RECORD REVIEWS SUMMER 2009
Key: (RFA: Richard Fucking Adventure)(LB: Lance Boyle)(AR: Acapulco Rodriguez)(EEK: Erick Elrick)(BG: Brandon Gaffney)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RK: Rich Kroneiss)(TO: Tm Onita)(SB: Young Steve)(RSF: Rob Vertigo) (A.: Alessandro)
Animals & Men s/t 12"
It's hard not to go into a release by a band whose heyday was nearly 30 years ago (and who haven't recorded since then) without some trepidation. We've all been burned by "reunions" and such many times over. Apparently Animals & Men have been revitalized by the recent Mississippi and H2D reissues and actually recorded a quality half-dozen tracks of new material (well, two of the six are old songs redone). Susan Wells' voice might sound a bit older and wiser this time around, but I can't help but think "John Of The Sword" is one of the better tunes in their catalog. I read a review where the Animals & Men sound is referred to as "tightly lethargic" and I wish I would've come up with that. Solid DIY post-punk that somehow manages to not sound overly arty or pretentious. Almost guttural, yet refined enough to not slip into barbarism. Dig the harmonica on "I". "Driving Stupid" brims with tension and intelligence. Beautiful sleeves are a bonus.(RK)
(Convulsive Records // myspace.com/convulsiverecords)
Apeshit! "Cavalier Activity" EP
Not to be confused with The Apeshits, who I believe are a wacky-garage band from Texas, Apeshit! are a technically savvy hardcore band from NYC. Real heavy and with something to say, i.e. for fans of Born Against or MITB or something like that. Serious business. They have a song called "Pasta Rasta" with really oblique lyrics that don't reference HR or spaghetti at all. I like the song title "Cavalier Activity". The song itself notsomuchso. Naming your record label Mother Chorizo is really commendable though.(RK)
(Mother Chorizo // myspace.com/motherchorizorecords)
Arsene Obscene "Partir a la Guerre" 7"
Living room punk from France with Arsene on fuzz guitar, drumbox and vox, drawing influence from Dr. Mix/Metal Urbain and an obvious Electric Eels fixation is ever present. On "Fier" he rips off some blazing leads that make it a cut above the rest of the racket. It passable for what it is, I'm just not so sure we need more of it.(RK)
(Slovenly Records // www.slovenly.com)
James Arthur "My Gawd!" 7"
All I can really say is it's about fucking time James Arthur got back to business. He's playing everything here on some Texas-DIY headcase shit, great washes of organ/feedback, vocals reverbed to hell and back, twisted root cellar one-man-recording. That's just the first track. "Chingow" is Morricone-y soundtracking. "Job" is Jonah Hex singing a bucket of country-blues. Doomy. "Loan Not Alone" is the theme for a never made spaghetti spy film. Wow. Haunted George who? Scum stats: usual 300 Boozy press.(RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // myspace.com/goodbyeboozyrecords)
Batman and Robin "My Hero Power Is My Moustache" 7"
The third (and final?) installment in the wonderful saga of the Austrian garage superhero dunce duo. The total goofy package once again, these records have been works of art through and through and this one keeps up the quality. Immaculate cartoon artwork, the bonus this time being a fold-out poster with pictures of the actual heroes in the flesh and pages from Batman and Robin's diaries. I imagine they put on a great live show. Musically, it's more garage rock with soundbites narrating the dunderheaded exploits between tracks. We even get a Catwoman appearance this time around. Trashy stuff about whiskey, Bat-Belts and moustaches (obviously). These songs might be run-of-the-mill, but with all the extras it makes for a nice package. You really can't help but appreciate the gimmick. And if you've collected the first two, you must complete the trilogy. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
Beaters "Fishage" 7"
New-ish band formed from the break-up of San Diego's The Sess. For the first minute of "Fishage" I was ready to start writing a "this is fucking GAY" review, but after minute two and on the rhythm became pretty intensely likeable. Beefy synth snake connects the lines between a sick drum beat and some effected (and maybe a little affected) vocals. Pretty fucking jamming, a good combo of synthpunk and New Wave hypnosis, and not at all cheesy. The flip ("Obamination"...ugh) is sort of UK art punk sounding, really bouncy, somewhat goofy and a bit different (and quite less good) than the A-Side. The one thing that really bugs me are the modern pop-culture references (MJ sleeve art, Obama song...), never a good idea, and it made it real hard to take this record/band seriously. But I'm still listening to the A-Side a bunch.(RK)
(Volar Records // myspace.com/volarrecords)
Bipolar Bear “Tough Boat” one-sided 12”
What would a review installment be without another Bipolar Bear release? When will these kids sluff off? Damn...here we go again.
Well, this here is an odd bird. It starts out promising enough, bringing back to mind the earlier “Man Mountain” LP I reviewed a while back. Some great Chris Thompson/Monorchid/Lupus in the grooves..."Duke Mgee" starts this platter off right by tailgating Scratch Acids’ "Cannibal" repeat-o-riff into a ditch and flinging it through some slippery mud. Some Fall angles and Sonic Youth buzz-kills are going on in "Polish Driver" and they’re treating it well. "Autoclock" has delayed vocals sputtering over a Jesus Lizard slow grind. Catchy and messy. Makes me miss my college cassette years. Overall, we’re frolicking along nicely thru the better half of 80’s/90’s hard indie 101, but the fun starts to fade around the middle mark. Stuff gets a little too “bike-messenger” rock for my taste. Thinkin’ Japanther, No Age, and so on. When the live tracks kick in I lose interest. It’s some of the tunes that I didn’t dig from the last split single (or so I think. They’re pretty similar sounding), and there’s nothing really shining through in the mix to make me change my mind. The first few songs woulda/coulda been a cool single. Bummer. When this Bear fires up all four, I can get aboard. So I guess I half recommend a half-pressed LP. Or something. Screen printed sleeves in a hyper-limited pressing of 165 (!?!) for the diehards of The Smell scene out there. (RSF)
(Limited Appeal // myspace.com/limitedappealrecords)
Birth Control "Going To Target" EP
Holy fuck, is this another Francis Harold 7"? Nah, wait, not enough echo on this one. No wait, maybe there is...Fashionable Idiots really has this genre cornered. I had no idea there were so many bands that sounded like this. I'm not knocking it either, I like the aesthetic, but I had no clue what John Sharkey hath wrought. And funnily enough, a lot of these bands are as good or better than the
Harpoon Guns FH & The Holograms after closer inspection, but without the eye-catching sleeve photos. "Going To Target" actually sounds a little goofy, and I like the elastic bassline a lot, "Burn" just sounds retarded in a listenable way. B-Side gets a little tiresome, as I've said in past reviews, to pull this shit off you better have gnarly riffs and a rhythm section that can do some heavy lifting, and Birth Control might not quite have the goods. Scum stats: 700 copies.(RK)
(Fashionable Idiots // www.fashionableidiots.com)
Mac Blackout “Western Blue” LP
This is Macs’ third solo effort and it seems more diverse than the others…or so I think. I never got a copy of the CD only release (hell, I didn’t know it existed until I researched this joint), and it’s been a while since I played the Dead Beat LP. "Fools Gold" starts the record off in a real odd way with skewed pop hooks and a voice like an early year Reatard fronting a vulgar bedroom vision of indie-twee or some such jazz. Off-putting for sure. Shit gets screwy quick enough though, with electro-leanings and some cheap Casio feedback. There’s serious tape and sample damage running alongside the "Western Blue" alien march. Yeah, Blank Dogs be snooping around in here (esp. on tracks like "Faceless"), but old Pink Dots psych creeps through these fresh cracks as well. New wave hits of the Eighties bent on a steady diet of synth-damaged LPs, cyberpunk novels and serial killer wet dreams. Sriekback or Yaz just went punk. Romance pulp if written by a necro, scato, or pedophiliac...pick a favorite. Krazy thinking that this jellyhead was part of the Functional Blackout brain trust. Deranged, but in a totally different way. Chi-town industrial vibes crawl to the forefront here and there (I even hear some Skinny Puppy in this…really!), but it’s not too overpowering. The disc is peppered with off kilter space junk demos that could’ve been Blackouts tracks kicked to the curb. There are some serious rockers that grab onto the Final Solutions take of KBD and whip ‘em up one man band style. The bouncy garbage rhythms of "Our Eyes Are in the Sky" and "Rock N’ Roll Dream" are personal faves. More sampler fun, strained guitar, and static vocals clinging to what could be mistaken as children’s songs in hell. A nice mish-mash keeping things afloat and holding my attention. Even the poofy little moon pie ballad "Nitelite" at the end has the creep factor working for it in strong pervo fashion. Nifty. (RSF)
(FDH Records // www.fdhmusic.com)
Bomber "Mourning" EP
A cool little record, just real stupid and simple punk rock. Scratchy guitars, a little sloppy, slobbering vocals, songs about dreading work and people being garbage and shit like that. From Virginia, but has a bit of a classic Cali snotty ennui. Reminds me more than a little bit of the modern Rochester "Rotcore" scene, which is one of my favorite current hotbedsof musical activity. A hearfelt wastoid vibe is what I'm talking about. Bored kids making some decent quality punk rock music. Happens every day, and I'm glad. Five cuts for real punks. Scum stats: 300 pressed.(RK)
(Cowabunga Records // www.cowabungarecords.com)
Boys Club s/t LP
An awkward listening experience for sure, but one that I find truly engaging. It has little to do with the fact that I know Steve. I have trouble saying exactly what thrills me about this record. It's not really so inept as it is simple. They actually play through most of the tunes pretty well, but there's something uncomfortable about some of it...the just a second or so too-long pauses on "Up and Down and All Around" say, or the non-harmonized attempts at vocal harmonies, or Steve's lack of ability to sing in key, or the so simple it's almost painful songs, or maybe the often embarrasingly bad lyrics. I sort of hang on each song, waiting for them to break into laughter or tears or something. And that's also not to say the album is without a few moments of genuine dorky rockitude, like when Steve pushes the vocals through on "Push it Through" or the guitar "effect" on "Until the End of the Night". Knowing the players, it's obvious their fanzine-riddled minds have a plan. Make a "bad" record people will be writing about in their own fanzines in twenty years? Make a record without any regard to current trends or standards of listenability? Do whatever the hell they want? Wear sneakers at the beach? All of the above? I don't know the specifics, but somehow whatever it is works on some gut level. I want them to succeed. It's obviously not a great record musically, but what it lacks in proficiency it has in sheer attention-getting bravado. And at its core, it's almost an early Rip Off release. I feel it's a bit like the Rip Offs themselves at points, forsaking the masks and middle-aged paunch for nerdiness and bad haircuts, the blistering guitar parts for handclaps, and a penchant for B-Team UK punk (The Lurkers) with a penchant for B-Team US powerpop (randomly stick your finger in the reviews section of Brain Lapse or Rock Mania fanzines and insert the name of the band/record here). As Greg Lowery always said, TALENT = BORING. Boys Club = livin' proof.(RK)
(Three Dimensional Records // www.threedimensional.com)
Buzzer "Teacher's Pet" 7"
