RECORD REVIEWS FALL 2013
Key: (LB: Lance Boyle)(SB: Young Steve)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RK: Rich K.)(RSF: Rob Vertigo)(NG: Nick Goode) (EEK: Erick Elrick)
Afflicted Man "I’m Off Me ‘ead" LP
The strange and twisted history of Steve Hall aka The Afflicted Man is best recounted elsewhere (not least of which in the liners to this reissue), but suffice to say it includes hippies, punks, skinheads, anarchists, glue-huffers, speed-freaks, junkies and, never one to be excluded, God his damn self. Oh, and techno. I wouldn’t say this is Hall’s best album -- general consensus is the glorious din of Get Stoned Ezy (billed under High Speed & The Afflicted Man) is his apex – but it’s still an essential piece of the jigsaw. “Survival in the 80s” is a prime chunk of drunk stumble, lurching between the seemingly disparate poles of thug and psych rock. Hall seems to be trying to channel earlier gen freaks like Pink Fairies, and the sheer wrongheadedness (offme’eadedness?) of how his attempt comes out coats the proceedings in a sheen of enthusiastic, intoxicated amateurism, triumphantly emerging as unique DIY psychedelic post-punk rock n’ roll. In my mind’s eye, I see burly bikers with death’s head tattoos and fey cardigan-clad Homosexuals enthusiasts in a circle, hands clasped tightly, all enjoying these gone sounds together. Maybe I’m just a hopeless utopian, but, brothers and sisters, can’t we all just pass this communal glue-bag, take a huff, turn off your mind, float downstream, etc….? (EEK)
(Permanent Records // www.permanentrecordschicago.com)
Androids of Mu "Blood Robots" LP
Sometimes I wished I lived in an alternate universe where the majority of rock n’ roll bands were comprised of mostly female members -- that the almighty cock did not hold sway, and in fact, the feisty V was where the power sat. I could get down with this Amazonian utopia if the popular bands of the day were lady-powered dynamos like the Raincoats, Kleenex, Girls at Our Best, Dishrags, The Nixe, Wrecks, Nog Watt, Bound & Gagged, Neo Boys etc. Count the fantastic foursome of the UK’s Androids of Mu in that stellar lineage. Originally released in 1980 on the seminal Fuck Off Records, Water Wing does a splendid job providing a faithful reissue of this overlooked classic. Supposedly, Crass offered to do an album but requested a drummer change. The women of Mu promptly said “Fuck off,” and went and Fucked Off. Emerging out of the intoxicating smoke of the Gong off-shoot Here & Now, Androids of Mu wedded that ecstatic freedom with sharp post-punk grooves. According to the accompanying dossier, the guitarist had a “previous deployment” with Inner City Unit featuring Hawkwind’s Nik Turner. Co-producer and Fuck Off Records founder (and main shaker in the great World Domination Enterprises), Keith Dobson provides liner notes and direction to this first-time reissue. The intertwining strands of British freak-rock and outer-limits post-punk weave a nice tapestry for the trainspotting record-geek. But these ladies were not fucking around for your benefit. They were forging their own path through the ’77-as-year-zero forest. “Atomic X” opens the album like a ska-influenced answer to Ubu’s “30 Seconds…,” with bombs exploding on the horizon for the song’s duration. The Androids utilize that dub/ska-like rhythm quite a bit, which is a deal-breaker for some, but they leaven it with spikey guitars, whooshing bits of synth-noise, and alternately pleading or too-cool vocals. “She is A Boy” fucks with your gender biases something fierce as a woman observes a drag queen in action and it “makes me feel strange/when I’m in her range/hope she don’t hate me/I don’t hate her.” This is followed by the smirking “Pretty Nun,” which wonders “How do you really give up the good times/sacrifice your pretty youth?” Hey, who doesn’t love a hot nun? “Bored Housewives” is a legit classic, total mixtape material when The Slits get to be old hat, providing a similar rejection of society’s incessant need to compartmentalize half the population. Most telling is the line “Sunday afternoon I take the kids to the park/never have a chance to meet a stranger after dark.” Ironically, this seems like a great song to sing along to as you do the dishes. “Lost in Space” is the track the singers from Sun Ra’ s band never made, Joe Meek-esque transmissions darting around the mix like a malfunctioning satellite. 'Blood Robots' isn’t necessarily the album to break you into the wonderful world of femme post-punk, but if you’ve already got a taste, then this record is mandatory. (EEK)
(Water Wing // waterwingrecords.com)
Angkor Wrack "Puma Punkur" LP
Angkor Wrack are a Danish synth-punk duo with some sort of Filipino fetish it seems - the back sleeve pic looks like one of those hand-painted third world movie posters with a cobra-headed man handling a scythe with what I assume is the band in the foreground. Google translation is not helping with any of this shit either, so I'm just winging it. Low-fi junk-punk, quite similar to many Spits B-Sides and demo adventures. Flea market synthesizer bleep, blown-out guitars, vocals that are either mechanical or mongo and usually unintelligible (and in Danish - or Filipino?). "Pink Floite" reminds me of the Pink Noise, but maybe the title is just pushing me that way. "Afrika" is another good one, sounds like a homeless guy off his meds is singing and it even has a good hook. Title track is evil and trudging sub-metal buzz. "Vomitus" is the track you'd want to play to get someone to buy this - it has a truly nauseous and raw synth sound that I don't think I've ever heard before, and sort of a menacing fun house vibe (the carnival attraction, not The Stooges record) that could act as a soundtrack to an Eighties shot-on-video slasher/schlocker. A dozen experiments here that run through a good variety of influences and styles - everything from black metal, to Tronics-y DIY ("Pisser par Taeppet"), to the already mentioned Spits-core, Black Wave, minimum/maximum-synth and other categories beyond description. Trash hounds into weird synth projects will be delighted with this. Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Mastermind Records // mastermindrec.tictail.com)
Appäratus "Lost Demo" 7"
In a year where Institution released two records, the Swede-imitation game is fairly oversaturated, being spearheaded by those in the very bands they're aping. To their credit here, however, Kuala Lumpur's finest have been doing this for thirteen years in a land where the current wave of raw punk has been the bread and butter for a long, long time. Hoarse and coarse shouting over a relentless mängel attack. The truly strange group vocals are endearing, sounding like they're being dreamt down the road from the studio. First song on the B-side is an out of place but raging foray into writing a B-side to "Love Me Like a Reptile". Appropriately gratuitous Swedish everywhere in a layout best described as schizophrenic - a time-honored tradition in SE Asian punk - in which they inform the listener that this was "Recorded in HELL! By DEVILS". An enjoyable worship av moderlandet, recommended for those of the persuasion.(NG)
(Shogun Records // www.shogunrecords.com)
Ar-Kaics "She Does Those Things To Me" 7"
Reverent Sixties garage rock from Richmond, VA that strives for maximum authenticity with the entire aesthetic, right down to the sleeveless record with throwback labels. The A-side is mid-tempo rock'n'roll with a very nice guitar fuzztone and a fairly wild vocal with some girl back-ups. It's a decent song, and I applaud their efforts in keeping it classic - what it might lack in velocity and rawness it makes up for with solid songwriting. The flip side operates in a similar fashion - solid guitar sound (no bass), semi-wild vox, good solo - another decent and tidy piece of retro-rock. Like I said, I appreciate the approach, the songs are well written, well played...but in the big picture, there's also nothing here that makes it memorable. The vintage approach has been done plenty already, this is recorded too well to sate the lo-fi crowd and isn't exciting enough to grab the punks. Seems like it's a "garage" record that will appeal to indie-rockers who think listening to actual modern garage-punk is slumming. I'm lashing out here at the expense of the Ar-Kaics, I'm sorry. They are a very capable band who look to have another record coming out on Windian. Good for them. If you're looking for anything with guts or grime I'd suggest looking elsewhere though.(RK)
(Speakertree Records // speakertreerecords.blogspot.com)
Atlantic Thrills "A Day At the Beach" 7"
My first thoughts when the Providence, RI music scene is mentioned turn to Load Records (and White Load!), Fort Thunder and Dropdead. All of the varieties of noise/aggro/art accompanying those names makes a garage-pop band like Atlantic Thrills seem like an anomaly in that town. "A Day at the Beach" has the Thrills sounding like the band-for-hire playing amidst a throng of Gidgets and Moondoggies in some Sixties beach party flick, except with booze and joints being passed around instead of beachballs and sodas. Handclaps, the twangiest of guitar sounds, smooth vocal harmonies, and a chorus hooky enough to get any bikini wearing babe shimmying in an instant. This doesn't even sound like the East Coast in general, much less Providence, but could be the tune that gets Almost Ready a breakthrough hit if the dice roll in their favor. As far as garage-pop songs go, you won't hear much better. The flipside shows the fellas as a bit of a hairier bunch. Still a good time though, perhaps sounding like a clean cut Black Lips obsessed with Norton Records and surf comps instead of Crypt Records and Back from the Grave. Scum stats: there was a limited tour edition for the recent East Coast jaunt with photocopied sleeves, artwork by Avi Spivak of Human Being Lawnmower fame.(RK)
(Almost Ready // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
Axis:Sova "Past The Edge" 7"
Axis:Sova is the sort of one-man musical fantasy that Richie Records has long supported, brehtren to musical entrepreneurs like King Blood, Purling Hiss and even Factorymen. Hailing from Chicago and seemingly running in the same circles as the Cave/Bitchin Bajas crew, this record follows an LP on Kill Shaman and another single on Licking River (also home to related band Mass Shivers). "Past the Edge" is Rev-ved out motorik cruising, mechanized drumming and synth oppression as vehicle for Sova's guitar static-squeal and hypnotizing vocals, both of which turn to liquid towards the end. Reminds me quite a bit of the Chrome-plated futureworld tripping of the first Pink Noise records for a modern touchstone. "Grading on A Curve" fills the B-Side up with synthesized atmposphere and tinkling aural mysticism. Interesting and enigmatic.(RK)
(Richie Records//Testostertunes // testostertunes.blogspot.com)
Bare Mutants "The Affliction" LP
'The Affliction' is the first record from Jered Gummere since The Ponys packed it in 3 or 4 years ago after their run on Matador finished. I always thought The Ponys could've broken big(ger) - and they certainly made some deserved progress - but ultimately the band broke before their music did. Bare Mutants still have him channeling Television (although his Verlaine-esque yelp has been toned down), with a more pronounced Velvets inspiration than the Ponys had. Less rock and more shoegazing and meandering. Teamed up with members of Mannequin Men (a band who were not good) and having a female foil to duel/duet with, this record is a real indie-rock slog. Tempos and vibes never get overly excited or emotional - it's too relaxed, too mellow. You'll have serious trouble telling these tunes apart, as at least a half dozen are nearly identical. Soft guitar strum, soft drumming, soft vocals. SOFT. The only notable exceptions are "Nothing Is Gold", a precious little number where his gal pal takes the lead vocal for a sing-songy little thing that's far too cute and "Cunt", a duet that actually sounds like an honest-to-goodness rock'n'roll song with the biggest hook of the entire record. Of the other tunes, I'd say "Devotion" is the best of the all-too-similar bunch, as the plodding tempo actually gives way to a fantastic screaming guitar freakout in this instance, the best sounding thirty seconds of the whole LP. I was a fan of The Ponys, and hung in there until the end, but this is just not a remarkable record in any way. Gummere goes to the same well too many times and it results in a record as unappealing as the brown vinyl it's pressed on. Least favorite song title: "I Suck At Life" - as soon as I saw that I knew this was gonna be a rough one. Scum stats: 200 on brown vinyl.(RK)
(In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
Bassholes "Boogieman Stew" LP
'Boogieman Stew' is the seventh or eighth Bassholes full length (depending on how you're counting), the first since 2009's "...And Without A Name", and the best since "When My Blue Moon Turns Red Again". That's not to say I haven't liked everything in between, as I very much do, but I think Howland sounds the most acerbic he has in some time on these tracks, the recording is the best in shitbox hi-fi and it's a superbly sequenced selection of tunes. The A-Side is a marvel. End-to-end-burners. It kicks off via a scorching Groundhogs cover with molten harmonica action that sounds like it was recorded inside a coffee can, "I Spy (Something White)" is all sharp guitars and sharp wit (with Don adding some organ), then a new and impoved version of Wayne County's "Paranoia Paradise" (also done in killer fashion on the Burning Bus 7") with a scalding guitar assist from Damon of Puffy Areolas. "Supersonic Blues" might be my favorite of the record, an evil garage-blues-pop hybrid that has the brothers Shannon providing extra string mayhem and Ellen Hoover on vocals! Might be one of the finest moments of Columbus rock in general. "Rubber Boots" closes the side (and is the only track not recorded in the CDR basement) with great lyrics, thunderous drumming from Bim and Howland sounding as fed up with the bullshit as ever. Side 1 is so stacked it's a wonder anyone flips it over, but Side 2 is no slouch either, changing the speed to 45 rpms and letting Don vamp on "Rock Candy Mountain", an extended burst of broken bluesrock which has more organ and Don doing what sounds like some scatting at one point (?!), followed by the cutting commentary of "Caucasian Guilt" and ending with another blues ("21st Century Hobo") full of crunchy and crispy fried guitar and Bim giving it another dimension with some frenetic drumming. Packed in a manila envelope with mailing labels/stamps meant to replicate a high-priced gospel record Don never got around to buying. Side B is good, but the A Side of this is phenomenal, making it my favorite Bassholes record in general since the 'Out in the Treetops' 2X7"...or maybe the 'Jack at Night' 7"...decisions... Scum stats: 500 copies, 50 of which are test presses. The record was mistakenly released without an insert/album info, which you can find here.
(Columbus Discount // columbusdiscountrecords.com)
Big Black Cloud “Black Friday” LP
It won’t be too much longer before Termbo gives BBC an anniversary cake. They’ve existed for half a decade and I’m pretty sure one of my first forays into music criticism had them awaiting me at the bottom of the mailbag. 'Black Friday' finds the Cloud still whizzing down that paranoiac psycho-scree trail, lifting their ear grating guitar mangle from beneath bombastic rhythms and otherworldly transmissions; just not as much AmRep flavor this time around. Don’t fret, there’s still plenty of noise up in their rock. So much in fact, it should keep the Skin Graft fanboys reaching for a drool cup. I’ve not heard such excessive whammy-bar action or abusive slide play in all my days. Guitars warp, warble, scratch and ping about like some sorta’ long lost Arab On Radar/Cows fuck fruit. A few tunes from the 'Shitty Vibrations' cassette carry over here (“Human Host”, “Black Friday” and “Medusa”) as they should; those were the cream of their heap. The fresh chunk of wax filters in a glorious drunken jazz jizz, recalling the better modern Detroiters (Druid Perfume or Moonhairy) wheat pasted against a bleak(er) apocalyptic backdrop. And there’s Horns! Man, I love a well placed horn. Dueling vocals battle it out in the foreground; taking rapid fire turns between guitarist Nick Capello’s Ubu/Jello fluttering wail and bassist Soo Koelbli’s Kat Toyland type o’ howl. Drummer Travis Wainwright (no relation to Loudon, though that’d be AWESOME) shuts up, stares at his kit with disdain and proceeds to batter the holy hell out of it. The whole experience goes down like an evening of nitrate popper play topped with a strong whiff of industrial strength shoe glue. Intense and gooey; the effect is permanent. Great on record and quite a sick sight live as well. If only Oakland wasn’t rioting on the night The Cloud rolled through…there’s always next time…Scummy stats: 500 pressed on 180g’s. Comes wrapped in a gorgeous silk-screened sleeve that should set a new benchmark of quality for you bedroom labelers out there. (RSF)
(Eolian Empire // www.eolianempire.com)
Big Eyes "Almost Famous" LP
Sophomore LP from Big Eyes, who I'm imagining weren't being egotistical in the choice of title, but I wouldn't blame them either. I've said plenty of good things about Kate Eldridge's work in reviews of their various singles. She's had ample time to hone her craft in pop-punk band Cheeky and via the busy release/live schedule Big Eyes have kept up since forming in 2011. Paying your dues is as important to getting the approval of a fickle underground fanbase as it is to actually honing the chops needed to step beyond it. The 11 songs on 'Almost Famous' show off skilled and mature songwriting, a knack for hooks, and a love for rock'n'roll. Not necessarily overtly punk, but still maintaining a leather-jacketed attitude without resorting to goofball gimmickry or dumbed-down musicianship or too-cute girly stereotypes. The songs are rock informed by Joan Jett and Chrissy Hynde, put to a template of classic Seventies punk and hard rock/glam and modern power-pop-punk. The songs are universal enough for very wide appeal: hooked-up and tough tales of heartbreak and longing confidently delivered in a fantastic voice (and Eldridge's guitar playing on this record is stronger than before). I'll be honest here and admit that this style of music is not my favorite thing and nothing I would personally seek out - but I've heard all of Big Eye's records via reviewing them and have come to the realization that they are undeniably good music, despite what my ingrained bias against this genre tells me. I think I'm a tough audience for this, and she got me. If anything, she earned my respect for doing this with style and substance when she could have pandered to the crowd in so many ways. The bands I often choose to champion will never be played on the radio or have the chance to rise to widely accepted success outside of the DIY circle. Big Eyes have a shot at both. Eldridge's music is not made for me. I don't need it. But there is a whole country of kids out there who do need it. Along with Night Birds, I think Big Eyes are one of the bands that could "make it" and deserve to - the youth of America could use something that isn't total bullshit, and I hope Eldridge succeeds in being that. She has the talent and a well-tuned band behind her, now the trick is starting over again at the next level, paying even more dues and making fans of an even more fickle mainstream audience. I wish her luck.(RK)
(Grave Mistake // www.gravemistakerecords.com)
Bill Bondsmen "Dead" 7"
After handing off the last few Bill Bondsmen singles for review I figured I should give them a shot again. Their last few records at least looked interesting, all having the same DIY silkscreened aesthetic that gave them a nice budget look. They're a better band than I remember them being from their very early records - and they've been at it almost ten years now - and I think I had some residual feelings about them being ex-members of cornball rock-n-rasslin' outfit the Bump-n-Uglies. I'm pleased to admit they're better than that at the very least. "Dead" is very Clevo-influenced hardcore-rock (Nine Shocks, GSMF, or any other band Wedge has been in) with a weird "space guitar" sound giving it something different. "Peasant Under Glass" is more of the same, savage vocals bleeding all over some more weird guitar parts, with an odd metronome-sounding treble effect, a more metal-influenced riff and breaking glass sound effects - perhaps more Tony Erba-esque on this one. Not too shabby, and certainly sounding fittingly Detroit rusted, it has a workmanlike quality that I appreciate the efforts of, if not wholly original. Not of the high caliber many other USHC bands are operating at these days, but a good decent tier act.(RK)
(self-released // billbondsmen.blogspot.com)
Bird Nest Roys "Me Want Me Get Me Need Me Have Me Love" 2XLP
This reissue might be the most deserved entry of the Captured Nun campaign so far. Not that The Clean or Snapper or Bats were less deserving, but that the Bird Nest Roys might need this unearthing more than their better known peers. A band that was not actually even from Dunedin but still able to be associated with the 'Dunedin Sound', the most striking trait of the Roys are the layers and layers of guitar. Boasting four guitar players in their six piece line-up, they sound jangly and lush, not a heavy band, but one that always sounded like they were having fun at the very least whilst still nailing some serious moments down. A very exciting strain of Kiwi-pop, with their Auckland home coming into play and giving them their unique and somehwat rural feel at times - they supposedly lived and rehearsed on a huge farm, were led by two guys named Big Ross and Little Ross and had their own sort of country slang/jargon. A song like "Bided" or "Wormcat Stones" has the rolling country-folk vibes, but then something like "Joringel" or "Ain't Mutatin'" has the complexity of NZ's finest melancholic pop. A delightful band to discover (or rediscover - I'm somewhere in the middle I'll admit) and one that speaks to the roster depth of Eighties New Zealand in general - even a band that some would say didn't make much of an impact is quite exceptional. Mind-boggling. The Roys only released one 7", a 12" EP and a self-titled LP in the brief four years they were around, all of which are compiled here, with two sets of wonderful liner notes from Big Ross recounting their experiences fitting into the Dunedin scene/Flying Nun family, repros of all album art, flyers and an FN press release on thick printed inner sleeves and a 12"x12" insert. Drummer Dominic Stones went on to greater acclaim with Snapper and 3Ds, who I hope to be seeing reissued soon...(RK)
(Captured Tracks // www.capturedtracks.com)
Black Time "Blackout" LP
Black Time were one of the bands Terminal Boredom was built upon in the early days, and seeing this reissue gets me all misty thinking that it was ten years ago now that I received this LP in the mail. I still vividly remember that first listen. I was very excited, because those were the days when I rarely received anything in the mail, much less an unsolicited promo of an LP from overseas that actually looked cool. It was in my old apartment, turntable and desk set up in the dark backroom as to not disturb the wife (then girlfriend) and dog with my wee hours record reviewing. Dropping the needle on "First Strike" is one of those moments when all the time and effort put into doing this website was made completely worth it ten times over. It's rare when you get something this good, such an exciting feeling of discovery where you can't wait to to play it for someone else and you feel like you have something so rare and wonderful - the perfect love story between a weird underground band and their weird underground audience. Lemmy Caution was interviewed twice for Termbo (check the archives, maaan), and over the years I got to know him well enough that I ended up on his Christmas card/mixtape list and had the privelege of setting up a show for them many years later when they finally toured the East Coast. A great relationship, and again, the sort of thing that Terminal Boredom was created to help facilitate - to act as a conduit to spread the word about special bands and their art and to be able to interact and communicate with kindred souls across the globe. I'll end the reminiscing there, but I hope you understand how much this LP means to me personally. This reissue is lovingly assembled, updated with a tip-on sleeve, slab-thick wax, new labels and a new insert with an updated dispatch from Caution (one my favorite things about Black Time records were his manifestos on each release) reflecting on the record and its creation. Undeniably one of the most important LPs of the '00s, and a record that will stand the test of time and still be relevant another ten or twenty years from now. I hadn't listened to this record in at least a year when this arrived, and I have to say I'm still impressed by the sheer amount of hits on this (just about every song!). It was odd to consider how ingrained this record is in my DNA - I guess I never realized I could sing along to this entire record before. 'Blackout' was (and still is) an innovative LP that turned garage-punk on its head at a time when we really needed it, and Black Time turned out to be a band that really transcended the tags "garage" or "punk" anyway. The rebirth of UK-DIY-punk perhaps - would The Pheromoans or Hygiene have sounded like they do without this band? A really interesting thing about Black Time is that they had a really great run (I'd say every record they released is worth owning aside from maybe one single or split if you want to get really picky) yet still always remained on the fringes, Caution assembling and restructuring the band and the records in his flat, obsessing over recordings (and doing more of them all by himself than we thought), never really slipping into some comfortable spot/scene, always evolving and changing as much as they possibly could. He never aspired to the "scene" I think, and I felt like they were made stronger by being outliers of a sort. The Janie Too Bad and Mr. Stix line-up provided some live stability, but the project always seemed in flux - or in the shadows maybe. And you can't find a band that had a better aesthetic - visually, lyrically and aurally. Taking on any genre their record collections led them to (punk, garage, post-punk, New Wave, krautrock, soundtracks, DIY, etc...) and bending it to their own vision. The total package. Crime, Electric Eels, Dangerhouse, Pussy Galore, The Fall, Neu!, Suicide, Cramps, Swell Maps, you name it, they named it too, and wore it proudly on their sleeves yet also made it their own. There's not much more I can say except that this record stands as a landmark on the road of underground music of the past couple of decades, a record that truly mattered. An incredible LP by a very special band that should be in every collection.(RK)
