END OF SUMMER RECORD REVIEWS 2012 (N to Z)
Key: (RFA: Richard Fucking Adventure)(LB: Lance Boyle)(SB: Young Steve)(BG: Brandon Gaffney)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RK: Rich K.)(TO: Tm Onita)(RSF: Rob Vertigo) (A.: Alessandro) (ES: Eddie Schneider)(NG: Nick Goode)(EEK: Erick Elrick)(MO: Matt O)
The Naked Heroes “99 Diamond” LP
Trollin’ in the ironic swamp that is NYC, The Naked Angels offer up heavy-handed winks (or back-handed swacks) at Seventies arena-ready cock'n'roll that’ll either excite the Nugent/BOC fan in you or have you shuddering under its too hip blasphemies. There’s a thick glaze of the metallic White Stripes-gone-Blueshammer variety oozing all over this platter…and NA are tragically (thankfully) drowning within their own shtick. This record ate the young of Nashville Pussy only to barf up a cartoon, even worse. Maybe if you think The Ghetto Ways “rock” or the Monotonix “roll” you’d find merit. It’s all shit to me. No wonder Tim Warren moved back to Europe. 500 picture disc LPs featuring some awful Metaloclypse look-alike art. (RSF)
(Drug Front Records // www.drugfrontrecords.com)
NASA Space Universe "NSU" 12” EP
Even though they’ve been around for several years now, I finally took a listen to NASA Space Universe, and boy, did I like what I heard. Equal parts Die Kreuzen and Wrangler Brutes, these strange boys from SoCal were right up my alley. All of their records are testaments to high-quality forward-thinking hardcore punk, but their new EP takes it even further. Unlike many current hardcore bands who think cloaking their lack of anything remotely interesting in a haze of bullshit “noise,” NSU aren’t afraid of a good recording, and it helps the songs hit harder; everything’s nice and clear, but the intensity doesn’t suffer for it.
Opener “Peeping Toddler” seems to be an apocalyptic rant about our oil addiction, but sussing out Kevin’s PKD-ian psychedelic sci-fi spew is half the fun. “Dionysian fire transmogrify man’s muted mire ignite” indeed (that nugget is from “Fwap”).
These guys can play (check that bass) and their willingness to fuck with tired old hardcore cliches pays dividends. Given enough time and acid, I can see these dudes turning into the hardcore version of Magma. NSU start all their songs off with a bang, and then don’t stop til they’ve ratcheted the tension up to near-bursting. This EP is an invigorating listen.(EEK)
(self-released // nasaspaceuniverse.bandcamp.com)
Natural Law "Find The Flock" LP
I wasn't so stoked on their 7", but this long-playing platter deserves some attention. The label goes for a late-era Minor Threat reference (and I guess the artwork and title do as well), and I get some 'Out of Step' vibes here, but it's way more raw and rude than that suggests. Not as trashy as their NYC peers like Crazy Spirit and co., Natural Law have a talent for belting out gimmick free hardcore with tough riffs and vocals. No mysterious guy reverb coating on these guitars, no echoed to shit vox, just ballsy playing with killer breakdowns and I'd even call some of these riffs pretty fucking sick. After around the third listen I started thinking about how clean this thing sounds, which I suppose is a rarity these days. There's even a "hidden" track on the B-Side. Not a lot of new ideas here, but they rehash some old ones well enough. I'm probably too old to "feel" the lyrics, but you'll never be too old to feel the rage in the tunes. I'm sure they kill live.(RK)
(Katorga Works // www.katorgaworks.com)
Nice Face "Horizon Fires" LP
Nice Face’s second long-player deserves to be discussed on its own merits; free from being associated with _____ dogs, “weird” punk, “mysterious” bedroom suck artists, one-off punk jack-offs, and other detritus that went boom! then buuuuuuu…..
Yes, this is electro-punk made by one guy in his apartment, utilizing canned ‘tronic beats, Steve Jobs-approved hard/soft-ware, and effects on the vocals. Yet, the beats sound good, the lyrics understandable, and the songs and sounds transcend the equipment it was created on (third cut “Equipped” has a killer vid).
Back in the early 2000s, who knew that the two best loner-punk “bands” of several years later, would be led by two guys in the same band, and the shit-kicking NYC combo Some Action to boot (Ed: Erick, you're the first person to ever describe Some Action as "shit-kicking".). SA lead guitarist Ethan Campbell practically invented, or at least pioneered, this genre/approach with still-kings LiveFastDie. Some Action’s lead mess/puncher/shouter Ian Magee cleaned his shit up, and quietly made some of the best records of this nebulous style as Nice Face.
Really all I’m trying to say with this background jibber-jabber is that perhaps the reason those “bands” (and both have had ripping live permutations; Campbell was even lead guitarist for NF for a spell) succeed, is because they both feature blazing punk rock n’ roll guitar riffs and solos. Despite the laptop trappings, synths, and drum machines, they are still r n’ r bands. Nice Face in particular recalls the real progenitors of his sound: Tubeway Army/Gary Numan, Devo, Big Black even. Lead cut “Liaison” has an almost “Girl U Want” groove, but substitutes the goofiness with a more sinister intent. There’s the Chrome-like forward-stomp of “Shaman” and “March of the Cosmic Man.” Similar to “Selectron” off of the debut Immer Etwas, the drums sound almost-real, but the stars of the show are the cool organ and synth sounds that show a real understanding of how to layer noise. “Killing Time” is all minimal-synth anxiety, whereas “You’re So Dramatic,” a minute-and-a-half punker with bursts of guitar shred, is pure nervous energy. I dig the goth-night dance party of “Asymptotes,” but when it comes back around again on side two it gets a bit too Love & Rockets for my taste. On the other hand, “Roll Over” and “Summer Shake” are cool rock n’ roll tunes that could be hit singles in an alternate college-radio-run universe. “Cold Shoulder” seems to encapsulate Nice Face’s raison d’etre – throbbing bass, threatening words, slicing guitar. It’s a winning formula.(EEK)
(Hozac // www.hozacrecords.com)
Night Beats s/t LP
In this flower-plowered, retro sike-O-delik sea that everyone seems to be wadding their feet in nowadays, you can only hope a hefty chunk of the popular acts honed their skills from the early masters and not …oh say…The Lips or Oh Sees. Tragically, that’s not usually the case. Write the same song and bury it in a reverb wash and delay. But not this time. These guys could certainly play along side Dwyer and his cult and fare just fine, but pull ahead of the game (for me) much like Apache Dropout does. All of the other acts seem like soulless drivel/garage-lite when stood on ear next to these fellas. The Beats lay down obvious tones of reference - The Elevators raving build-ups, The Seeds repetitive grooves and that bad-tripping via a Velvets fog – but stand out by putting it all together in a way that’s (gasp) interesting. And featuring some real blistering guitar work. Total ear candy. Membrane peeling leads that jump right off the turntable and surprise me, not once, but on almost every single track. Try not to get a nut-bulge during the opener “Puppet On A String” or the closer “Little War In The Midwest”. I dare ya. It’s some of the best solo scree I heard this year. On “The Other Side” there’s an arid deserted-ness to it that brings CA Quintet to mind. It’s a spaghetti western scored by The Ventures that lets Leigh Stephens drop in and wank away during the high plains drift. There are also touches of The Prunes drug warped flourishes (see “Dewayne’s Drone”), T.Rex flutter (especially “Meet Mr. Fork”) and some solid BFTG style barn-stompin’ (check out “Ain’t A Ghost”). I could be mad but I’m pretty sure I heard both a Nancy Sinatra song aped and a bastardized Guess Who riff tucked in this!? The vocals soar pretty high and might be a deal breaker for some. It’s like a less kitschy, dead fuggin’ serious Cody Blanchard (Shannon & the Clams/ King Lollipop) or ballsier Marc Bolan. If he’s comfortable with that, then so am I. These guys are touring as Roky’s backing band? If this is this true, it makes a hell of a lot more sense than that Okkervil River debacle. Color tasting sounds for those who miss The Gris Gris’ and their take on the six-six-sixties ballroom freak-fests. Surprised that this isn’t getting much hype around here. Actually I’m not. You fucks don’t even like rock & roll anymore, unless it’s played by gothic elves, Nazis or slices of pizza. Don’t ask. I’ll be keeping this. (RSF)
(Trouble In Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Nightgaun "Absurdity of Meaning" 7”
Five tracks of completely blown out, blistering fast D-beat crust core with elements of early thrash metal and Japanese hardcore. The songs seem to have almost no form or structure and the indistinguishable nature of the recording only adds to the chaos. Add in some unintelligible vocals that are run through a delay (which seemed corny to me at first) and it all starts to make sense upon repeated listens. Cover art is hand drawn picture of a bat getting stabbed with a switchblade knife; it doesn’t get more absurd than that.(MO)
(Primitive Future // nightgaun.bandcamp.com)
No Power "Distort" EP
D-beat noise mayhem from North Carolina with members of Grids and some other bands I'm not hip to. Even though I'm not an aficionado of this style by any means, I'm a lover of extreme music of all kinds. Who doesn't love Framtid, Disclose or Siege? These guys definitely do. The vox certainly sound right (reverb hell), there's some tasty guitar sounds (buzzsaw and death ray) and they have skulls, umlauts and Japanese script on the sleeve, so they're covering all the bases. Feedback sodden, crushing bass and drums, black and white anarcho-esque imagery, what else do you need? I don't have the credentials to declare whether they are playing the true d-beat or not, but this ain't bad if you're looking for loud and agressive hardcore of any kind (and you're somehow tired of actually just listening to Discharge), derivative or not. I'd go for the Nomad 7" first, then try this if you're feeling the need for more.(RK)
(self-released // nopower.blogspot.com)
Nobunny "The Maximum Rock'n'Roll EP" 7"
The hardest working man in showbizness whips out a double middle finger (and a testicle) for MRR on the cover of this EP, in thanks for the fact that his brief Scion liason makes him no longer eligible for coverage in the rag, along with Human Eye, The Spits and others. Being an MRR shitworker of sorts myself, I stand by MRR's (and Tim Yo's) rules, if only for the fact I respect the concept the rule was based on: keeping major label/corporate fingers out of "the scene". It might seem quaint in this age, and taking Scion's money is a hilarious (and good for Nobunny and the rest) act in itself, but rules is rules, and MRR is an institution that was built on this ideal. This topic has been covered in great detail elsewhere over the years, so I'll sop there, because this record is great without getting into that deep discussion further. "(Record Collectors Are A Bunch of Stupid) Assholes" cuts right to the quick, and actually says something - collectors are assholes, but they're the ones buying this shit, so here it is, fuck you. The guy's just trying to put out music you dicks, fuck off with your pressing variants and pissy attitudes. It's a great punker in a Sneaky Pinks style. "At the Mall" and "I Can't Stop" are more traditonal Nobunny garage-pop romps. The B-Side gets better with some more Pinksy fucked-up shitty punk in "I See Swastikas" which sounds like a no-fi Dead Boys/Pagans jam, and "Lizard Liars & Sluts for Hire" is a wild freeform rocker with hissy vox that reminds me a little of GG for some reason. Lo-fi sleaze about reptiles and skanks? Sign me up. When the time comes to cash in my Nobunny collection (yes I am an asshole), I'll be keeping this one and my personalized copy of 'Love Visions". Fun fact: Nobunny has been touring non-stop for about three years now it seems, and I've still never seen him live (at least until next month when he finally plays Buffalo). Scum stats: 1000 copies released for Record Store Day, with the usual Goner clear vinyl version as well (200 copies?).(RK)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)
Noh Mercy s/t LP
The first time I ever heard Noh Mercy was on the amazing 2000 bootleg compilation LP, 'I Hate The Pop Group', which collected a host of obscure (esp. at the time) songs from the late 70s/early 80s post-punk DIY home-recorded tape-trading zeitgeist. Every single track on there has something to twist your head into a knot. Halfway through the first side you are confronted with a lone drum kit pounding out a catchy drum figure. Just when you expect a guitar, or a bass, or a keyboard, to enter the mix, a siren-like voice cuts through the tape hiss: “I don’t wanna be politically correct/I don’t need no Caucasian guilt/I never cooked no Jews/I never took no Indian land/I never made no black my slave/I never dug no Latino’s grave!” Don’t hold back, lady! Who needs metaphor? But it ends with a utopian optimism: “I don’t need no Caucasian guilt/I’m ready for a brand new race!/One concerned with the way you move/not the arrangement of your face.” This bracing cut originally appeared on the classic double 7” 'Earcom 3' comp (along with groups like DAF and Middle Class). Needless to say, I was in love.
But it took until over a decade later til I (or anyone really) would be able to hear a full album’s worth of material from the two mercurial ladies who made up Noh Mercy. Potent, challenging, and eviscerating, Noh Mercy can hold their own with most any NYC No Wave act. They are a shining example of the still-little-known SF art-punk underground. But that’s all changing thanks to Superior Viaduct, a San Francisco-based reissue label focusing on lost (or never happened as is the case here) treasures of San Fran’s unheralded art-punk scene. This deluxe first-issue is beautifully done; from its striking cover to the informative and scene-setting oversized booklet that accompanies the album. Featuring reminisces by both the beat (Tony Hotel) and the voice (Esmerelda), there’s much to learn here. These ladies lived hard, and the music conveys the struggle and tension they worked through in their day-to-day existence. Whether it’s a deconstruction of the Beatles’ “Girl,” or the waves of noise that pulse through “Lines,” Noh Mercy were always challenging themselves and their audience.
Side two opens with their other Earcom cut; “Revolutionary Spy” is a showcase for Hotel’s drumming (also credited with “hubcap, anvil, ball-peen hammer”) and Esmerelda’s cunning lyrics. It’s not all wailing and banging with these ladies. “Bloodhound Blues” has funky new wave keyboards, and the synth touches on “Cross the Line” and “The Meek Shall Inherit the Mess” suggest a future direction that the band never realized, unfortunately.
