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RECORD REVIEWS END-OF-SUMMER 2006

Key: (RFA: Richard Fucking Adventure)(LB: Lance Boyle)(KB: Kemp Boyd) (MC: Mitch Cardwell)(JC: Jesse Conway)(EEK: Erick Elrick)(JG: Jeff G.)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RK: Rich Kroneiss)(MS: Mike Sniper)(SSR: Scott Soriano)(SB: Young Steve) (TK: Todd Trickknee)

Battleship "To Give Not a Gift" EP
You should be able to peruse an interview with the queens in Battleship somewhere else around here; wait, back a couple pages, no, yeah, right there. If you figure the music has gotta be better than that interview, then go pick up this 7" for a quick glimpse into Battleship mk. II, a primer for their forthcoming LP. "Two Horses Too Many" alternates harsh angularity with galloping hardcore that spotlights Bean's deep, Jah Wobbly bass stabs. "No Time For Love" is a breathless rant that comes off particularly well live. The recorded version lacks a little of the live bite, particularly on the breakdown, but you can still feel the self-loathing when Aleks demands that you realize, "I AM THE PROBLEM, I AM TO BLAME." I knew it was your fault, asshole.(EEK)
(Double Negative // www.doublenegativerecords.com)

Bayonettes "Stuck in This Rut" 7"
Now this is The Bayonettes record I wanted to hear. Miles better than the Art of the Underground single that popped up first, this is a great representation of what these Toronto punk kids can do. Fairly simple but catchy mid-tempo tunes with assertive female vox that sound a lot more punk and not at all cute, as they did on the debut record. Not overly raging or frantic and certainly deeply indebted to the Dangerhouse roster, but still really enjoyable, and a bit similar to what The Vicious are doing but less aggro and less European. Both of these tunes are ones that have stuck in my head from their live set, especially "Sour" which manages to even get a little panicky. This is the record to get (so far) if you want a taste of this band, and I look forward to some more. Just a really solid record. Stompin' Dickie Christgau gives this the old A- with a side of back bacon. Scums stats: 1000 on black vinyl, 100 with acetate/screened covers, and 150 tour editions. Repress coming on black and green (limited to 100). (RK)
(Deranged Records // www.derangedrecords.com)

Belly Button "Schoolgirl" EP
New Japanese band with a couple of girls on vocals/guitars and a guy on drums. Not sure what their past band credits include, but they sing in the Chipmunks-on-45 high-pitch squeak, but do it backed by fairly efficient and sort of muscular sounding Teengenerate-ish throb. It's a winning combination, and certainly cute, but not sickeningly so. Banana Erectors-esque perhaps. Three songs and a cool intro, with the mix-tape staple being the garage-pop diamond "Hey Baby Come On, I'm OK!", on which the title is the only lyric along with some well placed ooh-ooh-oohs. Simple, lovely, a bit bubblegum chewy, aesthetically perfect, and peppered with plenty of smile-inducing handclaps and solos. I would have loved this a lot more in 1996, but I still like it OK in 2006. Good single, Christgau-san sez B. On one-sided pink vinyl, and an unexpected sweet shot from Ken Rock, home of bastards like Swinehood, Brainbombs, and Skelett. (RK)
(Ken Rock // www.ken-rock.com)

Be Your Own Pet "Summer Sensation" EP
Are these guys (and gal) on MTV yet? I have no idea, I don't get that channel, but I'm not oblivious to the point that I am unaware of the massive hype behind this young Tennessee band. Their debut full-length just came out, but here I am with the EP (most of which looks to be on the LP). Not oblivious, but definitely late. Oh well. Hey, am I lame? I dig this! First two cuts, "Bicycle, Bicycle," and "Girls on TV" lay down the law with frantic guitars 'n drum beats and Jemina's bold vocals. She's calling you out, not to fight, but to party. I'm down. Let's gather the bikes and 40s and get dirty. "Fire Department" is as good as anything the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (an obvious comparison) have written and twice as exciting. Love those vocal cracks on the "safety pin" line; in fact, just love the vocals period. They really take this band over the top. The next track tries too hard to nail the YYYs vibe, but that's OK cuz it ends with another fast one. There's elements of indie rock, punk, garage, but nothing dominates. It's like what really good "Alt-Rock" should be. But jacked up on sugar rushes and tight shirts; a soundtrack to your next front-seat grope session. If the youth of America are smoking first joints and giving/getting first blowjobs to this, Mika Miko, Black Lips, and other youthful miscreants, then right on. (EEK)
(Ecstatic Peace // www.ecstaticpeace.com)

Black Helicopter "Invisible Jet" CD/LP
Really gotta wonder what Thurston's thinking here. He inks a deal with Universal to manufacture a slew of new, rock-oriented releases on his formerly record-collector geek label, Ecstatic Peace!, and proceeds to sign some real head-scratchers. Lemme throw out a few names: Green Magnet School. Kudgel. If those names mean anything to you, you are probably staring 30 down the barrel, or,more likely, can barely make out that sign-post in the rearview mirror. We're talkin early 90s indie-grunge, folks, Boston-style. This band features ex-members of, and, honestly, it would've really put 'em over the top if they had someone who used to be in Spore. So, let's cut to the chase. 'Invisible Jet' is one of the most boring, useless, monochromatic albums I have heard in a long damn time. It's just one mid-tempo snoozefest after another. There is absolutely not one dynamic shift over the course of the entire 47 minute record. You almost have to respect a band that can manage to capture a feeling, one feeling (ennui), and take it to its logical end (zzzzzzz). It's virtually mind-blowing. Imagine a generic "meat and potatoes" rock rec prepared by an English grandmother, ie. every last bit of flavor has been boiled out. Not even a guest appearance by Roger Miller can save this disc. You'd be better off scoring that Green Magnet School/Six Finger Satellite split for $1.50 at the shitty used shop down the street. Oh, it's there, trust me, right next to those Skin Yard CDs.(EEK)
(Ecstatic Peace!/Universal // www.ecstaticpeace.com)

Black Sunday "Romantic Me" 7"
I've been so enamored with River City Tanlines over the past year, I really forgot Alicja had other pokers in the fire, like Mouserocket and Black Sunday, who have three seven inches out or coming out recently. This is the first I've got a hold on (the other is out on Memphis' Misprint Records and one is iminent on the new Tic-Tac Totally label), and it's a short and sweet two song single, both covers. Firstly, "Romantic Me" (from NYC post-disco minimalists Polyrock) could pass for a Trout original if you didn't know better, as she turns it into her own icily Numanoid creation, making for some danceable near-goth pop throb that has one foot in the Batcave. On the flip, BS mash genres by turning The Queers tard-blast "I Don't Wanna Work" into some cyclotronic synth-punk action and it makes for an OK listen. I will buy any record Alicja puts out with any band, because everything she does always has that chance of being pure gold. I much prefer the recent Tanlines stuff to this, but it's still decent and a fun exercise in covers. But it's not exactly crucial either. You decide. Scum stats: 400 on black, 100 on red, plus 10 test press copies with different colored sleeves.(RK)
(Zaxxon Records // www.zaxxonrecords.com)

Black Time "Dance Party" EP
The latest from Lemmy Caution and co. finds them in fine, fine form, as they have been on virtually every EP they've released to date. For whatever reasons, 'Midnight World' didn't click with a lot people (and even a lot of staunch fans), but on this they are back on the horse riding high in the saddle. One of the most endearing things about Black Time is how unafraid they are to wear their influences so proudly and unashamedly on their sleeves. Mummies record on the cover, Urinals 7" on the rear sleeve, they way just name a song "Link Wray" and channel his essence through some hard twang and stumbling rhythms. They have nothing to hide and exude a seemingly innocent and genuine love and appreciation for their music and their influences. "Girls in the Garage" distills what those words probably mean to many of us, horning a wheezing organ line into a real cool garage rock-and-roller in their own deconstructed crap-fi style. One of their best songs. And in-between these two reverential offerings, they do "Feel So Bad", a song they had originally written for the Real Losers. How can you not root for these guys and gal? For the amount of praise and expectation many have heaped upon them (myself included) I think they are holding up great, and are a band whose future releases I still get a little sweaty thinking about. Here's hoping there are some more coming soon (and I do believe there are...). Scum stats: 600 copies (RK)
(Bancroft Records // www.smashintransistors.homestead.com)

Boys Club "This is My Face" EP
After a seemingly slow start, there seems to be a sudden deluge of top notch singles flooding the market, many in limited quantities, so pay attention. The debut Boys Club 7" is the latest contender to be released upon the public, and I was honestly had some worries going into it, knowing the parties' involved predeliction for power-pop and me definitely not being an overtly power pop guy. But I was more than pleased spinning the A-Side, "This Is My Face", which is a damned good cut of middle-fidelity punk with a pop edge that endears itself to you right away. Definitely a great choice for the A-Side, but both flip-side tunes are up to snuff as well, showing off a range of influences from the Raspberries to the Registrators to the Rip Offs, all done up in a charmingly no-frills fashion, and sugar-free for the most part. This is the type of record that if it were made in 1981 and it showed up in a Bomp 7" Grab Bag you ordered this week, you would be absolutely thrilled and writing it about on your blog before the needle was off the vinyl. As it stands, I'm just happy to be enjoying it today, and wouldn't mind seeing a Boys Club/Suspicions package tour. Two of my other favorite things about this record: no e-mail address on the sleeve and the inner sleeve for my copy has a .99 cent Dave's Records price tag on it. It's the little touches that make good records even better. Recorded in a living room by one of The Fevers, which really does make it even cooler. Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Three Dimensional Records // realboysclub-at-gmail-dot-com)

Bush League s/t 10"
No credits, song titles, A or B Side markings or info of any kind on the record aside from the band name and some primitive artwork. I do believe I have seen these guys live up in The Big Smoke at some point, and they were of the noisy-rock with a craaaazy front man category. If I'm remembering right, the one guy had on a pretty sweet looking Killdozer shirt which was a lot more interesting than the singer who did the whole slapping people's beers out of their hands and crashing into the crowd "I'm so nutzzz!" act. Other than the t-shirt, the set didn't make much of an impression music-wise, and as you can imagine it doesn't translate to vinyl any more memorably. They try to put up a good fight though, attacking right from the get-go and trying to stay mean. But you know, once you grab me by the throat, you need to keep my attention. Rip my jugular out. Shake me around like a Doberman with a chew toy. For fuck's sake, do something interesting. The volume and noise are there, but it's just mundane noise and volume. Nothing sets it apart, not the vox, or the rhythms, or the guitar sound, or the lyrics, or just anything. They might as well have played the same song for the duration of this record (which is six or so songs it seems) except for one point on what I'm calling the B-Side where they find a groove for all of two minutes, and which is actually the most rock/blues based moment of the whole record. Uninspired playing, bad recording, bad record. I'd rather listen to Pissed Jeans tune up. And I'm usually a sucker for this type of stuff, but these dudes need to go back to the lab and work on the formula quite a bit. Dr. Dick Christgau M.D. gives this a D for "Don't fucking buy it." (RK)
(Yakisakana Records // www.yakisakana.tk)