(Monolith Sound // themonolithsound.blogspot.com)
Buck Biloxi & The Fucks "Holodeck Survivor" 7"
I've said this about two or three other bands recently, I know, but is there a better pairing than Buck Biloxi and Total Punk?! "Holodeck Survivor" actually sounds like a first LP Reatards song (and rips off a riff from Jay and whoever he ripped it off from) and it's an absolute crusher. Total. Punk. On the flip we get another certified killer in "Not Getting Stabbed" which originally appeared in an even lower-fi form on the 'Duck Reduction & The Yucks' EP (whatever the fuck that was), but this version is laced with a nice portion of mic feedback that adds just the right amount of shit to the fi. Lyrically, these two songs tie together high-concept ideas like Star Trek and fucking your mom and merges them into two absolutely unstoppable total punk forces that will dominate your turntable with a black gloved fist. I feel like this is one of the more "serious" Buck Biloxi records thus far, so watch out, and I also feel like "Not Getting Stabbed" is the real hit on this one but "Holodeck..." is still a jammer and all. I really appreciate that the band always makes sure to make an insert for their records, and although I wish this one had some lyrics as well, I at least got a laugh out of the newest aliases for the band members. Scum stats: 500 copies, hand stamped as always. Wish this one had a poster that came with it too...(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Case Studies "This Is Another Life" LP
Jesse Lortz has made some of my favorite music of modern times, and in dichotomous fashion, from the shit-fi garage-punk of Thee Flying Dutchmen and Fe Fi Fo Fums to the sublime folk-rock record that is the first Dutchess & The Duke LP. Whether screaming "Fuck New Wave!" or singing about harrowing and highly personal experiences, the guy is just an extremely talented songwriter. If there was ever a record I wanted and tried really hard to like it was that second D&D LP, but it just didn't click and neither did the first Case Studies LP. I finally found "it" again on the Sweet Rot 7" (the A-Side of which is reprised here) and I'm riding that high going into the second Case Studies LP. It's a piano heavy affair, a big and serious sounding record instead of the intimacy and friendliness of some of his earlier non-punk work. Everyone's going to make a Leonard Cohen comparison, and I will too, because it's definitely there in the vocals and tone. I prefer the couple of guitar-oriented tracks like the Dylan-esque "Driving East, and Through Her" and what I imagine will be everyone's favorite tune on this LP, "From Richard Brautigan". The rest is full of intense drama (I think all of these songs are about divorce), melancholy and sorrow. I don't even know if this is folk music anymore? It's just really heavy singer-songwriter stuff that you're going to need to be in the mood for. Whereas that D&D record always seemed like there was going to be some glimmer of hope on the horizon even at its most deeply morose, a majority of this record evokes hopelessness. I find myself empathizing and then wanting to get the hell outta there. Aside from the very few bright moments, I'm just not equipped to wallow in another's misery and depression. Or maybe I'm just a child trying to listen to an adult record. I've got my own problems. A very, very well done record that gluttons for this type of thing should enjoy (?) immensely. I do think there should have been a lyric booklet/insert to accompany this though. Scum stats: 200 special editions with the usual Sacred Bones top shelf packaging - silk screened wrap-around, wax seal and a bonus disc of demos. (RK)
(Sacred Bones // www.sacredbonesrecords.com)
Cheap Time "Goodbye Age" 7"
New Cheap Time material featuring a personnel change that reverts the band to its roots, with Jessica McFarland now on bass and backing vox adding a female to the band much like the very first line-up that recorded the 'Spoiled Brat' 7". "Goodbye Age" picks up where 'Wallpaper Music' left off, with a leaner and punker approach that I think everyone appreciates and the female back-ups just seem right for the material Jeff is writing now. It's a good tune that feels like the band is revving the engine before punching it on the flip side's "Soon Over Soon" which packs a bit more exuberance and exchanges the A-Side's cowbell for some keyboard action. This gal seems to be an exceptional bass player as well, and this single has me thinking good thoughts about 'Exit Smiles', the band's fourth LP due out on In the Red next month. Couple that with Jeff's new solo LP ('The Lemon Kid') coming on Trouble in Mind in November as well, and we have a very Novak holiday season to look forward to. Jeff's done very well for himself so far, and I think he's got a very good chance of going even further into the reaches of "aboveground" acclaim than he has already. The time seems right.(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Complications "Play Loud...& Pray Lords..." LP
Heavyweight division French rock'n'roll foursome featuring Looch from Magnetix and Marco from The Fatals, which means there's some h-bomb guitar sounds on this one. Dispensing with any weirdpunk or Glue Wave, Complications are straight guitar-punk with only a few blooze digressions. It's mostly just scuzz-caliber rocking, going for a Pussy Galore/NY scum approach with a healthy nod to Chrome Cranks (covering "Stuck in A Cave") and incorporating some Action Swingers tenacity. "Go Fuck Yourself" and "Money in My Back" (?) make for an impressive 1-2 opening combination, full of tough guitar fuzz and bombs-away solos. There are a couple clunky bloozy numbers, but "Never Cry" is an inspired and gritty testimonial that's crushingly slow-burning. "Follow Me" is the album's closer and as close to the ferocity of the best Fatals cuts as anyone's come since - and if you don't think the first Fatals 7" is still a ripper you need to to rethink that, cool guy. Eleven tracks that strike a good balance between Fatals gonzoid punk and Magnetix adventures in fuzz overload, recorded with good and loud fidelity. As good as a fairly straightforward Euro garage-punk record can be these days and hearkens back to the time when Crypt was setting the standard for raw rock action. I think even Tim Warren would be gaga for the 3 or 4 real crushers on here. (RK)
(Screamers Records // facebook.com/screamersrecords)
Creeping Ivies “Stay Wild” LP
A Scottish boy/girl duo doing that stripped and simple boom-boom beat thing. I find it cool that it’s the guy backing upright at the toms while the gal slings the scree and does the mic some justice. Like a bizarro-world White Stripes perhaps, but the most obvious influences I hear would be The Gories or The Husbands. A greasy, soulful stomp that caries a Detroit torch when most bands out there seem more interested in doing a 80’s New Wave revival night. “Black Cat” opens up things up with a playful Batman riff and an unglued Mick Collins lead. Tunes like “Buzzbomb” and “Madhouse Blues” swing a groove like The Gossip used to do. Yes, even they had their roots in the right place before UK madness turned them into disco queens. “Mirror Mirror” tosses some catty piano plink into their reverb shriek chamber and they make it out with only a few minor scratches. “Spinning” is the frantic, sugar coated punkin’ pop number that’ll totally eat away at those cavities you should have gotten capped moons ago. Love those one note solos. “House of Ivy” is not a tribute to the goddess of hollow bodies, though I’d like to think so. You’ve good taste. Actually “Rock &Roll Ghost” musically isn’t too removed from “Songs the Lord Taught Us”, but the vocals hint at Mr. Airplane Man’s turf. The geography starts to shift towards NYC 70’s cool as the platter plays on and I start to believe this may be 'Piss Factory' for the Norton records set. 'Stay Wild' ain’t nuthin’ fancy, but if yer gonna’ grab a summertime rumpshaker to twerk away those hooch filled nights, this should do the trick. Stats of Scum: 100 pressed on green vinyl. Probably 500 totes. (RSF)
(Dead Beat Records // www.deadbeatrecords.com)
Culo "My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down Demo" EP
Culo's second demo pressed to wax by head Sicko Nicko over at Cowabunga, one of those great modern hardcore labels that are capable of releasing two or three great records in a row then disappearing completely for months at a time leaving the hardcore kids in a panic wondering where their mailorder is. Anyway, Culo are/were one of the hottest shit HC bands of the past couple of years. I appreciate their efforts in the lo-fi spectrum such as this, a demo recorded with basically no low end. Really dumb and mean-spirited stuff - drug-loving, misogynistic and nihilistic. They amassed a following based on musical merit, of which they have a bunch, but they also left a reputation of loving drugs a little too much to be able put on good live shows behind them, as well as possibly spearheading the fashion faux pas of wearing berets and fingerless gloves that has become popular amongst some of the youth of today. This record's shit-fi recording is exceptional, and a ton of these riffs and tunes aren't that far off from the toughest of the lo-fi garage-punk revival of the late Nineties (think of raunchers like Reatards/Eunuchs/HFOS/Dwarves), at least aesthetically when you get down to nuts and bolts of it. It took me longer to fall in love with these guys than a lot of people who probably listen to more hardcore than me. But I think that was more of me trying to see through the hype, because when you get to the music there's some great ideas (and always killer artwork from Drugface -not to be confused with Neckface- although this particular record isn't a great example) and riffs here and as a shit-fi spectacle I can 100% hang with the recordings. "I Wanna Sniff Glue and Play With Action Figures" is the type of zero-IQ shit they peddled, and there's something to be said for that. I mean, someone has to be this dumb right? As long as it's not you, enjoy the ride. Scum stats: 398 on red, 90 on black and an uber-rare test press version.(RK)
(Cowabunga Records // www.cowabungarecords.com)
Dead Air s/t LP
If you remember Providence's Black Clouds (not to be confused with Here Comes A Big Black Cloud) you might recall them as a tight little garage-rock unit who had a coupla fair-to-middling tracks. Nothing flashy but nothing bad either, just a generally serviceable outfit. Here they take the two guitars and a drummer line-up straight to noiseville, leaving any semblance of the garage behind. "Sinkhole" opens the record with an exercise in repetition that overstays its welcome, although the guitars sound dangerous and seem to imply bad intentions. That tune pretty much sets the template for the rest - lots of blunt riffs from one guitar and an opposing sharp edge from the other, gallons of vocal venom, piles of solid but uneventful drumming. There's aggro here in spades, but these tunes seem to be treading a lot of water. A-Side has four cuts (one of which is even called "Hail Satan") and the B-Side clocks in with two loooong churners. I would say "Phantom" is the best here, and I wish it was a few minutes shorter. Not a great record by any means. The Last House on Dead End Street imagery hints at a brutality that is absent, or at least rings hollow. I'm sure someone has used these stills for a record before, but I'll be damned if I can remember? If not, I'll give them points for finally utilizing them.(RK)
(Load Records // www.loadrecords.com)
Decay After Death "System Fucking Bastards" 7"
Six songs of Motorpunk-tinged hardcore. Treads into metal territory in a way that you can tell they dig on Annihilation Time but filtered out the Lizzy. Pretty cool dirty rotten sounds out of a town I've never heard of in Indiana. Sort of similar to what Atlanta's Manic were doing on their first batch of songs, but to less effect, we have delayed, slightly raspy shouts about the institutions and systems you may have heard about in the past… including the line "The cock of the war for the system's whore." Audible van-blazing and patchwork - coming from an interesting place, but without much to hold one's attention. Cover art features a defecating Mickey Mouse devil with 666-emblazoned trousers at Giza.(NG)
(Cowabunga Records // www.cowabungarecords.com )
The Dentists "Some People Are On The Pitch They Think It's All Over It Is Now" LP
Reissue of The Dentists' debut LP from 1985, a record which I always mistakenly thought was a singles comp. My knowledge of The Dentists has to do with them being one of the very early Medway bands along with The Prisoners and Milkshakes (Allan Crockford produces here), and I suppose they would be the pop arm of that trio, although just as energetic if not as rocking as a Childish-like group. A great pick for a dark horse reissue candidate, this LP is brimming with fantastic pop confections that are often quite light and airy, but never truly wimpy. The Dentists thankfully always keep one foot firmly planted in the rock genre. Quirkily British in construction (song about a garden, song named after a fruit - "Tangerine" -, song with a girl's name - "Mary Won't Come Out To Play" -, song about a British celebrity - "Tony Bastable v. John Noakes"), and taking influence from Sixties pop/psych masters (The Byrds and Love most prominently) and adding modern touches similar to contemporaries like The Smiths and Soft Boys, The Dentists make very listenable pop-sike, which wasn't that common a thing in the late Eighties. Heavily jangled pop stunners like "I Had An Excellent Dream" and "Tangerine" even recall some of what was happening in New Zealand in retrospect. As a guy who isn't big on pretty power-pop moves, I find this the type of record that satisfies the pop jones I do have - the songwriting is creative, the playing and recording crisp, there aren't many (if any at all) moments of limp/wimp and plenty of tight-as-a-drum rock numbers like "Back to the Grave" and "Tony Bastable v..." with gigantic hooks. I'll be honest, I hadn't listened to or thought of The Dentists in years before I opened this up, and that was a mistake (although I won't be revisiting their post-1990 output, and neither should you really). Another top shelf reissue, and one of the tops in a year jam-packed with them.(RK)
(Trouble in Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Destruction Unit "Deep Trip" LP
'Deep Trip" is assuredly one of the best records you will hear this year, I will guarantee that. If you recall the Destruction Unit that made LPs for Empty Records what seems like eons ago, this is a completely different band with Ryan Rousseau as the constant that bridges the two versions together. I think Ryan may have commented himself that he could've just changed the name but decided to stick with the DU moniker for ease/recognition at this point. Not that this band should need any help finding fans - this is one of the finest modern truly pyschedelic psych-punk records I've heard, so fried and jamming that Human Eye are perhaps the only band playing in the same league. Ryan's hooked up with a gang calling themselves Ascetic House, who have a great design aesthetic and membership from bands like Pigeon Religion, Avon Ladies, Marshstepper and Ukiah Drag, and are helping Ryan turn DU into the perfect vehicle for his Sonoran desert-psych, which on this LP has reached its apex thus far. An incredible drummer really helps things move along here - and these tunes often go from crawl to sprint over the course - and Ryan's baritone vocals are a familiar sound in a harsh and dark landscape filled with guitar feedback and scree that is channelled perfectly from a lysergically altered mind. Only the sickest in distortion and fuzz here, giving the songs an almost tactile element, the smoke so thick you can feel it on you. As sterotypical as it sounds, this record listens like one long journey, no seams, no breaks, just a seemingly eternal struggle and trudge across whatever plane of existence or dimension the band are peaking in. Sometimes being chased, sometimes doing the chasing and when that voice starts reverbing out of the canyons you know you're lost. Thematically, it's all drugs, God and death, the sort of simple yet ever eternal good vs. evil trip anyone whose taken acid has blown their fucking mind thinking about too hard at 4:00 am, sweating balls, chain smoking and feeling like strychnine is coming out of your pores. And although this thing talks a lot about acid, there's certainly an organic shrooms/peyote feel as well, but still leaving you with that nasty rat poison vibe at the end. I can't even begin to tell you what the good tracks are here (and they're ALL great) as I can only digest this as two long songs right now (and I'm at least on listen number twenty), but I feel like some crescendos are reached on "Bumpy Road", "God Trip" and "The Holy Ghost". "Night Loner" is legitimately as close to modernizing Hawkwind as anyone has in the past 10-15 years. Back to those early records, something like 'Self-Destruction of a Man' was completely visceral in a putting-your-fist-through-a-wall declaration of unfettered emotion. Rousseau is still making equally visceral art, but this time he's attacking with the precision and smarts of a veteran soldier who has learned a few tricks on past tours of duty. It's remarkable how much Rousseau has honed things over the past ten years - in my head he'll always be linked to Jay Reatard, and I think this is a fitting testimonial to Ryan's talents which were certainly on par with Jay's even if he may not have received as much acclaim post-Reatards. Now, with the Sacred Bones machine behind him, it's time for the rest of the world to listen. Scum stats: there was a limited special edition in the usual SB-style wraps. Designed about as perfectly and simply as can be - the blotter sheet might be the best insert of all time and the Spiritualized-esque info sheet was a nice touch.(RK)
(Sacred Bones // www.sacredbonesrecords.com)
Destry Hampton & Wolves From Hell “Angel Of Madness” 7”
How’d this crackpot elude me? And I thought I knew the game. Bad KBD fan, BAD. All I’d heard going in to this was that Destry Hampton - aka: Gregory Burke - had lived in San Francisco with a captive pack of wolves (?!), was a record store denizen and had befriended at least one Groovie (Danny Mihm, who plays on here). Sometime ‘round ’77 he cracked the tops on a few cheap brews, called in the help of some fellow freaks and blurted out this fine slice of pub punk. "Angel of Madness" erupts as Hampton’s lyrics are spat forth convulsively, leaving the guitar to scramble from the gate, desperate to catch up. These ear shredding sounds blast forth a frantic proto-metal, that coulda’/shoulda’ left the eras leading bar rockers in a mangled heap of flesh and leather. Obviously, there seems to be a smidge of UK Pistols cash-in to it all, but these roaring leads combined with the near boogie bordering structures tilt things towards biker rock loser territory and away from any sort of safety pin or bondage boy nancy-isms. The whole thing seems punk by total accident…and it’s a hell of a lot better because of it. Destry’s vocals scratch feverously at the dirt divide that separates Bon Scott from Doc Dart as he rattles off psychobabble that I’m still trying to comprehend/decipher after umpteen listens. The fiery guitar pyrotechnics careen nonstop throughout the four fleeting tracks and thank jeebus for that; I’d suffer a coronary if the songs went on any longer. An essential reissue that may finally get a chance to stake a claim in degenerate infamy along side other swillmongers like Crime or The Pagans. (RSF)
(Superior Viaduct // www.superiorviaduct.com)
Ex-Cult "Mr. Fantasy" 7"
Latest from Goner's rising stars, following their LP and tours with Ty Segall and OBNIIIs, and showing off their punker side. "Mr. Fantasy" is a stiff punch of driving psych-punk with heaps of reverbed guitar action. Lean and mean, and the toughest they've sounded on record. "Can You Believe Your Eyes?" is a more calculated bit of heavy indie-rock, with the springy guitar cuts and gruffish vox giving them the heft needed. A good record and these tunes seem to indicate the band is succeeding in finding their groove, which they seemed to still be looking for on portions of their LP. Scum stats: tasteful as always less-is-more Goner packaging, with a blue ink color scheme making for the limited edition on blue wax.(RK)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)
F'ke Blood "The Band That Bled Real Blood" LP
Debut long player from this Detroit post-punk group who released a single on Italy nearly five years ago and hadn't been heard from again on record until now (to the best of my knowledge). I figured they were a one-off band all this time, and that single was likeable enough. I certainly know a lot more about the band now, with a roster of Detroit heavies including Marcie Bolen on (B/V- founding member of Von Bondies), Dion Fischer (G/v/S - Jack White's replacement in The Go and former Dirtbomb and Tranzistor), Deleano Acevedo (D/V - Bolen's partner in Silverghost), Steven Darson (V/G - ex-Snitches and Midnites) and Beren Ekine (D - ex-Intelligence/Eat Skull and current Tyvek drummer), all of whom also add extras like maracas, trumpet and more percussion. Thirteen tracks that are tightly played and sort of minimal sounding for the amount of players/instruments involved. The single was post-punk from a danceable perspective - and the A-Side of that record is revisited ("Water Wings") and is one of the best songs here - but this LP shows them as a bit more experimental/art act while maintaining the catchiness. The current Tyvek sound is a reference point, as are the last couple of Intelligence albums, but pared down to essentials - rigid rhythm section, sharp guitar work, and some classic themes from Delta 5, Au Pairs and Gang of Four given a bit of the modern Detroit weirdness. "The Zipper" is a straight dancefloor number remiscent of Buffalo's own Mallwalkers and even the Make Up. Songs like "The Freeze" and "Teenage Conversation" do a decent job of combining the Sympathetic Sounds of Detroit garage and New Wave quirk. There's a Sun Ra cover and some sonic experiments straight from the art school side that offset the more driving post-punkers like "The Last Giant Squid". F'ke Blood have a sound that lends itself to the LP format - a solid bunch of songs that go down well as a whole, and the UFO Factory/Defever recording makes it extra clean in a good way. Not something you'll be reaching for to hear particular tunes, but something you might have on when you're needing a long player to kill some time. I mentioned Mallwalkers previously, and I think they'd make for a good bill together. Scum stats: first 50 on blood red wax, plus there was a record release/test press version with alternate sleeves. (RK)
(Urinal Cake // www.urinalcakerecords.com)
Family Curse "Twilight Language" LP