It may have taken over three decades, but there is finally a Noh Mercy LP, and I suggest you pick it up while you are able.(EEK)
(Superior Viaduct // www.superiorviaduct.com)
Nomad s/t 7"
See above review for No Power. I'm not a huge d-beat fan, but I love fucked up guitar sounds, and these guys have the deathray on kill. Great looking sleeve, Japanese song titles/lyrics, tons of feedback, barked vox, lockdown rhythm section. It's all there, these guys come at it with a crustier and sloppier approach than No Power, pretty much mayhem on wax which is the M.O. for most bands on Toxic State, a label with an aesthetic I love more with each release. The B-Side on this is sicker than the A-Side for some reason, "Akume" and "Bakudan" make me want to break shit real bad. I'd get this if you're following this scene of NYC scorchers at all, with members of Perdition (who I think they're better than). With my limited grasp of Japcore, I'd say they sound like Confuse. Screened sleeves, stamped labels, with double-sided insert which is all in Japanese except the line "Kill Them All". Sounds like serious business.(RK)
(Katorga Works/Toxic State // katorgaworks.bigcartel.com)
Nones s/t 7"
I went out of my way to find this thing based on some internet listening, which is pretty rare for me these days. Four piece Chicago outfit, with three gals and a guy if the internet is correct...so I guess that really makes them a three "piece" act with one guy, if you catch my drift...bad joke, I know. A-Side is a loaded double barrel, with the first track being a robotic sci-fi marcher with distorto-bass plodding forward with menace while guitars/vox do a spazzier thing. Very nice. Second cut is KBD-punkarama with walkie-talkie vocal interplay, a killer punk riff broken up with a weird little breakdown that gets even more killer when the sax kicks in! Bonus points for good use of f-bombs. Both hits. B-Side gets pretty heavy with spacerock vibes, oscillating guitar-wah and some kinda Egyptian sounding saxophone. Vox are transmitted though a Ham radio that's breaking up mid-transmission. Dark journey kinda stuff. Bass stays clean to give them at least one foot on the Earth while the rest of this tune orbits the planet. Pretty far out and pretty effin great single through both sides, which isn't all that common. Well worth talking about. Good luck finding one! No info at all on the record (tracklisting not included), just some sloppy DIY stencilling that comes in various colorways. (RK)
(self-released // got mine through Permanent Records)
Obnox "Masonic Recuder" EP
Bim Thomas continues his solo trip (while also manning the stool for Puffy Areolas these days, and I guess Bassholes are technically still "active" maybe?) with this new single on the Matador offshoot 12XU. I thought the LP had a few moments, and Bim certainly has the spirit of rock'n'roll in him and the credentials to go along with it. "Dr. Dank vs. Dr. Middie" follows the more successful LP cuts, which is basically a shitstorm of rock drums acting as the foundation over which Bim layers his vox and some psych-y garage riffs. A good cut, if a bit busy. "Sleeping (Redux)" is a do-over of the cover song Bim sang on the last Bassholes 12". I think he blows it out a bit more and maybe adds some more noise tracks, it seems a bit unecessary but he owns this one more than the first version. The B-Side gets interesting though, as "Leaving Cleveland" is a repeated and crisp sounding drum track, Bim doing some whispery vocals and harmonizing with himself and bits of a riff kicking in. I wish this was about five minutes longer. Then they sample a skit from a hip-hop record I can't identify (or do it live themselves, I dunno) and drop in with "Home", which has a weird dub-like fuzz guitar sound to it that makes it sound looped or chopped or just fucking high, but in the end it just sounds a hell of lot like Sixties rock power - in a soulful Grand Funk style maybe. Pretty righteous, and what I really want this guy to sound like. The A-Side is almost forgettable, the B-Side is exceptional - I hope his future releases work into this more hard fuzz rock (and less garage-y) oriented style. Clear vinyl with some black smoke in it looks pretty sweet. How clever you think the title of the EP and an abstract interpretaion of Public Enemy S1W logo as the artwork are is up to you.(RK)
(12XU // 12xu.net)
Obnox "Purple Reign" EP
Second single from Obnox/Bim, and the project is picking up some steam these days with a repress of the LP due soon on 12XU. "Without A Soul" is an aggressive punker, direct guitar and drums assault-n-battery with a heavy axe sound and solo, multi-tracked vox add a weird touch. Very assertive and one of the best Obnox cuts to date. He follows with the soulful (and Don Howland penned) "Jack-n-Jill", which smooths the edge off the opener. B-Side is a cover of Andre Williams' "Only Black Man In South Dakota", which he twists into a sweeping rock song, textured with reverbed vox, ominous background guitar noise, some jazzy drumming and a wind whipping in the distance of the opening gospel sample. An interestingly modern interpretation of the country-western sound of the original. Lots of ideas on these Obnox records, and when he gets the execution right it really works. If you could combine the A-Side of this and the B-Side of the 'Masonic Reducer' EP, it'd be a stellar record. Another clever title/sleeve combo this time as well. On the (thankfully) still active Negative Guest List imprint, and it's wonderful to see BA's legacy/label continuing on. Thanks to everyone who is making it happen, and thanks Brendon, wherever you are.(RK)
(Negative Guest List // negativeguestlistzine.blogspot.com)
OBN III's "New Innocence" 7"
One sided single with one track from Texas' hottest studs at this time, which also ended up on their LP, although this single should have (or did?) come out before the full length. It's a good punker and all, but I guess it's for completists only now. And I would urge you to be a Leather Bar Records completist, as Ian loves throwing away money and has cultivated one of the best post-Rip off Records cheap-o aesthetics around. I dig his style so much I even forgive him for often mixing staples and vinyl in his packaging. Stamped dust sleeve with a two-sided photo copy stapled to it, the top two which have to be removed to get the record out and see the liners/lyrics on the back of the sheet. So stupid that I love it. I imagine there's a couple hundred copies out there. Look out for Louder and Forced Laugh singles next up on the Bar, plus a Black Traitor release someday. Anything on this label is highly recommended at this point.(RK)
(Leather Bar Records // leatherbarrecords.blogspot.com)
The Onions “Alien Astronaut” 7”
Officer Daugs and family come up out of their Manitowoc bomb-bunker long enough to hand this over for review…and shows us jerk-offs shit gets done between all the pizza eating, beer swilling and snow shoveling. I expected something good, but this was much more of a wowser. “Alien Astronaut” is a bugdet punker under a space-case flange attack. Simple and to the point, with a hint o’ freak and a heavy dose of KBD. It rules quite a bit, actually. The flip “Till The End Of The Night” swaggers more into the NY Dolls arena or to a DMZ/Stooge-like throb-throb-throb. Remember that one time when Sammytown fronted Clone Defects? Me neither…but this here’s the proof. Solidly played (and expertly solo’d) Midwest Rock n’ FUCKIN’ Roll. Get it! (RSF)
(Certified PR Records // www.certifiedprrecords.com)
Ela Orleans “Neo PI-R” LP
Polish-gone-NYC songstress building tiny compositions based around looped music and 4-track bedroom noodling. The kinda stuff that unspools through dirty reel-to-reels, often playing against flickering 8mm art shorts. Think of the haunted yet bubbly sounds of a Nino Rota score (or other Italian pop-cinema music) chopped and channeled thru science-fiction and fever dream audio filters. I know it’s not, but that’s what I imagine. Tracks are peppered with the sounds of drums machines, bits of calliope and a whole closet full of other noise-making junk. Things aren’t just haphazardly cut to tape or banged out willy-nilly…these are well thought out mini-movies for eardrums (as she likes to call them). They can be fun or whimsical one moment and then go floating off in an air of morose experimentalism the next. White Noise electronic blips and sparks jump between radio transmissions that are having a hard time tuning in with Krzysztof Komeda. When the vocals come along they move from ethereal textures, childlike ramblings and dead pan Nico interpretations. Simple toy marches and robotic waltzes flow pretty seamlessly throughout. It’s some ghostly stuff, I tell ya. She seems to cut a lot of found footage videos for herself and other labelmates as well. Check it out. An unusual collection of tracks that I’d recommend to fans of the 'XXperiments' compilation and the like. (RSF)
(Clan Destine Records // clandestinerecords.bigcartel.com)
Outdoorsmen "Shit Will Happen If You Use Your Stupid Brain" 10"
I've been an outspoken Outdoorsmen fan since day one. Interviewed them, drove an hour to see them play once, loved all their records to date and am a big fan of Chad's artwork as well. Apparently Mr. Red Lounge felt the same way, as he decided to throw some cash at their first full(er) length record, a 10" that comes in a super slick gatefold sleeve (as he loves to do, because he is apparently a fucking baller). Now, I think this is great on the label's part. But really, what are the Outdoorsmen gonna do with a gatefold?! No one needs to know the lyrics to these songs and I can't imagine liner notes would be any more necessary. But, they could really go for it with the art, as they did with their first few releases...I was kinda hoping Chad was going to come up with a super sick naked broads with guns and swastikas triptych of some kind, but nah...instead we get various poses of a dude shitting out of his brain. Yes, shitting from his brain. As in taking the title of the record literally. You guys really dropped the ball on this one, at least artwork-wise. Bastards. Musically, it's half-n-half on these eight cuts. They've become a little better at playing their instruments, or at least better at recording themselves, so these tracks sound pretty clean. Which isn't the best look for a sloppy garage band. They seem to have found a nasty streak as well, with a mean Spider Babies vibe creeping into some of the tunes. The best cuts are all on the B-Side: "Battle Stations", which is a tough garage shooter, "Dead Weight" is a punk smasher that reminds me of the dumber Confederacy of Scum bands, "Don't Like No One" has a good stuttering chorus and comes off like a real unwholesome Statics as does the closer "Eat Shit, Pigs". Thinking about it, the B-Side would have made a great EP, the A-Side sounds like warm-ups. Honestly, I'm more disappointed with the artwork than anything. What a wasted opportunity...Scum stats: 500 copies, supposedly 400 on black and 100 "red-green sprinkled Secret Record Society Edition" - which I have no idea about - but my copy is actually black with some red and white streaks, which actually looks pretty cool.(RK)
(Red Lounge // www.redloungerecords.com)
Outer Minds “Give Me A Reason” 7”
Title track frolics thru the folksier side of things like The Seeds or maybe even a Roky Erickson tune…but the jangle ends up a little too sunshiney for my clouded tastes. And I’ve even seen the Byrds once. “Bohemian Grove” on the flip is a little tuffer…but only a tad. Definitely has some dark yet candy-psych overtones. Gris Gris light? I could see you Ty Segall/Oh Sees lovers (epecially the ones with a hefty collection of pinstriped pants in their closet) diggin’ on this. Swedish label. But I’m sure the usual suspects are sitting on a stack stateside. 500 exits? One hundred pressed on clear. (RSF)
(Push My Buttons // www.pushmybuttons.se)
Paint Fumes "Egyptian Rats" 7"
Title track is mid-grade Estrus garage-punk, like the post-Makers years when things got a little darker and more blowed out, maybe a Quadrajets/Fatal Flying Guillotines update. Trebly guitars with a bit of muck on them, whoopin-n-hollerin vox, absence of low end on the recording, drummer gets pretty wild. Standard fare if you're into actual garage punk moderne, songwriting is fair enough and they did write a good A-Side hit to go along with some weirder flipside tunes. The only really bad thing is the art, which makes it look like they're from Brooklyn.(RK)
(Slovenly // www.slovenly.com)
Pampers "Guts" 7"
I can't help but look at this cover and think "Hey Judester", but at least they gave Dick Smith a photo credit. Pampers do sound a lot like the A-Frames on this one. A dirtier and rougher A-Frames, but the monotone vox and robotic-style pounding remind one of that nonetheless, in particular on the B-Side's "Lies" which marches on nearly identical ground. "Guts" and "Rathole" on the A-Side are paced a little quicker, and might bring to mind a slower and less frenzied FNU Ronnies. Recording has some low-end punch that I like, and it's a good example of what modern garage rock has become, for better or worse is for you to decide. As always, I'll throw in a "not bad for a band from NYC" tag just to be a jerk. For some reason I feel like their first record was a bit wilder and more unique sounding, but I also think that might be because I was listening to it on the wrong speed most of the time. Scum stats: 322 copies.(RK)
(Jack Shack // jkshk.blogspot.com)
The Paperhead "Focus In On...The Looking Glass" LP
The Paperhead "s/t" LP
I've been very fond of everything I've heard from The Paperhead so far, and I was glad to see these LPs in the incoming pile. A group of teen-aged kids from Nashville recreating vintage Sixties psych might not sound like a great idea on paper, but they do it really fucking well. Sometimes just recreating the past is better than trying to put a modern spin on it I guess - meaning I'm glad these kids sound like they do instead of playing West Coast neo-psych or trying to be the next Black Lips. When totally swiping the sounds of the past wholesale sounds more original than doing something "new", you know we're in a bad place. Anyway, the skinny on "Focus In On..." is that it's a vinyl repress of their debut cassette-only release from a year or two ago, when they were named The Looking Glass. Everything sounds and looks so authentic (even the typewriter cut-n-paste artwork) you'll be looking for an entry in Tapestry of Delights. The A-Side is jam after jam full of fuzztone guitars, obscured vox, acoustic stretches, reaching an apex on the very Floyd-ian eight minutes of "Symon's Monthly Meteorological Magazine", which is a wonderful exercise in interstellar excess. "Dear Mr. Vacant", an organ-driven pop-tripper that lifts from The Beatles a bit, and "In A Living Swing" and its backwards-masked experimentation are more highlights. B-Side continues the good trip with the perfect hard-egded psych of "Haze" and culminates in the 13 minute "Coyote" wherein the band pulls out all the tricks - tabla, sitar, bongos and more for a not-even-long-enough journey down the rabbit hole. A solid record recorded just thin enough to add some vintage aura. Their self-titled LP finds them paired up with none other than Jeff Novak on production duties, which is a no-brainer. The hazy production of "Focus..." is replaced with a thicker and slicker sound which takes away a bit of the mystique, but after a couple slow starters they hit a groove on the spaced-out oscillations of "Can't Keep My Eyes Open" which sets the table for the B-Side trips like the Barrett-esque "He's Mirrored" and "Come Again?" and their fragile and slightly fractured minimalism, the driving "Excerpt From Simon's 2" (excerpt 1 is on side A) and more looping pop-sike on "Easy Living". I prefer "Focus In On..." obviously, but the self-titled shows them trying to expand, and while not as immediate, there's a coupla tracks on it. Sort of refreshing to hear kids getting off on Blossom Toes, Kaleidoscope and Soft Machine these days. I'm serious here, "Focus In On..." is a winner, start there. The self-titled LP isn't quite there yet, maybe trying too hard, maybe "Focus..." was a fluke, who knows. I'll check in on them again later. And on a semi-unrelated note I also recommend the band Mmoss who operate in a similar style. (RK)
(Trouble in Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Parquet Courts "Light Up Gold" LP
Dunno what it is exactly, but 'Light Up Gold' has gotten under my skin. It’s basically an indie rock album, but in a throwback sense, cuz it’s actually good and has sharp edges and smart-ass lyrics that ring true. Parquet Courts echo several generations of stripped-down rock, with an ear for a hook and a harmony (not some Beach Boys bullshit, just regular dudes finding cool melodies that aren’t corpse-fucked to death). The clean-toned guitars and steady rhythms recall The Feelies, while the inwardly angsty vocals and occasional spazz-outs bring Tyvek to mind. Maybe even some of the neurotic romanticism of the Modern Lovers. Not a bad place to plant your flag. Parquet Courts do it with a grace that belies their years. Originally a solo project by either Fergus or Geronimo, Parquet Courts released an excellent cassette last year called 'American Specialties' that seemed to fly under everyone’s radar. 'Light Up Gold' is a full band full-length, and while each song is distinct, the album works together nicely as a whole; great care was obviously put into the sequencing. The recording by Jonathan Schenke is crystal-clear, and it suits the band perfectly.