Carbonas "Live at Rob's House" 7"
Another installment of the "Live at..." series, and again, fairly decent sounding live recording. You can actually hear both guitars and the bass and everything is balanced/separated well, even if the vocals sound a little weird. The A-Side is "Lost Cause" from the LP which is good enough, but the B-Side is what matters here, a cover of The Dogs' "Nineteen". If more bands did good Dogs covers I could sleep easier at night. I do wish this thing was a bit longer, or contained two unreleased tunes, but I'm the type of guy who would go for a whole LP of live 'Bonas (which is what the kids on the street are calling the band these days. Get hip.) Scums stats: 400 on black, 100 on clear.(RK)
(Rob's HOuse Records // www.robshouserecords.com)

Ceramic Hello "The Absence of a Canary Ver.1.1" 2xLP
Ceramic Hello was basically Canadian Brett Wickens (a now rather famous graphic designer...) who released one 7” and one LP in 1980, NEVER playing a live show ever. This reissue of that rare (only 1000 were pressed of the original) LP from 1980 plus demos and unreleased material from the next two years is an affordable (retails for around 28 clams, as opposed to the 2-300 bucks the original is going for) way to check out what all the new fuss is about. In the mad rush of minimal synth/synthpunk collecting phobia of the past few years, this is becoming heralded as a classic of the genre, and in someways it is. Clearly grounded in a structured “pop” format, this has more in common with Fad Gadget and Gary Numan than the Screamers or the Units. Still reading? Oh, ok, so if early Gary Numan doesn’t bother you, you’ll probably love this (there's even a little Legendary Pink Dots type shit on here). Really nice crap-synth and effected drum machines with some brooding vocals on top. Great for eating robot-meat while waiting for Liquid Sky to arrive from Netflix. I think Erin Wood would really like this.(MS)
(Vinyl on Demand // www.vinyl-on-demand.com)

Sam Chatmon "Blues When It Rains" LP
Sam Chatmon had a pretty impressive dossier when it comes to the Country Blues. Firstly, he’s Charlie Patton’s half brother. Secondly, he was a member of the legendary Mississippi Sheiks, who recorded an impressive catalog of sides for the then burgeoning “race records” market (the entire recorded works of the Mississippi Sheiks is available on Yazoo records and is definitely worth picking up). In 1940, he moved to Hollandale, MS where he worked on plantations for 20 years. Finally rediscovered in 1960-along with a slough of other Country, Blues and Folk artists-he started recording again for pretty prestigious folk labels (such as Arhoolie) and playing big-event Folk festivals.
The recordings on this LP were all recorded in one sitting on August 6, 1976. Don’t let the date bother you, these are raw, live, acoustic and unaccompanied recordings by an artist whose mastered his craft over years-brilliantly captured on one or two mics. Tracks like “Prowling Hound Dog,” “Let’s Get Drunk Again” and “Go Back Old Devil” are perfectly suited for this format. Chatmon’s strained vocals and understated guitar-picking sound at their peak.
I'd still pick up the Mississippi Sheiks back-catalog first, but this is well worth picking up for blues and country fans. You get the same raw performances, without the unfortunate hiss of an old 78, clarity is good sometimes.(MS)
(Dynamic Records // available via www.forcedexposure.com)

Cheating Hearts s/t LP
More from Montreal, this time it's Choyce with a couple of pals cranking out the three-peice blues-punk raunch. Nothing too remarkable here, just a band going over the same ground Scat Rags, Stack-O-Lees, Royal Routes and others have already covered pretty well. This record will do nothing the Scat Rag Boosters singles haven't already done for you. I generally dig Choyce stuff, but this just falls flat. I really wish he would write more hotshit punk like the last CPC Gangbangs single. Now that is a record that needs to be heard. This one, it's just kinda bland. (RK)
(Goodbye Boozy)

Ciril "Pink Cave" 7"
Ciril have been around for a while. They play gothy/dark punk for the beach/street punk crowd. They're the "weird" dudes in the Huntington Beach scene I imagine. There are plenty of worse bands out there than Ciril, who have probably had to open for many of them. (RK)
(Vinyl Dog // www.vinyldogrecords.com)

Clorox Girls "Novacaine" EP
Clorox Girls "Eva Braun" EP
Two new Euro-import singles from the seemingly always on tour Clorox Girls, coinciding with their recent European trek. The Clorox Girls are a great live band, overly energetic, friendly, beaming with youthful exuberance, and seemingly much better with Colin in the fold. They are a bright example of how fun punk rock can be, and it pleases me that they are out there spreading the good word, a young snotty outfit that should appeal to anyone into the old 'punk rock'. Realistically, they are a band I could see converting some mall/Hot Topic brand punks to what is really out there, the real roots of punk rock ala Flag, Kross, etc... and not the Fat Wreckords/Rancid lineage such kids have been duped into. They are universally likable, and I think it's fantastic they will be embarking on a tour of Mexico/South America later this summer. These young men will make fine ambassadors, and I imagine they will be winning many fans. Kudos to you, Clorox Girls. So about the records. I loved their first single, liked the first LP, was indifferent to the second LP, and dug the "This Dimension" 7" with its myriad variations (I still need one of the square ones though, where are they?). Where do these two new ones fit in? The "Novacaine" (sic) EP, on the Austrian Bachelor Records label, has a rip-roaring title cut, a Grade A serving of the fantastic pop punk they can pull off so refreshingly well (and not Mutant Pop-punk, but like Boys/Buzzcocks poppy-punk, or is it punk-pop? And they'll never shake the Red Kross comparison in my head...). A real sing-a-long-er like "Vietnam" Or "Don't Take Your Life". The flip has a nice rabbity punker sung in what appears to be perfect German to my untrained ears (who knew this Justin kid was so multi-faceted...I hear he has a book coming out too...) and they revist my favorite song off the first 7", "Trashy Daydream" (the one about the Jill girl who smokes dope...). On the "Eva Braun" EP (on the Dutch Burning Sensation label), the title cut is kind of lunky. Not really an A-Side "hit", and you have to bring it better than this if you're writing a song about Eva Braun. They make up for it with the jerky "In My Mouth", a humorous little ditty in the tradition of "Muff Divin". The third track is more rehash, this time a version of "Walks the Street" from the first LP, which is a good tune and all, but we've been there before. Wrapping this up, I would look for the 'Novacaine' EP for sure, it's worth having in the collection. The 'Eva Braun' EP is for completists only. By the time you read this, they will probably rocking in Brazil somewhere. That's awesome. Scum stats: 'Eva Braun' is 1000 copies, 500 each on black ond clear. 'Novacaine' is 500 on black with small insert, which are all sold out from the label. Both of these have nice color cardboard sleeves and are/were available at Bistro Distro.(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
(Burning Sensation // thijs_bar_en_boos-at-hotmail.com)

Death to Pigs s/t 7"
Never would have picked this up on the name alone. Instead of some Dis-core/crusty punk like the name suggests, Death to Pigs play excellent post punk which has touches of Proletariat & Really Red running through it. Of the nine songs on this record, there ain't a one I don't like. Sure, some are better than others but this combo of strong post punk bass/drums, synth tweaks, and hardcore runs really really make a good record. Where are they from? Ha! Where the fuck do you think? France! Nancy, France to be exact. This thing came out in November 2005, so this is a late review. Only 300 were pressed. Give that others have had six months on you, start searching now.(SSR)
(self-released // www.myspace.com/deathtopigs)

Electric Shadows "Break the Rules" 7"
A lot of backlash has been associated with the power-pop revivial lately, and the Shadows are certainly guilty of crimes such as scarf-wearing the use of animal print and/or fur (faux or real). But I put them at the head of the class music-wise, as they play well crafted power-pop than leans more toward the rock'n'roll side of things, in perhaps an Only Ones fashion, or even a little bit Dolls-style glammy in a way. Not overly fey (Nice Boys) or gay (Plastic Letters), but just tough enough that they can still get away with their haircuts. Honestly, I could care less about the fashion (I can always close my eyes), but the tunes are actually very good. Good enough to get a non-power pop guy like myself to pay attention and enjoy. Just two tunes, and that's good enough for Wreckless Dick Christgau to give this baby an B+. Douchemaster better put out something ballsy after this though. Scums stats: 100 on gold, the rest on black. (RK)
(Douche Master Records // www.douchemasterrecords.com)

Erase Errata "Nightlife" LP/CD
Erase Errata's third album finds them reduced to a trio and playing with less ideas than in the past. With the departure of guitarist Sara Jaffe, singer/trumpeter Jenny Hoyston moves to guitar and their organic progression has been halted somewhat. Erase Errata still sound like a nerd-pleasing blend of Crass, Dog Faced Hermans, and Delta 5, but, unfortunately, the music has lost a lot of the rough n' tumble instrumental interplay that provided many of their more thrilling moments. Things start off promisingly with "Cruising," a nice slice of no wave disco, but any steam is quickly lost. "Another Genius Idea From Our Government" wastes some tasty bass with obvious lyrics and a frustratingly truncated song structure. Many of the tracks feel unfinished and rushed. "Tax Dollar" sounds like classic Erase Errata, but it just seems like two steps back at this point. A good band, but perhaps their time (and the style they helped revitalized) has passed.(EEK)
(Kill Rock Stars // www.killrockstars.com)

Evil Army s/t LP/CD
A few years ago at the Blackout, Filthy Rich told me to buy the Evil Army 45 or he was gonna slap on the figure four leglock. I put the record on and I was instantly hooked. When I recently found out that Evil Army was putting out a full-length record, I knew it was time for me to get vertical! Let’s throw on some tunes. Starting with a title track like “Evil Army,” you know business is about to pick up. “Driven to Violence” has serious anger behind it, like early DRI. In fact, throughout the album you can hear DRI, Slayer and Metallica hammered with Poison Idea-style hardcore. “Conquer Human Life” has tinges of 'Kill ‘em All' Metallica, with a Hetfield kind of growl during the chorus. “Wrong Approach” reminds me of early 80’s hardcore. Overall, this is one of the best metal albums I’ve heard the last few years. It’s brutal and raw and ready to kick your poseur ass with a huge dose of heavy fucking metal. Deal with it! (RFA)
(Get Revenge! Records // )

