Record Reviews - December, 2003

A-Frames “Crutches” 7”
The newest release from Royal Records stars everyone’s favorite purveyors of sci-fi punk, our ever beloved A-Frames. This slab features three early tracks, that all of you may be familiar with if you were on the once mighty Blank Generation file-sharing server. “Crutches” is early punked out sounding Frames, as is “Membrane”, a song once titled “Doku Mogadishu”. Powerful shit. The flip is a lengthy Neu cover, for all you fans of German experimentalism. A great all-around package, with art design from Scott Soriano, and it plays at a different speed on each side. Buy it just for the picture of Min and Lars sharing an intimate moment on the label. A must have. (RK)
(Royal Records via Polly Magoo Records)

Armitage Shanks “25 Golden Showers” CD
That the Shanks toiled for years, released ten singles and five LP’s on a slew of labels, and still didn’t get much attention other than being a footnote to Billy Childish’s career is one of the great injustices of modern garage-punk. The Shanks really brought the goods to the table, firing out the finest in white shirt/black tie Brit-garage like a faulty sten gun, all the while serving up bountiful portions of threatening pub-crawler rock hooliganism but infused it with enough humor that you knew they were just good blokes having a good larf. They did it all well, whether it be scattershot covers of Brit-punk classics (Subway Sect, Buzzcocks, Pop Rivets, Adverts, Gary Numan, and more are given the go-round here), taking the piss out of UK celebs (“Bernard Manning”, “Alf Ramsey’s Porn Dungeon”), or screaming slices of garage rock fury (some of their best end up on this comp: “Dutch Courage”, “Road Fever”, “Support Slot” etc.) Anyway, this disc compiles every single the Shanks did in their heyday, including guest spots from Childish and Kyra Rubella, and should be a nice kick in the onions to anyone who hasn’t given them their due. The best thing about this disc, however, is the demo track for their upcoming sixth LP (entitled “Urinal Heep”), which has them ditching the lo-fi scratch they were known for in favor of a huge Swell Maps-like sound that suits them very well. E-mail Ian Damaged and tell him to release the thing posthaste, because it sounds as if it’s their best yet, and that really is saying a lot. (RK)

A-Sides "S/T" 7”
The A-Sides are a four piece from Philly trying to kick out the Sixties London retro jams. It seems they were going for early an Who/Stones R&B rave-up sound, but end up sounding a whole lot like the Monkees. Very pedestrian, and the guys at Ugly Things probably wouldn’t even give this a good review. Will probably end up releasing a record on Get Hip at some point.

Hell, you know you should dig anything Spaceshits related, and this is definitely no exception. Mark Sultan takes up the Kib Husk/BBQ persona and ponies up with such a racket you ain’t gonna believe it’s just a one man band. But it is, and it’s better than since the Haze himself. This fucker is a straight rock’n’roll party, much of it more reminiscent of early Spaceshits BFTG rock (“Threw My Girl a Party”, “Hang On”) than Sexareenos frat/party sounds. You get twelve tracks (plus three bonus ones only on the CD) of pure rock stomp, from three different recording sessions all done live. The living room session tracks have that lo-fi charm, but the stuff done with Edouard Larocque/Scat Rag Booster have a huge drum sound that kicks you right in the kidney. Two covers, two tracks reprised from the 7” on Goodbye Boozy, and all killer. Vinyl is on Sounds of Subterranea without the bonus tracks. Too bad. Get either version at any cost, it’s top ten material all the way. (RK)

Buff Medways “Merry Christmas Fritz” 7”
A novelty Christmas greeting from Billy and his band of soldiers, “Fritz” being a first world war themed message of good tidings, a Who-like holiday stomp with some “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” mixed in. Exactly what you’d expect, and very good. The B-Side is “Silent Night” sung in German with some pump organ as accompaniment, which was supposedly recorded on a wax cylinder in true WWI fashion. A decent A-Side for those of you who collect x-mas albums, issued on white vinyl with green splotches in a “limited” edition of 1,000, and a nice showcase for Billy’s latest fixation, the War to End All Wars. (RK)