“Master of My Craft” is an instantly memorable song, and takes the Tyvek influence and runs with it, as does “Yonder,” which might be the best song on the album. “Borrowed Time” feels like the sort of indie rocker that everyone forgot how to write. Like a sober Archers of Loaf, guitar-spray toned down, but the bitterness is unmistakable. “Donuts Only” has a sideways swagger with A. Savage’s choked vocals fighting to be heard; “Yr No Stoner” has the elastic twitch of Come On, while “Career in Combat” is a brief rumination a la Minutemen. Side-ender “North Dakota” has the slack charm of 'Crooked Rain'-era Pavement. The second side isn’t quite as strong, but “Stoned and Starving” is the most Feelies-esque song and is a winning five minutes of red-eyed spaced-out New York rambling, even name-checking my ‘hood - Ridgewood, Queens (bitch!). It drifts into Neu! territory, but instead of motorik, it’s more of a walking beat. “Caster of Worthless Spells” is a respectable GBV rip, and “Picture of Health” is a suitably moody and ambivalent closing song. Sleeper record here, folks.(EEK)
(Dull Tools // dulltools.bigcartel.com)
PC Worship “Dread Head” 12” EP
Another winner from the out-out-out there regions. The folks behind that Buck Gooter LP plopped this abnormal baby on its soft spot early last spring and we’re just now giving it a spin. For shame. 'Dread Head' is like backwoods kin to The Hospitals 'Hairdryer Peace' and closely related to the weirder bits of the Sic Alps oeuvre, but instead of being all psychedelic (horseshit), PC Worship rattles its rustic chains in a sinister folk and the occasional skewered Nirvana/Pixies riff. The opener “Tides” is worth the cost of admission, alone. It’s some tense form of flat-out terrifying death jazz. Shit sputters back and forth like a choked carburetor left gurgling in a drunken oil sea. Slide guitar emanates a pretty thick sludge along with a whole lotta horn players and tape manipulation. I imagine some sorta Liars/Druid Perfume team up. This is what I hoped Mess Folk would have done for me. A messy-mess of broken bits improvised and interspersed throughout large chunks of raw grunge chords. I dig it a lot. A keeper. Kreepy. Kreephaus. What’s in a label name? A hell of a lot! 150 pressed. One-sided 12” with screen-printed B-side and a Craphound approved sleeve. (RSF)
(Kreephaus Records // www.kreephaus.com)
People's Temple "Still (The Same)" 7"
For as much as I loved this band's first two or three singles (theirs is the finest record that moron over at Certified PR ever released), I was totally bummed out by the 'Sons of Stone' LP. Aside from maybe "Axeman" and "Starstreamer" I was totally bored by the more BJM-styled bullshit retro-folk, when I wanted more deep psych and drug-rockers. Maybe it was a little too slick sounding too. I still feel like I might want to try again, but man, not what I was hoping for. I have to think these cuts are demos or leftovers, as the sound is raw (and good) - "Still (The Same)" is a fuzz-guitar rocker with downer vibes. "See Him Go" sounds like it's from another session (LP?), and it's a slicker (but still kind of blown in a trebly way) folky number with acoustic guitar and a pretty good vocal and hook. Not total mindblowers, but a couple of decent tracks. B-Side is untitled and is a big winner. A few minutes of meandering psych jamming with echo chamber voxxing and reverb trickery. A cool low key jam that's good enough to have me pull the LP for another try. Scum stats: 270 copies with three different sleeve variations. You know, I keep saying how bummed I am Solid Sex Lovie Doll isn't around anymore, but let's not forget we still have Gabriele over at Goodbye Boozy doing the Lord's work these days. Take that Zannutto!(RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // goodbyeboozy.blogspot.com)
Per Purpose "Implicating More Than One" 12" EP
Brisbane's Per Purpose step out into the 12" playing field, changing directions from the six-songs-in-nine-minutes barrage of their debut single into a six-songs-in-20plus-minutes long player here. There's not so much of the Minutemen-esque econo-jazz-jamming of the single, and more of a calculated and complex arithmetic here, sounding a lot like Nineties Chicago to me. Not quite math-rock, but kinda close, but it's energetic and far from the dry-as-a-popcorn-fart Don Caballero sound the genre name might have you thinking. More gutsy than brainy, with some brawn as well and having a confident frontman who can both yell and mumble well helps things. Seriously, someone introduce these guys to Albini and get them a deal with Quarterstick. The horn bleats are welcome as is the lack anything sounding overtly funky. The tunes are often teetering on their own construction, changing direction and tempo with agility, kept upright by the sheer instrumental skill of the players. The band runs through a lot of tricks we've heard done before, but the execution is nearly flawless, which is what kept me interested. The recording is perfect, with the bass anchoring things nicely. They've got all flavors of bands down there in Oz, and while Per Purpose aren't the most interesting to me right now, they sure play the hell out of these songs. If you're missing Shudder To Think or other smarty pantsed Nineties outfits, this will be sure to get you stroking your beard. Just remember kids, you start getting too into stuff like this and next thing you know you're going to be listening to Yes. Be careful out there.(RK)
(Bedroom Suck // www.bedroomsuckrecords.com)
The Pheromoans "Darby, Joan & Fosters" LP
I'm calling this The Pheromoans second full length, considering the 'Bar-Rock' and '...Anti-Climb Paint' records as 12" EPs.'It Still Rankles' was so jam-packed with ideas it made for a wonderfully confusing listen and this LP seems to be the exact opposite, with the band sounding more like an actual garage-style outfit than ever before. The songs are still infused with the DIY stumble that is their forte, but delivered with more reserve and respect for actual song structure than usual. "T.A.'s In Peacetime" opens with the band almost sounding like a Sixties garage act on a dark trip, rife with shadowy bass and guitar and nervous drum pacing. They then settle into a laid back pocket for the rest of the side, the title track showing some off some slightly twee-pop affectations and the joke "Should Shades Be Banned?" sounding like a jazz band falling asleep. "The Bovril Boys" might be the biggest step out of the box on the record, an acoustic guitar number backed with relaxed drum machine and theremin-like bleats. "Seven Weekly Stupors" is as fine an approximation of The Fall as they've done yet. "Hero's Welcome" closes the record with the best track, stretched taut with bassline tension and eerie effects, but it all ends too soon. Easily their most approachable record to date, perhaps not as riveting a listen as other outings, but sounding comfortable and loose throughout. Scum stats: 250 copies.(RK)
(Clan Destine // clandestinerecords.bigcartel.com)
The Pizzas "Pizza Sells...But Who's Buying?" EP
I was a big fan of the first Pizzas 7", which was a catchy blast of legit garage-punk done in the best possible way at a time that I thought it was impossible to do so. Seeing as this band has both Matt K. Shrugg and Charles Albright in it (and a girl drummer who can really play), it's going to be hard for them not to write good songs. These guys do the job here, and while it's not as great as that first impression (and really, it would be hard to top that 7"), they fly through three slices (ugh..that pun was as bad as the title of this EP) of hot shit garage-punk that doesn't get lame until the last song ("My New Shirt"), which is just corny pop-punk. The other two tracks are well played and frantic punkers with stellar guitar playing. The shoutalong of "We Don't Have to Do Anything Anymore" would have made a classic Rip Off Records cut, and "Rock'n'Roll Radio", even though you couldn't imagine a less inventive title for a song, is great fun to listen to as it seems like the three of them are just racing each other to see who can finish first. Last track is the pits, but you can just pull the needle off after the second cut since it's one-sided. Scum stats: only 200 pressed, which seems about right. There's no "Bad Ass Youth" to get stuck in your head for days, but fans of the first will still get a kick out of it.(RK)
(Sacramento Records/Phone Select Records // www.phonoselect.com)
Pop. 1280 “Thirteen Steps” 7”
With this flapjack, Pop. 1280 continues to wallow through the fetid alleys, cluttered scrapyards and CHUD infested sewers of cyberpunkdom. I loved both Cop Shoot Cop and Abel Ferrara, so the filthy industrial noir that spews forth from my stereo speaks with mouthfuls of rotted teeth to me. “Thirteen Steps” takes that slinky Aussie bass play we all adore (don’t we?) and musses it with keyboards so they can fool some Greenpoint dark-wavers into climbing aboard their midnight meat-train. It’s like Brooklyn’s better (er, bitter) Slug Guts. “Dead Hand” lumbers along like a stumbling junkie who has been busy vomiting up feedback all over the trashcan percussion. A solid groove of unpleasantries. If Richard Kern wasn’t getting off on taking pictures of pre-pube Chinese teens sitting on toilets these days, he’d be busy working this sorta’ shit into his indie snuff films. Fuck jams for those who really dug watching Jim Thirwell play with his prick. OWN IT. (RSF)
(Blind Prophet Records // www.blindprophetrecords.com)
Poppets "1 + 1 = 2" 7"
Poppets are a rather useless band if you ask me. Casio drum machine with tinny guitar and "cute" guy/girl vox. Kind of awful. I can dig Nobunny and First Base because those guys can actually write pop songs and execute them interestingly. This is just lowest common denominator budget pop. Even Peach Kelli Pop wipes the floor with these two. Yeah, it was real cute when they did Brainbombs covers too. At least that showed some semblance of humor even if it still sucked. Hey, here's an idea for your next EP - call yourself The Meat Poppets and cover the "In A Car" EP in its entirety.This record is just straight from the can boredom. If you want to hear a good song involving math I suggest "2 + 2 = ?" by The System. (RK)
(Windian Records // www.windianrecords.com)
Poppets "The Long Highway" 7"
Ah boy, see the above review. I love Kenrock Records with all my heart, but I just don't see how The Poppets fit in. They're far more P.Trash than Kenrock if you ask me, but they are Swedish so Mr. Kenrock feels some allegiance to them I imagine. At least this is the most palatable single from these two...no, scratch that, not palatable at all. They turn "Heaven Only Knows" into two minutes of nails on a chalkboard and do one original that chafes my balls as well. At least it's one-sided? Scum stats: too many.(RK)
(Ken Rock // myspace.com/kenrockrecords)
Protomartyr "Dreads 85 84" EP
Firstly, I was hooked in by the Bubba Helms reference, as I'm a sucker for anything baseball related, no matter how marginally Bubba was related to the '84 series aside from being a drunk who wasn't even at the game but just showed up to raise hell. But still, baseball is life, and Bubba's story is a sad one. Secondly, the other hook here is Kevin from Tyvek on guitar. Musically this thing is kinda weird in a not-that-weird way I guess. It's thick and burlish rock'n'roll with some boozy and woozy post-punk elements, kind of a ploddingly uplifting melodic sound on "King Boots" (I'm also a sucker for songs about dogs) which gives way to desperate Midwest punk-drive on "Bubba Helms". The singer and the lyrics are really the attention getter, as he sings in a monotone that nearly goes out of tune at times but still has a sort of arresting everyman friendliness to it. Flipside gets UK sounding, with a drunken semi-drawl emerging in the vox, a romantic drum and bass roll lays down for some sharp guitar pluck-n-strum. Not sure how "Cartier EGS" (or the Dread 11 title to the side) fits into the Detroit-centric tales of sadness on the A-Side, but I've spent time trying to figure it out, which says something. Maybe it's a comment on modern times. Who knows. Pretty damn good single though. Scum stats: 300 press with 100 on pink, nicely designed sleeve as well.(RK)
(Urinal Cake Records // www.urinalcakerecords.com)
Psychic Feline "White Walls" 7"
Portland garage-rock trio who are supposedly two guitars and drums, but I'd swear to god one of these guys is playing a bass. Promo says something about them being psychedelic, but I'm not seeing it. Reminds me some of Unnatural Helpers, but a bit more monotone and robotic sounding. A less hooky Intelligence even. B-Side is an instrumental that would probably be better if it had words, as the music might be better than the A-Side. Pretty fucking average overall, the shitty artwork would push me to give this a thumbs down if I had to grade on that scale.(RK)
(Water Wing // www.waterwingrecords.com)
Rancid Hell Spawn "Abolition of the Orgasm" EP
Getting this in the mailbox brought a smile to my face, as I had no idea Charlie Chainsaw was still in business both as Rancid Hell Spawn and Wrench Records Inc. Some people will say if you've heard one RHS record you've heard them all, and while there is certainly truth to that statement, it's outsiders who stick to their aesthetic like this that make the world (or my world) go round. This one is supposedly the first RHS recording in 16 years. I didn't believe that math honestly, but checking back 'Teenage Lard' was released in 1995. Holy shit. 'Scalpel Party' appeared after that, but was a compilation, so I guess this checks out. Fuck, I'm old. So, this set of recordings focuses on an infatuation with Indian ladies instead of the bodily fluids and weird sex of past hits. Although "My Favourite Disease" does hearken back to days of yore. If you've never heard this band (which is really just Charlie) before I might suggest a dip in the back catalog first, and if you need it described, just think of one man with a drum machine, shitty synths and guitars and a home taping set up writing songs about whatever happens to pop into his weirdo head over breakfast - sounds like something a lot of "artists" do these days, but this guy was doing it a dozen years ago, is genuinely strange and has no qualms about maybe lifting parts from Top 40 songs when needed or talking frankly about gross bodily functions. I'm thrilled Charlie is still at it (his tenure runs all the way back to The Tronics) and this was a good reminder to revisit his catalog.(RK)
(Wrench Records // www.wrench.org)
Red Mass "Television Personalities" 7"
The Red Mass music collective continues to churn out releases like their lives depend on it, this one on fellow Canadian label Mammoth Cave. For years now I've been repeating in reviews that I like Choyce's stuff best when he rocks and makes with the sick vocals, and you don't really get that here. But the title cut still works, it's actually about the tube (inlcuding a Mork and Mindy reference) and not the band, as a slower tempo'd New Wave vs. garage rock cut it gives off a schizo sci-fi vibe, especially when he dips into the Dalek-voice for the chorus, going against the nutty professor style he talks the verses in. The ray-gun sound effects and echoed synth sweeps bring back flashes of Star Trek and Dr. Who reruns. Not a rocker, but one of their better executed ideas. "Kill It From The Inside" on the flip does do a little rocking, with a hellish bass sound and scaling guitars that seem to call-and-respond to each other. Choyce hams it up some on the vox, which I dig, but the dum-dum chorus sorta kills any dynamic it might have had. As always, I have to remind you that the Red Mass discography is so deep it makes you feel like many of the releases are just disposable, and it's tough to figure out which ones are worth a spin - and as usual, I can't even decide if this one is. A good A-Side and forgettable flip. 300 copies and a cool sleeve might push you in the "buy" direction if you're already in too deep.(RK)
(Mammoth Cave Recording Co. // www.mammothcaverecording.com)
Ruined Fortune "Bulls Eye" 7"
An Australian super-session, with Angie from Circle Pit, Nic from Bed Wettin' Bad Boys (and the RIP Society CEO) and Owen from Straight Arrows. "Bulls Eye" captures one of those riffs that sounds just slightly familiar enough where you can't quite place it, and it bugs the shit out of you because it's a winner. Skewered garage rock with dragged/drugged out vocalizing and slightly downer nods kept awake by sharp and spirited guitar playing. Well done. B-Side heads right for the floor, a dangerously downward spiralling death-rocker that is the soundtrack for mixing too much booze with too many pills and passing out at the club and smashing your skull on the fucking floor. Or maybe watching some fucked up rocker chick do it instead. Bad vibes translated to wax with alarming skill. Recorded loud and clear by Mr. Penglis himself, this thing works really well as what I'm assuming is a part-time outfit for those involved. And just for the record, Circle Pit records get better and better the more you listen to them. This goes along smashingly if you're in that headspace.(RK)
(RIP Society // ripsocietyrecords.tumblr.com)
Dan Russell s/t LP
At first this seemed like a bad joke. From the bland cover image of an STP sticker emblazoned guitar propped up on a porch to the digitalized image of a dude in cheap vinyl pants, this record screamed of either Blueshammer SRV bar-rock worship or something else headed straight for the wastebin. Then it struck me: said vinyl pantsman is shown wearing a Stabbity-Stabbity-Stab-Stab-Stab band shirt. What’s that mean, you ask? At some point in the mid-Nineties I saw that name on a show flyer for a local PDX gig…and I fell in love with it. It cracked my ass up. It was one of the reasons I chose to use the Tractor Sex Fatality moniker. Dumb, but awesome (to me) name. No, I never saw the band play or ever heard of them again. And now here it is…on a random LP sent in for review. A record chock full of odds and ends by the guy who was THAT BAND. I decided to open it up and gander at the liners. Oh shit! This is a pile of lost songs from a barely heard-of (outside of Flint, MI) guitar weirdo who had sadly passed but left behind a dense musical catalog to cultivate tunes from. Tracks from six different Dan Russell bands are on here and were recorded over a twenty year span. Running the gamut from amazing JT3 style glam punkers (“I Wanna Go” by The Rub), George Brigman’s heaviness (“Granite Man”, also by The Rub) or Jim Shepard’s guitar instrumental solo-searing. And in most cases, all of them at once. A heady mishmash to say the least. Then the strings come in…? Tucked into these songs are bits of synth-play, piano, violin and an odd use of DJ scratching…that doesn’t even cause harm. The said damage leads to Leland-style billowy space cases and/or metallic MX-80 rants as well. Sometimes the vocals take on a D. Boon or Gary Floyd tone and humor. At other points, when he’s not in full-on attack mode, Dan would throw around balladry that would speak to the casual Jeff Buckley listener. I’m not kidding. Not all of it is my cup of tea (there’s some cartoon goofiness here and there that can get a little too jokester), but the tunes that smoke me out really rattle my senses. Hell, you’d think the best of the tracks would be the earliest (as usually the case with career spanning compilations) but some of the bands he had towards the end of the Nineties sear paint and scratch the whutthefuck folds in my brain just as much. The final live track (“Repeat”) with its note bending madness, feedback fights and that pre-mentioned turntable workout, is like the cream of the heap…and it’s from 1999! Sounds like all the right people from all the wrong times doing just the right/wrong things. Stuff we love as record collectors. Definitely worth picking up. R.I.P. you big loin-clothed freak…thanks again for the unknown influence! (RSF)
(Wyatt Earp Records // www.wyattearprecords.com)
Sashcloth and Axes "Sound of Solace" 7"
Obscuro single that just showed up one day and has been making googly eyes at me (literally) ever since. Gothy instrumentalism, just a couple synth patterns and programmed drums, sounds somewhere between a cheesy 80's exploito-score (Giallo style) and maybe a leather bar on 80's dance night. The only vocal presence is a repeated laugh and the single (sampled) line: "You're all gonna die." Depending on your mindset at the time this is either hilarious or really cool. Maybe both. Raises some ideas similar to the post-apocalyptic vibes of Pop.1280. "Just One Night" on the flip is schlockier, although it does have a really invasive synth line, heavy-breathing vox and a more dancefloor sensibility...I'm getting a real rough trade vibe off this side (not the label) especially during the "release" at the end. Could be a big hit in Germany. Kind of a peculiar record, done tongue in cheek, but I'm not sure how far...I enjoyed it, but I'm taking it as a goof. Without the googly eyes pasted on the sleeve I might have though this was a bit more serious bizness. Out of the Huntington Beach scene, members of Vril. Scum stats: 300 copies, 50 limited edition with the eyes...(RK)
(self-released // rickydouglas09-at-hotmail.com)
Scarcity of Tanks "Vulgar Defender" & "Fear Is Not Conscience" CD
Scarcity of Tanks is a Cleveland-based ever-shifting ensemble that revolves around Matthew Wascovich. On previous albums, Wascovich has enlisted veterans of Clevo’s art/rock/noise nexus to back him as he cycles through his abstract poetry in a clear voice, like a more hinged Jack Brewer of Saccharine Trust. This time around, he put all the chips down. Recorded over a marathon weekend session in Brooklyn, these simultaneously-released CDs feature a pan-generational multi-scene-spanning underground all-star group of epic proportions. Some avant-Olympic dream team shit right here: John Morton (electric eels), Kid Millions (Oneida), Weasel Walter (Flying Luttenbachers), Jim Sauter (Borbetomagus), Nick Lesley (Necking), cover art by Chris Yarmock of the Easter Monkeys. Not too shabby, as they say.
Considering the decades of skillz these fellas have racked up, Wascovich does the smart thing and mostly gets out of the way. 'Vulgar Defende'r is a noisy affair, the players going deep into the skronk zone, guitars feeding back, bass loud and dirty in the mix. “My Fist” might be the best thing here; a near-tune with the bass providing a simple melody and the rest of the band trying its hardest to grind it into the dirt, Millions launching it into hyper-drive for the ending. The last track, “Another Chance,” slash-and-burns like mid-period Sonic Youth.
'Fear Is Not Conscience' is a much more successful distillation of this particular line-up’s strengths (I saw them live and it kicked hard). “Stood Straight” takes a basic hardcore punk motif and slathers more and more sound on top of it as it speeds along, til it gets too heavy to move. “Already Alive” utilizes a familiar free improv motif like the pros these guys are, but a track like “Slut’s Rut” should be half its duration. “Impaired Nominee” has a piledriving groove framed by all manner of awesome and hard-to-identify guitar noises. “Winter is Here” is my favorite piece on either of these albums. Wascovich’s words take center stage. The band lays down a droning fog of sound that moves from melancholic to menacing. It sounds like what looking at Lake Erie in December feels like. “Winter…” captures the icicle emotions of a scrapyard city deep in the throes of forced hibernation. Wascovich has seen more than his share of Cleveland winters, and the weight bears down like a shroud.(EEK)
(Total Life Society // PO Box 6592 Cleveland OH 44101)
Scraps “Classic Shits 2006-2009” LP
After all the negative vibes, frustrated tension and sonic piss that’s been shot offa the prison planet (Australia)…it’s kinda shocking that this could co-exist. I guess that’s a lie. They did give us Kylie Minogue. This here has very little to do with the scraping beastly sounds we’re used to from that continent, or Kylie’s bullshenanigans for that matter. Classic Shits is flunky-inept, yet somehow oddly charming, forays into quirky Casio squiggles and soft girlie cooing. A snuggly dance pop that feels as if Kimya Dawson or (insert any 90’s Cuddlecore band here) tried to go dirty mouth dance-wave. Or The Shaggs tumbling headfirst thru the ESG songbook. Trial by error. Songs about cats in yer pants and lemon freezy pops. That kinda’ stuff. Disco played by first timers, all jacked up on a Pixie Stix snortathon. Crippled hands shoving those little pudding cup spoons between the keys. It’s fragile (hell…it’s broken) and running on Cat Power, if Chan Marshall was trying to find footing amongst a sea of outta tune sounds and tripped up hip-hop beats.