Fe Fi Fo Fums "In the Summertime" EP
Just in time for all your Labor Day beer blasts comes the Fums latest contribution to the slop-fi canon, a four song broadside of unabashed summer party fun with a bunch of capital effs. "In the Summertime" is one of their best (which is saying either a lot or very little, depending on how you feel about these lunkheads), perhaps the best exhibit of a song written in the 'gettin' kicks'-style since the Dictators' "Weekend", and comes with some handclaps and yeah-yeahs to go with the top drawer lyrics and chorus. And the Fums don't mail this EP in after the smoking title cut kids, no way, they fill it with three more kickers to get all you dunces dancing. "Don't Bite Me Baby..." and "I Can't Help Myself" keep the goofball quotient high and will keep your last few weeks of sunshine from clouding over with the thought that the drag that is your Junior year of high school is less than a month away. Then, just to prove they are fucking punk rock, they close with "I Just Wanna Have Some Fun" and fling snot all over your ice cream. This is serious shit folks, and just to reiterate, if you don't like the Fums, you don't like livin'. And they really weren't paying attention to the four-track this time around, because they somehow ended up with some low end on this recording! Crazings. Dickie "The K" Christgau says A++++. (RK)
(Boom Boom Castle Party Records // www.boom-boom.net)

Government Warning "No Moderation" 12"
In a time in the punk record market where every third release seems to be a reissue or bootleg of a, "classic" band's defining moment, it's nice to have an album that blows away 99% of those tired collections from modern day, that would easily hold up were it released in 1981. Government Warning's first big disk release is one that justifies the overused hyperbole of, "a current band that could be a lost gem from the best days of punk!" and is helping make the best days of punk come around again along with other new releases like the Career Suicide "Attempted Suicide" 12". Government Warning's sound mixes youthful vocals railing against American society and the struggles of the working class with buzzsaw guitars and ultra-precise drums from one of the best current punk drummers. Mid-paced tunes bring to mind Adolescents ragers (and it's no surprise that GW covers "No Way" from time to time) while the faster tracks take all the best speed and melody from Circle Jerks and Zero Boys to give the 12" a familiar feel, but one that is far from being a rehashing of their influences.
This 12" was a standout after the first song and I see no reason why it wouldn't have a spot on many year-end top 10s. Absolutely essential. Scum stats: 100 tour press with hand-numbered center labels and foldover sleeves, sold out in two days of tour. Official release of 1000 coming soon. (JC)
(Feral Ward // www.feralward.com)

Haunted George "Bone Hauler" CD
CD-only release chock-fulla fifteen ghastly Haunted George creepifiers (well, fourteen and an intro). Word is that this is CD only as a bunch of these songs may be farmed out for singles (and some already have, as it includes both cuts from the Nasty Product 7"), but it is always handy to have everything in one place. HG mixes up some storytelling (a cover of "The Ghosts of the Old San Juan" and an original weird tale "Ghoul From the Mine") alongside tales from the crypt like "Bone Hauler" and "Road Ghoul" and adds some genuine bad-mind dementia in "Shotgun in My Mouth", "Voices From Beyond" and "Depraved". My absolute favorite is the funnily macabre "What Kinda Tracks Are Those?". HG's stuff has the ability to suck you into his world of dust devils and undead miners and batshit crazy loners, where around every corner lurk desert ghosts and bad dreams. You can picture him playing an old steel guitar, noose around his neck, rust shaking off the strings with every pluck, kicking bump-in-the-night rhythms out on an old coffin and empty whiskey bottles. The kind of shit you can imagine Jonah Hex listening to on ancient dusty phonograph. It's EC Comics meets Weird Western Tales meets Doo Rag. It's vocals that croak like he's been chugging fomaldehyde recorded on a wax cylinder which is cranked by a cobwebbed skeleton. It's not everyday listening, but it's great when you want to dig into it and can allow yourself a little suspension of disbelief and let yourself go to George's haunted shack out there in the dark desert. Plus, a Roky cover! Fantastic stuff for fans of horror comics and films, bad vibes, and being creeped out.(RK)
(Dead BEat REcords // www.dead-beat-records.com)

Haze XXL "A Purge of Dissidents" Soundtrack 7"
"A Purge of Dissidents" is an in-progress multimedia art project/collaboration between AmRep/Halo of Flies Tom "Haze XXL" Hazelmyer and NYC artist Dalek. It entails a series of ten animated short films featuring the Dalek created Space Monkey character with the instrumental soundtrack to each provided by Haze. The finished project will be a multimedia show to tour various fine art facilities and also a book/DVD/release of the entire project. You can view samples, and perhaps get a better explanation here. Where this new AmRep singles series ties in, is Haze taking the soundtrack (and some leftover songs/material) stuff one step further, and having guest vocalists add their own "twist" to the tunes, along with Dalek designed sleeves. This first volume features Lifter Puller's Craig Finn, and the next installment is to be done by Mr. David Yow. Other co-conspirators will and do include The Melvins, Grant Hart, and more...The review of this one: it's deep and dark nearly sci-fi mood inducing music-for-films stuff, with some live drums, looping effects, guitar manipulation, beats, fuzz, and other oddities, over which Finn basically does a stream-of-consciousness type of talk/sing deal. Interesting work ("Darby Rides" in particular), and, well, very "arty". I look forward to the Yow installment. Limited to 300 copies and featuring AmRep labels and a Scale #, but only available through the APOD site.(RK)
(Amphetamine Reptile // www.apurgeofdissidents.com // www.amphetaminereptile.com)

Hella "Acoustics" CD
Zach Hill and Mick Barr "Shred Earthship" CD
Too bad there's already a band called Headache City cuz these guys truly deserve the tag. Mick Barr (Crom-Tech/Orthrelm/Octis/etc) is an absurdly talented guitarist and Zach Hill (Hella and a bunch of "super" groups) is a ridiculously amazing drummer, but they have officially vanished up their own rectums. They held a ceremony somewhere in Buttfuck, Idaho. Mick got an Eddie Van Halen splatter-painted guitar and Zach was given a mini-replica of Neil Pert's drum-kit. Then they fisted each other, much to the delight of the gathered hordes of off-set silk-screened-T-shirt-and-black-horn-rimmed glasses-sporting mega-geeks who chattered away like nighttime insects blogging about the coming apocalypse on their Black Berries filled with eye-popping graphics and wacky samples from Cartoon Network shows. Then, Zach and Mick recorded this album and everyone's head exploded with glee and their empty corpses were retrieved by the (that's right) Shred Earthship and transformed into bearded hippies who began frantically searching for obscure English folk records.
Which brings us to Hella, and their new EP, 'Acoustics.' When Hella's first record, 'Hold Your Horse Is,' came out in 2002 it really was the next-step on the evolutionary math-rock ladder. Combining Breadwinner crunch with Don Caballero innovation, a new dawn rose on the seemingly dead world of instrumental calisthenics. A few interesting EPs followed, then a backwards-glancing LP, then a double CD albatross that hung very heavily around this former fan's neck. Maybe I was getting dumber, but when the duo grew into a full-fledged 5 person band, I jumped ship. Their music became so dense it actually achieved the opposite effect of evaporating into thin air. I never went to college, so, y'know, I still like a little groove in my music. The OG members, Hill and guitarist Spencer Seim, scale things back here and actually give us a glimpse into what a Hella front-porch jam might sound like. All the songs performed are past favorites from 'Hold...' and 'The Devil Isn't Red.' It's refreshing to hear these guys not buried under stacks of effects and technique. These older songs contain tantalizing snatches of melody and twists and turns that compliment the music instead of obscuring it. Perhaps one day some enterprising nerd will compile an 'Anthology of American Math Rock' and this EP will bridge the gap for the old-timers.(EEK)
(5RC // www.5rc.com)

Hidden Charms "Square Root of Love" LP
Hidden Charms had a single out a year or so ago that people said some nice things about, but for some reason I never tracked one down. (I think the name put me off, it kinda sounds like a third-tier Dirtnap synth-punk band from Seattle...) After hearing this LP, I regret that decision. There's some mention of them being the German version of the Real Losers, but I really don't hear that so much. They share a drummer with Dean Dirg, and he's a good timepiece, and keeps things moving rather swiftly. There's a Spits comparison to be made, but not in the bad way some bands ape their moron-punk lowest common denominator schtick, but in the way they slip in some weirdo keyboard twiddles here and there and can write a simple and choppy sub-two minute punk tune. Vocals lean toward the nasally and sneering side with some yelping here and there. This is actually what I would say is the natural evolution of the "Rip Off Sound". Fairly tight playing, well recorded, yet still containing that intangible budget/no-frills reckless quality, and more punk than garage at that. Fourteen songs on a 45rpm LP equals just under a half-hour of short-sharp fun. Nothing earth-moving, but entertaining enough, and superior to some recent domestic product operating in the same waters. Scum stats: super-thick 180 gram vinyl, 100 mailorder/tour only copies on pink vinyl, plus it comes with a "Hide Your Charms" brown paper bag for you to cut the eyeholes out of and make like the Unknown Comic.(RK)
(Alien Snatch! // www.aliensnatch.de)

Home Blitz "Live Outside" 7"
Sophomore release from this years frontrunner for the 'Best Out-of-Nowhere Single' trophy, and I have to say I was a bit worried the magic would fade a little on this one. Thankfully, it doesn't, aside from the fact we now know the "band" and have an inkling of what to expect, but the charm is still there. Two songs performed live on a street corner, complete with traffic noises and battery powered amps. "Stupid Street" is just great stuff, with a very Richman-like rambling conversational lyrical style/delivery and some definite Half Jap vibing. I'm on the fence whether this tune is Home Blitz's best so far, but the ballot results aren't in yet. It's a contender for sure. The flip of "Feeling Cold" is more in the playful Jad Fair or non-suicidal Lou Barlow camp, perhaps a little introspective but still full of quirks and metaphoric lyric charms. Or maybe he really just wants to literally ride bikes. My nature wants me to try and pick this apart, and figure out how he did that, and what does this mean, etc...but in the end that sucks a little fun put of it, as record reviewers have a uncontrollable urge to do. This is just a really pleasant record, and honestly and simply enjoyable on many levels. A bit shorter than the first, but equally great. It's going to take some serious moving in the next few months to knock both of these singles out of my year-end top ten. Scum stats: 500 copies. (RK)
(self-releaed // homeblitz-at-gmail-dot-com)