Second single from Andy Jordan's post-Cuts/Time Flys outfit which continues in the same direction as those two bands. Which is backwards into Seventies glam/rock, but not as druggy as TF or as AOR as Cuts. This one really sounds like a rock'n'rolling Roxy Music sometimes, "Teacher's Pet" is a blueprint four-plus minute slick garage-glam track with soaring guitar solo. "Stunning Freak" is rocking pop with a little going-into-the-jungle break for a wheezy guitar rip. Not as glittery as the first single, I think this really might be best best described as a more complex Pets or perhaps a more rocking Cheap Time. Fan or not, Mr. Jordan is a top notch song writer, and these two track are livin' proof.(RK)
(Tic Tac Totally // www.tictactotally.com)
Chrome Spiders "Black Butterfly" 7"
Thomas Jackson Potter finally returns with Chrome Spiders, a new heavy rock unit with members of The Bitters and Menthols. Tom's an old man, although you'd never know based on his energy and enthusiasm when he's on stage. He still rips that guitar and yells his head off and his on stage swagger and banter is in fine form as always. Chrome Spiders obviously don't follow the two-piece bangin'-and-scratchin' formula we loved in Bantam Rooster, but fall more in line with the muscular and dark Detroit rock of his stomping grounds. "Black Butterfly" beats at burly and battering pace, recorded with maximum low end by long time cohort Jim Diamond. "The Whip Hand" is lewd and lascivious and hypnotically dirty and rhythmic. Hard rock for men. Glad to see Bart saved the art proofs from the 'Mexican Leather' EP for the sleeve of this one. Black and white stockings and garter belts are the perfect imagery for this. (RK)
(Big Neck Records // www.bigneckrecords.com)
Cococoma "Ask, Don't Tell" 7"
I always think of Cococoma is the same breath as Headache City for some unfair yet regional reason. Same town, I'm pretty sure they share(d) a member or two, but they're obviously cut of different cloth. And where Headache City often seem to be an almost good band, Cococoma manage to actually deliver more often than not. The band is Lisa and Bill Roe at it's core, Lisa being the only female I've seen play guitar with real rock'n'roll conviction in many years, or least since I first saw Alicja Trout step out from behind a synthesizer, Bill being the bespectacled singer/drummer/nice-guy, and this single being the first release on their just launched Trouble In Mind Records label. Housed in a spiffy company sleeve (Made In China!), obviously picking your own band as your first release is a wise choice. Haven't really heard from Cococoma much since the Goner LP, and they've switched up the players a bit (now a four piece). "Ask, Don't Tell" has a nice classic sounding Fifties garage-hop quality to it until Lisa unleashes a massive rip of a guitar solo and rough rides all the way to end. More than pleasant. The flipside of "The Anchor" turns down the garage and turns up the melody, a little bit Anglo-centric, sort of a subdued powerpop feel without the wimpiness, a real solid cut of pop-inflected rock. Delightful. Scum stats: first 500 on garbage vinyl.(RK)
(Trouble In Mind // www.troubleinmindrecords.com)
Condominium “Barricade” 7”
Finally, saying something sounds “AmRep”-ish and really meaning it. Hammerhead is the sound ringing true to my ears (get this Rich!). If Hammerhead had HC roots. Serious agro scuzz from St. Paul. My wife says she’s feeling The Jesus Lizard in it…maybe in the guitar noodle at times, but way too filthy for pro-gear adults with Albini hard-ons. Shock horror. A single of the year contender for sure. Side B is a dirgey instrumental broken off the Family Man branch or The Melvins tree, or… I wish they’d let me take a crack at singing on this. Fuck that. I’m not moving to Minnesota. Nope. Two other records? Need ‘em. Buy this shit, Skullfans.(RSF)
(Fashionable Idiots // www.fashionableidiots.com)
Crash Normal "Unrealistic Tracks" EP
Four song EP from Crash Normal hot on the heels of their recent 10". A-Side action gets me excited. "Cute" is Sixties garage given a modern flair, very stylish double vocals and innovative synth work, downbeat and danceable. Killer kut. "Like It" is poppier but still rocks in a somewhat robotic way. The B-Side gets deep, two more experimental pieces, one slow, manly and guttural, the other sultry, femme and slinky, and the better of the two. Actually sounds like a JSBX burn chopped and slowed to halfspeed and given some female vox. Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Compost Modern Art // myspace.com/compostmodernart)
Self worth ruins collaborations. Compressed into oblivion, various facets lost to the digital void.(JC)
(Prank // www.prankrecords.com)
Dark Ages "Vicious Lie" EP
Anti-political and anti-religious hardcore from Kansas City. Looking at the sleeve, this could be confused for a Government Warning or Terminal State record from a glance. Reminds me of the State, which is weird, because I never thought The State were all that memorable. Some complex guitar parts, some technical proficiency holding the speedy songs together, but in the end nothing you're gonna remember after you listen to the new Direct Control LP. Scum stats: 500 copies, 100 on color.(RK)
(Cowabunga Records // www.cowabungarecords.com)
Death Dust Extractor s/t 7"
Play a Sore Throat tape and Anti Cimex tape at the same time. Point the speakers into the Grand Canyon. This record comes out. Essential crust warfare. (JC)
(Crust War // order from Punk and Destroy - punx.exblog.jp)
Drunkdriver "Fire Sale" 7"
"Fire Sale" is just a total fucking ripper. A violent riff, avalanche drums and Berdan showing his fangs. A recipe for success. Best band in NYC now that LFD are buried. "It Never Happened" builds at a stagger, flailing in bursts of drums and feedback like a howling animal with a broken back, unitl the last minute of furious release and death. Yeah, it's one of their moodier cuts. "Fire Sale" just makes me want to crash into things at high speeds. So good.(RK)
(Fashionable Idiots // www.fashionableidiotsrecords.com)
DeaD At 24 "Blast off Motherfucker!" LP
DA24 existed in Pittsburgh for a few brief years in the late Nineties, another in the long-standing tradition of bands practically unknown and in their own time and nearly forgotten by anyone who wasn't in their inner circle or avid cassette buyers. The Laughner reference of their name gives you a good inclination of where they're going musically, an interesting blend of Cleveland art damage and Burma-esque effects twiddle twisted into slowed down and darkened indie-pop. A remarkably bullshit-free approach whose main dempographic might have been the two or three indie rockers in town that actually sniffed glue. No wonder they didn't last too long in a Pittsburgh era ruled by Don Cab. This LP is acyually a vinylized version of one of their cassettes (they made two, their only releases aside from a comp track), and it seemingly couldn't have been issued at a better time. Followers of the Siltbreeze religion, or people who just dig Pink Reason, gobblers of Mirrors reissues and purchasers of unearthed Easter Monkeys records would certainly be pleased to fall into DA24's dronery. A revitalizing record that reminded me that no matter how much you think you know, there's still so much good stuff lost out there. And quite honestly, when I put this on before looking at the booklet I could've placed this as being recorded anywhere from 1978 to 1987. I would've never pegged this for late Nineties Pittsburgh. Great stuff. Scum stats: limited to 300 and dirt cheap. Fidelity is great and most tracks, screened sleeves and insert/booklet are a plus.(RK)
(Ride the Snake // www.ridethesnakerecords.com)
DC Snipers s/t LP
There was a time in the early-to-mid 00's when NYC was pretty much a wasteland for good music, at least in our little niche of the underground. You had sub-par outfits like Some Action and Electric Shadows representing the metropolis of the world on the garage-punk scene. The Little Killers tried to shoulder the load, but weren't up to the task. Andy G couldn't do it all himself. Shop Fronts were pulling a little-train-that-could number. And then sometime in 2006 came debut LPs from a couple of (at that point) pretty much unheard bands called Livefastdie and DC Snipers, ushering in a new wave of Big Apple garage-punk (some of it even ex-Some Action?!) that blossomed and brought us into our modern age of Blank Dogs and Captured Tracks and Liquor Store and whathaveyou. This might seem like an outsider opinion, and perhaps it is, but tell me there wasn't a big slump in the NYC scene there that these bands appeared to be the remedy for. They were at least the first NYC acts in a long while I was excited about. Livefastdie seemed short for this life from the start, as their extremist beliefs in wailing guitar leads and being punk as fuck would surely burn them up (or out) eventually. And they did close up shop just this year, leaving a wake of poorly recorded and highly sought after seven inch singles behind. RIP bros. DC Snipers on the other hand seemed like they might be in it for the long haul. 'Missile Sunset' has a certain wizened nuance to it. Sure, they were playing punk rock, but they really weren't that stupid. Not fancy boys, but a bit more sophisticated than your average bonehead. Sadly, the Snipers didn't make it too far out of the gate. After the LP and a couple of split releases they seemed to disappear, with Mr. Mike Sniper moving on to bigger things, rising like a lo-fi phoenix out the ashes and other members moving out-of-state and into Spider Bags and more I'm sure. But the DC Snipers did have more to give the world, an LPs worth of tunes recorded before their dissolution or hiatus or whatever (actually, I'm not 100% sure they actually ever broke up), rescued and polished by some band members who still cared and released in no-frills packaging by America's current #1 garage-punk label Daggerman Records (and Mr. Daggerman himself is actually ex-DC Snipers as well if I'm not mistaken). Was it worth the time and effort to release an LP by a now seemingly defunct band? I'm gonna have to say hell yes. One the finest punk rock'n'roll records of the year. Somewhat seedy sounding in a Times Square way, but having a slightly mature feel to it as well that belies the shitbag vibes of some of their previous outings. Or as mature as a band singing a song called "Ice Pirates" can sound. Their punk rock on this album is not so much full of slop and snot but of controlled furor and force. Some of these tunes actually remind a bit of RFTC or Hot Snakes or some shit in their guitar rock fire (but without the lame indie rock bits). "Reaction" is a smashing lead off homer. "Zagreb City Boys" is nonsensically hooky garage. "Ice Pirates" just rules. "TBM" is an epic side closer. "I Want Some Knives" delivers the punk. All parties invovled should be thanked for allowing this record to see the light of day while it still had a chance and not left it to be doomed to absolute obscurity forever. If only there was even more... Scum stats: Limited to 400 copies (that burn at 45rpm), you better get one now before they all get snatched up by Blank Dogs completists looking to hear what his early "punk" records sounded like.(RK)
(Daggerman Records // www.daggermanrecords.com)
Emeralds “Fresh Air” 7”
Spacey little disc that rewards after a few extra spins. Initially I kinda wrote it off as new age pap mixed with Brian Eno or a Seventies German film score. It was pretty much just background sounds as I cleaned my house. But now I’m getting a sense of the textures sprouting up and I’m starting to dig it. Pay attention and it slowly covers you like a heroin snow blanket. Shimmering shards of amplified carnival glass (well, that sounds pretentious…). Uplifting, yet still weighing you down to the couch. It should go on for ever, really. Hard to get lost in the effect when you have to spring up and flip the damn thing. Not normally my thing, but then again, it’s not half bad. Head cleaning effects and a panic reducer that if listened to repeatedly for hours on end it could turn you religious. The sleeve art is beautiful too. Really frigging ltd. and expensive. Clear vinyl. 420 copies. (RSF)