This would probably scream “awful” to the lot of ya’ll, and I’m not far behind you in that assessment. BUT I’m finding that it eats away at my brain gloom and keeps me extremely entertained while petting the “furmily”. Hell, the wife’s been blinking like a tiny Asian child and dancing like a bee with a broken stinger around the couch since the first needle drop. If it makes her happy, someone’s on the right track. Paddy-cake music by the inmates of The Danville Asylum for the terminally cute. I can’t quit you…you odd, dumb thang. (RSF)
(Bedroom Suck Records // www.bedroomsuckrecords.com)
Scraps “Secret Paradise” 7”
This scrap is a tad more together than the previous LP and giving off more of a Stereolab air. Bubbly and bouncy minimal gal-powered synth and drum machine workouts. I enjoy the messy trashiness of the full length more, but there’s still some awkward dance-with-yerself moments tucked away in here. Closeted electro-fruitcake, am I. Scraps tend to throw down wordy jumbled Casio tracks with a shit ton more to say than yer average EMA record. Somewhere in an alternate indie-verse, this shit is huge. Sadly in this realm (content to being micro-pressed on bedroom labels) Scraps continues to stay hidden away in the meats of an outback kangaroo belly. Music to eat marshmallow peeps by. 250 pressed. Wrapped in a sharp thick sleeve with a cardstock insert (RSF)
(Disembraining // www.disembraining.tumblr.com)
Secret Prostitutes "The Kenrock 7 Inch" EP
Secret Prostitutes have been tearing up the underground for a few releases worth now, and I'll admit I'm not the biggest fan of their tunes, but that has to do more with the fact that I'm a dolt who prefers his punk rock to be sung in good old English rather than some jibber-jabber. I'm a firm proponent of the old "All American Punk, No Foreign Junk" adage passed down to us years ago by some wise men from Norway. My petty bias aside, SP's are a competent enough punk band for this day and age, they sling the mid-tempo buzzsaw attack as well as most, but when it comes to H-Town punkola I'll go for No Talk or Bloody Hammer before this crew, Geto Boys soundbites or not. I recall their LP fetching "Crazy Recent eBays" worthy prices on the machine before it was repressed, but I feel that was due more to supply-n-demand hype than actual musical merit, as it was an average record at best. I always want these guys to sound wilder than they actually are, and the Indonesian lyrics are a gimmick that will intrigue some, but not all. Guess what my favorite song on this is. "Gimmie Money", as you can throw the word gimmie in front of just about anything and bam, you just wrote a good punk song. This one reminds me a little of a more meatheaded Shoot It Up, if that's even possible. Seven punk tunes that are decent in a Euro-hardcore inspired fashion (Scandanavian and/or Nordic in particular), but could be elevated to "really good" if you're a fan. Scum stats: some of the most uninspired artwork of the year doesn't help this, but being limited to 250 copies with clear sleeves will help it move into a lot of internet shopping carts.(RK)
(Kenrock Records // myspace.com/kenrockrecords)
The Sediment Club "Time Decay Now" LP
I really enjoyed The Sediment Club’s debut 7” on Brooklyn’s Soft Spot label a few years back (Soft Spot also released the mandatory 'Kebab' collection). It was an abrasive and snarky example of a group of kids cutting loose on a No New York tip, as if they were born to it. Then again, main Clubber Austin is the son of former Voidoid Ivan Julian and Contortions/Bush Tetras guitarist Pat Place. So, he comes by ye ol’ guitar-slash naturally. Julian even recorded most of this album.
Time Decay Now is not quite the leap forward I was hoping for from this obviously talented crew. The band is still in fine form, the drummer in particular has mad chops, but stylistically they are running in place. The vocals are still the weakest part; mainly shouted-out sloganeering you’d expect from art-punks. A compelling vocal presence would go a long way. The fact that 3 out of the EP’s 4 songs are redone here demonstrates a lack of progress. The keyboardist Amina sings “Deeper Into Hell,” and its slightly more conventional, yet still frenetic, delivery does wonders. There are still choppy beats, rubber-band bass, washes of noise and bent guitars but it seems to lead somewhere instead of treading water. “Voodoo Puppet” recalls Big Flame with its sideways funk-guitar, and hardcore speed/length jitterbug “13” brings to mind Philly’s unheralded Stickmen. Despite my criticisms, I think The Sediment Club do their No Wave progenitors proud.(EEK)
(Soft Spot // www.softspotmusic.com)
The Sensitive Side "Moon Kids" EP
Vinyl Dog Records returns after an absence of I have no idea how many years...I think the last thing I bought that they released was the Neon King Kong 7" (which is a great fucking record/band, by the way..), and the fact-checkers tell me they released a Ciril 7" in 2006, so hey, seven years or so. Man, this update is really bringing out some old school shit. If you're not old, Vinyl Dog was Mike from The Stitches' label which he utilized to release some of his band's better records and a few other OC-related items. The Stitches were a pretty big deal back in those days. I liked em just fine, one of the best at what they did, and a band that spawned a fair amount of lousy imitators as well. But enough reminiscing, The Sensitive Side may or may not have Mike Lohrman in the fold, but I would guarantee they have at least one or two members who used to be in a band that released something on Hostage Records or TKO at some point. They jam six cuts of SoCal-styled beach-punk on this pup with some dark touches (much like the already mentioned Ciril) and the requisite snotty singer, gluing it all together with some keyboard squealing. I'm gonna come right out and say that these songs would probably be a lot better off without the keys, which sound like they were an afterthought, only adding some extra noise on the choruses and one-finger solos and slides here and there. There are obviously some vets in this band, the guitar and bass players can certainly go and don't need the extra synth-clutter. The songs would sound a lot tougher too. As it is, I have to say this is decent quality beach-punk that gets wimpified by some cheezy New Wave keyboards a la The Epoxies or something else gross. Interesting sleeves, the art looks like a complicated series of rubber stamps which I iamgine they just offset printed to fool rubes like me. I have a feeling the cover image would be a big "hit" on the BCO board, so I'm giving them points for messing with the squares.(RK)
(Vinyl Dog Records // www.thesensitiveside.com)
Shaved Women "Static" 7”
Recently, I saw these dudes tear it up in the live setting. Young, skinny guitarist ripped some sick leads; almost avant, like Derek Bailey getting ‘core. The rest of the band was solid as shit, deftly balancing slower, dirgier screeds with punishing hardcore blitzes in between. “Static” rides a head-nodding groove, slow enough to make you feel slightly nauseous, but not where you feel like you’re in quicksand. It’s the kind o song that is fed up with daily life. Who can’t relate? The flip picks up the speed a bit; “Exorcism” flails around pretty good, until the ending gets all creepy-crawl on you. “Shallow Sea” sounds mean, and I think they like mean. I mean, like, mean mean. Nice packaging, housed in the typically great dada-esque collages of one Dr. Ilth.(EEK)
I dug what these cats laid down on their 12", but I feel like the A-Side of this one might be a step backwards. "Static" is just too Pissed Jeans sounding. It's a sick riff, sure, but it's formulaic to a fault, from the solo right down to the self-deprecating I'm-a-loser lyrics. Unless it's some sort of meta commentary on bands aping this style, it just sounds phoned in. B-Side fares better, as they stomp it out with some vigor on "Exorcism" and "Shallow Sea", the latter of which actually wedges a melodic hook into a heavy hardcore tune. Good side, but I don't think this one would count as a win. Maybe a push. Ilth collage-work looks great as always, but also makes this look like a bunch of other records out there. Tough decision, I know it's great to get your sleeve done by a great artist who does a lot of work, but at the cost of having your own personality absent from your record's visual aesthetic as well. On the plus side, if you dig the bands Ilth has done other art for (and even his own bands) you should dig this...so I guess it works out?(RK)
(Pass Judgement // )
Shirley Maclaines "Want You To Go" 7"
Five songs from these Austrian garage-punkstresses. A five piece band (twin guitar attack?!) making with the Ramones-y and early-Donnas schtickery. I enjoy that they're pretty lousy players (or dumbing it down really convincingly) and pretty pissy. Not nasty or anything, but not all sunshine and sugar at least. There was a time when this sort of thing was novel, but now it's just an exercise in repetition, but it's done with some style. I found humor in "Cigarette" - which is just the gal yelling at you to give her a cigarette - as it reminded me a bit of a kinder and gentler Loli & The Chones. "I Want You" is played really badly, with all the instruments a step off from each other and containing such a complete mangling of the "Wildman" guitar line that it appeals greatly to my love of all things inept. There's always room in the garage for cute girls playing snotty songs, and this fits well with the Bachelor aesthetic.(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
The Shrine "Featherheads" 7"
The set up: good looking package, nice combo of offset and screen printing on sleeve, cryptic poster included along with a CD of their demo with pics that have them looking like a combo of Dogtown skaters and early St. Vitus. Then you see the "recorded by Dave O. Jones and Chuck Dukowski" credit and I'm certainly interested. The fact they're a power trio from LA has me hedging my bet, but I'm hopeful. Even though I know I'm gonna get let down. "Featherheads" is fucking sub-metal rawk, maybe some unholy combo of Queens of the Stone Age and Zeke or something rocky with a dash of thrash. Extended mosh part with wanky solos that is borderline moshcore. Oof. B-Side is a Thin Lizzy cover ("Got to Give It Up") that can best be described as what could have happened if the concept for Annihilation Time went completely wrong. "Limited Edition" with like ten different colors of vinyl.(RK)
(Eliminator Records // theshrine.bigcartel.com)
Skoal Kodiak “Kryptonym Bodliak” LP
Posty-punk/Synthy-punk (from Minneapolis) that reminds me of the few times I saw Point Line Plane around the Pac Northwest. Not an earthshaking release, but it has a good beat you can dance to and enough drive to keep ya focused on the road. Never stare into oncoming headlights. That said; do not confuse this with Kraut. This is Load records, so the synths and structures are gonna’ get wacka-doo and arty. Almost aggressive, though not spastic. Effects ladened vocals add extra menace and a few tracks tread closer to the compu-tarded side of Six Finger Satellite’s weirdness. Machine that cuisine. I have to say when you’ve got LPs by similar acts already filed away on yr shelves; you probably won’t feel the need to return to this very often. A fun listen, just not so memorable. Suggest it to that friend with a gallery/loft space. He’d at least wanna’ set up a show. And I bet they’d put on a good’un. (RSF)
(Load Records // www.loadrecords.com)
Slices "Still Cruising" LP
Slices’ debut, 'Cruising' (duh), was a hair-raising mixture of brutal hardcore and brief, but effective, abstract soundscaping. Short and to-the-point, it was one of the better hardcore/noise rock hybrids of the past few years. This follow-up doesn’t radically alter the approach, but does feature what could be seen as slightly more conventional rock songs.
The opener, “Trying to Make a Living,” was blazing live; classic punk riffs played with the ferocity of hardcore at its most rabid. The recorded version sounds great, not unlike pre-epic shoegaze Fucked Up, actually. The self-referential “everybody hates us” lyrics to “Slices is Dirts” walk the line of being too self-aware, but its frantic instrumental backing is no joke. Unfortunately, the rest of the side doesn’t quite measure up to these initial blasts.
The highlight of side two, “Horserace,” is a loser’s lament that hangs its hat on 'Down'-era Jesus Lizard. “All My Life” is half-successful; a tuneful, mid-tempo grunge throwback. The album closes with the satisfying, speedy punk of “Mustard,” which is about a sad state of affairs: “Ketchup/mustard/relish/mayo/sandwich/No meat/it’s not right.” If there’s one thing folks from Pittsburgh know about, it’s what should go in between two slices of bread.(EEK)
(Iron Lung // lifeironlungdeath.blogspot.com)
Slicing Grandpa s/t 7"
A retrospective release from the SG vaults, featuring three songs from demos/CDRs, and this sort of cherry picking is the way you should be introduced to a band whose discography can be overwhelming and confusing. "Grandpa IV" is no-fi swamp-dogging, reminds me of a really fucked Beck track with a death metal riff, drums out of a can and zombies on backing vox. A great tune that I wouldn't mind people hearing as their intro to the "band". "Fuck You" is industrial-style fuckery, hammering drum box on repeat, feedback as instrument and a loopy thing that sounds like a reverbed spring or electrified coil or some shit. Noise, noise, noise. B-Side is "Falling On Grace", a fidelity-free droner, with muffled screams, creepily building guitars and live drums adding up to an eerie noisescape that sounds like it's slowly being smothered with a pillow or submerged in a vat of glue. Arty and frightening. A must-have for those already into the Laux catalog, and this along with reading the Termbo interview from a few years back would make a good starter kit. Scum stats: 150 copies, each with hand drawn labels (and not just some scribbling, but a complete skull dude drawing on each) and photocopied rogue's gallery sleeves (a la the Los Huevos LP) with additional paste-ons and painting inside, each sleeve being unique. Now that's artwork.(RK)
(Randstock // elmn8r-at-hotmail.com)
Spider Babies “Rock & Roll Rejects” 7”
Holy shit time machine! Ken Rock releases a noisy platter from the elder dudes of Garage Punk past. This sounds like a lost High School Refuse or Yakisakana release that has waited so long to be unearthed it’s gone n’ grown moldy. These are new tracks, si? Partially true, I bet. On “R&R Rejects” these Babies sound more like The Monsters this time ‘round with a cheap gear/cheap beer raunch handled on a tinny 4-track. Mid-paced and simple, under a blown fidelity and seeping of ‘tude. The B-side has two cuts (“Hot & Cold” and “You’ve Been Stayin’ Here”) that offer more bottom end to the production values. These are fairly straight ahead and sound a lot like those Nineties Dwarves releases (only less vulgar) or Junk Records (ha!) singles you held onto for some reason. You know you got ‘em. Probably shelved far away from your turntable. It’s ROCK. Not the best…but at least it’s rock, dammit. The A-side is worth a spin or two. The B-side is okay, but far too clean for what I expected. Scum stats: 500 pressed. 200 on black and 100 each of red, white or bleu wax out there. (RSF)
(Ken Rock // myspace.com/kenrockrecords)
Sros Lords "Evil Spawn" 7"
Detroit kids who are obviously into the works of Tim Vulgar, Piranhas and their post-projects and various X! Records players. They sound like the little brother band to Human Eye maybe, getting into some insectoid post-apocalypse vibes. "Evil Spawn" seems pay tribute to the B-movie of the same name with great lyrics and a shit-fi Black Sabbath riff they tangle up with budget synth lines. Loose in a semi-incompetent way that has you rooting for them, I think this side is a real winner. B-Side sounds like the aforementioned bands thrown in the blender and spat out with few ingredients added, sort of a saturday morning cartoon version of Motor City weirdness. Things work out fairly well for them here, I imagine they make a good opening act for the main event right now, and have some serious upside for sure. I'm gonna keep an eye out. I also feel like I should say this is miles better than Johnny Ill Band for some reason. I'd rather hear a band infatuated with B-movies and Jimbo Easter than bad garage any day. Bonus points to Urinal Cake for a great looking product too, it's nice to see a label utilizing four color labels with a quality logo and such in a time when many can't even be bothered to label their A and B sides properly. Scum stats: I hear there's a glow-in-the-dark vinyl variant of this one, which is very apropos.(RK)
(Urinal Cake Records // www.urinalcakerecords.com)
Stag “Get Used To It” 7”
More Aussie damage. “Going Out” is a female gang vocaled chant, riding along a primal rhythm that sounds a bit like Fuzzbox with heavy synthesizer leanings. It gets a bit more indie-friendly with “Pop Song”. It fooled me with its Joy Division bass intro before getting all breezy and toe-tappable. “Seriously” is a mess of a tune that head dives into a Fall-inspired repeat, and then lets the ladies caterwaul all over it. Closing out the platter is another somewhat Olympia damaged herk n’ jerk called “Cake Roll” that finds common ground betwixt The Coathangers and Super Wild Horses…which ain’t a bad place to be. 250 pressed. Wrapped in a sharp thick sleeve with a high gloss cardstock insert. (RSF)
(Disembraining // www.disembraining.tumblr.com)
Submissions s/t CD
Submissions get up in yer grill with their Godflesh passion…or is it Slug-styled noise rock worship, run through thick and thawing spring slush? This EP gone LP rolls out what I believe to be a drum machine (or maybe a machine playing drums) and a hell of a lotta’ bowel clearing low-end. Vocals barely break from the mix in an indecipherable mélange of: a.) despair b.) distress c.) detestation d.) all of the above. There’s these squiggly modem start-up electronics that glitch about during “Caught”. Could it be the siren call warning of a slow and mutating organic war machine on the horizon? Too late and trampled in the path, I’d say. It’s as though this weird little beacon is trying to pull you out from under the Tarkus’s treads. Other points show the worship of early Swans “structures” and spoken word. Submish ain’t just an aggressive, hateful pummel all the time…In “Husk” there’s some positive, almost uplifting fumes that rise from the ashes. Gothic drone tendencies set on a slow churn. Imagine when the drip meds finally hit that accident victim, laid out in the nursing home. That kind of uplifting. Out-of-body type shit. Am I dying? I guess it’s not so positive. Let’s call it a warm bummer. 100 copies exist. Why CD? (RSF)
(Kill Shaman // www.killshaman.com)
Mark Sultan "War on Rock'n'Roll" LP
When it comes to Mark Sultan, there's always a lot to talk about. One of the busiest men in showbiz. Since I last rapped at ya about him there have been some Les Sexareenos reunions (which I missed, but I'm holding out for a Spaceshits reformation anyway), I think the KK&BBQ Show broke up and got back together a few times (I think they might be back on at this point), he released two LPs at once on In the Red ('Whatever I Want' and 'Whenever I Want') and has been touring the world non-stop from Australia to Europe to South America. Say what you want about him as a person (and he doesn't care either), there are few people alive with more of the soul of rock'n'roll beating in their hearts. The guys lives it, every day. He has to rock so bad that he learned how to play as a one man band, and though he's always been pretty good at it, now he's really fucking good at it. I'll confess I haven't paid too much mind to his last few studio LPs, but the concept for this intrigued me. A continous 51-minute long piece recorded live in one take, which has him playing medleys of his hits with some improv breakdowns and bridges and such. Firstly, the endurance exhibited here is sort of superhuman, considering he's playing floor tom/cymbal and guitar for the duration, without a single break for just about an hour straight, with no drop off in energy from beginning to end. This concept record goes along with a manifesto he's written about declaring war on rock'n'roll, which boils down to fuck posers, don't sell out, treat the music with respect and be true to yourself. Your basic "Be Righteous" spiel peppered with some of the paranoic rambling and goofing we've come to love him for. Musically, this is pretty great, and the most invigorating he's sounded to me since the first/second LPs he did with Khan. You gets hits from his BBQ records, some classics from The Show, some sick segway breakdowns between songs, lotsa punk as shit and aggro moves I'm glad to see him going for. He'll play a verse or two from one song, then do a chop down and break into a verse from another tune. And I swear when he "sings" the punker stuff he sounds a lot like Lee Ving these days, plus he's still an incredible crooner. Pipes of gold, I tell ya. He also abuses the shit out of a delay pedal which makes for some cool outerspace sonics he throws out at random spots as well. The closing deconstruction of "Shake Real Low" ends this opus on a real high note, and the whole performance will have you on your toes for the duration. A real throwing down of the gauntlet from a guy who is one garage's elder statesmen these days, and who sounds more energized than ever. Good shit. Now I need the following to happen: the aforementioned Spaceshits reunion to coincide with a series of archival LPs that release all of the lost Spaceshits recordings (including their two demo cassettes, the pre-'Winter Dance Party' LP they recorded on an Indian reservation, the lost LP recorded in Greg Lowery's basement and the entire Kearney Barton session, among other things...) and after that the recording and release of the Death-A-Reenos LP (Sexareenos playing all hardcore cover songs). Then I'll die a happy man. Scum stats: 500 copies on splatter red/black vinyl, with silkscreened artwork designed by none other than Gary Panter (Larry Hardy has pull, don't you forget it).(RK)
(In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
Sunflare “Ghetto Blast” LP
Blown to pieces fuck-damaged psych from the land of the Blind Dead (Portugal) that I wouldn’t even question if told it came wrapped in an ol’ screen-printed Squealer Records sleeve. Slaps you across the jaw within seconds of the first needle drop, as though you’ve stumbled upon High Rise or Mainliner, mid-practice. Three Japrock loving meltdowns sans vocals (well, maybe there’s someone screaming in the mix) that’ll turn on fans of the Liquorball family outings, I-Rock goons and weekend shroom-heads. Press record on the tape and just repeat and bleat; see where it takes ya’. Solo loud enough to cause harm and root in the mudfuzz like a chrome plated electrified piggy...twice. Both sides are relentless like that Birds of Maya double, but gets busy quicker, much like a Puffy’s platter. I’d tell you more, but I gotta’ go lie out on the orange shag rug for a while and let this creep over me. Guarantee Rich is poppin’ his nut to this as I type. Gross. Scum stats, you ask? Mine’s on sky blue vinyl. Tuff shit, late-comers. (RSF)
One of my more exciting musical discoveries of recent vintage was randomly stumbling upon (not thru that site but indeed on the world wide web) the molten psych-rock of a mysterious Portuguese trio named Sunflare. I knew nothing about the band, but their intent and intensity rang true. My Spanish ain’t too hot, but my Portuguese is even less so; luckily I’m not missing out on much, as these pessoa choose to let the music do the talking.