Homostupids "The Glow" EP
This is basically the demos I raved about a couple of issues back finally issued on vinyl. To review, Homostupids are a trio from Cleveland, contain Nine Shocks front man Lean Steve on vox/bass, the guy who played guitar for McShitzz at Horriblefest (and who has been in a bunch of other bands, and is actually from Buffalo, from what I'm told) on guitar, and, uh, a drummer. It's like cavemen plying really fast and mad hardcore-ish punk-noise shit. Aggro and a little bit sludgy. Future primitive. You can also refer to my previous review here. I really have nothing left to say about this except buy it. Scums stats: 500 copies on pink vinyl with retarded/awesome paper sleeve. (RK)
(My Mind's Eye Records // www.mymindseyerecords.com)

Hue Blanc's Joyless Ones "Fait Accompli" LP
Wisconsin has two saving graces: Pink Reason and Hue Blanc. Take those two things out of the Cheese State and it's time to bomb the place and fill the craters with the other lower 47 states' fecal waste. Lucky for Wisconsonians, no one would know the difference. Still with fecal waste comes disease and death and sleepless night, so every Wisconsinian reading this needs to turn toward Algoma five times a day and bow in reverence. Hue Blanc have one great 7" to their credit and after the raves that followed that, these boys played smart (children, take out a pencil and make note) and didn't turn out a thousand 7"s just because some shitty Euro labels begged them to. Nope, dudes wrote and wrote batches of songs until they came up with an album which betters their debut. Yes, Fait Acoompli is a great album. Trashy, fucked up rock & roll that is so lose that if it was a car you would see the wheels wobbling as it sped down the road. Fans of Gibson Bros., Leaving Trains, Gun Club, Duchess of Saigon, Black Lips, Country Teasers: Seek out. Definitely recommended.(SSR)
(P.Trash Records // www.ptrashrecords.com)

Inca Ore "The Birds in the Bushes" CD
This long, periodically interesting, occasionally torturous, CD is mainly the work of one Ms. Ore and some dude named "Lemon Bear," all recorded in a secluded cabin in Northern California. Or something. It doesn't really matter, although you do get that "Forest Feeling" (as one track is called) at points. You also get the feeling you're stuck out in some abandoned lumber facility in northeastern Washington and you're being hunted by an owl and his talking tin can companion. And they're tugging a sack full of murmuring corpses behind them. The music is made with all sorts of rattling junk percussion, like a backwoods Neubaten. The vocals are sustained yowls, grunts, cries, and elongated shrieks like a chorus of dead Japanese children in one of those horror flicks they like to remake over here. Sometimes the demon-exorcising gets a bit much and it's almost comedic. Other times they hit the creep factor of Animal Collective's 'Here Comes The Indian.' You may have heard better examples of this Caroliner-esque cacophony, but this one'll do for your next camping-and-shrooms trip. (EEK)
(5RC // www.5rc.com)

Ivan and The Terribles s/t EP
Debut release from Ivan & The Terribles, a Wisconsin wrestling/surf/garage group who have apparently existed for nearly a decade preceding this record. One side with vox and one side without, two per, and all four are actually quite mauling. "Camel Clutch" is reminiscent of the Batman theme cranked out at triple-time topped with some haggard vox and it segues devastatingly into "Can't See Nothin I Like About You" which sneaks some Flair-esque "Whoos!" into the yammering. On the flip, the band crashes through two wrestling instros, "The Arabian Facebuster" and "Macho Man's Intergalactic Hit List", and sound amazingly trashy doing them. A real pleasurable listen, particularly because instro-garage-rock is so "uncool" these days. These dudes make it fun and energetic, bringing a nasty-sounding punkitude to it all, and the songs are actually really rough-and-tough sounding numbers played with reckless abandon, not some slick kitsch or nostaligic retro-trip hogwash. A great effort that rises above genre confines. Dick "The Bruiser" Christgau gives it an A, and sez buy it before he slaps the abdominal stretch on ya.(RK)
(Yammering Half Wit Productions // michael_zink-at-hotmail-dot-com)

Jennifer Gentle "Sacramento Session/5 of 3" LP
Those of you who were put off by Jennifer Gentle's pop-psych wonderfuck "Valende" and are craving something a bit more far out, here's your slab. Half if this album was recorded at KDVS during their 2005 tour, the other half is a long piece by guitarist Marco Fasolo. The airshot is a slow feedback build that teeters on chaos but doesn't quite get there. Nice listening but, unless you have an ear for this feedback jam stuff, it is a "Gotta be in the room while it is happenin" trip. 5 of 3 is a bit more extreme. Less of a song and more like a one of those C-budget 70s horror film soundtracks, where the composer is financially limited to a few effects boxes and his imagination. That's the side that will get listened to around here.(SSR)
(A Silent Place // www.asilentplace.it)

Koro "700 Club" EP
A well done reissue of this classic hardcore punk gem. It adds a white border to one side of the cover and turns the lyric sheet into a pocket sleeve for your black or nifty blue-and-white-mix vinyl. No explanation necessary - replace your Reagan Era HC copy now and get one of these. Scum stats: 215 of the blue-white swirl, a significantly larger amount on black.(JC)
(Sorry State // www.deepfrybonanza.com/sorrystate)

Kvorteringen “Vidrig Maskinell Framfort” EP
Last year’s debut EP from Kvorteringen was a mass of raw sound assault; in six songs they delivered an unrelenting barrage of noise. The record was just ferocious, one of the best hardcore releases in years, and a tough act to follow. With “Vidrig Maskinell Framfart” the band did a respectable job of a sequel. This EP is slightly more accessible—the recording is still rough around the edges, but the noise is toned down a bit to allow the melody of the guitar riffs to shine through. The songs are a raw, catchy mess of brilliance. The record is classic Swedish hardcore, and fits well in the tradition alongside Anti-Cimex, Totalitar, and so on (and I suppose it’s worth mentioning that Kvorteringen shares a member with the latter example).(DH)
(Terrotten Records // ???, try www.armageddonshop.com perhaps?)

The Last Survivors "2001-2005" CD+DVD
This release collects the three studio 7"s from Tokyo's premiere Scandinavian hardcore-meets-UK 80s bristle punk band of the new millennium. The included DVD has video of their last live performance. Both pieces are essential for any true punk fan. It is both inspiring and beautiful to see somebody who was so devoted to their interest in punk make such an effort in a band and in writing and perfecting songs as the singer of The Last Survivors was. Aside from doing vocals for the Last Survivors, Michiaki had a punk store in Tokyo and wrote articles for magazines on Scandinavian hardcore records and provided any other information he could about punk to those less knowledgable than he.
The Last Survivors had a knack for creating such tension in their songs that the inevitable release was much more satisfying than anything else many of the punks watching and listening to them had ever known. From the pounding drums on, "Fight and Fuck" from their first Pogo 77 release to the momentus build-ups continuing into their final songs, everything on this collection makes your heart beat faster and faster until it explodes in bloody punk glory. The DVD quality is that of a handheld camera in a small club, so you're given the hectic atmosphere at the expensive of clear sound and a bird's eye view of the action. The liner notes include lyric translations in English, but if you want to read about the band from the point of view of a couple of important Japanese punks, you'll have to be able to read Japanese. If you love punk, this is a must. Scum stats: 1000 pressed of the set.(JC)
(Dan-Doh // DAN-DOH RECORDS, "K-CLUB", Harimaya-cho 1-6-12, Kochi-City 780-0822, JAPAN)

The Manikins "Bad Papers" EP
I swear, it seems like I review a Manikins record every single time I update this damn site. I've heard every one of their records, and they stay true to form on this one: a band that can make good to great singles, but give them an LP and they will make you regret the invention of the 33rpm speed. Thankfully, this is of the 7" format, and they do good. "Bad Papers" finds them at the latest end of their evolutionary chain that had them starting as Rip Off/Devil Dogs combo punkers, then on to perfectionist power poppers with Exploding Hearts aspirations, to reverent classic Swedish punkers, and now they have added a Marked Men-like chop-pop with a rough-ish punk matte-finish phase to their repetoire. A solid tune. The B-Side is so speedy you think the needle is going to jump right out of the grooves, and both cuts are ultra-fast and semi-tough pop-punk that you have to appreciate just for the craft, but they are actually good songs as well. A decent record, Christgau rates it somewhere in the B range. Out on the very busy Squoodge Records label, who are doing some interesting things over there in Germany. Sort of a smaller scale P.Trash with the same (or perhaps even worse) penchant for absurd vinyl variations. This guy is doing limited 5" versions of the singles, one-sided variants, test presses, alternate covers, and has even done a 4" square record with a 3-D cover (too bad it was Hatepinks record...) Upcoming project is a "Killed By One Man Bands" comp with Novak, Louie, Beatman, and others. Scums stats: oh man, get a load of this ridiculousness: 333 'regular' copies (where the B-Side plays inside out!), 7 test presses, 50 one-sided copies with a different cover, 30 copies on 5" clear wax, and 3(!) copies on 5" black wax, with the inside-out B-side and a negative cover. Yikes. (RK)
(Squoodge Records // www.squoodge.de)

Mika Miko "C.Y.S.L.A.B.F." CD/LP
If you've ever been on MySpace you've probably heard of this band (50,000 + views!). And you probably mentally discarded them as a bunch of shit, as a "MySpace band," the lowest of the low. Well, let me ask you this: Do you like the music contained on Dischord's 'Flex Your Head' comp? Have you ever jumped around your room listening to The Slits' 'Peel Sessions'? Then I've got a record for you, champ. Here 'tis. Yes, indeedie, "early Slits crossed with early harDCore," it's a no-brainer, and it's a fun thing to do for 20 minutes. The first song even throws a head-nod at The Slits with it's title, "Take Her Serious," but it could just as well be a lost Artificial Peace track. There's really not much to say about this record, except that it might be the most fun hardcore punk record to come out in ages and it's just fucking good and it will put a smile on your face, unless you just can't get down with five post-teenage girls totally making you wanna pogo like a doof, steal Reese's Cups and Red Bulls from the convienence store, sneak into the neighbor's pool and skinny-dip, and then take a bunch of those dumb-ass photo booth photos with even your ugly friends and paste 'em on your bedroom door, and then go get a burrito.(EEK)
(CD = Kill Rock Stars // www.killrockstars.com)
(LP = Post Present Medium // www.thesmell.org)