(A Sound Design Records // www.polarenvy.com)
Estrogen Highs "Luxury Is God" EP
Sneaky self-released single from the Estrogen Highs, their third in total. "Echo" is more of their lo-fi garage rock that gets over on a nifty stylophone ride by guest musician Mikey of Medication. Okay, but not their catchiest tune. B-Side is a mildly psychedelic indie-rocker "They Told Me I was Everything" that sounds unlike anything they've done previous. I think this is the more intriguing cut, it shows some progression/maturation and has me hopeful for their upcoming LP 'Tell It To Them' on Deadbeat.(RK)
(Never Heard of It // myspace.com/estrogenhighs)
Factorymen "Shitman" LP
Probably the most bizarre record I've heard all year, and I mean that. I'm having difficulty deciding whether this LP is simply one man's artistic expression or one man's extended practical joke. Either way, it succeeds. I have doubts that the man behind this LP listens to a lot of Blank Dogs records, and maybe I'm just imposing my own interpretaion, but I get the feeling some of these tracks are taking the piss somehow (are titles like "Bark Like Dog" or "Blank Dream" just coincidence? Or bait?). Maybe I'm wrong, who knows. I doubt we'll get any explanation any time soon. Fourteen tracks of home-recorded inanity and insanity. Vocals stretched, cut up, slowed down, sped up, sampled, cheap synths are abused and looped (backward and forward), easy listening songs are appropriated in their entirety, tracks are created from snippets of conversation and cricket sounds. Side A actually contains the "songs", and many of them are of fairly high quality considering the genre (lo-fi-one-man-home-recording?), with an obviously strange and creepy bent. "Kissing The Rapist" does sound like Eighties zombie movie synth work. The baby crying and whispering on "Alleyman" lend the ridiculous vocals and lyrics some sort of surreal quality that keeps you from laughing. I think. But the B-Side where shit really goes overboard. It's equally confusing and fascinating to try and figure out how and why someone would make this music, take the time to cut these samples and songs and noises together and have the public hear them. The fact that you feel like you're missing some essential piece to this puzzle is what makes it infuriatingly interesting. If you consider yourself the type of person who is into weird music, this is a pretty good litmus test as to whether that's a true statement or not, as it puts all other bedroom superstars to shame. You'll hear nothing like this record this year, or any other year.(RK)
(Richie Records // testostertunes.blogspot.com)
The Famines "Free Love" 7"
Self-proclaimed "noise-garage duo" from Edmonton. They sound pretty smart, technically proficient and ready for radio airplay. Nardwuar supposedly likes them, but the Human Serviette likes just about anything. His endorsement carries about as much weight as Norb's these days. Both songs on this are pretty standard rock stuff, nothing really all that noisy. Not so garagey either, it's a little too smart for that tag. Thinking mans guitar/drums tight jamming, pretty straight. What more can I say? The sleeves are really nice. Sort of borderline mainstream/alt-rock stuff that Alive/Total Energy puts out, but without any of the rawness or rock action. I can't really describe it...maybe if you combined Nomeansno and Lightning Bolt, but took out all of the punk rock stuff and all of the bombastic energy. You'd be left with this.(RK)
(Reluctant Recordings // www.thefamines.ca)
Finally Punk "Casual Goths" LP
Compilation of Finally Punk's vinyl releases to date, and then some. This album provides inspiration to girls everywhere, showing that any bunch of chicks with good fashion sense can start a band and play their intruments badly (or barely) and screech/talk over the resulting racket. I'd managed to not hear a Finally Punk record until now, and while I don't necessarily wish I could go back in time, I don't feel so good about it either. I almost feel ike I shouldn't be listening to this. It's music made by girls, for girls, correct? They thank Mom. They use a squeak toy as an instrument....You know, kudos for justifying the existence of Bikini Kill and keeping the Ari Up bloodline going and all that females-can-do-it-just-like-the-guys jazz. But unless you're making some music that's even a fraction as listenable as Kleenex or the Slits, I don't want to hear about it. I'm as much a supporter of the DIY ethos as any, but I sometimes get the feeling when listening to this stuff that it's more about the statement than the music ("We're girls, we can do this as good and sloppy as the boys, watch this..."). Fine, I in no way want to deny you your right to be a shitty sounding band. That being said, the latter half of this record is far superior to the first half. Making progress and all. If you're already shaft deep in this band, might as well throw your balls in and buy this too.(RK)
(Army of Bad Luck // www.armyofbadluck.com)
Fresh Meat "Leather Daddy" 7"
Waittaminute....did I just put on a Francis Harold 7" on accident? No, this is Fresh Meat. From Allentown, home of many weirdos. Echoed to hell vocals, dirge-punk rhythms, squealy guitars. Dude wearing a mask on the sleeve. Ominous lyrics. I'm not saying that these guys are trying to hard to adopt the "mysterious/scary hardcore + Clockcleaner" aesthetic, but they're going to fall into that category for many regardless. Personally, I sort of like the genre, it's better than a lot of other garbage floating around the indie-underground. At least it's heavy and punk. Some punishing riffs and drums here and I'm sort of glad I can't read the lyrics. I'm hoping "Get To Work" is just about this guy hating the douchebags at his job, not some contrived rapist/stalker/killer fantasy. Scum stats: 600 copies, 100 with alt cover.(RK)
(Fashionable Idiots // www.fashionableidiots.com)
Guilty Hearts "Pearls Before Swine" LP/CD
Los Angeles. Not a great scene for garage rock these days...hell, not since the Eighties, really. The second generation outings were a great time (Beguiled/Morlocks/Fuzztones/etc.) but nowadays...dead-dead-deadski. A bunch of lamestains in matching denim vests and sunglasses that only appeal to RockaBilly and Betty, rollerderby fans and that wannabe pirate of a pap smear, Little Steven. Good God. Somehow dumptruck-thud noisemakers The Lamps and Larry Hardy manage to stick it out in that swill...and so do The Guilty Hearts. The last band standing. True rawk, rhythm n' blews trash not seen in these parts since Estrus went freedom rock or Crypt went...um...well, went. Diddley-beats and fuzz-layers for the purist, or at least, the pure Poison 13 lover out there. These guys have been putting out platters quietly for years to hardly a peep. Very little stateside appraisal. Damn shame. They do it old school, and they do it real good. Higher-fi than the SF Budget stuff and not suckling the Oblivians teat as much as the Euros did, The Guilty hearts have there own primitive downer charm that make me miss the isle of Garage Shock, 1995. Buncha burly dudes with a strong pedigree (Blood In The Saddle for one and The Starvations another. Yeah...get over yer GSL-hipster hating ways. They put on a great live show...and yer still listening to John Dwyer while reading this, ya creeps!) They've managed to swallow up an Altamont member (good for him, I ain't really dug those guys) and he's laying down bottom end now to thicken their sound. There's a ton o' punch in these grooves and arrows pointing to the old school LA Lineage with songs like the acid drenched "Forbidden Wayout" or Gun Club swagger of "Shake". Serious Sixties meat and taters crunch with syrupy slide work of the Alex Cuervo school...which takes up round trip back to that familiar Texas Poison...check "Seven Days" or "Don't Wanna Know" to see for yourself. Distorted vox that still has something to say and sayin' it well. Show some vets (and all around nice dudes) the respect they deserve. In closing, any band that wraps a tune up with Painted Ships' "She Says Yes" is a'ight in my book. Good Shit.(RSF)
(Voodoo Rhythm Records // www.voodoorhythm.com)
Grids “Suits” 7”
As we know, AmRep is back and Grids, like many, bought a ticket on the train. They’re smack in the middle of the pack with this EP, a competent genre release but lacking any real standout qualities. They have a song called “Maeby” but, sadly, best I can tell it’s not about the Fünkes. (DH)
(Lunchbox Records // www.lunchboxrecords.com)
Gut Reactions "Bored" EP
Third single from Milwaukee's Gut Reactions, and even though I wasn't a huge fan of their records they seemed to be getting a little better from the first to the second. I also seem to remember them being a little more garage-punky previously, but on this they sound more garage-rocky. "Bored" and "The Ballad of Logan Potter" sound like they're emulating The Mistreaters and coming up a bit short. "Leave Me Alone" is them ripping off the Rip Offs. Snooze.(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
The Hatepinks "Sick Cake" 12"
One of the worst fucking bands EVER. It sickens me that these guys still get records released.(RK)
(P.Trash Records // www.ptrashrecords.com)
Herds s/t 7"
Very well recorded hardcore blazers from mystic Milwaukee toughs. Drummer is a heavy hitter, sounds real good, guitars are shredded with few fancy moves, just straight ahead riff-force. They're working an interesting theme, sort of a spiritual/naturalistic vibe. Song titles: "Full Wolf Moon","Vultures", "Antlers", "Horse-Breaking". Choice lyrics: "The earth is mine/you will submit" or how about "Slowly moves the fog/snow-covered trees turn to sky". Really, it's a great concept, and makes things a lot more interesting than another song about hating your job or politics or stalking some broad. I think it lends added heft to some already heavy tunes. Nothing sloppy here, well calculated and executed songs full of strength and angry intelligence. "Horse-Breaking" is built for serious heavy pitting. I'm intrigued enough to want to hear the LP. Scum stats: 600 copies, beautiful and thick double-sided screened sleeves.(RK)
(Fashionable Idiots // www.fashionableidiots.com)
Hjertestop "Aarh fuck..." EP
Latest in a long line of successful Danish punk bands, this one features members of Incontrollados, whose few recordings I liked a lot. Trebly and scrappy guitar punk furthering the K-Town sound, which in itself references Eighties core/punk from Reagan Youth to Adolescents and such, but has sort of become its own thing now. From APA to Young Wasteners to NHFTK, Hjertestop seem to be the next big band in that lineage. I guess they might be considered the frontrunners of the second wave of K-Town bands. This is a domestic repress of their debut 7" on the Kick'n'Punch label, six songs of frantic foreign language punk. These guys were all over the US recently, and I'm pretty sure they played your town. If they didn't (meaning you live in Bumfuck, MT or somewhere else equally isolated), this is pretty standard stuff. Not as monumental as the bands that came before them (and honestly, not one of these songs is as good as "Sieg Halleluja") but good enough to hold the torch until something better comes along.(RK)
(Fashionable Idiots // www.fashionableidiots.com)
Hul "Den Danske Ungdom" LP
Reissue of Hul's debut and only LP from way back around the turn of the century. Hul were the teenage outfit that spawned classic Danish hardcore bands Amdi Petersen's Arme, Young Wasteners and No Hope for the Kids. Ground zero for K-Town hardcore. It's inspiring how accomplished this LP for a bunch kids who were all 13 or 14 years old at the time. Non-stop drum hammering, guitars abuzz, and the most charismatic element being Kasper's pre-pubescent voice which breaks and cracks all over the place, giving the tunes such a beautiful exuberance. There's really nothing more exciting than getting to hear a bunch of kids who are so excited to be playing and living punk rock before they become as old and jaded as you are. It's a magic moment and Hul rip through fifteen tracks of KBD-style hardcore with the boundless and zitfaced energy only your teen years can provide. A great record, and one I'll probably listen to more than APA or NHFTK records in years to come. Produced by Peter from the Sods!(RK)
