RECORD REVIEWS WINTER 2009
Key: (RFA: Richard Fucking Adventure)(LB: Lance Boyle)(AR: Acapulco Rodriguez)(BG: Brandon Gaffney)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RK: Rich K.)(TO: Tm Onita)(RSF: Rob Vertigo) (A.: Alessandro) (ES: Eddie Schneider)
James Arthur’s Manhunt s/t LP/CD
Another Texan proving that the sun can do some serious DAMAGE. Ex-Necessary Evils/Fireworks/A Feast of Snakes guitar slinger proves he was the noise-minded one behind all those Nineties ITR records. Oh my. It plays like a Greatest Hits package of the intros & segues on the 'Sicko Inside Me' LP, but fleshed out to the max. Mostly (but not all) instrumental and dealing in arid tumbleweed lore and sci-fi rotgut seizures, Manhunt gives James a reason to get all schnockered up and expel his inner demons via 4-track. Just in time for Halloween, no less. The songs with vocals (like "The Cougar") lean towards Adkins-ian hillbilly, but with the added flavor of an even outer-outside mind. Maybe not that out. The chicken has been left by the curb. A smashed southern R&B and garage sound in the same vein as his recent namesake singles or 68’ Comeback…if they was NUTS. During "Strong Back" ya’d think Jeffrey Evans was being cattle prodded to yarble at the mic. The weird punk western within hints at elements of lost Morricone scores, surfin’ Smegma, late-era Savage Republic, and even some subdued Caroliner Rainbow thanks to a banjo sproutin’ up. "Bango" is built around the Johnny Cash "Folk Singer" rhythm and then all fucked up upon real good. A whack-a-doo cover of Simply Saucer’s "Low Profile" nestles nicely into the mix. Messy and fun all around. Not sure how many of these are (or will be) pressed…it’s coming from Australia. Cover illustration is amazing….and sums up the feeling within pretty damn good. Headscratcher of 2009, next to that Factorymen record. This CDr (100 made) is what he was tossing around these parts during Budget Rock. All you had to do was compare Black Flag tattoos to get one! Sucka. (RSF)
(Aarght! Records // myspace.com/aarght)
AV Murder "Tourettes" 7"
The best record Jim Hollywood has given the world since the Tyrades disbanded (posthumous Baseball Furies LP notwithstanding) and really upping the ante from their debut single. After seeing them live I think I appreciate what Jim is going for a bit more. The vocals-in-a-can effect works really well, especially when paired against other-voiced/shouted choruses. As much as he probably doesn't want people to think AVM sound like the Tyrades, they at least take the danger-punk approach he laid down with that outfit to its next logical profgression. Post-punk/KBD fusion. Angular punk that moves both horizontally and vertically. "Tourettes" is the seizure-inducing burner and "Fight Like A Man" is the weird and dark turn that throws No Wave bleat and boom into that garbage can. Tightly wound tunes that tick-tick-tick and then explode in perfect time. Short and sharp. Like it.(RK)
(Local Cross // www.localcross.com)
Bad Indians "Live From the Burial Mound" 12" EP
This thing...I've been wrestling with it for a couple weeks. I keep flip-flopping back-n-forth as to whether it's a joke or just a truly fucked record. I know little about the band except that they're from Ypsilanti, MI and exist somewhere on the fringes of the X! Records Detroit scene. It's a really really loose and sprawling affair, seven lengthy cuts spread over two sides that sort of all bleed together. I was talking to a pretty smart gut the other day, and he said something to the extent that music sounds best to him when it is either so tight it sounds as if it's about to break or so loose it's about to totally fall apart. This LP obviously falls into the latter category. The first side of this is maybe four songs that blend into one long suite (there's no pause between tracks and the side is one continuous groove), starts out sounding outer-space drone with tribal drums which then breaks into a mean garage track which turns into an acid-fried psych track and ends in the shape of a guitar freakout. Pretty fucking wild and rather mystic, "Buffalo Stampede" and "Red Curtain Sky" are a couple of song titles that give you a pretty good impression of what's happening. The B-Side picks up during the guitar drone that ended Side A and then an organ riff comes out of nowhere and they play another garage blaster that sounds like the Black Lips more than a bit, if maybe the Lips were fascinated with Spacemen 3 instead of Los Saicos. That track breaks into pieces and they close with a one-two shot of uncredited covers/interpretations of "Hey Joe" and "Summertimes Blues" wherein they unleash some beastly guitar damage and bottom end rumble. Incredibly sloppy and drugged out, maybe even too much so, but I guess that's what keeps me coming back and also has me wondering whether it's total bullshit or a true moment of basement brilliance. I think it's a little bit of both, and it's an epic either way you slice it. Keywords = drugs, acid, psychedelic mysticism, drugs, weed, semi-inept drone, tribal garage, cult rock. They're practically giving this thing away anyway, don't be a cheapskate ($7.25 ppd is a pretty intense price if you ask me!). Silkscreened sleeve with spray-painted labels, not sure how limited this is, you probably shouldn't wait to find out.(RK)
(Party Nogg // myspace.com/partynogg)
Bad Sports s/t LP
Debut LP from "Denton! Denton! USA" last-band-standing, Bad Sports, with members of Wax Museums, High Tension Wires and this nice kid named Orville. This band's two singles were fairly average. Personally, I'd rate this LP as fairly average as well, but it's going to score real high with a certain demographic, as it is the perfect melange of all things Denton. The rat-a-tat punk of The Reds, the pop-punk (or is is power-pop?) of later Marked Men and just a slight nod to the dum-dum punk of the Wax Museums. So they're not going to have trouble getting shows or anything. In reality, this is the like the exact middle ground between The Carbonas (but not nearly as punk...) and the MM/HTW-style of polite punky pop. I'd say I hear some Screeching Weasel in there, if I really knew what Screeching Weasel sounded like. Let's just say they're Ramones-influenced as well. Solid recording (tinkered with by Dave Rahn, bringing my Carbonas ref full circle), heavy on the treble, well played, Orville can write a decent hook, it's good to see TV's Daniel in an actual punk band and not in some bullshit like Fergus & Geronimo. I guess Paul Museums took all the weird-punk with him when he blew town? Anyway, kids are gonna love this, grumpy old men like me will be nonplussed. Check your ID and see how to react. Scum stats: first 100 on split red/black wax.(RK)
(Douchemaster // www.douchemasterrecords.blogspot.com)
Bare Wires “Artificial Clouds” LP
Bare Wires is some of the culprits of a band called Snake Flower 2 whose LP I didn’t know diddly about but said, if’n you remember, had glimmers of depravity when I reviewed it. This mines the same sonic territory though clearly up a ways from the dry heat of a rattlesnake-infested gully in a more scenic, windy plain where the air is cleaner and life expectancy’s a good decade greater. All that esoteric jew-spit means that this one’s a good deal more sanitary, skipping along the straight-n-narrow of contemporary garagedom instead of wallowing in its decadent bottom. I’m almost surprised it’s got enough kinetic energy to allow my fine needle to skate over its lacquer gloss, but then I remember that Japanese people made my turntable and if there’s one thing Japanese people know it’s HOW TO DO THINGS RIGHT. At times it lethargically grapples for some semblance of true r’n’r propulsion but has little momentum and a trajectory that makes a Chuck Berry record sound like Mr. Bungle. FUCK, these are disgusting references… Maybe that’s just attributable to, for example, songs like “I Lie Awake” incorporating a British Invasion-flavored emotional excess with any sort of honest sexuality rung from it. The way the ‘Stones can fool you into thinking they’re American, Bare Wires can fool you into thinking they’re Brits. A refined production that’s weeded out any interesting texture parallels the sensibilities that favored “Back In The USA” over the MC5’s other albums. Limey retards. That’s the only qualm I have with this though – the shortness of engaging dynamic. When taken for its flat self, the song-craft is good. A medium-fi, low-octane foray through angular wimpiness, sometimes via sci-fi and ‘70s-dive-bar-vibe power pop with bare bones rat-a-tat percussion throughout, which matches the frill-less plucking. A lot of sonic deduction going on, and I’m not sure less is more in this case. I suppose the moral is to never underestimate the power of a linear production to turn the sneer of simple rockroll idyllic. It’s mastered by Mr. Reatard, and his signature frozen type of robot pop is in full swing. (BG)
(Tic Tac Totally // www.tictactotally.com)
Bassholes "...and without a name" LP
Howland returns under the Bassholes moniker after tooling around as Wooden Tit and Burning Bush since the last actual 'holes LP from a few years ago. I've gone off on the "Don Howland is an American treasure" spiel in many reviews already, so lets just take that for granted this time out. For me, The Bassholes are a band that became one of my favorites without me really even noticing. Howland just sidles up to you like that. An impeccable singles band still capable of writing enrapturing full lengths, one of the most recognizable voices in garage-dom, and quite possibly one of the best outfits at executing covers songs of all-time. Over a ten year span (say '92 to '03 or so, counting a few long breaks) their catalog is pretty much unfuckwithable. I thought that last LP (the s/t on Dead Canary) was sort of a stall-out on their road of hits, especially after they returned so strong after a hiatus with the fantastic "Out in the Treetops" 2X7". So what do we get from Don and Bim this time? Pretty damn good doings, a reminder of their raw punk roots and Don's never-ending stream of bile and everything else that now makes them perhaps the most under-rated band around now that the Cheater Slicks are finally getting their due. "(Don't You) Look Sideways At Me" is broke-down blues rawnch that they pull off like no one else (including some blown-out harp and listen for the insane sounding refrain). "Mother, Goosed" shows off Howland's school teacher knack for twisting seemingly innocent subject matter into something altogether more fucked (and who can ever forget what he did to the 'Hokey Pokey'?). They pull off the spectacular cover, this time revisiting Motor City Rock with "New Values", bursting with harsh guitar scree. And they do a Tommy Jay/The General cut ("Tough Luck Roy") with help from TJ himself. The opener ("Little Boy Blues") is a hellbound train of a roots-punk burner. "The Way I Came" is just head-blowing down-beat rock'n'roll. "Swannanoa River" is another of their incredible and moody instrumentals that bridges the sides. Never boring, you can always say that about the Bassholes, and Howland always seems able to wring blood from the blues-punk stone that I thought was dry long ago. Weird, dark, angry, perhaps evil, I'm not going to say it's their best album, but even the Bassholes third best album shines like the sun over a landscape that's fairly barren of long-players with substance. It's a record that I think accurately and frighteningly reflects the seedy and damned corners of the age we're living in. (RK)
(Columbus Discount Records // www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)
Bipolar Bear “Manbase” 7”
Stop. Please. Wait. At least a few months.
The band that is fighting to stay afloat in Thee Oh Sees & Dan Melchior tidal wave continues to send records over that I half-ass review and give some wish-washy praise. What can I say I haven’t said before? This band could make a decent “best of” comp from their last couple years of output. On the A-side you get two angular pop songs: "Manbase" and "Bangers n’ Mash". Both of The Intelligence goes indie variety.
Flip: "Tiny Desert Tree" has a little more going on besides verse/chorus/verse structure. The B-side is a tad artier, I suppose. The closer track "Dead Lunch" is pretty solid and damaged. Interesting shit that they should continue in the vein of. Some swarming hordes of sonic delight here and there. It’s alright I suppose…better than a few of the other tracks they’ve released. I wish they’d stick to their Dischord mash. The other stuff feels kinda’ trend hopping. A bedroom psych tape soon? Take a nap kids. Rest up. Be a little choosier next time. Limited edition released of 350 numbered copies with two color silk-screened sleeves. (RSF)
(Labil // www.labil.org)
The Bitters "East" 7"
I remember when the first Bitters record came out and I was excited by the description of it as "cave pop". I was then heavily bummed when I listened to the record and found that what I imagined Cave Pop would sound like was nothing like what it apparently really was. It's just more lo-fi pop with a little post-punky bite to it. I was thinking maybe cave pop would have something to do with cavemen, and therefore signify something raw and primal. Maybe they meant Bat Cave Pop? I'm getting confused. "East" is a cleverly built pop construct with sharp drumming, a bit of xylophone, firmly voiced female vox, some whistling, sort of dour yet bitchily likeable. Maybe I'm starting to get this whole phenomenon now...B-Side is a muddled bedroom-style morass with messy male/female dual vox. Pretty disappointing after the A-Side. Bitters is some dame riding shotgun with Ben Cook (Young Governor/Fucked Up's third guitar player/frontman of ex-Bridge 9 moshers No Warning) behind the wheel. Pretty remarkable what this guy is doing, as in having records released on labels run by both Linkin Park and Blank Dogs in his career to date. The world is a crazy place.(RK)
(Captured Tracks // www.capturedtracks.com)
Black Panda “Shake Me” EP
Definitely didn’t expect being too partial to this one after giving the packaging a one-over, but hey! I’m a dummy! If all background punk jams were as unobtrusive and essentially pleasing to the ear holes as this, maybe I’d stand in the background a little more instead of being up front throwing things at frontmen and getting kicked in the balls. What I’m saying is that this isn’t the most engaging stuff, but it keeps your interest when you find yourself in its proximity. Little filler licks help the sluggish tunes on the straight n’ narrow, and while it’s a tad less hip to the inductive brilliance of ECSR it retains that authentic tie-and-glasses vocal inflection occasionally with a dollop of foreign hoarseness – resembling Scandi self-consciousness as much as Jap-extremity. “Yume Utsutsu” has infectious hang-time and “Bluebird Gho” some semblance to a KBD winner enough to send this one off with a passing grade. (BG)
(Super Secret Records // www.supersecretrecords.com)
Boy Toys "Girls Like You" EP
More zero-fi teenbeat/garage from Indiana, the nation's hotbed for the genre. "Girls Like You" is the same song every aspiring small town garage band wrote in 1964. "I Want You" is a jumpier tail-shaker. "Black And Blue And Grey" is the forlorn broken-hearter with sad organ, good backups, and the tastiest morsel here. This shouldn't disappoint fans of Eric & The Happy Thoughts or Romance Novels. A derivative yet effective trip back to the "good old days". Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Spin the Bottle // myspace.com/spinthebottlerecords)
Greg Cartwright "Live At The Circle A" LP
Solo acoustic set lovingly recorded live in Milwaukee in '06, curated by Cartwright Appreciation Society president Dusty Mistreater. Fantastic sound, Greg really gets the crowd under his spell playing a slew of hits from the Reigning Sound catalog (including a rivetingly uptempo tromp through "I'll Cry" with spot-on audience participation), some fitting covers and even a touch of Compulsive Gamblers and Oblivians material. An intimate afternoon with one of the greatest songsmiths of our generation, filled with conversational banter and an unsurprisingly strong vocal performance. You can claim to be unimpressed by the Reigning Sound all you want, but the fact that Cartwright has composed both "Bad Man" and "Sour and Vicious Man" cements his reputation forever. You can't argue with the facts, jack. As an added bonus, this includes a three-song 7" Greg recorded with Goodnight Loving live on the radio during the same weekend, and while it won't make you forget his work with Deadly Snakes, it's a nice extra. And the mock Goner packaging is hilarious.(RK)
(Dusty Medical // www.dustymedicalrecords.com)
Channel 3 "To Whom It May Concern: The 1981 Demos" LP+CD
I was never a huge CH3 fan back in the day. For whatever reasons a lot of the SoCal/Posh Boy stuff didn't connect with me, growing up an East Coast city kid during my formative punk years. They never seemed like more than a footnote to the whole scene to me anyway. I'm not going to say this LP of unearthed early demos has changed my mind totally, but it has certainly made me respect them as a band more. 13 tracks recorded in 1980, most of which later turned up on their Posh Boy releases, plus a couple rightfully unreleased tracks. Powerful versions of "Double Standard Boys" and "Mannequin" really do bring the West Coast punk-core fury, "Manzanar" is perfect skate-rock, "I Wanna Know Why" and "Life Goes On" are textbook melodic punk that I never liked as a kid but appreciate a little more in more older and wiser years. A well done archival package, good graphics, short liners and the vinyl (purple/white half-n-half job) includes the CD version. Limited to 1,000 copies.(RK)
(TKO Records // www.tkorecords.com)
Charlie & The Moonhearts "Real Hot Breakers" 7"
I think these kids are pretty bad ass and I'm really hoping they release an LP very soon. The 'Drop In, Drop Out' single was one of the best of the year, a perfect mix of surf/garage and punk. This one is a bit more subdued. "Real Hot Breakers" is very Beach Boys reverent, a sweet ode to the surf with some vocal harmonies I haven't heard them pull before. B-Side reaches into the same bag, a little more surf-rock than surf-pop this time. A pretty good chorus/hook and the solo helps a lot. Not their best material, I like 'em wilder than this, but it shows another side to the band and makes me think they could really pull that LP off well. Do it! Scum stats: 500 numbered copies on "garbage" wax, beautiful company sleeves/labels, download card included.(RK)
(Trouble In Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Chinese Burns "Can Dig" 7"
I've probably listened to this record a good fifty times and have tried to come up with some way to describe how great it is and sometimes you just can't come up with anything to say other than this thing is pretty fucking awesome. A young Melbourne three piece I know nothing about, except Mikey from ECSR recorded their single and they list Big Balls and the Great White Idiot as their only influence. I kinda think they out-dumb the UV Race on this thing, beating the young masters at their own game. Four tracks, all of them are impeccable. "Can Dig" is absolutely raw and unhinged garage-punk bluster with a bass part that defies reason. Totally sounds like it's going to fall to pieces at any second. Wow. "Steal Magnolias" is a slowed up down-tempo turn that reminds me of Pheromoans a bit, but with a rugged Aussie edge replacing their Brit wit. The monotone vocals really dig it home and it's actually massively hooky too. I had this one in my head for days. "Get Out" is a snotty DIY-ish punk anthem, up-tempo, blunt and guess what, hooky as shit too. "Everyday Is The Same" closes with a masterstroke, it sort of slows down the same rhythm from "Can Dig", which in turn makes it sound like a beefed up "Jack the Ripper" riff, but they totally blast it to hell. Still sounds like it might fall apart at any minute, a real downward spiralling pounder rife with piercing leads and wildman howls. Reminiscent of the pure-n-simple punk rock of ECSR, except played by some far younger, drunker and meaner blokes. Not only is this probably the best Aussie 7" I've heard all year, but just one of the best singles of the year overall. Not sure how limited, but I'm sure it's scarce at this point, and it's hell trying to get Aussie records, I know. Shit, I'm trying to stockpile multiple copies at this point, it's that good.(RK)
(Must Destroy Mankind // myspace.com/banalarama)
Christian Mistress "Mother of Mercy" 7"
Priest/Maiden reverent twin-guitar metal with a female singer from Olympia, WA. Really similar to what Icon Gallery are doing in Pittsburgh, paying homage to NWOBHM and all, but CM play it closer to the (denim) vest, staying true to the metal and not throwing the punk moments in to try and update the sound. Pretty steady mid-tempo chugging with competent soloing, the girl's vox aren't the greatest, but the rawness makes it a bit more interesting. At least she's not overly shrill. Not bad overall, and even though I wish it was just a little better, there's still no one else even coming close (or really attempting) to pulling this off these days. The Bone Awl (or Sex/Vid)-like sleeve paints some darker vibes than the actual music, but that happens a lot with metal records, doesn't it? Worth seeking out.(RK)
(Nasjonal // metalforbreakfast-at-hotmail.com)
City Center "Because" 7"
Pretty limp and vague indie-pop from one of the guys from Saturday Looks Good To Me, which is a bad name for an emo band, even if they aren't an emo band. Guitars and laptop/sampler stuff, three cuts of ambience and mellow vibes. I found this revoltingly wimpy. From Brooklyn, which makes sense.(RK)
(Party Nogg // myspace.com/partynogg)
Coprolitos "Miss Melilla" EP
Female-fronted danger-punkers from Madrid with their second EP. Five cuts, Tyrades-esque attack, the chick can spit some good snotvox for sure. First track is a little off because she tries to sing a bit too much, but the remaining four songs rip pretty well. Slightly arty, simple yet effective guitar slash, rhythmic and catchy, I honestly think this stuff is more interesting than the Silla Electrica record. B-Side has some clever post-punky moves and as long as you can hang with her voice for a whole EP, it's a decent Euro-punk ride. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Blondes Must Die Records // www.blondesmustdierecords.tk)
COUM Transmissions "The Sound of Porridge Bubbling" LP
Second release of COUM recordings from Dais, these being from 1971 and are actually their first studio recordings, although you'd think this was them fiddling around in their flat with a four track. "Them" being Genesis P-Orridge and his cohorts in the pre-Throbbing Gristle days. Extreme experimental music, although not in thee way you might think of TG as extreme. Just really far out concepts for the time: spoken word pieces over someone tapping on a drum, heavy breathing poetry, minimal noise compostions utilizing what sounds like a jew's harp and tape manipulation, recordings of church bells, the radio, random conversations, some violin freakouts. Such oddity didn't get them any airplay from John Peel, but did begin to set the foundation for what was to come. More art and concept than there is substance or music. Of interest as a document, and P-Orridge's excellent liner notes make it an easier listen, but I'm afraid this is for TG completists and DIY/experimental superfans only. Limited to 300 copies. (RK)
(Dais Records // www.daisrecords.com)
The Cysts “Public Release” 7”
A whole buncha indecipherable whiplash-inducing muddled noisefuck nut-suckers of songs that sounds like some well-meaning dudes covering the Repos at the holiday covers show in your town but forgetting that band of lunar paleotards’ sonic feats at home with the condom in the nightstand drawer. Bummer. Have fun being the cool dads who play unhinged hardcore in the dry-walled nook that may be palatable if it wasn’t so preoccupied with forcing an aura. The aesthetics of it are outlandish too (back cover is so cheesy it makes blah blah blah look like yada yada yada, right?). Some really embarrassing pseudo-philosophical yawp on the full-color promo sheet doesn’t do it any favors. Portland, OR strikes again. (BG)
(Eolian Records // www.eolianrecords.com)
Devil Eyes s/t CD
Mystery band from Montreal with a heavy & thick sound that is pretty hard to pin down. There’s southern swagger and a gloomy northwestern feel to the first few numbers ("Rip My Heart Out", "Noctilucent Ghost", etc.). The bummer vibes are amped up, sang nervously and played with a shit ton of force. They’ve even got some SoCal surf punk in the instrumental bits. Friends of Dark Meat and not afraid to blow a horn or mess things up some, neither. "Akuma Gyoshi" knocks one out of the ballpark with its long Julian Cope jizz-fueled Japrock power and 70’s style, updated with gonzoid hardcore breakdowns. More Wayne Rogers than Agnostic Front. Every track sounds like it could be a different band, but they’re all obviously label mates. Members switch off instruments and take turns at the mic. Some ain’t in English. Nope. Pretty original, or at least good influence arranged with originality. Even had the balls to get all "Willie the Pimp" in "Spookfish", but they punk-prog it up in a Terrible Twos way. A lot of slide-a-rific moments help me in deciding this goes into the keeper pile. Like to see them live. Someday? (RSF)
(Signed By Force // www.signedbyforce.com)
The Dictaphone "Controlled Meetings" EP
Sweet Rot hits off all you fans of French weird-punk with another single's worth of the goods. I'm led to believe this is a one-man project, but I could be wrong. I'm going to guess this guy knows someone in Crash Normal at the very least. Sounds like the middle ground between AH Kraken/Anals family tree and Cheveu. Ominous, not that digital/synthy sounding though, has a real post-punk style attack, almost a Fall-like twang and cadence that will make you at least think of Ben Wallers. "Farfarfarfar" has real rhythmic drive, "Visibility Slight" lumbers like a beast, and the rest flirt about with off-kilter yet hypnotic construction. Mid-grade French stuff I liked better than any AH Kraken or Anals record (which Dictaphone are not as blown-out or aggro as), but Francophiles and weirdos all over should dig this one.(RK)
(Sweet Rot // myspace.com/sweetrotrecords)
Donald Thompson "Bite My Ass" EP
High octane rawk'n'roll from Italy! About as enjoyable as a kick in the nuts.(RK)
(Tornado Ride Records // myspace.com/donthompsonband)
Dry Rot "Philistine" LP
