. I like it, but I know that BOMP-types will spew diahrea all over their vintage drawers when the needle hits. If yer REALLY into stuff like the Cynics 'r Vipers 'r Stomachmouths, you definitely need this. Me, I'm throwing on that Royal Routes 45 again. (TK)
(Wild Wild)
 
Thee Flying Dutchmen “Caveman Sessions” LP
 
The Dutchmen are striving to keep the budget rock tradition alive and well, and doing a damn good job of it: plain black LP sleeve with glued on art, witty liners/banter, lowest-fi Mono recordings, and reckless enthusiasm. I think it’s friggin’ great, probably the best Mummies record the Mummies never recorded. I’m talking right up there with “Party at Steve’s House”. 14 tracks, some covers, some originals, all done in vintage early-Nineties Bay Area fashion, that could possibly even sound Sexareenos-like if you listen closely enough. Recording quality seems to vary in shittiness from track to track, but there is some wonderful tape hiss, in-between take banter, and a few false starts and some name-calling. This comes highly recommended, and they even have a Fang Club for all you soon to be fans. (RK)
(Boom Boom of Renton, 20720 Southeast 192nd Street, Renton, WA 98058)
 
Functional Blackouts CD
 
Debut LP from the best dressed band at this year’s Chicago Blackout, and they’ve done a fine job. If the word punk still means anything, these guys are it, and listening to them claw, scratch, and stumble their way through twelve tracks that run the gamut from amazing to annoying will give you a good idea of what more good bands should be doing, and what some of the shittier and more over-hyped “art-damaged” groups are doing wrong. These guys aren’t the most amazing band you’re ever gonna hear, but they’re damn good, and I think their heads are in the right place. Fuck convention, fuck art-punk, fuck techno, fuck garage rock, and fuck you. They remind me of the Clone Defects at their most damaged and dangerous, or the Piranhas at their most rhythmic, with plenty of Eels/Tombs Clevo-weirdness thrown, without really sounding at all like any of those bands. A lot of people might not be able to get through it; it’s discordant, abrasive, irritating at times, the rhythms get mind numbingly repetitive, there are some dumb ass lyrics, and “Bombs Away” breaks the six-minute mark. But fuck, I can barley listen to ‘Erotic Grit Movies’ these days without wanting to throw it out the window half way through, and this record is better than that. The B-Side really cooks, with “Doing the Dog”, “Little Victim”, a Germs cover, and a great closer in “Coffin Cheater”. Sadly, “Stamp Out Techno” isn’t an updated version of the Razar classic “Stamp Out Disco”, but the lyrics come pretty close at one point. This is going to shape up to be one of the better full lengths of the year, I’m sure. It’s confusing, refreshing, and will be sure to piss a few people off. And it sounds mean too, thanks to some solid production from Jim Albini. On Chicago label Criminal IQ, home to Goner-phile heroes MOTO as well. (RK)
(www.criminaliq.com)
 
Fuse! "Breaker! Breaker!" 7"
 
Jeez, this record's taken me on a ride over this past week or so since I got it.  First, I was a bit let down that these two songs don't even come close to matching the blitzkrieg fury of The Fuse!'s live show.  The last ten seconds of the title track sound ordinary on record but live it was an amazing display whereby each member in the band totally flipped out into some weird, pseudo-convulsive state and violently writhed around, all while perfectly playing the ending.  They opened for The Hunches, who were great, but The Fuse! were way crazier and just plain better.  A couple of days later I started diggin' it on its own but wasn't really pleased with the production.  I thought it was too sparse, at least compared to their sound live where they do a pretty good job of sounding full with just a small drum kit, a bass and a guitar and do so while flying around and crashing all over the stage, which is tough to do.  Now, here we are at a week later and I'm behind this thing 100%.  The two songs here both fly by pretty quick in their jumpy, art damaged way.  Think a more sparse sounding Le Shok, sans keyboards and with different vocals that range anywhere from blasé sounding talking, to near-hardcore like screams, to really distinct falsetto backups, to cheery chants of "woo!"  Doesn't that sound insane?  It is!  And it's fucking great!  I'd give the edge to the b-side "Beggars and Choosers" by a bit but, really, both songs are killers. 
 