(Hjernespind // www.hjernespind.com)
Insubordinates "1968" 7"
Debut release from Rochester NY's Insubordinates, who (along with other acts like Rational Animals, Bad Taste, Brain Car and more) are part of a vital and undeniably punk scene thriving in that small city. Exciting things coming from Rotcore, I am warning you to pay attention now. Firstly, these aren't just a bunch of piss-pantsed kids drooling all over mics and guitar (although they do that as well), there is a vision at work here. Everything about this single is analog, from the recording, to the mastering, to the printing (which looks amazing). Even the art proofs for the screens were made with an analog photocopier, I shit you not. "1968" is political satire (and a perhaps even satire on the political punk song in general), possessed of a young and dark Agent Orange-esque punk feel. Frantic. In true oldies fashion they populate the B-Side with a shadowy surf-punk instrumental. A good record from a great scene and a harbinger of things to come.(RK)
(Feral Kid Records // myspace.com/feralkidrecords)
Jet Boys "Teenage Thunder Revisited" LP
The Jet Boys had the bad luck of being a Japanese punk band in the age of Teengenerate, Guitar Wolf, Registrators and others, always existing in that shadow, even surpassed in many of our memories by your Havenots, Phantom Rats, Gyogun Rends and others. Perhaps it was fortunate they were part of that Jap-rock boom as well, as they did get plenty of wax out on SFTRI, Get Hip, Dionysus and other US labels. The attention-getter for the Jet Boys was obviously Onoching's naked wildman antics and over-the-top song titles like "Masturbation Baby", "I Shit My Pants" or "I Wanna Fuck Myself" (the latter two of which aren't included here, by the way). A bit more vulgar than their contemporaries, maybe more out of control (and sloppy), and owing a little more to the Devil Dogs and Detroit rock than others of their time. I bought a few Jet Boys records throughout the Nineties, and sadly, no matter how energetic or punk rock they are, they're still destined to be no more than a footnote to the Japanese garage glory days. This LP contains their first record, which had only been on CD until now, bolstered with four bonus cuts, two previously unreleased. Again, it's Japanese punk, done pretty damn good, but not good enough that I'm ever going to pick this out of the stacks before even the TV Idols LP.(RK)
(Demolition Derby // www.demderby.com)
Judgement "Just Be" 7"
Grab for money or attention towards the collector's market? Digital drink turned to analog ailment. Serves only as extra pain sauce as youths attempt to track down 'Process', 'No Reason Why', etc.(JC)
(HG.Fact // www.interq.or.jp/japan/hgfact/)
Kim Phuc "Weird Skies" 7"
It's wonderful and exciting to hear a band really start to hit their stride, and that's exactly what these Steeltown heroes are doing on their latest single. "Weird Skies" distill their essence fairly succintly and aromatically. The menace of metal riffage, and the darkened and triumphant manner in which those riffs are delivered, the x-factor of frontman Rob Henry, the blackness inside us all looking back at us. I feel this band. "Suicide Circle" is all grim guitar, nausea inducing pacing and build-up that torturously never gets fully released (yet leaves you satisfied), with tasteful guest backing vocals from a female presence these guys had to have paid for. I think I get where Kim Phuc are going, and I'm both scared and elated that they are taking me there. I will drop several dollars for an LP as quality as this single.(RK)
(Dear Skull Records // )
GG King "Drug Zoo" 7"
Three tracks from the 'Last of the Night Wiggers' tape on vinyl (leaving three tracks leftover for another good single). From my vicarious and limited knowledge of the ATL music scene, the band is GG King (Carbonas front man Greg) on vox (and sometime guitar/drums), Clay from Carbonas on guitar, Chris (the guy who replaced Jesse in the Carbonas) on bass, and the drummer from Beat Beat Beat, with assists from two other ex-Carbonas via recording (Will) and mastering (the legendary Dave Rahn). Talk about keeping it in the family. Now that the 'boners are done for, this is definitely the best outfit to emerge from the rubble. "Drug Zoo" is a mid-tempo garage rocker that obviously sounds like a slower Carbonas tune, with a great shouted refrain and a stomping break. "Witching Hour" is my fave on this one, sloppy punk with a touch of class. Third track is a cover of "The Letter", which might've been better off left on the tape. In sum, not as blazing as the 'Adult Rock' 7", but this will sate any mourners of GG's previous band. First 100 copies come with a poster.(RK)
(Rob's House Records // www.robshouserecords.com)
Leathervein s/t LP
I've had this one kicking around the office for a bit, giving it a few weekly spins while coming to a verdict on it. I think I legitimately like it, but maybe in a guilty pleasure sort of way. It's not meant to be taken too seriously, which makes it a fun record to throw on at times when you don't want to have to think too hard about what you're listening to. It's absolute hard rawk, mixing classics like Motorhead, Priest and Poison Idea and coming out sounding a bit like Gluecifer or even a less proficient and Danish Annihilation Time. It certainly has some gonads behind it, tough leads and tight rhythms, and they certainly succeed at what they are going for. Vocals fit the genre well, just harsh enough. Good sense of humor too, as evidenced by the cover art and a song about being on the cover of MRR. Excellent for what it is, high voltage thrashy hardcore punk and the songs are actually rather well done. They might not all stick in your head, but as a whole LP the thing shreds nice. Features members of NHFTK, Hjertestop and Arrigt Antrek.(RK)
(Hjernespind // www.hjernespind.com)
Logic Problem "No Center" EP
These dudes have now released records on Sorry State, Grave Mistake and No Way Records, completing a Southern label trifecta of sorts, and they deserve the releases, as they do that no-frills Mid-Atlantic sort of hardcore (well, they're from NC, but you get what I mean...) without being too overly retro-conscious or striving to be weird/mysterious. Just no nonsense intensity, nothing fancy. Grip-it-and-rip-it sort of workmanlike stuff. Four songs, "Rope Burn" and "Sarcophagus" make me the most pleased. Sort of like an angrier and American Career Suicide at moments. A step upwards from the debut EP.(RK)
(Grave Mistake // www.gravemistakerecords.com)
Los Raw Gospels "La Fiesta De La Muerte" LP
This came in for review recently, but looking at the labels it says it was released in 2007. But I'm giving it a go anyway. A lot of the UK garage scene seems to still be locked into Nineties-mode, meaning skulls and flames and other things Estrusian/Dionysian. Los Raw Gospels (whose geneology probably has ties to Black Time at some point) obviously float a big Day of the Dead skeletons-n-voodoo swampy vibe out there, but manage to be a bit more than the average scary garagesters by flavoring their blues-trash with a little DIY spirit and abandon and getting a little wilder and shittier-fi than most. Treading no new ground, sure, but at least walking over graves with a bit of swagger. Most of you could probably look at this record and tell me what it sounds like: Cramps meets Billy Childish in Memphis, perhaps. But it's the moments where they reach into the The Beguiled/Necessary Evils bag-o-tricks that manage to elevate some of the material. Garage turkeys, but still a good bit better than many of their UK contemporaries.(RK)
(P.Trash Records // www.ptrashrecords.com)
Margaret Thrasher "Moderate Rock" LP
Whenever I see this band's name, I have the debate with myself as to which is a better (or worse) name: Margaret Thrasher or George Moshington. Having never knowingly heard either band for some time, I always thought of MT as like some serious Canadian politico-punks. And GM as maybe like East Coast heavy pitting-core. I've now heard heard Margaret Thrasher, and they're just bad punk rock. Advantage George Moshington. I hope I never have to hear them.(RK)
(P.Trash Records // wwww.ptrashrecords.com)
Mayyors "Deads" 12" EP
The best Mayyors release to date. I was trying to justify why this is, and came up with this reasoning: if you've been punched in the face more than a few times in your life, you remember certain things. You almost always remember who it was that punched you. But you rarely remember actual punches, unless they were real bell-ringers. With the first two Mayyors 7"es, I remembered the Mayyors well enough. But I'll be damned if I can remember any of the songs right now. On this 12", well, there's a couple shots to the head to remember this time. The 1-2 combo of "The Crawl" and "Ghost Punch" (hey, I didn't even realize how well that fit...) is Mayyors at their best. Loud, barreling down on your ass, over-the-top aggro pummel. Punches and sounds to reminisce about. The flip is two more tracks of primo scree with Woodhouse putting on a pedal-rock clinic. Not as TKO inducing as the A-Side, but definitely not filler either. I'd label this one as pretty essential, at least more so than the singles. First press on black wax with mud-encrusted covers. Repress with plain sleeves.(RK)
(Hurling Man // www.mtstmtn.com)
Dan Melchior "Obscured By Fuzz" LP
Who can keep up? There's some debate as to the pros/cons of artists releasing what could be considered an overwhelming amount of records in a brief period. Dan Meclhior is one of those artists. Does it diminish the "Art" at all by flooding the market? Does it make the releases that much less relevant or interesting the more that there are? Or is it mereley the artist exercising his right to do whatever he feels is right (as long as there are labels and consumers willing to play along)? I'm obviously of the belief that less is more. I'm more than happy when a band I enjoy has a bunch of records I can listen to. But once it reaches the point of more than I can count on one hand within a year, I'm going to say that's excessive. Melchior so far in 2009: four singles and two LPs (one of them a double) and there's still three months left (and at least two more records due that I know of). And I'm a fan. None of these records entirely suck, sure, but they seem a lot less special when they come in such multitudes. I won't deny an artist their right to release what they wish, especially when the demand is expressed from labels and the record buying populace. But I do question the reasoning occassionally. Is it just because a label asked? Are artists simply taking orders and rattling off the songs? "Oh, I need to write and record that LP for (insert label) this week. Better get to work...(phone rings)...Hello? You want to do a single with me? Let me see, I could probably record it next month between this 12" I owe this guy and this other 7" I'm doing for this other label. I'll send you the tracks and art in four weeks." It seems sort of assembly-line like. Just because a possible demand might exist, does that mean that a record needs to be made to fulfill it? Shouldn't it work more organically than that? I'm not saying this is the case with Dan Melchior in particular. I would imagine the guy has a years-long backlog of songs. I'm just using this particular review as a soapbox. I'm a lover of music (and not a creator of it, so all you bands reading this, I can't argue with your point that my opinion must obviously mean shit because of that), so I wonder about these things. If someone hadn't asked for some songs, would they have been written anyway? If someone hadn't asked, would those demos have stayed in the closet? There's more questions to be asked, more points to touch on, but I'll continue with this some other time. Just think about it a little. I should review this record now...