I don't want to say Dry Rot are controversial, because to me they're not. But their personal religious beliefs somehow get a lot of people's panties in a bunch for whatever ridiculous reasons. Who cares if they thank God on their insert when they've released what is probably the best hardcore full length of the year. For Christians they certainly are some weird fucking dudes, and that's all that matters to me. 'Philistine' racks up some serious points for unrelenting and furious hardcore rippers, but it's the stuff that happens in between that makes them a special band. Strange instrumental passages that sound as if they could've come from some Nineties alternative band, a surprising array of odd guitar and bass sounds, the mellow jam of "Can A Game Kill Time?" and it's tape-tricked vocals, some weird-punk breakdowns, some post-hardcore Touch&Go-ish moves, there are unconventional touches all over this LP. It's not often you get a hardcore record with this much character, and it makes you enjoy the crushing Die Kreuzen-like bring-the-hate moshers even more. A band has to be pretty good at the basics to pull off the weird stuff. And Dry Rot are just that, not some generic punk band trying to play the weird card (or using their religion to stir controversy/sales, but even if they are, who can blame 'em?), they are a genuinely blistering outfit at the base level which allows them to fit all the unusual moments into their work seamlessly. Nothing seems forced or contrived, no shoehorned in eccentricity just for the sake of it. The most interesting and individualistic band in hardcore punk today, they've gotten better with each release and this LP is certainly and rightfully the high point of their path so far. I can't recommend this record enough, even to all you garage rockers out there who think you outgrew hardcore years ago. Dry Rot and their debut LP rise above genre confines and should appeal to all and any who appreciate idiosyncratic rock music in general. Scum stats: test/tour press version of 100 copies has been floating about for a bit with alternate silk-screened sleeves. Regular release should be widely available. And as a footnote, the drummer of Saccharine Trust plays on this LP.(RK)
(Parts Unknown Records // www.partsunknownrecords.com)
Estrogen Highs "Tell It To Them" LP
Debut long-stepper from Connecticut's finest. As cliched as it may be to say, this band and their records are real growers. The singles never struck me that immediately, but I always found myself coming back to them repeatedly, and this record is no different. Somehwere around the fifth or so listen it finally sinks its teeth into you. I think their low key approach facilitates this phenomenon. They're not the most blazing, loudest or fastest garage-punkers out there, their recordings tend to be thin and treble-heavy (in a good way, mind you) and their hooks tend to be of the delayed release variety. I guess that's their "thing", this unassuming aesthetic. They're not show-offs, not out to beat you into submission with excessive blow-out scuzz and effects everywhere. What they do here is play some lean-n-clean rock'n'roll, real reverent to the honest Sixties true-blue garage formula (no psych/freakbeat/whathaveyou bleed over). Sneaky hooks, clean-n-twangy guitars with a deceptive solo here and there, punk moments without having to scream it out, maintaining the mid-tempo pace while still able to shift gears effectively. "Thinkin' of My Health" kicks it off with their most savage rave, "Logical Doctor" is dark head-nod punk, and a lot of this truly evokes the minimal vibe some of the earliest Black Lips records were channeling. "Age of Romantics" and "God Is Black" is one of the better one-two closer tandems in a bit. Finishing on a high note, You have to appreciate that on an LP. Stuff with substance you might not expect from these kids. A good record that I think deserved a bigger push from a better label.(RK)
(Dead Beat Records // www.dead-beat-records.com)
The Equalities “On the Street!” LP
There may be to some degree a subconscious lineage in Japcore that, somewhere between Confuse and Gastunk, a stadium rock element penetrated the production and sorta stuck around, weaving in and out of prominence, making the end product sometimes a bit more profound than the three chord romps about the street and the punx and the punx on the street would normally denote. I think it’s at play a tad here. But this of course sounds more like a fine jap spin on British Oi!, sure to accent a footy hooligan video montage beautifully. From the various international drunk punk comps I was subjected to during high school, this is a nice cross-section of that strand. (BG)
(Loud Punk // www.loudpunk.com)
Everything Falls Apart "Relief" LP
Wouldn't it be funny if these guys didn't even like Husker Du? Okay, maybe not. The young 'core-kids play hard and flirt with the more melodic side of the genre at times, but that's not to say they can't rip it when needed. Check the mosh part on the closer ("Roses") for eveidence. An even ten tracks that don't pull from the Mould canon as much as you'd think and even remind me a bit of some Leatherface in their more mid-tempo moments. Refreshing in that it's hardcore that isn't following the current trends (mysterious guy Kvlt Ritual stuff, or powerviolence rehash, or poppy bullshit), they pull out a record with hopeful sounding and driving riffs, tough and tasteful vox and a classy reverence for real punk ideals. When they thrash it up, they sound close to Career Suicide without the LA-punk backbone. Well recorded, guitars and vox get good treatment. For fans of working class American hardcore and Rust Belt angst. Catch them touring Europe to open the new year. (RK)
(self-released // www.everythingfallsapart.org)
Ex-Humans “Chicane” 7”
“Chicane” is galloping, full-flavored melodic street-meets-garage type punk with yet more Carbonic residue. Sounds like it could have been on their LP if it was a bit more urgent and rough-hewn in disregarding the use of those uber-melodic vocals sparingly - rocked up, filled out and dumbed down. “Detector” is the cooler composition me thinks – a swinging momentum-picker-upper that sprints into an even deeper inlet of Carboner territory. Y’know… leather jackets and expensive digital cameras used to snap the shots of them wearing ‘em on the back. A crisp and regimented textbook-learned NYC punk foray. (BG)
(Full Breach Kicks // www.fullbreach77.com)
Factums "Flowers" LP
Fourth Factums full-length and their second on Sacred Bones. I was pissed at these guys for a while there after that "soundtrack" LP that I bought just tanked on my turntable. I'm still not a believer in that particular LP, but I've come to terms with the band overall. I always want more actual songs and less in the way of soundscape/film score doodling, but I just can't impose my wants on bands like that. It just sets me up for disappointment. And when it does come to doing avant stuff, Factums can pull off a pretty good show. Going into a Factums LP, I guess you have to be prepared for a volley of seemingly improvised pieces or ideas that haven't fully germinated amongst some strong weird-rock compositions and enriching music that could score a multitude of student films. All this being said, this could be the strongest Factums LP to date. There's a lot to like, aside from the challenge of trying to follow the tracklisting, but this delivers in spades. Intelligence-esque oddball-pop moves, Chrome-plated weird-punk, dank soundtrack work, undersea rock'n'roll songs, nasty bassline riding noise-rock, NZ-styled dreamworks, I could go on. So much to absorb here. Some highlights would be "Bend" which reminded me these guys are as punk as anyone when they feel like it, the krauty "Solar Wind", the wonderful Stooges-like cacophony of "Split Screen" (sax and sex beat included free of charge), a replay of "See Inside" (and these recordings are from the time period of 'Alien Natives' and might actually make a better LP), the Finbergian "Gold" and perhaps the moment that has endeared this band to me more than any other, a little number titled "Sod" which has them retooling the riff from "March of the S.O.D." for their own purposes. I was close to writing this band off, but I'm back in the fold. The best record in their catalog so far, a dense and dark twenty-plus tracks that provide both art and substance. Highly recommended. Scum stats: 150 copy Special Edition, but even the regular edition is nicer than most releases on any other label. Sacred Bones continues to take label design and packaging to new heights.(RK)
(Sacred Bones // www.sacredbonesrecords.com)
Feeling Of Love “Suck/Soul/Porn” 12”
This is a concept record, right? There’s some grade A (almost to the point of being scary) hero worship going on that the FBI might wanna’ look into. These Frenchies that named themselves after a Blues Explosion song have now gone and released a record dedicated to all things Cafritz. Those following the band over the years might recall they already had a song called "Julie C" on a previous 45. If you don’t know who she is/was…there ain’t really a reason for me to continue. Serious stalker shit is taken to the next level here with bastardized 'Corpse Love' artwork and even more “Julie-isms” within. "The Way to Suck" is a mean spirited romp thru Pussy Galore's "Die Bitch" riffs and "Trashcan Oil Drum" breaks, regurgitated, twisted and spat out over some even harsher feedback. I’m sold on this one. Originality may be moot, but screw it…I love this tune. That tune. Those tunes. All.
"Soul Track" (a title ya’d think Jon Spencer had to have used already) is a repetitive clanker that could be an early Action Swingers recording…but it’s not. See where this is going? Bluesy and brutal in delivery. In the red drumming chugs it all along nicely. Wrappin’ it up is thee actual cover song; "I Hate Porn" originally by Halo of Kitten. Yes, the HAZE and Free Kitten collaboration from the AmRep Nineties. ‘Cept this time it's given the glue-wave treatment and makes you think of Cheveu or something arty. Funny how this cover is the least recognizable of the three tunes. I’m telling you, a concept! And it’s the kind of concept I endorse wholeheartedly. B-side is a big ass etched pentagram with other splattery goodness involved. More songs would’ve been nice…but they had to exorcise these certain demons in a solo manifestation, I suppose. Understandable. It’s therapeutic. A solid hit for the folks who miss their scum rockin’ NY years. I’m teasin’ my hair and thinking about shooting up as I type. (RSF)
(HBSP-2X Records // www.hbsp-2x.com)
Feeling of Love "Waiting for the Cheerleaders to Get Drunk" 7"
First new vinyl action from FoL after their wax assault from a year or so ago. I always held them in high regard amongst their French brethren, as I felt they brought a certain sick sense of humor to the table, and their penchant for referencing (and equally skewering and loving) American pop culture (from Michael Jordan to Julia Cafritz) made them more entertaining than many of their contemporaries. "...Cheerleaders..." works itself into a sick drone, rising for the chorus a bit, an adult Frenchman waxing about perhaps hanging out under the bleachers smoking brown cigarettes or lurking the periphery of cool-clique high school parties waiting...lurking is a good descriptive for this one. It never really completey rises or falls, just lurks there, not really being totally creepy but not being un-creepy either. Subdued and uncomfortably rocking. Flipside is "What's Your Name? Who's Your Daddy?", twisting The Zombies into something full of slide-guitar accented skeeviness. I was kind of burnt on this band by the time their LP hit last year, but this is a good shot to remind me I like their style far more than some of their countrymen getting bigger hype.(RK)
(Avant! Records // myspace.com/avantrecords)
Flight "Over My Head" 10"
I was more than ready for this EP after digging the hell out of their 7" on Sweet Rot. Four more songs added to the catalog (with another 7" and LP in the works), and although it's not completely strong, it has some very high points. The one rather large pitfall of being a one-man project is that it seems difficult to not make everything sound the same and relying on the same tricks/effects from release to release. Without some extra heads in the "band" I imagine it's rather easy to fall into a rut. What sounds stunning on a debut can easily turn tiring when repeated on each subsequent record. Mr. Flight (all one-man mystery bands are to be referred to as Mr.____, it's the rule) isn't treading water just yet, but he does reach for that squealing synth or whatever is quite a bit and you can only get so much out of the same vocal treatment. But I still like it. He has a lot going on in these songs anyway, sounding rather complex for one dude. No minimalism here, plenty of instrumentation filling out the creative melange of dreary post-punk and sweeping upbeat glam-pop. The title cut is is march-tempo downer pop, and contains the first of a few really good hooks. He doesn't lean on the synth so much on this one, it's more loud drums and guitar hammering with a good "Woo-ooo-oo-oo" refrain. "My Business" ups the frantic antics, but wedging some even poppier moves into the verses as well, and adding a killer breakdown part at the end. So far so good. And it gets better. "Unpredictable" leads off side B, and it's the best thing on this slab and his best song so far. A real evil banger, with a supreme hook and massive beat. It's like gothic post-punk melded with glam stomp, and switches from almost upbeat pop to downer punk seamlessly. A fantastic song. The closer is pretty mellow, and it's at this point that woo-ing synth/chorus thing he uses gets into overkill territory. It would be hard to follow "Unpredictable" anyway. A mighty good EP, but I have to wonder how much more mileage he has in the tank now. I'm going to keep my hopes high. I really love the artwork for this one, for some reason the Dawn of the Dead screen shot with the Crimson Skull guy in the foreground juxtapozed against the totally bubblegum band logo is hilarious to me, and is actually a good visual interpretation of the seemingly at odds musical influences he's melding in his work.(RK)
(Kill Shaman // www.killshaman.com)
Foreign Objects s/t EP
To me, there’s two types of hardcore: 1) that which asserts its enmity with blatant cuffs of sound to your chest, not really daring to hit below the belt, just getting its tiff through your caveman skull full of gender politics and vegan recipes and leaving it at that, and 2) that which doesn’t even have to utter a comprehensible word, just an animalistic belch, and pulls the rug out from under you and dives without looking to your proverbial groin, pummeling without purpose and proving the poignancy of Jung and Nietzsche by jogging your unconscious memory back to the days when your Old World relatives wallowed in shit and pulled beats from the dirt, lopping into them with festering gums while masturbating in the shrubs. Unfortunately I think this band belongs to the first camp. Like the East and West side of any big city – a clash of civilizations with different standards of achievement. But… since most kids don’t think about fuckin’ psychology when they’re listening to punk music, I reckon this’ll be a platter held in high regard, and that’s because it’s overflowing with viss ‘n pinegar, is catchy as hell, doesn’t pull too much from any one recognizable country/fashion/musical pattern, has some good innovative songwriting touches like the orgasmic chorus of “Fixed Failure,” and is has heritage in pop-structure instead of lo-fi metal or some other atonal junk. Snotty female vocals color the medium-hot tempo, metallic snare clang and hook-laden tunes and rack up some tasteful and earnestly chic hardcore, rife with alterno-culture appeal. Lyrics are keen if not a romp in thesaurus-poetry. Any band that uses “but I digress” in hardcore lyrics won’t mind how pedantic this review is, I hope, and psychobabble aside, this is evidence that there remain refreshing seeds to be sown in the ‘core garden. (BG)
(Loud Punk // www.loudpunk.com)
Fresh & Onlys “Grey-Eyed Girls” LP
This sounds like aurora borealis. Like a dreaming art student. Like misty petals and swaying meadows. Like the sky. This is the apex of ethereality, where the atmosphere of shitkicking planet Termbo ends and the squelching void of lush catatonia, neutered niceness, scarf-wearing and hand-holding begins and extends infinitely. A cosmic cranny floating across naked spans of echo, every instrument removed from the façade of your stereo speakers to varying depths – doused in ‘verb, miles from present. A thick plate glass window acts to strain from the final product anything sonically offensive, and an unimpeded hum resides way in the back of the mix like the rays of sun beaming down on the hazy summer afternoon that is this album… A lot of bands write happy music, but not many immortalize it – exalt it to cosmic heights and cement it there like they’ve been chosen to, just sort of capturing this intense glee in a jar and kneeling down while handing it up to our Father. On “Grey-Eyed Girls” the F&O’s aren’t just translating to soundwaves their goodness, they’re channeling the eternal goodness that we all get a peek of now and again and spitting it out as a tangible thing, perhaps proving it exists in the wake of ever-present doubt. These compositions make me think that this rec is a self-help project – that their linear construct and willed execution vouch for its necessity. They seem to have lost their prior LP’s garagey edge, probably to the annals of substance-saturated lukewarm psyches (aside from the gyrating hip-bouncer “Oh What A Feeling” which employs the finest dog bark ever pressed to wax, and a song about an elevator that harks back to the summer of love for very emotive fem-melody). Oh well. Prancing atop altocumulus clouds on reindeer suits these cats juuuuust fine. (BG)
(Woodsist Records // www.woodsist.com)
Fresh & Onlys "Laughter Is Contagious" 7"
"Laughter..." builds character on spacey one-finger organ echoes/slides, Shayde's sturdy bass playing and an actual laughing chorus. A psychy-pop confection that I wish was longer and a killer in the live setting. "Horrible Door" is pretty frantic sounding for the F&Os, a peppy little 1-2 garage beater with some dreamy femme back-ups and fine harmonica bits and a lot of other textures to be found on repeat listens. These guys have a great talent for sneaking everything but the kitchen sink in some songs and still not sounding too busy, and also throwing something new at you with each appearance while maintaining their "sound". A nice little single with a vibe all its own apart from their LP. Scum stats: TIM keepin' it real, 500 numbered copies on "garbage" wax (mine's marbly black), beautiful company sleeves/labels, download card included.(RK)
(Trouble In Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Fungi Girls "Seafaring Pyramids" LP/CD
Lightweight indie-punk LP via some kids from Bumfuck, Texas on the Denton-based Play Pinball label. I was anticipating something fairly generic in a Redd Kross-swiping vein or a Wax Museums-esque party punk band or maybe even Marked Men-lite, but they actually have some heavy Nineties Alterna-vibes going here. I'm still not sure if that's a 100% good thing, but I enjoy the fact they eclipsed my poorly researched expectations and threw a curveball of sorts. Vocals get a little wishy-washy at times, but they play with the guitar sounds well, drumming is solid/simple and they seem to have better success at grinding out the indie rock stuff than they do the punky/poppy material. "Crystal Roads" sounds like a less powerful Dino Jr. track, "Kowloon Walled City" is an atmospheric and subdued stab at noise-rock, "Clouds" is evocative lo-fi drone. The B-Side is where this thing is really at, aside from the fop-pop opener with the feedback hook ("Pacifica Nostalgia"), which is also a sludge-pop monster at 33rpm (yes, didn't realize this was a 45rpm LP until later). Only eight cuts, and half of them are pretty mediocre stabs at neo-indie/garage with regrettable vox, but there are also four cuts of very decent Nineties-reverent indie-ism which was a welcome change of pace. Not amazing by any regard but a first release with some potential, and I give some bonus points for the gutsy move of releasing a debut 12" instead of a 7", even if they don't totally succeed. Just as good as many flavors-of-the-week on hipper labels. Scum stats: 500 copies, 400 black vinyl, 50 blue vinyl, 50 gold, but I swear mine looks green.(RK)
(Play Pinball! // playpinballrecords.bigcartel.com)
Ganglians s/t mini-LP
Some real candy-ass shit. This is exactly the type of shite Pitchfork are probably fooling people into thinking is "the cutting edge of the new lo-fi vanguard" or some other hyperbole. Sounds pretty lazy to me, perhaps another case of a band utilizing the lo-fi medium to mask a lack of composition and/or talent. Reminiscent of the second Eat Skull LP, but minus any of the catchy tunes or pop moxie, with maybe the occassional Intelligence or Horseshit swipe. The couple of songs where they play straight folk are the most redeeming moments ("The Void" and it's spectral presence would be the one song I would save from this record), which brings us to a theory I have where a lot of this neo-no-fi-pop "movement" is just folk dudes getting a little weird and branding it as something else to get garage and/or indie kids to bite. And bite they do. Also falls victim to the "Let's find a weird picture and stick some eyeballs on it!" variety of cover art that is prevalent in this "genre".(RK)
(Woodsist // www.woodsist.com)
Gardens "In Novelty Land" EP
Precious jangle-garage from the New Detroit Sound. "All Is School All Are Teachers" is really profound and full of meaningful sentiment. It really made me think. Think about how fucking lame this shit is. The B-Side is musical Ambien. I might've disliked this less if it weren't for the band picture on the rear sleeve. Sometimes you really can tell a band sucks just by how they look. And someone please show Dave Italy how to use photoshop, these labels are pixellated so bad it hurts.(RK)
(Italy Records // www.italyrecordsdetroit.com)
The Gears "Rockin' At Ground Zero" 2XCD/LP
Repackage/reissue of one of the most underrated Cali-punk records of all time. 'Rockin'...' has at least a half-dozen stone classics on it and little if any filler inbetween. Here it gets the deluxe treatment, issued with the EP tracks as a bonus along with five unreleased demos from '79. The demo stuff offers up an unheard original, "Girl Crazy", which is actually quite good, and a rockabilly version of "Rockin at Ground Zero" which is quite unnecessary, but hints at the bonus disc material offered with the Deluxe Edition. And that CD is a "Rare Cuts!" disc from Axxel's post-Gears unit the D.I.s (no, not that DI). 22 tracks of rockabilly and roots rock that you don't really need or want to hear, whether it was produced by Billy Zoom or not. I get the feeling this stuff is what got Hepcat involved, as a Gears reissue on a modern rockabilly label does seem sort of bizarre. So, the big question here is, is this better than the Bacchus Archives version from years past? Well, it retains the original artwork for one thing (the sleeve of the B.A. reissue always bugged me for some reason). The EP cuts appear on both versions. The "remastering" job sounds OK to me, and the demo cuts are decent enough. I can't say that you really need this if you already have an original or the Bacchus version however. The pricey vinyl edition is limited to 500 copies on yellow wax, and you can also get a single CD version or the Deluxe Edition which comes with the D.I.s disc. (RK)
(Hepcat Records // www.hepcatrecords.com)
General Interest "Right By The Beach" LP
45rpm full length from a Boston-based band with a heavy Minutemen vibe and DC post-hardcore influence. Post-punk with some funk and stream of consciousness vocal-talking, seemingly reading directly from his notebook full of biting social commentary. Has some heavy touches, perhaps hinting at a hardcore background. Title track and "Nuke the Ocean" are delightfully droll and most of it is rather clever. Musically quite precise, stop-starting on dimes (or double nickels, hah!) and such, winding bass-led structures with guitar punctuation. There's even a riff or two hiding out. "Drunk Doctor" and "Sick of Waiting" almost flirt with Big Boys-esque funk-punk without the volume. Bonus points given for anti-crust punk sentiment ("Your Crass backpatch would agree/You're a piece of shit/I hope your dog eats you/when you OD") and this is a rare occassion where a lyric sheet was actually a good idea. Quite enjoyable and priced to move.(RK)
(Ride the Snake // www.ride thesnakerecords.com)
German Measles "Wild" 12" EP
Unobtrusively bland and "quirky" pop from NYC featuring members of Cause Co-Motion. Stupid songs that sound like they might have been made up on the spot by a bunch who seem like they would be the really annoying kids at a party. I'd imagine their fanbase doesn't (and won't) extend too far outside of Brooklyn, but who knows, people never cease to surprise me. Extremely shitty cover art, but I'm thinking that just might be part of their "we're so wacky, we just don't give a damn!" band concept. I also just noticed this has the catalog number CT-030...thirty releases already?! Damn, slow down bros. Take a breath or something. Eat some lunch. Take a nap. With that kind of breakneck pace I can kinda see how a log like this slithered through quality control.(RK)
(Captured Tracks // www.capturedtracks.com)
Gestapo Khazi s/t 12" EP
Long Beach dudes (ex-Geisha Girls) going for an interesting LA/UK post-punk blend. I appreciate the surfy guitar influence, and they create a fairly stark template for their black-and-white sounding approach. Has a pretty heavy Slash Records vibe, definitely reaching for some Gun Club and Flesheaters roots rock but disguising the obvious blues moves with twangy SoCal guitar and some Britty sounding and minimally rhythmic push. Sparse and non-fancy in a deliberate way and dark but not wholly cold. The Blood reference and Der TPK-esque pseudonymns seem to be a little bit at odds with the more refined musical presence (and the lyrics show a flair for cryptically poetic drama ala JLP), but I guess all punks never fully mature. In the end, it's actually quite enjoyable and a welcome varaince from some of the wares usually being peddled to TB HQ these days.(RK)
(Deadbeat Records // www.dead-beat-records.com)
Girls “Album” LP/CD
Holy Shit!!! What a blisteringly confusing time we live in. Everyday on the news I hear crazy story after crazy story about things like: marginally talented failed actor dads trying to trick everyone into thinking that their son accidentally flew away in a balloon (REALLY?!?), or kid toucher weirdos who claim they can control sound with their minds kidnapping young girls and stowing them away in tents for almost twenty years completely unnoticed.