I've heard that the sessions for their debut full length, which has now become really damn eagerly anticipated, are different from this one.  I'd vote for a bit better production, but who the fuck's gonna listen to me?  The moral of the story is the single's excellent - pick it up - but the live show's better.  (JG)
(www.intheredrecords.com)
 
The Fuse! “Breaker, Breaker” 7”
 
This one doesn’t do it for me. I’ve heard unfounded rumors that these guys are really good, that neither this single nor a live radio performance have done anything to confirm. These guys have obviously listened to a few Le Shok records, but forgot to pay attention to the good parts. Repetitive spazness done not very well, and some incredibly annoying vocals/choruses. Just more proof that LA is dead. (RK)
(www.intheredrecords.com)
 
Great Mongoose “Hong Kong Baby” CD
 
A CD full of singles and compilation tracks from a band I first heard years ago on the “Hodge! Podge! And Barrage!” comp from back in 1993. The Mongoose specialize in sax driven R&B tinged garage stomps, along with some goofy Man or Astroman-like surf stylings as well. Not as smooth as Jackie and The Cedrics, but still a whole lot of fun, because they eschew the hot-rod gimmickry or tough guy poses many similar bands in America show a propensity for. “Chunky Time” is a killer instro, and these guys throw out solid covers of all sorts, including but not limited to Larry Terry, Bunker Hill, The Atlantics, Billy Boy Arnold, and even The Real Kids. Great gimmick-free rave-ups sure to liven up your Japanese garage themed dance parties, with three previously unreleased tunes. A Barn Homes/ 1+2 Records release available from Hideo over at Nice-n-Neat in the States. (RK)
(www.nice-neat.com)
 
Heatseekers "In Praise of" CD
 
Never understood why certain folks useta' rave about the Crumbs alla' time. The explanation was, approx, "they sound so much like the first Saints album." Then why didn't they FEEL like the first Saints album? The Heatseekers are ex-Crumbs. "They sound, Mr. Trickery, awfully much, yup, like bands you like, such as the Candy Snatchers." Then, uh, right. It's not awful by any means (and neither were the Crumbs), but it doesn't do anything to/for me. Total garage cliche lyrics, fer sure too also. Some of y'all would like this, right? A lesser Columbian Neckties? (TK)
(Ohev Records, P.O. Box 772121, Coral Springs, FL 33077)
 
Hella “Total Bugs Bunny on Wild Bass” CD
 
What the fuck is this? Narnack sends me a promo and it’s this shit? I don’t even know what this is. How about sending me a Coachwhips CD, or the new (and highly over-priced) Guitar Wolf CD? No, I get this drum and bass free jazz skronk-fest full of “cutting edge” muzak for trust fund dimwits. Shove this up your ass Narnack. (But feel free to send me the new Coachwhips LP, as I need to listen to one more of their records to decide whether they actually suck or not.) We don’t need any more shit like this polluting the minds of our already fucked-up kids. And I’m sure former WWF Superstar and bird lover Koko B. Ware isn’t too thrilled these guys appropriated his name for a song title. Actually, he’s probably rolling over in his grave, because I think he’s dead. (RK)
(www.narnackrecords.com)
 
Henry Fiat’s Open Sore “I Was A Teenage Pretty Boy” 7” EP
 
If you don’t know by now to buy any HFOS record you can get your hands, you’re just not paying any attention to us here at BG. Hardcore-garage-punk is done no better than by these guys, the only band in Sweden that even matters now that The Brainbombs are done. Fuck the post-Supershitty Hellacopters, fuck The Hydromatics, fuck the Peepshows, fuck Puffball, Glueball, Beehives, and whatever other terribly named band Euro-“Rock” band you can think of, definitely fuck The International Noise Conspiracy, and just fuck all the Scandanavian guitar wankery that is passed off as rock-and-roll genius these days. Sorry, I know we’ve been saying that for years, but I just like rehashing old arguments. Anyway, this is required listening, and continues on the first-LP-Damned inflected sound these guys have honed to a sharp point with great choruses and Scabies-like drumfoolery. A quality Ken Rock production: four songs, nice art, and a set of HFOS mini-trading cards! If you haven’t heard these guys yet, you’re pretty sorry. Punk Squad! (RK)
(KenRock Records, Fabriksgatan 39 B412 51, Göteborg, Sweden)
 
Hunches “Lisa Told Me” 7”
 
Only two songs on this platter, “Lisa Told Me” from their LP, and the non-LP B-Side “Radiation” which appears to be from the same session, meaning it has that great recorded-on-sandpaper-in-a-cave sound. The Hunches are quite possibly the best live band I’ve seen all year, and “Radiation”, while good, is only a minute and a half long. So I wouldn’t bother paying import prices for this, unless you’re a completely anal completist collector. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Comes with a very professional and solemn looking band photo on the back cover and one of those plastic inner sleeves I hate so much. (RK)
(www.sweetnothingrecords.co.uk)
 