Buttfrenchers “Cigarette” EP
Debut seven inch from a band whose name I haven’t decided is stupid or not yet. Four tracks of aggressive punk from the hotbed that is the Pacific Northwest. The vocals are grating in a good way, and the production is clean, but not too clean. “You Can’t Refuse Me” sticks with you the most out of the four. Fairly interesting, and “rock” in a non-lame way. (RK)

Carbonas “I’m Astray” EP
A tougher sounding record than their LP, which I kinda liked, but I like these rougher sounding tracks a whole lot more. Three great songs that sound like good-era Dwarves with good-era Greg Ginn on guitar. Someone get me a copy of their demos, because I hear they smoke. Please. Nice package from Die Slaughterhaus, who haven’t disappointed yet. (RK)

Cheerleader666 “Gutter Days” 10”
I have had the unfortunate luck to have to sit through sets by these guys on three or four occasion when bands on tour bypass Buffalo/Rochester and force me to go to Toronto to see them. Overblown paint-by-numbers rock from guys who wholeheartedly dig the Crue and G-N-R, yet claim to be punk by saying they love the Ramones and Dead Boys too. Obviously they’ve digested both the Scandanavian and stoner rock scenes and shit out all the good parts. Fuck, they can’t even come up with original song titles. These guys might even be worse than The Sinisters, one of Toronto’s all time shit-eating bands. Press release claims Lemmy called them “the best band since Guns and Roses”, which isn’t saying much, and further proves that Mr. Kilminster actually did lose most of hearing while touring with Hawkwind back in the Sixties. Supershitty indeed. (RK)

First Time "S/T" 7”
Dee-lux packaging from Jonny Cat Records: hand silk screened sleeve on blood-stained cloth, with insert, on translucent red vinyl. The music ain’t too bad either, tapping a similar vein to what the Functional Blackouts are doing in Chicago, yet with less noise and spazz. Four tracks, including a Germs cover, done in a lo-fi, sleazed-out fashion, with some Thunders-esque guitar sounds to be found swimming in the garbage. Pretty nice.
(Jonny Cat Records)

Functional Blackouts "S/T" 7”
Another hit from Goodbye Boozy, this time from Chicago’s newest noise makers. The A-Side, “1-900-get-Inside”, is a straight killer from the sessions that spawned their debut single for Electrorock Records, and is unavailable elsewhere. The flip is from their soon-to-be classic debut LP on Criminal IQ, but you NEED this A-Side, trust me. Ryan Kill-A-Watt once told me these guys were “better than any other stupid punk bands out there,” and his words were oh so true. As always, limited to 300 copies, and Gabriele always has more winners lined-up. Give me more. (RK)
(Goodbye Boozy Records,Via Villa Pompetti, 147,64020 S. Nicolò a Tordino, Teramo, Italia)
Henry Fiat’s Open Sore “The Parallel Universe of…” CD
Fuck, I love this band, a lot of which I think has to do with the fact that they love the early Damned records as much as I do. I mean, the first three Damned LP’s are definitely the template these guys start with, and then go apeshit on. Twenty-five tracks in thirty-five minutes, reprising only two from previous singles as far as I can tell. If you don’t dig the hilarity of “One Dog Terrorist Organization” then you are no friend of mine. These guys are loud, fast, and funny as ever, with lyrical content ranging from communist dictators, fast food, some guy named Jimmy, hippies, retards, and so much more, plus an apt cover of the Damned’s “Problem Child” from their much-maligned (and for all the wrong reasons, but that’s another story…) second LP. I will never tire of these miscreants, and neither shall you, especially after they wrote perhaps the greatest food themed song of all time, “Pork Chops”, an instant fucking classic. My only lament is that I will probably never get to see them live. Look for the vinyl on Thee Raw Deluxe sometime soon. (RK)
KAOS “Komplete Kaos” CD
For me, the KAOS “Product of a Sick Mind” 12” was one of the high water marks of early-LA punk. Much better than the Controllers, yet still with a Get Smart themed band name. This re-issue scrapes up 20 tracks consisting of demos, outtakes, live stuff, TV performances, Johnny Stingray solo stuff, interviews, and even some live video. Most of the sound quality is pretty shoddy however, and the actual What? Records/12” tracks are nowhere to be found, although you do get multiple demo versions of most of those songs. An admirable effort nonetheless, although it’s a little less quality than maybe your typical Rave Up reissue but with better liner notes. Interesting fact: Mike Saunders actually plays drums on some of the demos! (RK)
Memphis Break-Ups “Break Your Self” CD-EP
Eight songs from a great young Memphis garage-punk band recorded by Chuck Vicious of The Oscars. It’s really good no-frills snot-punk with a little bit of pop thrown in, that actually reminds me a bit of the Teenage Rejects, though not nearly as fast and a little weirder. “Infinite Rock”, “Girl is a Mess”, and “Shut Your Pretty Mouth” are all killers, and I’d definitely like to hear more. Available from Alicja at Contaminated Records.