Last year’s Young Love blew me away with heavy psych moves featuring scorching guitar eruptions and a nimble but powerful rhythm section. A cassette from 2010 also brought the goods, recalling all-time brain-scramblers like High Rise, Mainliner, and Psychic Paramount. There was definitely PSF worship going on, but Sunflare carved out their own identity within that hallowed hall of third eye-openers.
Ghetto Blast is Sunflare’s newest offering, their first for a US label, and, while still a deadly set of primo head-kick, it suffers a bit in comparison with its predecessor. Featuring two side-long tracks, the 12” seems a bit one-dimensional. Not that you would ever expect something like subtlety from this crew, but the A-side, “Don’t Belong,” seems to run in place. It has an impressive density, but its stasis dulls the impact. It sounds more like a Noise band, like Air Conditioning or Hair Police minus the ‘tronics. It’s certainly not bad, and the second half digs into the pocket with single-minded force, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t expecting more.
On the flip, “Biker Jinx” is more of the kinda Sunflare I wanna get blinded by. Blown-out groove with all kindsa wah-wah and phased axe-strangling darting in n’ out of the fray. The track is far more dynamic, and builds and resolves like a good blast-out should; it’s even got a backwards-tape cool-down before the grand finale. I don’t know of too many contemporary psych-rock bands hitting the kinds of sweet spots these dudes are capable of, and, even if this set doesn’t completely destroy me like the previous 12”, I’m HIGHly anticipating future releases.(EEK)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.bigcartel.com)
Super Sonic Piss s/t LP
You know if it’s on Rotted Tooth, there’s a good chance it’s gonna get ugly. This here is no exception. Femme-fronted, splattery and beat-blasted noise punk from Iowa City. A hardcore slop that goes from frantic spasms to slogging it out in sludge in a matter of seconds. Grotesque chunks of feedback laden grunge that once belonged to bands like Babes in Toyland and Silverfish…but nowadays takes its turn getting knocked around by Cacaw, Shoppers and the new school freak units. Imagine a fully developed Tinsel Teeth (one with actual lyrics!) willing to let their Flipper fandom fly. Hey, Hipster Piss Party: have I got a tag-team dream date of a split idea for you! A simple free-form messy menstrual fuck-all for people who feel Vivian Girls and the similar acts are ruining the women in punk image. Anything with two Teenage Jeezus covers can’t be all bad. Am I right, ladies?
The usual Toothy MO: Limited to 255 copies on colored vinyl (a lemon/urine hybrid) and in a three-color silkscreened half sleeve. (RSF)
(Rotted Tooth // www.rottedtoothrecordings.com)
Taco Leg "Printed Gold" 7"
Some buds of mine who toured and actually lived in Australia for a time told me that these Taco Leg blokes are THEE band to mess with down under, popular opinions and ECSR be damned. Their 7" on Fan Death and some cassette tapes I somehow glommed copies of had me coming around to their way of thinking if not totally convinced. And they're from Perth, which is like being a punk band from Alaska or something. They continue on their minimalist tack, almost sounding a bit more UK-DIY than anything all burly and Orstralian. Guitar and drums pace each other and try to stay on the same line, framing a couple of punk tunes that proceed at the pace of a brisk walk, or maybe a slight trot on "Printed Gold". They seem to not do too much here, which is just fine; the guitar sound goes right to your head and the drumming is an exercise in Watts-ian less is more. Quite riveting actually, and after a couple listens it becomes addicting. The flip side is an inspired cover of "The Money Will Roll Right In" that will make you forget all about Nirvana. Again. I'm confused as to how they actually pulled off a good cover of a song that should never be covered. Such is the magic of music, friends. Scum stats: a scant 330 copies, buy or fry.(RK)
(Richie Records//Testostertunes // testostertunes.blogspot.com)
Thee Tee Pees "You're A Turd" 7"
Me and Herr Gimp over at Bachelor had a bad run there where I wasn't digging his label's vibe via some what I considered hokey platters, but like the true man he is, he still ponied up some more reviewables for the chopping block. This Tee Pees single is the first thing I've seen from him in a bit, and I was immediately intrigued by the fact that this band formed from the ashes of The Jinxes, a band that my old pal Danny Ferducci (RIP) used to talk up to me when he was still running the Boom Boom of Renton record company (RIP again), as they were slated for an eventual release on that fine imprint should they ever get their shit together and sign on the dotted line...which of course never happened. But knowing Ferducci like I did, I could only imagine they were lo-fi and incompetent in all the best ways. Thankfully, this record follows a formula successfully utilized by many great shithead bands of the past. Acquire a Farfisa and try to break it, steal a shitty fuzz pedal and the cheapest mics you can find, record under the worst possible conditions and write two hits: one shit-talker ("You're A Turd") and one dance-craze starter ("Do The Smog"). Thee Tee Pees cover all the bases here - come up with a gimmick (Native Americans), shit-fi recording, possibly objectionable lyrics with a dumb sense of humor, it's all here. "You're A Turd" is about a shitty girl from what I can hear, says something about her tits, and is played with the utmost disregard for staying in tune/time - a real winner. "Do the Smog" on the flip has the singer doing a great wail in-between spitting all over himself while stuttering out the verses. Both cuts have a dumb Farfisa line to them that works wonders and floats in a sea of blown-out fuzz guitar using the minimum amount of notes for maximum rocking. Great stuff reminiscent of other stinkers like Thee Flying Dutchmen, Zombie IV, Mothballs and other bands that successfully ripped off whoever The Mummies were ripping off. Truly budget rock that I can appreciate without all the pizza and hot dogs, this was the best four minutes of music I listened to all night (repeatedly).(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
Teledente 666 s/t 7"
Quite honestly I haven't been that into many of the semi-recent French Le Grande Triple Alliance affiliated bands (Feeling of Love excluded) - The Anals, AH Kraken, Dictaphone, none of them really did much for me. They seemed to recycle sounds and aesthetics they'd already done better (even on earlier record by the same bands) or just got too synthy or whatever. Don't get me wrong, I love(d) Glue Wave as much as anyone - Volt, Crash Normal, Blutt - but I'm also a guy who tunes out when I hear too much electronics. There's no shortage of synth play on this one, but "Les Rats" is pitch black Dark Wave that is ominous enough for me to get into, almost sounding like the Franco Gary Wrong Group. Digi-drum marching beat, looped guitar riff, evil synth throb and an array of crashing sounds that sound like what you hear at night in a submarine, or maybe when sleeping in a subway station restroom. A good few minutes of feeling like someone (well, a creepy French dude) is sneaking up behind you with bad intentions. It doesn't really sound that blown out either, sharp and precise is the way to go with this stuff. "Panne Sexe" repeats the beat, adds some goth-sounding synth moves underneath a needling guitar line (or is that a synth too?). It actually sounds really German, kinda martial and perverse. The theme for a leather show at a sex club in some Berlin basement. Super creepy. Not sure who the actual players are on this, but Seb Normal produced (who else?) and this is the best non-FOL record I've seen his name on in some time. Scum stats: 300 copies in always classy Sweet Rot sleeves.(RK)
(Sweet Rot // myspace.com/sweetrotrecords)
Tenement "Blind Wink" LP
Wisconsin pop-rockers latest release, on Cowabunga Records of all labels, but apparently these guys are held in high regard with the VLV-core scene, even doing a split with degenerate noisemakers Culo. Tenement sound like a wimpy pop-punk band who don't want to be a wimpy pop-punk band anymore and try out some different approaches to escape the genre. At their toughest they sound like a mild(er) mannered Husker Du, obscuring the hooks with extra guitar effects, and it works pretty well on "Senile", the best effort on both sides. Of course it's a five-plus minute guitar epic, but it's worth a few listens even if it verges a bit on the "emo"-tional side ifyouknowwhatimean...They occassionally take on a rough-pop 'mats-styled attack (but without the years of binge-drinking to make it sound truly rough), some misguided attempts at grunge-ing things up in the currently popular style (aka "These guys sounds like Dinosaur Jr.!" - I assure you they do not, but at least Tenement have the good sense to not just totally ape the sound) and some fractured Beatles-inspired acoustic/piano outings to show off some "depth" or something. The Side B opener ("The Pleasure We Get...") is an honestly great pop-punk song (if such a thing truly exists) with a gutsy bass sound, some odd effects and an unflinching hook and deserves to be the A-Side of a single. This thing has two songs I actually enjoy (which is two more than I thought I would like going into this), and even at its worst it's at least an inspired effort by a band trying to expand their horizons. Just remember, pop-punk is pop-punk, no matter how you slice it fellas. (RK)
(Cowabunga Records // www.cowabungarecords.com)
3 Toed Sloth "I Didn't Know I Loved You (Until I Saw You Rock'n'Roll)" 7"
The second entry in the NGL Jukebox Series, with 3TS covering Gary Glitter and Pere Ubu on recordings from the same 90's session that gave us the semi-recent 2X7" on Unwucht. The Glitter cover is a 100% success, reducing (or beefing up?) the original's glam pomp to cracking drum smash, sterotypical Aussie bass thump and a hard-scrabble guitar line. A near perfect cover song. For "Non Alignment Pact" I feel like they made the song more poppy somehow. They turn it into a lively little rock song, a bit too conventional sounding even. Not as successful as the A-Side, but an interesting curveball. That Glitter cover is such a killer though. And speaking of glitter, I'm not sure if all the sleeves came with a sprinkling of it or not, but it's a clever little touch.(RK)
(Negative Guest List // negativeguestlistzine.blogspot.com)
Timmy's Organism "Flyin' Carpet Love Affair" 7"
Timmy Vulgar and Goodbye Boozy, a match made in heaven. The Organism treats us to a two-sider here, thankfully, and the A-Side has Timmy joined by his old Clone Defects mate Fast Eddie on drums. "Flyin' Carpet Love Affair" is a really wonderful song from the mind of a true rock'n'roll artist. A torch song from an alien heart, ragged and rough and slimy but as touching as one can when recording on a 4 track. Percussion is somewhat sedate and hints at a real rocker if they sped it up and blew it out, but they don't need to. There are some mellow and warbly synth lines fleshing things out along with Vulgar's restrained guitar, but he does break out a heartwrenching wah-solo for the outro. Great song, and the best Vulgar slow jam I've heard, hard to believe this was recorded in 2007 and sat on a tape until now. B-Side is "Nocternal Festering Bubbleites" (sic) which sounds like it could be a demo for Human Eye with Timmy playing everything, a rolling tribal drum, insectoid guitar buzzing and monotone vocal that he sort of croons out at the end. Not a brain scorcher, but cool enough to listen to more than a few times. This would be a good bridge song on an LP or something... Final verdict is buy this or be a chump, the A-Side is fantastic and the flip is worth a couple bucks. I mean, it's a record from one of the few geniuses left in modern rock'n'roll...I shouldn't have to tell you this. Scum stats: just under 300 copies, with three different sleeve designs, one each from Jimbo Easter (I have this one, and it's a cool cartoon of Timmy), Vulgar himself and Robby Vegas. Hand written/stickered labels. (PS: if anyone has a copy of the 'Scum Revolution' 7" out there and are willing to trade/sell, contact the editor ASAP.)(RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // goodbyeboozy.blogspot.com)
Tokyo Storm Warning "High Times at the Black Eye" LP
Not to show any disrespect to the musicians involved, but I was honestly taken aback by how good this LP is. I'm sort of stunned none of this ever hit vinyl in its day, as it's a good head and shoulders above a lot of other shit from the early '00s that is clogging up the bins of stores across the country as we speak. Maybe they just didn't know the right people at the time (which I find hard to believe, since TSW has past/present members of Neon King Kong, Teenage Knockouts, This Moment In Black History and more), or perhaps they just didn't have the money or time. Or maybe they broke up and everyone hated each other. The inserts don't tell the story of why, but instead have a lot of pics that show a band throwing down on stages and in basements in front of punks and garage turkeys alike. And Tokyo Storm Warning sound like a band that could play a crusty basement in Lakewood or the bar stage at the Beachland and sound equally at home playing their driving post-punk sound blasts and art-garage salvos. Nothing inept here, these guys all know how to play, the rhythm section lock it down when duty calls and the drummer swings pretty damn freely when allowed to as well. Guitars have that post-Wire-y angular slash attack foremost, but he's also got a knack for hitting that repeat-o riff that gets right to the borderline of annoying but never crosses the line. Vox from a man named Erick sound right at home here, desperate and forceful and showing just a few screws starting to come a little bit loose. "Plenty of Money" is the prime cut, with a good vocal rhythm, the aforementioned repeating guitar part that almost gets on your nerves, a loping verse that builds into a slashed chrous and a breakdown/guitar chaos portion towards the mid-end. Actually there's at least 3 or 4 good uns here - "Curate My Love" has the guitar sounding like it's being bowed like a violin and a running-off-the-rails pace carried by the bass player with urgency. A pretty fucking good record, the A-Side in particular. Bravo, and I'm sorry I never heard this before. Scum stats: 100 copies only, with two double sided inserts and sprayed/stencilled sleeves. A record collector's dream...or nightmare?!(RK)
(Mind No Mind // mindnomind-at-yahoo.com)
Traumahelikopter “Wolf” 7"
Grade-A lazy rocking from the Hollandaise. Nothing too crazy, just two good songs that sound like you’d drink or be drunk to them. Smells like a less psychedelic approach to the same game the lovely Dead Farmers are playing, though you can tell it comes from a nation of bespectacled fishermen instead of a nation of petty criminals. Drummer’s got a great stomp going, and all the tones are right where they oughtta be. Garage wails for days. They earn a bonus Heineken for having a drummer named Knalbert (!). Excited to hear more, they sound like they could really excel when they have room get weird on an album.(NG)
(Kuriosa Records // kuriosarecords-at-yahoo.com)
Tronics "Love Backed By Force" LP
Tronics “Shark Fucks” 7"
At last, two holy grails of UK DIY, now widely available in affordable vinyl editions for your home enjoyment, preferably the sleeping quarters. This is bedroom music for the ages. Fronted by the eccentric (British for “weirdo”) Zarjaz (billed here as “Ziro Baby”), Tronics’ minimal, ostensibly “rock,” songs are spare and affecting, like a snot-nosed, playful version of Young Marble Giants. The first time I heard “Shark Fucks” was as the lead-off track on Messthetics #3 (way back when it was still a CDR). I couldn’t shake the strange mix of innocence and threat that the song contained. The music seemed amateur-ish, but the ideas and emotions behind it were anything but simple. There was a distinct mind at work. You can now own this classic single, packaged in its curious newsprint fold-out poster, for yourself, and for anybody you may try to be courting via mixtape.