Hospitals “S/T” LP/CD
 
This record is just a fucking mess. I know it’s supposed to be that way, but I’m not buying into this shit. Fuck no. I applaud where they seem to be coming from and what they’re trying to do, but I’m sick of this three songs in. I love noise and scree as much as anybody, but this is just endless guitar rape and heavy handed drum bashing that goes absolutely nowhere. Give me something to pay attention to here. Tracks like “I Say Go”, “Friends”, and “Again & Again” show flashes of genius, only to have it all erased with more smoke and mirrors guitar manipulation/feedback crapola to hide the absence of any real music. This shit would sound great if there were some fucking songs, but it’s just Hunches-like production, minus any substance. They also cover Suicide, a band I have some of the same issues with. I’m sure the Hospitals put on an incendiary live show, as Suicide once did, but at home it’s no fucking fun. Records like this give my girlfriend great fodder to say “How can you listen to crap like this?” when she hears me giving them a listen. Great concept, poor execution. Believe it or not, this noise sounds kind of calculated and sterile. I’d still love to go see ‘em live though. Who really cares anyway, in a month I might be saying this shit is genius. But I doubt it. If you want to hear some real two man band noise destruction, pick up a Vaz record instead. (RK)
(www.intheredrecords.com)
 
Hormonas "Teenage Pussy" 7"
 
This Italio (?) unit sounds a bit like an early Estrus band on the 2-song B-Side. "Psygorilla" adds some raunchy harp 'n "She Doesn't Like You" upchucks a lotta' freak-o-feedback chunk-breaks...not bad. I thought (wouldn't you?) that a song entitled "Teenage Pussy" would be a lil' wilder, but it's a groove-abilly number...S'OK. (TK)
(Shake Your Ass Records)
 
Hormonas “Teenage Pussy” EP
 
First, let’s establish this fact: I hate modern rockabilly. But, this one kind of does it for me a little, and the chick on the cover with the smokin’ ass isn’t swaying my opinion at all. Really. “Teenage Pussy” is genuinely a cool song, and “Psygorilla” is a decent Crampsian stab with some of that harmonica I’m a sucker for. By the third track, I start to realize that someone is playing a stand-up bass on this record, and that’s my cue to exit. I imagine the Rev. in lead singer Rev. Sam’s name stands for reverb. One-and-a-half good songs and one song I don’t want to admit I listened to. Take your chances on this one if you wish, it ain’t half bad for some ‘billy. Limited to 300 copies. (RK)
(Shake Your Ass Records)
 
Husbands “Introducing the Sounds Of…” CD
 
The Husbands are girls from San Francisco who are part of the burgeoning Swami roster of bands. I have to admit they’re pretty likable, despite my knee-jerk reaction to spit up anything John Reis tries putting on my plate these days. It’s your typical two guitars and a drummer line-up with a suitcase full of covers, some screamin’ and yellin’, and a style that can’t help but be called Oblivians-like in these post-Crypt days. A bit tougher than Mr. Airplane Man, who I dig heavily, but the race between them is still too close to call at this point. The material is about half covers (Bo Diddley, Barbarians, Carol King, and others) and half original rockers (“I’m Doing Fine” is a killer), with a tiny bit of girl group dynamics thrown in. Nothing over two-and-a-half minutes long, and every track is worth a listen, most repeatedly. Great band name too, and I’m surprised the Anti-Mogul didn’t snatch them up first. (RK)
(www.swamirecords.com)
 
Intelligence/Popular Shapes "Split" 7"
 
Thought at first that this was all-Intelligence, and that, Jesus Heck, "the Popular Shapes named side is definitely better." Yeah...so it's two different bands. Got it now. The Intelligence is "Rocker" Lars from the A-Frames 'n whatever stewbums he lassooz into his spectre. If you like the previous singles, well, this is cut from the same cloth. I'm a sucker for anything 'Frames-related, and this cold art-punk wave thinger ain't done better by anyone...'cept maybe the Popular Shapes. They remind me, for some reason, of WI'ers IFIHADAHIFI, except better and less indie dance-groovy. In fact, there's definitely a whiff of rocky roll under their art-spazz, and that's the way it should be. Killer release! (TK)
(Dirtnap Records)
 
Kill-A-Watts/Sweet JAP "Split" 7”
 
I hate split singles, but this one I’m making an exception for. Side Kill-A-Watts is packed with two monster tunes, possibly the last recordings of these kids as a four piece with Jennifurball. “1977 Sunglasses” is fantastic, combining the best of both the post-Teengenerate and ‘Rip Off’ sounds into the best song written about shades since ZZ Top. Ryan Kill-A-Watt is a fucking hit machine. Really, each time I hear a new Kill-A-Watts record I’m amazed they keep getting better. You’d think they would plateau at some point, since they’re not really re-inventing the wheel or anything. Then there’s “X-Ray-Dead Woman”. Get it? Doesn’t matter, it cooks no matter what. At this rate, their new LP should induce cardiac arrest immediately upon dropping the needle. On the Sweet JAP side of things, you get two non-LP tracks that deliver along the lines of the full length, so if you were digging ‘Virgin Vibe’, you shall dig this. Not to give Sweet JAP short shrift or anything, but those Kill-A-Watts songs are really fucking good. On clear vinyl with erotic artwork! (RK)
(www.nice-neat.com)
 