Registrators “1995 Demo Sessions” CD
I don’t own this actual release, as it was a Japan only item the band sold at shows I believe, but the good Doctor Steven Strange mailed me a copy of this from his Sanctum Sanctorum deep in the heart of Minneapolis (comic books dorks will get the reference I just dropped), and I was greatly pleased with my mail the day it arrived. Sixteen tracks worth of Terminal Boredom era demos that have not appeared on the numerous records of demos/rarities they have released over the years, including six never heard before tracks (really), including a nice cover of “Stab Your Back”; “Disco Idol”, which belongs on TB; and the amazing “Love the Blank”, the chorus of which sounds something like “Ruv ruv ruv the brank”, which is just as brilliant as the song itself. Very much worth a purchase if you can get a copy, and remember that no matter how much shit we talk about them today, The Registrators were at one point the shining star in out little garage-punk kingdom, and we should remember them that way. (RK)

(No Address)

Singing Dogs “L.A.D.F.” EP
This one mysteriously arrived in my mailbox with an Italian postmark, perhaps in response to my favorable review in our last update of their Ken Rock single (see, record reviewing does have its perks), and I was actually pretty excited to hear it. The Dogs have grown to a three piece on this one, and it goes pretty well for them. The A-Side is a straight Memphis-style rocker, but the B-Side is where it gets dirty. Two skuzzy tracks that sound like what Dez-era Black Flag might have sounded like if they were three Italian guys recording in their basement. “My Degeneration” is cooler than Mussolini ever was. Another winner from Italy (of all places), and still WAAAAY better than the Hospitals. Issued in a limited edition of 300 copies on Lo-Fi Records, a division of Psych-Out Records. (RK)

Spits “III” LP/CD
The third eponymous “long” player from the kings of retard-wave, this time with another label switch (to Dirtnap), more robot skater cover art, and plenty more brain damaged rocking. This one clocks in at an official time of just over seventeen and a half minutes, but at least a minute and a half of that is the intro to “Witch Hunt”, so in actuality we’re talking nine songs in about sixteen minutes, a recipe for success by all measures. There are some goodies, “Space Guitar” and “Don’t Shoot” in particular, but this one reeks of a joke you’ve heard a few times already. Mind you, it’s a good joke, with a killer punch line, and it’s still pretty fucking funny, you’ve just gotten somewhat used it. This is a good record, but the formula is just not as mind-bendingly stupid and great as it once seemed. It’s still good shit, and they definitely kill live, but our minds have already been blown by these guys once, and I guess I’m waiting for it to happen again. (RK)

© 2003