Mission of Burma "The Obliterati" CD
Sure, you've read every asshole's description of this record, this band's triumphant re-emergence, the finally-recognized genius of this most influential of US proto-post-punk bands (makes no sense, right?). So, let's focus on the details. Like how near the end of this CD, Clint Conley's songs begin to sound like the textured rock he has put forth with his other project Consonant's (quite good) two albums. The dude didn't play music for over 15 years and then he writes 3 albums worth of songs! And how Roger Miller, the intellectual of the bunch, has two songs on here ("Donna Sumeria" and "Careening with Conviction") that lock down some almost-dance grooves, while his guitar performs its casual brilliant tricks over top. And Peter Prescott's final contribution, "Period," sounds like it could have come from an early Volcano Suns record (high time that shit was reissued). Hell, now I wish I hadn't got rid of those Kustomized CDs. Prescott is the last true believer in the healing power of burly, tuneful noise rock. Someone give that guy a plaque, he deserves 20 bucks for every time he shouted like a drunk guy in a bar. I love that yell. He still does it, perfectly off-timed during Burma gigs, somehow shouting over their overdriven squall. It's enough to bring a tear to your eye, like watching the Minutemen documentary and thinking about what D. Boon would be doing now, the amazing things he would have come up with on guitar and the lyrics he would have written. Lyrics that cut to the core, through all the bullshit of "advertising psychology." Why am I talking about the Minutemen? Because Mission of Burma are back to represent fallen heroes like them; great bands lost to the sands of time and the uncaring general public. They are back for some sort of US art-punk/hardcore redemption, for all "the bands that could be your life." It's fucking glorious and they have now put out two great albums full of new, topical, and exciting songs, and it feels right. Better than right: Righteous. (EEK)
(Matador // www.matadorrecords.com)

The Mistreaters "Live at the Circle A" LP
I'm not lying when I say The Mistreaters are one of my favorite live bands. So, it may thrill me a little more than most to have a full live show vinyl document. Recorded this past New Year's Eve in front of a home town crowd, Milwaukee's finest plow through a sampling of their oevure, ironically beginning with a new song (actually called "New Song") and ending with "Stranded", the first Mistreaters tune I ever heard. In between you get a sampling of their recent live set, heavy on second LP material (classics such as "Personal Space Invader", "Lively One" and more, including the extended "Juan Burgesa" with band member introductions, a necessary element of a Mistreaters show), light on first LP material, a couple of songs from the latest single (including the killer Gary Numan cover), and three unissued new ones, which I imagine will be on the new full length, making up 15 tracks total. How's the sound? I give it an 7 on the out-of-ten scale, but you'd expect it to be a little rough with these dudes. Christreater's drum brutalizing comes crashing through effectively, vocals are loud and clear, and the rest fills in nicely. What more can you ask for? Well, I would have liked to have actually been there...I thought there would be a bit more stage banter, but I'm not complaining. A suitable live document, and a good place holder until the new LP hits, which is hopefully some time this year. The Mistreaters are one band that should actually release more records. Scum stats: 500 copies with some suitably dodgy looking screened covers. Recorded and mixed by the Wauwatosa Hit Squad of Tony Sagger and Ryan Kill-A-Watt. (RK)
(Dusty Medical Records // www.dustymedical.com)

Necropolis "The Hackled Ruff & Shoulder Man" LP
Indie. Really, that is all there is to say about this record.(SSR) (Columbus Discount Records // www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)

Negative Trend "We Don't Play, We Riot" CD-EP
Negative Trend! NEGATIVE TREND!! NEGATIVE FUCKING TREND!!! You make me cream in my jeans, Negative Trend. I love you in all of your twisted histories and myriad guises. Some people want to write you off as "the band those dudes were in before Flipper," but those dolts must have never heard you, because then they would know that not a single early (we're talkin 77-78, bitches!) US punk band could hold a candle to the incendiary power and reckless abandon in your music. First, with Rozz, you tore up the nascent Mabuhay Gardens scene, daring any onlooking civilian to get up close to the stage, daring them to be immersed in the chaos, the pure anarchy of out-of-control rock n' roll. You wanted to rub their faces in your frayed-knot lives, your sick, violent everyman thoughts. (Beg, borrow, or steal the posthumous 'The Pop Sessions' EP.) Then Mikal Waters joined and you honed your attack, started seeing the world outside the urban paranoia wheel you ran on, and that's where this CD comes in.
You might think that Henry Rollins ruined Black Flag (and I'm not gonna argue with you), but goddamn if that musclehead doesn't have great taste when it comes to fringe rock n' roll. This is a guy who reissued essentials like Gang of Four, The Monks, The Contortions, Devo, The Birthday Party, and more, almost single-handedly leading to and subconsciously nurturing several mini-revivals of various styles (but we don't have time to discuss that now). The point is, Hank has rescued this first, classic 7" EP from Negative Trend (also reissued on 12" by Subterranean in '84), remastered it, and slapped it on a cheap (5 clams) CD for all the sorely-lacking punks out there. Keep doing that stand-up, Rollins baby. And writing those horrible books. I don't care, if you keep doing things like this. You might be familiar with 3 out of 4 of these songs from Posh Boy's 'Beach Blvd' comp (and the 'Tooth and Nail' comp and a 7" and...), where Negative Trend had deadage teen Rik L. Rik singing these songs (and billed under his name, which is kind of a shame). And, honestly, Rik sang these songs better, but he had one of the all-time great punk voices, and Mikal does just fine, sounding less haunted and more pissed off ("RHODESIA!"). And the one song they didn't re-do, "How Ya Feelin'?," is a delicious slice of kiss-off step-over-you-in-the-gutter punk. These guys invented hardcore as much as Black Flag, Middle Class, or The Germs. Maybe that's why they sought solace in the nod-out nihilism of Flipper; they had already pushed it to the edge before others even knew where it was. (EEK)
(2.13.61 // 21361.com)

Noxagt s/t LP/CD
On their second album, "The Iron Point", Norway's Noxagt had truly reached a peak. A perfect meld of skullcap crush and frozen lake beauty, the album moved methodically between tracks of Viking berserker rage and calm-before-the-storm placidity. It was a striking sound, enabled in part by their atypical 'heavy band' line-up of electric viola/bass/drums. If John Cale had ever sat in with Swans (and he should have), this is the havoc they would have wreaked. Now Noxagt come at us with their third record and you may wonder, "What happened to that sawing, mesmerizing viola?" It's gone and so is its master, Nils Egra. In his place stands Anders Hana and his "spring loaded" baritone guitar. Some of that previously discussed finesse is gone, but it is by replaced an even more bludgeoning attack, with weird axe effects that jump out at you like a dragon in its death-throes. Records like this are quite functional in day-to-day life. You can drink, fuck, pillage (that's drinking and fucking), or dick around on the internet to this album, and there's no pesky vocals to draw your attention away from the nonstop sonic sledgehammer. Noxagt - Add it to your toolbox.(EEK)
(Load Records // www.loadrecords.com)

Oneida "Happy New Year" LP/CD
Originally, this was supposed to be a triple-LP called 'Thank Your Parents.' Supposedly, that ambitious idea will still come to fruition, and if so, hopefully it will provide a few more highlights than this, perhaps my least fave record in the vast Oneida ouevre. It's certainly the gentlest, which may be part of the problem. There is a distinct lack of frantic organ stabs or marathon drum sequences or sweetly fried classic rock riffs drilling their way into your crainium. As they proved on their last full-length, 'The Wedding,' Oneida can lay down lullabyes for the forest nymphs as well as any furry freak folk ensemble. And as they've proved on almost every other album (and at every live show), no one can match their repetitive, acid-drenched trance-rock. This is by no means a bad album (I don't think they're capable). If you are a fan, I say you need it. If you are curious, I say head toward 'Secret Wars' if you need to grab onto something resembling reality, then you've got some serious work ahead with 'Each One Teach One' and 'Anthem of the Moon,' two masterpieces of latter-day US psych, and you haven't even gotten to the original band (w/ Papa Crazee) yet! I think they just added Phil Manley of Trans Am on guitar, so I can imagine we may be getting some fucked-up biker-rock soon (or maybe that Demolition Derby soundtrack they've always hinted at). Oh yeah, as for this record, I gotta say that my main beef with it, besides it's kind of there/not-there aridity (which works just fine in the post-coital state) is the ball-dropping on what should be the monster track, "Up With People." This mutant disco groove machine has been a staple of their live set for years, and yours truly pleaded with them to release it on a white label 12" w/ a super-danced out B-side version (ya know, for da club), but, alas, it comes at the end of side one and it just ain't the JAM. I mean, it's cool, but in no way does it capture the total hypno-groove I've seen them lay down on this bitch in various dingy rock clubs. Oh well, you can't win 'em all, and Oneida are winners, so don't get too comfy.(EEK)
(Jagjaguwar// www.jagjaguwar.com)

Oscuro Lugar "Albuien Muere" 7”
Oscuro Lugar roughly translates as Dark Occasion and that is as good as a description of this record as any. That one line could be the whole review and it wouldn’t short this record at all. But it would confuse you about as much as I am right now. Listen, if you been paying attention to my opinions about records and the like you know I come across some odd shit so when a record comes along that I can’t peg, it is out there. Not out there in the sense of “ohhhh it’s sooooo weird awk awk awk oogga oogga!” but in the way something is familiar but it ain’t quite right. Three songs are on here. One sounds a bit like early 80s German post-punk/dark wave though done by Eastern Euros. One song resembles the Clash doing dub if the Clash were insane and had only heard the Clash doing dub. And the last song is a wheezy, carnival, gothic post punker. All this is made more confusing by a recording that frizzes out at the high end, a guitar that sounds like a bug, and a vocalist who moans and croons in a very off Ian Curtis meets Dracula kind of way. The drums are programmed and sound like it. There are either one or two people in this band. I can’t tell. And then you have the sleeve art, which is a drawing of a hand rising up above a city in a way that says “political ska punk.” I should also mention that these guys are from Medellin, Columbia. This is some truly wonderful noise.(SSR)
(Darbouka // http://monsite.wanadoo.fr/darbouka/)

Peripherique Est "Demos" LP
Wrap your head around this one: band has demos they want to shop around for releases, so instead of doing a CDR or a tape, or even a seven inch, they just press a few hundred LPs. Yes. It's mind-boggling ideas like this that make the world a wonderful place. So, from what I have gathered PE are a Belgian band, who do sound very Belgian-punk in the classic sense, and sing in French. And it really is sharp and well-played punque rock, with a whole lotta fast-paced Kids-isms and some Killed By Epitaph Dutch-punk points of reference. Very '77-'79-ish, with a slight nod to Nineties French garage-punk (TV Killers definitely come to mind). A real long-player at sixteen songs, it whirs by with little rest for catching their breath. It's tough to pick stand-out tracks, with the foreign lyrics and titles and all, which detracts from things a bit for us Americans. But I'm sure they could give a fuck, and rightfully so. In reality, as a whole this thing seems great, as they've captured a nice vintage sounding punk vibe, but broken down by songs it lacks a bit in the catchiness department. And since they are demos, the sound is a bit lacking. When it comes to this kind of fast-paced buzzsaw punk, some crisp and full-sounding recording really helps. The drums sound nearly non-existent and there's little evidence of any bass/low end at all. This thing is quite difficult to get, and I'm pleased to have a copy, but I think the scarcity factor is making want to think this is better than it is, or at least has me hoping it is. As a demo, this record is a success, as I'm defintely interested in this band and want to hear what happens next. As a full-fledged 'official' release, well, it's not really up to par. Good but not great. But that's why it's called "Demos', right? Right. Try eBay or Demolition Derby for copies if you want to hear for yourself, but be quick as I'm thinking there are only 300 (or less) copies out there.(RK)
(self-released)