Knockout Pills "S/T" CD/LP
 
Trickknee kinda nailed the review of this last time - nothing new or original but it still kicks yer arse, or something along those lines.  I think this is just four guys with decent record collections who can reference the greats in their songwriting, and plunk down thirteen tracks on to a four track and have it come off as a good time for all of those involved.  There's no real definitive sound here - these guys do jump all over the place stylistically, but it works.  The main reference point for a sound would be the late 70's Australian sound ala Radio Birdman or faster, dirtier bands like Psycho Surgeons and I also hear more modern references like Scared of Chaka and even a bit of the Spaceshits in the rawness of it all.  So, yup, this one's a keeper.  And there's no doubt that the first song "Reject Button" is a serious contender for song of the year. (JG)
(Dead Beat Records P.O. Box 283 Los Angeles, CA 90078)
(www.dead-beat-records.com)
 
Konks "Three Mile Baby" 7"
 
Saw this Boston band out in Brooklyn a few weeks ago, and was mighty impressed. Sorta' Gories-like, with a stand-up drum-singer (Kurt from....Bullet Lavolta???). This is a fairly old single, and I can pretty much guarantee that the stuff they're recording now will piss all over this record, but it's still cool blues-abilly beat, with a nice cover of the Sin Alley classic "Baby Doll." Boston, huh? (TK)
(Baby Doll Records, P.O. Box 1043, Allston, MA 02134)
 
Lost Sounds/Vanishing "Split" 7”
 
The usual quality from Lost Sounds: two great songs, both of which appear in different incarnations on Demos Vol. II. Alicja’s “Glued to the Screen” and Jay’s “There’s Nothing” (complete with lyrics on the insert) recorded in winter of 2002. I guess these are unintentionally the rough mixes of these tracks, and the finished versions appear on the Demos CD. The Vanishing are female fronted Cold Wave doom with a dance beat, formed from the ashes of Subtonix, a band that had a decent moment or two. Their first song could easily be heard on the dance floor of your local goth club, which, while humorous to watch at times, is not what I want to be listening to. Their second track is a moody instro that should be a hit with the vampires-wearing-eyeliner set. The untrained ear would probably say both bands sound very much alike, but they really don’t. Instead of a Vanishing record, might I recommend the film The Vanishing, an intriguing exercise in original Euro-Noir (rent the original French-Dutch version, not the US remake, although they were both directed by the same guy). And instead of a Lost Sounds record, might I recommend….nothing. Any moments utilized listening to Lost Sounds is time well spent. (But the minute Jay starts wearing eyeliner and pancake make-up, deal me out). (RK)
(www.cochonrecords.com)
 
Marked Men “S/T” 7” EP
 
Rawer, less poppy, more Reds-like stuff than what appears on the LP, and you know it’s nothing but top shelf product from the faceless foursome (or threesome on this record?). Four tracks, three unheard until now, and a different version of “That Kid” from the full length. Maybe these are carry-overs from the Reds days, or were Firebugs songs, or whatever. Who cares, it’s great. I want more. Well worth giving your bucks to a label that I hope is taking its name from John Water’s Desperate Living. (RK)
(www.mortville.com)
 
Marked Men "S/T" 7" EP
 
Didja notice all the gushing that a bunch of us dweebs did over The Marked Men last time?  Well, it certainly ain't gonna stop anytime soon, especially if they keep on delivering the hits as they do here.  So, in case you forget I'll say it again - The Marked Men are absolutely fucking brilliant!!! 
 
This record sat a bit before getting released, so what you actually get with the sound is a missing link between The Reds and The Marked Men as we know them from the LP.  Basically, a bit of the pop element has been exchanged for a bit of the dirt element.  All that really means is that the production is a lot more "Reds-like" and falls in line with the classic Rip Off sound.  I'd say that the four songs exclusive to this release ("That Kid" appears here in a different version from the album) are probably a tad weaker than the average song from the LP but that’s like saying that 7% beer is a tad weaker than 8% beer (hey, I live in Canada, remember).  In other words, they'll still both kick your ass even if one is a bit different than the other. (JG)
(Mortville Records PO Box 4263 Austin, TX 78765)
 
Mistreaters “Hard on the Eyes” 7” EP
 
Two song seven-inch, the A-Side of which is culled from the LP but with a false start tacked on. For the B-Side they dredge up an oldie from the vaults, the nicely titled “Who Wants Knives” from some early Voodoo Alley/Sweatbox session, which sounds rough like their first single did. This may not be an absolutely essential record, but the Mistreaters are definitely an absolutely essential band, so send them some cash for this because they need new equipment. This is your chance to give something back to the community we take so much pleasure from, and it’ll make you feel even better when you see them live next time. Take action now! (RK)
(www.ifrance.com/yakisakanarecords)
 