Family Curse returns in a tip-on sleeve, still propelled by the rhythms of Dischord as Clinton entered office, with a level of selflessness and sensibility much of that wave was averse to. I put em in the same beer league with Protomartyrs of the world - they share the never-common-enough combination of MES spittle and the riff meticulous, though Family Curse makes sure to balance bitter litanies with desperate howling, slight crooning, Devo droning, Darby death knells. A bit of Rick Hell on "NY NY NY", which is the jam among jellies here… anti-NYC ballads will never not be in the top tier of punk subject matter. The chorus of "Memory Sickness" sung along with the teetering guitar leads is tops. The secrets are here, but there's so much on the surface. Every song is rife with hooks, but there's an ambitious level of tricks and complications that are there for the deep listener. What it honestly most sounds like is if Sub Pop recording artist The Obits wrote memorable and interesting (or good) songs, whatever that's worth to you. In short time, these fellas have figured out what they want to do and they've got it completely under control. Bitter, complex, and creative, the sounds of anywhere but New York. (NG)
(Doormat Records // hwww.drawingroomrecords.com)
Fire Exit "Timewall" 7"
An unexpected entry in the Last Laugh catalog via Scotland's Fire Exit, whose lone single from 1978 is reissued here in an exact repro. "Timewall" is a good enough tune to have been comped on two consecutive KBD volumes (#6 and 7) and it's always been one that I don't skip any time it comes on. A very choice slice of vintage UK punkitude, I always thought it would have fit in nicely on the Raw Records label. Searing wah-solo is a bonus. The flipside is "Talkin' Aboout Myself" which I'd honestly never heard before, and it's a spooky punker with surfy guitar licks and reminiscent of a latter-day Damned goofballer perhaps. Guitar solo is pretty tasty and Gerry Attrick does his best Vanian-esque creepy laugh. These guys are still together and have a CD out, but the less you know about that the better. There's no sense in stopping your Last Laugh run here, and the A-Side is a primo Grade A KBD-destructo. (RK)
(Last Laugh // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
The Floor Above "bishop" LP
As good as those demos were, I think this LP takes things a few more steps ahead - which is how it should go anyway, right? Make a couple good demo tapes then a really good record? That seems like how the progression should work. Still, people get it wrong all of the time. If you weren't in on the ground Floor (yikes!), Floor Above is real-deal loner hardcore made by a single shooter from Nashville. From what I've learned, there is a live version of this band (or has been), but these recordings are the work of one auteur, if you will. An explosive twenty songs in total, and I will tell you this: Side A is completely on fire. Just a true scorcher from the lo-fi dimension - but it's a really good lo-fi quality too. Sounds brittle and staticky, but in the right ways and also has enough depth to harbor some low end and a rather wide spectrum overall - not just one channel of hiss, but a masterfully crafted budget recording job. This guy's guitar playing is fantastic - he's not real heavy on the distortion, but his solos have those jarring angles to them - like when you see a bad fracture and someone's ankle is pointing the wrong way after they crash - you know something just isn't right. When he's not breaking off those weirdo solos he's harnessing a trebly wall-of-riffing to set the foundation for most of the tunes, with some cymbal-heavy drumwork and non-obtrusive basslines riding shotgun. Vocals are shouted through the riffwall and come out of your speakers with a bit of the scuzz still on them. Vibes are heavy on the alienation, malaise and mental unrest. And not all of these are fast burners either, he drags you down to the depths slowly but surely on tunes like "Overdose" (which also has my favorite solo sear on this side) as well. B-Side is not a step down in quality, as I think it has some of the better and weirder songs and approaches (and I feel like the recording on this side is louder somehow), taking on some more harsh garage-punk ideas and even a bit of post-hardcore brutishness. "House Fire" into "Unconscious" is my favorite 1-2 combo on this platter. It's very tough to write a really good hardcore LP (especially one that clocks in as long as this) so think anyone's attention starts to wane a bit on Side B, but trust me, after carfeul consideration, both sides are face-melters. Try listening to it starting on Side B a few times. Anyway, this Floor Above guy has me thinking about Raspberry Bulbs but done with real hardcore intentions, or maybe an update on the Mecht Mensch/Tar Babies mentality and has a fittingly bleak enough outlook to belong on the guy from Pink Reason's label. Hardcore lives in 2013, and this guy is trying to kill it again. I'd suggest listening. (RK)
(Savage Quality // www.savagequalityrecordings.com)
Fottutissima Pellicceria Elsa s/t LP
S.S. Records, your home for international hardcore, once again delves into the pit of the forgotten for this archival release of insane 1983 Italian punk so obscure that even a master detective like Soriano couldn't track the band down. Originally released as a demo cassette (and their only recordings that are known of) that SS pursued after a glowing Tim Yo review in MRR, this LP collects the best eight of the dozen tracks from the tape. I'd be remiss not to compare this to the total KBD destruction of their fellow countrymen Tampax and the intensity of Indigesti, but FPE also recall the free-balling rhythmic sludge of Flipper and the most blown-out of Finnish hardcore's noisiest bursts. Combine all of this with Anarcho-punk anti-war and anti-vivisection screeds that I'm sure Crass were proud of (the band's name seems to translate to something about fur?), delivered by a tenacious frontman known only as Roby, who sounds like he wants to kill you. Listening to this I feel like I'm being berated by a vicious Italian madman for twenty minutes. The drummer seems just as crazy, becoming almost like the lead instrument with a style that sounds like he's playing a constant solo packed with fills. They alternate between blazing thrashers and Flipper-style dirge, with the guitar player equally semi-incompetent at both heavy riffing and hardcore blaze but sounding dirty enough to make for an intensely off-kilter attack. These guys obviously weren't master craftsmen trying to emulate the precision of lightspeed time-change HC, but their clangor speaks just as powerfully when they catch fire. Without any backstory we're left to our own devices to try and figure out what's happening and why - their home of Gorizia is a small commune in the far north of Italy, somewhere in the mountains bordering Croatia. I'm imagining some crusty shepherd's sons holing up in a barn trying to emulate whatever punk has filtered into their village and coming up with a glorious din using instruments, powertools and a cowbell actually taken off of a cow. Completely Batshit (and the guy who runs that label will love this I bet) crazy stuff with an impressive shit-fi sound. Vinyl-only, no download, with a repro of the cassette sleeve/insert.(RK)
(S.S. Records // www.s-srecords.com)
Framtid "Defeat of Civilization" LP
We live in fortunate times. Operating on fellow living Japanese legends Gauze's release schedule, Framtid returns eleven years after the undisputed masterwork that was "Under the Ashes". They have missed no beats. Unbelievably relentless. The very thing that makes their imitators so useless is what makes them so vital - what the French call a certain… I don't know what. A variety of tricks are abound: a Totalitär-esque crunch stomp on "Deceived and Abused" that one can only respond to with holes in your walls, constant gear-changes on "UCAV" (so glad they weighed in on drones), "Never Surrender" is a dark and blissful return to the danceable beats they flirted with on "Life's Hard". They still flip the switch into Gloom-mode like a firework tossed into a crowd better than anybody. A complete package, split three ways amongst some of the best curators of punk in the game. The hardest album title imaginable. The only band that can perfectly regurgitate the tone and scariness handed down to us from Discharge's opus in a way that is refreshing, unique, and fittingly bleak. Absolutely essential.(NG)
(La Vida es un Mus Discos/Crust War/Blackwater // www.lavidaesunmus.com)
Funhouse "Sellout" 7"
Here's a weird one. Funhouse were an early-to-mid Eighties Aussie punk band from Sydney, formerly known as Gun Control (and then from Adelaide), who only released one hyper obscure single in 1984 (which this is not a repro of) that the blokes over at Wallaby Beat of course have the scoop on (and the story of the band in excrutiating detail as well), and a live-to-radio split cassette in 1983 with a band called Happy Porpak(?) from which this two song 7" is culled. Did I mention this reissue is on a Korean label yet? I'm imagining that is the reason the band seems to be referred to as Funhouse Sellout on the labels and sleeve. It's just Funhouse, and the A-Side is "Sellout" which is a pretty nice bit o' punkaroo actually, really catchy guitar hook, nice straightforward punk vox with a good chorus, rhythm section is competent...but then there's a two minute long guitar solo that is super wanky which just keeps going after the vocals kick back in, and then he goes off for another minute or so to close the song out. I'm still deciding whether it's a brilliant move or just total shit. Musically, think somewhere between second wave Britpunk and Dead Kennedys with Birdman-style guitar moves. The B-Side is called "Mr. Callan" and has a weird UK mod-pop sort of sound, very upbeat tempo and hook, but the guitar fuzz is pretty nasty and there's another wankout solo or two here but they're far more tasteful. Ol' Rip Savage is a pretty likeable frontman and can even sing a bit, and he gives it a good go on this tune, although I still can't figure who Mr. Callan is (UK TV show maybe?). The band had their gear stolen after a gig in '84 and decided to just call it quits. Bummer. I can't imagine who had the idea to reissue this or why, seems like a really bizarre pick for a release - but hey, it's certainly not bad, and either of these cuts certainly pass the grade for a post-Vol.4 KBD volume (meaning I've heard worse) and after spending a good amount of time with this trying to get to the bottom of things I'd really just like to hear the rest of the tape. And even the Happy Porpak side - what is a Porpak and what would they sound like, I wonder? Another bit of evidence that no matter how linked in we think we are, there are still rocks to be looked under all over the world. Not sure how easy this is going to be to get in the US regrettably - suppposedly they were going to be sold via eBay, but there's only been one listed so far and it went for $75+...Scum stats: 150 copies on a beautiful shade of blue vinyl.(RK)
(Preserved On Plastic // email@example.com)
Fuzz "Sunderberry Dream" 7"
Fuzz "This Time I Got A Reason" 7"
This TiM 7" here is the one that kicked off Fuzzmania, the first press of which saw massive eBay grip-n-flips for nutso prices just days after it was released, here repressed for the sleeping masses who weren't online the day it went up for sale. In a nutshell, Fuzz is Ty Segall with The Moonhearts minus Mikal Cronin, and for all you Ty-haters out there, it's the least offensive way for you to hear the guy I suppose. I'm not offended by Segall's stuff as much as many people seem to be (and the backlash against him, The OhSees and most of the SF "psych" scene, referred to as "bike messenger rock" by some, is pretty savage these days), although I have to say I'm not into his solo records, especially since the jump to Drag City, but I think this band is not bad. It's hard to argue with these guitar sounds at the very least, and they do as good a job as can be done replicating the monster rock of bands like Blue Cheer, Wicked Lady or say Edgar Broughton Band, in this day and age. It's a wimpy version of said monster rock, sure, and I'm certainly not going to agree with anyone comparing them to Sabbath, but hey, labels gotta say things to sell records, right? So, back to the TiM record, this is the roughest sounding of the Fuzz I've heard, "This Time I Got A Reason" snakes the drain pretty well, Ty's drumming sounds really good in this template, Charlie and Roland push massive amounts of vintage amplified fuzzzz and the only drawback might be the vox (which sound just like any Ty Segall record). I suppose "Fuzz's 4th Dream" is their stab at a heavy doom number with some needly/wanky guitar lines before stepping in a big pile of fuzzzz. The ITR 7" was released to coincide with their LP (which is moving some serious units, putting a real hurting on the ITR mailorder department from what I've been told) and "Sunderberry Dream" is a UK-inspired fuzzzster with a pretty good riff and some "dreamy" Ty voxxx all recorded by Woodhouse, so you know it sounds great. They cover King Crimson on the flip, and it's a toss off B-Sider cover of a tune that probably doesn't ever need to be covered. I'd reckon your best intro into this band is actually the "Sleigh Ride" 7" (also on ITR), but the TiM 7" is buyable too. I haven't dipped into the LP yet, but if the monster sales numbers for In the Red help subsidize Larry putting out more ITR Archives stuff, I couldn't be happier. To frame things from my perspective, I always hold up Ty's tracks on his side of the Black Time split LP as his best stuff, and this band is probably the best thing he's done since then. This is also not as good as any Moonhearts record though. A lot of readers will probably hate this without even hearing it, but if you're of the ilk who actually likes to try things on for size, there are some decent moments on these records if you like listening to fuzzz, and the songwriting, while nothing to write home about, certainly replicates the period/genre they're taking influence from well enough. Nothing groundbreaking, and I'm as stumped as most as to where the hype comes from, but this is also far from awful. I can't even slap a "blazingly mediocre" tag on it. More like a "fuzzily slightly above average" maybe. I feel like I've just wasted a lot of time writing this...I could've just listened to a Witchcraft record instead.(RK)
(In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
(Trouble in Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Gary Wrong Group “Knights Of Misery” 12”
Gary Wrong has grown a toe or two since his/their/its last outing, morphing into a full fledged mutant combo. They’ve even managed to rope Quintron into the mix, letting him squiggly-doo about and oscillate away for bonus headspin. Knights Of Misery is somewhat like the robotic companion to the True Sons Of Thunder releases or perhaps the US tag teammate for the Satanic Rockers. A trifecta of sonic perfection, right there. “Post Natal Pre Death” is a fugged electro-tarded mulch that seeps a Wizzard Sleeve glop all over your Misfits slip mat. Especially since it’s a reworked Sleeve tune. “Reasons to Shive” is the serious breakaway broken pop jammer. I ain’t gonna’ claim to know jack about the lyrical meanings of any band, but the couplet of “…brown reason to live, pink reason to die…” is fucking brilliant. This snake has circled and begun to eat its own head. A few of you fools out there should stick n’ poke this into your biceps. “Heroin Beach (Serpents Attack)” gets a remodel on here as well. This time Gary runs it through a bleach cycle, pulling away a cleaner, shorter beast with some added creep-o-philia organ and a sharper vocal run. I christened this Bogglin© Rock last time out. It still is, only now the whole mess has slid even further down the demon pit, finding them lost in the late night cable listings of Hell. If this monster mentality is alright with y’all, then “Saint Theo” will bring out your giddy goosebumps once they break out the D&D references. Imagine an early Nothing People tune circling the glue pot while some LSD freaks get the idea to wedge a wooden spoonful of Sam & Dave inspired soul into the muck. So odd it might cure cancer. “Pollen Christ” and their Bad Times “Streets Of Iron” cover make for repeat performance at the end, using this OOP single to wrap the whole journey up like the red ribbon around a flimsy Tupperware container, filled to the brim with larvae encrusted peyote bites. Betcha can’t eat just one. As for the scum stats: Fuck it. If you’ve been on the fence, you’re too late to the dance (again). Maybe they’ll press up another batch… (RSF)
(Total Punk / Jeth-Row // www.floridasdying.com)
Gas Rag "Human Rights" EP
"This world is such a drag - so put some shoe goo in a bag - breath (sic) in, pass out - I want out". Lyrics as ignorant as this deserve a pretty fucked sonic accompaniement and Gas Rag provide the bloody and raw hardcore meat necessary to pull it off. Savage guitar playing, d-beat styled steamroll drumming, hoarsely bellowed vocals all congeal into a quivering mass. Ex-members of Acid Reflux and the similarly drug-consumed Culo shine brighter than either band here, six songs of picksliding, riff riding and string breaking guitar moves that make this a rather memorable entry in the overflowing hardcore scene of today. Crafty guitar work that at its best reminds me of the dumbest Brown Sugar tunes. Some real world champ riffing and soloing here, combining Euro approaches with classic Pig Champ moves. Gas Rag have a demo that is even more ripping than this, which is what is making the hardcore "scene" of today the most interesting arena to me after years of not giving a fuck - tapes that actually fucking mean something making the rounds underground and spreading fast. Sure, there's the abundance of shit as well, but filthy and nihilsitic gems like Gas Rag make having a tape deck in 2013 mandatory. The fact that I'm too old to be going to basement shows (unless I want to get stared at like I'm a narc) sucks for me, but I can at least pit vicariously to these tapes and singles at home. Beach Impediment puts out yet another quality product, already in its second press and going fast.(RK)
(Beach Impediment // beachimpedimentrecords.bigcartel.com)
German Shepherds "Music for Sick Queers" LP+7”
Complete fucking freaks. I’m not sure how I was made aware of this album, but way back in Y2K I found myself with access to a college radio station’s music library and I proceeded to go as apeshit as possible within a few hours each week burning obscure LPs onto CDRs. 'Music For Sick Queers' was one of the first, and one of the freakiest. This record will never not sound like the product of disturbed minds; no surprise that surviving original member Mark Hutchinson hails from Northeast Ohio. Once again, Superior Viaduct gives up the goods, cementing their rep as the finest retro outsider-punk label in Christendom. If the menacing drawings that serve as German Shepherds artwork don’t clue you in as to the damaged nature of this SF duo, one listen to “Communist Control” will set you straight. This is music that considers Throbbing Gristle’s “Hamburger Lady” a love song, an ode to joy. All of the classic subjects are touched upon: apocalypse, Hitler, Commies, Satanists, drugs, pedophilia. This last one is a touchy (ouch) subject for the Sheps. There were rumors for years that the now-deceased half of German Shepherds, Stephen Scheatzle, had been accused of some sort of child abuse and then committed suicide. It appears that this was merely a media stunt (and perhaps an inspiration for The Dwarves and He Who Cannot Be Named?), but I wouldn’t put anything past these damaged cretins. The kid-stalking anthem “Booty Jones” practically implicates you in an unspeakable crime, tossed off so nonchalantly that the creep factor rises as the song progresses. “I Adore You” is more throbbing fluorescent light-buzzing and insistent rhythm, like the gait of a persistent stalker, clinging to the shadows, patiently. “Mr. Tupper” is an audio collage, not unlike Orchid Spangiafora, cutting-up radio adverts and snatches of conversation. “THC,” the Devil’s weed, brings the Satanic goods, as only the mid-80s could, a peak time for ol’ Beelzebub and his countless minions. I wonder what Bob Larsen would’ve made of this cacophonous invocation of psychedelic music, heavy drug use and patricide. Satan is boring? Nah, not always. Christ almighty, I wanna shove this record into every noise-dork’s earholes. Don’t worry, children, I brought lube. (EEK)
(Superior Viaduct // www.superiorviaduct.com)
Giant Henry "Big Baby" LP
This is a most-likely OOP Record Store Day release, but I can’t pass up the opportunity to talk about one of my all-time favorite bands in the virtual pages of Termbo. When I was in high school, my two favorite currently-existing bands were Unwound and Gaunt. To the astute ‘90s punkologist, much about my younger self could be inferred from such knowledge. Gaunt was local(ish), kicked major ass, were snarky as fuck, but wore their heart on their sleeve, like every great Midwestern band should. 'I Can See Your Mom From Here' was a crucial album in my life, and remains a go-to staple. On the other side of the river stood Unwound. A power trio from the rain-soaked PNW, Unwound sometimes seemed like Nirvana’s younger siblings. And they kind of were. Per the liner notes from their classic debut 'Fake Train': “thankyounirvanaforthebuyingusbeerthankyounirvanaforlettinguspracticehere.” But, in many ways, Unwound was the superior band. They were far more punk and underground, and their music evolved by leaps and bounds over the years. While they certainly never had the innate ear for melody like Cobain & co. did, they still managed to write dozens of memorable songs over their decade-plus existence. While sonically closer to Mission of Burma, Unwound’s howls of rage and sorrow had more in common with the emotional terrain of Husker Du’s 'Zen Arcade'. Unwound’s songs were dust-storms of existential fury that channeled teen angst like few bands ever have (see 'Fake Train’s opener “Dragnalus”). And now that the Nineties are “back” (whomever said that pop culture moves in twenty-year cycles should get a MacArthur genius grant), Unwound has come around again, with new reissues on Numero Group, including a deluxe representation of the hard-to-find true first-album (posthumously committed to wax by Honey Bear in 1995). And that takes us almost back to where this record sits in the continuum. Before Justin Trosper, Vern Rumsey and Brandt Sandeno got Unwound-proper going, they had their high school band, Giant Henry. One Giant Henry song, “Crab Nebula,” managed to find its way into the early Unwound set, but all of the songs contained on this record are previously unheard. Recorded in their hometown of Tumwater in 1991, this is what teen spirit truly smelled like. “Super Nova” blasts off with a thick sound, unexpected noisy breaks and Trosper’s Cobain-esque yowl. On the insert, Rumsey is wearing a Nirvana t-shirt and the influence is transparent -- “Listenator” sounds like a Bleach outtake -- but Giant Henry manage to sculpt it into something that can stand on its own. And, much like Nirvana, these kids “loved the Melvins to death.” This kind of noisy off-time sludge seems to come natural to our friends up in the Loggerlands. As the trio morphed into Unwound and became more serious, the music grew even noisier and more unhinged. 'Big Baby' is for completists-only, of course, but I can’t imagine any such person would be disappointed with this unexpected early glimpse into one of the ‘90s crucial bands. 1000 copies; silkscreened jackets with silkscreened inserts. (EEK)
(The Numero Group // numerogroup.com)
Gino & The Goons "Troubled" 7"
Gino & The Goons "Oh Yeah!" 7"
I've been giving these Gino & The Goons records tons of spins hoping that something clicks because, hey, I really WANT to like them. I love dumb garage-punk bands and the Total Punk seal approval is usually as good as gold these days, but I'm just not feeling these guys. I'm sure seeing them live is a big part of it, but the records should at least be good for some kicks, especially when I'm hearing Supercharger references to this stuff. On the Total Punk 7" they just sound like an average garage band - and that average thing is the problem - not inept enough to be shit-tastically sloppy, but also not proficient enough to be a guns-blazing dumb-it-down punktacular a la Spits or LFD. Just really middle-of-the-road, and that includes the songwriting too - it's dumb and all, but not super funny or super catchy. One of the few Total Punk singles I would not recommend. On the PPW single, "Oh Yeah!" might actually be dumb enough to like - it's the best tune out of this bunch - but "Stand Tall" is more of the same mediocre stuff. Not good enough to be good, and not bad enough to be good either. Sorry fellas. Scum stats: TP should be 500 press, PPW 7" is 400 press with some nudie pics on the sleeve at least.(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
(Pelican Pow Wow // www.pelicanpowwow.com)
Golden Pelicans "The Earls" 7"