It seems as though everyone is a fucking lunatic these days, and Girls front man Christopher Owens seems to be no exception. Apparently, this dude grew up in the Children of God cult, ran away, became homeless, then boy hustled his way into the heart and pocketbook of some old rich dude and then started writing songs or something like that. Well thankfully, this particular cult story didn’t end with an eerily docile field full of Kool-Aid mustachioed corpses. Instead though, what we get from this cult story is a mostly listenable, albeit overrated record called “Album” (However, I’m a little bummed it didn’t end with something as hilariously tragic and stupid as a hang-gliding accident).
The album starts of pretty strong with one of the singles, “Lust for Life.” It’s a song that is actually kind of sad, and some of the things that this dude wishes for are surprisingly universal and pretty easy to identify with. The vocals in this one are pretty good and kind of disturbing (I honestly thought the vocal warble was from a warped LP the first time I heard it). The second single is “Laura” which is about a breakup and almost certainly autobiographical and frankly a little creepy. All I know is that I would never want to break up with this sad crybaby weirdo. I mean unless I wanted some dude standing outside of my window watching me while I slept, or following me around at a party like a broke-dick dog, yelling at me and wondering “where we went wrong?” Honestly to me, I can’t think of any other stand out tracks, I’ve listened to this a handful of times, and I can’t remember most of the other songs. I made an effort to try and get into this, but honestly, I just don’t care about this record. So, interpret that how you will.
I’ve read a lot of shit about this record, because it’s kind of hard to avoid if you have an internet connection. It’s a pretty good album full of rock influenced by surf, 60’s pop, JAMC, and girl groups, but with a pretty gimmicky back story. In the end though, it IS incredibly overrated. This is one I would approach with caution. If you are ok with over-hyped music that EVERYONE seems to unanimously get behind, then get this. To me it’s pretty good and inoffensive. I feel like a lot of people can relate to and will enjoy this music that borderlines on voyeuristic at times. Had this record come out about maybe four or five years ago when I ACTUALLY was a sad, lonely, white boy then I probably would be more into this, but fortunately, I quit being a baby. (ES)
(True Panther Sounds // www.truepanther.com)
Girls At Dawn "Never Enough" 7"
Dreamy jangle-pop via three girls from Brooklyn of all places. Who would've guessed? Next thing, you're gonna try and tell me they have a release upcoming on Captured Tracks. I'm not falling for that one! Anyway, better than Dum Dum Girls at least. Actually way better than that. Girl-group melodies married to echoed-out home-recorded vibes. "Never Enough" is painfully simple and a little awkward, rudimentarily played and even though I'm trying to fight it, it's actually pretty damn catchy. The vocals push a little too much, but the tambourine and super-echoed drum sound mellow it out a bit. B-Side has its rewards as well, same base-level playing, but I think the vox are more even in the mix on this one and it's like an undead Ronettes in certain passages. A dreamy sounding song about dreaming? Crazings! Did I mention they're better than the Dum Dum Girls? It'd be easy to dismiss this as another Vivian Girls knock-off, and I'm sure a good percentage of you already have, but I think they have a little more to offer than that. For fans of semi-inept echo-pop. The Shaggs of the Captured Tracks roster? Or calculated incompetence? You make the call! Scum stats: 200 on gold with 'Mininal Opacity' alt sleeve, buy the regular version if you want to see what these broads look like, because that's important, right? You fucking pigs...(RK)
(HozAc // www.hozacrecords.com)
Glitter Wizard "Black Lotus" 7"
I have no idea which particular persons might be involved, but the wire tells me Glitter Wizard contains members of Monoshock, Liqourball and Nothing People. Someone get me a bib. Stoney jams, half doomy/proto-metal and half heavy propulsion space-rock psych. "Black Lotus" is smash-tempo balls-out wah-wah-rock (and actually busts out of the gate sounding more than a bit like Monoshock), coated with some sci-fi oscillator sweeps, psych-y organ and double guitar solo jamming. Ridiculous lyrics seem to be a plus ("Im so high/where am I/I lost my mind" is how it goes I think). Really, it's just a recipe for success. Definite Rock with a capital R. Actually, sounds a lot like early Monster Magnet. "Witches Limbo" gets into a more Sabbath-y groove with an insane lead guitar rip that picks up the pace midway before settling back into bonging speed. The absolutely hilarious thing about all this is that these aren't even their best songs. They have a tape out which is jam-packed with even heavier vibes and that sounds even more like evil biker-rock and is far less stereotypically stoner sounding and more like Motorhead/Hawkwind. I'm not lying. Do you think songs titled "Motorcycle Highway" and "Like It Rough" are going to be wimpy? I'll be fucked if someone isn't going to release this shit on LP with haste. Scum stats: 300 on purple wax with silk screened sleeves and insert. Band member "names" include: Fancee Cymbals on drums, Lorfin Terrafor on axe, Wendy Stonehenge on vox (that's a dude)...yeah, this is pretty good stuff.(RK)
(SansEscape Records // myspace.com/sansescaperecords)
Golden Boys “Electric Wolfman” LP
These southern underdogs have released LP number four onto the unsuspecting underground and I’m still waiting for everyone (shit, or anyone) to catch on. Sad fools. The first record was a delicious train wreck of sloppy good times. The second is a Gawd Damn masterpiece in my book and y’all should be hip to it by now. The third…the third? Yeah that’s right, most of yous missed this’n. A Mike Vasquez produced gem that would saddle up nicely with any of the Memphis all-star spinners in yer collection. If it was on Sympathy ’01, peeps be shitting Twinkies. Welp, this is their fourth album proper and second one in a year. Greg Ashley tags along and twiddles the knobs, playing on it as well, but it doesn’t feel like he messed with their formula too much. Their formula being: Drunk. They all got that’n down. Screwball shenanigans start things off with the funk vibe of the title track, tackling Zevon monster love in a Shaftman way. From there it moves into 'Whiskey Flower' territory, which is fine and dandy to me. Slightly hazed psychedelics and malt liquor sunstroke causing damage to the troubadours mind. Mynde. Play till you sweat it out, son. A long player chock full of grande southern stylings in the likes of Compulsive Gamblers, Lou Reed, early American Deathray, or even some 'Let It Bleed'-era Stones. Texans doin’ it right and proper; so don’t mess with it. "Kontroll Girls" is the hit, like an Arthur Lee tune with a Spanish touch all jacked up on trucker speed and Tex-Mex tacos. Thing whips me into a dance mode. Weird lil’ pop tunes come ‘n’ go with squiggly backup vox, way-damaged soloing and other downright head scratching studio noodle (check out "She Said It" and hang out till the end!), just to keep you on yer toes. Pretty great soulful ballads are peppered throughout this insanity to let ya know they ain’t just all fuckin’ around. Will jams like "Rock With Me Forever" end up on my mix tapes for years to come? You can count on that, Jack. I could throw a shit-ton of references and more nods at’cha, but that would just be cheap. I’ve done enough damage already. Ross Johnson stops by to voice his concern for the Boys, and then proclaims it alright in the name of a party. Not nekkid, but whatev. Good shizz. Bottoms up.(RSF)
(Daggerman Records // www.daggermanrecords.com)
Gone To Croatoan “They” 7”
Well this here’s an odd one. Iron Lung style duo blasting grind that sounds a little like Jeff Buckley stepped up to the mic during its quieter moments. Huh? A spazz take on the early Melvins catalog…with the band squeezing an LP worth of material onto a single. Seems a tad too progressive for its own good. The flip gets more interesting with some Swans dirge and some 90’s hardcore leaving a heavy handed imprint. Still, more than a little put off by the high vocals when this dude’s not screaming. I dig it when it just pukes up Burmese style noise, then the noodle-y fruit loopishness takes it back down a notch. I’d watch ‘em play a street corner fer sure, but not really gonna’ spin the record that much. Nice screened sleeve and limited, I’d assume. (RSF)
(Eolian Records // www.eolianrecords.com)
Haunted George "Where's Charlie Jones?" 12" EP
Website only 12" EP from Haunted George Pallow released as a tease for the upcoming 'American Crow' LP. Big news here is HG has expanded the sound, recruiting some actual band members (ex-Necessary Evils cohort and In the Red design-pro Jimmy Hole on second guitar and brother-in-arms Montgomery Buckles on occassional synth) and recording in an actual studio (ITR go-to-guy Mike McHugh/Distillery), and not surprisingly it helps more than a bit. Either you love the guy's schtick or you don't, and personally I've liked the trip so far. The only bit hampering him was him falling into an all-too-similar OMB sound over the duration his LPs. Pallow definitely has a unique take on the genre, but after three full lengths and a slew of 7"es, you do start to get a bit tired of the overall sound no matter how much you dig the eerie angle he brings. The template doesn't actually change much entirely, but the added instrumentation brings some needed texture, making it sound just different enough. The title cut is a side long opus, with theremin-like synth blowing dark desert dust over the spaghetti Western-like drone. The flipside packs on five more bad juju bombers, "King of the Draculas" obviously being a stab at cashing in on the recent vampire craze (that was a joke, moron) with some nice reverb-slide guit, "Blood on the Moon" is wild Haze-goes-undead stomp, "Ghost Train" is a C&W-styled chugger, and "Willliam Cooper" continues Pallow's fascination with fringe wackos like Forest Ray Colson, this time telling the tale of the conspiracy theory wingnut and "Behold A Pale Horse" author. Great material, the extra guitar offers some more chances for solos/freak-outs while the other holds down the rhythm, drumbeats remian rudimentary and the synth fills in some crevices with additional ectoplasm. Pallow pushes his sound forward just enough here, and I hope he goes even further out on the LP. Scum stats: 500 copies, available direct from the label only.(RK)
(In the Red Records // www.intheredrecords.com)
Hell Shovel "Already Gone" 7"
Hey, I'm all for Demon's Claws side projects right now. They are the finest Canadian garage group to roam the Great White since the Deadly Snakes packed it in, after all. I think that 'Lost in the Desert' comp cemented that deal. So this is Jeff Clarke recording solo acoustic stuff at home and uhhh...yeah, I'm not that into it, even though I'm in total Claws fanboy mode this year. He picked a good Waylon Jennings song to cover ("She Called Me Baby") and "Already Gone" is decent rural folk, but it's just underwhelming. Not like I was expecting a monumental record, but after how great that Primitive Hands single was, I was hoping for a little something. Ah well. You know these Montreal cats, they love to release everything they record, good, bad or ugly. Nice wraparound sleeves, but really for completists only. (RK)
(Telephone Explosion // www.telephoneexplosion.com)
Here Comes A Big Black Cloud "Party Vietnam" 10"
HCABBC are one clusterfuck of a band, as their clusterfuck of a name suggests. They've been good-to-great-to-bad on their previous records and you get the same here with very little bad. "Chelsea Lea" revisits Nineties garage blow-outs, like a rougher-n-bassier Drags with a Mummies-like abandon for safety. "Scrilla" is theremin and organ haunted house jamming that would have been the best song on that Spooks 12". Then they cover early Dan Melchior ("Length of Pipe" from the Childish/Melchior LP) and sound like Demon's Claws while doing it. "Vietnam" sounds like an evil march through the jungle which segues into the Diddley-beat "Theme From American Idol" (which is just "Who Do You Love?" run thru the meat grinder). Closer "Skeleton Head" is more spooktastic stuff, but this time it's from the fun house instead of the haunted one. With a trumpet too. Not quite weird-punk, more like bizarre-garage or something. Clear wax, murky tunes. (RK)
(Stank House // www.stankhouserecords.com)
Home Blitz "Out of Phase" LP/CD
The first Home Blitz 7" is still probably the very best out-of-nowhere unsolicited review record I've received for TB in its history. One of those "Holy shit!" moments that make doing this such a pleasure. They're few and far between, but it's the promise of finding some kid from the middle of nowhere making great and weird music that you can't wait to talk about that keeps me going at times. In the couple of years since that record I've learned more about Daniel Dimaggio and who he is vicariously via the internet, and it hasn't made his music any less interesting. 'Out of Phase' is his first actual full length LP, and I'm pleased that he's come this far. It's always difficult to describe his music, and I still feel like I've never done it justice in words. Fractured pop songs. Eccentric garage. Off-kilter indie rock. Loner punk. I think saying it's a record by a college kid from New Jersey whose favorite band is Game Theory is a good and befuddling catch-all. 'OOP' is a dozen tracks showcasing Dimaggio's quite distinct songwriting voice. "Nest of Vipers" opens the record in punk-style, jam packed with bottles breaking, tape warble and a familiar-sounding guitar riff. A fake blues intro begins "Two Steps" before it turns into a jubilant pop song and one of his tightest compostions to date. "Route 18" reminds me of something off The Clap LP. "A Different Touch" is heavy and blown-out riff rock noise. "Nightime Feel" is rough and hooky garage rock. And there's a Cock Sparrer cover to boot. There's not a bad track here, including a couple "field recordings" from the streets of NJ, which on a lesser records could be called toss offs, but here enhance the intimate feel. Dimaggio is seems more focused and sure of himself than ever on this LP, mastering his idiosyncratic rock'n'roll craft. No posturing, just straight from the hip/heart songs whose perhaps primitive outward appearance reveal layer upon layer of craftmanship and uncommonly exuberant and personal music. There's something pure about Home Blitz to me. In the past I've compared him to personalities like Lou Barlow, Jad Fair and Jonathan Richman, and even though he may actually sound like them at times, I think it has more to do with the directness of their music, the purity of it, that it comes to you emotionally and musically undiluted. All great music comes directly from the gut, and I think Dimaggio comes at you with such moxie, such honest character that it can't help but be endearing. Uplifting and exciting music that reinforces the fact that great rock music can come from anywhere, even the most unlikely sources, as long as the spirit is there. Home Blitz is one of the high points of the decade for me, a punk band, a garage band, a pop band, all these things at once and in a way that you've never heard before. Life affirming music, and this is his best outing so far. Finally out on vinyl now as well, so I can stop listening to this damn CD.(RK)
(Richie Records // testostertunes.bllogspor.com)
Homostupids "The Load" LP
Quite frankly, there was not a record I was looking forward to more this year than 'The Load'. America's Greatest Band releasing their second LP is certainly the vinyl event of the year in my mind. The first three songs on this are further evidence that the 'stupids are most definitely the punkest thing in sport today. Smash-n-grab dum-dum rock fusing the finest elements of hardcore intensity and garage-punk fidelity. I'd also like to nominate Dale as the most underrated drummer in the game. Wheras 'The Intern' was a non-stop assault, the 'stupids, being forward-thinking gents, opt to not do the same thing over again and branch out. You get 'Brutal Birthday'-esque weirdness ("Therapist"), a band covering themselves ("Nighttime Flies"), perhaps their most epic punk rocker yet ("Baking the Wolf" and it's heavy-jam outro), one of their stupidest punk rockers yet ("Towering Powering"), experimental shit ("The Glow") and plenty of additional weirdness amdist more jabs of their traditonal Skull Music. "Flapping in the Water" is a pretty sprawling cut for a band who usually writes minute-and-a-half songs. Strangely, this record also contains title cuts for at least three of their previous records, none of which actually appeared on said records. And "I Am The Hawk" was the A-Side of that super-limited 7" they did on that obscure Euro label, so fear not if you missed that. All hyperbole aside, I do honestly feel that Homostupids are one of the best bands on the circuit these days, and I think they really one-upped themselves here, by offering up what might not be their best record, but definitely their weirdest and most challenging record to date. A good midway point between 'Cat Music" and Steve's earliest 'Brutal Birthday'/Factorymen stuff, but a bit less obtuse. There's supposedly a GG cover/tribute on here ("Candy Condor" perhaps?) and a guitar solo from Josh's daughter, so have fun digging around in the grooves for those. They could have given us 'The Intern' redux, but decided to give us something more. Not a disappointing gift at all.(RK)
(Load Records // www.loadrecords.com)
Horribly Wrong "C'mon And Bleed With..." LP
I remember these Bloomington, IN punkers having a pretty decent single a year or two ago and then vanishing. I actually think this LP is being released posthumously as well. It's a real trip whether this band is dead or alive or not, a trip back to the late Nineties when nasty garage-punk reigned supreme and playing folk music was still a pretty gay thing to be doing. How times have changed. Horribly Wrong pack nearly twenty cuts onto this beast, and it's a wild ride. At different times they remind me of the Rip Offs, The Dirtys, Antiseen, Candy Snatchers and/or The Problematics. Maybe even a little bit of a personal favorite of mine, the Jack Saints (a band I'm sure no one else gives two shits about). On "Lioneater" (which is thee cut on this one) and a couple other tracks they even have a New Detroit sort of hyperspeed frantic punk sound a la Terrible Twos (without the weird) or Fontana. A total throwback record, gravelly vox, great and booming drum sound, loud guitar (with hardly any distortion, it's weird to hear that these days, eh?), lyrics are actually really good which is something you can't say about a lot of bands of this ilk (which also reminded me of the Dirtys). Really sleazy through and through, some of the tunes are incredibly ultraviolent and the ones that aren't are either about being bad dudes and kicking ass or about bad girls. A surprising mix of styles, fast-paced rippers, slow and rough garage numbers, big rockers in a Dead Boys-via-Clone Defects vein, some goofy and mean bouncers, Rip Off Records styled punk, maybe even a good Junk Records-esque rawker or two. Some real hooky numbers with handclaps, some real nasty numbers with blood-on-the-strings guitar shredding. Recorded to good effect at the Sweatbox in Austin, it's a bit sloppy but not too lo-fi. More like medium-fi and loud as hell. This LP just has a great attitude, punk with swagger, humor and a mean streak. A hell of a lot of fun, if this came out out in 1997, these dudes would have been kings. Right now, they're still kings in my book for making a garage-rock record and remembering to put the rock in it. Unadulterated fun that you don't have to think too hard about liking. You just do. Scum stats: really wonderful packaging that you might not expect: 180 gram vinyl, silk-screened sleeves, download card, slick double sided lyric sheet and a button. 400 on black w/black sleeve, 100 on red w/red sleeves. Way to do it right fellas. I like to think Eradicator Records is a Kids in the Hall reference too...(RK)
(Eradicator Records // myspace.com/eradicatorrecords)
Hot Guts s/t 7”
Ordered this sucker on a whim (along with the new Drunkdriver/Mattin collaboration) and I’m pretty glad I did. Total blown-out downer pop. "The Ballad of Jon Simon" starts things off with some thick as meat guitar and a rhythm section playing in a river of molasses. Somehow catchy and not too far removed from the Pink Reason platters. "Abandon at Leisure" has weird electro-glitch leanings before its Shit-Fi© kicks in. Plenty of industrial guitar scrap comes along keeping it mechanical. Still a pop gem no matter how much ungodly scuzz ya toss on top. Side B’s "Did You Not Go…" is a long player; a tad more restrained and monotonous. Holds its own against the Liars or even 90’s Neubauten tracks. Just when you think their gonna collapse in their own ennui, the guitar comes along and sears the paint off these cold walls, leaving trace of some NY avant-gardeners from years past. Nice introduction. I’d be into more. Limited to 300 so if it sounds appealing (and it should) get on it. (RSF)
(Badmaster/Suicide Tax Records // www.badmasterrecords.com)
Jacuzzi Boys "No Seasons" LP