The Pets “Sticky Situations” 7”
At first glance, the Pets seem easy to peg. My thoughts upon first hearing this: “Hmm…sounds sorta reminiscent of the Time Flys, but a little more bizarre and spastic. Good shit.” Upon subsequent listens, however, I’ve come to notice these guys’ knack for assimilating disparate influences and creating a unique finished product that seems deceptively simple, which come to think of it, is pretty much what the Time Flys do too. “Sticky Situations” starts off with some frantic post-post-MC5/Birdman riffage (but in a non-rawk way), but then builds to chorus that reminds me of both the early Briefs and - for some reason I can’t put my finger on - La Peste. The flip side throws yet another curve ball with “Never Ask for Help” which – I know this is the worst sort of thing a record reviewer can say – sounds not unlike Handsome Dick Manitoba singing for Unnatural Axe. Of the two, “Never Ask For Help” is definitely the hit. It’s more of a slow-burner than the A-side, but its hooks have a way digging into my brain and making me come back for more. Good debut from a band that’s likely to put out quite a few quality releases before they call it a day.(SB)
(Sweet Rot Records // www.myspace.com/sweetrotrecords // sweetrot-at-hotmail.com)

Psychedelic Horseshit "Who Let the Dogs Out" 7”
I dropped the needle on the b-side first and grabbed the sleeve to see if Mike Rep’s name was on it. It wasn’t but it has that raw, real, live sound you hear in every Rep record. Then I looked to see if any Screamin Mee Mee’s were involved. Nope there too. So what is it? Well it’s not quite psychedelic so don‘t let the name throw you off. The guitars are damaged and strummy in a VU way, but unlike VU this fall into a very musically stupid hole and never really finds its way out. Hopefully PH doesn’t find a way out of this hole because they sound very good right where they are at. Recommended but start on the B side and work your way backwards.(SSR)
(Columbus Discount Records // www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)

Raised By Wolves s/t EP
I've heard a couple records by these Canadians, and I remember them being garage-rawk of the uninteresting variety. Nothing has changed here, except that they seem to have added a synth which I don't remember being there before. It doesn't help. Anyone who listens to this and likes it should probably be sterilized. (RK)
(Zaxxon Records // www.zaxxonrecords.com)

Ralphs "Zero - No Ones" LP
Countless early punk bands, it seems, released only a single worthwhile record (or song) and sat on a session full of garbage, only to be discovered years later. The first example to come to mind (maybe because the mightier have a longer way to fall) are Rock Bottom and the Spys, who released an all-time great record and left behind another EP's worth of pure crap. Is it pure luck that a band could record songs at a 50:50 hit: miss ratio and release only the hits? How many bands might have picked the "wrong" songs for their lone record? Existential Vacuum has a knack for addressing that question by finding great recordings by bands who didn't get it right the first time. The Nervebreakers, Mystery Dates, and now Ralphs have all done better for themselves on EV than they did on their own.
This is not to say that The Ralphs single was a miss, but their reputation might rival some of their label mates (Bobby Soxx, NCM, Ejectors) had some of their outtakes been on that record. Instead, those songs remain unheard, a couple on a test-press only single, four more on an acetate, more still only on a reel. Only recently were these gems unearthed. Zeros--No Ones is a compilation of nearly all of the Ralphs studio recordings. Included are ten songs culled from the single, acetate, reels, and the b-side to the test-press only record (the A-side, "Neurotic" appears in another version on the acetate, which is on this album).
At their best, The Ralphs are a synth-punk band who were tough despite their sense of humor. "Mass Confustion" and "Inhumane", are full of thuggish guitar riffs that sound like they were made in Detroit. Ralph's synth playing works in tandem with the guitar to build another layer to the sound. These songs set the stage for "Neurotic" in which the band fulfils their potential. The song is a hard, driving anthem deserving of "classic" status despite its obscurity.
And then there's the Ralphs with their tongues planted firmly in cheek on "Vegetable Romp" (the dance for veggies to do). After a couple of listens, you'll know there truly is no escape from this melody. Just as infectious is the "Hey Hey Hey" chorus of the single's B-Side, "Teddy Boy". The band didn't fare as well with the A-side, "Mutating Man", which had an unappealing reggae/synth combination. And maybe it's for the best that they never released "Hairless Creature Of Love," a synth-waver that just doesn't end soon enough.
Besides rescuing some great songs, the resurrection of Existential Vacuum does the world another service: a welcome reminder that it's OK to put some effort into a release and make it look like you care. The inner-sleeves are printed with the lyrics; the insert, in addition to reproducing a great looking flyer, is printed on silver-sided heavy cardstock paper. Add to that the Halloween-y colored orange vinyl and a nice overall design aesthetic and this record looks as distinct as it sounds.(DH)
(Existential Vacuum // www.breakmyface.com)

Rat Traps "Complication" EP
Three-song one-sider from the semi-broken up Rat Traps, their third-and-a-half single, and their least essential. Three-way split on the vox, with April wailing over two minutes or so of nails-on-a-chalkboard ear damage on "Complications", nearing straight noise at moments. Jeff's turn at the mic gives us "You Make Me Sick", which sounds exactly like The Reatards right down the vocal croak and tape hiss. Joe closes things out with the punk "Serrated Edge", the least brutal of the tunes here...wait, is this a Dead Milkmen cover? I imagine we can close the book on the Rat Traps for the time being, with Joe now taking up the vacant bass slot with The Feelers, although I think I've seen mention that they may record an LP sometime in the future. Bottom line is this one kind of sounds like leftovers, and could be chalked up to another instance of a good young band popping out too many singles too soon. Great looking sleeve though. Scum stats: 500 pressed. (RK)
(Ken Rock Records // www.kenrock.com)

Red Limo "Soulful Attack" 7"/CD EP
When I was handed this, I was told, "This is my garage rock band," but damned if these New York-by-way-of-North Carolina black-clad dudes don't sound like some old Raw Records band, complete with English accents and tweaked practice-space sonics. Maybe they don't even realize how much they sound like a second-wave second-tier Brit punk band, but I actually find it oddly refreshing.(EEK)
(Man on the Moon // ???)

Saal 2 "Weil das System Nicht Funktioniert!" LP
(Title Translation: Because the System does not Function!) Saal 2 were maybe a less prolific/successful counterpart in Germany to Cabaret Voltaire. While they don’t sound 100% similar there’s more of a comparison evident to CV then to the other minimal synth/industrial that was coming out of Germany at the time (D.A.F.). All of the material on here is recorded from 1980-1981, much of which is unreleased. There’s some aggressive, tight-knit songs on this reissue that could be considered synth-punk, but mostly we have bedroom garbage electronics with German vocals, plus 2 or 3 outsider pop tracks. An occasional bass guitar or jarring Pop Group style guitar will come in, usually resulting in sub-par post-punk. I like “Strandgefuhle”, which sounds nothing like the other cuts, it’s an acoustic ballad-almost a Syd Barrett outtake. The problem with this LP, like a lot of reissues of unreleased material, you get a bunch of cool songs and then a dud or two. Maybe a more concise version would be a better listen? It’s interesting shit that never quite gets there, the inclusion of the 2 rare ZicZack singles helps, but I’d steer clear unless you’re a minimal synth or German post-punk obsessive.(MS)
(Vinyl on Demand // www.vinyl-on-demand.com)

Seconds "Kratitude" LP/CD
Dunno what it is, maybe I've changed, maybe it's the growing uncertainty of the international geopolitical situation, who knows, but all of the new releases by Bands I Like are relegating them to the category of Bands I Used to Like. Take this Seconds record, for instance. Their first LP, 'Y', was one of the great recs of the "dance-punk craze." Hyper, addictive, sharp, clean, Minutemen-esque, it really brought the goods. Years later, and this part-time crew (main dude Zach is in Ex Models and other projects; drummer Brian Chase is in some band called Yeah Yeah Yeahs) finally get around to following that platter up, and it's just kind of...there. Sitting in the middle of the table, not exactly spoiling, but not exactly begging you to consume it with its heady aroma. Again, the album jumps the gate in fine fashion with "Moving," which sounds like an homage to DNA's "Not Moving." Or perhaps its sequel. Or evil twin. The yammering vocals, "slowly moving moving slowly slowly moving...", continue throughout the album, as if the studio has been invaded by dead Dada poets. Most tracks are repeating rhythms churning away piston-like underneath random shards of guitar noise (they call this approach Krakitude, but you could just call it "La Monte Young for Punks"). Call and response vocals disorient, but mostly just distract. Nothing is being said, but maybe that's the point. Seems like a lot of these bands have given up on Song, and are now just going for Sensation, which is fine, but they are not meeting us halfway. They are beckoning from the other side of the river, but it doesn't seem worth the trouble to get there.(EEK)
(5RC // www.5rc.com)

Shoplifting "Body Stories" LP/CD
From the ashes of the original Chromatics line-up (before they got all death disco) rise Shoplifting, a mixed-gender combo who carry on in a classic P. Northwest art-punk stylee. So far they have released a 12" (pretty good) and a 7" (really good). Now comes their first full-length and what can I say, but "It's a mixed bag." Much like the first Chromatics LP on GSL, you've got some nice highs and some rather tedious lows. The second track, "Male Gynecology," is a creepy-crawling tale of some dude trying to make himself pregnant (I think). It moves along deliberately, guitars shimmering and odd sounds clicking away in the background. It's followed by "Talk of the Town," an inferior rerecording of the single's highlight. Some meandering instrumentals follow and the album doesn't pick up steam again until "Illegalistas," which bares a lot of similarities to "Talk of the Town," so it seems kind of redundant. The album was produced by the great Steve Fisk, and, on a track like "Syncope Riders," he gives the band the same sci-fi sheen he gave Unwound on 'Repetition,' but even excellent sound can't disguise the fact that there's not a whole lot of SONG floating around. And the band seems oddly subdued, unlike the 7", where it sounded as if they would beat you up for calling them queer. You could do worse in trying to resurrect the glory days of past Washington State art-punk, but this isn't quite there yet.(EEK)
(Kill Rock Stars // www.killrockstars.com)