Last year I had the good fortune to see the Golden Pelicans on their home turf, and they tore the roof off of Uncle Lou's (on a weeknight), solidifying this fact in my head: they are the best garage-slop band on the planet right now. The show was so drunk and sweaty I don't remember much aside from having a fucking great time, but I'm pretty sure I heard at least one of these tunes that night. Or maybe not...but I do know they played nothing but hits, and if "The Earls" isn't a fucking hit I don't know what is. Party rock of the highest order: King G's vox are the absolute apex of gravel-voiced perfection - every syllable enunciated with a snot-n-sneer shout that personifies the band - raw, rough and hammered. Guitarist Party Sub serves up the tastiest of riffs here as well and the Gooch/Lil Stink rhythm section put on a clinic. "Chained to this Dumpster" is the Pelicans' most moving-est tune, giving some uptempo shake to the shinola, with The Gooch working OT on that bassline, King G doing some inpsired testifying. All sorts of guitar on this thing, twanged out licks and shredded riffs, and the boys support their fearless leader with some back-ups on the breakdown. Another shit-hot double A sider from the only band in Colonialtown that matters. Scum stats: limited edition poster version is a must-have, as are those Pelicans patches Florida's Dying has for sale.(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Gospel Truth "A Lonely Man Does Foolish Things" LP
Austin quartet with ties to Golden Boys, Nazi Gold, Flesh Lights and John Wesley Coleman's band that have been out and about since 2007, but commitments to those other bands kept them on the back burner. They apparently broke up in 2010 and have now reconvened with a new lineup and this, their first LP. The on-again/off-again nature of the group (and the already mentioned multiple band situations) certainly doesn't inpsire confidence that this band even the main priority of the members. Singer/saxophonist/keyboard player Mark Tonucci does his best at shouldering most of the load here, trying to give them a strong vocal presence, and the sax and synth are the more remarkable elements of the record, even if they appear infrequently. Gospel Truth reminds me very much of Alex Cuervo bands like This Damn Town or A Feast of Snakes (before he went pop-punk in Hex Dispensers), working a rootsy blues-punk angle, but in a far more amicable fashion. You can hear some brief moments of TExas-fried damage when they get to their heaviest plateaus and I feel like they're trying for a Flesheaters/Gun Club dark Americana thing as well. They just don't have the songs to make it all work and this thing sounds way too clean and flat. Tonucci's vox work on half the tracks and on the other half I feel like he's in over his head and the lyrics aren't so hot overall, especially for a recording where you can hear them very clearly. The title track is an exercise in plodding boredom, if you're gonna call a song "Easy Action" it better be good (and it's not) and they also use the song title "Human Zoo", and while it's actually one of the better tracks, I'll never be able to listen to it and not think of this. Some real hokey stuff here, I swear some of these tunes somehow sound like Fugazi. The best moment is "Beasts", which is their attempt at the sweeping 5+ minute epic - the drama actually works somehow, and the last few minutes of noise-n-groove is their most inpsired bit of playing. Not an LP I'd recommend spending money on.(RK)
(12XU // 12xu.net)
Growth "Turn" 7"
Dark and plodding two guitars/no bass/drums blues-garage from Martin Savage's Human Audio imprint. Reverbed female vocals are the centerpiece of both tracks, and hearing her voice crack a bit on "The Flood" gives the tune some drama that the textbook strum-n-bang instrumentation lacks. "Turn" is the better track, summoning some bad juju vibes with devilish guitar pluck and an angry but controlled slo-mo stompout. Meh. Scum stats: 200 copies.(RK)
(Human Audio Recordings // humanaudio.blogspot.com)
Heavy Lids "Gravity Reverse" 7"
Heavy Lids are the latest vehicle for an apparently no longer incarcerated John Henry and Heather from Detontations/Static Static, with an all star supporting cast in Andy from Tirefire/Die Rotzz, Benny Devine from Gary Wrong/Wizz Sleeve/every other band from Alabama (he's in Natural Child now?), the bass player from Sex Hunter (a band I'll admit I've never heard) and recorded by Quintron. "Gravity Reverse" dials back the synthy excesses of Static Static for a more direct organ laced garage-punk approach, a bit evilly sci-fi like the nicest Gary Wrong cut with a wicked guitar sound that chops the gunk up nicely. Reminds me a bit of The Scrip+s. "This Horse" has a more rock'n'roll feel with doubled guy/gal vox and a lighter/twangier guitar sound. File under: opening bands. Scum stats: 400 copies with screened sleeves. (RK)
(Pelican Pow Wow // www.pelicanpowwow.com)
The Hugh Beaumont Experience "Cone Johnson" EP
Fort Worth's greatest punk band and one of Texas' mightiest KBD torpedo bonzers gets the reissue treatment. Ryan Richardson did the legwork on this one a long time ago, and after a few spins of this I'm still regretting not buying a copy of the 'Virgin Killer' LP when I had a chance. A nearly perfect four tracks of teenage zit punk, with "Zyklon B" being one of the best Texas punkers of all time. Brad Stiles' vox are a classic example of sneering punk snot from the mouth of a high schooler fresh from having his mind blown by the Ramones and Pistols. I'm very partial to "Where'd Ya Go Sid", my favorite of the microgenre of Sex Pistols referencing KBD tracks. "Charity" is an awful (in the best way) pop-influenced tune and Stiles' vox are extra Rotten on "Money...". This record is fantastic example of what a real KBD killer should be - teenaged, slightly incompetent, junk-pop culture referencing (HBE cover the classic tropes here too: nazis, TV and Sid) and having a great back story (which includes a Butthole Surfer being a dick at one point - gee, who'da thunk?). "Mastered from an original safety copy" with repro art as well, although a pocket sleeve would've been the classy way to go...Scum stats: 400 on black and 100 on green.(RK)
(Cheap Rewards // www.cheaprewards.net)
Humanbeast "Venus Ejaculates Into The Banquet" LP
If you're putting a record with the Load logo on it on your turntable, you can at least be assured you're going to hear something loud, aggro or obnoxious, or all three. Spanning any genre you can think of, I still feel like Load is one of the most dependable imprints in history. I might not like all of the artists Ben releases, but I can always appreciate the aesthetic he strives for with the label. Humanbeast are loud and a bit obnoxious. They are also a synth-pop band. Eight tracks of dance music that have some really goth touches, some industrial moves at times (and some similar imagery/lyrical aesthetics) and some really great bass tones. Humanbeast are a married couple from Providence, and this video sums up the band, and what I figure is a pretty average day in Providence, better than any words I can muster. The girl sings all of the songs, and her voice is used as an instrument fairly well - she hits some jarringly high register shrieks that sound inhuman at times, but she mostly gives them a go with an opera-trained dramatic iciness. The tunes are fairly minimal - just a digital drum beat with one or two synth lines - some fancy studio toys make appearances for texture as well. I'm no expert in this field, but some of these even have a trip-hop-esque quality to them, a la the souped-up dub dynamics of a really dark Massive Attack tune. This is not a bad record at all - I'm certainly not one to go out and find synth-pop, but I'm pleased that this found me. They fold in enough elements of Suicide, krauty drone, the already mentioned goth/industrial moves, some Depeche Mode, some really over the top singing. The weird sex themes just seem like overkill - but I guess they needed some kind of transgressive element. A lot of this is close to the currently hip soundtrack vibes of a movie like Drive (which was culled in part from the Troubleman roster) or a Gaspar Noe flick. They might make sense touring with Cairo Pythian. Like I said, I'm no expert, but the beats here seem passable, the recording is dark and shiny and it all sounds fittingly ripe...funny that the synth record is the one I like best out of the three new Loads. "Linen" is a really beautiful song that I'd like even better if they weren't trying to weird it up lyrically.(RK)
(Load Records // www.loadrecords.com)
Hunx & His Punx “Street Punk” LP/CD
I’ve managed to ignore the existence of all things Hunx related for almost as long as I’ve lived in California. Not to slight the main man one bit, he’s always been friendly to me…it’s just, you know…I hate fun (and let’s not even mention Gravy Train!!!). A few weeks ago, all that changed. After spending most of my down time on the clock watching the delirious Hollywood Nails webisodes on the ol’ internet-box, Hunx & Co. arrived to shoot a video in my works backroom. During the six hours of sweaty leather boys, smoke machine and sequined hot pants that followed, shit began to click. Not like they broke me and I’m out there buying hot dogs by the twelve pack or grabbing up every 3” lapel buttons I can find for my vintage denims or anything. Shit just got real. Their music had morphed into an honest to gawd, stupid, snotty, sloppy fuckin’ punk rock. I grabbed the promo CD and high-tailed it home. Since I don’t follow the Bay area kitsch & party scene too closely (I hate fun, remember?), I had to be schooled in the Hunx line-up these days. Shannon ala Clam makes a ton o’ sense in the co-songwriting department. She finally gets to put her Misfits infatuation to good use. Choice cuts like “You Think You’re Tuff” and “Mud In your Eyes” ring true like they could be Danzig’s close kitten kissin’ cousin. Hellvis loves his oldies and so do she. Keeping the back beat is Erin Emslie who spent time in every damn band in this town before shaking it off to NYC. Remember The Time Flys? That was proto worship years before we started Last Laughing it up via reissues. Main Hunker Seth’s been busy toughing his cuticles from what I can hear as well. The bubblegum smarm & sleaze is still there, hanging onto that pencil thin John Waters mustache for dear life, only now there’s a added layer of dangerous guitar slashing about and threatening to go outta’ tune at any given second. 'Street Punk' is gonna’ find a warm snuggle spot somewhere in the crates next to the Final Solutions output or that Schiller Killers/I.V. Eyes split. You know, when punks make a fake punk that’s more punk than most punk? That’s punk. One-take wonders full of off the cuff scunge and leaving plenty of warts up front and center. In the spotlight even. Shit, draw attention to them nasty ass blemishes with glitter and crepe hair. “Bad Skin” peels off from the get-go like a bratty ol’ Redd Kross tune. “Everyone’s a Pussy” is half a minutes worth of aggro femme thrash that stops me in my tracks. Is this queercore counterpart to S.O.D.?! “Born Blonde” is the poptune that scrapes closer to the earlier penned Nobunz romps. I’d probably diss this joint out of context (it’s my least favorite on here) but sandwiched within all the other Bloodstains-styled madness, it adds to the whole various artists compilation feel. “I’m Coming Back” is the mid tempo, mean streets number with Seth spewing ghetto violence as Shannon takes control of the strong, if brief choruses. The “Street Punk” theme carries a fondness for Carbonas while “Don’t Call Me Fabulous” rolls out in riot-grrl bluntness. “Rat Bag” makes no fucking sense lyrically but wallows in a near perfect herky-jerky 80’s Cali slush. Throw in a Beastie Boys “Egg Raid” cover, the downer surf and splattery soloing of “Kill Elaine” and the 2AM close down the bar balladeering of “It’s Not Easy” and we may all be heading into blackout territory. 20 minutes that make like an Adolescents wet dream. Here I am, over forty and full of frowns like a saggy-pants McGee, yet I can’t fight the compulsion to play this again. And again. And ditto. Impressive enough to make me actually go back and pick up some Panty Raid singles. Maybe I’m not allergic to this “fun” after all...
Scum Stats: Hardly Art pressed up the first batch in an egg yolk yuck yellow. How many? Hell if I know, they’re practically a major in comparison to most labels ‘round these parts. Let’s just say enough to last 'til payday. (RSF)
(Hardly Art // www.hardlyart.com)
Inutili s/t 12”
Batshit knocked over a few pins last year with that Sunflare 12” and they continue down that raggedy path of blistering worldsyke and outsider kraut power. This time the Shit co-conspired with Goodbye Boozy to bring us a one-sided two track freak fest that’ll keep the Japrock or James Arthur heads in full effect. “Satori” is not a Flower Travelin’ Band cover, though the sounds ain’t too far removed. A galloping bass line leads the way unwavering for five minutes plus as the guitars thread and weave around it, slowly working their way into a full tilt Itallio space war of cosmic carnage. A backwards tape kick in. The guitar strings sound as though they’re being scrapped across metal conduit. Then all hell cuts loose within a free-form vacuum of sound. Pedal powered atmos-fear. It’s like that skewed bridge in Monoshock’s “Soledad”, only this time caught in a loop. Black hole punk. The brief little end piece (“Useless Asshole”) is like the post-coital smoke. A gentle strummer to spoon away your spent dreams within. When the A-side is up, you can flip the fucker and watch the needle skate like Dorothy Hamill. Neat. Scummage count: 200 pressed. 100 copies for each label to sell. All numbered n’ shit. Get with the program. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.bigcartel.com)
Lazy "Obsession" LP
Sharp art-punk action from KC's Lazy (or L/A/Z/Y if you prefer), a band with a real indie-rock pedigree: members have played with/in Ariel Pink, Girls (the Christopher Owens one not the shitty Seattle band), Uncle Tupelo, New Amsterdams, Grant Hart and...The Band?! A fast-moving nine song LP that bounces and bubbles with anthemic tunes that have a lot more of a punk feel than I'd imagined, although it's punk rock filtered through an indie-rock sieve. There's nothing too raw here, but a pretty mature-sounding set of songs that you'd expect from a group of accomplished musicians. They're going for a Slash Records-esque cowboy hat punk and John/Exene dynamic without the rockabilly - more of a real rock'n'rollers smash-n-grab attack without any of the sloppiness of a less experienced/younger band. There's a post-punk bassline prominence to a lot of it, some real anthemic cuts ("Childhood Wonder" and "Party City") that work the formula really well. The high energy elevates this a level and they do add some off-balance touches in the vox and via crafty guitar work. However, this also has moments that sound like an indie band dumbing it down. I don't mean this deridingly, but think of some of those Rotted Tooth Records bands, scrape off all of the goop and psychosis, then file down all the ragged edges, and you'd have this. (RK)
(Moniker Records // www.moniker-records.com)
Legionaire's Disease Band "Rather See You Dead" 7"
Another classic bloodstain across Texas reissued by Cheap Rewards. "Rather See You Dead" is one of those KBD classics you can never really tire of hearing as it's just so stupid. Baaaaaaahhhh. Musically just proficient enough, dumb riff, hot solo, Jerry Anomie has a perfect Seventies punker bark. I never knew that the cover of this 7" is actually a picture of his grandfather in a casket. Pretty dark. "Downtown" on the flip is almost the same tune but played a little more uptempo. Dig that cymbal action. Almost as dumb as the A-Side. Some liners and a pocket sleeve would've been nice, but this is still cool to have. Scum stats: 400 on black and 100 on pink for some reason.(RK)
(Cheap Rewards // www.cheaprewards.net)
Life Stinks “Shadow On The Wall” 7”
Q: What do ya’ get when you combine one mic destroying Ex-outdoorsmen, a disinfected stoic feedback thrower, a femme powered sturdy low end and a gonzo trap attacking longhair with an open affection for the Allman Bros?
A: LIFE STINKS. Zero food tunes or beach fun to be found, as God (Ned Hayden) woulda’ wanted it. I ain’t seen or heard a peep from this combo in over three months (I was following them like a Phish fan), but their mean spirited tracks are etched into my lobes permanently. Like those little holes left behind in the black screen of a child’s Lite Brite© set; you can close your eyelids, but the glare is still there. Burnt into your optical nerves. It just keeps repeating. LIFE STINKS. LIFE STINKS. We all need a drink.
The East Bay may have a few shinning stars and/or transplants, but none come close to Stinks rep in that rat infested, wine bar bloated burg across the stream (fuck you and your artisan craft cheeseries). Thankfully we get a little piece of them to take home. “Shadow On The Wall” is from less is more school of song writing. It plods along, slowly seething with the occasional drum seizure/guitar slash winning combo. Lifting all the right moves from Stickmen or Flipper, but still keeping shit as catchy as a Tenderloin STD. Snuffing all those squares who think that No Trend wasn’t savvy enough at slinging their strings. Plus: it’s a song about stalking. At this point you don’t even have to loosing me up with ladydrinks, I’m all yours. “Drag You” on the flip is a smidge more upbeat and nodding towards the leather jacketed dumb shits of past. Think of The Spits without a gimmick (and stronger chops) or a piss serious, down and out Misfits that doesn’t waste time in goofy spook show mumbo jumbo. There’s enough realness in these words to terrify. Chud’s vocals float this fucker to the top of the stale bathwater. He’s got the conviction ya’ need and the bluntness to deliver; like a modern day Stiv, Darby or Mike Hudson. Real talk. I only wish there were more bands around here this hostile, bitter and perfect (and not hardcore). San Francisco should make a souvenir squished penny machine in their honor. I’ll even cut them some slack for letting that Rot Shit loudmouth play bonus percussion live and turning ‘em on to The Dead. LIFE STINKS. If they break up, I’ll start a cover band. I will not let it go. (RSF)
Life Stinks sound exactly like a band called Life Stinks should. Disaffected, bored, misanthropic, sick, tired, fucked. "Shadow on the Wall" is dead end music that exists in the spaces where good vibes go to die. Disconnected and practically devoid of any emotions except hate and ennui, played so listlessley you almost miss its lecherous intent. The solo here sounds like a guitar dying a senseless death. Spectacular. "Drag You" sounds like the band is at least half-awake, creating a virtual wall of lethargy. I've rarely heard a band that captures such a complete downer vibe so perfectly without sounding like a joke. It's a bit scary. I'm glad that Chud has found a new project, because as much as I liked the Outdoorsmen, there wasn't much else he was going to be able to do with that band that they didn't accomplish on the first few singles. Here, he seems to have found an even better outlet for his problems with the world in general. I've heard the LP already, and it definitely keeps up the aesthetic formed here. Highly recommended. (RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Liquor Store "In the Garden" LP
Liquor Store may very well be the only REAL rock'n'roll band existing today, or at least the only one with enough balls and attitude to be as true to the form as they are. As I gushed in a review for 'Yeah Buddy', they've taken only the purest of influences and brought a sound that's as big as the biggest arena rockers into the bars, basements and garages of America. That's the only utterance of garage you're gonna hear in this review, as LS are certainly no garage band. They're not taking cues from any Back from the Grave comp, or even stealing pages from the '90s garage punk playbook. They're certainly no retro-psych outfit and they're punk as much as The Dictators were punks. Liquor Store play ROCK AND ROLL, something that few if any other bands these days dare to. These guys will save America if everyone can stop posing long enough to give them a chance. Whereas 'Yeah Buddy' was a magnum 2XLP opus, 'In the Garden' clocks in at a concise 35 minutes with eight songs of unadulterated rock music showing off guitar moves they've tightened even further since last go-round. "Satin Dollars" opens this thing sounding like a million bucks - the production is fittingly huge, the instrumentation full of flash and bang and polished with liberal doses of piano, harmonica, tambo, keys, snaps, claps and more that continues across the LP. The triple guitar threat is devastating, recalling the majesty of three-gun attackers Molly Hatchet and echoing some of their fine Southern rock moves at times. "Keys to the Face" is the big time anthem here - tough as leather pants, a mean and mysterious rocker that drives with an indefatigable catchiness. Guitar lines bob and weave and intertwine with each other, the type of teamwork not seen outside of organized sports. "Big Wheels" is a tale of takin' care of business delivered with the twangy zest and zeal that even BTO couldn't muster (probably because they were Canadian). "Pile of Dirt" cribs moves from the good ol' Nuge himself, take-no-prisoners guitar action that hasn't been heard since "Stranglehold", combined with the world-beating self-loathing that powered the best of classic punk. "Lynchmob" is faster and louder righteousness for the punks. "Vodka Beach" shows off their sensitive side - who needs romance, when you got a hand? "Titty Was Loc'd" is some band of brothers kinda shit and has the fanciest solos and the type of spirit that would make The Boss proud. And "Midnight Walker" fits in somewhere between The Boss and Dead Boys, the modern day "Sonic Reducer" as envisioned from the shores of New Jersey. If the record buying public and music press has a clue, this should be launching them into the stratosphere. Some of the finest lyrics written since Adny Shernoff was still on an active roster. These guys have squeezed eveything good out of classic rock and punk of the Seventies, cold filtered all the bullshit out and turned it into this ice cold LP. Rock'n'roll laid bare at your feet. This is no joke. This is serious shit, serious partying, serious rock'n'roll. Don't be a pussy. (RK)
(Almost Ready Records // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
Lumpy and The Dumpers "Sex Pit" 7" EP
Finally, a vinyl offering from the band who released the best demo tape of the year, St. Louis' slime-punkers Lumpy and the Dumpers. This is a band I'm REALLY excited about. Totally raw and gory garbagecan punk rocking from some (or just one?) teenage weirdos. Completely overblown and distorted bass and guitars with impressively coherent and slamming drum work giving this this glop some vertebrae. Absolutey savage vocals and right-for-the-throat intensity that is remiscent of the earliest Reatards stuff in its 100% punk rock attitude and sound, if Jay was more informed by hardcore and Cleveland than Memphis and the Oblivians. And just like Jay wrote honestly catchy songs underneath all of the blown-out fire and puke punkola, so does Lumpy. The riffs are 100% killer and memorable, the songwriting shows actual thought - there's some smart structure and dynamics here not just uber-stupid bulldozers. I mean, these songs are stupid bulldozers, but smart in essence. "Too Much Slime" barrels along unleashing a truly wicked hook you can not deny. "Elephant Man" is hardcore-punk blasting that leaves a slime trail behind the needle, and the lyrics to this one (and all these songs) are fantastic and wonderfully disgusting. "Can't take a snooze without starting to ooze/I've got a bad case of the mutant blues"! "Sex Pit" is the most demented and cleverly constructed song, the best representation of what punk should be in 2013 - kids taking the work of the past: KBD, hardcore, the real garage-punk of the Nineties, Dwarves and all that, and making it theirs. Brutal and catchy in equal doses, made by mongos who aren't concerned with making the scene or wearing berets. The best thing since Hank Wood & The Hammerheads. I feel like this is the single that represents the next wave. The Spotted Race. Let me see you nitwits pogo! Scum stats: there was a tour edition released for Chaos in Tejas that I will pay anyone handsomely for a copy of. Get at me. (RK)
(Muckraker Records // muckrakerrecords.bigcartel.com)
Mallwalkers "Shake the Rust off" LP