It's taken a little bit to get there, but the Jacuzzi Boys first LP has landed surefootedly on my turntable and the time taken to make a solid full length is greatly appreciated. After releasing a couple of the best singles of 2008, these cats were classy enough to concentrate on recording a worthwhile LP to follow them up. This is how it should be done. A dozen solid cuts of deep Florida psych, mellow for the most part, but still feeling a lot more rock than folk. There's certainly some fringe flying, maybe some (water) moccasin wearing, but their garage-rock tendencies balance out the hippie vibes, making for a satisfying listen for diggers across genres. Strong vocal performance by Gabriel, his echoed and drawn-out delivery coats most tracks with a nice glaze of trippy syrup while the band as a whole succeeds in a less-is-more approach. It's low frills stuff, and even when they do busy things up with extra percussion or other instrumentation, you barely realize it's happening. They throw quite a few sunshine-drenched rockers out there ("Blow Out Your Lights", "Fruits", "Throwing Stones") and only tackle a couple of their darker full-moon-on-the-beach cuts ("No Seasons", a redo of "Komi Caricoles"). Great driving music, "Island Avenue" was the ultimate crusing around cut (and they redo it here, not necessarily improving on it, but making it meld with the LP vibe nicely), and "Planet of the Dreamers" and "Burn it Down" impart the same rhythmic movement. Being a first LP, it's not without a couple missteps (I think a couple lyrics could use some work, and maybe just a little bit more variety), but it also shows a blossoming maturity and a real sense of a band who knows who they are. Extremely listenable under all situations: in the car, at home, in the day, in the night, anytime, any place. Mostly wonderful and containing more than a few moments of magic. Scum stats: first 100 on blue, comes with download, and insert. Bizarre artwork is a plus in my book.(RK)
(Floridas Dying // www.floridasdying.com)
Jail “There’s No Sky (Oh My My)” LP
Oh my my indeed. This one’s a scalp-scratcher; a real loop-thrower. The “Pardono” 7” was a misleading preview, maybe just to my active imagination that charted out these guys’ dynamic more than an ambiguous two-songer should beckon. Sucks that declination to full blown indie was the path for Milwaukee’s Jail. Indie, I say: the most wonderfully connoted term in our punkology lexicon. I stand by “Always Wrong” (one of the 7” tunes), being of the highest caliber song-craft – a sure guilty pleasure that’d fit snug in the stratum of ‘90s FM. But… this ain’t the ‘90s. Nobody’s a kid anymore, and the exponential progress of modernity means that pop culture means even less now, if you can imagine that. It’d at least make an argument on the contrary if that knack for arrangement reared its head more than just on “The Biggest Nugget of Them All” and “Love Takes Shots” (chorus is catchier than the pig flu). I started biting the fingernails when it became clear that this boat was not sinking, but plugged to the tee, ready for voyage, free of idiosyncratic little leaks, spurts, cues that this band is a bunch of humans – next stop, commercial success island. It seems Jail is ready for the airwaves: infallible production, solid instrumentation, and songmanship that’s as moderate as possible. I knew the battle was lost at the onset of mock-country vox, understanding of the rural via caricature – and that exploitation of Southern sounds is thematic for this rec. The assumption that a slide guitar is innately emotive and injects authenticity into this stuff is the same folly as synth-suckers and the processed, punk equivalent to SPAM they mold. Gotta prove it guys, not rely on de facto glee for lack of getting your feet wet. The local boundedness that’s risen flavor from music for so long is on the way out, and the cherry-picking of cute sounds to emulate is sprouting in its place. Final opine: I reckon this’ll have decent playtime amongst kids living in houses that are farther than a few feet from each other, snowboard and have cars, in whose environments trees outnumber city buses, who have thick frames and healthy stubble and pretty girlfriends, who feel more than they think. Y’know, I’ll be honest because my intuition usually does me good; this sounds like indie kids injecting some streamlined faux-country into the mix to impress or pretend eclectic. Not sure if it’s necessary to say this every friggen review, but this is fine for what it is… but it ain’t drool-cup baloney-throwing wiener-wackin’ PUNK music, and that’s what brings the smiles for most of us here, I hope. (BG)
(self-released // www.myspace.com/jailjailjailjail)
El Jesus De Magico "Klip Aught" 7"
'Scalping the Guru' is one of my favorite LPs released in the past year, and probably the most authentically psychedelic new release I can remember in some time. They really tripped hard on that record and it made a big impression on me. The band on this 7" doesn't sound quite the same, but I don't think they've ever sounded the same from record to record. There's still some psych there, but they meld it some more indie-rock sounding tunes instead of travelling into the deep chasms they frequented on the LP. "Paha Sapa" picks up some JAMC influence, but they do it with a bit more finesse than the other thirty underground bands doing this type of stuff today. The muffled vox help give it some character and it has an effectively depressing downward rhythm. Next cut is some noisy throwaway stuff with lots of synthy whooshing and wheezing. Blah. "Klip Aught" takes up side B, and is yet another Spacemen 3 influenced tune from a band of recent vintage. A radioactive drone guitar current carries the track which has a good solo towards the end and overall it has very UK-sounding melody to it. Really well done, even if every other band on the circuit is pulling these moves today. I was however hoping for something a little more unique after such an incredible LP... Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Columbus Discount Records // www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)
Johnny Ill Band s/t 7""
Detroit rocker Johnny Ill made an appearance on the X! Records 'Shifless Decay' comp, and I think his band has at least one Terrible Two in it. Four songs here with slightly varying styles, "The Doctor" is choppy pop-garage that sticks around a little after it's over, "Makes Them Feel Good" is twangy country-comedy. "Television Personality" is upbeat pop-sike (this one sounds like Jeff Novak if he grew up in Detroit) and "Rocketship" is the three-minute epic anthemic-rocker closer. Not too shabby, there's a certain goofy enjoyability to it that elevates the songs to just slightly better than mediocre. Packaging is top notch, the white inner sleeves are screened on both sides, die cut full-color outer with insert cut to match. He thanks Tom Perkins on the insert, what the hell ever happened to that guy's label?(RK)
(Kaboodle Records // myspace.com/kaboodlerecords)
KGBeasley and The Leather Violence "Sonic Bondage" 7"
I found this one buried at the bottom of a stack of singles, where I obviously stashed it so no one would see the giant cock-n-balls (pierced) pic sleeve. "Sonic Bondage" is papa-oo-mow-mow rocakbilly-clubbing with really really gruff nonsense vox and a "sexaphone" solo. "Texas Leather" is more lo-fi primitive twang with more bleats and a few lyrics thrown in. A pretty entertaingly bad record from the minds behind No Talk, Homopolice and other ultra-limited fare.(RK)
(Heavy Leather Records // myspace.com/heavyleatherrecords)
Kitty Rhombus “When the Walls Fell” EP
From Madison, Wisconsin comes Kitty Rhombus. Kitty Rhombus is a gritty four piece a no wave/psychedelic onslaught. It’s like Captain Beefheart hanging out with Jesus Lizard doing lots of drugs together. “When the Walls Fell” unfortunately has only five songs, because I was pleasantly surprised when listening to it. It is definitely a great album to smoke some Honaloochie Boogie too, and they are a band worth checking out. Saw Kitty Rhombus at a bar not too long ago, but I was too drunk to appreciate their live show, but I can’t wait to see them again though. (RFA)
(self-released // myspace.com/kittyrhombus)
Krunchies "Ugly Inside" EP
Fuck, I totally forgot about Das Krunchies. As many will tell you, one of the more underrated punk bands of the Chicago scene, and one that never seemed to quite find their niche. It appears they've found some crossover with the always busy Chi-town hardcore crowd with this release on Southkore Records, home of many Spanish punk acts and other locals like I Attack, No Slogan, etc. Makes sense, as The Krunchies play with a velocity that exceeds a lot of hardcore tempos and they should appeal to basement show pitters as much, if not more, as the garage-centric crowd they've been playing to for years. This EP is a pretty concise little four song number, impeccably produced by Mr. Celebrity X himself. A-Side is two sharp and shiny blasters, and Amanda's ear-killing response screams (always their secret weapon) play great off Kevin's shouting calls. Anthemic even. On the flip "Victim All The Time" is post-punkily weird sounding (a little reminiscent of SYZ perhaps...and I wonder if this is a jab at the HozAc bros?) and they end with another dialed-in punker. They really sound tighter than ever, and hopefully this one will get them some more attention from some like-minded (i.e. younger and less jaded) crowds and rise them above the mid-card status they've been treading in since the Blackout days. They deserve a shot at the Intercontinental belt or at least a good run in the Cruiserweight division.(RK)
(Southkore Records // www.southkorerecords.com)
Krysmopompas "Gesa" 7"
Krauty minimal post-rock cold-synth action from a band taking their name from a fictional terrorist group who subscribe to the provocative ideals of Fassbinder, Ionesco and the Neue Deutsche Welle music movement. If you're excited by that description, dig into this before you head to that Alexander Kluge retrospective at your local arthouse. Me, I think if Der TPK were a comedy act, these guys would be the butt of a lot of their jokes.(RK)
(Avant! Records // myspace.com/avantrecords)
The Last Rapes of Mr. Teach "The Blood of Another Man" 7"
These guys did a split with Movie Star Junkies a while back, which should be in the Guiness book for two worst band names on a split 7" ever or something. But unlike MSJ, Mr. Teach are about as bad as their name. And they're French, so they can't use the old "They're Italian, they don't know any better..." excuse. I guess I really shouldn't say they're bad. Just kind of boring. They actually do something similar to what MSJ are doing, a European version of Demon's Claws roots-garage. They get some good guitar sounds here and there, some kneeslappin' rhythms, but the vox are a little too squeaky and the songs just aren't that memorable. You have a lot of better options if you want to flirt with this genre. Scum stats: 300 copies, screened sleeves look nice though.(RK)
(Les Disques Steak // myspace.com/disquessteak)
The Lasters "Idiot Jerk Parade" EP
Four-song limited edition EP from NYC punk band. Identities unknown, but the hand-written labels and sleeves bear a striking resemblance to some Freedom School Records releases. Poppy-n-peppy lo-fi fuzzy punk rock that, for all the misanthropic trappings, lacks much of an edge. Catchy enough though. For only the toughest of Ergs fans. 200 copies, I've seen red and black vinyl.(RK)
(Futilitarian Records // available via www.intheredrecords.com)
Life Partners "Men Are Talking" LP
Follow up full length from the band that brought you the compelling "AIDS of Spades" 7" earlier in the year. Boston crew featuring Major Stars members, they recruit a full time trumpet player here and meld the bleat to the riff for some mixed results. The opener is sort of off-putting, as it really sounds like a bastardized take on rap-rock or some shit, accidentally or not I don't know. It gets more bizarre from there. Life Partners are certainly operating in a realm all their own, pulling from a pretty wide spectrum of genres. "Stem the Rose" is on some prog rock shit, almost sounding like 'Dark Side'-era Pink Floyd. Vocals are wacky to varying degrees, sometimes taking the nutzo approach of the 7", sometimes screamy, sometimes mockingly "tough" perhaps. "Rock'n'Roll Never Forgives" is like a screamo piss-take. "Rapist Gets Off" is a pretty bad easy listening joke. "Mansuit" is seven minutes of mock disco-rock. I'm getting a heavy Faith No More vibe on Side B, very "Alternative" in a snide way. "Planet of the AIDS" is the best song title of the bunch and almost gets into some space rock fusion or something. These guys seem to be trying to make an intentionally bad = good record, challenging the listener by referencing some really shitty genres/sounds, but presenting them abrasively enough for fans of heavy modern rock to at least think about enjoying. Controversial lyrical themes just makes it all the more infuriating/embarrassing. They go pretty far out on that limb, and I'm not so sure I'm following them all the way, but the climb was at least interesting, even if they run some jokes into the ground. They just try and cram it down your throat a little too hard, if you know what I'm sayin'. As usual, available for the nice price from Ride the Snake.(RK)
(Ride the Snake // www.ride thesnakerecords.com)
Love Collector "My Baby Goes Waaah!" 7"
Former members of Dirty Sweets and Fells show off a Nineties garage rock pedigree by penning the old "beat my baby with a baseball bat" garage snotter. Textbook form but little to offer in the originality department. Doesn't really rock hard enough to get over. Flipping over, "Tell Me" has a likeable mid-tempo dead-end punk feel, but "Come Back" reverts back to been-there-before garage-isms. Another band that would've been toiling in the minors back when Rip Off Records were the major league.(RK)
(Big Action Records // www.bigactionrecords.com)
Mayyors “Deads” 12” EP
If reverbed-to-Hades, nu-Touch-and-Go/AmRep psychic tension was its own jurisdiction, Mayyors wouldn’t only be the mayor but would be the sheriff brutalizing Drunkdrivers and doubling as grand wizard, lynching all the Clockcleaners in town, the sociopath lawyer defending whoever dumped toxic sludge in Francis Harold’s backyard and the municipal bigwig spiking the water supply with someathat brown acid. The real upper echelon of capturing anxiety in mile-deep wax cuts – the most barreling production imaginable, immense wailing-wall-a-sound, engineered by engineers. The new genre moniker for this is Factory Funk. Learn it, love it. (BG)
(Hurling Man Records // repress available from Revolver)
Moby Dicks "Ballad of the Red Dog" 7"
Total leather-jacket Fonzie at Al's Diner action with a side of hot dog eating. Apparently Canada hasn't received the memo that pizza is now the garage party-rocker's food of choice. A-Side is Devil Dogs comb-in-the-back-pocket rock'n'cussing. "Mike Molloy" goes for a raving Gories style. "Ogo Pogo" seems to be trying an incompetent Dictators covering Hubble Bubble (or Elton Motello, depending on how much of a dick you are, whatever) sort of schtick which is a bit of fun to hear executed. Oh, Canada.(RK)
(Mammoth Cave Recording Co. // mammothcave.bigcartel.com)
Mojomatics "Another Cheat On Me" 7"
Mojomatics have done some good work before. I always tend to like them a lot on 7", but their LPs haven't fared so well to these ears. They remain pretty true to form here with a half-hot little slab. Topside cut is as real garage cooker with some blazin' harmonica, uptempo as all hell and they really slam it home. An ass-kicker. B-Side is a Western-styled graveyard cut which doesn't seem to have so much gas until the deep guitar part and horns toward the tail end kick in and give it a little South-of-the-Border style boot in the ass, making it at least decent. A-Side is a real kicker though.(RK)
(Douchemaster Records // www.douchemasterrecords.com)
Moon Duo "Killing Time" 12" EP
Lengthy four song 12" from Wooden Shjips guitarist Ripley Johnson. Modern psych West Coast style, certainly close in style to sailing the same seas as the Shjips, but more Krautrock in essence and less guitar-based. Moon Duo replace the riff-drone with steady motorik beats laced with mellow and spacey guitar work and dreamy synth. The topside has the two movers, the subterranean and heady title track, and "Speed" which shows off some gritted teeth and real robotic moves. The pair on the flipside are the mellow hangover soothers, disarmingly docile and slow-motion tempo'd. Slow and low. Comapared to the Sick Thirst 12", I'd call it a draw. Not a record that's gonna burn up the underground, but for a side project, it's rather good. Once you put it on it sucks you in. Fans won't complain, and it's a decent time filler while you wait for those Spacemen 3 reissues to show their faces.(RK)
(Sacred Bones // www.sacredbones.com)
Mudlark s/t LP
The sleeve of this paints a good picture of the sounds within: buncha young longhairs/beards flying some flannel and hanging loose in an abandoned house in the forest amid a cold Northeast winter afternoon. These dudes are attempting some sort of combo of Neil Young-via-Meat Puppets influenced classic rock throwbackism and Dino Jr. guitar drive. Eastern indie meets western rock perhaps. No real punk elements or even garage for that matter (except for the amateurish playing), just sounds convincingly alterna-rock. Quite honestly, this reminds me ofmore than a few bands that "normal" dudes I went to high school with formed in the mid-Nineties to play some bar gigs and get some tail. Nothing here really has too much punch, the tunes stay mellow and subdued for the most part, buy they do jam it out at moments. Melodic hard rock with some semi-dark passages. Recorded fairly well, but the band needs some work. The singer comes off real awkward on many of these tracks, you can hear them hit some bum notes and they struggle to keep in time here and there. Pretty rudimentary compostions and the guitar work gets a little bit warm in spots, but never reaches hot temps. Kind of fascinating for a few listens, as it's so straightforward it almost seems weird. It really does sound like a high school grunge band. Not one of those records where it's so inept it's gold, these guys are trying to be a tight rock unit, they just sound a little...young or something. Trying real hard. I like the sort of backwoods rootsy rock spirit they're trying to summon, they're just not quite there yet.(RK)
(Fun With Smack Records // funwithsmack-at-gmail.com)
Nerve City “I Fucked Death.” 10”
Relatively quick and painless platter peppered with atmospheric balladry and off kilter pop. Surprised this ended up on Kill Shaman and not Captured Tracks. This would go over good in that circle. Not as immediately memorable as the wee pressed first single, but definitely not a bad time waster. A couple songs sound like the prettiest Country Teasers tunes you’ve never heard. Simple, well crafted and dripping with that haunted cavern feel. Early Sixties sock hop slowdowns for the lost lovers found wrapped in plastic. Bound by matted hair. No bows. Short and sweet. Labels got the speed wrong, FYI. Just letting everybody know before they go from ordinary sadness to suicidal despair in mere minutes. (RSF)
(Kill Shaman // www.killshaman.com)
Nuclear Family s/t EP
This slab exudes a very tight, stark seriousness, transporting you to the dry sonic response of British post-punk to that sort of social paradigm, but the real feat is that it doesn’t sound a lick cockney. I’m not going to call it pop-punk (cough cough SKUNKSHIT) because the pop elements that are here are firmly staked in the smart stratum, not the thumb-in-the-bum arena, and employ that goosebump-inducing juxtaposition of romantic glee with its requisite undertone of realist horror that Crass did so well – pretty deep for a strand that’s usually as shallow as the kitty pools its intended audience wade in. Mid-tempo reverberated clang, clean and melodic, tight as a duck’s arse – it sounds warm as hell, but the highlight is the insanely versatile vox that hopefully don’t get swept under the rug of half-assed comparisons to punkettes of yore, ‘cuz some of these inflections are as original as Coors… or at least breach what’s been assumed as normal female punk sounds. Essentially pretty basic punk formula, but it’s the careful subtleties that make this one so impressive. Really does good on the format, this. Lots of potential here. (BG)
(Loud Punk // www.loudpunk.com)
The Nymphets "I See" 7"
Cute garage-pop from this Montreal outfit that I thought relocated to NYC. Their sound on this single would make some sense of that move, as they peddle the sort of precious guitar jangle that the hipster grandmas and fashion bros of the Big Apple move to these days. Their oughta be a law about covering The Troggs in this fashion. Gross cover art that looks like a Captured Tracks rip, perhaps on purpose? 500 copies. (RK)
(Signed By Force // www.signedbyforce.com)
Thee Oh Sees "Blood In Your Ear" 7"
My god, when does John Dwyer rest? The guy might sleep less than Mike Sniper. This single (and the 'Dog Poison' LP) show Thee Oh Sees taking a bit of a left turn, mellowing out the rock vibes from 'Help' and relying more on acoutically styled acid-folk jamming. It's still West Coast psychedelic, but in less loud and obvious ways this time around. "Blood In Your Ear" skiffles a bit, bobbing rhythm and gang vocal melodies keep things stepping lively enough to insert a brief harmonica break. "Friends Defined" is more serious and fried, sort of a shadowy downer to compliment the sunshine of the A-Side. Organ break instead of the harmonica this time. Not necessarily a throw away release, both songs are worthwhile, but you're probably paying at least $12 for this two-song import 7". It does have a nice double-sided screened sleeve though, offsetting a little of the cost, but I think you really need to be a rabid Oh Sees fan to warrant this purchase. If you're a dabbler looking to experience the latest Oh Sees sound shift, the 'Dog Poison' LP will give you similar songs at a better value. Scum stats: 300 copies. Various vinyl/sleeve color variations.(RK)
(Rock Is Hell // www.rockishell.com)
Thee Oh Sees "Dog Poison" LP