The LP, from the same year, 1981, is surprising, both in its ability to maintain interest over the course of an entire album, despite its stripped-down approach (Zarjaz’ vocals and deceptively skilled guitar playing, accompanied by the conga percussion of Gaby de Vivienne), and in the sophisticated musical ideas at play (oblique references to Eastern music, and even baroque touches; see “Min Dama”).
But you’ll also find what are the roots of “twee;” certainly Calvin Johnson had heard this duo before forming Beat Happening. There’s the same uncomfortable tension between trying to stay pure (some would say “childish”), and between dealing with the complicated emotions that come with love, especially as an adult. Doubly ironic then, that my favorite song on here, “Crush On You,” inexplicably comes near the end of the album (if the LP had a single, this should’ve been it), and is the most nakedly emotional of these bizarre little love songs. It captures, like very few songs before or since, that lump-in-throat, butterfly-stomached perpetual nervousness that accompanies the pheromone avalanche of early L-U-V.(EEK)
(What’s Your Rupture? // www.whatsyourrupture.com)
Tropical Trash "Fear of Suffering" EP
Outta nowhere record from a Louisville DIY unit I've never heard before. Ridiculous silk screened pocket sleeve artwork starts us off on the right foot as does the collage insert and MX-80 reference. A-Side is one long 5+ minute piece called "Baltimore" which has a Ralph Records out-sound vibe combined with some math-rocky Skin Graft free-jamming on the jazz tip, which they mix up further with heavy skronk riffing and even some extendo Sonic Youth soundscaping. Shit, they might even sound a little like Rodan. Not really sloppy, they play it tight, which works out given that they pack a lot into this one. Kind of eggheaded but with a hamfisted moment or two. Side B is four short and fast sub-two minute tunes that all come out pretty well. Reminds me of the schizo approach on some Sebadoh records where there'd be a Gaffney punker followed by a J-Low rocker and then a Lou weeper- but there's no Lou in this band. Uptempo indie rock with garage-style sloppiness, more sax skronk, I think the first couple songs sort of sound like a beefed-out RFTC (is that what "False Crypt" means?!), "Raw Mind" is all about eerie accordion vibes and they end with the tard-punk of "Burning Ghost" (backing vox are total MX-80 "Why Are We Here?" mumbling too). Well done overall, I liked this one a lot. It made me think about shit and stuff. Dumb punk it is not, although it may play in that sandbox, I also don't think they're overly smarmy or sarcastic about it. Just maybe some smart dudes playing some smart rock. I think there's a Sapat connection of some sort, so I imagine this is Roland Woodbe arrpoved for all you credential checkers. Scum stats: 200 copies only, and again, I really dig the dumb art and the fact they silkscreened the pocket sleeves. It just shows they care. My only beef with this is one, is that I fucking wish people would fucking label the A and B sides instead of just leaving them blank. What the fuck is wrong with people? That shit is just rude.(RK)
Featuring at least one member of the excellent Kentucky psych unit Sapat, Tropical Trash drop the lysergic leanings of said outfit, and instead heap all sorts of sonic praise on a currently overlooked (and unfairly maligned) segment of the underground rock continuum. Perhaps it’s a local bias, but I hear elements of late 80s egghead skull-crushers like Bastro, and Tweez-era Slint, in the alternately heavy and meandering side-long “Baltimore.” The song breaks down into some scurrilous free-rock before the talk-sing vocals lead back into the opening riff.
The B-side is 4 individual songs that blend together, creating the illusion of one long, strange track. “False Crypt” has an almost black-metal faux-symphonic bleakness, while “Pentagram Ring Finger” is more of a straightforward aggro cut, recalling all sorts of early 90s indie/punk outfits (the fantastic and severely undergiveafuckedabout Pitchblende comes to mind). “Raw Mind” sounds like Today is the Day buried under gallons of cough syrup; “Burning Ghost” is the frenetic closer. I’m interested to see where this band goes from here. There’s a certain ambition not quite fully realized, but intriguing possibilities are within arm’s reach.. The cover of this record weirds me out in a good way. It looks like some bored 15 year-old’s approximation of Surrealism. A crude ink-pen take on Dali and Magritte. Only 200 copies.(EEK)
(Sophomore Lounge // sophomoreloungerecords.com)
TV Ghost "Phantasm" 7"
To recap: TV Ghost released one of the best debut singles of recent vintage with the "Atomic Rain" 7" on Die Stasi (a label I miss greatly) back in '07, then floundered a bit with their first LP and 'Cold Fish', where I thought Tim Ghost was sort of trying to find his niche, then exploded last year with a new line-up, the spectacular 'Mass Dream' LP and a couple of mind-bending live shows I caught where I felt the guy had his band and ideas exactly where he wanted them to be. The A-side here continues in the scary synth explorations and gurgling low end drive of the LP, with him throwing guitar at all the angles and delivering the vox from another dimension. They do rely on the horror film score vibe here (it's called "Phantasm" after all), with the repeated synth line creating the tension and slipping some echoed effects and screams underneath the instrumentation, but it works. "Panic Area" on the flip slows it down for a swirling and sinister crawl with some oscillating undertows and plenty of echo bouncing around the cavern they're recording in. The A-Side works real well and compliments the work on the LP, the B-Side holds its ground and they really nailed the recording on this one. The band has a tall order to fill with their next LP, and I think they're up to the challenge. Can't wait. Scum stats: 500 copies on black with classic Sweet Rot textured sleeves. In other news, I just noticed Jeff has a nifty little label website now, looks good and beats the ol' Myspace page!(RK)
(Sweet Rot // www.sweetrotrecords.com)
Tumor Warlord "Bio-Machine" 7"
Heavy Danish sci-fi synth-punk with members of Cola Freaks, Kvaern, someone from Spider Babies (Euro tour line-up perhaps?) and internet messageboard personality Dr. Humpp on vox. "Bio-Machine" has an industrial strength buzzsaw riff and a thick synth sound and is the hit here. Quite aggro, and making sense on the Jeth-Row roster in light of the recent Gary Wrong sounds emanating from down South. No New Wave pussyfooting or dancefloor Goth moves, more of a nasty Screamers influence with accented English vox bullying you around. "Tumor Warlord" is a fitting theme song for a band that sounds like a bunch of Terminators (800 Series). Flip side holds "End of Time", an apocalyptic grinder that gets the mandatory synth-punk Lost Sounds reference, with all the garage taken out, and just the true Black Wave oppression. For people who think bands like The Vicious were just a bunch of poseurs. Scum stats: I'm gonna guess 300 pressed, and a special edition (50 copies) with painted covers.(RK)
(Jeth Row Records // jethrowrecords.blogspot.com)
Ultrathin "Glass City" 7"
I missed this one from a few months back (which I guess is actually about right for my publishing timeframe anyway, har har), and I have to say this one really exceeded my expectations, as I was expecting a noise band or some electronic sizzle based on the label for some reason, but I should have known better after realizing who is involved. Maybe I was just letting my dislike of Les Habs Hockey Club imprint itself on the band unjustly. "Glass City" is an amphetamine punker that does sound a bit like a trebly CPC Ganbangs tune (and it was recorded by Choyce after all), pretty sharp guitar and the bass really pulls you in while the cymbals crash your party. Frantic solo shred is a plus. The B-Side ("Don't Mess") is a real powermove, a heaping slab of Canadian thud that just lumbers straight ahead on a heavy duty bass/drum thump with the guitar player bleeding and shredding strings all over it. Like a great Mayyors song with a dozen less guitar pedals. Menacing and perhaps slightly rabid vocal performance. I suggest grabbing this one, it's the best release Badmaster has done so far.(RK)
(Badmaster Records // badmasterrecords.bigcartel.com)
Unnatural Helpers s/t LP
Their debut CD-only release (originally on Dirty Knobby), finally gets a long overdue and oversized makeover. You know…on the other flat round plastic. Seattle has had more than their fair share of stellar/popular bands over the past few decades. And the Helpers, at one point or another, have contained members from ALL OF THEM. More line-up changes than the Intelligence, I tell ya. The only constant being Dean Whitmore. The ringleader. The songwriter. The drummer/singer. Like that dude from Night Ranger. Somehow Dean has wrung out of his ADD riddled wet-lobes more catchy tracks than one would think imaginable. Seemingly hundreds since his first foray into 4-track. But catchy don’t mean just simple or clean. There’s a history of Pacific NW grime, grit and a snarling wry wit caked under his fingernails. Just because his calloused hands bleat out garage perfection doesn’t mean something clattery, weird or dark isn’t gonna’ be around the bend. Angular knee-jerk rock, Fuzz-muffed and Muddled-ga-runge, overcast punkish gloom, heavy stoner chug, Sonics soulful belting, Redd Kross speed and sugar crunched pop. The whole fawking caboodle is on the table. And this carry-on contains HITS. Someday hopefully this eclectic Helpers catalog will be remembered and/or regarded as important as the works of elder-punks Rob Vasquez, Kurt Bloch or even Fred Cole. If we know what’s best. This is the type of music-stuff that rings loudly in HATE’s Buddy Bradley’s flannel-wrapped brain, if that old dweeb even listens to R&R anymore. And now – almost 10 years since the Helpers initial “forming” – it seems like the world (or at least Northern California) is about to catch on.
The stars were aligned just right for the first and possibly last time: A band both S-S Records & 1234Go! agree upon. Figure that one out. 500 pressed with 100 on mystery stew colored vinyl. Speaking of which, the fugly cover art might be a deterrent. Don’t let it. I’d imagine that this is what's left floating around inside Oscar the Grouch's garbage can after a hard rain. Puke-nasty, but gravy GOOD. (RSF)
(1234Go! Records // www.1234gorecords.com)
Unreleasables “The Crewe Boys” 7”
Newer UK band throwin’ around a Seventies infused trashcan punk, complete with sloppified bark-a-longs and not quite right Ramones soloing that’d fit in just fine with the better half of the Rip Off Records heap. Obnoxiously voxed gal-pal gang choruses and songs taking jabs at the East Bay, circa: Lookout Records mattering. Queers are mentioned in press materials and lyrical content, and I’ll go with that. Though it sounds more like Teengenerate channeling their Wimpy-era and dumbing it down to a Lowery approved approach. Fuck, that’s some bad sentence structure. Oh well. It’s punk. Bat Shit goes batshit as usual with the alternate editions: 100 pressed on B&W marble wrapped in a transparent sleeve. 200 regular, boring-ass normal ones for the jerks. Comes with a lyric sheet so not to bunch any panties over at MRR. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.bigcartel.com)
Useless Eaters "The Moves" EP
Useless Eaters have been growing on me since that double shot of long-players I gave a healthy chance to on TTT last year. I know I've been pegging him as Reatard-lite, the inferior Nashville version of the Memphis Treat, but this'll be the last time I mention it, even though there are still some undeniable similarities, intentional or not. Shut up already, I know. "American Cars" is a traditional punk theme that succeeds with a deadbeat rhythm and angular guitar work that he runs out of gas and "The Moves" is another stabby little hit with some snappy guitar leads and a big time hook. Both of these tunes have some similarly Devo-lved inspiration which has been the make-up of his best tunes to date. "Proper Conduct" has a great lead-in with a real choppy guitar jag that he twists into a nosediving punker, and "Plague Is Vague" ends with a concise punk-pop snap, the type of which some other kid from Tennessee used to write in his sleep. Demo quality recording style, which is expected at this point, and I'd say three out of four of these tunes hit some spots. More of the same, but the same seems to be getting better, even if it's not all that original. Scum stats: 400 black (website says white, but this record is black as far as I can tell), 100 red, this guys design aesthetic is growing on me. Even if every record looks exactly the same, you can immediately tell they're his and this one at least features boobs, Hitler and Rocky Dennis.(RK)
(Jolly Dream Records // jollydreamrecords.blogspot.com)
Utah Jazz s/t 7”
Buffalo’s Utah Jazz features Brown Sugar guitarist Brandon, but, except for a refusal to be bogged down by genre conventions, the two bands don’t have much in common.
The Jazz manage to cram this 45 with all sorts of ideas and energy. Opening up with a frantic instrumental, they charge full steam ahead into the flute-led (yes you read that right) good time rock n’ roll of “Florida.” Between these guys n’ gals and The Oh Sees there seems to be a friggin’ flute riot goin’ on. Where’s Rahsaan Roland Kirk when you need him? The B-side has 3 ragers that sound like a Rust Belt Huggy Bear. Righteous mixed-gender fury, with some cool guitar touches (no bass in this power trio). It would be interesting to hear an LP’s worth of sting by these lad n’ ladies.(EEK)
(Media Schlitz // mediaschlitz-at-gmail.com)
Uzi Rash “I Was 30 In 2012” LP
Uzi Rash “Whyte Rash Time” LP
Max Nordile – the Joe Cocker of chipped tooth punk - has bestowed upon us his umpteenth-millionth platter(s) full of line-up changes and phreak form jams. I swear to Christ this band must down a case of Tab, gnaw thru a bag of Red Vines and then proceed to blow out an LP every couple weeks. Not one, but two full lengths this time around. Their thirty or so odd fans rejoice. I’m in that gaggle of believers somewhere (number twenty-three, methinks) and though the Termbro review committee has never been too kind to the Rash, the times may be a’ changing. They’ve stripped clean most of the folksier-communal vibes, barrel plinks and lo-fi beardo meanderings. Gone is the wonder of will a song ever start or in some cases, will it ever end. Stuff is still stewed, only now it’s been whittled down to a powerful creak & roll.
'I was 30 in 2012' (Volar Records) is what I’d imagine you’d get if Stanley J. Bingham and Co. actually gave two shits about what the review goons had to say around these parts. Reminded far too many times to cut the blubber off and just get to the goods. Think a “best-of” type deal made from all those CDr’s littering Richie’s refuse bin. Only it’s not; this here is made up of brand new (now old) tunes. Synthesizer workouts that carry along through slap-pappy dirt-cakes of NW styled angular rock. The kind that owes all or nothing to The Fall and the Teasers. I honestly can’t tell. But instead of rehashing the rehash, it goes about scraping the taste buds off an art-punks puffy pink tongue with a plaque riddled microphone, leaving little fleshy bits behind. And when these little niblets are amplified, they sound like a sock drawer full of Sweet Rot 45’s playing at the wrong speed. The Cryptic Corporation would be damn proud. They screech and yelp and flop all about, honking like a jazz seizure in an animation fuck flick factory. It repels and leads to chafing, yet I need to come back for more. Caroliner Rainbow fits into the equation somehow as well, yet no one seems to have mentioned this in the past. Fools. Armed with quarts of blood…and a pocket full of kazoos.