I feel bad that I have to describe Mallwalkers as an idea that looks bad on paper but highly exceeds your expectations, but I also suppose it says something about them as a band that's good enough to make a funk-wave influenced style succeed in 2013. And billing them as funky first and foremost is selling them short - they're certainly more aptly described as New Wave Garage Soul or No Wave Dance Music...whatever, genres are for breaking, right? As of the recording of this LP, Mallwalkers are operating as an 11-piece band, including two drummers, a four piece horn section (sometimes larger), two singers and at least one dancer, and that's not including special guests. Bands that Mallwalkers have shared members with: Brown Sugar, Plates, Rat Mask, Failure's Union, Coworkers and a dozen more you haven't heard of unless you live in WNY. So, this ambitious ten song LP starts really strong - "Future Shock" is their hardest tune, all post-punk angles and muscle and an excellent declaration of purpose. "Going Downtown" is a hooky and saxy bit of urban rock-n-soul, "Put Your Hands Together" a political bit'o funk fun. "Get You Back" is a Fifties sock-hop inspired tune that I'm not sure works, but I applaud the effort. They get back on track with Side B's "Addicted to Sound", a no-wavey Eighties trawl that maintains a molasses-like catchiness. "Shake it to the Floor" is pretty close to the Big Boys formula with some Troublefunk vibes even. Even though this record tails off a bit on Side B, it's frontloaded enough to keep you coming back and the half-dozen highlights here are rather unique for today's stages, giving them some extra weight. I'm very proud to say that Mallwalkers are from my hometown, a city that is often maligned and subjected to ridicule for our climate, unemployment and luckless sports teams. This collective is filled with the types of people that make places like Buffalo special to those of us who love it here, those who see the opportunities here - I believe nearly every person in this band also participates in bettering the culture and politics of this city in other ways - from record labels (Feral Kid, Drug Party) to small press and print (One Percent Press, Argy Bargy Printing) to community artspace/activisism (Sugar City), and I'm sure that I'm overlooking something. Every city should be lucky enough to have a Mallwalkers of their own. (RK)
(Peterwalkee Records // www.peterwalkeerecords.com)
The Marble Vanity s/t LP
The Marble Vanity "You Can't Step On A Rainbow" 7"
The minds behind Cococoma and Thee Hipshakes take a hard left turn with The Marble Vanity, a psychedelic pop outfit who leave any semblance of garage-rock far in the rearview mirror. I was never really much of a Hipshakes fan but Cococoma were a fun garage act and I particularly like Lisa Roe's guitar playing on those records. Now that I've laid my cards on the table regarding any prejudices coming in, lets start with the LP. The nondescript sleeve doesn't tell us much, but the album begins with "Prelude" (duh) which preps us for a baroque-pop/sunshine-psych record which is executed with enough skill that I found myself not missing the garage-rocking so much. The first few tracks are full of soft vocals, harpsichord, chirping birds, handclaps - all very pleasant. But "Assemble (The Butterfly)" is the album's first hit, one that sounds very Kiwi-pop, a hard guitar strumming uptempo oddball-pop beauty with an unexpected and fantastic cornet solo. The vocalist changes here, which I think helps and got me to realize the three players are switching off instruments throughout the record. "What Could Go Wrong?" is the side's intentionally "big" number, and it's a meandering stroll through the garden with a notable flute break, which cracks up mysteriously at the end and bleeds into "The Hole Is Filling In..." which is a great instrumental Clean nod. The flip opens with my favorite tune on the LP, the very Kiwi "Don't Know Where I End", which has a dark pop vibe, great fuzz guitar and pacing. There's more stuff on the twee-er side of things, a very moody almost Kinksy number in "Nothing Left". After a couple of listens you sense a bit of the narrative (why no lyric sheets!?), and I can neither confirm or deny this is a concept record, but even aurally you sense the song cycle's passage. And a special mention should be given to Emma from The Hollows for her supporting performance on flute/piano/hapsichord. I didn't expect to like this, but it's a great Sunday afternoon record that doesn't tread too far into hokey or forced retro-moves but is a well handled tribute to days of yore. And the reason I say that (and that I talked about the LP first), is because the single isn't so good. Two songs of hokey sounding and forced baroque drama-pop that feel like the singer's stretching himself too far into tunes he shouldn't be singing, and empty hooks propped up with a horn section. For as good as the LP is, the single is equally as bad. I hate to end on a negative note, so I'll again say the LP is a treat that Anglophiles, Flying Nun devotees and Kinks/Love fans should all enjoy. The Slow Fizz website seems to have disappeared from the internet, so I'd try reaching out to the band through FB - I heard rumor the LP is ony 300 copies, so you will want to get on that if you're interested. (RK)
(Slow Fizz // www.facebook.com/themarblevanity)
Mirrorism "Night Flight" 7"
Mirrorism are a wacky trio of Italians who have some zany mission statement about philosophy, chaos and music-as-politics that has my bullshit detector screaming from the get-go. Thankfully it turns out to be ok, "Night Flight" sounds like The Minutemen if they were really into Zappa, complete with sax skronk. Gang of Four-ish even, with tribally/funky rhythms and some Andy Gill-inspired guitar style. "Exit the Loop" is jittery and bouncy, jumping around the beat with a rubber bassline and guitar clang which somehow manages to not sound goofy - pretty tough sounding post-punk with an odd sense of style. This could have gone wrong very easily (I would've bet money this record sucked going in), but it's not bad if extremely brief. Scums stats: mixed-color vinyl, and I just want to say I like the new TIM company sleeves way more than the paper ones.(RK)
(Trouble in Mind // www.troubleinmindrecords.com)
Moonhairy "The Kingdom of Eternal Poverty" LP
Post-Druid Perfume bizareness from Jimbo Easter and some other Detroit-based ex-Piranhas and weirdpunkers. As offbeat as Druid Perfume were, Moonhairy continues Jimbo's crawl out onto a precarious limb, straddling the fine line between weird and ridiculous with his unique aesthetic. The record opens with a group chant that sounds like the residents of Mortville and drops into "Remote Chewing", a dirge with Easter doing a camp version of the Lizard King, spinning off bits of what I'll call modern beat poetry. Musically, it's actually a bit traditional compared to DP or Piranhas, rhytmically tight and flecked with bits of jazz, particularly the piano. Honestly, a lot of it reminds me of Scratch Acid tunes like "El Espectro" and such, with a more artpunk style. Dialed-in rhythm section with lots of queasy sliding and slipping guitar moves cut with sharper stabbings. Easter's lyrics are at the forefront, spinning some sort of fantastical narrative. Live, I can this seeming like a theatrical troupe instead of a band. Possibly highbrow stuff conceptually, yet firmly planted in the gutter aesthetically (take this line: "Dear Alex, I've been spending a lot of time on the sofa eating Hot Pockets..."). There's also plenty of Zappa/Beefheart wackiness as expected (I'm thinking heavier on the Zappa this time around), alternating between nauseous jazz and effectively simple rock concepts. Alice Cooper theatrics come into play, with members taking on different personas, and Easter coming off like a sewer dwelling Lord Buckley perhaps. Straight Shovel City. I know some people might find this too goofy to fully enjoy, but this sort of larger-than-life caricaturing succeeds in being grimy and sleazy and wins by not taking itself too seriously. Absolutely entertaining in a z-grade exploitation film style and so far over the top it works.(RK)
(Urinal Cake // www.urinalcakerecords.com)
Mordecai "College Rock" LP
I'm not going to play the whole "I was there first" card on you, but I will say that I'm happy to have known Mordecai since 2009 when they sent me their "demo" (or whatever it was) CDR, that mainly consisted of unintelligible covers of 'Funhouse' tracks. You knew right away that they were something else. The brothers Bodish (both of whom have apparently been voted Cutest Boy in Montana at different times) have blazed a trail from Montana (with support and championing from their homestate benefactors Wantage USA, Ex-Cocaine/Killertree Records and cover model The Professor) and have now thankfully found themselves a home with America's pre-eminent guitar rock label, Richie Records, a match truly made in heaven. 'College Rock' is one of the most important records of 2013. They're as unique as their labelmates Homeblitz, another a truly American band, taking our country's rich rock'n'roll history and turning it into something almost entirely new - familiar yet still different. Sure, they cruise through the same lo-fi waters and "sloppy" or "untrained" moves people have used before, but there's nothing else like it. 'College Rock' finds them firing on all cylinders, totally in the pocket, looser than loose. This is the sound of American guitar rock in 2013. I'm sure it could be called garage rock if you wanted to, but any genre category is a disservice. I'm sure they could play "better" than this if they wanted to, but why do that when you already sound this good? Hypnotizing guitar adventures that could be the alternate future where Neil Young ended up playing guitar in the Velvet Underground. Excting happenings in the bordertown where classic rock and noise-punk meet and jam out extended versions of Flipper's "Life" as a Swell Maps tribute band. The title track of this record might in fact be the fruit of all that time spent learning those Stooges covers. Few records this year have brought me as much joy as this one.(RK)
(Richie Records/Testostertunes // testostertunes.blogspot.com)
M.O.T.O. "Golden Quarter Hour of M.O.T.O." 7"
I hate to insinuate that there's a MOTO resurgence of late, as I don't think Caporino has ever waned in popularity, but I guess the Rerun reissue campaign isn't hurting his profile these days. This record marks a "return to roots" for Paul, back to the solo-recording days of yore instead of full band workouts. Eight tracks in fifteen minutes with old school drum machine backing. You can be sure that if you select any grouping of eight MOTO songs, there's going to be at least two HITS. Those are the unbelievably catchy "All City Seven Years in a Row" (unbelievable because that is the only lyric aside from "C'mon!") and "Tight Feline Vegetation", which also fulfills the sexual innuendo portion of this EP. Paul also spreads his wings on a ballad, a song where he says the word rock 300 times, a country-sludge number and rips a page from a Totally Tasteless Jokes volume for "All The Abortions You Can Eat". Far from the best MOTO record, but that certainly doesn't mean it's not worthwhile. Very well done full color parody packaging pocket sleeve makes this one a bit more special, as does the fact it was released to kick off MOTO's tour of China (really?!). Scum stats: 650 copies (150 of them on red - for China, nyuk nyuk!), co-released with Blast of Silence Records in Euroland.(RK)
(Rerun Records // rerunrecordsstl.com)
Moving Finger "Smokin' the Crack of Dawn" 7"
Moving Finger are a Memphis punk band made up of moonlighting members of Ex-Cult, Nots and Noise Choir, and are possibly the first group to spring up directly in the unholy wake of True Sons of Thunder, as I feel like they're trying to work on the same sort of dead-end proto-something vibes. All of these tunes have some weird kind of slap-echo metronome sound in the background, and I have no idea what it is, but I do like it. The guy singing sounds as if he's taking on some kind of ESL accented vocal approach. "Smokin..." seems like a bad play on words invoking some kind of psych-punk drug thing which they give some barely energetic music to. The vocals are barked tunelessly, they repeat the same riff over a few times with some garagey breaks. I don't think I get the joke. "POW/MIA" reminds me of a Manateees song without the charisma. "Tres Dolares" on the B-Side has them really going for the Electric Eels/Clevo artastic mess that they seem to be using as the basis for this band. I like the barely-fi recording a lot, and they throw everything they've got at this one - tons of echo, horns, Spanish lyrics, primitive guitar-damaged tripping and classic Sixties rock sounding moves, a downer bassline and that weird echo-thing is still there. If you played this for me blind it'd be difficult to pin down whether it was modern or not, so they do get some style points there. Overall it seems kind of half-baked though...almost seems like an inside joke that went too far. (RK)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)
Murderedman "Love in Danger" LP
Clevo noise rock vets do some of their best work yet. “Sleight of Hand” is a concise and electrifying burst of power that could have come straight off of Six Finger Satellite’s 'Paranormalized', secret melodic bass line included. “House of Eyes” is full of Bauhaus-ian drama; spiraling guitar and bass lines wrap around singer David Russell’s throat, threatening to choke the life out of him, and us. “My Catastrophe” is a relentless slice of avant-hardcore, buried blastbeats competing with fragmented electronics. “Toil & Toll” is Murderedman’s nu metal cut, featuring Russell’s most effective vocal performance overtop a hammering groove and sheets of skree. This is a brutal record, modest in its ambitions, but ambitious nonetheless. As good as they are here (and live), I feel Murderedman’s finest material has yet to come. But for now, this record will satisfy those who miss the likes of Drunkdriver and White Suns, not to mention Slug and Glazed Baby. (EEK)
(A Soundesign Recording // polarenvy.com)
Night Birds "Born to Die in Suburbia" LP
Second full length from Night Birds following their single on Fat Wreck Chords (the title cut of which is included here) released via Grave Mistake, who have a couple of heavy hitters on their hands with these guys and Big Eyes, both bands that I think are just about ready to make the jump in the mainstream pool and might possibly be mid-leap right now. 14 cuts here recorded fittingly in Asbury Park, sounding crisp and dark as far as overall feel, and I dig that they're not brightening things up too much and sticking to the punk and keeping the pop to a tasteful minimum. I'll reiterate my position for those not unaware: Night Birds are a great live band, they recovered fully from losing Mike Hunchback on guitar (which I was worried about - that guy is great), I don't necessarily dig some of their more pop-punk moves but I'm very into their SoCal and surf-punk tendencies, their songwriting is exceptional and their hearts are in the right place (meaning they're into wrestling, horror movies and have a good sense of humor). 'Born to Die..' actually feels like it might be their heaviest record, their wimpier pop-punk songs at least have great guitar roar (and it seems like there aren't as many here as I might have expected) and there are some dark concepts on the record (drug abuse, misanthropy, suicide, cults) that they approach and disguise with good humor amongst some standard punkers from the Ramones school: morons, movies, broads. These guys are as tight as a punk band can really be, hooks are present in abundance, they add a couple slower tunes for some offspeed changes of pace and they even get a guest vocal from Eric Davidson, who I always thought Gorsegner was reminiscent of (and thinking on it, they've tried some NBT-esque "turn of phrase"-styled tunes of their own). Let's just hope the Night Birds' possible "major label" run has them faring better than the Turks run on Epitaph. As usual, my take is this: I'd rather have the kids in the mall listening to Night Birds, a band I trust to have their hearts in it, than some bullshit careerist pop-punk shitheads who have no idea what punk is outside of the bands on t-shirts at Hot Topic. We need a Night Birds or Big Eyes out there to give the kids some sort of hope, and then we need to pray that the good kids latch onto them and start working backwards through the band's influences. As I find myself getting older, I'm beginning to realize that one of the most important things a lover of underground/punk rock needs to do is make sure you clear a path and leave doors open for the next generation to follow. We all have to start somehwere, and the Night Birds will make a fine entry level band for the right kids to find. And while 'Born to Die...' probably won't wind up in my repeated listening pile, it's a fact that Night Birds are very good at what they do. Scum stats: there was a limited pre-release edition with screened wrap around sleeves, and there's also a Euro press on Taken By Surprise for the completists out there.(RK)
(Grave Mistake // www.gravemistakerecords.com)
Nightfall "Fear" LP
Jerry A. vocals over super-heavily produced HNSNSN worship - at times it sounds exactly like the vocals on a Wasted Time record at 45 with the instruments slowed to 33. The vocals have way more personality, passion, and aggression than most of the current wave of this stuff, the drums are mixed perfectly for the style. They've got a handle on the depressive, massive wall of sound requisite for the game they're playing. Not that it holds any weight on a recording, but I found it impressive that they're a three-piece. Good stuff.(NG)
(Shogun Records // www.shogunrecords.com)
Nobunny "Secret Songs: Reflections from the Ear Mirror" LP
I suppose this counts as the fourth Nobunny LP if you count 'Raw Romance' as a true LP (which I do), and I'm please that it shows out lupine friend continuing to make progress as an artist. Yes, I said progression and called Nobunny an artist. It's true. Justin was already a great punk songwriter when he made 'Love Visions' and since then he's become even better overall, able to pen a perfect tune from any direction: complex, simple, dumb, smart, pop, bubblegum, rock'n'roll, pop-punk, folk, power pop, whatever you can think of, this guy can do it. I would imagine some people look at Nobunny as a parody at times, and sure, he's like a living and breathing copy of Mad Magazine at times. But there's alos a very serious intelligence to everything, a genius at work behind the gag. 'Secret Songs' is Justin's most refined set of songs to date and also the most entertaining record he's put together since 'Love Visions'. Fourteen tracks that are a real cornucopia of genre-hopping delights. Side A is fantastic from start to finish, highlights being "Trouble in Mind" which is a surprisingly authentic sounding bit of country-hippie-pop-folk, "Bye Bye Roxie" is one of his catchiest pop-rock tunes ever and he somehow covers a Kids of Widney High tune and makes it sound lovingly punk rock. All hits which should be no surprise. Side B has two semi-duds (not into "Little Bo Bitch") but more than makes up for it with "Do the Stooge" which is some kinda croaked-out Hasil/Cramps tribute, "Buried In A Bong" is so short but so brilliant it hurts and "Lovin Lovin You" is the perfect mix of clever lo-fi dynamics and pop genius. Obviously when Justin goes further outside of the lines/genres these days is when he's most exciting on record, but there's such a keen sense of pop and hooks to everything he could be writing polka tunes and they'd sound great. The folkier bits, some country stylings, the straight schmaltz radio pop stuff, it all sounds so genuine and natural. And it's not like this record is so far out of the box - it's all rock'n'roll at the core - but I think I know some people think Nobunny records all sound the same, and all sound like 'Love Visions'. Not true. This is a fantastic piece of craftsmanship, the changes in fidelity are the most interesting parts - of these 14 tracks I think there were at least 10 different recording "sessions", all of which suit the respective material perfectly. And for as poppy and upbeat and just genuinely uplifting the music is, check the lyric sheet out and think about some of these tunes again. These confections aren't just empty calories, but are driven by real and sometimes dark emotion much of the time (and I really want to know who "True Vulture" is about). Nobunny has a massive fanbase already that this review isn't really speaking to - I'm hoping that this reaches some Termbo readers out there who think Nobunny might be too "cute" for them or something along those lines. Justin is making some of the best music of our time - he's not just popular because he seemingly tours every single day of the year, but also because he writes undeniable hits and lots and lots of them. It's not just bubblegum-pop, which is what I feel some people might erroneously think. Justin is right there with Human Eye, Black Lips, Jay Reatard, Tyvek or whoever else we're calling the elite bands that have come from this scene. Enough of my rallying - just buy this record and give Nobunny another (or a first) chance if you've never fully done so before. I think you'll be surprised at how much there is to like here. If you're already a fan, well carry on, business as usual, thanks for reading all of that and do your part to get any "cool guy" pals you have to give this LP a spin.(RK)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)
Nots s/t 7"
Memphis ladies-only club sharing membership with Manateees, Ex-Cult and Moving Finger, and speaking of Moving Finger, this is the better record of the two. Slightly-inept sounding DIY-girl punking of the plug the instruments in and just start hammering out the tunes style. Guitar is echoed and bouncing around, they use the off-key gang-vocal approach for some snottiness and the rhythm section just finds a line and stays on it without variation. The two A-Side tunes are all about attitude, and the actual songs sound like afterthought. On the B-Side they actually do play some real tunes though, with a less in your face brashness (and much less of the gang vox which are just sort off-putting on the A-Side) and working out some fitting moves for the line-up - Kleenex/Slits moves and a dash of Riot Grrrl/Huggy Bear perhaps, with some tempo changes and drumming variation and a Mo Tucker/VU reference or two. "Salesman" has some vitriol and energy at play and "Talk Show" ends the record on a real high point, sort of primitively sophisticated and sounding very authentically Eighties low-fi. Side A sort of bummed me out, but they redeemed themselves greatly on the B-Side. Scum stats: 400 copies.(RK)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)
Obnox "Corrupt Free Enterprise" 2XLP
After releasing seven records of various sizes/categories over the past three years Bim Thomas drops a bomb on the underground with this 2XLP that pulls all of his influences and previous work into a fully realized monster ready to wreak havoc on the landscape. Obviously brevity it not something he's a fan of, as he's stretched every release so far to the absolute brink, packing them so full of songs and ideas almost to a fault. That's about the only complaint I can come up with about the guy - sometimes less is more, sometimes some editing needs to be done - but the passion contained in those records makes forgiving easy. You can't blame a guy for wanting to cram every inch of vinyl he's been given with his art. "By Myself" and "(I Wanna Fuck You) Like A Puma" (good song, bad title) begin the record by being shot out of a bazooka. Honest to goodness blazing garage-rock informed by the punkiest Bassholes records and Clevo-hardcore (and a Bad Noid guests on this one even), heart-attack inducing drumming on both and the nasty guitar work on the second plays well against the falsetto back-ups. I could deal with a whole record like this, which means he's of course going to change tack on me. "Ciara" is reprised from the 'Ragin in the Sun' EP, a heavy rock slammer with soul to give, but it seems like padding to return to it. Then there's a cover of Cheater Slicks' "Ghost", which I appreciate the sentiment and ballsy move of, but any Slicks cover is ill-advised at this point, no matter who you are. Save it for the live show if you gotta do it. As noted above, I'm never a fan of padding LPs with singles cuts, but I can not complain about him redux-ing "Deep in the Dusk", as it's about as great of a rap/garage crossover cut as we're probably ever going to hear - the chopped wheezy-organ beat by A-Live of Muamin Collective and Bim's accompanying rhymes deserve the use of words a white guy who wasn't in the Beastie Boys should never utter. A great hybrid song that he was born to perform and finally seeing the lyrics is a real treat, laden with inside nods to garage scenesters. We then segue into the covers portion: the standard Howland number ("Swimming Blues" - as before, I understand the head nod of respect these covers represent), a fucking Tom Waits song ("Way Down in the Hole") which I think might have more to with repping The Wire than Waits. The falsetto vox win again and I would've love to hear that as the intro to the fifth season (the drumbeat on this one is particularly killer and the guitar fuzz is extra thick). Urban Mutants' "Fade Out", an obscuro-punker I only know from Cleveland's Screaming footage ends the side. Side 3 is full of blasted sonics - he's created a fine sound for this LP as a whole, dirty and deep and crackling with just enough lo-fidelty to lend it even more power. The tunes start to drift, but the blaze returns on "Everybody's Fault But Your Own" and "Being Cleveland" is big funk-rock bragadoccio. By Side 4 I'm impressed by the blues-rock of "Evil" which has a heavy psych feel that continues into "Home" which sounds like heavily stoned rock (not stoner rock duuude), an Eddie Floyd cover breezes by coolly and he ends on a high note with the sonic experimentation of "Fear of A Black Brother's Johnson" in two parts, the first another killer groove and the second a Puffys-esque skronker over which Richard from Lucha Eterna monologues. There are some really high points (and really HIGH points) on this record, enough so where I'm trying to find ways to not say I think there's also more than enough filler. I've seen it mentioned that each of these could have been conceived as it's own EP. Try it like that and ease your way into into it. Or cut it up yourself and make a KILLER 10 song record out of it. Who knows. My petty complaints aside, you need to hear some Obnox records by now if you haven't and I'd say this is the best place to start. Bim Thomas is one of the few making strides in advancing what we know as underground music, garage-punk or whatever, turning it into something different, new and legitimately exciting and leaving it in a far different state than it was when he found it. Scum stats: first 200 on blood red wax. (RK)