Yeah, I know, this band puts out a lot of records. With Dwyer and Co. it seems like with each new record I'm anticipating the beginning of the downward spiral, waiting for the moment where he changes things up and hops to a new sound I want no part of. And really, while we're mentioning about bands that release "too many" records, at least Thee Oh Sees give you variety from release-to-release. It's not the same fucking thing acorss myriad singles, 12"es and double LPs or whathaveyou. I respect that. And quite honestly, I like this band very much, and have recently had the chance to finally see them live (they killed) and had a chat with Dwyer, who was a super cool dude. Everything checks out, and while many others seem to keep trying to find new reasons not to like these guys, I keep discovering things that make me get into them more. And even though I have zero interest in anything pre-'Sucks Blood', I continue to buy these records and hope for the best and pray he doesn't go back to making lame indie-emo with some guy playing a saw in the background. I kinda thought this one was going to be it. I was pretty skeptical of another full length this close on the heels of 'Help" (which killed), and even doubly so when I saw Dwyer is the only one credited with playing on this. Another 'Zork's Tape Bruise' (which sucked) was what I was figuring. Totally wrong, although this does sound sort of demo-ish, it's far from the toss off status of that mess of an LP. JD does flip the script on this slightly, and whether it's because of the lack of the rest of the band or a conscious change of direction, it's definitely a successful shift. And Bridget is definitely singing on some of these tracks. Offsetting the total rock action of 'Help', on this one he steers the ship down some meandering streams of low key acid-folk rock. Tambourine all over the place, lots of acoustic guitar, the flute sees a bit of action as well as a slew of other instruments laying around the place, but the softer touches are tempered with some rave-up vox and their always ethereal harmonies, and there's still a bit of electric psych to be had. It's loveably weird and ramshackle throughout, rambling perhaps, but always interesting. "Fake Song" has a stumbly Eastern flair to it, "The River Rushes" is primo folk-sike, "The Fizz" gets freakbeaty, "Head of State" is subliminal drone with subtle noisework. "I Can't Pay You To Disappear" is a classy uptempo rave, and Side B ends on a couple of beautifully dreamy whispers of songs. It's a little less than a half-hour of music and it's all worthwhile, which I do find surprising at this point in the game. I have to wonder whether these songs will be redone with the full band at some point, or if this will stand alone. Some of this is definitely a little rough at the seams, so future revamps seem possible. And as much as I love this band when they rock, I've come to enjoy these more subdued moments just as well. If you only buy two Oh Sees records this year, this and 'Help" make great bookends to everything released in-between. The best record Captured Tracks has done. Psychedelic pencil drawing by JD on the sleeve helps too.(RK)
(Captured Tracks // www.capturedtracks.com)
People's Temple "Outta My Hands" EP
Debut release from Lansing, MI garage-punkers. They riff on the art from the Head Shop LP for the sleeve. That's a pretty good record. This one ain't too bad either, at least for a band trying to get a few more miles out of Jim Jones imagery. "Outta My Hands" is ripped from the Electric Prunes echo-psych playbook, "The Way It Is" is a simple enough "I'm-a-bad-dude" tough jam, with guitar distortion bleeding all over, probably pulling influence equally from the Electric Eels and Sixties biker-rock. B-Side offers up a reverbed out Back From The Graver and a toss-off droner. Three decent cuts outta four, thin sounding (in a good way) shit-fi recording with the guitar turned up and screaming all the way. Not bad for modern garage done pretty traditionally.(RK)
(Milk-n-Herpes // myspace.com/milknherpes)
Photobooth "Pretty Baby" EP
Second single from Bay Area poppers. "Pretty Baby" is beautifully simple bubblegum garage, executed with class and a wonderful chorus from an ex-Mothball. Two flipsides feature former FM Knives hero J.Patrone on vox doing a couple UK-tinged punkers with pop hooks that will bring a tear to the eye of anyone who (rightfully) holds 'Useless & Modern' as one of the higher scoring LPs of the decade. "Kill the Weekend" is the textbook hit, but I love the heartbreaking sweetness of "Boston Strangler" a little more. This is the type of stuff that should even appeal to waxidermists who roll around in obscure Seventies/Eighties powerpop boners like a dog who's found a particularly ripe dead fish, as well as those people who are still unjaded enough to enjoy modern music. A step ahead of the Daggerman debut. No gimmicks, just the goods. Scum stats: limited to a scant 330 copies. Rogues gallery of Bay Area broads on the sleeve, my favorite is the sassy looking one on the bottom row, third from left.(RK)
(Raw Deluxe // letsgethurt-at-yahoo.com)
Pigeon Religion "Scorpion Milk" EP
More dark, sludgy, feebacky heavy-rock paddling in the wake left by Kilslug and Drunks With Guns years ago and other more adept and modern practicioners of the form. "Scorpion Milk" is a barely realized song that goes nowhere slowly. Well not that slowly, it's only 1:40 long. No payoff. No catchy riffs. No bludgeoning finale. Nothing. It's sort of like they had a great song idea, but then forgot to write the good part. B-Side offers some more weak sauce, at least "Shootist" has some force and a decent bassline to it. "White Fluff" churns a bit, but does nothing other than tread water. Singer sounds like he's doing a bad Mike Berdan imitation. Their "anti-scene" insert made me laugh, but I think they were being serious about it. Keraaazeee.(RK)
(Parts Unknown // www.partsunknownrecords.com)
Pink Noise “Graffiti Youth” LP
Yeah, definitely grabbing a hold of the Damon Edge vocals and Chrome/Residents overtones, but fuck…this record sounds like mud. I want to say it’s great and the songs are well crafted lil’ masterpieces (some of it IS weird punk perfection), but the mastering on this vinyl or recording quality is so piss-poor it’s bumming me out. 3rd record and while the songwriting is getting stronger it seems like their 4-track is starting to die. It just sounds like suffering from swimming pool head…knowhutimean? P. Noise feels more like a full band now with a thicker sound (I haven’t really listened to too much since the Sacred Bones LP). More guitars in the mix these days, which I’m always game for. Still a 2 piece but I’m feeling like their waistband may be expanding…wish I could sit through this and focus on something other than that muffled sound. Bummed. 500 copies. Might be gone. (RSF)
(Kill Shaman // www.killshaman.com)
Pistol Whip "Terminal" CD+DVD
Archival release from Erie, PA's first punk band who released a single back in '77. The two tracks from that are peppy glam-like rock, not too remarkable. The rest of the disc is '78 demos from an LP they started but never released, which has them going in a far heavier Dictators-esque rock direction with far better results. The singer is definitely aping Manitoba, but they actually pull off some good moves with even a little bit of Dolls-y swagger. The guitar player is pretty damn good, plenty of ripping solos and good riffs, drummer is kinda hot shit too. Along with the musical shift, they go for the 'tators TV, junk food, broads and beers aesthetic as well. Tunes like "Six More Inches", "Cock Sure" and "Big Boy" are excellent second-tier proto-metal punk rock. Lots of bluster, braggadocio and stomp make for a really enjoyable listen. They do an anti-jazz cut too! "Jooky Magoo" is a "Borneo Jimmy"-like tale of an endless dude. "Iron Curtain" is a balls-out rocker. "Whatchamacallit" is so fucking goofy it's great. There are some keyboards that come outta nowhere on some cuts, but it doesn't make them rock any less, and these guys actually wrote some really good tunes with lyrics to match. So good it makes me forget the goofy voice-over parts on the beginning of the disc. If this was on vinyl I think Smog Veil could have definitely moved some copies, because this stuff is really unexpectedly good dum-dum rock. Instead, it's going to languish on CD. Who buys these things? I wish more people could hear this, but the format is obviously going to put a lot of people off. It comes with a DVD as well, with photos, fliers and stuff, some reunion shows and interviews and such, but it's nothing you're gonna look at more than once. Should've saved the cost and just done vinyl. Someone's gotta talk to these guys and Gulcher and get them straight. CDs are for the birds. I want people to hear this though, yet I refuse to recommend buying a CD. Maybe they can license the vinyl to Rave Up or something...Anyway, Pistol Whip are great proto-punk dumb fun, no matter what the format.(RK)
(Smog Veil // www.smogveil.com)
Plastic Crimewave Sound "Shockwave Rider" 7"
Being a long-time fan of Plastic Crimewave's Galactic Zoo Dossier magazine, I've always meant to check out his band yet never quite got around to it. HozAc finally taps a local treasure to bring PCWS to the garage-punk masses with this single, and it's about what I imagined. Abetted by Nick D'Vyne of Vee Dee on hot leads, "Shockwave Rider" is a go-for-broke proto-punk-cum-space-rock jam, aswirl with off-center psychedelic guitar crackling backed by synth hum and rhythm section warp-drive. Vocals are bellowed from the center of the universe. Surreal. "Bad Politics" turns the Dead C song into a rolling beat machine fueled by guitar jammery. Oppressively churning and weighty without being too tedious. I was not let down by my first PCWS experience, although I was expecting a tad more overkill/overblowout. I'll still give this a recommendation for everyone looking for some modern-age stun rock though. Scum stats: 200 pieces of gold with alt sleeve, the rest of the first press on black. Both sleeves rule pretty evenly.(RK)
(HozAc // www.hozacrecords.com)
The Pogo “Police War” EP
A real testament to layman-rock and its niche as the outlet for every few Ritalin-riddled kids of white upstate villages and willingly uncultured backwood bastions. Mill towns need their own Jerry Lee Lewises, as tall and multicolored as their hair may be, so cheers to that. This is a street punk record by the way. “I’m on the piss and I am so pissed”!!!!!! (BG)
(Loud Punk // www.loudpunk.com)
Poison Arrows “Sticky Situations” EP
If I too sook just-ripe pubescent girls trying to sign for my package during melodramatic declarations of freedom to live my life and rock ‘n roll past curfew, I’d follow the blueprint of Atlanta’s Poison Arrows. Hi-fi, mid-tempo melodic rock or maybe training-wheels-glam with a swooning, dame-fertilizing cool guy whisper over it. Too bad they raided Johnny Thunders’ closet instead of his riffertoire. Unabashed High-School-Musical-punk. Worst of all, they do a song called “Shakin’ All Over” and it’s not even a cover! The balls on these chaps! *fart noise* (BG)
(Full Breach Kicks // www.fullbreach77.com)
Pop. 1280 "Bedbugs" 7"
Debut wax from NYC dirge-punks Pop. 1280. "Bedbugs" was one of the better cuts on their demo, but the version here seems far slower, robbing it of some dynamics. Instead of being a sloth-speed pounder, this take just sounds unnaturally warbly and slow, as if there might have been a mastering/pressing issue. Fiddling with the pitch helps, but just gets confusing. "Times Square" on the flip sounds a little faster than the demo version oddly enough. The pacing adds a little tension and agression, but the song itself sort of fails to deliver anything more than a vague impression. I understand they're trying to achieve a mood here, but if you're going to set the table you have to serve some dinner as well. I liked the demo well enough, perhaps because there was more to chew on, but alone these two cuts seem thin despite the beefy sounds.(RK)
(self-released // population1280-at-gmail.com)
Poppets s/t 12"
I've been taking my time getting around to this one, as I've not been a fan of this duo so far. Unamusingly schticky. The formula: Swedish couple get a drum machine and a couple guitars and belt out cute lo-fi garage-pop ditties about bubblegum, dancing and love. How can I not like this, you ask? I dunno. It reminds me of the Nazis from Mars gimmick from earlier in the decade, but worse. If you want Nobunny or Sneaky Pinks, but without the pop songcraft and with foreign accents, then by all means have at it. A good reminder to everyone that just because one band/artist does something well and has some success doesn't mean emulating them will result in something even half as good. Split release between FDH and P.Trash. Scum stats: 1000 copies, 700 regular, 150 copy limited edition from each label.(RK)
(FDH Records // www.fdhmusic.com)
Power Chords "Nightmare" 7"
Double-shot of modern power-pop from San Diego. Well done, I preferred the flipside ("Torture") where they actually pull off the whole spell-out-the-title gimmick pretty well. Efficiently recorded and played, peppy, zippy, poppy, and all that stuff. For fans of Thee Makeout Party or for people who want to hear what the Screaming Apple Records sound of today is. Spray painted sleeves, I probably spent a little too much time trying to figure out why they sharpied out the band name on the labels.(RK)
(Single Screen Records // myspace.com/singlescreenrecords)
Predator "Honest Man" EP
New Atlanta punk outfit with members of The Frantic and Beat Beat Beat with a lot of promise. "Honest Man" is dark and heavy punk with a classic LA vibe, like something on What? Recs, maybe The Skulls or The Eyes. B-Side has two more choice cuts, "DLDD" comes with some serious bass throb and "No" is a brief little ripper. Vox are great and I appreciate the meaty recording sound as I'm partial to bottom end over treble. Predator supposedly have an LP already in the can that I'd like to hear right now. Mastered by Dave Rahn with artwork by GG King, just because the Carbonas have to be involved with all ATL punk records somehow. 700 copies, black wax.(RK)
(Robs House // www.robshouserecords.com)
Primitive Hands "Split Mind" 7"
Strong debut 7" from Demon's Claws drummer Brian Hilderbrand. The two songs here stride forth with great confidence, sounding like a throwback to early-Seventies rock, minimal but powerful. Mostly acoustic, with some plugged-in interplay amongst what sounds like at least three guitars, barely existant percussion aside from tambourine and the slightest snare tapping. For as mellow as the instrumentation might sound on paper, these songs have some soul behind them expressed via a gutsy vocal perfomance and the dark yet triumphant vibes, suitbale for watching the sun rise or fall. Perfect acoustic rock that manages to stay out the folk trap. Probably the best Claws' offshoot stuff to be heard. If the upcoming single on Goodbye Boozy delivers like this one, Brian should think about making this a full-time gig. The Claws can always hire Skip back to man the kit.(RK)
(Tic Tac Totally // www.tictactotally.com)
Pumice "Magnedisk Recordings of gFrenzy Songs" EP
To explain the title: gFrenzy is some obscure New Zealand artist/musician who Pumice are covering four songs by. The Magnedisk part refers to the fact they recorded the songs on some sort of 1940s dictation machine. Concept record? I guess so. Sounds like folk songs recorded on a broken tape deck that keeps shifting speeds. Essentially unlistenable to a mook like myself, but I imagine there are some art students smarter than me out there who will consider this genius.(RK)
(Dirty Knobby // www.dirtyknobby.com)
Pygmy Shrews "Lord Got Busted" 7"
I had these guys confused with Pygmy Lush for a second. Sorry dudes. Pygmy Shrews play it ugly, like many of their Fan Death labelmates. "Lord Got Busted" is death-dirge sociopath stomp, gutturally simple drum pound backed by guitar feedback, with a male and female vocalist taking turns yelling over the menace. Brutal and obnoxious, I get their bluntly effective point. B-Side is a pretty exact(ing) cover of Pussy Galore's "Kill Yourself", and although they're adding little to it aside from some massive bottom end and a wailing solo, it's an excellent rendition and a fine summation of their dead-end vibe. They have an LP out on Wantage I'm curious to hear now. Would go nicely on a bill with Drunkdriver and "Streetsweeper"-era Unsane.(RK)
(Fan Death // www.fandeathrecords.com)
Pygmy Shrews “The Egyptian” LP
Hot on the heels of their best of ‘09 singles contender, The Shrews release a record that shows off a hell of a lot more hardcore influence than I initially thunk. Much more Drunkdriver speed this time out, or vice-versa. Primo-scree. Pummel and thud. Stop and start. I like how they’ve got the dueling guy/gal vocals that give it a drunken X or Grave Blankets gone mean edge. Unlike most knucklehead noise rock these days, they’ve got a virtuoso metal shedder playing guitar. Kerry King leads reign over the atonal shouting and that constant pounding. This is the added bonus that carries the grunts out of the mud. The B-Side almost nestles into a Caspar Brotzman/Helmet thing for a short while. Feels pretty at home in Brooklyn. Too damn short though…it’s another 45rpm 12” that's impersonating a long player. Tricky. But good. (RSF)
(Wantage USA // www.wantageusa.com)
Razor Fist “Metal Minds” CD/LP
This is coming from the heart of a true metal head. Razor Fist happens to be one of the best bands in the great state of Wisconsin right now. They may be an underrated band in the Wisconsin scene, but they are a band to be reckoned with. On their second album 'Metal Minds', Razor Fist deliver an all out heavy metal attack with instant classics such as “Fury of the Warrior” and “Cosmic Hearse Driver”. If your taste is New Wave of British Heavy Metal then I highly recommend checking out 'Metal Minds'. It is easily the best metal album of the year, and one of the best records this year period. These guys are the real fukkkin’ deal when it comes to thrashing hard. Razor Fist may not be the fastest, loudest, or heaviest of metal bands, but they are true metal heads with a passion for playing HEAVY FUKKKIN’ METAL the way it was meant to be. Razor Fist has been under the radar far too long and it’s time for them to step up and take their place in the realm of heavy metal. If you didn’t know…now you know. Deal with it. (RFA)
(Pure Steel Records (CD) / High Roller Records (LP) // myspace.com/razorfistmetal)
Reacharounds “Rocks Off” EP
This is some newly unearthed ex-Last Sons of Krypton digs. I don’t see a boatload of semblance to that shtuff, caution-to-the-wind wise at least, but it’s clear Roy never ceased playing archetypal in-the-red garage – full-throttle, no bullshit (or all bullshit depending on how big/small your brain/balls are) KBD punkitude of that holy saga’s more competently galloping tunes, following in the footsteps of the more apt of our beloved fuckhead forefathers. “3 Minute Intervals” is a herky-jerk pogo-waiting-to-happen. “Synthetic Soul” wins the award for finest rendition of that cat-thrown-from-a-pickup scream that entered punk’s sonic repertoire with the Petticoats’ “Normal” and stuck around. “Rocks Off” throws Jagger down the stairs. A few others with equally dumb lyrics and about as much respect for clean and sheen as a car overflowing with undocumented ranch hands. Not too shabby. (BG)
(Certified PR Records // www.certifiedprrecords.com)
Red Mass s/t CD-EP
Why oh why is this CD only?! Faith in yer product, kids. Sadly, a disposable format to an otherwise fine release. Seven songs ranging from pop fueled rave ups to noise caked rawk. This seems to be their most accessible sounding release to date…Pitchfork will be eatin ‘em up soon enough. "Saturn" starts things of with some Bassholes cum Mark Sultan psych-blues-goes-pop that cuts a loose a tad as it spetters along. Catchy shit for guys like me, who tend to not like catchy. "Weird Mess" has a garage bounce and crisp production, but still offers up some home schooled space-age tinkering. Peeps are comparing these songs to the Jay Reatard solo stuff…true…but there’s also a definite RFTC (or Saints, to go further back) chug within. I’m hearing it throughout all the slingshot riffage. Probably due to Choyce/Roy’s time spent with John “Speedo” Reis. Check the end of "Skank" for further evidence. "Success For Crime' is a punked out Jaytard/Advert jab fer sure, but the stuff goes and gets real hairy around "Lord of the Rats" and the fugly crash and burn "I’m On Fire". Whole lotta’ damaged guitar, overdubbed racket & metal banging …with a whole lotta’ people doin’ it. Sounds like Roy’s been gargling demons. I’d say this wasn’t as immediate to me as the other releases (like the 10” or recent cassette), but a few spins in it sounds pretty great. There is one track I could do without, a stab at Andrew W.K party rock that kinda’ squishes the momentum in the middle. Little too goofy for my taste. But if ya skip ahead to the rest of the songs, it’s a pretty sweet ride. 6 outta 7 songs hit. Keep it up. (RSF)
(Semprini Records // www.semprinirecords.com)
Rib Cages "Right On Or Wrong" 7"
I believe this is the debut release for the Lemon Session label, and for Portland's Rib Cages as well. Two-piece guit-n-traps smashing. A little bit Bassholes-esque in the way the manage to be more punk than blues at times, lots of superfast treble-riffing and accurate stop-n-go. Four tracks, I enjoy the go-for-the-throat intensity throughout and that they attain remarkable velocity and manage to stay tight while doing it. Not too shabby, but the most exciting thing about this release is to see this label up and running and looking forward to some of the other records I hear are forthcoming from it.(RK)
(Lemon Session // www.lemon-session.com)
Sandwitches "How To Make Ambient Sadcake" LP
The only reason this record is on anyone outside of the Bay Area's radar right now is via the Fresh and Onlys and Brilliant Colors connection, as Sandwitches contain some of the gals from both bands. Three-piece low key twang. Lots of country swing and old Americana, a little bit of girl-group harmony filtered through a folky sieve. Really minimal and wispy compositions, many of which breeze by without even registering. It's almost as if it isn't there. The few dark touches evoke some good atmosphere and these birds can certainly chirp, but overall this thing is a total snooze, even for fans of the other outfits mentioned. An energy-sapping listening experience. Maybe a 7" could have been interesting, but a whole LP of this is just taxing.(RK)