Sic Alps "The Soft Tour in Rough Form" 12”
The second 12” of a series by this new Sacramento label (done by the guy who did Omnibus Recs). I put this one on out of obligation more than anything else. I’d listened to the first Mt St Mtn 12” (by The Mall) and it was trendy horseshit crap. It was so bad that I don’t feel right selling it to someone. (“Here, have a crummy record you won’t want to invest any time, energy or space in.”) Fortunately for me, Mt St Mtn is batting .500. This Sic Alps four songer is totally acceptable piece of downer psych guitar strangle...and the guitar does indeed sound like it is getting strangled. Please don’t read that as “this is wild.” It is not. It is damaged and laid back, like the last bits of “Uh fuck you all” is getting strummed. Those of you looking for the dirty little brother of those early 80s Davis guitar bands might have something here.(SSR)
(Mt St Mtn // www.mtstmtn.com)

Submarine Races "Talkin' Loud" EP
After listening to the first minute or so of the A-Side I was absolutely convinced I had accidentally thrown on a Shadowy Men on A Shadowy Planet record. Then, just as I was dimming the lights and chilling the ham, the surfy-twang is interrupted by the "dude who was in The Ponys" vocals, which I feel I can describe as 'twee' for some reason, and realize it is actually Submarine Races. Taken in smaller doses, the vocals and band in general are far less irritating than they were on the full length, and that's about the best compliment I can give. I'm sure people are enjoying this out there, but to me it just sounds like lifeless indie-pop, no matter what clever twist you try and put on it. They cover The Minutemen on the flip, and while doing "Party With Me Punker" no extreme disservice, I have to question why a band would commit such an emotionless cover of one of the more passionate bands of the past few decades to vinyl, even if it is one of their "goofy" tunes. The cartoon sleeve, however, looks very nice as does the limited brown vinyl. Too bad records are for listening and not for looking.(RK)
(Shit Sandwich Records // www.shitsandwichrecords.com)

Sunday Sinners "You Child" EP
First vinyl release for the Sinners who have previously appeared on the Sympathetic Sounds of MOntreal comp and had a self-released CDR thing some time back as well. You might know the deal already, but they are four hot chicks from Montreal (and one dude) including Sexareeno darling Work With Me Annie who do souldful R&B-fueled girls-in-the-garage rock type stuff. On "You Child" they make like the female counterparts to Demon's Claws, on "Darlin'" they veer close to C&W territory, and they do a splendid Sugar Pie Desanto cover that has them sounding like a grittier Detroit Cobras. Not a stunning release, but good enough to have me check back later to see what they're up to. Scum Stats: 300 is the mandatory Perpetrator run, or so I'm assuming. (RK)
(Perpetrator Records // perpetrator_1@hotmail-dot-com)

Swinehood "I'm Startin' To Hate What I Used To Dig" EP
The title of this EP along with the cover shot of a sizable record collection combine to create a sentiment I'm sure 100% of you, my record hound brethren, can and have related to at some point. Those moments when you feel like burning everything except your Stooges LPs, when everything is shit and you're wondering why the fuck you're wasting your time...fuck. It's a miserable life sometimes, ain't it? Well fret no longer my friends, Swinehood are here to cheer you up with feel-good anthems such as "Treated Like Shit", "Can't Stand the Sight of Love", and the begging for-an-explanation classic "She Oughta Cut Whore Out From Her Middle Name". With members who have done duty in Brainbombs, Totalitar, Teenage Graves and Missbrukarna, you get a good idea of the happy place these swell fellas are coming from. Eight, count 'em, eight super hits jammed onto this fucking thing, and when you're done listening you're going to want to finish that bottle of whiskey and grab the gun. The only decision will be whether to shoot at your reflection in the mirror or at the neighbor's kids. Fucking brats. "Sniper Man (He's Sick and Tired)" or "Drunken God", pick which one you want to act out! What's that? "Hey Rich, we get it, it's really angry and fucked up, but what's it like musically?" Well Timmy, it sounds like what a sloppy HFOS or Dean Dirg might sound like without the garage and punk leanings in their Euro-hardcore attack, and with a more cruel sense of humor, ala Anal Babes. Less goofball, more Totalitar, is what I'm implying. The raw recording matches the material nicely as well. Did I mention there are EIGHT friggin' songs packed on this? I'm impressed. You should check it out. Scum stats: only 300 copies. (RK)
(Ken Rock Records // www.ken-rock.com)

Tam s/t LP/CD
Another dud from EP! Tam is some chick who bugged Mr. Moore with home-recorded CDRs until he acquiesced and compiled this pile of crap. Ugh. Makes you long for the days of early Smog or Sebadoh, when lone freaks and their 4-tracks really had something to say, and a whole new way of saying it. Everything Tam says is in this wailing, off-key, bad-lyric, grating tone and I don't wanna hear it no more. When I looked at the track-list I thought we might have something here. "Artificial Love"? "Better Off Dead"? "Modern Man"? Is this a lo-fi homage to vintage US punk/hardcore? Nay, nay, it is an homage to the formerly wonderful idea that "anyone can do it." Yes, yes, they can. Thank you, Tascam. Thank you, Protools. Thank you and fuck you.(EEK)
(Ecstatic Peace!/Universal // www.ecstaticpeace.com)

Thalidomide "Demo" CDR
There are some bands that rage no matter what environment they're faced with - be it recording on a boombox, playing a show with no PA or running on the last of their energy at the tail-end of a four day no-sleep coke binge in the deep south in August. Judging from this four song CDR, Thalidomide is not one of those bands. As this is an initial release, it can be said that with a proper studio recording and more practice, they could be an impressive new band, but that's just it - why release something so unpolished and generic, even if it is on a throwaway CDR? Maybe a different brand of music would sound better in these situations, but their 2006 version of Japanese hard punk just isn't doing it on this CDR. There's no unrestrained rhythm section, no creativity in the guitars and when the vocalist tries to pull off a croaking moan, it sounds half-hearted at best. None of the important characteristics that made bands like The Stalin and Masturbation stand out over their peers. (JC)
(self released // figuisch@docomo.ne.jp)

Throbbin Urges s/t LP/CD
I was sharpening my pencil and ready to write a bad review of this disc as it started playing, as I was not really a fan of their side of the split with Glorified Trash and wasn't expecting much, but I'll be damned, this thing is actually half good. Actually, exactly half good, a dozen tracks during which I counted six 'I-need-to-hear-that-one-agains'. At their best, the Urges whip up some some great I-don't-give-a-fuck breakneck punk, in the fine recent tradition of such Midwest stalwarts as Clone Defects/Epileptix ("I'm So Sick"), Catholic Boys ("Get Rad") and more, with a real ear for total garbage-can sounds. The barrelling "Bad Luck" is the pick of the litter here, "Under Suspicion" delivers some paranoid scorch, and they actually turn an awful song title into a good tune (that would be "Remote Control Pussy"). Sure, there a half-dozen tracks here that you don't really need to hear, but it's tough to find good solid LPs these days. The totally shitty fidelity (recorded in various living rooms) really helps things along, even when the vocals are completely buried. The point here is, at this point I would rather listen to a half dozen good, actual punk tunes, than an LPs worth of more blooze-garage rehash or beep-boop weird-just-to-be-weird crap. This thing won't win any awards, but there are a couple of real keepers to be found. And I would love to have the chance to see them in someone's living room.(RK)
(Dead BEat Records // www.dead-beat-records.com)

Touch-Me-Nots "Hey, Television" 7"
Two-piece drum-guitar action from the Bay Area, in a 'classic' Gibson Bros kind of vein, or if you're new, in a King Khan and BBQ style with the emphasis on the BBQ part of the equation. Pretty cool and pretty hooky, especially the title track, and "I Fucked Up Bad" is a nice one too, almost Bassholish. The closer, "Celebrity Roast" is a little rougher and maybe even punker and makes me think King Louie meets Mark Sultan and they do some blow and beers and crank this puppy out. This dude can croon a bit, the songs manuever through what can be a really tired genre/stlye without sounding cliched and I'm pretty sure you will have a good time listening to this. Monsieur Dickie Christgau gives this one a solid B+. I imagine this is limited to a few hundred. (RK)
(Roach & Squirrel Records // myspace.com/thetouchmenots)

Tri-City Thundercats "Rapid Transit" 7"
Tempe, Arizona’s Tri-City Thundercats have something of a secret history. Though their Early Recordings LP is readily available for all to hear on King of the Monster Records (who released the first Digital Leather LP), I get the impression that the album gets passed up more often than not. Early Recordings compiles the ‘Thundercats lathe-only EP and Japanese tour single, each pressed in an edition of 100 copies. Myoclonic Records have, with their first release, issued a third TCT single, “Rapid Transit” b/w “Simulcra” (another 100 press release, 50 copies each on blue and gold vinyl).
Tri City Thundercats stand out from their peers since they’re writing songs in a much abandoned tradition, playing punk-pop without being trapped by any of the pitfalls of the genre. The songs are “blink of an eye” length, built around great vocal melodies and a sharp guitar sound, and they remain interesting through repeated listens. Of TCT’s output to date, “Rapid Transit” is the best recorded material, and has a stunning sleeve design to round out the package. It’s a beautiful record, and much more significant that its tiny press size implies, so I’d recommend picking it up now while that’s still a possibility. (DH)
(Myoclonic Records // myoclonic.records-at-gmail-dot-com)

V/A The Ape-Shits/The Gash split 7"
Split-seven from the big 'ol state of Texas featuring two songs each from two bands making their vinyl debut. The Ape-Shits are basically The Dirty Sweets minus Penny Tration, and sound like the Dirty Sweets without Penny Tration singing. Maybe a little rawer than the Sweets were, they do two dumbfuck punk tunes with a porcine theme. Not too bad, but nothing you're going to need to tell anyone about. The Gash feature a Marked Man and a member of my current faves The Wrists/The Pumpers and definitley make this record worth the listen. Tough sounding semi-fi punkings that remind me a bit of my beloved Baseball Furies but with some quirkiness added. Chattery rhythms, great vocal sound, two winning tunes. Sadly, The Gash have already broken up, destined to be a mere footnote in the annals of Texas punk history. Overall, I'm not a huge fan of the split 7" as a format, and I have to say this thing has one of the most atrocious looking sleeves ever. The two Gash cuts are worth hearing though. (RK)
(Big Action Records // www.bigactionrecords.com)