'Whyte Rash Time' (Dead Beat) is a monster. One I didn’t expect. One most of you wouldn’t believe. It comes on like the aural equivalent of guzzling fermented prison piss juice. A Street Trash Viper wine made of rotten fruit, soggy mold-loaves and possibly some phlegm and sperm flakes thrown in for good measure. The vinegary fumes lift off the turntable and whaff past yr lobes, leaving traces of The Magic Bands’ bastardized blues, The Monks scrape and strum and a penchant for polarizing Dave Thomas vocals ala Looney Tunes. An asylum full of blues. Stripped down, thick bottomed and short of most tomfoolery. Abrasive and repetitive like most of you know you want it. Go ahead and pick at the scab. What’s left to ooze flows quite heavy and will stain in day-glo. Deranged and truly hitting the mark after all these years. Sorry I shit-panned the Unnatural Helpers cover art. Oh well. Spank me later, Mister Green Jeans. (RSF)
(Volar Records // www.volarrecords.blogspot.com)
(Dead Beat Records // www.dead-beat-records.com)
Vaccuum “II” 7”
A collection of great Bay musicians making some raging additions to the New Wave of Hardcore Vocal Delay. The whole record is dominated by the bass tone, which is my favorite so far this year. Just fat enough. Some slight Aburadako vibes mesh well with the heavy pummeling they lean back on… Sounds like dispatches from a jet engine. “Taken Alive” is the most deranged and my pick of the bunch. A record that may get lost in the shuffle of rawness as of late but shouldn’t - it’s unique record, driving itself far away from blandness… These are scholars and gentlemen pulling it off as good as anyone.(NG)
(Irukandji Records // www.irukandjirecords.com)
Vaginors “Nuclear Papsmear” LP
Legend has it, back in the mid to late Eighties, Doc Dart left his shuttered Michigan abode to the local wildlife, swam to Japan and recorded with an extremely noisy ass hardcore unit. Probably one with Dis- prefixing their name. The tapes from that sesh went MIA not long after. Dart went back home to his day by day, fed some deer and continued to rattle his local government some more. Luckily (for us, at least) that big Tohoku earthquake shook loose those long thought lost reels of soggy tape from the island's underbelly. After a year or so of floating in debris, they managed to wash up along the Australian shore last fall…No, this didn’t really happen. But a man can dream, can’t he?
As “the scene” (whatever that is) sadly laments losing the Bloodclot Faggots far too soon, their remnants have been scooped up, clumped together and reshaped into this potty-mouthed outfit. The vocals are definitely under the Crucifucks-ian influence…but if yer a strong man, you can take it. This is the direction I hoped The Sleaze would move in but didn’t. “Smokin’ Fuckin’ Cigs” sped to the tenth degree. Agitated, frantic and spat out hardcore punk that’s reckless and not giving a damn about your social or political views. Flinging more unapologetic turds than a whole Horriblefest combined. The bass gallops along with a militant D-beat in tow (and that D stands for Dumb) as the guitar tries its best to impersonate a WetVac sucking up thumbtacks. This painful fun doesn’t let up for the duration of LP…maybe a whole fifteen minutes. A furiously funny yet hostile heap for those who want more Crazy Spirit in their lives or can’t afford the Italian CCM singles. Hot fuckin’ shit…and shockingly cheap for an import (I got mine through Havoc). (RSF)
(No Patience Records // www.nopatience.org)
V/A "Bring Beer" LP
Gerard Cosloy does the right thing and puts out a Record Store Day release whose profits go entirely to Trailer Space, the Austin record store owned and operated by a guy so legendary he is still known simply as Spot. Cosloy's liners say what needs to be said, in a nutshell = make every day Record Store Day for your local establishments. You should listen to the guy, he knows a few things. I'm going to do a lazy compilation review of this one. Cruddy = martial beat post-punk, they don't offend me any. Nazi Gold = great name for a band fronted by Quentin Tarantino, too bad they play awful plodding indie-rock. Rhett and Dean = two guys from some other forgettable bands strike out on their own and jam out in a forgettable way. Carolee = wistful female fronted Pitchfork fodder. James Arthur's Manhunt = first really good band/song here, his LP is already a lost gem somehow, people suck. Sounds like if The Scientist were a Texas peyote eater with an echobox instead of a Jamaican ganja fiend with an echobox. Great dude, I hope he makes another long player someday and it sounds just like this. Naw Dude = these guys are hilarious, and after a few duff appearances of late, "Ghost Boner" delivers the aggro again. Marriage = bleep bloop techno-indie hybrid that sounds like it should be exported to Europe for play in discotheques. I think they still have those there. Followed By Static = atmospheric jammers with an almost classic rock vibe, I didn't mind this one. FLIP. Golden Boys = a band of diminishing returns if there ever was one. Adult hillbilly music for NPR listeners. Chris Brokaw = the dude from Codeine plays some quiet singer/songwriter thing. He once played drums for GG and was in Come. Might have banged Liz Phair. Still not as cool as Thurston Moore. Philip Sambol = solo outing from one of the Strange Boys, which is somehow more awful than the Strange Boys, who are really awful. Flesh Lights = poor choice of band name fits the music just fine. G.Green = this kid keeps getting better, this one sounds a little Tyvek-y. The poor man's Daniel Dimaggio. Naw Dude = back again, this one is straight metal and not that great. Air Traffic Controllers = holy shit, Gerard Cosloy on guitar, and he's pretty good! Just him and a drummer slugging it out. Pretty neat. I also recently heard a rumor Gerard is a big New Jack fan, which I hope is true. Going back over this rundown, you should buy this to support Spot and a record store you might never go to and just take a loss on the tunes. Or just get it for the James Arthur cut.(RK)
(12XU // 12XU.net)
V/A Burning Hell Vol. III 4x7" box
This is actually the first Burning Hell box I've managed to get. The Vol. 1 line-up was pretty sick (and I at least managed to get the Homostupids 7" from it - which is their dumbest record - and I'll take any stray copies of the Brainbombs single out there) and was bummed I didn't get one at the time, the Vol.2 line-up wasn't hot enough to get me worried, but Vol.3 looks pretty decent on first sight: singles from Local Oafs, Mr. California, The Dements (?) and fucking Longhalsmottagningen (thank god for cut and paste). Starting with the Oafs, I've been treated to their mongo punk before. Pretty dumb stuff, like the Swedish Spits almost, but at least they do some rasslin' themed shit sometimes - including "Jake the Snake" on their 7" in this pack, which is the best of their three tunes. One-sided with a They Call Me One Eye acetate cover. Longhalsmottagningen single is double-sided and comes with a hand-doodled photo, and it's a five song ripper of their treble-thin razor punk. Pretty damn good, thank god it comes with a lyric sheet. The Dements are the one band I'd never heard before, and it could have stayed that way. Totally bogus acoustic "punk" folk bullshit. Fucking hippies. Lame. On to the always reliable Mr. California (whose single gets the sloppy woodcut print, which actually looks kinda cool), here paired with Joe Jizzum (aka Joe from Shoot It Up I'm guessing), and it's legitimately one of the best Mr. C records. "I Want Tacos" is fucking awesome shit-fi punk rock. Total genius. One song is more hilarious than the next. "Blind Date in Huntington" is creepy in the traditional Mr. C way. "Beach Valley Scum" is sarcasm at it's finest, dude. "OC Desperation" ends with a downer. Canned drums, hot licks from Joe, what more can you ask for. Some of Terry California's best lyrics as well. I often wonder if he misses California now that he's in Cleve-o, and maybe this seemingly West Coast themed single is his tribute to the land of his name. Anyway, this thing fucking kills. I'd say you get two quality singles out of the four in this box, I'm gonna seal this pup back up but keep the Mr. C and Longstabalalahhhahahal singles in the heavy rotation pile. Scum stats: limited to 100 copies as per past volumes, with various rubber stamps and other homemade touches in a Euro-style 7" mailer box. I dig the concept for sure, even if the guy picks a few duff bands once in a while. I wonder if there's a Vol. IV in the works?(RK)
(Burning Hell Records // burninghellrecords-at-hotmail.com)
V/A Cured Pink/Penguins split 7”
I can’t tell who’s who from the non-descript sleeve, but anything that comes wrapped in images of a guys flailing metal chains at their gear or power drilling a hogs head will always get my attention. The Cured Pink side starts things off with a simple bass pulse and some menacing metal scraping. Evil wind chimes clatter about as a storm sets in during thunderous booms and a reverbed voice. Ever building and dreary non-music. Since I’ve been stuck on this Black Humor kick, it appeals to me…though it’s missing said bands’ “musicality”. A nice starter salad, shoved down the throat with a rusty fork. Then comes Penguins. Cute name = ugly sound. Actually, it kinda rocks. Think of those No Wave darlings of the past and good time/bad vibe shit like Pop. 1280 today...this fits in between, violently. Industrial meat and potato attacks from the Caspar Brotzmann school of shard making. Someone screams. A piano is plinked. Trombone is bleated. Brutal. Good shit. From Australia? Go figure. 300 Pressed on White vinyl. (RSF)
(Vacant Valley // www.vacantvalley.blogspot.com)
V/A Dead Wife/Hunters split 7"
Hunters are Brooklynites who on one track remind me of Florida's Neon Blud and their post-punk Sonic Youth-isms. That guitar part is really catchy and the chick singer sounds pretty tough. Aggro enough to get them kicked out of loft parties I bet. Their second track goes all garage-poop though, with a run-of-the-mill verse but the chorus dips into dark water a little bit...not sure, it's like 50/50 split - not exactly Vivian Girls-esque but maybe dreamy enough to get on Captured Tracks. Maybe. They might be a little too noisy. I've already said too much about a band from Brooklyn though. On to the Dead Wife side, who play three tracks of basement punk fronted by a girl who sounds like Darby Crash. Band sounds pretty damn trashy in a good way, great shitty guitar tone and the drums sound like crap. So, yes, I enjoy the recording. Not the cleverest of songwriters, but it's certainly fucking punk as fuck, which I can support. I think I just read that The Hunters side was recorded by James Iha? Fuck man. Dead Wife should be pissed about that.(RK)
(Swill Children // swillchildren.org)
V/A Glom Da!/Makabert Fynd split LP
A split LP of two Swedish bands giving the listener a heavy dose of d-beat crust punk. Glom Da! tends to lean more towards the Skitsystem or Tragedy side of things, even Diskonto comes to mind at times. They have a slightly heavier sound with more of a darker metal feel, some killer guitar leads, and solid recording production. I enjoyed reading their song explanations inside the gatefold jacket “Think again before you max out the credit card or you will end up in a bad moshpit of life” words to live by! Makabert Fynd brings it home with a more straight forward Swedish punk sound. Fans of Totalitar and Avskum may wish to take note. Although they do a good job of pummeling their way through seven songs in about 10 minutes, I wouldn’t say they are quite as good as any of the before mentioned bands, however they tend to shine best during the more mid tempo tracks like “Forvaltarskapsprincipen” and “Ett kok stryk”. The Totalitar reference rings a little truer once you realize that former Totalitar member Poffen is one of the dual vocalists. Over all solid split 12” and a good reference of current Swedish hardcore. Gatefold cover and digital download code. (MO)
(Sorry State // www.sorrystaterecords.com)
V/A Libyans/God Equals Genocide split 7"
A split 7” pairing up two bands from opposite sides of the US. The God Equals Genocide tracks are on the more garage pop side of things but with a really blown out sound. Catchy simple songs with ear rattling vocals that can be slightly off key at times yet still endearing. Libyans provide three tracks of straight forward punk rock with tasteful guitar playing, urgent vocals, and rapid fire song writing. Essentially what you’ve come to except from Libyans. Both bands have several releases out so if you are unfamiliar with either band this is a good place to start. (ML)
(Shock to the System Records/Dirt Cult Records // )
V/A Meat Mist/White Slave split 7”
My cassette column champions of 2011 roll forth with their vinyl debut. This here is a Kansas City combo platter of semi-related acts. Whether by scene or blood, it still remains uncertain. “What’s That Thing You Do?” has the Mist-men crapping all over their collective pant leg in an attempt to concoct a pop song. Catchy like a typhoid fever, buried in cymbal crashes that sound like broken alarm clocks and buzzsaw/banshee wailing guitars that are on loan from the Battleship or Arab On Radar school of strangulation. These “warm-vibes” end soon enough as the heavy scum-thump cuts to the bone during “Alcatraz”. It’s like a mid-era Unsane demo that’s been ground into dirt, until the final notes soar like a loosened rotary mower blade at gaggle of unsuspecting kindergarteners. Messy. “<3” (Hearts?) is what Melvins should sound like. More Man Is the Bastard than Kiss' 'Destroyer'. No purpose, just a hate dwelling, seething pile of flesh. Simmer in a sauce pan ‘til a golden brown. White Slave is a sputter, halt and slam back to action shit-punk that’s held together by a single exposed nerve. Barfed up metal head vocals and blackened (or at least charcoal gray) riffage. Dangling guitars that make slurred and sloppy breakdowns bordering between proficiency and ineptitude. Their timing chain’s busted and the gears are getting rusty; still it marches on. You want song titles? Fuck you. It pools together on the concrete in a muddle of bile and lung-chunks. You can sift thru the wet rubbish yourself. In review, White Slave falls into place somewhere between the street punk wrestle-wrock of the newer Bloody Hammer platters, the hardcore thrashings of Napalm Death gone Venom and maybe the craptastic damage of E.Eels trying their hand at grind. When it’s all said and done, Meat Mist pulls into the lead, but White Slave makes it definitely worth flipping the bitch. (RSF)
(XO Press // www.xopress.bandcamp.com)
V/A Naw Dude/Fleshlights split 7"
As much as I love Naw Dude, there's really no reason for another "Bummer Bitch" cover to exist, even if they slug it down and turn it into a slow jam. Not a great idea. Their other two songs on this are thankfully brief. One is a shitty metal song/joke ("Autistic Viking") and the other is shitpunk ("Cutting Up Men"). Not their best work, but this is really the only time they've let me down. And as much as Naw Dude's "Bummer Bitch" cover was a genuine bummer, Fleshlights version has even less reason to exist. Pretty straight, with a girl singing being what I imagine made someone think it was a good idea. "Waves" is their original cut, and it's decent lightweight pop with maybe a Cheap Trick kinda thing happening. Naw Dude's artwork choice is the most inspired thing here. File under: split singles you don't need to own.(RK)
(12XU // www.12xu.net)
V/A Ty Segall/Feeling of Love split 7"
One of the only good reasons to release a split single is in the instance when the two bands tour together and have this release to sell as merch to commemorate said tour. It helps when it's two bands that wouldn't normally get together (like a kid from Cali and some French weirdos) and it also helps when both tracks are exclusive to the release. It's one of the few occasions where I can see myself actually buying a split 7", as a memento of actually being at the show, and it would probably make me reach for my wallet a little bit quicker if these singles were available only on the tour directly from the bands. Just giving you my two cents on the pros and cons of the split release yet again. As if you care. It really just comes down to quality, right? Well, let's see...Young Ty has had his ups and downs, and I was glad to see him cool his jets at least a little bit last year and only release like six records or so, but I think he's done more good than bad in the long run. I had mixed feelings about 'Goodbye Bread' - I like the more Sic Alps-ish sounds on it, and while I don't think some of the material was all that strong, it was the album he needed to make at this juncture in his career where he's broken the ceiling of say the Goner/Hozac leagues and getting reviewed in Termbo (and selling 2-3000 copies of LPs) and graduated to the Drag City/Matador/Pitchfork level of success, which is where he should be (and selling around 5,000 copies, I would hope). He's got the hooks and looks to make it pretty far, and this is the record that should be his foot in the door to the next stage (major label/Rolling Stone I guess...and five digit sales figures...) if he's gonna get there. So, that means it can't be challenging or anything, just a real fun crowd pleaser of a record, if you know what I mean. He did the job on that one, got some more ears turned in his direction, in anticipation of his next record. His song on this is "It's A Problem", and it's a lazy West Coast psych-garage a la Sic Alps again, or a less bombastic Oh Sees with a decent hook and some guitar pedalling. It ain't bad, I'll say that much. Feeling of Love are coming off the best record of their career (2011's 'Dissolve Me'), and they'll never be as big as Ty Segall, but are just as talented and a lot more exciting to me in 2012. "I Could Be Better Than You But I Don't Wanna Change" is the tune (and that's a great lyric as well), and it follows suit with the best LP cuts, a droning VU-inflected pop cut with Reed-y synth lines establishing a base line rhythm for percussion and fuzz guitar to ride with. They build up to a triumphant cymbal-crashing finale and the lyrics and singing, as always, are minimal and tasteful. Makes me wish I had seen this latest "version" of the band live. I would've bought this split had I been at a show, and not for the Ty Segall side. Scum stats: 200 copies on yellow, which were supposed to be the tour only versions, and a bunch more on black for completists and mailorder junkies. The FOL side artwork is also far superior, I'd like to think it's a send-up of the current West Coast retro-pop-art style (which I actually enjoy in moderation), but in reality it's just more of G obsessing over the 90's.(RK)
(Permanent Records // www.permanentrecordschicago.com)
V/A Shit N Shine/Expensive shit split 7”