(Turn Up Records // www.turnuprecords.com)
School Jerks "Nothing Else" 7"
Riff Raff only puts out the rawest of shit (the Shoot It Up/Analingus split or Mid-Atlantic scumrock a la Ladies or Dirty Fingers for example) and Toronto's School Jerks fit the bill. Three spitting and shitty bleats of sub-KBD punk rock moderne. Half-cocked guitar playing with garbage tone, rudimentary rhythm section, obscenity-laden vocals leaving the mic coated in spittle. You can't argue with the formula, even if it's been done to death. The least polite sounding Toronto band I've heard in some time.(RK)
(Riff Raff Records // myspace.com/riffraffpunk)
The Scrams "Flea Market Rock" EP
By-the-book garage rock with organ out of Albuquerque New Mex. Fairly straight-laced, I think every town has a band like this. Rock'n'roll beer drinking dudes playing some of the ol' garage rawk and havin' a good time. I enjoyed listening to this a couple of times. "(Do) The Molasses" was pretty cool. Actually, all the songs were pretty decent. Like I wouldn't be pissed if I went to a bar and they were playing. But I probably wouldn't go to see them on purpose though, you know what I mean?(RK)
(self-released // myspace.com/99scrams)
Ty Segall "My Sunshine" 7"
Wouldn't be a 2009 review section without a Ty record in it. "My Sunshine" is certifiable A-Side gold. The kid just writes some great fucking songs, and this is top notch Segall mid-tempo bang-n-mash with solo. On "Fuzzy Cat" Ty rips off Jeff Novak's wacky Anglo-pop schtick though, and it's the thing B-Sides are made for. There's a "secret" uncredited garage ripper after that makes up for it though. This kid's about halfway to a great singles comp now. Scum stats: 500 numbered copies on "garbage" wax, beautiful company sleeves/labels, download card included.(RK)
(Trouble In Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Sharp Ends "Northern Front' 7"
Prairie Province post-punk from these stoic Calgarians who were formerly known as The Ostrich (or at least have members from that outfit) whom I remember from the Alberta Boom comp tape. Icy UK vibes transplanted to the truly cold Great White North, and "Northern Front" marches into town like a crisp wind, very Warsaw-like with unflinching bass drive and guitar icicles. Effective in its brooding tempo and emotionless vox. Well done. "Ghosts of Chance" might have a deeper chill, but it lacks the powerful movement of the A-Side and instead they opt to fall into a more Gang of Four dance-like rhythm. I dig the A-Side, for fans of the obvious influences (Joy D, Crisis, etc..) or comtemporary acts like Manikin. Scum stats: 200 on gold with a yellow papered version of the standard sleeve.(RK)
(HozAc // www.hozacrecords.com)
Sharp Ends "Crack Trap" 7"
Sharp Ends' second 7" has them sounding a little bit livelier, perhaps a bit more punk than post- on the whole. "Crack Trap" is the topside, sounds very much like The Estranged to me, dreary rocking showing a little bit more pulse than the average goth bear. The scaly guitar bit is very catchy, the vox are a bit humdrum though. On the back, "Loaded Hearts" borders on power-pop-punk, sounds very much like a Marked Men song with less spunk and more grey. Some hot guitar action involved. Grey is a pretty good descriptive for this.(RK)
(Mammoth Cave Recording Co. // mammothcave.bigcartel.com)
Shitty Limits “Beware the Limits” LP
I’ll go ahead and say that I know almost nothing about this band. I have lots of friends who swear by them, and have seen them play a handful of times. I can’t say that I have done the same. Listening to this record, one thing became clear about me: I really suck sometimes. I can never seem to fully get behind anything that doesn’t have some kind of horseshit element to it. Every time I’d spin the record I could never decide if I was into it or not. Sometimes I would listen to it and think, “Man, I guess this is pretty good, but it’s not “weird” enough for me (even though I’m pretty sure the song “Swallowed Whole” has the line “I’m jacking off in the Cosmos”).” Then other times I would be like “Holy shit, this band doesn’t fuck around.”
Anyway, “Beware the Limits” is the debut LP by UK’s Shitty Limits. I think I can pretty much give this one the thumbs up. It’s a pretty short LP, with 12 songs over two sides at 45 RPM, which for me is good. Get in there, and then quickly get out. Most of the songs on here are either faster not quite punk not quite hardcore tunes or mid-tempo(ish) garage rock influenced songs. I seemed to gravitate towards the faster songs like “You’re Limits are My Limits’” which has a good catchy chorus full of barked out vocals. Some other stand outs for me are “Vehicle,” “Show Me,” and “Television.” Again, most of the ones I dug on here were faster numbers, but there were a few ones like “Just like Before” that kind of reminded me of “Scream Dracula Scream” era RFTC (that’s at least what I heard). I’m kind of on the fence about this one, but that wouldn’t stop me from recommending it. Chances are if you are buying records on Sorry State and reading this website, then you are probably going to like this record. Furthermore, you probably could give a shit less what I think of it, and frankly, you are probably smarter for it. More power to you!(ED)
(Sorry State // www.sorrystaterecords.com)
Sic Alps "L.Mansion" 7"
The big deal with this release is Sic Alps turning from a duo to a trio with the inclusion of man-about-town Ty Segall and what changes he might bring to the fold. It's not that different. On "L.Mansion", a sleepy little acoustic popper, I'm thinking Ty's adding the back-up oooohs, and they basically do what the Sic Alps do fairly well. The flipside brings the more interesting fare, a fried and smoky cover of Donovan's "Superlungs My Supergirl" which rocks as hard as these guys ever have on wax. Big beat smasher, stoner-sike masher. Very decent.(RK)
(Slumberland // www.slumberlandrecords.com)
Silla Electrica "Tension' 7"
Third 7" from Spanish punkers getting some good word of mouth after their first two singles, from the MRR crowd in particular. I've been meaning to investigate on my own, and this showing up in the office gives me the chance. Straight ahead treble-heavy punk, zero frills, mid-fi production. Reminds me a bit of a the less hardcore bands of the K-Town punk revival (maybe Incontrollados/Hjertestop or even Gorilla Angreb). Twin guitars and a drummer, girl-guy vox in Espanol, slightly melodic. Guitars sound great, the girl's voice is far preferable to the dude, they rip through four quick ones here. Pretty good considering what passes for punk these days. Not as great as I was hoping for either. I'm imagining the first two singles were of better quality. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Blondes Must Die Records // www.blondesmustdierecords.tk)
Six Finger Satellite “Half Control” LP/CD
Extreme posthumous release from the Rhode Island band that started it all; from retro-synth punx to Fort Thunder. Even longer in delay than the final Baseball Furies record, Load pulls this out of the archives to show folks what life was like back in the day. Sub Pop: pre-folk explosion. Tackling keyboard sounds back when nobody wanted to do so in the punk rock arena, 6FS had a pretty great Kraftwerk cum Devo thing going all their own. ‘Cept for Brainiac…well, they probably aped it from Satellite…Anyhow…
The band had its share of troubles and line up changes before they petered out in the late Nineties. Sub Popped. They decided some time after to sally forth (with Landed members) and head to more metallic grounds. 'Half Control' is no coke party for the disco set. This pup is angry and hostile. The opener ("Thrown Out") hits like an old Karp single. Crisp Touch and Go production (bringin’ it back to the Brainiac) with that shredded J Ryan vocal overthrow. They toss most of their dance punk and Kraut leanings to the curb and smack ya with this Rapeman style attack. Shit, I can hardly tell there’s a synth or computer up in this joint…until "Artificial Light" plays and proves me wrong. From there it starts to return to a familiar sound. Ah…soothing rhythmic hatred thru drone. A Nice punch to the wall. I could listen to this all day walking around Berkeley whilst kicking homeless kids. I just might. Title tune "Half Control" is a tightly wound ball of white hot nut-meats. Somebody knows what I mean. Groin Thunder. The LP then settles into (but not down) a nice mash of guit-fit and electronics. "Live Legs" and "Long Time No C" hit hard like a couple of Scratch Acid tub-thumpers. Aluminum chewed jazz for noise rockers. After what seems to be a very short playing LP, comes the monstrous "Bored Oracle", a set piece which could’ve been a lost track from 'Severe Exposure'. It’s like they jumped right back into those comfy shoes and let ‘er rip. Tense, repetitive and hostile. How DFA records came out of this band will always shock me. I always wrote that label off as candy-raver indie fucks. My bad. Sorry. Back on track: I used to love this band. And now, revisiting the oldies, I realize I still do. Glad to see this has surfaced. Glad to know I might get another chance to see 6FS play. Simian Fever…Catch it! (RSF)
(Load Records // www.loadrecords.com)
Sleepwall "Is That Factual?" 7"
Wow. It's kind of crazy to realize that 'You're Living All Over Me' came out over twenty years ago. It doesn't seem like so long. But I've bought a shitload of records since then. And a good portion of them still aren't as good as most early Dino records. But that doesn't mean I regret any of it. I'd do it all over again. Honestly, I don't listen to those Dino records that much anyway. I think my memories of them are gilded by youth. Sleepwall have definitely done some graduate work at Mascis University, and I think they took a lot of classes with a Mr. Mould as well. Perhaps some tutoring from that Westerberg bloke. It struck me as really weird that a band is going for this style of meldodic hard rock. It's really not that good, but I had to listen to it a few times and it made me think a lot about what I've been doing for the past twenty years. Thanks dudes.(RK)
(Toxic Pop Records // www.toxicpoprecords.com)
Slug Guts "Down on the Meat" LP
A young Australian act that finally delivers that Scientists/Birthday Party-influenced record we've been waiting for. I remember people claiming the Witch Hats were going to bring it, but they fell far off target and Slug Guts put them to shame (their LP covers look remarkably similar though...). The very title 'Down on the Meat' brings to mind a Cosmic Psychos reference ('Down on the...'), perhaps combining their outback ruggedness with the tainted sexuality of Lubricated Goat ('...the meat'). Either way, the band I think this record is most reminiscent of is American and called Killdozer. Croaked lyrics, tense and thick rhythms that alternately crawl and plow their way about on the wrong side of the tracks. Lyrics/themes delve into the misanthropic and sociopathic. Sex, meat, loser life, more meat, cattle, that sort of stuff. Albini-esque slices of ugly Australian filth. Fairly relentless, and certainly one of the only modern Oz outfits that have pulled this range of homegrown influences into something semi-repsectable. Looks like a bunch of young blokes, and this seems to be a good start for them. The missing component here is a strong character coming to the forefront and bringing some real identity to the fold instead of just shadowing heroes of the past. It's tough to play this style and not come off as mere imitators when you don't have a Salmon, Howard, Tolnay or Bland of your own. These kids show they have the chops down, the rhythm section is suitably durable, the guitar squeals and soars fittingly. Now they just need to put their own stamp on it. A good debut that will please fans of Australia and AmRep. (RK)..........
One of the many young Aussie bands suckling on the retro-pigfuck teat. Between these tykes, The Stabs, Witch Hats and the elder Birdblobs (Where’d they go?) there’s a full on Rowland S. Howard resurgence happening down on the prison planet. Slug Guts do a pretty good job of aping that 80’s sound. They got their Lubricated Goat scuzz, Bloodloss jazz and the Beefheart bullfrog throat shred in spades. The downer pummel is rolled out in full freak flag force. As a band they’ve done their homework well, and if it was a two or three song EP, I’d be satisfied. But as a long player, I wish they’d mixed it up a bit. Step out some and take chances. This was my beef with the Birdblobs as well. You nailed yer Howling Wolf rasp, now maybe give it some range on the next track. That beat is golden and the guitar tone is spot on…now step on a different pedal or trip it up. I dunno. Even Michael Gerald knew when to lay off the tracheal destruction now and again. I probably had too high of expectations going in. I do like it...but I’m just not blown away. The plus side is you can wipe yer brain cells clean from any popular dreck you may have heard on your work commute today just by getting home and plopping the needle anywhere in these grooves. A random track or two and you’ll be swimming in a personal swampland. But listening to the LP as a whole, it starts to blur and drag. Still, I’m interested to see what muck they wipe off the pointy boots next. (RSF)
(Stained Circles // www.stainedcircles.com)
Sonic Chicken 4 "Surfin' On A Plane" 7"
"Surfin'..." is a trebly pop-sike-garage, pretty decent organ run, some xylophone, jangly guit, sort of an awkward chorus-like bit (or is it a bridge?) that pops up a couple times, but nothing that ruins too much. "Crushed" is no-fi stomp-n-groove with twang all over and a few moments of guitar-damaged thunderclapping. I was never a real fan of these poorly monikered Frenchies when many were fawning over their (medicore in my mind) LP, and this single doesn't do a whole lot to change my view. If you're a believer in them though (and other relatively bland exotic garagesters like Davila 666), there's some decent sounds here. Scum stats: TIM keepin' it real, 500 numbered copies on "garbage" wax (mine's baby blue), beautiful company sleeves/labels, download card included.(RK)
(Trouble In Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Spectrals "Leave Me Be" 7"
One-man lo-fi pop from England, certainly fits the Captured Tracks demographic. From the sleeve I was expecting ghostly living room fuzz, but it's actually sort of upbeat and bouncy pop-lite and not that "mysterious" at all. About as beachy sounding as something from the UK can be, twangy stretches of guitar, fairly clean vox and some good hooks. A pleasant surprise, maybe not a mind blower, but certainly good enough to warrant further investigation. Nice looking oversized envelope sleeve will surely be a bitch to file.(RK)
(Captured Tracks // www.capturedtracks.com)
D. Charles Speer & the Helix “Madagascar” 7”
Not something that’ll strike the vast majority of Termbros, this is straight up country rock ‘n roll, but humbly executed, channeling all the best parts of The Band and CCR. That means it takes the sonically scenic route of winding erudite back roads and thus sinks a thorn in the side of Cuntree’s preeminence as the musical genre having the least to do with the actual music. Am I right? That said, punk isn’t too good with the whole expression thing these days, and if you think the jap-twist put on UK ’82 is the shoe that fits, there’s a pantheon of derivation to pedantically take cues from right where your fingertips meet the keys of this digital lexicon. At least Speer & the Helix sounds anachronistic in a pure, innocent and intentionally oblivious way. Good for them sending this here. (BG)
(self-released // www.dcharlesspeer.com)
Spencey Dude & The Doodles "Flirting" 7"
Even more neo-Budget Rock anthems from the Bay Area. Solid pop confections, four of them, all about gals and dates and being in love. What else would they be about? Three-piece with Oscar from RNR Adventure Kids/Gris Gris, this Spencey Dude dude and some chick, recorded by the Mayor of Oakland Greg Ashley. Not lo-fi a la No Bunz or anything, more like Personal & the Pizzas in its sing-a-longy delivery and Fifties sort of ramalamatude. Undeniably catchy tunes that are all fun, if you need more feelin' good garage in your diet you can feast on this. 700 copies. (RK)
(Robs House // www.robshouserecords.com)
Spider Bags “Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World” LP
Well, what the Spider Bags band is doing (not that they’re the first or anything), explaining why they might resonate with the Termbo crowd, is removing the rock phallus from the bulbous brown sugar booty. They’re de-hueing the already lilywhite genre. They’re going back to Wallers’s doctor for the black-change operation reversal. They’re taking the bounciful funk jam from rock ‘n roll and that’s because, well, y’know, punks like their pants tight and they’ve no temperament for pockets. That means the rhythm section’s avantiersmen, thee ol’ bass – the instrument that whispers so low you can tune it out if you want but nonetheless is saying very humbly via propulsive soundwaves “hey, let’s fuck,” serves no purpose in the modern evolution of punk since after that phallus retreats the lineal whyte boyz wrap the high E of their telecaster around the scrotum for a smooth progressive step to sterility. The pattern of a lot of garage bands these days is walking the plank of regimented non-jam, coupling it with robot vox, only the most inorganic, processed production, and the marching band drum steeze denoting a deadened forward blank stare. I mean, we’re really on the ball with developing the most asexual epoch of Western music heritage. It’s cereal for dinner from now on. Exciting stuff! Instead of a spurred thoroughbred galloping across the untamed West, the frontier is seen though an Amtrack window. Smooth, linear, seated – it’s a strange mode of transport for such a gritty route. Even the cover art is akin to the objective android take on collage that we’re all so used to. More obtuse a nod towards Country’s direction and less slippery a slope into indie territory than Goodnight Loving, but somewhere in that stratum of slide-guitar flavored dance rock that’s really gonna resonate with hip semi-college town bars and other sorts that are ahead of the curve fad-wise if it sprouts from the underground. Not at all bad, just a bit unremarkable. (BG)
(Birdman Records // www.birdmanrecords.com)
Spits "P.A.I.N." 7"
Who the fuck doesn't love The Spits? If you don't, you're probably a communist or mouth breather or both. The centerpiece of this 7" is a cover of "I Dig Pain" from the punk episode of CHiPs. Bands have tried this before, and of course it took The Spits to do it right. The other three are Spits insta-classics, "Army Life" is a no-fi no-brainer about the travails of military maneuvers and "Planet Failure" has it all: blown-out bass, dum-dum vox, weird synth sound, well placed cymbal crash, hook-up-the-ass, blistering solo. Sloppy perfection. Better than your band.(RK)
(Slovenly Records // www.slovenly.com)
Sugar Stems "Beat Beat Beat" 7"
Saccharine garage-pop from Milwaukee way with a couple chicks and a dude out front and JonE Reject(!) on drums. Sounds pretty slick, "Beat Beat Beat" is neither a GG cover nor a tribute to the ATL band, but a well-crafted powerpoppish number. "Crybaby!" is more of a sassy handclap rocker. Too sugary for me, but fans of the style should appreciate the craftsmanship here. Better than that Flips 7", and I have to assume one or both of these gals were involved in that project since they have vaginas and live in Wisconsin. Scum stats: 500 pressed.(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
Tee Pee "Morals" LP
A fairly ambitious LP from Mr. Tee Pee, Florida's entry in the bedroom artist sweepstakes who also plays in Electric Bunnies and Melted Sunglasses when he isn't putting out another 7" or cassette of his own. Minimal stuff, mainly using acoustic guitar and synth to ply his trade. A lot of varied approaches ranging from featherweight indie-pop, to somber synth drone and psych-ish neo-folk to free jazz referencing freak-outs. "Sewing Machine" is actually a punk song wedged in between a track of tape noise and a poncey pop-wave tune. Lots of layers to this onion and while I can appreciate the craftsmanship at work here and the sheer determination of the stack of releases he's built up in a short period of time, I've found a majority of this stuff to be rather forgettable and just another brick in the wall of releases that probably could have been left on the bedroom floor. I'm listening to this and thinking about how much things have changed in our little scene in the past ten years. The guys who did Horizontal Action are now releasing records that sound like this? Seems crazy to me. But if you were one of the people who bought his double live cassette, by all means have at it.(RK)
(Senzei Records // www.senzeirecords.com)
Times New Viking “Move to California” 7”
This 7” for the most part is unessential if you own or are going to own 'Born Again Revisited'. The first song on both the A side and the B side are tracks from the album. “Move to California” is one of the better ones. It’s slightly melancholic in tone and it stands out in TNV’s discography as one of their catchier and more “mature” songs. “City on Drugs” is another winner from 'Born Again...'. The other two on this 7” are “Pentagram” which is a pretty short punkier effort, and “Teen Spirit in Hell.” The latter is probably one of the “weirder” songs that I’ve ever heard them record, and vocals aside, the music on this one sounds kind of like Chrome (which is kind of strange, and maybe wrong, but that’s what it sounds like to me.). It’s a slowed down tune and sounds like someone is playing a record of TNV with their finger. The vocals on this one sound like, well, a “Teen Spirit in Hell.”