(12XU // www.12xu.net)
Pampers s/t LP
I liked the Pampers' two singles well enough, both were quite rugged and rockingly entertaining, but I didn't love them. This LP though, I think I might have a crush on it right now. For some reason the "In the Red sound" usually doesn't come from NYC (excepting Jon Spencer of course), but somehow Pampers have fit right into the roster with this release. Loud, abrasive, weird and all that, while still having some catchy songwriting. The six songs on the A-Side are an unstoppable force, sounding like the bastard sons of an A-Frames and Lamps tryst with Karate Party as the surrogate parents. Bouncy basslines and locked-in drumming making for a rubber-o-cement binder for the slippery and occassionaly echo-ed out guitar playing. They repeat two tracks from the singles ("Eruptions" and "Monkey Drip") that are made better, "Not" is almost industrial in its garbage-canned smash, and "Sack Attack" ends the side with wonderfully drawn-out repetition rock. Side B starts out just as powerfully with "The Wigga", a vicious interpretation of what could be Oblivians-like garage stomp given a facelift with a bulldozer. "Purple Brain" is almost a New Wave song, built on guitar echo and probably the record's biggest hook, which they then balance out with the opressive savagery of "Shot", a really NYC-sounding effort with gobs of guitar noise, hard drumming and forceful vox. "Night Brunch" (man, I gotta give these guys some credit for great song titles) could turn out to be the best shot here, a robotic slammer that again has NYC-trash-rock leaning against some of the Dragnet Records catalog of artists. A real tight and menacing groove. "Rathole" is revisted from the singles and comes across as their hardcore song and they end with "Head Bag" which I was originally thinking was the weak link on the record, but after more than a few listens it's actually really Buttholes-esque with a weird and bright synth(?) sound, slide guitar and distant vocals. And in regards to the vox, I'm thinking these guys switch off on songs, which works really well, and the reverb (and I love me some reverb) keeps the voices sounding similar enough to not be too jarringly different. A really impressive LP from a NYC band, a locale I'm usually pretty tough on (can ya blame me though?), but there's nothing "Brooklyn" about the way they sound aside from maybe the Ben Greenberg (The Men) production. Scum stats: first 200 on green vinyl. How the hell does this have a plastic inner sleeve though? I thought they were banned in America...(RK)
(In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
Peace or Annihilation "Fear Control" LP
Not nearly as Crucifix-esque as their name would imply, this Indonesian plate is a pretty well-assembled offering of d-beat du jour. A bit of an unhinged attack, with vocals Strejcek-hoarse and youthful leading scrappy solos over highly repetitive Cimex riffs. Again, worth a look to see what comes out of Indonesia - as so few bands make it out there, any "I've heard this before sentiments" are weakened by the fact that these guys are making shit happen down there. Top hit on the album is "The Art of Self-Destruction" - pretty, pretty raging.(NG)
(Shogun Records // www.shogunrecords.com)
Pelvis Wrestlies “Make Up Face” 7”
Dumb and squirrelly punk & roll that can blister along at a near thrash velocity one second (“Make Up Face”) or settle down into a cocksure Didjits groove the next (“Magic Carpet Ride”). Screwloose vocals that really help along the manic mess it is. By far the most “aw, yeah – aw, rights!” I’ve ingested in one seating since Blag Dahlia started raping rap or Eric Davidson wrote a softcover. Hey! That’s it…they’re like a goofier New Bomb Turks or slightly sleazeless Dwarves. Maybe a tougher Dickies? (I’m starting to get real lazy.) “Rat Trap” does the most damage jerkin’ back & forth like a frantic Catholic Boys outtake. It’s good stuff, Maynard. If you’ve been collect those warped & drooling Cleveland and Rochester punkers pressed up over the past few years, you should find something in here to grasp hold of. They’re a hoot live and the bass player is a dead ringer for me at twelve years old (so my mother digs ‘em too). Fucking strange. You want stats, scumbag? I figure they pressed a few, 300? They went to the trouble to screen the sleeves with glow in the dark ink, so there should be plenty to go around. (RSF)
(Carbonated Sounds // www.Idunnotryfacebookorsomething.com)
Permanent Collection "No Void" 7" EP
Based on the cover art I was expecting (and dreading) some awful Brainbombs or Rusted Shut "confrontational" noise rock. This band does call themselves "noise rock", but it's pretty well-mannered noise. Four songs of post-punky alt-rock with monotone vox and mid-tempo bass-driven New Wavey vibes. Fuzzy/phased guitars and a monochrome recording quality that makes all the tunes sound similarly drab. Reminds me of the the Geisha Girls. Not exactly setting the turntable on fire here. A nicely designed package by the label though (brown inner sleeves, punch out center spindle, a nice lo-fi photocopy) that's more interesting than the band itself.(RK)
(Log Lady Records // www.logladyrecords.com)
Perspex Flesh "Ona" 7"
A rabid and well-composed debut from this crew of West Yorkshire weirdos with my favorite moniker in recent memory, featuring the brains behind the essential Limited Readership zine. Vocals somewhere between Springa and Blinko barked over creepy, complex songs of a less than positive attitude. "Heavy Steps" is full of chunky, spiraling riffs that remind me of my favorite Look Back And Laugh songs. Really tricky and enjoyable guitar noodling throughout the whole effort - I'm a sucker for Post Regiment-y trebly neck pickup guitar tones and they are doing wonders with it. "Leech" is a mid-tempo exploration of negative feelings, with lots of Die Kreuzen Egeness on the highs. Mature and well thought out lyricising, too - "Porcelain" appropriately pairs a study of the violent misogynist with an absolutely menacing soundtrack, and both turn into a threat at the same time. Substance for days. Leeds (and the UK in general) is a bit of an unsung hotbed of uncomfortable, dark, intelligent hardcore, and this record carries that effluent torch with class. Fantastic artwork to boot, complete with painted genitalia.(NG)
(Video Disease Records // www.videodiseaserecords.com)
Poor Lily "Vuxola" CD
They refer to themselves as "the Bronx's greatest punk band" in the ad that accompanied the CD, which is pretty funny as the borough ain't exactly known for its thriving punk scene. But I guess that's the joke. Calling themselves "the Bronx's only punk band" would have made the same claim, albeit in glasses-half-empty fashion. But Poor Lily could face some competition without worry as they've got a fairly unique sound and would stick out from a more crowded pack. Music here is full throttle, high energy post-NYHC punk rock that occasionally veers into the land of Paganicons and Paranoid Times. The vocals often remind me of Biafra both in style and pitch and the inclusion of a topical, political song about Reagan-appointed Justice Kennedy certainly doesn't weaken the comparison. Very cool release and exciting to see some punk rock emanate from a neighborhood that had previously only been on my radar for (the amazing) Lloyd's carrot cake, the Bronx Ale House, and a nice lil' park.(DH)
Proto-Idiot "You're Wrong" 7"
Andrew Anderson changes direction with his post-Hipshakes solo project Proto-Idiot here, straying from the lo-fi Oblivians-aping of his previous efforts and instead adopting the currently in vogue TVPs-eque UK-DIY sound. "You're Wrong" is upbeatedly strummy with a somewhat melancholic refrain offsetting the sunshine a bit. "You Can't Hide" is a Soft Boys-esque recitation of pop-beat with a Barrett-ian bit of whimsy and warbly vocals. I like this better than his garage stuff, which was rote imitation at best, but I still don't "like" like it. (RK)
(Trouble in Mind // troubleinmindrecs.com)
Quango "Fatality" 7"
The legitimate banger of 2013, "Fatality" is early Crisis mixed with the TV P's - here we have a fellow or two from Hygiene composing an absolute hit a bit too well-played to draw a Messthetics comment. A needling riff, perfectly tape-warbled, drones on as our vocalist reads a news report concerning an accident on the Tube. The delivery of the whole thing is flawless, but the line "social networking sites were flooded with angry commuters…" particularly gets me every time. Brilliant. The sounds of the British speaking over angular guitar lines (or menacing electronics) is hands-down my favourite genre of music. "Living in a Shithole" is of similar ilk, coyly stupid in the genius way Hygiene has perfected, with way more heft behind the instrumentation. "Quickquid" brings infectious autopilot Sham vibes. The A-side is the fuckin' balls, though. Constant play, a mixtape staple for years to come. Highest possible recommendation, for fans and detesters of Hygiene both.(NG)
(First World Problems // firstworldproblemsrecords.bandcamp.com)
RAS "Blue" LP
RAS "Yellow" LP
Two nearly identical LPs released at the same time by Swedish punks/hardcores RAS, featuring members of HFOS and Manikins, which is something I think you can say about nearly any punk band from Sweden of the past decade now. All lyrics in Swedish, which of course sends my "No Foreign Junk" alarm into overdrive. Nine tracks on each LP which are a melange of contemporary Euro-punk sounds - some K-Town styled punk Americano, some Umea-core, some Cola Freaks-esque weird-punk and the usual post-HFOS Swedish action-punk all tied together with their favorite moments from the Jay Reatard catalog. Clean recording on everything, keyboard bleeps-n-blurps, loads of treble-heavy riffing, hoarse hardcore vox alternated with gang refrains and a girl steps to the mic on a few songs. I'm sure these guys will have far more success in Sweden that they will here, as they sound like a really good local band, if you know what I mean. Cola Freaks did a lot of this stuff better first, and toured the shit out of their style in the US already and they lack the stylishness of a Masshysteri or Hjertestop or whoever else dressed up really cool that you want to name. I imagine the anonymity/sameness of their aesthetic is intentional but it also isn't doing them any favors in the personality department. The weird packaging is the most memorable thing here - picture disc style thick plastic sleeves with 12" panels as covers. These albums sound great technically at 45rpms, but musically it winds up being a very well executed snooze for me. The most dedicated aficionados of Euro-punk might dig, but I don't.(RK)
(Push My Buttons // pushmybuttons.se)
(Skrammel // www.skrammelrecords.se)
The Repos "Armed and Using" 7"
The Repos "Rejoice in Ruin" 7"
The Repos "Live Munitions" LP
When it comes to punk rock in 2013, there are few bands as exciting as The Repos (nee The Ropes) no matter what genre you think you're into. Garage turkeys, hardcores, weird punks, edgemen, rockers in general. They're one of the best outfits walking these blessed United States of America in this day and age. A lot of people have a bad impression of the Youth Attack scene, which Repos do qualify as a part of, but they're certainly not typical of the YA "sound" (which has its own merit), with a longstanding friendship with Mark Mccoy being the basis of their label affiliation, not their ability to clone the Cult Ritual sound. The Cowabunga single is simply one of the most devastating punk records of the year - the bassline that begins "Armed and Using" paired with Aaron Aspinwall's opening growl is as sick as sick gets. A legit pummeller with a guitar solo that pierces your mind. "Hole in the Hill" works the build tension/release tension via thick as a brick riff to perfection. This record contains about four minutes of music and is worth every cent you will pay for it. This band's cassette demos are better than 90% of the actual records out there, their inspired cover songs better than most band's originals. The 7" on Organized Crimes (a record label I know nothing about, but it seems like an odd fit) has "Rejoice in Ruin" on the A-Side, which is the best heavy metal song I've heard all year - the soloing is once again as hot and wankily non-wanky as you're gonna get. "Haunted Peace" is also metal as fuck - Aspinwall's vocals are the apex of growling hardcore rage - almost impossibly ferocious, taken so far to the extremes of gravel-voiced animalism that one wonders if he's vocalizing some sort of parody of the style until you realize it's just one of the most emotional deliveries existing in today's field. In my top three favorite modern vocalists (alongside Hank Wood and that kid from The Coltranes who sounds like Danzig). Another record with around 4-5 minutes of music (these guys stick their guns - one song per side kids, that's how it's done) that is worth it's weight in gold. The HUGE poster sleeve is worth buying without the record, fuck, it references everything from Johnny Thunders to Flair vs. Steamboat mat classics, Playboy centerfolds, handguns and 'Between the Buttons', all the high points of culture of the past 50 years or so. "Live Munitions" goes so far beyond amazing it's tough to describe. One of the greatest high energy live rock'n'roll records I've ever heard. Guitar tone so perfect it could make you weep if you weren't so busy pulling your jaw of the ground. I've honestly thought you could release this with just the isolated guitar track and it would be perfect, but you need the rest of the band and Aspinwall's vocals to make it careen off the edge. One killer after another, no banter, no extended 'tween song breaks, they just peel 'em off one after another making for a dam-bursting deluge of hard rock par excellence. There's only a handful of studio records that are even better than this right now. The perfect recording job, the perfect storm. Supposedly they set this up as a private showing for their friends and went out for burgers after. If that isn't the American dream, I don't know what is. Minutiae: another band called Ropes sued them, so they had to revert back to Repos. The "Lost Still Losing" LP that was due out on Youth Attack has supposedly been scratched after being recorded and re-recorded multiple times - start hoarding those cassettes fellas. They are supposedly writing a new LP now called "Poser" (fucking geniuses, and I mean that) and there has supposedly been a discussion of a singles comp LP. They just released a split 7" with a band called Spine, who I believe are SXE band, to further complicate and confuse their allegiances and continue to show that they are doing whatever the fuck they want depsite what could be considered cool, hip or sensible. One of the most perfect bands in existence today. Jerry Lawler and Austin Idol approved, the only band in the world since The Dictators who can drop wrestling references without appearing at all corny (and I even love the corny ones). Fuck you if you do not like this band.(RK)
(Cowabunga Records // www.cowabungarecords.com)
(Organized Crime // www.organizedcrimerecords.com)
(Youth Attack // www.ihateyouthattack.com)
Roman Candles "Riley Versus Jason In The Battle of Gracious Living" LP
I'll begin by saying thanks to Chris of Roman Candles for sending us all the tapes and singles over the years, despite the fact that I think his music is awful and have consistently said so. Despite the fact that the music he plays is some of the most unappealing stuff I've ever heard, Chris has somehow decided to continue to send records in, which I think he does just as a goof at this point. I mean, it's not like this "band" is getting any better or I'm going to start liking this crap all of a sudden. I'm not sure how he even got to Termbo in the first place, as I think he likes "Termbo music" probably about as much as I like his. Anyway, whatever the reason is that Termbo became a footnote in his band's story I'll never know, but I'm happpy for him, as this LP is on Plan-It-X Records, which I think was pretty much his dream label when he started sending me tapes years ago. You made it buddy. Congrats. The record still sucks. For your reference, Roman Candles are from Yorba Linda and play some of the most awful whining and confessional-zine style bullshit folk-punk. This record seems to be all acoustic, so at least he put away his fucking accordion. Just awful. Chris also does a zine called The Stowaways, wherein he whines about being a well-to-do college graduate from the suburbs and interviews bands I have never heard of - really, his zine is about as good as his music, but I'll hesitantly give him points for trying. Maybe not. (RK)
(Plan-It-X Records // www.plan-it-x.com)
Satan’s Satyrs “Live At The Black Cat” 7”
As a latecomer and lover of their full length, it was nice to see a single pop up in the mailbag. If you haven’t heard Satan’s Satyrs, they’re a Virginia trio that likes to give “Supershitty”-era Hellacopters a super shittier dose of early Hookers southern pride, Blue Cheer bombast and Midnight-style blackened production. The two tracks herein aren’t exactly for newbies, but they’ll most definitely clear the plate of any posers out there. Craptasticly blown live recordings that could be a ringer for either Annihilation Time or “Wolverine Blues”-era Entombed captured to hand held outside some dive door. So skuzzy you can smell the dirtbag denim mildewing from rain, sweat and motor oil. “Belly Dancers Delight” gets props for a smattering of Davie Allan gone doom in the mix as well. “Satan’s Satyrs” theme is somehow more fuckblown (maybe my ears are just giving out from re-listening to the A-side again). Whoever was recording this seems to be moving about the room, jockeying for safety or heading to the restroom. Pavement pounding hatred seething in shit-fi Sabbath slobber. Not for the squeamish or for those who like their rock to sound like Baroness. (RSF)
(Trash King Productions // www.trashkingproductions.bigcartel.com)
Sick Thoughts "Need No One" 7" EP
Sick Thoughts is one kid, Drew Owen, a sixteen year old from Baltimore. I'll give him credit for doing anything other than just smoking weed and playing video games at that age. This is his second 7" after a vinyl debut on the illustrious Goodbye Boozy label, which is a pretty damn good label to start on when you're specializing in garage-trash. I was reading somehwere that Sick Thoughts is basically a Reatards rip. There's plenty of truth to that statement. I hear some of the early Tokyo Electron singles in here as well. Three songs, one side, all blown out, title cut is obviously the catchiest of the bunch. Yes, this absolutely sounds like a Reatards rip off, except maybe not as angry or passionate though, which is why I can't say you need hear this. It's impressive to have other people putting out your records at the age of 16 no matter what though, so I have to imagine this kid has some future potential. Bookmark him and check back later. Scum stats: 250 copies. (RK)
(Cant Stand Ya! // cantstandya.storenvy.com)
Smelly Tongues "When the Slack Heep Retunrs to the Gold" LP
Weirdos from all over the map converge in Los Angeles, and make a record conceived in your wildest thoughts. Boasting a line-up containing ex-members of The Intelligence, Red Aunts, Druid Perfume, Piranhas and Screaming Yellow Zonkers, you have to expect big things from this band. They do a good job of delivering, enough so that if I was Larry Hardy I'd be pissed I didn't get this on In the Red. The most exciting of those names to me is SYZ, a band whose lone single was phenomenal, and who, from all reports, were a beast live and had far more in them than just that that record (which never happened for whatever reasons), and much of this record seems like it could be Colin Smith's continuation of that band's damaged and jagged angles on punk rock - Id' even say post-punk, but I've come to the realization I have no idea what post-punk even means anymore. Vocals are split between Smith and Tia Fletcher (who was in a band called The Baptist Church I feel like I need to know more about now), who are equally effective mouthpieces. Taking your name from a Residents tune (also covered by Snakefinger) obviously puts something on your sleeve, and Smelly Tongues succeed in being strange but not at the expense of ultimately being catchy and listenable. Landmarks for their music include the long-tradition of LA art-punkers (and just punkers - Happy Squid label in particular), post-punk (in particular the rhythmic push-pull) and the finest selections of the modern ITR roster (all of their previous outfits). Sharp edged tunes with post-punk franticity, twin guitars catch all angles, at times sharp and incisive ("Squishing Curlies") and also loose and loping ("Traffic Lights") , even muscular at times ("Secretly Strange"). The best example of what I can't describe is the beginning of "Jennifer", which is basically the beginning of "We Got the Beat" played underwater and backwards, which is then interrupted by some stabbing waves of post-punk. Lots of guitar action and sometimes a surf-garage style turned on it's head - "You're the Best" is swampy and surfy yet futuristic, and ends with what I can only describe as sort of a manually executed lock groove. That beat and bassline is straight SoCal given an art-damaged reimagining. Recorded by Montgomery Buckles, which isn't surprising since we all know if there's something good coming out of LA he's probably involved somehow. This record has some legs...(RK)
(Urinal Cake Records // www.urinalcakerecords.com)
Sneaky Pinks "I'm Punk" 7"
As much as everyone loves Nobunny (and I love him too), I think the true dirtbags out there really fell harder for the brief run the Sneaky Pinks had. Same M.O., but just raunchier, right? I guess. Let's just agree that we all wish there were more Sneaky Pinks songs out there. And guess what? There are! "I'm Punk" breaks down why Justin is more punk than you, me and anyone else in the world. I'm listening to these lyrics for the thirtieth time, and I still can't find a hole in his argument. "I took a shit/on top of your kid"? Is that even what he's saying? I don't know. But that's punk any way you slice it. This lesson in punkitude is delivered overtop a bass/guitar rhythm that is as thin as salami and a drum sound that barely exists. Good stuff! "Puke Pudding" is a weird tune from a weird dude, straight from the Supercharger school of no-talent/no-fi rock'n'roll, and has Justin discussing the aforementioned pudd with a disembodied voice that sounds similar to John Waters mumbling into a megaphone pointed in the opposite direction. Puking sound effects at the end might be the record's most punk moment. You simply can not argue with this record, you just have to buy it. A winner from your dinner. Scum stats: first 200 on purple vinyl. I was hoping there would be some fake puke gag sleeves too...(RK)
(Almost Ready // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
Sonic Youth "Smart Bar Chicago 1985" 2XLP