My favorite thing about Melchior is that he usually has something to say about the current state of the underground. Sometimes the references are less overt, and sometimes maybe I'm twisting his lyrics to my own interpretations, but on records/songs like 'This Is Not The Medway Sound' or 'Garage Obituary' or "Span of Attention", his disdain for the scene/genre he's been typecast into at that moment (whether rightfully so or not) is fascinating. He didn't enjoy being painted as a Childish crony so he said something about it. "Garage Rock" was a bloated corpse he was unjustly being chained to, so he told us so. NYC was a shitty scene for him, so he wrote and sang about it. I enjoy these missives of palpable vitriol and his unwillingness to be tied to anything. A true loner artist. That he sometimes seems to be kicking sand in the faces of his fanbase is actually commendable in my mind. He refuses to pander to perhaps draw in some marginal fans. He won't allow himself to be guilty by association, he just takes his show elsewhere. If you want to follow him, so be it. I won't deny him his anger, it's one of his more interesting facets. And I imagine he enjoys playing the whole Englishman-amongst-the-savages role as well. So, "Obscured By Fuzz" lobs a salvo at his latest targets of hate, which I guess might be the whole lo-fi/shitgaze thing (plus a whole lot more shit people on Termbo are probably into). Choice lyrics snippets: "they hit the fuzz switch to add some mystery.."..."I need a shave/my face is obscured by fuzz/my song needs a shave"..."they all sing for in the red"..."waves crashing over my poor head"...(how many vees should that waves lyric have?). Dan's perhaps brushed too close to a "scene' he doesn't want any part of yet again, and he likes it none. A theme continued on "Message Board Gnomes Part One", an anti-collector/nerd sort of rant (which is really just shooting fish in a barrel, isn't it?) about merch table salivating and "filthy slobs with nominal jobs". Yes, a broadside right at the people who are probably buying a good portion of the pressing of his numerous records. You have to love the guy. Such a misanthrope at times. Such a desire to not be categorized. And he's right about some of it. And I think his need to be identified as such an individual resonates within a lot of us. None of us think we're like the rest. I'm no collector scum like the rest. I don't like that shit. We're all such individuals aren't we? Or least when it's one looking at the rest? I would imagine Dan has a "nominal" day job too, right? Anyway, those two songs are some of the high points of this batch, surrounded by more variations on his expatriate DIY-folk tunes, most enjoyable are the sections that sound rather Sixties psych/garage. "Lets Go Deeper" is very Pink Floyd-ish, "Carl Iz Banal" is like Barrett-gone-country, "Smut!" is smolderingly fantastic guitar rock excess, "Muggy Weather" is fey popsike (yuck), "Citadel" is intriguing cut-n-paste garage/spoken-word. Overall, a pretty enjoyable effort for a few listens and a half-dozen good tracks to chew on, as this two paragraph review proves. So maybe my "too many releases" argument is all bullshit anyway? Well, what about the half-dozen tracks on this that I could care less about hearing again? We can argue that out next time.(RK)
(Topplers // www.topplers.net)
Meth Teeth "Everything Went Wrong" LP
The artwork on this album is so shitty I get mad every time I see it, ruining part of the experience of what is actually a pretty decent debut LP from a band that I think sounds like a really wimpy Hunches (in a good way). They touch on that same wistful sort of garage-rock, but in a lo-fi folksy way, instead of the force-of-nature way The Hunches could. I hate to say something as petty as artwork can ruin a record, but really, look at this thing. Fucking awful. Actually, I refuse to put a picture of this on TB. So shitty. I feel bad for Meth Teeth, because I'm pretty sure they didn't come up with it.(RK)
(Woodsist // www.woodsist.com)
Middle America "Every Night" 7"
Hardcore with pained vocals and blurry speed. Sounds real hateful and angry and full of venom, but not in any remarkable way. I'm going to have to recommend a pass on this. "Scars" abuses a Black Flag riff needlessly. The vocals are borderline ridiculous. SCARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRS.(RK)
(Fashionable Idiots // www.fashionableidiots.com)
Migraine s/t EP
Hardcore power-moves from Concord, CA. Metallic, borderline powerviolence, throaty and muscular vocals, maximum guitar shred/riffage, blastbeaty drumming. Lyrically, it's all death and funerals and shit, image-wise it's Stalin and evil tarot cards. "Funeral Oration" is really cool, a deep and dirgey crawl with Young Frankenstein soundbites instead of vocals. 440 copies on black Wax, 110 on gold Wax. They namedrop Infest and United Mutation, and while I wouldn't go quite that far, they give it a good go.(RK)
(Stress Domain Records // www.stressdomainrecords.com)
Mr. California and J. O'Phetamine "I Wish You Would Die In A Fire" EP
Mr. California doing his thing with support from Joe of Shoot It Up. Eight tracks of bad taste packed on here, sounds like Mr. C on drum machine and bass while Joe provides hot licks, which are the best part. There are some goofy fun cuts, such as "Show Me Your Tits" and "Cold Colt 45". Then there's some seriously disturbing material, such as him dead-panning "I'm Gonna Rape You" or "Pyro Death". A truly deviant mind at work here, and the rumor I've heard that Mr. C has relocated to Cleveland makes total sense. Pretty sick shit for all you weirdos out there.(RK)
(My Mind's Eye // www.mymmindseyerecords.com)
Mr. California & The State Police "Shrimp & Chocolate" LP
What more am I going to say about Mr. California at this stage of the game? He hasn't changed his style so much over his dozens of releases, although I do feel he's perfected his formula and is at his most listenable point of his career these days. He's getting better with age. As the sticker on the sleeve proclaims, this LP "Includes 'The Butt Song'", which I immediately recognize from Shoot It Up recordings. Who's covering who? I gotta know. Great song. A-Side of this is sixteen tracks of Mr. C with a drumbox, sampler, keyboards and some guitar, waxing weird about shit as usual. The lyric sheet helps. The delirious "BLS" might be the best of the side, with some raving non-sequitir lyrics which turn into Mr. C doing some Anthony Kiedis-isnspired scat nonsense. One his less creepy records actually, pretty good stuff about sex and hate. On the B-Side he dips into some noise bullhock, a half-dozen or so harsh instrumentals, a few more actual songs and closes with a stunning rendition of Benatar's "Heart Breaker". Show stopper. Produced by Davide of Grabbies fame. I think you gotta get this one right from the man himself.(RK)
(self-released // myspace.com/mrcalifornia)
Movie Star Junkies "Junkyears: Rarities and Farm Recordings 2005-2007" LP
Checking my pre-review notes, I have to refer to a few things. I've enjoyed their singles/EPs very much. The "Melville" LP notsomuchso. A little too dense perhaps, but a remarkable concept to undertake regardless. I don't think they get all the attention they deserve because of two strikes against them: a misleading band name coupled with the fact they are Italian. Movie Star Junkies (from Italy) conjures images of shit-rawk and flaming dice or at least bad punk. But MSJ couldn't be further from that. Operating within the dingy and murky corners of the garage rock spectrum, from Cramps rock oddity to Scientists/Birthday Party slush to Chrome Cranks/Honeymoon Killers NYC scum to modern practicioners like the Blowtops and Demon's Claws. They swing from that family tree, substituting the Aussie swamp or NYC back-alley for Italian farm, which is where the weird shit goes down over there I guess. That these tracks are sort of a trash pile of leftovers/rarities is pretty remarkable, as they make a strong LP. Dark and elemental music, successfully built on a powerful rhythm section and an appropriately forceful lead vocal presence that doesn't careen into cartoonland (or have too bad of an accent). Guitars are wielded with skill, no one-trick sound for every tune, subtle pluck when needed, blown-out when occassions arise. Great sax bleating on most of this and welcome keys here and there. And it's not really just your typical blues-garage, they take some familiar themes and add something special...maybe it's the wine, the farm...they're doing something weird and right. Seven lengthy cuts and six of them are keepers. Don't be shy, take a peek.(RK)
(Avant! Records // myspace.com/avantrecords)
Jeffrey Novak "One Of A Kind" 7"
Jeff's really crawling far out on the limb here. I like where he's going, but he's going to have to rein it in a little at some point or risk losing the listener. Rein what in you ask? I dunno. Maybe go a little easier on the vox, maybe pull the arm he's jammed elbow deep into the Jolly Olde English cracker barrel out a little bit. "One of A Kind" is really keen, he imagines to marinate his faux-British Invasion songsmithery with a little bit of psychedelia via some well imagined keyboard sounds and interesting pacing. "Short Trip Home" on the flip shows some excess. It sounds like a parody of the sound I imagine he's trying to achieve, as if Monty Python were doing a skit making fun of his last couple of records. Silly. He's treading a real fine line, this kid, but it's exciting to watch so far, I must admit.(RK)
(Sweet Rot Records // myspace.com/sweetrotrecords)
Thee Oh Sees "Help!" LP/CD
The thing 'Help' has going against it is that it's the record following their masterpiece ('Master's Bedroom...'), so unless by some ungodly measure they make a record better than that, it's going to disappoint some people or at least get them into "It's not that good.." mode. I call bullshit on that. It's a great record, at the least a damn good one, and yes of course not as great as their last overall, but stronger in other ways. "Enemy Destruct" is a massive hard-rocking album opener of Rickey Henderson-esque leadoff proportions. In oppostion to the ethereality of 'Master's...', 'Help' has the band sounding like a rock band first and foremost, and neo-psychedelic tricksters second, perhaps grounded a bit by the Woodhouse production. "Ruby Go Home" is expansive garage-pop. "Meat Step Lively" almost sounds like freakbeat turned sideways. Yes, killer flute solo, I know. Some people complained that the album contains some filler, and the next two "tracks" are just that, before closing the side on the dreamy "Can You See?". B-Side comes out strong, "Rainbow" is fa-fa-fantastic rock'n'pop. "Go Meet The Seed" keeps up the ba-ba-ba chorus, and it's all cool and lively, but they drag it out a little too long. You can't argue with the harmonies though. "I Can't Get No" is frantic, like a nervous and twitchy spin on young Kinksy/Stones beat. Sort of empty and toss off sounding, but still not bad, and a good and needed pace changer. "Soda St. #1" is close to the big sound of 'Master's...' with it's cascading drums, doubled vox, dreamy ahhhs and oooohs. "Destroyed Fortress Reappears" is self-referential filler. "Peanut Butter Oven" ends with low-key psychedelica. I've listened to this record a ton, and a few tracks are throwaway/rush jobs, but there's no doubt in my mind this is still a great record, and one of the better ones of the year. Fake garage, my ass.(RK)
(In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
Thee Oh Sees "In The Shadow of the Giant" 7"