Modey Lemon "Thunder & Lightning" CD
 
Jesus, I almost chucked this fucker into the Bay of Green after glancing upon the marketing hype stating "it doesn't hurt that they look like Calvin Klein models," or the Brit fruitloop who said something like "when making music this ugly, it doesn't hurt to look this good." Also reported was the fact that they're now a 3-piece -- what's going on, guys? When yer as good as Modey Lemon, you shouldn't feel the need to suck fashion-hype cock, but I guess it's their funeral. This CD was recorded in 2-piece form, and it pretty much slays the first one. Great production, good tunes, AMAZING drummer, sorta' Bantam Rooster with less blooze & more, uh, heaviness (odd thing to say about a bassless duo, but damn if they ain't heavy) & keyboards. Buy it and avert yer eyes if you come upon any mainstream band hype -- they haven't lost me yet, but give 'em time... (TK)
(Birdman Records, P.O. Box 50777, Los Angeles, CA 90050)
 
MOTO "Kill MOTO" CD
 
Paul MOTO is a goofy character...he's been releasing stuff since something like 1984 (18 full-lengths? Something like that). King Louie (Exploding Hearts & many others) said Paul taught him how to write a "real" song, and I guess comparisons can be made to the Exploding Hearts, but this is less refined, more all-over-the-place & tossed off. I actually like that approach better, though this shoulda' probably been a 12 song KILLER instead of a 17 song mixed bag. The best songs are fucking classic pop-goof-punk, though -- "Dance Dance Dance Dance Dance to the Radio," "We Are the Rats," "I Am a Bomb," "I Won't Give it Up Until You're Mine," and several others are as good as this genre gets. The real killer, though, is "The Chicks Can Tell," which hooks yer brain upon first listen -- "I just had sex and I'm walkin' down the street/And the chicks can tell, the chicks can tell." It's turning out to be a great year for punky-pop full lengths, with the Marked Men, Exploding Hearts & MOTO CDs. Let's hope this release gives Paul & pals the sorta' attention that's been warranted for years. (TK)
(Criminal IQ, www.criminaliq.com)
 
Mystery Girls “Circles in the Sand” 7”
 
The A-Side is probably my fave Mystery Girls tune, a catchy bit of Nuggets-style psych-out. Very nice indeed, and while I wasn’t one of their biggest supporters when the hype started, I still think they’re OK. It’s just not what I’m looking for at this point, although I still wish to witness their supposed live righteousness. The B-Side they supposedly learned in the studio, and it sounds it. Kinda gay. Just buy this for the A-Side, it’s worth it. (RK)
(www.intheredrecords.com)
 
Mystery Girls "Circles in the Sand" 7"
 
This single was taken from the final recording session with (ex-bassist) Peter Pearson, for those scoring at home. The title track is a well-developed introverted rocker with a keen rave-up at the end; the B-Song is a bit of a departure for 'em -- a jangly, bouncy funtime tune. What can I say? My favorite band has a great new release, and you should pick it up -- if you dig real rock 'n roll without any of the bullshit affectations prevelant in most of today's crap-happy "garage" bands, that is. (TK)
(In the Red Records)
 
Nervous Patterns “S/T” CD
 
Another limited edition CD-R from Contaminated, this one being Jay and Alicja as a duo playing non-Lost Sounds tunes. It’s a quality side project, with a wide array of sounds that showcase even further the creative and uber-prolific musical minds at work here. There’s the almost indie-rock of “Robot’s on the Loose Again”, the Numan-esque “Black Whole”, the Black Wave thundercloud of “Modern World”, moody, effects laden dirges (“Things You Fear”), instro-wave (“Eyes Like Knives”), and even punk (“Sick of You”). A lot of it’s somewhat tamer than LS outings, and closer to maybe some Mouserocket stuff, but it’s got a playful and experimental feel to much of it that allows even the non-sublime moments to be enjoyable at the least. There are some really quality songs here (at least five), plus Jay doing an Echo and the Bunnymen cover amongst the 14 tracks. A must have if you’re a Lost Sounds devotee, and like I said before, it’s limited so get one quick or be damned. (RK)
(www.contaminatedrecords.com)