Because people seem too busy talking about how “crappy” their music is recorded (which is insane that so many people focus on this), one thing that rarely gets talked in reference to TNV is their visual aesthetic and their general presentation. The packaging of this one is a real winner. It has a nice newsprint sleeve that looks pretty great with the jacket. But the best part of the whole package is the insert. It’s an angry fan letter written to Matador by a presumably grumpy and aging indie rocker. In this letter, he yearns for the label’s days of yore, and goes on and on about defunct Matador bands (clearly he doesn’t remember or is trying to forget when they were trying to corner the Indie Hip Hop market of the late Nineties). Apparently this dude was pissed off after seeing TNV play in Brooklyn (I bet he lives there too) because they couldn’t “change a guitar string fast enough” and fucked around a little too much. I can almost say for sure this guy was probably in college during the late 90’s to early 2000’s and more than likely spent much of that time hanging out in the “Quad” listening to Belle and Sebastian on headphones while pretending to read “Gravity’s Rainbow”. Instead of wasting his precious time in college snoozing to The Pizzicato Five, what that guy really should have been doing is: taking bong rips while watching “Wild Zero” and ripping the fuck out to Guitar Wolf. Well friend, the last time I checked, no one from The Pizzicato Five died from rocking too hard (R.I.P. Bass Wolf).(ES)
(Matador // www.matadorrecords.com)
Tin Huey "Before Obscurity: The Bushflow Tapes" CD
Odds'n'sods collection from Akron's Tin Huey, made up of live cuts, B-Sides and unreleased tracks. Part of the late Seventies Akron/Clevo axis which presented the world Devo, Electric Eels, Bizarros, Rubber City Rebels and others, Tin Huey were definitely a breed apart musically, even if their weirdo aesthetic was in line with the punk movement somewhat. Actually, I'm not even sure that comment carries weight, because in actuality Tin Huey represented a lot of what punk was rebelling against. Prog rock, Zappa and jazz are their starting points, and although they do the proto-rock thing a little bit, they're far from actual rockers. I always used to think of them as Steely Dan trying to be New Wave or something. This CD does little to change my mind. Steely Dan might actually be more punk. Lots of goofin off, wacky lyrics/concepts, horn-n-corn filled prog-fusion jams. They achieve moments of proto-weirdpunk avant rock for brief intervals, but it's mostly cornball stuff. Smart guys playing "smart" music. There's a lot of talk about them being Beefheartian, but I don't buy that line. Zappa-esque and Mothers styled for sure, but they don't have any of the blues/roots/guts pull that makes the Captain better than that shit. I guess these guys have their place in history, they had records on Clone after all and were part of a scene that created some of the best punk music of all time, but really they're just a footnote to a lot of far better bands. Honestly, I'd rather listen to The Waitresses. Liner notes by Christgau, ugh. (RK)
(Smog Veil // www.smogveil.com)
Tortured Tongues "Art of Murder" 7"
Harrisburg, PA punk-rock of the shit-fi variety. "Arizona Murder" is a total fucking mess, which works in their favor. Superbly hateful guitar tone, they throw some shitty handclaps, sloppy vocals and random organ riffs in the blender as well and hit pulse a few times. Sounds like a slighty more fidelic Fag Cop track. "Extension Cord" has some more structure to it, a good bashing beat and nicely executed and distorted dual vox. Somehow it manages to be quite catchy and reminds me somewhat of the wonderfully crappy southern-punk of Scrip+s or Die Rotzz. They should continue with more stuff a la the B-Side of this, sounds like they can write some good punk tunes that don't need to be masked under the shit-fi schlock they utilize on the A-Side, as good as it sounds anyway. Reach for the stars kids. "Extension Cord" is definitely mix-tapeable and I give this 7" a "strong buy" recommend as a whole. Shit-tastic. Scum stats: 300 copies, they're practically giving this thing away at the nice price. Kudos.(RK)
(Lethal Triad Records // dmdesanto-at-gmail.com)
Twin Stumps s/t LP
Brooklyn-based four piece noise rock assault outfit who stretch six songs into a 12" steak with a lot of gristle. A band that is surely going to fall victim to Brainbombs comparisons that no band will ever live up to, and they're obviously going to get lumped into a bunch of bands that might include Clockcleaner, Drunkdriver, Pissed Jeans and others that really have little to do with one another aside from the fact they're just loud rock bands. So, I think the major point a lot of bands miss out on when they're going for a Brainbombs-like sound (or are at least getting forced into that pigeonhole by their label's press release) is that they don't take into account that one of the major jumping-off points for the 'bombs is their reverence for Stoogoid gonzo rock. In essence those lovable Swedes are just really dumb ur-rock, taking 'Funhouse' to the Nth degree. I think a band like Twin Stumps (or Billy Bao for another example) are coming from a noise-rock angle that intellectualizes the whole primal/brutal thing too much. Too much noise, not enough rock. That being said, taking Twin Stumps as just a noise rock band without all the comparitive baggage, well, they're successful. It's not a lot of fun to listen to, which is the point anyway. Piles and piles of feedback, pained vocal screaming, unrelenting and repetitive rhythm section and some thickly laid on violent/sexual lyrical themes. Absolutely abrasive, but lacking a real groove or rock base to make it more than just another "nasty" record. I think Pygmy Shrews are doing this thing with a lot more finesse. For those of you that are just looking for noise, this will do you just fine though. Scum stats: 300 copies.
Postscript: Sadly, Twin Stumps bass player Mike Yaniro was savagely attacked on the streets of NYC recently and has a mountain of medical bills and rehab ahead of him, donations to help him out can be made here.(RK)
(Dais Records // www.daisrecords.com)
Tyler Jon Tyler "New England Street" 7"
New Chicago band with the somewhat strange combination of an ex-Pony and the drummer from Daily Void with a girl on the mic and guitar. They play lightweight indie-pop that elicit Raincoats and Young Marble Giants comparisons from the label, but it sounds sort of unremarkable to me. Slightly twee, very sparse, energetic vocal performance but nothing I feel the need to keep listening to. Scum stats: 500 numbered copies on "garbage" wax, beautiful company sleeves/labels, download card included.(RK)
(Trouble In Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Tyvek "Blunt Instrumental" 12" EP
While everyone was bitching about how much they hated the artwork on their LP, Tyvek snuck out this one-sided vinylized version of the "Blunt Instrumental" cassette they sold on tour. I don't know if the tracklisting is identical, as I don't actually own said tape, but such minutiae aside, it's a cool little demo-sounding release. The first four cuts remind me of why I always felt these guys had a real Swell Maps vibe to them, loose yet driving DIY cuts without so much angularity, and a really organic sounding bass driven rhythm. "Bicycle Fantasy 1" is a hazy dream, and a true instrumental. "9 Bucks" is jumpy and erratic. "Robots, Dogs" is my pick to win here, which might actually wander into Fall-like territory. The fifth track on this is a rather lengthy free-form droner that could be a live improv or something. Recording quality is far worse than the other cuts. The only iffy thing about this to me is that the four good cuts here add up to about eight minutes or so of music (plus you get the toss off fifth track), but the silk-screened clear vinyl-style "picture disc" does look rather cool. I guess the necessity of this depends on your pocketbook, it's $15ppd for four brief but enjoyable tracks from a pretty damn good band, and listening to this one last time before polishing off this review made me pissed that their last show here got snowed out. Only in Buffalo...(RK)
(Night People // www.raccoo-oo-oon.org)
UV Race s/t LP
Call the UN, it looks like the KBD recipe’s been stolen from the vaults in Hell and squandered on the descendents of the West’s most respected penal colony. The latent traits of our heritage’s bottom-feeders mix their sweat, blood, and pubes into the dish and present us with the finest in ignorant, good-natured retard-rock of recent vintage. Tastes great. First is the idyllic snapshot of a child’s mind: “Society Made Me Selfish,” which picks at the same nose the Icky Boyfriends mined and feasted from when they felt like making listenable tunes. Like Mentally Ill’s “Gacy’s Place” but in good taste – not a distorted kernel of debauchery. A very stupid composition… a very wise choice… perhaps the most infectious minute-long banger of the year. “Gore Orphanage” captures a weird pre-teen retreat to an autumn lakeside vibe… what the fuck. Some songs resemble New Yowka’s playing frenchee, like Television did, and sound like the destination of the drive from the lower east side to rural Vermont that occurs during the first four songs. A real cosmopolitan smorgasbord showcasing the ‘Race’s knack for coloring in sonic outlines with hues of synth and bright guitar tinkle, angelic harmony and hornery – I wondered why there were fuckin’ six peeps in the group. Smells like a less hostile Rock Bottom & the Spys on a few occasions. Juvenile basement bashers that’re grade-A classy after being catapulted from the womb. Production is fucking great too – crisp and clean as an Orstralian skiff launch in the dry heat of a Melbourne summer. Talk about becoming greater than the sum of your parts. (BG)
(Aarght! Records // www.aarghtrecords.com)
Uzi Rash Group Band "High and Phree" LP
I have a half dozen or more CD-Rs and tapes from this band from the past year or two. None of them are very good. It was as if they were just recording their practices and sending them out. I think Soriano opined to the extent of "If you can't exert some quality control and pick out your good songs on your own, then why should I do it for you..." or something like that. And he was absolutely right. There might have been a few good ideas on those discs, but who could tell, as they were buried under another 30 minutes of garbage. But, not to judge a band on their previous "unofficial" output (and I think they might have relocated east from CA recently, or at least aligned themselves with people in that direction...), I'll try and erase previous messes from my memory whilst spinning this new LP. 'High and Phree' is on Mike Hunchback's Freedom School imprint, although the sleeve looks like it could be a cast-off Woodsist release (no, actually it looks better than more than a few recent Woodsist sleeves) or maybe something on Not Not Fun or Gilgongo. It sort of fits in the neo-folk no-fi camp, a camp I really think should be razed. Lazily played and lazily recorded, another record where you get the feeling that the parties involved are barely even trying. A little bit of punk via New Columbus, some half-assed indie drone-rock, a not-good-enough-for-Woodsist lo-fi folk-attempting-to-be-psych vibe as well. Some of this reminds me of what Meth Teeth might sound like if they sucked. The rest of it sounds like Woods gone punk, which should be an offense that at least carries a little jail time.(RK)
(Freedom School // www.freedomschoolrecords.com)
V/A Chainsaw Eaters/Melting Walkmen split 12”
Split release from two Denmark groups, each getting a hefty 12”es to strut their stuff upon. First up: Chainsaw Eaters. Synth & drum duo that take minimalism to some new depths…so minimal in delivery, I’m still kinda’ waiting for the songs to start. There’s a couple of darkwave instrumentals at the beginning that could easily fit into the wasteland of an 80’s apocalyptic Road Warrior rip off. Doom and shudder with John Carpenter key-play. But right when I’m starting to dig it, they stop. What? Pretty good, but leaves me wanting more. Why two intro-style tunes in a row? Track three takes it a bit further by finally adding some vocals. It’s only a couple passages, true. Again it comes to a quick halt. Damn. These types of songs take time to build and they’re almost too short to hook me in. Nice sketches, but sketches nonetheless. The more I will say; the more I listen to it, the more I get it. Songs seem longer second and third time around. Is the vinyl stretching like pizza dough? My brain hurts. The last track “The Execution” would be the hit single out of the batch and shows me what they’re capable of. Steady desperate build with simple nods to Genesis P. or Alan Vega in the throat department. Overall, a grower.
Melting Walkmen is altogether a different beast. A full size band on the UK post punk tip with some pretty great dissonance and shattering noise breaks to cut up their gloom. They sound quite a bit like 'Three Imaginary Boys'-era Cure. Before Fat Bob took it all down to the sad fatty pants zone. The Warsaw rhythm session is kicking the beat around, so it’d fit nicely in your DJ set between other death punks: Manikin, Le Face, Frustration, etc. Shit’s good. Like for real. I’ll play this side a lot and check to see what the Eaters bring to the table next. Ridiculously low numbers made. First press: 109 copies w/a black sleeve. Second press: 126 copies in a white sleeve. Serious SSLD pressings goin’ down. Good luck with that! (RSF)
(Red Tape/Mastermind // www.redtape.dk)
V/A "Clan Destine Compilation" LP
17 track compilation from a British label flogging a wide range of DIY sounds from across the globe, with the emphasis on the UK and Australia. Some interesting names here among many unknowns, with lots of varying takes on the DIY aesthetic. We'll talk about the notables first. Pheromoans are always good in my book, and "Retro Moods" is a goofy swipe combining "Louie Louie" and Mark E., one of the best cuts here. Wetdog do actually sound like Country Teasers with vaginas, and "My Derelict" is culled from their debut LP which very few of us have heard anyway. Ace cut which increases my yearning for the Captured Tracks releases. There's Vermillion Sands song, but it's taken from the Fat Possum 7", so that's a wash. Australia's Royal Headache do a spiffy garage-popper. As far as newer interesting bands, Pop Fosters (UK) do a short but sweet two-piece garage roughie, Woollen Kits (AUS) do the NZ-drone, Ovaria (France) are female downer rockers that bring the dark vibes, Erasers (AUS) play Joy D-like dry post-punk, Mary Cotter (USA) plays sweetheart acoustic folk. There's also bad indie-rock from Shock! Horror!, a synth tune that sounds like Enya or something from Tantrums (AUS), bedroom rock from Fruitface, a weird and icky new wave dub thing from Warm Hands (US) who have some kind of Blessure Grave connection, which might as well be the kiss of death to avid Termbo'ers. A whole lot to get through with mixed rewards. Lots of this should appeal to rabid Captured Tracks or Woodsist fans, and there are a good half dozen cuts here that cover a lot of ground but nothing I'd actually call great. Depends on how bad you want to hear the Pheromoans cut and a Wetdog track that should appear on the US release of their first LP anyway (should that ever actually happen). Limited to 250 copies, comes with a couple inserts and a zine with info on all of the bands.(RK)
(Clan Destine // myspace.com/clandestinproductions)
V/A Cokerocket/Singing Dogs split 7"
Cokerocket are wacky pop-punk with keyboards and female vox from Italy. Two songs. Total shit. Singing Dogs have been around for a bit, and have the distinction of being the first band P.Trash records ever released. Eye-tye three-piece garage-punk crashers, actually pretty entertaining, bringing me back to the glory days of when Superhelicopter were releasing singles once a month. "TV Vampire" and "Have A Gun" are both trashy and great, too bad they're buried on the B-Side of a split with an inferior band. 300 copies.(RK)
(Primitive Records // myspace.com/primitiverecord)
V/A Ebonics/Gestapo Khazi split 7"
Ebonics side is pretty boss. Shitty sounding punk rock at its best, "Mexican Thunder" is bursting with bonehead moves and retarded energy and attitude. Stupid and good. "Japanese Flag" is too few fleeting seconds of hooky shitslinging. I like that both songs are ethnically themed. Top marks, better sound/material than their Daggerman 7" (which I still enjoyed), pretty tough sounding for some Bay Area ponces. Gestapo Khazi are Long Beach punks doing dark, frantic and trebly stuff. Ex-Geisha Girls and ex-Street Trash. You can sense some of the GGs post-punk moves blended into a more traditional SoCal punk template making for a tense mash-up. Guitars are a bit surfy, and I get the dark Gun Clubby vibe they're reaching for. A decent track, it doesn't really stand out so much (and it doesn't help the Ebonics cuts just bury it) but it does make me want to hear more to see if they might be on to something. But I'm not gonna hold my breath or anything...Scum stats: 300 copies on three vinyl colors, hand-stamped labels, nice screened sleeves. (RK)
(self-released(?) // try some LBC stores/distros)
V/A Frank & The Can I Speaklys/Soul of Condemned Ape split 7"
Split 7" pairing Perth-based SOCA and US (SF?) artists Frank ATCIS, giving the Movie Star Junkies/Last Rapes of Mr. Teach split a run for the two worst band names on a split 7" title. FATCIS are Blank Dogs clones right down to the vocal treatment. Disturbing in its resemblance. Oi vey. SOCA come out of this far better, and they are from Australia after all. "Holiday" is tribal-beat DIY-punk with yelping vox and "Symmetrical" is an accurately named and rather riveting post-punk instrumental. Great drumming. Scum stats: a scant 150 copies, split released between the Aussie Farmer Frontier label and ROS Records in the US.(RK)
(ROS Records // www.etherichymns.bigcartel.com)
V/A "I'd Buy That For A Dollar Vol. 2" EP
Now that the World's Lousy compilation empire seems to have fallen, UFO Dictator and the "...Dollar" series seem poised to pick up the ball and keep on truckin'. Four bands, one cut per, showcasing some of the new talent on the scene. Cave Weddings I already know and love, the best in lo-fi sock-hop garage, a band I feel are a step ahead of their many Indiana comtemporaries (and even Eric's previous Happy Thoughts) and "Just Like A Fool" is a true gem. Favorably tinny guy-girl vocal harmonies, extra hooky bassless guitar jangles (w/solo), tough drumming. I smell a hit, and I usually don't fall for stuff this cute. Memphis' Useless Eaters bat in the two-hole, zero-fi KBD-inspired junk. Where are these keyboards coming from? Guitar-led punk-n-jive, hilariously non-existent drum sound. It's punk alright, just not sure if it's my brand or not. Gut Reactions lead off the B-Side, they've released a couple of average-sounding singles already, this one actually sounds like a real rough-n-tumble Makers-ish garage raver. Short and effective. Chicago's Wanton Looks are the x-factor here, and they peddle some hard-rocking all-girl garage rock, which refreshingy leaves out all Nikki Corvette powerpop worship most gals like to throw in the mix. For me, this thing is all about Cave Weddings, but most of you will like the others too. Scum stats: lovely cover art by Ben Lyon, 100 on blue vinyl w/thicker and different colored sleeves plus the usual trading card fun, 300 regular versions on black, all come with a fold-out insert that references both AD&D and The Bushwackers (or Sheepherders, depending on your federation of choice). Vol. 3 is in the works with a tentative line-up of Wild Thing (!), Heavy Beagle (!?) and Captain 9s (!!!).(RK)
(UFO Dictator // www.ufodictator.com)
V/A The Intelligence/Unnatural Helpers split 7"
Seattle two-fer, with both bands covering each other. I'm usually not a fan of this variety of split, but this is alright. Helpers do two from 'Icky Baby' ("Confidence" and "This Is A Gift"), turning them all cough-syrupy and slurry. Intelligence cover three Helpers hits that were on some comp or a CD I don't actually own (they should really have an LP out already). The songs sound like Lars wrote them. "Gettin Classy" is the lead-off and the hit. I wonder if "Mister Children" is about the Japanese band? It's good either way. Fans of either of these bands won't be disappointed, Intelligence obsessives in particular.(RK)
(Dirty Knobby // www.dirtyknobby.com)
V/A Jacuzzi Boys/Woven Bones split 7"
Man, Woven Bones have released more stuff than I realized. Too much too soon? Maybe. "Grown Crazy" is definitely in the better half of their vinylized legacy so far though. A little slower and drawn out than their usual driving guitar stew, this one has some presence and poignant wah-stepping. I like it. Jacuzzi Boys cut is a mellow-psych acoustic jam, the type of thing you can picture them playing sitting in a circle, around a campfire in the Everglades, legs folded Indian-style, maybe some bead wearing going on or some headband action. Has that odd out-of-time quality that makes them a special band, sort of beach-like but in a peculiar Floridian way. I've spent some time down there, and the sands at night, the smell of saltwater and the big sky, that's what this is like. Only one song from each band is kind of a bummer, but what the hell...(RK)
(Needless Records // www.needlessrecords.com)
V/A Last Rapes of Mr. Teach/Movie Star Junkies split 7"
One night I'm making fun of this record in a review, and the next morning a promo copy arrives in the mail. I got served. A note from the label guy even explains how these guys don't understand why Americans think the band names are so bad. I feel for them. Definitely a cultural disconnect there. I did learn that Last Rapes... is a name based on Blackbeard the pirate. Interesting factoid, but it still doesn't make it any better. Their two songs are better than the material on their own 7" reviewed above, "Peanuts" is sort of hillbilly-ish in a RNR Adventure Kids style, but with a little Euro awkwardness. "I Don't Mind" is catchy and shadowy blues-based garage. Better and all, but not great. MSJ side gives us one gypsy-rocker and a fuzzed-up cover of Lee Hazlewood's "Sand" with strange munchkin vocals. Not their best work. Nice sleeves though.(RK)
(Shit In Can Records // myspace.com/shitincanrecords)
V/A Thee Oh Sees/Paul Cary split 7"