I'll tell you what, I couldn't be happier that I decided not to join the Sub Pop singles club. I know, I could've subscribed and sold them all on eBay and doubled or tripled my money, but what kind of dick does shit like that? Thanks to friends, I've managed to acquire the two or three releases I really wanted to hear and have been disappointed by each of them. This one is no exception. "In the Shadow..." is just a faint glimmer of an idea for a song that they plan on recording for real at some other time. "She Said To Me" (which is actually labeled as a demo), is the most palatable offering here, more acoustic strumming with wispy vocals and some flute. "Where People Do Drugs" sounds like they came up with it in five minutes while fucking around in their practice space. Sounds rushed, half-baked and not well thought out. The best part of this record is the band photo on the sleeve. Red vinyl, I think these were limited to 1000? (RK)
(Sub Pop // www.subpop.com)
Thee Oh Sees "Zork's Tape Bruise" LP+CD
Sure, I went an ordered the shit out of this right when it came out. This record should be credited to Jon Dwyer, and not Thee Oh Sees. But since he is apparently the creative force behind the band, I guess it's allowed. All this contains are Dwyer's four track demos mapping out the songs from 'Help' and a few more tunes. Worth hearing? Maybe once. Unless you are really really really down with this band all the way, like back to when it was Dwyer and some dude with a saw playing folk music. Me, I only pick up the story post-'Sucks Blood'. And I get off the bus briefly here until they release a new studio record. The CD is handy for loading their OOP singles tracks onto your iPod though. Probably too little too late for many of you, but you can totally pass on this.(RK)
(Kill Shaman // www.killshaman.com)
Pink Noise "Alpha" LP
I was getting a bit worried about Pink Noise. My personal favorite of the "bedroom scene", I had heard rumors of relocation to Montreal, a meltdown show in NYC, line-up problems, and more. Would Mr. PN have the fortitude to soldier on? Would he cave under the pressure and/or attention? I've mentioned before, I think the thing that makes a "band" in this genre work is that one has to be a truly weird dude. Not just a dude trying to be weird. But I believe 'Alpha' answers the question of whether this guy is weird enough. He is. "Out of time, out of place.." are the first words you hear on this record, and that says as much about the Pink Noise as anything I'm going to write. So much of this one-man-wankery sounds dated minutes after you listen to it, but these tunes come from some un-named time and place you really can't identify. The Suicide vs. Chrome angle he's been working still comes across in spades, with more deranged sci-fi vibes and some true weird-punk action as well. "Go Downtown" is a standout here, no-fi guitar psych with a groove. "Girls on the Street" brings the punk. "Expedition" gets a little Eno-esque. "Love for Sale" has him at his most ominous. Lots of guitars on this one, which really adds an extra dimension to his recordings. A step beyond "Dream Code" in a leaner and meaner direction, with a little less future sci-fi and more of a primal edge. I'm still enthralled as can be by this guy's work, which is leagues ahead of some of the acts he gets lumped in with.(RK)
(Almost Ready // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
Pissed Jeans "King of Jeans" LP/CD
Pissed Jeans' signing with Sub Pop pays major dividends here, as whoever footed the dough and had the idea to get respected metalhead Alex Newport to produce came through with a real stroke of genius there. The sound on this LP is massive, the drums sound like true metal thunder, the low end pushing air from your lungs and giving you that gotta-hit-the-bathroom feeling, crisp and clean and more powerful than ever before. If this LP doesn't get them in big with the Harvey Milk/Hydrahead crowd (or even the Relapse/Southern Lord scene), I don't know what will. Song-wise, I feel it's their strongest batch as well. No more weird experiments like "The Jogger" or some of the more half-baked sludginess of 'Shallow' appear here. It's straight heavy rock, punishing riffs, speeds alternating from Sabbath-via-Electric Wizard stoner crawl ("Spent") to hammer-down face-rippers ("Dream Smotherer"), there's little that doesn't weigh a fucking ton here. Bradley Fry really steps up to the plate as a guitar hero and Matt Korvette continues to perfect his persona, delivering with more authority than on previous records and even taking a stab at singing on "R-Rated Movie". And I can't think of an adjective that won't sound trite when describing the rhythm section. Burly? Muscular? Bludgeoning? A real step forward for the band, I feel like they've compressed and encapsulated their sound here and made a record that might appeal to a wider crowd without compromising any of the dead-end vibe they emit. Remember when the word loser was SubPop's catchphrase? I think we've come full circle here with 'King of Jeans' from these "Beasts of the Banal". The heaviest record of the year for losers everywhere to appreciate. Practically flawless. Scum stats: mailorder versions came on yellow vinyl with a live CD.(RK)
(Sub Pop // www.subpop.com)
Paintbox "Trip, Trance, Travelling" CD
A maestro's masterpiece finally comes to the front. Working with his orchestra to create a new world for all lovers of hardcore punk to live in. What the elderly have waited for and what youths struggle to understand. Absolutely beautiful, like a rainbow over the ocean as you take your last breath and go on to a better place. American vinyl on Prank records in the future.(JC)
(HG.Fact // www.interq.or.jp/japan/hgfact/)
The Pheromoans "Savoury Days" EP
I haven't been as jazzed on a new British band since Black Time first hit the scene as I am on The Pheromoans. UK bands will continue to remind Americans of The Fall (albeit non-intentionally at this point) until the end of time, and it's a "genre" that will always sit well with many, myself included. Art-punk of the highest DIY order. Talked, sputtered, sometimes shouted conversational vocals, occassional forays into out-of-tune jamming, stoically ramshackle rhythm section, frank discussion of UK trends and soccer ("Tattoo Boom"), English society ("Suburban Despot"), random blurps and beeps here and there. "Phantom Darwin" is almost angry, but they never let emotion get in their way. And of course we have the pastiche/cut-up track to close things out, which are useful to keep us Americans up on modern UK slang. Most people are going to say this isn't as good as their debut single on Convulsive, and while those people might be right, this is certainly no step backwards either. Can't we just let a band settle in a bit? Still very much looking forward to the upcoming single on Yakisakana and LP on Convulsive. Scum stats: 255 copies.(RK)
(Savoury Days // savourydays.blogspot.com)
Plexi-3 "Tides of Change" LP
I've said it before, I'll say it again now, this band is nowhere near as good without two girls out front. They should've replaced Fran with another dame and tried to keep the same dynamic going. That being said, this Adam kid writes one of the few good songs on this record, and it's buried on the second side. Fran's vocals actually appear on a couple tracks (the dreadful "Little Vacation" and one of the better tunes here, "Stop & Listen") and Wendy's ode to sending romantic mail, "PO Box 9847", is the highlight of the entire LP. The rest is by the numbers powerpop that just never gets off the ground. Which I find odd, because Wendy and Ryan have been involved with a lot of bands and records I've enjoyed in the past. I really liked this band's first single too. Thought they were good live. But this LP is just chock full of bland songs.(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
Pumice “Persevere” 7”
(I’m reviewing this puppy at both speeds since I’m not sure if it’s right or wrong on either...) On 45: A-Side starts things rolling with a Sublime Frequencies psych-strum that sputters into a warped John Fahey meets gimme indie rock ending. On 33: It’s pretty much the same feelin’, but less worldly and frantic. Duh. Side B offers up double covers: Originals by Michael Hurley and The Axemen. On 45: The Hurley song bumps along like an Oh Sees demo of their folkish past, but with a vocal duet of the newer recordings. I think this supposed to be on 33. Yup. On 33: Slow downer folk. The vocals are fuzzy and no longer feel like a lady and man duet. Just a guy with a lot of delay or echo muddling it. Since I know nothing of the original, I can’t tell you how faithful or out there this really is. The Axemen track is when I figure out the speed for sure. Dreamy and way laid back. "Pacific Ocean" could be a Red House Painters tune for all I know. For peeps who dig Six Organs and that kinda’ thing. I think I liked this better at the wrong speed…ha. (RSF)
(Soft Abuse // www.softabuse.com)
Donovan Quinn & the 13th Month “Sister Alchemy” 7”
Nothing over the top here...not even sure how it ended up in my mailbag. Cool laid back vibes along the lines of Sir Oldham, Smog, or even early Sparklehorse. California Burrito Bros styling with an alt-folk lean. "Sister Alchemy" sounds a tad like Lou Reed doing some soft Seventies downer country. Really feeling The Rabbit Tracks side. Dylan-esque, but all Hazelwood hazed & sun bleached. A good Sunday morning post-show comedown peppered with some steel guitar and southern fried dandy-isms. I guess he’s got something to do with Skygreen Leopards. You learn something new everyday. Hmmm…outta place in my circle. The chicks may dig it, or if you got a softer side for modern singer songwriters (like that Medication single), it wouldn’t hurt none neither. (RSF)
(Soft Abuse // www.softabuse.com)
Real Numbers s/t EP
I thought the Real Numbers 7" on Three Dimensional was a nifty little single, and this one is pretty keen as well. Eli from Boys Club steps from behind the kit and fronts this garage-pop trio delivering four tracks of inoffensive medium-fi punk with hooks. "NY Girls" is my choice for "the hit" on this one, but as a whole this EP would have done well as a mid-range Rip Off Records release (black-and-white sleeve days) or maybe even found its way to Lipstick or SuperTeem. Fittingly recorded by Fever B. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
Jay Reatard "Watch Me Fall" LP/CD
Upon first listens (and the Jack Torrance/Lord of the Rings cover shot), I had initially dismissed this. As if I hadn’t come to terms that the Reatard hadn’t turned this corner years ago. I wasn’t a big fan of 'Blood Visions' at the time but somehow was re-won over by several of the singles from the Matador collection. The guy was just putting out so much stuff, I was overwhelmed. Temporarily, I jumped ship. 'Watch Me Fall' continues down the road away from the chaotic and into textured, somewhat subdued indie territory...and into the hands of the college rock masses. I can’t find fault in that, because it’s the best album most of those people will hear all year. Of course, some old fans will walk away; makes me wonder if the title is a message. It grew on me, this album. The Reatard has proved to be one of the more versatile and prolific artists of our times, love him or hate him. Let’s face it, he has been involved in a lot of projects and for the most part, the output has been good. And plenty. Using more acoustic guitar tracks, cello and dramatic anthems that work most of time, 'Watch Me Fall' grows increasingly infectious with increasing listens. Seemingly effortless, this album unfurls with slightly scaled back, yet still hectic pop numbers with unpredictable parts inside. The re-working of “I’m Watching You”, which ends side A improves on the single version with subtle synth and Billy Hayes working the traps just right. The monotone vocal on “Rotten Mind” also works nicely with the almost whispered chorus. Slightly more consistent than the singles collection, which I always approached as an album anyway, 'Watch Me Fall' builds on that direction or style or whatever, improves on it, even. There are no walls of noise and screaming to hide behind anymore and the songs are there. Pure pop and good pop at that. (LB)
(Matador // www.matadorecords.com)
Red Mass “Red Light” 10”