The SNS side squiggles about in a bit of electronic meandering for a while, making me wonder what has happened to the hyper-blown Butthole throne heirs of yore. Then kapow! They hit you with possibly the most rhythmic Whitehouse track you’ve done ever heard. Or maybe it’s a mid-period Sightings? Either way. Some vocals show up in the mess, but I can’t tell if it’s in the grooves on purpose or if my neighbor upstairs is bumpin’ Anita Baker again. Color me confuzzled. But happy. The Expensive Shits drop what I feared to be ragga-related, but this ain’t any normal dub, bub. This falls somewhere between the unreleased film score of Last House on Dead End Street and the backing tracks on that Death Grips rap-squalor. Choice. And I don’t even like weed. Not for faint of heart. At all. (RSF)
(Monofonus Press // www.monofonuspress.com)
VOM "Live at Surf City" EP
Guess who loves this record? This guy right here! Shit, any punk rocker worth his leather jacket should have a raging hard-on for this EP, one of the true bona-fide classics of American punk rock. I shouldn't need to tell you the Vom story. Gregg Turner will do that (and more) on the all new and all incredible liner notes printed up on the glossy and worth-the-price-of-admission big ass insert included on this, the first "official" reissue of this legendary slab (the officiality of the Kryptonite Records reissue is apparently hazy at best - you should still hang onto your copy though, if just for the sheer ridiculousness of the "artwork"). The only commentary I can provide is that this record is one of the first few bricks in the foundation of punk rock American style, the band that begat our beloved Angry Samoans, who at their best epitomize everything that is great about American punk. Funny, stupid, sloppy, offensive...these guys have all the qualities desired in a punk record, and they did it a loooong time ago. One really bad idea (and Meltzer's best idea ever) hatched in 1978 that is still germinating to this day. "I'm In Love With Your Mom". Period. THIS RECORD IS UNIMPEACHABLE. Remastered from the original tapes, and sounding fresher than ever, with two sleeve variants: the classic B&W art and a new color version done by the original artist Ronn Spencer.(RK)
(Rerun Records // www.rerunrecordsstl.com)
Wax Museums "Eye Times" LP
A few years ago you couldn't leave the house without getting hit by a new Wax Museums 7" (most of which were comped on LP semi-recently by Tic Tac Totally), which wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but after a half-dozen or so you started looking for kicks elsewhere. And the guys in this band surely gave you other avenues to get your Denton punk rock fix if you tired of the Wax Museums - The Wrists, Video, Wiccans, Bad Sports, Silver Shampoo and a half-dozen other outfits. And you ended up needing those other outlets, as the Wax Museums just up and disappeared after their debut LP on Douchemaster over three years ago. I think some member's change in geography made the hiatus necessary and they certainly kept themselves busy in the interim. Maybe they (and we) needed the break anyway. So, somewhere along the past couple years they got back together to record this second LP, which shows they haven't lost any of the spastic energy or bizarre song concepts that endeared them to us in the first place. The stop-n-go rhythms and pacing may have even got a little tighter and Paul Museum's delivery seems a bit more refined, with the band removing some of the slop-punk edge and replacing it with a more mannered and formulaic approach. It's a formula that works well enough (and there's nothing wrong with it - The Spits have been doing something similar for a decade now), and it's the goofy song/lyric concepts that add something special - "Quicksand", "Between", "Breakfast for Dinner", "Mosquito Enormo" (my favortie cut, a redo of an older tune) have good gimmicks/quirks, and they even pull off Spits-ian tricks like borrowing wholesale from other tunes and turning them into their own on "Midlife Crisis". If you rode with the first Museums wave, you're getting exactly what you expect, just tighter and shinier perhaps. A few moments might flirt with pop-punk territory, but these guys are still light years better than bands like Mean Jeans. At this point, I think most of these fellas went on to even better bands (Video and Wiccans in particular) that I'd rather listen to now, but it was fun to hear this band again, and I recall fondly the days of "Claw You Like A Cat" and "Traffic Violation" and singles with Mike Sniper artwork. Fuck, I remember hearing The Wrists "Livin in the Eyeball" for the first time and obsessing over their CDRs. Great group of kids here who have delivered some great music over the past half-dozen years. 'Eye Times' has a good handful of entertaining tunes, and I think it's a good LP for kids just getting into this scene or wondering where to go next after having their minds bent by The Spits.(RK)
(Trouble in Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Weird Party “Honey Slides” 7”
More Texans. A busy state these days. Ex-Fatal Flying Guillotines and Sugar Shack (no shit). “Honey Slides” wins for its repetitive tub-thumping and a rhythm reminiscent of Pussy Galore (or is it Honeymoon Killers “Crazy Daisy”?) but with a more arty poptone driving over it. Pretty much a one riff wonder, but I’m enjoying that riff. A fast and jagged banger that’s over before I could really grasp on to it. There’s a bit squirrelliness towards the end too. “Sarah Palin” is more of a jangle pop number with sing-song backups in the chorus. Coathangers for men/by men? Dark and space-y with a thick low end. It keeps me entertained. What’s next? I’m interested. Clever Iggy cover joke…kinda’ looks like Larry Hardy if you’ve been drinking heavily. (RSF)
(Sex & Death // www.sexanddeath.bigcartel.com)
Weird Party “The Secret Lives of Men” 7”
Hard charging band of vets from Houston cranking out the action rock. Ex-Sugar Shack/Fatal Flying Guillontines/Black Congress dudes here with a four track EP that reminds me of a Sims-less Didjits (or Gaza Strippers if you prefer) with some modernized weird(ish) punk angles often becoming the W in the raWk. The come out of the blocks sounding dangerous, all wah-guitar and drumsmash and turn "Euphoria Morgue" into a decently grungey number that recalls The Catheters (a band that has some really great moments hidden in their catalog if you care to look) dark rock moves. Next tune slows down a bit for a standard southern-garage chugger. Bummer. B-Side again starts off swinging via the bass-driven "Hpow The Breast Stung" and then up the grunge ante a bit more with "Birth Spasms", that samples some maniacal laughter to good effect and has a hammering riff and the best guitarshred of the EP. First and last tunes are keepers, bookending a couple of lesser efforts. For rockers only, I dig their direct approach but feel like something's missing in the tunes themselves.(RK)
(Twistworthy Records // www.twistworthy.com)
Whatever Brains s/t LP
I remember crapping all over the 7” I got from these Carolinians last spring, so I might not be the guy to sit thru this. The beginning got me thinking twice. The first couple tracks (“The Fisher” especially) have a moody TV Ghost thang going on, and even though I’m somewhat burnt the fuck out on angular rock, it ain’t so bad. Then…THEN…the voice gets really grating, the mechanical drums bleat and the guitars hint on an Intelligence turf…but it’s ground I don’t wanna’ be standing on. “Gross Urge/Your Melting” are a two-fer punch that loses me. “Blues Lawyer” fares better…back to the moody vibes. “Chivalry in the Dope Den” is at least really, honestly weird. Guitar, vocals and warble-y goodness that drive home a seasick beauty of an ender that makes me almost forgive their prior sins. They wrap up the side with the upbeat “Future of Porn” that rollicks in the land of the aggressor E-Bunz tracks…if Jello was singing for them. I usually like awkward vocals, but this is chafing my inner ear. When it’s good it’s really good. Really. But there’s a few points in-between where I feel I’m playing a Built to Spill or Modest Mouse record at the wrong speed (“Whatever Helps You Sleep”, “Graham Simpson”, etc)…and I left Seattle, people. For a reason. There’s another seven or so songs, but I’m not gonna’ make it. It’s starting to reek of too much indie cuteness and there’s no shaking it. Whether or not I like it won’t matter…everyone else seems to eat it up and yr more of a follower. I’ll give big props to Sorry State for branching out into oddball shit like this, plus the packaging is real sweet (booklet/gatefold/obi strip). Hell, there’s at least an EPs worth on here that would have left me impressed. It’s just too much filler and cleverness for me to take in one sitting. So buy it if yr gonna. Don’t listen to me. You’ve already stopped reading by now. Oh, fuck it. (RSF)
(Sorry State Records // www.sorrystaterecords.com)
White Faces s/t LP
White Faces are yet another garage-pop band from the wilds of Wisconsin, with a Midwest Beater in the fold and led by none other than The Bushmeister himself. A dozen tracks over two sides, Milk'n'Cookies cover, stock moves and boilerplate songs. There are some justified hooks, a definite pop-punk influence and a lack of anything really memorable, aside from the vox, which are quite grating. Sounds like the makings of a decent bar band at best. It's as if the WI scene went right from haunting the Screeching Weasel message board to this record, and any memory of Catholic Boys, Kill-A-Watts, Sagger and everything else in-between is non-existent to anyone not in Drugs Dragons. As boring as the black and white artwork, recording quality has zero charisma, it sounds like the color gray. Scum stats: first 300 copies come with a bonus single, which could me more of a penalty single if you know what I'm sayin'....(RK)
(Windian Records // www.windianrecords.com)
White Load "Pig Eyes" 7"
How the fuck does Mr. Kenrock release a Poppets record, then drop an absolute shitstomping monster of brimming-with-hate fuckrock like this on us? This is hands-down my favorite record of just about any size thus far in 2012. Two songs, one side, absolute destruction. "Pig Eyes" has one of the most blazingly paint-peeling guitar sounds and riffs which builds to a speaker smoking crescendo, takes pause for a minute, then blazes back in with a finale that will knock whatever teeth you have left out. A fucking burner, with vox that are almost as hoarse as the guitar sounds. How do you follow that fucker? You cover "Little Black Pig" off the Black Traitor cassette (which you should fucking press on vinyl Ian, I don't care what you think), a band that I believe was just White Load with even more of (or less of?) a couldn't-give-a-fuck attitude. All balls, shitty fucking sounding balls, fuck, it's so beautiful. Brainbombs-eque in it's simplicity of riff worship. I wish this song was a half-hour long. LITTLE BLACK PIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG. YOU'RE PATHETIC. That's all. The real fucking goods right here. Buy multiples. Scum stats: 250 copies only, clear and black vinyl variants. What, no white? That's pretty racist. (RK)
(Kenrock Records // )
White Murder "Safety In Numbers" 7"
A SoCal "supergroup", made up of people from some bands I've either never heard of or never cared for, aside from Neon King Kong and Red Onions (whose first single is actually really killer). The hook here is they have two female singers, going for the ultra-grrl punk attack, and the songs come off sounding very SoCal if nothing else - sort of beach punky with some moody New Wave style. The only thing missing is a horn section. A-Side has a bit of soul-crooning by the ladies and has some darker post-punk moves, and the B-Side ("Real Tough Chicks"!) goes for ahhhh...a tougher sound, with the gals belting out aggro declarations about kissing your boyfriend and shit. They achieve what they went for on this one, I'm just not that interested in it. It's a shame Kapow Records isn't still around to release this. Razorcake punk. The funny thing is I saw this record and thought it was a Jimmy Hollywood band for a second, then I realized I was just getting White Savage and AV Murder stuck together in my mind. Football!?(RK)
(self-released // whitemurder-at-gmail.com)
Whores "Mob Reality" 7"
The most brutal Australian record I've heard in quite some time, right up there with Low Life. Brendan NGL used to always mention Whores as being one of the better bands from Sydney when I would hound him for "scene reports" and I was excited to hear them on vinyl for the first time. My intial thinking was "Mob Reality" sounds like a Scratch Acid record played at half speed, but you could just as easily mention Kilslug and/or Upsidedown Cross and arrive at the same result. Extremely savage 1-2 bodyshot punding with raw meat vox and demonic presence. "U.B.M." picks things up a fraction of a pace for a more Rusted Shut approach, with the added bonus of the sounds of a saxophone being murdered in a back alley accompanying the stormtrooper march. There's a little backing guitar part towards the end for extra nausea. Vox are just some beast from the pit shouting commands at you. Pure evil, I imagine this is harrowing in the live setting. Recommended for sick fucks.(RK)
(RIP Society // ripsocietyrecords.tumblr.com)
Gary Wrong "Pollen Christ" 7"
First wax from the already legendary (in my mind) Gary Wrong Group, a band of weirdos formed from the ashes of Wizzard Sleeve. "Pollen Christ" is backwoods evil incarnate, a menacing couple minutes of dark punk, not quite synth-punk, but the unholy spawn of the that genre and insectoid guitar metal. This new incarnation makes Wizzard Sleeve sound like hippes. Flipside is a cover of perhaps the finest song King Louie ever wrote, "Streets of Iron". "My heart pumps the blood of Satan!" never sounded more true. Really, this is a song that should probably never be covered, but Gary Wrong does it true Mephistophelean justice, turning the aggro-garage of the original into futuristic lo-budget cyborg evil. If this isn't Total Punk, I don't know what is. Perhaps the devil-worshipping nature of this single is what made it's production a total clusterfuck, with various delays, mispresses and general fuck-ups making it doomed from the start. Consider yourself lucky (or cursed?!) if you actually scored a copy. Scum stats: only 178 surviving copies!(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Gary Wrong “Heroin Beach” 7”
After a brief lonesome organist moment a la Doctor Phibes, the Wizzard Sleeve guy spews forth a droning and singular riff called “Heroin Beach”. Imagine if an old Boglin© troll-toy mumbled incoherently over Red Krayola’s “Hurricane Fighter Plane” being mangled by the fella who wrote The Munsters theme. Unweaving some dreams, right here (Ha! I kill me!).There are a couple of turnoffs along this late-night highway drive, adding a bridge and throwing in some squeaky bits towards the end, but mostly it continues along in a hypnotic locked loop for the seven inches it’s allotted. Cerebral damaging and kinda’ hallucinatory. Are there actual lyrics? And you thought The Spits could be dumb. The flip offers more of a jam (“Mayhem Troopers”) that also happens to be Cortex cover. And to the three folks out there that’ve heard Cortex, it’s not far removed from the Gothic/post punk-ish original. Sounds like an early Mute single or a simple but catchy Tubeway Army tune. Livin’ in some wackadoo, weird-oh times. I like it. Will you? Best ingested while locked indoors and away from heavy machinery. Scum stats: sleeve comes in seventy or so variations of a million and one Fangoria clippings. More vinyl color options than a book of paint samples down at Home Depot. I give up. For all I know the goddamn thing tastes like pineapple. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.bigcartel.com)
X-Ray Eyeballs “Sundae” 7”
Another stellar looking sleeve wrapped around another underwhelming X-Ray Eyes record. What’s for offer, you ask? The A-side is a meandering little pop-ditty that I’ve managed to forget as I type. Something that’d whet the lips of the typical Woodsist/Mexi Summer purchasing nancy-boy. B-side is more bedroom & glue: circa 2008. Think of an uninspired version of Electric Bunnies. They were cool. This ain’t. People love this stuff nowadays...or at least you'd hope they do from the glut of it singles I see clogging the new bins. Sometimes it’s like I’m a Hanes Beefy-T swimming in a sea of American Apparel V-necks…I swear to God. (RSF)
(Hardly Art //www.hardlyart.com)
Yamantaka//Sonic Titan “YT//ST” LP
A singer drummer combo with a lot of talented and intense friends lending a hand. Epic popsike from the land of the rising sun (Canada). Hyper-theatrical and tends to vibe of things like United States Of America or Fifty Foot Hose as well as druggy operettas and some Krautprog of the 70’s. Sometimes I hear the Dave Gruisin/Byrds theme from Candy in it…and that’s a beautiful thang. There’s a White Noise-style storm during the albums intro that hints of the darker turf further down the rabbit hole. As the needle moves along the tracks become more abrasive and heavy, loosing its 60’s/70’s J-Pop footing to more of an improvised Boris/Boredom cluttered terror unit. A wildly entertaining and heady trip, if not a daily listen. It made its way into my keeper pile. A grower for those with adventurous tastes. How long til Wayne Coyne swallows them up for his Heavy Fwends project? 500 pressed on white vinyl. 500 or so on black. (RSF)
(Psychic handshake // www.psychichandshake.bigcartel.com)
Yi “Host Body” 7”
A debut of fuckerdly recorded, almost weird-punk punk that has pop hooks slathered under a thick film of rotten refuse bin remains. The whoa-ohs and chorus of “Total Shit System” lend a smidge of bedroom Raygun to the mix. “Host Body” brings more than a caboodle full of art supplies to the table, making it ooze like a syrupy sludge spat up from the LiveFastDie songbook. It gets damn near tuff and tackling on the flips’ “Brain Party”. Rocks out with a Mistreaters punch til the spaced out guitar fidgets and deconstructs over a steadfast churning bass noodle. Diggin’ it all. Even the hooks. I’m getting to be a softy in my old age. Good to know I live near ‘em. Oh shit! I’m playin’ a show with ‘em next week…ah, the sweet berries of life. How many pressed? Unknown – but it comes in a recycled hand painted newspaper sleeve. Find one. (RSF)
(self-released // yipunx.angelfire.com)
The Ziphs “Thinking About You” 7”
Swedish sweetness that is only 20 seconds in on the turntable and already I’m over it. The A-side's “Thinking About You” is the same ol’ jangly pop kind of confection that’s being peddled as garage or whatever these days. Sounds like cuddly K Records fluff to me. "The Sun” on the flip fares a smidge better…like a Pixies track channeling some Sixties balladry. Still, I can’t be bothered to drop the needle twice. 250 in factory sleeves. (RSF)
(Radio Obligato // www.radioobligato.com)
To read reviews for records A through M go here.
To read past reviews go here.