V/A Paul Garon & Gene Tomko "What’s the Use of Walking if There is a Freight Train Going Your Way?: Black Hoboes & Their Songs" book/CD
Ten to one odds I know more about Black hoboes than you do. I know that a hobo isn’t a bum but part migrant worker/part budget traveler. I know that it was the railroad that made the hobo possible. I know that it was after emancipation that the first Black hoboes appeared and that Blacks hit the road North and West due to crop failures/boll weevil infestations and to escape serf-like conditions in the South. I know that cops, railroad bulls, and judges treated them harsher than White tramps. I know that they organized under the IWW and other radical unions. Most of all I know that they documented all the above in song. I know that because I read the book whose title you see above.
However, this review ain’t about the book (which is good but not especially riveting), it is about the CD that come with it. Call them hobo songs if you want, but this CD is a country blues comp. Like any genre of music that is more than 20 years old, blues has spawned a lot of compilations. Unlike a lot of other genre comps, country blues comps tend to be good, this is no exception. Anchored by legends such as Charley Patton, Son House, Bukka White, and Blind Willie McTell, the songs here are all about hoboing. The legends’ cuts are as good as you would expect, but as good are some artists that are a bit more obscure -Texas Alexander, Blind Blake, Son Bonds, Smokey Hogg, and Willie Scarecrow Owens. Some of these guys I’ve heard before, but other I haven’t. Two revelations to me is the frog voiced John Handcox and the gravelly Charlie Segar. This is a strong collection.
One gripe and it is an odd one considering that the CD is part of a book/CD package. That complaint is that there are no liner notes. Sure there is a book and the book comments on the songs, so technically the book might be a liner book. But this needs one or two pages in the back that has the song artist, title, recording date/place (if available), and a couple lines about the artist and the source of the recording. The notes would be a helpful tool for tracking down more music by the featured artists. Still, that is a minor complaint about very good package.(SSR)
(Charles H Kerr // available at www.akpress.org)

V/A Crack und Ultra Eczuma/Le Sport split 7”
The second split from Seb Normal’s label and it is an elusive one. Crack Und... turn up the screech on their three here. The songs are scattershot and at times (milliseconds) seem lost but pull themselves into a groove enough to finish things off in a fury. Right now these folks are my faves of the Strausburg cult. Fuck, how to describe Le Sport? Electro blues dog core is as close as I can get. Imagine Screamin Jay Hawkins as a dog backed up by a broken fingered ukelele player, a Casiotone, and Martin Rev, then recorded in a reverb chamber.(SSR)
(Bibimbap Records // www.oreille-equitable.org/_bibimbap/)

V/A Functional Blackouts/Fashion Fashion and The Image Boys split 7"
Last time Functional Blackouts were through, Rob (bassist) seemed amused/exasperated as I drunkenly tried to explain what the FBs sounded like to my roommate. "They make you wanna kill people," I kept saying over and over. Well, they do. "Frustration" is a good kill-people song, which is followed by "1-D March," that features Wendy Monitor on vocals and makes you wanna kill your TV set. I guess they are multi-faceted. OK, Rob? On the flip, Fashion Fashion actually make out pretty decent, considering they tested my patience heavily at Horriblefest. Their two cuts of gutter-dwelling Pagan-punk is satisfying, with "Busted Life" making out best, but they still suffer from a mild case of that dreaded disease, generica. I think these are just about gone, so hurry.(EEK)
(Florida's Dying // www.floridasdying.com)

V/A Hank III/Antiseen "White Trash Double-Header" split 7"
Hank III (who I have no problem with, by the way) does a western ballad called "Ruby Get Back to the Hills", which is about, obviously I guess, the Ruby character from The Hills Have Eyes. It's a novel idea, and not a bad song. Antiseen do "F.T.K." which stands for "Fuck the Kids", where they lash out at "emo-fags", "mall rats", "PC queers" and more in what has turned into their trademark cartoon fashion. They now sound like the white trash Electric Frankenstein. They made some good records at one time. That time has come and gone. Scums stats: picture disc with band photos on both sides, "limited" to 2000 copies.(RK)
(TKO Records // www.tkorecords.com)

V/A "Last Kind Words (1926-1953)" LP
While the scope of this compilation (nearly 30 years) may seem a little broad for a folk-blues collection, the sound of it makes it work rather well. A lot of this material is available elsewhere (I’m almost sure some of these tracks might be direct lifts from Yazoo CD’s) but the mood makes it stand alone pretty well.
Geechie Wiley’s “Last Kind Words” is the first track, and a standout. You might remember it’s frequent use in the Crumb documentary. It’s a truly haunting song with a very brooding and sparse guitar accompaniment, totally timeless. After that is nourishing fare from some largely unrecognized folk blues musicians and some rare tracks including Robert Petway, Isiah Nettles, Edward Clayborn and Sister O.M. Terrell to name a few.
All the tracks feature simple recordings with mostly just voice and one or two string-instrument accompaniments. The result is a great, raw testament to an entire era in music which will never be properly resurrected: folk and blues. In that scope, the 30 years makes sense, we start near the birth of “race” records and end at the beginning of field recordings, before the “rediscovery” of these artists, and much worse: electric blues.
My only gripe is the insert, which plainly gives the artist and title, no date info or original label information. This looks like a super-limited edition, I’m guessing 1,000 or less.(MS)
(Mississippi Records // available via www.forcedexposure.com)

V/A The Sainte Catherines/Whiskey Sunday split EP
The only reason I am even mentioning this record is because this is one of the biggest pieces of vinyl shit I have ever been sent for review. Both of these bands play some bastardized version of "punk" that is so deplorable that thye are destined to be fucking huge. They are probably playing Warped Tour as we speak. I am holding on to this record in hopes that I may someday be able to sell it for hundreds of dollars to a Hot Topic employee with bad ink and worse piercings. Fuck you too. (RK)
(don't even worry about what label this is on...)

The Weegs "The Million Sounds of Black" LP
Right as I put this on for the first time, the phone rang. I listened to it in the background as I talked with my lady. It sounded good there in the back so I was excited to hear it again. Second time through, I decided that the Weegs need French lessons. The Weegs are a perfectly good band. They have a dark new wave feel to them. There is intermittent circus organ, some pretty tasty guitar discordance, and mostly good songs. The remind me a lot of early Wall of Voodoo without Stan Ridgway's goofy vocals and perhaps a bit more willing to go sinister rather than novelty. Where the Weegs fail is keeping this thing engaging over the full length of an LP. If they had followed the lead of two of today's top French bands - Volt and Frustration - they would have made this into a 5 song 12" and the hype on this would be more than the usual idiots in ad-driven magazines and the indie professionals at Pitchfork (really, none of those people's opinions are worth a basket of turds. I'd take a so-so review from some kid in Columbus with a xerox zine and a circulation of 100 over a rave in Skyscraper or on Pitchfork. I don't trust the professional indie world one bit. Just a bunch of corrupt motherfuckers pretending to be some alternative to ???). Hell, the Weegs are supposed to be pals with Curse of the Birthmark. Curse did exactly what they should have in releasing their stuff as a 12" ep. As a result it was all bamm bamm bamm and no fat. "The Million Sounds..." has some fat. Trim this to 10 to 15 minutes and you have something great. Flawed as it is but still recommended to those into the harder sounds of modern new wave.(SSR)
(Hungry Eye // www.hungryeyerecords.com)

Wooden Shjips "Dance, California" 7"
The last really nice surprise I got in the mail was the Wooden Shjips' 10". I love 10" records and might be one of the few that do, so getting a free one would have made my day. That the music was psychedelic in the true sense of the word and really couldn't be pegged to anything other than some obvious names (Spaceman 3, Suicide, etc.) which really is more lazy music writer than actually telling anyone anything, well, that the music was ambiguous enough to defy easy categorization, was also pleasing. Not to mention, the damn thing was very good. So I pick up my weekend's mail and waiting for me is a small 7" box with the name Wooden Shjips scrawled in the corner. Open up the box and a clear 7" is looking at me, or, rather, since I am the one with eyes, I am looking at it. Or maybe not. Listening to this little gem, I am convinced that it might have eyes or at least one big bloodshot third eye, though this "psychedelia" sounds like the kind that is made when the people making it are not on drugs and tripped out by the music itself. The guitar has lots of John Cipollina in it as well as a big dose of Erkin Koray, the Turkish guitar god, and all that is so fucking fine. The guitar is backed by a great steady drone, one that drills into the back of your skull. Great great great and even greater is the first time I listened to this I played it at 33 instead of 45 and it still sounded fantastic. Four songs for the price of two: Top that! A great record with a sideways head. (SSR)
(Sick Thirst // sickthirst.com)

xbxrx "Sixth in Sixes" LP/CD
Less chaotic than the 7"s I have by this Oakland trio and I am not sure if that is good or bad. I keep getting records by these guys and they always seem to end up in the "Waiting to make a judgment" pile and I am not sure if that is good or bad. There are other bands in that pile, like the (pre-Gris Gris) Wives, Monster Dudes, and a stack of crap Narnack sent in order to keep me from talking shit about them for a variety of different reasons (...didn't work. My impulse to shit talk is far stronger than my need for Narnack product). So xbxrx sits in the pile and now that I've listened to this album a couple times, I am not sure those records are gonna move anywhere. I like this full choke fusion of complexity and retardation - musically this it the tits; but the screamed vocals flatten this fucker out and makes xbxrx sound like a much more blah band than they actually are (I also vote that they take the tempo down a notch and let the primitivism bloom). I hate to do the scale of one to ten but a record like this forces me to: Seven. That's as high as I'll go.(SSR)
(Polyvinyl // www.polyvinylrecords.com)

Young Wasteners "Waiting" EP
The thing to keep in mind before you throw this on your turntable – especially if you've come to know and love the Young Wasteners "We Got Ways" LP – is that the four songs on here were recorded in 2002-3. While the opener "Waiting," is a little slower, clunkier that what you might expect just coming from listening the LP, it's quickly followed by "Code Red," which would be right at home on "We Got Ways." And actually, this e.p. would all around benefit from the exclusion of "Waiting" because "Code Red" is a total ripper, complete with sing-along chorus and little noodling guitar part. On side-b, the opening riff of "Who to Be" instantly reminds me of Pekinska Patka's "Podermo Rock," but that recognition quickly fades as the guitars dig deeper and the high-pitched vocals kick in…spilling into a decent, but pretty much by-the-numbers melodic hardcore song. "Selfallowed" falls into the more meandering, self-absorbed type song that might be fun to play, but is the point at which everyone will pick up the needle on their turntable, flip the record over and go back to "Code Red" which is the only true killer on this 7". But it alone is worth the price of admission. (IS)
(Hjernespind // www.kicknpunch.com)




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