Damn. I just paid $17 for a ten inch record. In a gatefold. On imported heavy gram vinyl. This is why I live off of shitty freezer foods. Surprisingly, I’m not regretting this. What lies within this fancy pack is some rickety-stripped down chameleon rock by Choyce and Co…an ever revolving cast of hundreds in this band/movement…that sounds different every time they press something. This Mass is down to a three piece, featuring The Roller and …. Track one, "Little Man" is a Melchoir feeling art-stomper with odd guitar squiggles and some accompanying flute (?!). Kinda like some early Dexy's Midnight Runners or another hobo-soul-punk throwin’ it down with a ranting Nick Cave. I’m trying to remember all the bands that played on The Young Ones… John Cooper Clarke? ...one of those that wasn’t the Damned or Motorhead…yeah, this reminds me of it. Weird. From there it’s some great post punked damage thrown into a rockabilly stew. Can’t explain it, really. It’s its own thing. The vaudevillian murder ballad, "Skater", rubs like a Deadly Snakes encounter, but with a whole buncha’ clutter getting scrapped about. Even gets a bit surf-y in the out. I’m digging it because it sounds like nothing else right now. At least in this “scene”. Flip it for an industrial throb that smacks about some Fifties R&B in "Red Light". Brings me back to that last Luxury Rides single, only wickedly retarded. Then it hits me. There’s an Electric Eels cover at the end. F.U.C.K. A "Refrigerator" full of Windex piss and electro-trashed glitch. Surprised Pink Noise isn’t in on this. Hell, they might be. Volt fans take note…this one's for you. Raping Dead Nuns. Scratch that itch. Go Red Mass. One bad ass awkward slab of meat. (RSF)
(Red Lounge Records // myspace.com/redloungerecords)
Retainers s/t LP
A real middle-of-the-road LP from a likeable band from up Minnesota way. Short, choppy punk rock, like a less art school wise-ass Wax Museums take on KBD-garage. They have a few real catchy numbers, "Waste of Time" and "ESP" especially. They do some things good: solid guitar sound, vocals are raw but non-gimmicky. But just don't do anything great. To borrow a term from Bitch Tardwell: "Blazingly mediocre". Scum stats: 482 copies.(RK)
(P.Trash Records // www.ptrashrecords.com)
Retainers "Waste of Time" 7"
After listening to the Middle America 7", The Retainers sound fucking amazing. "Waste of Time" is a really great and punchy punk song, sort of like a mashing together of The Carbonas and Wax Museums. A true A-Side from a band I've never really liked all that much before. "Die Baby Die" is the flip of this single and is more catchy and stripped down punkitude, giving some Midwestern legs to the "Atlanta punk sound' of recent years. As it sits, still the best Retainers record I've heard so far. If they would've backed this with "ESP" from the LP, it would be a contender. Scum stats: 600 copies, 100 with record release show sleeve.(RK)
(Fashionable Idiots // www.fashionableidiots.com)
Sentence Diagrams "Always Try Your Best At Stuff" 7"
Two songs from these new New Jersey kitsch rockers. Lo-fi hi-energy pop with a high school angle/gimmick. Lyrics talk about "Coach", Twix, Ruffles, girls, trying your best, getting it "right", halloween, halloween candy, etc...The English class notebook page cover art gets me all nostalgic and whatever, but "Always Try Your Best..." is just silly. "Diamonds & References" on the B-Side is the stronger tune, with a nice underlying Seventies guitar-pop current that floats to the surface at moments, but for the most part they just submerge it under the weird schtick, which is kind of a put off. Something about it just doesn't click. Seems like a stab at maybe a Jad Fair-style simpleton thing or perhaps even a Home Blitz rip (and I think DD even guests on this) that doesn't get off the ground. Will probably appeal to fans of Box Elders or Smith Westerns though.(RK)
(Malleable Records // malleablerecs.bigcartel.com)
The Sess “ABC” 7”
This here is the debut vinyl for a now defunct San Diego band. What we get is a pretty good post-punk/party-rock short player. "Authentic Black Coke" has a Jam-like mod vibe to it, but pumped up with The Fuse! attitude (remember them?). Lots of jagged abrupt turns and sonic bombast. The "Brain Ruster" side pulls out a keyboard and gives you a dance ditty. Punchy as shit with enough slop to tell their having a good time. Makes me wanna’ hear more. There’s a CD full length out there getting rave reviews…why no vinyl? (RSF)
(Slovenly Records // www.slovenly.com)
Ty Segall "Horn the Unicorn" LP
Absolutley worthwhile compilation of some OOP Ty stuff. The "Horn the Unicorn" tape is comped on the A-Side, showcasing early (and sometimes much different) versions of tunes you've heard on the first LP and some singles and such. Sound is great, energy is high, for once we have some "demos" that are actually worth hearing. B-Side comps some needed tracks from a split tape with Superstitions, the Goodbye Boozy 7" (which is one of his best), one cut from "Ty aged 16!" that is pretty raucous and one unreleased cut ("The Frog") that is the weakest of the whole batch. If you haven't heard the "...Unicorn" tape, you should get this. I'm starting to like these songs more than the actual first LP on Castleface.(RK)
(HBSP-2X Records // hbsp-2x.com)
Ty Segall "Lemons" CD/LP
I've decided that 'Lemons' needs to be considered in the race for album of the year. A phenomenal and beautiful record from a young artist who has grown by leaps and bounds over what seems like just over a year now. Miles removed from the one-man-bash of his self-titled LP, 'Lemons' maintains much of the inspired garage energy of his previous efforts but enhances it with sophisticated songwriting and composition. There isn't a single dud track here. Patches of acoustic guitar, inviting and harmonious vocals interchanged from song-to-song with BFTG-howling and trebly rasp, odd timing/starts/stops/paces, a veritable cornucopia of different styles thrown down here. A cornucopia, I say. Straight up garage rock hits like "It #1", stilted post-garage stunners ("In Your Car" or "Untitled #1"), punky bashers ("Can't Talk" or "Johnny"), folky acoustics without sounding "folky" ("Lovely One" or "Die Tonight"), meaningful non-filler surfy instrumentals ("Untitled #2"), lazy Sic Alpsian psych ("Like You"), a Beefheart cover and more. Great sound from McHugh and Hartman of Sic Alps (who Ty is now also a member of), a nearly perfect record that blends youthful songs with just the right amount of mature playing. And at its heart, a genuine garage record, dragging the genre into its next wave. Ty's a young man with a bright future, and I hope he keeps up this quality, because we're gonna need him.(RK)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)
Sex Church “s/t” 7”
A Vancouver brigade of garage punks throwing atmospheric, downright gothic, overtones on some already moody rock'n’drone. The expansive 33rpm build up of "Dead End" suits the shingle shaking wall of sound, like something very Les Rallizes Denudes oriented. Moving skyward until it goes off in a Telescopes/JAMC jangled outro. Pretty sweet. The flip ("Let Down") is really where it’s at if yer death obsessed and waiting for the end to rain down anytime soon. Nyquil fueled ballad full of Mark E. Smith delivery, if that fuckin' guy could even form a sentence that matters anymore. Awesome for the self-hater in everyone. As usual, a bomb-ass sleeve from Sweet Rot wraps it up. (RSF)
(Sweet Rot // myspace.com/sweetrotrecords)
Spooks "Death From Beyond the Grave" LP
Members of Deerhunter, Black Lips, and other Atlanta scensters making scary with a theremin and a cheap synth or two. In essence, a novelty record, perfect for your garage rock Halloween party. A few of the songs are of pretty decent quality though, mainly "California Boys" with its definite Black Lipsy drug-addled stumble and "Now I'm A Spook" which borrows the "ch-ch-ch-ch" part from Friday the 13th movies and has the best theremin and synth sounds of the LP. When they get shit sounding like a shitty Eighties slasher or giallo soundtrack, it works. When they sound like a bunch of drunks, it doesn't work so much. Thankfully, it works more often than not. Side A of this is actually the "finished" product, Side B are rough mixes of most of the same songs and a live BTO cover with chainsaw solo. Stick to the A Side of this one. 3-D cover actually works pretty good with the glasses.(RK)
(Die Slaughterhaus Records // www.dieslaughterhaus.com)
Teenage Panzerkorps s/t 7"
OH MY GOD, IT'S SO COLD! SOMEBODY GET ME A SWEATER! PLEASE...Actually, I enjoyed good portions of the Der TPK LPs. But on those records, the recording so was so muddy, you couldn't really discern too many shortcomings. On this one, they clean things up a bit, and it doesn't help their case. Poppish Cold Wave with some guy (who I might not even be German) yelling at you in German, that's what this is. For some reason, I feel like I've been had after listening to this. Whereas I didn't feel that way after listening to 'Harmful Emotions'. Maybe I went to the well one too many times. Or maybe they did. IT SURE IS COLD THOUGH. BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! (RK)
(Captured Tracks // www.capturedtracks.com)
Test Patterns "Blackout" 12" EP
As much of a lunatic as Count Drugula is, the guy can write a pretty damn good pop song, you can't deny that. "Back To You" rips as soon as you drop the needle, hyperspeed punked-out power-pop like a Marked Men LP played at 45. Breakneck verse-chorus-verse shifting with a huge hook as a vehicle. Fantastic rhythm section at work as well. "Missing Reasons" and "Blackout" follow the same formula, ably melding a frightening velocity to pop hooks. And their Slaughter & The Dogs cover finally makes it to wax. Personally, I always dig the songs the guys sing more than than Yago's songs, as cute as she is, and you get a 4:3 ratio here. My only true beef with this 12": what's up with that damn synth on "High Tension"!? Get that shit outta here! A well deserved long playing record from the best pop band I saw at Totally Wired (and there were more than a few...).(RK)
(Tic Tac Totally // www.tictactotally.com)
13th Chime "The Singles: 1981-1983" LP
Remarkable reissue of 13th Chime's three singles plus a few demo tracks laid on as a bonus. Coming from Sacred Bones I was expecting some synthy minimal wave perhaps, never having heard the band before this, but they're like a more gothic Joy Division or Crisis, minimal arrangements with heavily darkened overtones. Lots of killer guitar sound, tribal rhythm and a healthy punk drive make this a little more special than other post-punk also-rans. And little if any synth in evidence! The demos obviously pale in comparison to the singles, but those seven EP cuts are all absolutely fantastic. Comes with a fantastic booklet with liners from the band telling their story, with cameos from the Dead Kennedys, Groundhogs and more. A very worthwhile addition to any collection, and something anyone into death rock should appreciate.(RK)
(Sacred Bones // www.sacredbonesrecords.com)
The TV Watchers "Carl In The Sky With Diamonds" EP
New stuff from Food Fortunata and Poopy Gonzales of Sockeye fame. As someone once said about Sockeye, "There's a very thin line between inspired dementia and stupid crap...", and of course depending on how many releases you own on the Wheelchair Full of Old Men label, this either crosses that line outright or just barely toes it. It amounts to digital backing tracks while a guy with a really hoarse voice talks over them about the writer's strike, make-overs and "Intelligent Design". Incredibly dumb, somewhat bizarre and barely listenable, but I'm sure there's more than a few fans of this stuff out there. I imagine this material was released on CD-R or tape at some point as well...(RK)
(My Mind's Eye // www.mymmindseyerecords.com)
UV Race "Malaria" 7"