More from Camp Dwyer...this time two covers, "Hey Buddy" which is actually by Narnack recording artists Iran, who run in the same circle as Termbo "faves" Pocahaunted. I heard them play this live and thought it was an original. I wish it was now that I know the facts. Gentle lullaby stuff. Kinda cute. They back it up with a glacial cover of Trio's "Coma" (or "Kummer"). I actually think they're both pretty decent cuts that work well together as an EP side, obviously on the far mellower side of their spectrum. The Rush inspired artwork is a nice touch. You'll remember Paul Cary from the Horrors, whose debut LP is a bona-fide In the Red classic and whose second LP disappointed many. He's taking up a rootsy country-garage thing on this record, "Coyote" has a nice and dusty prairie vibe, in sort of a Golden Boys vein. "Goner" is straight acoustic C&W balladry. Seems like an odd pairing, but I like that a smaller label like Stankhouse gets to cash in on Oh Sees mania (I'd suggest buying a Here Comes A Big Black Cloud record while you're at their website, they're far better than their name might suggest). A decent enough split, and for Oh Sees fans this is a far better investment than their pairings with Ty Segall or Jay Reatard.(RK)
(Stankhouse Records // www.stankhouserecords.com)
V/A Skulls Without Borders 10"
Silt-scene overview for the end of 2009 wrapped up in ten inches of vinyl. Six cuts, six cutting edge acts, varied results. Chickens, an FNU Ronnies related outfit (Street Kyle and ??), kick off the comp in style with "Chickins Den", a scrappy lo-fi cut of rhythmic punk. Vox have a real cool almost hip-hop like cadence to them, piercing guitar, finger licking good. One of the three great tracks here. Then we get Dan Melchior next, ugh. It's bad enough he's released 13 records this year, he has to get on this comp too. I can't even enjoy this in the slightest, his ubiquitous presence is just getting obnoxious at this point. Funnily enough, this tune is about "hearing the same thing 1000 times...". Yeah, tell me about it Dan. Closing out Side A are the terribly monikered Puffy Areolas, but poor name aside, they put out the best cut on this slab, grinding out a wicked noise-punk blaster in "El Jita", a heavy vortex repeater that reeks of skronk and scree. Makes me wish I had their CDR singles club 7" already, but I had to choose the damn cheap-o shipping option...Side B opens with the legendary Tommy Jay doing "Bug Men" which will enthrall fans of his 'Tall Tales..' LP and anyone into the early C-Bus/Rep axis. A good weird-acoustic cut with some female vocals joining in, sort of has a minstrel-like quality. Sic Alps follow with a pretty dopey Ayers cover ("Clarence"), a cut with Ty Segall in the fold. A little too feel-good hippie-dipstick for me, not their best work. Good drum sound though. Kurt Vile (with the Violators) brings the curtain down with a real meditative droner that has plenty of ambience but that's about it. Rather forgettable. Thick wax, the silkscreened sleeves are well done (a black base coat, with the skull laid on top with clear ink), but I think the price tag on this thing is crazy. It's retailing for $20+, which is just wrong for three good cuts and three average-at-best offerings from some currently hot bands. If this was a bit cheaper, I would highly recommend tracking one down. I guess having "Bug Men" on wax will cushion the blow somewhat, and the Puffys and Chickins really do rip it. Limited to 300 copies which are probably long gone anyway.(RK)
(Siltbreeze // www.siltbreeze.com)
V/A Work/Piles split 12”
Split release from two Bay area noise mongers. WORK is total gorilla warfare between guitar & drums featuring members of 16 Bitch Pile Up and Child Pornography. Comes across like The Hospitals or Pyramids rolling about on dirty floorboards with galpunx like Kleenex or The Raincoats. Shit is snappy fun but it can get real ugly and then turn on you. Distorto-crush with a bit of soul hand thrown up here and there. There’s even a Boyd Rice cover to ensure maximum pleasure to yer neighbors ears. Me likey. Liked them live too. PILES are ex-Numbers and other dance-dance alumni bringing out a double synth & drum attack. A little too cute with their pop-over-art punk style for my personal liking. Not as good to my ears as the flipside, but not a bad time filler if you got a stomach for this sorta’ jive. Give it a whirl. Nice loose screw attempt at a Redd Kross tune! Party like its 1979. (RSF)
(Rad Key Records // myspace.com/workishard)
Kurt Vile “Childish Prodigy” LP/CD
First of all, I want to preface anything I say about this record with the following: I think that Kurt Vile is fucking great. Unfortunately for Vile, he is an artist who has been lumped in with this whole “lo-fi” thing that the internet seems to have the biggest hard-on for these days. I have no doubt in my mind that many of these artists will be forgotten about by the general public when the bubble bursts in a few months and then those people will quickly go onto the next thing. Who knows, maybe even Kurt Vile will be forgotten about too. I doubt it though. He has forged a sound that is truly and uniquely his and I hope sticks around for a while. His work somehow manages to combine Fripper-tronics, Fahey-esque guitar picking, My Bloody Valentine atmospherics, as well as whatever classic rock singer song-writer who sounds vaguely “American” you want to insert here (I say Eighties Springsteen). He takes all that and puts an everyman’s bedroom weirdo type vibe on it. I have been kind of keeping up with this guy for a while, and I was pretty excited about this record coming out. So the question is: Why am I so disappointed in this “debut” record by an artist that I really like?
“Childish Prodigy” is by no means a terrible record, and it got more than a few spins on my turntable. This is something I would totally recommend to the unintiated, but the problem for me is that each time I’m done with the record, I find myself questioning all the shortcomings of the record. This is Vile’s first proper LP and first with his band The Violators (not counting last years “Hunchback EP”), but a sizable portion of the album is updated versions of previous songs. If you are familiar with Vile’s previous work you’ll know that this is not a new practice. Vile’s earlier LPs were pieced together from years of previously recorded material and possessed an off the cuff charm that wasn’t wholly satisfying but showed boundless potential and promise. Last years “Hunchback EP”, the first record done with his band The Violators seemed like a harbinger of things to come. It had a spontaneous feeling to it that seemed fresh, which is what I think “Childish Prodigy” is ultimately lacking.
I can’t stress it enough that I don’t think this album is bad, it’s just not what I hoped it would be. Some of the stand out tracks here are definitely “Hunchback” but this LP version doesn’t even come close to ripping like the EP version and it lacks that “Diamond Sea”-esque wah-wah guitar stuff that was going on in the first one. “Freak Train” is the obvious single from the album, and is similar in catchiness to last years “Freeway”, but at seven-plus minutes it gets a bit tedious. Most of “Childish Prodigy” goes back and forth between the normal Kurt Vile atmospheric finger picking songs and full band rockers that contain extra instrumentation previously unheard before in his discography and hint at the future potential of their music (again?!?). “Monkey” is the one that stands out to me where I feel like Vile and The Violators really hit.
I think that the real question I have about this record is: Who exactly is this record for? Obviously, Kurt Vile has moved over to Matador, and probably has a greater opportunity over there to be successful. But I can’t help but feeling like 'Childish Prodigy' is really just an introduction for the rest of the world to Vile. And really, why the fuck not? He has THAT name (which he says is his Christian name), he looks like he SHOULD be a rock-star, and most importantly, his music has been pretty good and seemingly earnest thus far. There is no reason this person shouldn’t be successful. And really, I don’t want it to sound like I’m suggesting any sort of dubious intent on Vile’s or Matador’s part, but it’s hard not to believe that SOMEONE was hoping to strike gold with this one. In the end “Childish Prodigy” feels like a logical conclusion to a pretty short, but relatively prolific early career trajectory. I just hope at this point, they will go forward and reach the full potential that I think keeps narrowly escaping them.(ES)
(Matador // www.matadorrecords.com)
Whatever Brains "Saddle Up" EP
Second single from this Raleigh quartet who trade in the lo-fi indie marketplace. A-Side is super poppy, although they mask the hooks underneath distortion and buzz. Whodathunk? First song has a stilted cadence, cute sounding keys pitted against what sounds just like a line of straight tape noise. Second is a more shout-along chorus-type thing. Anthemically indie. B-Side melds the no-fi-pop with some spastic indie-punk. It all sounds very familiar somehow. Not that I think they're ripping anyone off, but it's like something I heard back in the Nineties that I can't put my finger on...anyway, it's not overly bad or good, far more indie-pop than anything too garage/punk, if they can keep this up for another single they'll probably at least get taken out to dinner by Matador. Scum stats: 400 on black, 100 on white, I like the sleeve. Is that Cliff?(RK)
(Bull City Records // www.bullcityrecords.com)
Wheels On Fire "Bad Lie" 7"
First record I've heard from these Athens, OH popsters who have some stuff out on Fat Possum as well I believe. Medium-fi by the books power-poppish stuff, "Bad Lie" whoa-oh-ohs all over the place and has a bit of a Southern twang feel to it. The flipside is straight Elvis Costello tribute. If you love Gentleman Jesse you'll at least like this one. Are they named after The Band song? Or did Dylan actually write that one? Scum stats: 500 numbered copies on "garbage" wax, beautiful company sleeves/labels, download card included.(RK)
(Trouble In Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
White Wires "Pretty Girl" 7"
Canadian garage, with a sort of poppy SF/Budget Rock-styled influence. Real simple and catchy stuff, I dig the deep bass sound and no-frills solo. "Goodbye Girl" on the flip sounds like something from the upcoming soundtrack to 'Grease 4', starring Nobunny as Danny and Hunx as Frenchy. I've tried harder than I should have to to get into these guys, and I'm still not getting it. Scum stats: TIM keepin' it real, 500 numbered copies on "garbage" wax (mine's baby blue), beautiful company sleeves/labels, download card included.(RK)
(Trouble In Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Wicked Awesomes "Punk Holograms" LP
Debut long-player from Edmonton punk rockers. I enjoyed the bizarre sound of their single on Almost Ready, which was schizophrenic enough in its approach (gypsy-space-rockers?) that it had me wondering what an LP worth could bring. Over a dozen or so tracks, they sound a little more "normal", or at least give us the time enough to fully grasp their M.O. Brooding garage-post-punk with a futurist vibe, vocals that sound delivered from inside an astronaut's helmet, arrangements that sound outer-spacey via a vaguely distant recording technique, some sci-fi synth sounds. The trebly guitar jangle and spread-out passages of bass-propulsion evoke mid-tempo time-travelling. A band that has created an interesting overall dynamic, but one that doesn't appear ready for an entire album. A lot of this just sounds the same, there's little variance between songs, and the purposefully monotonous vocals make each song blend into the next. What I'm saying is, I've listened to this a half dozen times and I remember nothing except a vague overall theme. I like my LPs to deliver a little more than that. (RK)
(Psychic Handshake // myspace.com/psychichandshake)
Wizzard Sleeve "Make The World Go Away" LP
Eagerly anticipated debut long-player from Southern synth rockers. Line-up seems to have been shifted/pared down a bit from most of the seven-inch recordings but with Captain Beyonce still at the helm. After seeing them live as only a two-piece I was left quite impressed, and I think the tightening of the band has benefitted the overall sound substantially. Some of the over-the-top and sloppily insane punk edges have been tempered into a more controlled and tense sense of dementia permeating the album. Quite remarkably, they've made a synth-heavy dance-rock record that maintains a very organic and obviously quite lysergic feel. Sometimes cold, but not in an icily digital way. Think of the chilling dampness of the forest floor or moist caverns. Some locations where the fungi on the sleeve would grow. And from a technical standpoint (from a guy who knows nothing of technical shit), I guess organ-heavy would be a better descriptive than synth-heavy, as the keys here acheive a rich and textured feel, eschewing your typical synth-punk blandness. Nothing mechanical or robotic here, no drum machine, and there is a fair share of guitar as well. I'm also impressed by the fact Beyonce doesn't overly distort or fuzz out his vox, you can clearly hear the lyrics throughout and their dead man cadence adds to the overall sense of doom. Yes, doom, but not in some futuristic black-wave way, but they sort of transplant some dark metal vibes into the music somehow. Not creepy in some generic sense, but sincerely bringing some bad trip downer shit. Not a bum track in the bunch, but I do wish they would have included their Catatonic Youth cover instead of the Pagans' "When I Die". I don't really think Pagans covers are ever a good idea, but they at least turn it into a droner. Some might see the tracklist and get bummed that four songs from their singles appear here, but they're revamped and perfected versions supported by some new gems like the darkly catchy "Excavating Heaven", the harrowing plunge of "No Mongo", and "Shapeshifter Blues" which is a prime cut slow-death rocker. A modern Southern gothic synth-rock record made in Alabama. I didn't think it was possible. This LP far exceeded my expectations, taking the promise of the singles and forming them into a quite coherent and effective full length record that manages to be gloomy, weird, punk and most importantly, quite unique. Scum stats: 200 on gold, probablly the best Ilth sleeve I've seen.(RK)
(HozAc Records // www.hozacrecords.com)
Woollen Kits "Teenage Love" EP
Melbourne three-piece of the two guitars and a drummer variety. A-Side begins with a nice and moody garage-drone instrumental and then jumps into a simple pop jumper called "By A Lake" with odd monotone vox and real peppy NZ-ish upbeat step. B-Side starts with a more direct one-two garage piece about getting a haircut and ends with the EP's title track. The deep and sort of dorky vox give the garage-pop a slightly skewed feel and the guitars play against each other well, one holding down the rhythm and the other adding texture and noise at times. Last track cuts the deepest. Perhaps an Oz counterpart to Christmas Island. I like this one quite a bit, it seems to reveal a bit more with each listen (yeah, it's a grower). I couldn't be happier with the recent Australian renaissance, I think it's about time some enterprising label does a killer comp, expanding on the World's Lousy Australian line-up 7". There's a lot going on over there the rest of the world should hear.(RK)
(Periodic Collective // www.periodiccollective.org)
Wounded Lion "Creatures in the Cave" 7"
They had to label "Creatures in the Cave" as "ballad" on the sleeve for some reason. As if there's another version of it that's not a ballad. If there is, I hope it's better than this take. Piano with minimal guitar and some brushed drums maybe. Yeah, this could be on a children's record, whatever. Call me a curmudgeon, but it just sounds stupid to me. "Wyld Parrots" on the flip I actually like. It sounds like Devo or Oingo Boingo or some weird West Coast New Wave act from the Eighties who were friends with Gary Panter. Real goofy, sure, but a goofy I can appreciate. Exotic percussion, cool synth sounds, primo bassline, handclaps, warbly sung David Byrne vocals, nutty lyrics. When they're not trying to sound like adults playing children's music for adults, and begin to act like a real band, I can get into Wounded Lion. I have an interest in hearing what their LP will be like, though I'm feeling as if I'll be lucky if I like half of it right now. Who knows. I'm willing to try. Scum stats: saved from the shit heap by Gilgongo Records, 550 copies. Make sure you buy from Gilgongo and not the sham label this record is supposedly a "co-release" with.(RK)
(Gilgongo Records // www.gilgongorecords.com)
Wounded Lion "Friendly?" EP
I wasn't real keen on the Wounded Lion 7" on S-S everyone thought was godhead last year. Too silly for me. "Friendly?" doesn't have me changing my mind at all. But the covers on this really get me thinking though. Their version of Wild Man Fischer's "Big Boots" sounds like Jonathan Richman fronting the Lamps (and Monty plays drums in Wounded Lion now I guess, so there you have it...). Pretty spectacular. Covering CCR is no easy task, but they deconstruct "Bad Moon Rising" and turn it into a burly bassline, a background guitar that sounds like steel bending, and ominously monotone vocals. Menacing in an odd way and absolutely riveting. I keep coming back to these two tracks, and we know it can be a bad thing when a band's best songs are covers, but I'm hoping in this case it's different.(RK)
(In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
Woven Bones "Janie" 7"
"Janie" is pretty punk sounding for these guys. They lay on the guitar drive less thickly than they usually do, and I keep waiting for the wah-solo that never happens. B-Side of this is a total sleeper. As in it put me to fucking sleep. I guess a slower jam is a good change of pace, but uh...not this lethargic. "Janie" is a pretty solid cut though, I think it might have made a better album track than the A-Side of a single though. I hate to use the old one trick pony line here, because I think they have a pretty good trick, but it doesn't really leave them too much room to maneuver either. When a band works a formula like this it makes it tough to keep things sounding fresh to the listener instead of sounding like you're recycling the same idea over and over, especially when you release four (and a half) singles/EPs in rather rapid succession. I'm still rooting for them, but I think they might have been better served by keeping some stuff in the vault, maybe releasing just two EPs (the Sweet Rot 7" being their best, and maybe the track from the split paired with "Minus Touch" or something...although the HozAc single certainly got their hype rolling even though it's pretty forgettable musically) and then saving up for the LP. But that's just me playing Armchair Band Manager. What an asshole. Scum stats: 100 green vinyl with inverse sleeve, I think there were 400 regular sleeves on black.(RK)
(Needless Records // www.needlessrecords.com)
Woven Bones "The Minus Touch" 12" EP
I have real issues with this record in the physical sense, but let's talk about the music first. Woven Bones have been hit-or-miss on wax so far, the highs have been very high (the Sweet Rot 7" is stunning) and the lows have been fairly boring (the HozAc 7" just treads water poorly). On this four song 12" you do get one of their best tracks in the title cut, a real fuzz-rumbler that blazes some white-hot guitar trails. The next two are fairly tepid in comparison, although the fourth (the closer "If You're Gold, I'm Gone") gives off a bit of an S3 aura and shows some more charisma than their other mailed-in offerings. The real problem here is the record itself. 12" EPs only exist to do what a 7" EP can't: offer up some extra inches of wax to give the songs a beefier sound, to cut some wide grooves for some loud shit. 12" EPs that play at 45rpm should sound fantastic and have grooves you could drive a truck through. I don't know what the fuck happened with this thing. The label apparently fucked up the mastering and the pressing got fucked as a result. You get about four inches of grooves and eight inches of dead wax and labels on each side of this thing. Total shit system/raped ass. This what happens when boutique labels don't know what the fuck they're doing. This type of shit wouldn't have happened in a shop like HozAc or Sacred Bones. With what they have here they could have just done a 7" and saved everyone some money and frustration. They band has admitted they had little to do with it (and were apparently upset with the mastering in the first place), so the responsibility lays solely on Zoo Music and their ineptitude, but I guess that's what you get from a label whose previous two releases were a Crocodiles 7" and a Dum Dum Girls CDR. Sadly, I imagine this thing is sold out already, leaving a lot of people feeling shafted. A bum deal for a band that I think have some potential and were pretty damn good live. Stay away from this fucking record if you should run into one in the wild. (RK)
(Zoo Music // www.killzoomusic.com)
The Yolks s/t LP
The Yolks seemed to have a good thing going. Party rock without all the pizza and hot dogs and cliches. Straight-up R&B laced garage that should satisfy any crowd looking for something to dance to. On this LP they reprise a couple tracks from the singles and tack on a bunch of new gassers for eleven tracks of rock-n-roll. They don't step too far outside of the box, excepting the acoustic strum of the album closer, recording is medium-rare adding a nice little bite to the affable tunes. As a whole, it's a bit more straight garage-rock than I imagined it would be. This thing won't blow your hair back or anything, but for a lightweight and smooth garage record it succeeds. I wish there was some more electric piano and I'd like them to try some horns on a song sometime. The best part of their previous releases was them jumping from hooky garage-pop to soul-city instros and back again. They sounded pretty energetic and wild there, but this LP just leaves them sounding a little too plain. Play to your strengths fellas. Get wild(er). Scum stats: first 150 on blue vinyl, 800 total. Split release between Randy in the States, and US-party rock import specialists Bachelor Records in Europa.(RK)
(Randy Records // www.randyrecords.com)
To read past reviews go here.