Nervous Patterns "S/T" CD

Nervous Patterns is Jay and Alicja from Lost Sounds. Sold yet? These CDRs, complete with hand made covers, were made available on their most recent tour where they laid down the most ass-kicking live performance I've ever witnessed in my life. However, calling this release an unofficial Lost Sounds Demos Vol. 3 wouldn't be fair as it is only two members, but it also wouldn't be too far off as the general sound is still very Lost Sounds based. My count shows about six songs that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Rat's Brains and Microchips had the production been amped up, with "Modern World" sounding almost like a direct outtake. Some of these will appear on the next LS album, no doubt about it. A few others like "Robot's on the Loose" and "No Self Control" could best be summed up as "Lost Sounds-lite". They remind me of some of the softer songs on Demos Vol. 2 like "I've Seen U Before" and "Clones Don't Love". Nervous Patterns also take the opportunity to branch out a bit on songs like "Pictures on My Wall" (an acoustic Echo and the Bunnymen cover), "Die Like Us" which has a queer Siouxsie meets 70s glam rock sound, and "Black Whole" which starts out normal enough only to finish off with an incredibly epic ending that jumps from a (gasp!) emo sounding guitar part to a soaring Fleetwood Mac-esque vocal part and back again. Amazingly, not a single song on here out of fifteen total is weak. In fact, even though it doesn't really flow all the way through from start to finish, this CDR is still one of the top things I've heard all year. Hell, even the piano only track and the synth only freakout are great. I think it's obvious that there's a massive amount of talent at play here when a self released, CDR demo is better than what most "real" bands produce in their entire career. It's silly, really.

Some are these are still available through the Contaminated site, so act fast as they soon could be gone forever, or at least gone for a year or so until some hip label dude puts this out. (JG)
(www.contaminatedrecords.com)
(Contaminated Records PO Box 41953 Memphis, TN 38174)
 
Ponys "Wicked City" 7"
 
The Ponys' So Sentimental 7", which came out on Contaminated a few months back was fantastic in case you missed it.  This second single on Big Neck is shockingly just as great and maybe even better making it the strongest debut and sophomore singles by any band in recent memory.  The basics haven't changed much from the first single.  The fuzzed-out, high treble guitar sound is still there, the "Cure, but fucked up" references on the vocals still persist, and the production, while similar, has been beefed up a bit.  The songwriting is also similar but this new record leans much more towards the pop side of things.  These ain't sugar coated pop anthems, but there's no denying that "Wicked City" is a super catchy, massively poppy hit.  The ultra repetitive main riff of the song should be enough to make any jaded hipster take notice.  I dunno if you're average tough guy garage dude is gonna like these two songs but screw 'em.  The Ponys way of channeling the Velvet Underground through one of those old UK bands on the Fast Product label, like early era Mekons, with some serious pop tendencies added along with a flair for the psychedelic, all approached from the mindset of a modern day punk band is much more exciting than what's going on in most of today's garage punkworld.  The only modern band they sometimes remind me of, and only very slightly, is Black Lipstick, a name that probably doesn't register on most punk rockers' radar.  I'm guessing that most bands you listen to don't sound like The Ponys, so you'd be wise to expand your horizons and pick this record up.  They've also just signed to In The Red if that piques your interest and if those demos that are floating around are any indication of what's to come than holy shit, sign me up.  Very highly recommended.  (JG)
(www.bigneckrecords.com)
(Big Neck Reocrds P.O. Box 8144 Reston, VA 20195)
 
Popular Shapes "Flattered You're Terrified" 7"
 
2 songs, 50 copies, all hand lathed on clear vinyl with sleek labels, and terrific, sparse artwork all served up in a nifty little ziplock bag - in other words, this is pretty much a direct to eBay release.  The a-side is the clear winner here and sounds similar to their songs on the split with the Intelligence, but a little bit less frantic (I'm guessing that the hand lathing might have hurt the sound a bit, but I could be wrong).  Let's see, there're some great whiny yelping vocals on top of some discordant guitar work (this time with a strong Pixies feel) with a rock solid rhythm section.  Unfortunately the b-side is pretty much a throwaway anti-song with feedback, heavy distortion and some incredibly muffled vocals all bleeding together to produce a two-minute wall of noise.  Hearing it once is enough.  That's not a problem though as you can just play the a-side over and over again as it's that fuggin' good.  I can attest that the Popular Shapes live show is up there with the best of them and word on the street (ie. from Mitch "Tour Guide" Cardwell - who else you gonna listen to in times of need?) is that their debut album out any day is an explosive blast of energy with a huge production in the "Reds meet Le Shok" sorta vein.  If you act quickly you might be able to grab one of the last few copies direct from the label.  Good luck.  (JG)
(www.ononswitch.com)
(On/On Switch P.O. Box 641122 San Francisco, CA 94164)
 