Although this double live set came out nearly a year ago, I still wanna draw your attention to it. Partly cuz it’s great, partly cuz it may just be the last release SY got out while still a nominally-functioning band (gossip columns take it away), and partly cuz I should’ve done the same for that ‘blue’ EP deluxe reissue that came out back in ’06 (p.s. it’s essential). Nineteen eighty-five was a peak year for da Yooth, what with arguably one of their finest albums, 'Bad Moon Rising', coming out on Homestead, and them beginning to tour the entire country, often with Swans and at least once in the Mojave Desert with the Meat Puppets and Redd Kross (and *cough* Psi-Com). This gig from Chicago is a helluva live document and might remind you why Sonic Youth, at their best, divorced from all the recent drama, really were a unique and powerful band unlike any other. The set is basically all of Bad Moon Rising with a few things off the impending EVOL. The recording is excellent, utilizing both board and room mics to give a real presence to the room, while still being able to hear what each instrument is doing. You know the guitars are going to be gnarly and otherworldly, but what really comes through is how pulverizing the rhythm section is. Steve Shelley had just joined the band following Bob Bert’s departure, and his time in Wisconsin’s Crucifucks had prepared him well for Sonic Youth’s intense sets. He’s a more straightforward drummer than Bert, and live it comes together as he keeps the band from floating away or jamming too long. They start things off with “Halloween”s slow grind, then get “Death Valley ‘69” out of the way. It thrashes pretty hard, but it’s “Intro” into “Brave Men Run” that really kicks the set up an extra level. Shelley and Gordon drive the song forward as Moore and Ranaldo make Swell Maps chimes on their guitars. The dark, tribal threat of “I Love Her All The Time” is so focused it feels like an incantation. “Ghost Bitch” sets hackles on edge with arcs of achingly abrasive feedback, eventually erupting in what sounds like a voodoo dance in pitch-black darkness. Older gems like “The Burning Spear” and “Making the Nature Scene” get feverish readings. This is before Sonic Youth felt compelled to weld their outre’ tendencies to traditional rock songcraft. At this point in their career, Sonic Youth sounded like no one else, not the least of which was their heavy use of tape loops during this period. They had shed all of their No Wave forebears’ trappings and established a singularly menacing style of rock noise. Smart Bar has some of the heaviest SY action I’ve heard on wax, we’re talking some real head-banging noise rock, so come get ducky, dodos. (EEK)
(Goofin’ // www.sonicyouth.com)
Steve Adamyk Band "Monterrey" 7"
Steve Adamyk and his band are an essential cog in the Ottawa scene, also participating in bands like Mother's Children, Sonic Avenues, Sedatives, Pregnancy Scares and more that peddle the pop-influenced aesthetic the city's music is steeped in. On this four song EP the band really comes off like a Canadian Marked Men, pop-heavy songs that are still punk and not saccharine enough to be labelled powerpop. The title track is surprisingly tough, recalling a Carbonas tune with the velocity taken back a notch - it has a rather dark hook and real ballsy guitar playing that isn't shredding, but very full of finesse. "You're Fired" picks up the speed to something akin to a Spits tune without the intentional dumbness. B-Side turns very poppy, with two tunes that border on Fat Wreckords styled stuff - not pop-punk exactly, but pretty fucking slickly executed I must say. An EP that will be enjoyed by fans of the Ottawa scene already and those who dabble in things concerning pop - this a band Dirtnap was made to release (and they have), not my bag, but a good starter band for the youngsters.(RK)
(Hosehead Records // www.hoseheadrecords.ca)
Strapping Fieldhands "Impossible To Say..." 7"
The Strapping Fieldhands return from a nearly ten year hiatus. Is the world ready? Was the world ever ready for the Fieldhands? I don't know about the rest of the country, but in my neck of the indie rock/college radio DJ woods, no one really liked them in the '90s. People tried. I tried. Much like many Siltbreeze artists, they might not be an immediately lovable band, but they certainly give you a lot to think about in the meantime. I can't say I love these guys, but at times I like them very very much. When they're trying to sound as British as they can, or when they're at their most psychechelic or strangely Appalachian-inbred, at those times they can be beautiful. There are also moments when this band sounds pretty corny and a lot like something you'd hear on some NPR earthshoes and granola Americana music hippie show. There are also times when they just sound sorta similar to GBV with an Anglo-jones, like they do on "Impossible to Say", a pleasant little folk-rocker with plenty of pomp and some horns and maybe even a kazoo and some other wacky instruments. "Sitting on Whiskers" goes backporch style, folk played by some really smart hillbillies, acoustic guitar (one regular sized and one tiny), and you'd have to guess there's at least one beard and one pair of suspenders in this lineup. Maybe an accordion too. You decide. Scum stats: 350 copies with a limited number of hand-colored (and sometimes personalized) sleeves. (RK)
(Richie Records//Testostertunes // www/testostertunes.com)
Tenement "Freak Cast in Iron" 7"
I've been harsh on some past Tenement releases, but that's only because I thought they really sucked. "Freak Cast in Iron" sounds like fucking Blink 182 or some shit - or at least what I think Blink 182 sound like. Alternative pop-punk for the masses at the malls and Applebees. I'll give them points for being good at it - this tune has a bit of lo-fi character at least. When a band basically says a song sucks/sounds like shit in the liner notes (which are printed on the A-Side label here, the most interesting thing about this record) it really inspires you to know they care about their craft, whether being facetious or not. This one is the Midwestern equivalent of a bad Ty Segall song. Whatever it is that gives this band some sort of cachet amongst the hardcore crowd is invisible to me. Probably because I'm too old to have been influenced by pop-punk or emo. Scum stats: part of Cowabunga's Sick Club subscription series, of which members received a green vinyl variant. (RK)
(Cowabunga Records // www.cowabungarecords.com)
Thawed Out s/t 12"
From the fields and ugly oversized malls in the towne of Iommi: a confrontational and unhinged debut. The design on this record looks like early Nineties children's book artwork in a really odd and gross way - the way they blew out Manet's piece makes it look like an Eric Carle illustration of suicide - and it's entirely appropriate. An enormous "I'm gonna go stand over here while they play" riff kicks things off with prejudice on "Lucid Deppression" (sic) . This thing is mean… imagine Pollution's final effort with all of their esoteric influences replaced by seventeen copies of 'Damaged' and a songwriting process highly concerned for the mosher. The sounds of flying furniture. A healthy respect for Cleveland's luminaries is audible, and as advertised, you can smell the United Mutation. Not too complex lyrically, though using "Poison Idea" as a refrain is noteworthy in one way or another. B-side is their demo, a little bit more diverse and taking some of the same trails their labelmates NASA Space Universe and The Coltranes have been re-blazing.(NG)
(Shogun Records // www.shogunrecords.com)
Those Howlings "Paid for You" 7"
Garage-pop-punk from Austin, TX. Those Howlings sound like a real pleasant bunch. "Paid for You" is a polite little twangy surf-licked song with vox from a girl who sounds a lot like Debbie Harry. Pretty, if uneventful. "Dip It In" on the flipside has a guy singing over some cowboy garage popping. Nothing too offensive or overly interesting here.(RK)
(Swear Jar Records // thosehowlings.bandcamp.com)
Tiny Migrants s/t 7" EP
Sassy-looking five-piece garage outfit from Brisbane. Two cute girls and three guys with haircuts. They were on the Aussie Nuggets covers comp, and I don't really remember them from it. The open with a song called "Mork Talk" that I don't think has anything to do with Robin Williams. "Fishpond Goldmine" has a terrible title and is the best cut here, but is still nothing more than a pretty standard garage rocker with excessive twang. B-Side has two more lowest common denominator garage runs, one of the lost in the reverb Black Lips variety and one of the choogling-blues variety. I think part of the problem here is the press release calling Ty Segall a "garage legend" - that's where their heads are at (no disrespect to Ty, as I doubt he thinks he's a garage legend either). On hot pink vinyl! Not good! (RK)
(Mere Noise // merenoise.net)
Trauma "10 Song EP" 7"
Raging from the first note, a barreling combo of burly, full-tilt gentleman's hardcore with the flair of some early Burning Spirits. This was taken from a tape, and sounds like it in the best way... that very fitting warm and crowded recording that instantly canonizes good songs. Tight and fast, it sounds at least as much like Deathreat as you'd expect, but the vocalist's higher range (as heard before in Final Warning, and who sadly passed recently in a motorcycle accident) changes the mood of the band in a welcome style, and the perfectly timed pickslides that their members-of list would imply keep this thing at a boil. "Utopia" is a killer - busy basslines, a riff that is just wonky enough to be their own creation, but still tasty and memorable. Most of this release would fit perfectly on a mid-80s Euro mixtape, would be the track that made you stop the tape and figure out who the fuck that band was. The full-length is great, too, but the budget recording on this really does them a few favors. Great songs, raw in the way that word should be used, all the quality you'd expect from the top tier of Portland's braintrust.(NG)
(Bulkhead Records // www.bulkheadrecords.com)
True Sons Of Thunder “Stop and Smell Your Face” LP
Hello darkness, my old friend. True Sons Of Thunder once again deliver the goods, using last years Spoonful Of Seedy Dudes as an unstable lift-off pad. That first full length circled the commode in a Cle-punk toilet water cocktail, shitstained and stinking of elder lysergic Texans; from the Krayola to the Buttholes and beyond. These Thundering noodleheads actually found a way to make things even more unsettling the second time around. 'Stop and Smell Your Face' is the sound of stupid. Stupid like staying up past dawn, four nights in a row and drinking bluish-purple shit from a milk jug that smells faintly reminiscent of radiator coolant. Stupid like when you’re so out of your head, gorked on drugs n’ drink, you actually smoked a dead beetle because a friend told you to do so. Where’s this heading? Nowhere even remotely positive. (I’m way too drunk to be writing, let alone listening to this.) Things begin seemingly normal enough; with a mid tempo punk racket called “Down In The Alley”, only something more sinister is afoot. As it plays, you start to pick up on what the instruments are doing - or more importantly, what they’re not doing so well. TSOT have an arse-pile of guitarist (between six and fifty, I imagine) twisting notes, sloppily coming unplugged and regurgitating the best and worst of punk future/past. This is what Crime would sound like if played at half speed. Or maybe if three Crime cover bands performed live, against each other, all butchering different songs. Maybe one of those bands isn’t playing Crime at all. I think it maybe Foghat, actually. Hard to say; I’m stoned on beetles, remember? There are nods to (hell, blatant theft) Negative Approach, The Police and others I dare not mention within this package. The band knows you know and they don’t care one bit…and they’re not willing to stop.
A build up of sour soot comes on so thick that by the end of even the first chorus; it’s like being crushed under an audio-avalanche. You start to worry for your stereos safety. Cones are dusting. The turntables Plexiglas lid cracks. This can’t be good you/me/us/them. I covered my cat’s ears. The dogs are already hiding in the bedroom. No there’s piss puddles I gotta’ tend to (uncertain to whom they belong). Seriously though – WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING TO THOSE GUITARS?!? Either the strings are detuned to the point that they’re left swaying in the breeze, violently thwacking about the neck and body or there’s a contact mic inside a rusty tailpipe rattling from the ass end of one of those ugly 70’s Pinto sportswagons, left dragging along a the moon’s crust. Then – jokesters they are – they played these sounds back, tape deteriorating thru dying equipment and made us listen to it. You can hear the bandmasters regressing to their primordial state, untraining themselves as musicians (humans) while the first side lurches on. By the time “Glass Foot” arrives like a half way hillside rest stop, brilliant sonic abhorrence is fully achieved, somewhere upon the battlegrounds between a Happy Flowers anti-music, the early naivety of the Fair Brothers and a Killdozer cattledrag. I’ll mention Art Phag too, just for the fuck of it. BUT WAIT!! There’s still another goddamned side to go!
While some rock & rollers age gracefully and go the singer/songwriter path as successful troubadours, others trip down the descending stairs to middling fame, then scrambling their brains on the tile below. Listening to this record is like watching these man-mutants throw themselves into the nearest sewage treatment plant like fat drunken college kids, belly flopping at a highschool pool party. Hand ‘em all guitars and some kitchen utensils then see what shakes loose (in this case it seems to be a Black Oak Arkansas cover). The more you listen to it, the more if peels apart. The more you listen to it, the more you peel apart. That bluish-purple fluid you drank by mistake years ago makes an unwanted return, only now it’s draining from your ears, nose and tear ducts. For some reason, there’s also a strong stench of deep fried squid permeating the air. It could be the signs of a stroke. You should take it easy for a while. Hide this piece of polyvinyl chloride in a lock box, and tuck it away deep in the basement. Just like that Tasmanian devil-thing from Creepshow. (Drunken or dead, this LP is highly recommended) (RSF)
(Little Big Chief Records // littlebigchief.bigcartel.com)
Ttotals “Spectrums Of Light” 7”
“Sometimes Just As You Are” is a slow burner/dick swinger that melds abrasive sonic shards onto some dank stylized noir. The quiet to loud dynamics are pushed to the limits as sparse thump and atmospheric creep gets pulverized under the abrasive chorus noise. Ttotals sounds as if they’re working out woes in an actual alleyway drenched in reverb and not just shut in a studio filled with cheap digital gear. Simple and effective. “Tricks Of The Light” rollicks in a moody batcave blues that really crawls on ya’. Imagine taking the drink away from Gallon Drunk or stripping The Flaming Stars down to their bare gristly essentials and you’d get something like this. Funny, I learned just minutes ago those two acts were related. Well, Ttotal might dangle from their hanging tree…Haunting shit that still ain’t afraid to rock. Released on Twin Lakes, which is also home to Michael Beach and Electric Jellyfish. That all makes a hell of a lot of sense too. Dead cool. (RSF)
(Twin Lakes // www.twinlakesrecords.com)
TV Ghost "Television Ghost" 7"
Legend has it these are the very earliest TV Ghost recordings from 2007, when they were called Television Ghost, recorded in a basement to 4-track, the tape of which was supposedly then dropped in a puddle and nearly rendered inaudible. Both of these tunes did appear on the Die Stasi 12", a record which I like more now than I did upon its release. Hearing this alongside the new LP certainly clearly delineates almost two versions of the band, with 'Cold Fish' being the gap-bridging record. That early line-up (and the "Atomic Rain" 7" was such a fantastic debut) I had a chance to catch live, fittingly in a basement (Club Atlantis to be exact), could best be characterized as a bunch of stoned and drunk kids in the midst of a total clusterfuck, wearing broken sunglasses at night and playing broken instruments poorly. In retrospect you could still see Tim Ghost's vision rather clearly through the murk. And this record is all murk, "The Amputee" crawling slug-like across the moldy cement floor, the synth creating a sickening and gluey omnipresent muck which the guitar pokes at like a child with a stick and the bass playing rubber cement to the various parts. The tape warble actually acts as another instrument in this case, giving the song an extra layer of vertigo-inducing sludge. "The Mold" (how wonderfully fitting) comes on like a anxiety attack, the synth turning to some wheezing sing-song repetition bolstered by a thudding drums-falling-down-the-stairs rhythm, sheer panic on tape. The limitations of the source material here are of no matter, and as a person who has a penchant for the shit-fi (which this certainly qualifies as) it's quite interesting to hear these recordings now, as TV Ghost are in the upper echelon of today's American bands in my opinion. It makes for a fulfilling comparison to where they are today, both tunes stack up from the songwriting/aesthetic perspective, and while it's certainly not the best TV Ghost record or most essential piece of the puzzle (and I don't think anyone is claiming it is), it will certainly satisfy the band's current fans looking for some demo-kicks and might even sate those who still claim their debut was their best record. I dig it as both a lover of the shit-fi and as a snapshot of young teen punks in action. Scum stats: 300 copies on purple vinyl with download.(RK)
(Kind Turkey // www.kindturkeyrecords.com)
Urinals "Negative Capaility...Check It Out!" 2XLP
Finally, a reissue project of such quality, magnitude and importance has arrived in 2013 that I can now stop fawning over Superior Viaduct's 'Hardcore Devo' volumes and move on with my life. Much like those Devo volumes languished in the "obsucrity" of being CD only (aside from the impossible original vinyl issues, I know...), 'Negative Capability' was first released in compact form in 1996, on Amphetamine Reptile Records (a seemingly unlikely home at first glance, but making perfect sense when you realize good ol' Haze was an early Kugelburg pal..more on that here), which ties into my personal Urinals journey. I'll admit, the first time I ever heard a Urinals songs was Halo of Flies' cover of "I'm A Bug" on the 'Winged' EP. I'll save the gruelling account of my quest to find Urinals records in the early Nineties, but let's just say when I finally got the CD...well, a pivotal moment to say the least. Urinals were a band that changed my perception of music, of what a band could be, what a band could sound like. I can't help but make a Devo comparison - while Devo were another band that of course made a huge impact on me, they were also a huge band in the national consciousness as well. Urinals were one of those then-obscure bands that seemed to make a more personal impression. Back then everyone knew Devo, but not everyone knew Urinals music - it was one of those first instances of musical enlightenment where you felt like you were in on a secret. Their music, which since then has of course become more and more appreciated (and covered), still seems to me like that secret, still remains very personal to me. It's of course an empty signifier to call them a "special" band, but that's the only word for it. One of the few outfits who made such a huge impact on the music that came after, yet no one ever has or probably will ever sound quite like them. There's not much you can say about their music that many others haven't already said, and Byron Coley himself says it in what may be his finest liner notes of all time here (reprised here from the '96 issue...I originally thought they could have used an update, but I realize now they're still perfect). I will run down the nuts and bolts for you: the tracklist is the exact one as the CD (no more probably exists, or is necessary), all of the singles and comp tracks, plus a dozen live cuts from three different LA performances from '78-81. The two '78 tracks are ragged but necessary, and the '80 and '81 tracks are phenomenal - whoever introduces them as "the hottest band in the world!" at Club 88 wasn't kidding as they "rip" into "Salmonella". I own the Urinals catalog as CD, bootleg and authetic reissues of the singles, a couple of original records and now this 2XLP package, and I'll probably take them all to the grave with me. I mean, who would ever sell one of their Urinals records, no matter if you own them in better formats now? It's just not something a good person would do. And I like to think I'm a good person. I envy the youth out there who will have this as their introduction to world of Happy Squid, and the wonder that come with it, and then realizing this is the first chapter of a story that goes on to 100 Flowers, Danny and the Doorknobs (the most underrated chapter), Trotsky Icepick and even more depending on how many dots you connect. I was going to insert some commentary on the obvious reissue glut happening now, but why look a gift horse in the mouth? Scum stats: sharp gatefold packaging, a limited red vinyl edition of 200 for the earlybirds, and even some new pics in the gatefold. Even as I look at this masterpiece now, I'm sort of shocked it's here. "Count your fucking stars, lucky." (RK)
(In the Red Archives // www.intheredrecords.com)
Uzi Rash "I Saw U" 7"
Uzi Rash and it's leader the Rev Stanley "Jay" Bingman are not fans of brevity, so I began my reviewing of their latest records (I also have two LPs in the pile) with this two song 7" to ease my way into it. Very early in the beginnings of Termbo I received a barrage of CDR releases from this "group" and they personified the too much too soon style - some good ideas overshadowed by tons other crap. Too much. I've forgotten what they sounded like at this point, but I don't think they ever really had an identifiable sound anyway. I have no idea what this record is going for. Parody? Of what? I have no idea. I'd say "I Saw U" was lampooning the simplistic garage-pop of the hundreds of Nobunny clones out there if I didn't know better. Sounds like Doc Dart covering a Peach Kelli Popsong. "Living On A Swamp"sounds like Tiny Tim going for a Doo Rag thing. Could be on the soundtrack for a some alternate universe muppet movie. The shit-fi version of "Come On" that closes this is the best thing here, and it's not even that great. Comes with a booklet that is seemingly a bunch of random scrap sheets of paper cut into strips and assembled at random. I had the idea that if you took it apart and matched the strips up it would make a sensible insert, but I didn't have the interest to try it out. (RK)
(1234 Go! // www.1234gorecords.com)
Vacation Club "Daydream" 7"
Vacation Club are a rare breed - an actual rock band from Indiana - here released on Chicago's Randy Records after Randy himself caught the band tearing up some Chicago dive on a weeknight. These kids sound inspired by much of the same stuff a zillion other bands are right now - everyone is giving off a heavy VU stink, playing with the word psych while still trying to write pop. Somehow the Vacation Club make it sound right. Something about "Daydream" reminds me of the Ponys - probably the exceptional guitar playing and the knack for keeping the pop both rocking and dreamy. The gang-of-gals vox doesn't sound like they're trying girl-group rehash, it just sounds like some kids getting wild, the hook is very well done and not obvious and the song takes plenty of turns that keep you attentive. The wild guitar breakdown really is fried and the backwards sounding outro part gives things a baroque-pop air. A pretty impressive tune. B-Side ("Forest Babe") is vintage treble-popping with popsike elements that sounds a little bit like the modern wave of West Coasters, like a super poppy Oh Sees tune without all the smoke and mirrors. Pretty solid debut.(RK)
(Randy Records // randyrecords.blogspot.com)
V/A Buck Biloxi & The Fucks / Giorgio Murderer split 7"
About once every a year a split single comes along that makes me not hate split fucking singles so goddam much, at least for a week or so. Here's this year's winner. Buck Biloxi & The Fucks, shit, these guys are killing me. And I haven't even heard the Total Punk 7" yet. I'll admit the Orgone Toilet 7" took a little while to grow on me fully, but it did, and I now regret not claiming it as one of the top things of last year. Their songs on this record sound like a Phil Spector recording job when compared to their debut, which was one of the pinnacles of modern shit-fi recording. On this split they graduate from shit-fi to just lo-fi. Is "Shithole Boys" their best song to date? It's possible. It has an amazingly dumb guitar solo, the drums sound like actual drums this time instead of shoeboxes and there's even an identifiable bassline! It's somewhere between the Persuaders and Livefastdie or something like that. KBD + Southern Trash = Killer. "Tea Party" is almost the same song with different lyrics, I think they figured they could just get a couple more minutes out of this riff. I certainly don't mind. The Giorgio Murderer side is even more wonderful, I shit you not. No idea who this dude is, but he sounds more than a bit like Buck maybe? "Theme from Star Trek" is as awesome as "Shithole Boys", and I think it owes an equal debt to both The Spits and Nick the Lounge Singer. Outstanding one man lo-fi-synth-punk-destruction, and it's catchy as shit with top notch lyrics. Speaking of shit (hey now), "I Need My Shit" is a pretty serious sounding tune - that synth line is kind of deep and introspective, I think the guitar solo here takes inspiration from the dark depths of emotion expressed by the Stones on "Paint It, Black" and the lyrics certainly have a very existential flair. I think this man might be a genius. Scum stats: probably only a few, as these guys don't generally push weight, they usually just hit it and quit it fast-like with 200 or 300 copies. Released on Biloxi's own Holotrash label ("this is a real label") who also put out the split tape with MS Paint...and you know, if this review made me realize anything, it's that I'm a dumbass for not getting the BB&TF split with Legendary Wings because I was all "Fuck split singles, maaaan!", but now I look like a dick. Shit. The insert on this is one of the best of the year as well ("Doing It" hawhaw...) and answers a question put forth earlier in this review, as Giorgio Murderer is actually revealed to be a Buck Biloxi alias, along with Bareback Obama, John Booger Mellencamp and some other pretty funny ones...C/U: entire pressing.(RK)