The best UV Race outing yet, by a long yard. A combination of rugged Aussie simplicity and dunderheaded DIY UK punk. So simple it hurts, really. "Malaria" is a vivid insectoid romp, the lyrics literally abuzz along with the irritating whine in the background, giving off a sickly feeling. Perfect execution. "MASH" is supposedly about the TV show and war in general by association. An unrelenting stomp marches along surrounded by jangled and tuneless guitar with the lyrics sounding tired, confused and repetitive. Very unfancy post-punk. "Good Money" is ECSR-like poprock with a rough edge, "Cosmic Man" is space-age cave punk. An excellent single, full of youth and energy, kids taking back punk and making it something new again. I find the cover drawing very disturbing for some reason. At first I thought it was someone playing an insect like a saxophone, but it seems to be something more.(RK)
(S-S Records // www.s-srecords.com)
V/A Crash Normal/Intelligence split 7"
Crash Normals' "Get Lazy" is a draggy Country Teasers-esque number, with a digital darkside and Chrome Cranked guitar sound. The Intelligence give us "Parades", a high-energy crasher with a hyperactive guitar pick, rise-n-fall vocals and busy digidrum clatter. It cuts off rather abruptly, purposely or not I do not know. Liners say it was rescued from a 2005 session scrap heap, perhaps that's the reason. With only one song per band, there isn't much value here. An amuse-bouche of sorts, preparing my ears for bigger and better recent records from both bands.(RK)
(Compost Modern Art Recordings // myspace.com/compostmodernart)
V/A D-Clone/Morpheme "Progressus" split 7"
One band creates original noise by pushing capacitor limits while the other creates new versions of old songs by only rehashing what they already know. One is poison for posers while the other smells of a stinky perfume that will never wash off. Listening to this is akin to finding solid ground in the sea, only to have it washed out from under you right as you feel safe. Which one are you, betrayed or intrigued? Scum stats: 1400 total, 1200 black, 200 white. (JC)
(Mouse // yousleepwefuzz-at-gmail.com or try Punk and Destroy)
V/A G.A.T.E.S./Children of Technology split 7"
"Just because a band likes you doesn't mean you have to do a split record with them." Countless (well, two) qualified bands, but one of the vast unwashed hordes gets the pleasure. C.O.T. say "fuck off to mp3 collectors, buy records." Irony is not a river in Italy. (JC)
(High Society Satanic Records // sold out on the day of release)
V/A Ty Segall/Black Time split LP
Telephone Explosion is doing a great job with these split LPs. A far superior format to the split 7", at least you get enough from each band to remember them by. The Black Time stuff is a vinylized version of the tracks from the "Eine Kleine Trashmusik" tape, which have them showing off their two guitar line-up and sounding punk as all hell. Glad these are available on wax. Ty side is a super surf-punky lot of seven tracks, just blown out and wild enough, more traditional Fools or Moonhearts than anything on 'Lemons', including a killer cover of the Dwarves "Be A Caveman" (and the early Dwarves combo of garagesike and punk fits Ty's style perfectly) and the double-time banger of "Goin' Down". The whole side kills. Ty Segall kills. Includes a different take of "No No" from the 7" too. Fantastic, the best split release you're gonna be able to buy all year, both sides are pretty necessary if you dig either band. The monochrome garage of Black Time plays brilliantly against Ty's sunny Cali-punk. A+.(RK)
(Telephone Explosion // www.telephoneexplosion.com)
V/A "Rocky Mountain Low: The Colorado Musical Underground of the Late 1970s" 2XLP
History, often, is a reflection of which stories are repeated with the most frequency and authority. Such tales tend to spin the history of punk rock as consisting of scenes in the big three US cities or their proper British cousin. Spain, Colombia, Yugoslavia, and Colorado, for instance, rarely make it into the narrative despite fertile scenes full of bands as original and exciting as anywhere else. 'Rocky Mountain Low' makes the case for Colorado; in its extensive documentation — 31 songs by 17 bands — this compilation presents a thriving panorama of 1970s underground “punk” in the truest, best sense. The bands were not all of the same mold, but were each against the sonic grain from their peers and in their diversity they remind us that “punk” was once an elastic term. Some tracks rely on melody, plenty are amateurish three-chords-and-a-cloud-of-dust rockers, a couple just on this side of the hard rock/punk rock divide, some are just brilliantly bizarre outsider jams (I’m talking Dancing Assholes here, whose tracks are classic KBD material a la Screamin’ Mee-Mees), and there’s even some early Jello Biafra spoken word (really, sort of). In all, the album is both enjoyable and overwhelming. Accompanied by a 24 page booklet weaving together the stories of the bands to relate the account of a forgotten locale; there is plenty to take in. The compilers’ level of dedication to preserve their local history is beyond commendable. The sound quality is stellar throughout despite, presumably, old tapes and varying sources and, packaged as a double LP with a nice looking booklet, the end result is impressive. The history of punk as told through the eyes of four cities needs to be reevaluated; punk rock was and is a global phenomenon with tentacles in every region of the world. Obviously, I adore this release and hope that it can serve as the inspiration for others to do likewise for their town.(DH)
(Hyperpycnal // www.rockymountainlow.com)
V/A "Total Pop! Swedish DIY Punk and Mod Pop 1979-1981 Vol. 1" LP
I still don’t understand the concept of compiling hopelessly rare and/or nearly forgotten records, packaging them on a long player and then issuing just over 300 copies...but maybe I’ll never “get it”. I was lucky enough to procure one of these, though. A collection of obscure Swedish pre-hardcore rompers, mostly played tightly wound and in native tounge, many by bands who only produced a single 45. There are some exceptionally cool songs here, no duds, but nothing overly earth shattering either. Perhaps Vattenplasks song about a busted water pipe and killer guitar dirge sound stood out right away — and suddenly fades out. Plenty of jumpy blonde hair/blue eyed pogo punk to go around on side A. Side B shifts a bit into power pop terrain…Rebell’s "100 AR" from their lone single is a hit. Follow along with the liner notes which briefly describe the tracks on a single sheet of 8X12 paper. The record itself, with plain black labels, comes in a white jacket with the covers sitting atop and behind it, the plastic sleeve holding it all together. Good sound, good fun with Swedes. 333 copies?(LB)
(fan club // try Matador)
V/A World's Lousy With Ideas Volume 8 LP
Graduating to the big-sized format for Volume 8, Almost Ready records pulls out all stops this time around and neatly encapsulates the last few years of Termbo-centric music with an All-Star line-up that touches all bases. Columbus shitgaze and more (TNV, Pink Reason, Guniea Worms), NYC's finest (Blank Dogs, Vivian Girls), West Coast garage-psych (Oh Sees, Sic Alps), Siltbreeze/DIY rock (Tyvek) and the In the Red weird-pop (Intelligence). That almost none of these acts drops a comp turd in the punch bowl is the really remarkable thing. "Ages Ago" is a great song from a prolific Blank Dogs and actually one of his more up-tempo numbers, "The Beetles" is essential elastic-rock from Lars & Co., "Schwag Rifles" is Thee Oh Sees at their most wonderfully hyperactive, but I think the most attractive thing on this record filled with quality is Pink Reason's "Going Home", in my opinion the best PR song I've yet heard and a monster LP closer if I've there's ever been one. Fantastic percussion from Ryan Jewell and a truly epic end-of-days death-pop track. Really, the only dud on the record is the Sic Alps cut, sadly enough. Overall, a fitting foray into 12" land from a comp series that has really been a series of snapshots of what's been going on in our scene over the past couple years. If you don't own these records then you really aren't a lifer, if you know what I mean. Nine sleeve variations (one from each band), plus a few test press special editions. Essential. (RK)
(Almost Ready // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
V/A Wizzard Sleeve/Static Static split 7"
After seeing Wizzard Sleeve live I've been totally re-stoked on them, they were that good. Can't wait for the LP. "Post Natal (Pre-Death)" is a good tease (which also appeard on their tour tape), full of deep analog synth/organ sounds and guitar mayhem. Good back-n-forth vocals too. Evil-sounding punk with the olde black metal spirit in it as well. "You fucking wigger!"?! Great song from a one-of-a-kind band. I'm not a big fan of Static Static so much, but they definitely write some heavy industrial-sized synth hits. Heavy and darkly rhythmic stuff, "Witchmouth" was the A-Side from one of thier previous singles, the one that got fucked up by the label and was not supposed to actually be released/sold after the band heard it (mastering fuck-up?). 500 copies with screened sleeves, I've seen white and gray vinyl copies.(RK)
(Jeth-Row Records // myspace.com/jethrowrecords)
Video Disease "Make Me Pure" EP
For a modern hardcore record, this ain't too bad, but it still isn't any more than average. No breaks between songs, guitars ablaze, relentless drum beating, foamng at the mouth vox. Two songs per side, "Merkin", the closing cut is the best of the bunch as it sounds a little Die Kreuzen-ish to me, a little different guitar attack from the rest of the songs. Less than five minutes worth of music here, if I was still an angry young man I might go mash it up with these guys in a smelly punk house basement. Scum stats: 500 copies, 100 on white, tour sleeve variations and such as well.(RK)
(Cowabunga Records // www.cowabungarecords.com)
Vile Nation "No Exit" EP
Modern Memphis hardcore, six cuts over two sides, singer is a good barker. Eighties-style bangin', think The Fix or Necros with some modern thrashy spunk added. Drummer is a blaster, superior guitar tone, creative songwriting for the genre takes some twists and turns elevating this one above the norm for the day. They're no Copout, but I like this one more than a bit. A little more crafty than most modern outfits trying to ram it down your throat. First press of 500 sold out, repress of 500 on white still available.(RK)
(Cowabunga Records // www.cowabungarecords.com)
White Load s/t 7"
White Load finally get a vinyl release out after a few tapes/demos and a false start on a previous 7" that never materialized. This one-sided EP gushes forth with three newer cuts (meaning I dont remember them from previous tapes), "Talk" is yammering hardcore, "No Exit" sounds a bit darker and punker, and "Chemicals" is the paint-peeler. Savage vokills on this one. Falls somehwere in between the Fashionable Idiots roster and maybe Cult Ritual without the forced weirdness. Scum stats: 300 regular edition, 50 fan club editions on pink vinyl.(RK)
(Leather Bar Records // leatherbar-at-gmail.com)
Wild Thing "You're A Punk" 7"
Debut 7" from the punkest thing in the Bay Area. Two total kick-in-the-balls snotty and sloppy garage-punk gems that would make Greg Lowery proud on the A-Side. Half-ass guitar solos, full throttle drumming, vocal blargh, shout-along lyrics, punk as all get out. The "1-2-3-4-5-6-7-GUITAR!" break on "Out of Touch" makes me want to drive directly to Oakland right now and trash Mitch Cardwell's living room. On the B-Side, "Can't Stand It/You" is a little less punk, more like a catchy Pets-style garage-rocker. A-Side is pure gold medal material, B-Side is more of a bronze. If you loved Warkrime...no, seriously, this thing is great. Sure to be a feature in Cheap Rewards some time in 2024. Scum stats: 500 pressed, 100 on clear, 28 on "cum". Crafty little cut-out sleeve on the "special" editions.(RK)
(Clown College Records // myspace.com/clowncollegerecords)
To read past reviews go here.
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