Preachers "Moanin'" CD
 
The Preachers are probably best-known for their Pebbles-comped version of "Who Do You Love?" (included here). I dunno', it's good, but there are betters (like the Woolies, and, you know, the Bo Diddley original). How 'bout the rest, you ask? Well, there's some real cornshit (like "Quit Talkin' About Him"), some mediocricy (such as the bar-bandy "Chicken Papa"), some goodies ("The Zeke") and one stone-killer. Said killer is the title track, a piano infused snot-jazz classic with an Art Blanke-yanked intro. It's much better than that description would likely lead you to believe, and in the olden days ("what's file sharing???"), the line on this release wouldprobably be, "worth the price for the title track alone," but ya' know...there's only 8 tunes on here, and half of 'em are about as hot as a box of molasses, so do whatcha' doobie doobie do... (TK)
(Dionysus Records)
 
Real Losers "Be a Panther" 7"
 
This is the debut, from a few years ago. REALLY primitive and slooooow, with a total Detroit (as in MC5/White Panther bent) aim. Worth it for the following reasons: it's the first Real Losers release, and you'll want it just for that; the song "Action" kicks it out in a major way, and is as good as the later releases; the cover photo is great, with a topless (including drum-gal Hot Dog) shot, pinned-on buttons and all. The other two songs ain't really that good, sorta' underdeveloped, but it's nice to see where this future juggernaut (I've heard the new recordings that'll be the Bancroft single, and they're the best shit yet) got its start. (TK)
(Trepanner Headmusic, P.O. Box 13, Glasglow, G12 8YT)
 
Real Losers/Pop Threat “Split” 7"
 
The Real Losers just HAVE IT. I'm not sure what "it" is, exactly, but they so perfectly kick out shit-fi Iggified Rip Off nuggets with the right amount of sway-gger that ya' wonder what separates them from the hundreds aiming at the same target and falling short. Maybe they's smarter? Maybe their relative isolation (the UK ain't exactly a hotbead for this sorta' spew) renders legitimacy to the near-spent riff-tunes, like teen nowheresville bands like the Panic Buttons & Teenage Rejects? I dunno, but there's one tune off the album ("Crime Time") and a cool newster ("Tell Me Something") that make this well worth owning, despite the mediocre UK indie stuffage on the other side of the disk (I fall for this genre occasionally, but Pop Threat don't really do anything special to make their two-tunes stand out). (TK)
(Squirrel Records, P.O. Box 481, Leeds LS5 3TH)
 
Singing Dogs “S/T’ 7” EP
 
A budget production from our pals at Ken Rock: 4 songs on a one-sided seven inch, with covers printed on the backs of other unused Ken Rock sleeves (mine came on the reverse side of Ken Rock11, the Silver Kings EP, which wasn’t a bad record in it’s own right). Anyway, I like this record. It’s raw and basic two-man band B-Movie influenced bashing that isn’t anything really new (or musically proficient), but somehow stays pretty interesting throughout. Not bad at all, considering they’re Italian. I like this better than the Hospitals. (RK)
(KenRock Records, Fabriksgatan 39 B412 51, Göteborg, Sweden)
 
Strong Come Ons "Yell a Lot and Suck" 7"
 
Sorta' old recordings, probably the last as a 2-guit/drums unit (they've recently sold out and went bass-ful), but pretty damn ace...a big improvement over the Pleasure Unit debut as far as production and songwriting goes. It sounds as big and rough as Casey looks, it's got a drunken swagger that approximates Gus on his daily bender, and there's a weirdness/fucked up factor that's not dissimilar to what nickg does in the Catholic Boys. 2 Casey tunes & 2 nickg tunes, though the vocals are drownin' enough where it's hard to tell the difference. Blown-out, no bullshit pissed off shitrock from Algoma. "Lead You On" swings, "I Don't Care" elbows over the furniture, and "Just Do It" aims right between the eyes. Great stuff! (TK)
(Big Neck Records, P.O. Box 8144, Reston, VA 20195)
 
Strung Up "Death by Cop" 7"
 
With song titles like "I'd Rather be Smashing Christianity" and "PC For Now," 'n KKKops and evil-type Popes and nooses (noosi?) and puppet strings on the sleeve, well...political punk-core, better than most, I guess...suddenly, I feel like Shane White...gonna' go shit in a goat's pussy and suck it out with a crazy straw!!! All the while, NOT listening to this record!!! (TK)
(self-release, no addy on pope-sleeve or puppet-insert)
 
Suzy & Los Quattro "Freak Show" CD
 
Do you like super sugar coated, straight outta 80's AM radio sounding, female fronted power pop fromSpain?  I don't mind it.  If this were five years ago I'd a gone apeshit over this record and flown my "I'm such a pussy for liking this" flag.  Nowadays I don't mind putting stuff like this on as fun, cheery background music to doing shitty, menial tasks like cleaning my apartment.  Anyway, they sound sorta like Holly and the Italians fused with a modern day poppy punk band recorded with a huge, glossy production which makes for a decent listen.  Seriously though, if you can't handle huge doses of "pussy" in your music, you probably won't dig this.  Their single on Screaming Apple is more of the same. (JG)
(No Tomorrow P.O. Box 1134.  12080 Castellon, Spain)
(www.notomorrowrecords.com)
 