(Holotrash Records // holotrash.com)
V/A Buck Biloxi & The Fucks / Legendary Wings split 7"
I blinked for a second and missed this one first time around but luckily caught a repress thanks to there still being some good people left in the world. The BB&F side is, of course, sheer genius, as Buck himself will tell you on "I'm A Genius" which is about 90 seconds of tin can drums, a nice throbby bassline, the patented Biloxi punk-as-fuck vocal delivery and I think he only plays his guitar for the solo, which is pretty classy when you think about it. They back this one up with "I'm A Disaster", fittingly showing the duality of the human race and addressing this topic with the intelligence befitting a band with members named John Booger Mellencamp, Skull McCartney and Queef Moon. This one's a real rollercoaster ride, as they manage to just barely hold it together without falling out of tune, but you're on the edge of your seat the whole time, and the lyrics for this tune are just incredible (seriously). I wasn't in love with the Legendary Wings material I'd heard before (although the name is clever), and I'm not in love with their stuff here either. It's not terrible, I'm just not that into pop confection like this - they do keep it semi-lo-fi and there's something about them that reminds me of MOTO in a way. I'm sure most people will like their side more than me, but this is worth the price of admission for Buck Biloxi anyway. Scum stats: no idea, I think 300 originally, then a repress of 100 for their tour. Insert/lyric sheet is a very welcome addition.(RK)
(Pelican Pow Wow // www.pelicanpowwow.com)
V/A Gary Wrong Group / Wizzard Sleeve "Halloween Violence" split 7"
I was waiting for this one with bated breath all month long and it delivers 100%. For as genius as I think Buck Biloxi is, Gary Wrong is just as diabolically fantastic, which is pretty scary considering both of these guys are from the South. And speaking of scaaaary stuff (please read that in Count Floyd's voice), if Gary Wrong Group's "Dream Smasher" doesn't give you the heebie-jeebies you might just be dead. GW pulls out an array of spooked-out and creeped-up synth tones here, really making for a multi-dimensional frightfest. The vocals are straight from the grave, there's a gurgling and bubbling background mess happening - multiple synth/keys effects, maybe some theremin, lots of breaking bottles, some Moog/circuitry bending shit - a crackling guitar that sounds like it's played through a broken amp, a driving organ rhythm that works with the drums as the cement on your feet and then there's this weird tinkling/dreamy sound over it all that is the most disturbing part. Tractor beams, ice creams, nice dreams, this is some demented dreamscape crawling from the unholy pits of Alabama. The really crazy part is that I think this might be the best Gary Wrong Group tune yet. This is no novelty holiday themed toss off! On the flip, we get the return of Wizzard Sleeve via "Loupgarou", which I think is like Cajun for werewolf or something like that. It oozes at a similarly glue-like pace as the GWG side, with Captain Beyonce delivering his vox from the darkside via some sort of seance or Ouija ritual - the echo is just eeeevil (please read that in the voice of Hecubus...or Sir Simon Milligan actually) sounding, plus there's some other ghoul chanting along with him. The keys and drums sound obsese and spoooky ring modulator workings give this that extra bit of occultism. I always like to turn split singles into a fight between the two bands, and here it gives me great pleasure to imagine Chad punching himself in the face as GWG and WS duke it out. I say that Gary Wrong is the winner of this bout as "Dream Smasher" is just too good of a song, but "Loupgarou" isn't too far behind- I guess it's more of a case of which of these killer kuts is more exceptional. Best Halloween record since The Spits spent a night in the Haunted House, and really one of the best split singles that've come this way in a long time, holiday-themed or not. Scum stats: pressing size in unknown right now, but be warned that it is already sold out from Jeth Row. And in case you didn't notice, every copy comes with a werewolf mask (not pictured) and one of those popsicle-stick things to hold it with (I am very impressed by this for some reason), which is complimented by the screenshot artwork and nifty tri-panel sleeve fold. (RK)
(Pelican Pow Wow & Jeth-Row Records // www.pelicanpowwow.com)
V/A "No Rules! No Fun" LP
20 band compilation featuring acts from Portland and the Bay Area. Lots of crapola on this one. I will say the absolute highlight of this record is the vinyl debut of Angora Debs. "Your Shitty Diary" is a delightful little tune, all ringing guitars, big ol' hook, a surprisingly fast and locked in rhythm unit and Jason Patrone's fantastic vox - I was a big Lyme Regis and FM Knives fan, and I hope these guys release a single soon. The only other decent tracks are the Dancer song, Cyclops' sixty seconds of trash, a new Outdoorsmen track (RIP?) and the Top Ten cut is fun Lucchesi-punk. The rest of the 15 bands run the gamut from bad pop-punk to bad rawk-n-roll to bad garage-rock to bad power-pop. The compilation business is an ugly one - it's almost impossible to make a great one. This one might be of interest to those involved in these scenes wanting a document of the bands that opened good shows they were at. Or if you're crazy enough to want to shell out for a comp LP just to hear the Angora Debs track (it's that good...). Or maybe if you're a Mean Jeans completist? I kinda liked the surf instro on this because it rips off a Flipper bassline, but then I saw the band's name is Guantanamo Baywatch and wished I hadn't looked. Scum stats: 500 copies on pink vinyl, it at least has great artwork from the artist behind Pork Magazine.(RK)
(No Rules Records // www.norulesrecords.org)
V/A "Radio Ready - Lost Powerpop Hits 1978-83: Texas Volume 1" LP
There's a lot of competition in today's reissue game. Labels like Last Laugh/Mighty Mouth, Sing Sing, Rerun and Ugly Pop are all carving out their own niches, each diving deep into the massive pool that is obscure punk/glam/powerpop, not necessarily in overt competition but certainly warily watching each other for conflicts of interest. The godfathers of the game, those collector giants who started the KBD and Bloodstains comps must be watching with amusement. Cheap Rewards entered the arena fairly recently, focusing on Texas punk and powerpop from all over, niches that some other labels/dudes might think they have been there first on. The collecting/compiling game can be an ugly one, as record collectors are fickle anti-social types who are quick to turn on anyone who might score a rarity before them and are easily offended and insulted when they feel someone is encroaching on their turf. Personally, I could give a fuck who has the biggest pecker as long as you're sharing the goods, and the curator(s?) of this comp are pretty damn good at what they do. This LP is the first volume in a series of regional powerpop comps, with another Texas volume planned and Wisconsin on deck I believe, and I fear there might be an eventual collision with the planned Buttons comps by Numero and their repsective compilers. Hey, a little competition is always good for business, right? So, this comp trudges out 13 rarities from the state, including some unreleased/demo tracks (a rule broken from the KBD book), many of which will delight power pop wimps across the globe. My picks of the bunch are the hanclap laden Anglo-pop of Houston's Bruce Moody, the "other" Haskells also from Houston (rehersal space mates of Really Red), the almost-tough Rattlecats from Austin (who have one of the lower-fi sounds here, in their favor) and Jemmy Leggs "Fireworks" might be the best tune on this comp. Side B winners in the wimp-out sweepstakes are The Spies (who might even qualify as punk if you're feeling loose - my #2 fave on this thing), the hard-charging Shades from Austin (the best of the unreleased/demos unearthed here) and the Sixties sounding "I'm Gone" from US Mods outta Dallas, another one that scores big with a lo-fi recording. I'd score this thing at at least 8 keepers out of the baker's dozen, which is a pretty good ratio for a comp at this stage in the game (and I'm a very tough judge when it comes to powerpop - cuz I ain't no wimp), and further bonus points should be added for digging really deep here, I previously knew of a few of these bands by name only and I believe only one song had been "officially" comped before on Powerpearls (I'd assume some of these cats pop up on some Chuck Warner CDs, but do those even count?). I have to compare this to the Buttons comp for some reason, as they're mining the same field, and I think these guys are more than able to run with the big dogs up North, and this might even be slightly less wimpy. The only thing these guys would lose points for is the sleeve - the liner notes in the gastefold are informative and all you could ask for, and I dig the vintage pics/memorabilia on the rear sleeve, but the cover of this thing is ass ugly, I have to call that out. It looks like a K-Tel Records comp or something (was that the idea?), and I hope they remedy this for future volumes. In closing, a very substantial opening salvo for this compilation series that had a tough guy like me getting into it. Scum stats: 50 copies on lime green, 100 on orange, 350 on black, this thing has to be nearly OOP already - but I imagine they'll repress, as any good reissue label should. (RK)
(Cheap Rewards Records // cheaprewards.net)
V/A "The Thing From the Crypt" LP
Seminal comp of an isolated sub-scene gets the treatment by coldwave impresarios Dark Entries. There’s a gothic sensibility to much of this music, but it’s not heavy-handed, and often, tongue-in-cheek. Released in 1981 and containing two songs by each band, this comp’s quality is, for the most part, excellent. Exhibit ‘A’s “Rain” sounds like a New Zealander’s take on darkwave, ditching the menace for an extra dose of melancholy. “Take Me Inside” by Sad Lovers & Giants comes off as a more accessible, new wave Screamers, while Flying Beechcraft’s sly “Bugger Off” is a minor classic. Of course, half the reason to own this LP is for the two songs by the supremely satisfying Soft Drinks, a synth-vocal-drum combo that approach their arch songs with a thuggish glee. Imagine early Passage in a caveman karaoke and you’re getting close. “Squash” does just that, but “Pepsi Cola” is the choice of a new generation (of miscreants). A muscular drumbeat pounds away as synths act like a quickening pulse, while the singer yammers on about drinking a soda, literally, everywhere. Flying Beechcraft come up with another winner in “Frog Girl,” almost like an angles-rounded-off Embarrassment, or perhaps a slightly less-pretentious Verlaines. I really dig how most of the bands walk this strange line between synth-punk-pop-new wave-goth. But trust me, there’s more than enough guitar here, this is still rock music, generally speaking. Joy Division looms large, but taken in creative directions. S-Haters provide good, noisy mope but Sad Lovers & Giants “Clint” could easily get an ‘80s nite dance floor moving. On the other hand, Mex’s “Functioning Fripp Girls” has more in common with Danny & The Dressmakers, and the album closes out with Gambit of Shame’s nearly trad garage-rockin’ “She Lawn.” If anyone would like to send me a copy of Soft Drinks’ lone 45, “Popstars In Their Pyjamas,” well, shucks, that’d be just swell. (EEK)
(Dark Entries // darkentriesrecords.com)
Sonny Vincent "Totally Fucked" 7"
Let's be honest here and admit that Sonny Vincent's legendary status would not be affected at all had he never released anything after the Testors. That Fury 7" is another story, as being an unheard monster from the pre-Testors days, it really tickled my nads. But anything that came after Testors is essentially forgettable. I think I listened to the Shotgun Rationale record a few times. Maybe. "Totally Fucked" sounds like Sonny's amazing voice overtop a band that sounds they're playing a forgettable Electric Frankenstein song. I swear to god he sounds a little like Diamond Dave on this one. "Come For You" has one of the worst drum sounds ever put to vinyl, and no amount of Sonny's whitehot soloing is gonna save it. "Robot Radio" is the one track to come out of this unscathed, a real deece rapid-fire punker that's at least on fire for a few minutes, even if it isn't going to set the world ablaze. As far a punk rock songs from old guys go, that last one's as good as it gets. Scum stats: 400 black/100 color.(RK)
(Oops Baby // www.oopsbabyrecords.com)
Violent Change s/t LP
Sixteen tracks of lo-fi Bob Pollard worship from Matt Bleyle, who was in a pop-punk band called Sopors previously and runs in the same scene with Ovens/Tony Molina (who also guests here). It's all rather obvious stuff - you can't help but think of GBV when spinning this, from the vocals to the recording style. There are not one but two Christmas-themed songs here. And one called "Wal-Mart Parking Lot". Real biting stuff...there are approximately two or three good songs on this LP - "Straight to My Head" is the only thing on this that even sounds slightly punk, "No One Left to Blame" is decent because it seems more like a Sebadoh ripoff than a GBV one (and I just noticed that Molina wrote this one...). "Astral Turf" has some cool and weird vibes - too bad it's a thirty second instrumental. I don't mean to make this sound like a terrible record - it's just a really bland one. We've heard better GBV inspired bands. They cover up the really wimpy pop-punk cuts with lo-fi production instead of just owning up to it like Thee Makeout Party. There's nothing very KBD-inspired here despite what the promo sheet says. This might even be an emo record if you think about it. There's one band with Violent in their name that matters right now - and it's Chicago's Violent End - don't get them confused. Scum stats: 300 copies. (RK)
(Catholic Guilt // catholicguiltrecords.bigcartel.com)
Virus “Live In Lourdes” 7”
Brutal & repetitive garage trash that brings to mind blues garbage like the early Feeling of Love recordings or a Subtle Turnhips violence. The opener (“Bluesvaccadios”) sounds a smidge like Creepy Dave singing over a locked Blowtops sound bite. “Lordes” rattles along like a Pussy Galore remnant stuffed into that Yakisakana sleeve stink. All these things I’m in favor of. Flip it over…is this a reprise of the first track? Is my record a mispress?? Nope. Pretty sure this dude only has two strings to play with. It’s live, in Italy. Dumb and loud. Bonus points added for the raygun rotted keyboard play on “Fire”. Nothing fancy. Keep it away from daycare parking lots and preschool playgrounds. (RSF)
(Depression House // www.depressionhouse.blogspot.com)
Whore Paint "Swallow My Bones" LP
The Load Records version of girl group sounds. I'd like to imagine this as Ben playing Kim Fowley to WP's Runaways, but these ladies are much too ferocious to be svengali-ed by anyone I imagine. Featuring members of bands I've never heard of before, this Providence trio are certainly familiar with the Load back catalog, as well as Nineties T&G/AmRep and the early work of PJ Harvey. Eight songs that stretch and scratch as agressively as Kat Bjelland or Donita Sparks ever did, without the prom dresses and grunge. Tunes like "Haunt/Alive" or "I'd Eat My Bones" work on the crooner over heavy post-hardcore rocking angle that the heaviest moments of 'Dry' or 'Rid of Me' achieved, albeit with that Providence art-rock meanstreak. Much should be made of the shredding capabilities of this guitarist, who plays with a confidence echoed in the vocal performance. A lot of loud/soft dynamics, some very technical metal-esque guitar playing at times, dark subject matter that I don't want to sterotype as feminist, but there's much talk about lovers, body/flesh and death/violence that cuts to the bone. Again, at risk of being sexist, I will say that females will find more of a connection here lyrically and emotionally, but it's also some of the most ferocious all-girl-band music I've heard of in a long time.(RK)
(Load Records // www.loadrecords.com)
Wild Child s/t 7”
Quite an unexpected two-fer from the Deranged camp over this past season. Between the Preggo Scares and this tasty lil’ nugget, I’m starting to pay closer attention to their release schedule. A lot folks got there bundle in a bunch over the Wild Child demo, but honestly it kinda’ left me flat. It was a fine piece of neu-school hardcore filtered through noise and all, but I wouldn’t have been able to pick ‘em out of the pack. Now this here EP…this is a goldmine. Blurred and frantic, it has that Hank Wood crazy to it, but with a crisp, clean-squeak production and some of the most interesting guitar tone I’ve heard in the game. Like the 6 string is bare as can be, no modern effects or mystery guy scuzz needed. Blistering away in a stripped down chaos. Maybe the pick ups are failing? Whatever it is, it makes the Child stand out. The only screw loose up in here is the hyperventilating vocals that builds to delirium through a great use of overdubs. Babble freaktalk that’d make Nick Blinko blush. I can only assume a ton of bloody forehead microphone hickeys and beercan skullcrushing goes on during their Minneapolis shows. Seriously rekka-fukking-mended. (RSF)
(Deranged Records // www.derangedrecords.com)
Wild Emotions "Hey Everybody" 7"
All-girl five-piece rock'n'roll action from Jackson, MI with Daphne from Overnight Lows and a couple of Black Belles. For some reason I am surprised at how good this is - no disrespect to the gals, but I thought it might be a clunker. Very pleasantly surprised, they sound just tough enough, the keyboard on "Hey Everybody" comes off more punk than garage and it has a killer hook and shout, not unlike the type Alicja Trout often writes. Heavy on the treble and handclaps, recording is mid-fi leaving some edge on things, and like I said, the keys add a welcome synth-punk bite here. They switch singers (and songwriters) for the B-Side, the band's "theme" song and it's an odd one. There's a cello or some kind of strings in the background that they use to add some emotional depth, and it starts off as an up-tempo garage-punker with the girl dead-panning the vocals talking-style, sort of distracted sounding. Then they break it down all heavy for a slo-mo mosh part of sorts, then kick the original tempo back in with the spoken word vox again, but double-tracked this time. It's all sort of a jumble and it sounds like some parts are shoehorned in, but it adds to the loose and slightly inept DIY vibe overall - not that these girls can't play (Daphne's guitar work on this is great), but it has a bit of a bad-idea-turned-good appeal. I'd like to hear a couple more from these ladies. Scum stats: 300 copies only, 100 on violet and 200 on black, on the Blahhl label, one time home to The Eunuchs - and if you check their webstore you can still get the Eunuchs LP on the cheap!(RK)
(Blahll! Records // www.blahllrecs.com)
Yi “Punk Memories” 7”
After slapping people sideways with last years “Host Body” sniggle (and their gonzo live shows) it was like a holiday having this handed to me. “Got A Stone” is the most straightforward punker on here, bordering on ugly pop turf. Aggressive stuttering and a Ginn overdrive, it lies comfortably in the puddle next to tracks on that prior platter. “Just Quit Punk” is the true damage. A crash & bang rhythm section that fights against its own catchiness at every turn. Jagged and loudly overblown guit-fit leads the way in and out of tune, threatening severe needle damage. Jackson (lead mangler and shouts) spreads it around, threshing picks violently until the hardcore breakdown arrives - does a Jell-O© shot or two - then returns to the party via blackout rage, totally disheveled. Will they make it to the end of the side? Will anyone survive? Will these stains wash out of my skivvies?? So many questions go unanswered. The B-side time expander known as “Junk Memories” really plays up the bands weird skillz and ought to land ‘em a recording contract on Pluto. Things start off slam bang in the middle of a circle pit before again nose-diving into a chaotic indie schmear of guitar clatter and feedback sputter. They continue their hammer down, space-truckin’ freakshow til the phased-to-fuck repeating outro rambles on to the very last millimeter of dead wax. Your moneys worth. Scumble-bum statisimos: 100 copies farted into existence and promptly disappeared. Hand pasted sleeves featuring my favorite Bay Area metal head (and my favorite kitten wall calendar as well). Includes an insert of liner notes that borders on being its own ‘zine. Surprised it doesn’t require extra postage. People will be looking for this thing in 20 years at no avail. Instead they’ll be sifting through the refuse bins eyeing Fresh & Onlys markdowns and finding doodly-squat. A sad future to behold. (RSF)
(self-released // yipunx.angelfire.com)
Yuppies s/t LP
Debut long player from Omaha's Yuppies released on on the Parquet Courts guy's label. Quite a bit more polished and formal than their Grotto 7" from a few years ago, this one can sidle right in next to what I'd guess we can call the garage sound of today. At it's best it reminds me quite a bit of Guinea Worms - equally playful and serious, capable of catchy left-of-center garage-pop and feel-bad dronery. The more agressive stuff at times sounds like a kinder and gentler Lamps, perhaps cut with the weird-pop sensibility of The Intelligence. Their heartland honesty thankfully keeps them free of the SF-styled psych vibes while still harnessing some palpable guitar fuzz and feedback on the wilder tracks. Plenty of prickly stuff as well, "Easy Nights" reminds of a pop song as written by Woodhouse. On first listen this will go by sounding like a pretty standard state-of-the-art modern garage record but the second listen is where you start getting into some of the deeper pockets, which returns me to the Guinea Worms again. You'll need to walk around in these songs for a bit. Far from perfect but a very decent LP that I think is a good representation of the kind of band college radio should be paying attention to, if college radio still existed in any semblance of a useful form anymore. Better and more sonically and aesthetically sound than their contemporaries (Parquets included), but still a bit more "indie" (for lack of a better word) sounding than I care for. Scum stats: 400 on black, 100 on blue.(RK)
(Dull Tools // dulltools.bigcartel.com)
Yuri Gagarin s/t LP
Debut LP from Swedish space-rockers named after a Soviet astronaut. Whereas the real life Gagarin was the first man in space, the band named after him is another in a very very long line of spacerockers and psychedelic cosmonauts dating all the way back to Hawkwind, the band YG are obviously the most influenced by. Nothing wrong with some wind hawking, especially when it's done as heavily and respectfully as these guys do it. Swedish rock might not be a very original scene, but they replicate other locales and genres very very well. Two massive instrumental tunes per side, and I was at first worried that there were no vox, but after soaking in this for a few spins I'm glad there's no voice to distract me from the hypnodrone. Two guitar attack, one doubles up with the bass for propulsion and the other is the explorer venturing out on solo missions. The real key here is the synths/FX guy who makes the whole outerspace trip work with ring modulators, multiple synth layers and drones, squeals and lasers, and whatever machine makes that deep space whoosh sound that is in the background on every one of these songs. I'm going to call it an orgone accumulator. It's a pretty cool tone and essential to space travel emulation on record. This thing doesn't go in for any of that doom-rock or stoner Sabbath worship, they just stay on mission and traverse the outer reaches of the galaxy for a good hour or so, like a heavier modern update of 'In Search of Space'. They keep it crisp and smart and don't fall victim to the dum-dum moves that makes bad stoner rock bands a dime a dozen (and again, this thing it not stoner rock, although I imagine it would be conducive to the puffing of some herb). A very good genre piece, and a fantastic record to zone out to. Artwork looks like a collaboration between Moebius and Roger Dean ripped from the pages of Heavy Metal. It certainly does the trick. (RK)
(Levande Begravd Records // levandebegravd1-at-gmail.com)
To read past reviews go here.