Testors “Complete Recordings 1976-1979” 2XCD
 
We all know the glory of the Testors, so I’ll just tell you what’s on this set that you won’t find anywhere else. Eight never before released tracks, most of which are live recordings from Max’s, plus both sides of the Bleeker Bob single (“Time is Mine” b/w “Together”). All the rest you already have if you own the Rave-Up and/or Incognito reissues in some variation. Of the eight, only one or two will enhance the Testors legacy any further (the studio recorded “It’s Only Death” being one). The rest are your typical unreleased so-so tracks from a gem of a band. Oddly, there are two different versions of “MK Ultra”, both of which feature vocals, and the instrumental version from the Incognito reissues is notably absent. Weird. John Reis will get the credit for hipping the unhip masses to Sonny and Co., but at least he had enough sense to get Todd Killings to do the layout and liners. And if you don’t know who the Testors are yet, you have no business talking about punk rock. (RK)
(www.swamirecords.com)
 
Tokyo Knives “Smell My Ass” 7" EP
 
Another one-sided Ken Rock joint, this time from Martin Savage’s other band. One original wedged between Victims (AUS) and Kamen Riders covers. The covers are better than the original, “Smell My Ass (It Sucks)”, a song title I could swear they swiped from GG. Pretty stupid and not as funny as it might sound. This is an okay record, try the first Knives single or a Locomotions record for a better experience. Features Elektra the Assassain cover art stolen from an issue of Daredevil, The Man Without Fear, for a possible major motion picture tie-in. (Or perhaps they took it from the Elektra mini-series wherein she was resurrected from the dead, but either way witness my amazingly Norb™-like Marvel Comics reference.) (RK)
(KenRock Records, Fabriksgatan 39 B412 51, Göteborg, Sweden)
 
Trend "Batman at Budokan" CD
 
This is the album, the single, never-released tracks re-recorded 'n live stuffers from back in the day. What can I say? One of my favorite teen bubblepunk records plus loads of cool extras. "Zink Tabletz" and "Band Aid" are a coupla' all-time favorite tunes of mine, so ignore that other reissue junk ('cept Simply Saucer) and buy something that actually deserves a reissue. Classic! Note: Bobcat Goldthwait and the dude who does the voice for Spongebob were in early incarnations of the band. (TK)
(Hate Records)
 
V/A “GoJonnyGoGoGo” 7"
 
Likely worth it for the inclusion of the best Real Losers song not on the album -- a Chuckberry jacks off Iggy 'n Fink sametime gem name o' "Jonny's Got the Action." Total killer song, great production...just pretend this is a one-tune Real Losers single, because the Hotwires (repetitive punker), Motherfuckers (organ-ified punker) & Reverands (crud) tracks are OK at best. Too bad they didn't include an actual-good UK band like the Ulcers instead, though I've heard good things about the Hotwires in the past....it's your call. Numbered 500 edition. (TK)
(GoJonnyGoGoGo Records, www.GoJonnyGoGoGo.co.uk)
 
V/A Swami Sound System Vol. 1 CD
 
Label comp from John Reis and the boys over at SFTRI Jr. Here’s a track by track rundown: 1) Beehive & the Barracudas: the title song from their new LP, and it won’t move anyone too much. I think their very good second LP was just a fluke. 2) Husbands: See review earlier on this page, the third best song here. 3) Hot Snakes: tolerable. 4) Loincloth: Fucking Champs-ish smart-guy metal workout, complete with Pen Rolllings! (Remember Honor Role? I wish I didn’t!) 5) RFTC: not their best, but what actually is? 6) White Apes: unnecessary synth-lounge that could only come from the West Coast. 7) Testors: the brilliant “It’s Only Death”, available only on the Swami 2XCD. 8) Don Sartain: solo Florida act who sounds frighteningly Rocket-esque. We don’t need any more, thanks. 9) Sultans: bad “Meth-amp” biker-rock that sounds more like “Bud Light commercial” biker-rock. 10) Sonny Vincent: fucking brilliant solo track from his upcoming LP, backed by the Swami All-Stars!? 11) Mannequin Piss: interesting AmRep-core, complete with flaming guitar solo. The bottom line: a middle of the road comp, worthwhile only for the Sonny Vincent appearances and a couple others. Worth getting for free, or paying for if you’re a big Rocket fan. (RK)
(www.swamirecords.com)

 
 
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