RECORD REVIEWS WINTER 2010
Key: (RFA: Richard Fucking Adventure)(LB: Lance Boyle)(SB: Young Steve)(BG: Brandon Gaffney)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RK: Rich K.)(TO: Tm Onita)(RSF: Rob Vertigo) (A.: Alessandro) (ES: Eddie Schneider) (MH: Mike H.) (NG: Nick Goode)
Talbot Adams "Jack and Jesse" EP
The undisputed nicest guy in garage rock returns to vinyl with a solo outing now that the Black & Whites have passed on. Four songs of the well-crafted pop that you'd expect from this guy which remind me a little bit of Lover (with whom he's pulled a tour of duty) but without Rich's mean streak and overt gothic Southerness. Talbot takes a...nicer approach to the pop template, creating sub-two minute stories with acoustic flair and deceptive depth. "Summer Days" has great bottle-clang percussion and a wonderfully melancholy hook, "Away" is a GBV styled indie-popper, "Life Is Good..." is sweet pop concentrate and you have to think the folky title track is dedicated to his twin boys. Adult indie-pop with a garage upbringing done very very well. I would've liked a lyric sheet with this. Talbot's been at it for a long time - the already mentioned Lover and Black & Whites, Jenny Jeans, Dutchmasters, Checkmates and all the way back to the Preacher's Kids and Royal Pendletons. All those years of experience are evident in this pleasant batch of tunes. There's nothing wrong with getting a bit older and wiser, at least when you have the songwriting chops he has. I hate to say it, but I like this better than any Black & Whites record...(RK)
(Douchemaster Records // www.douchemasterrecords.com)
Animal Lover "Garage Wolves" 7"
Full disclosure: I found my way to this Animal Lover 7" through fellow Termbro Lance Boyle, a man who shares my fondness for both the AmRep roster and fried spaghetti. He happened upon them randomly, as they were an opening band at a show he had attended to see some local acts ply their trade. Boyle was pleasantly surprised by these fellas, and knowing our similar tastes, and love for the band Hammerhead in particular, he made it a point to get me a copy of this single. I don't take Hammerhead name drops lightly, so I'll admit I was skeptical going in...but holy shit, I'll be damned if they don't sound a hell of a lot like fucking Hammerhead! Not an easy thing to do, and an even harder thing to do well. They don't necessarily sound like 'Into the Vortex'-era 'head, where the band was totally on top of their game. It's more like early days stuff, in the transtion from the 'Ethereal Killer" LP into the 'Evil Twin" EP maybe...they have the epic pounding down and the impressively ominous bass pulse with feddbacky riffing providing some gnarl, but rooted in the dirt still, not on the sci-fi trip the band later embarked on. The drummer is obviously not the technician that Jeff Mooridian is (shit, is anyone as good as that guy?), but he does hold his own quite well. Man, even the vox sound a little like a Paul...and get this: they're from fucking Fargo, ND! I couldn't make this shit up. "Garage Wolves" is a fucking gear-jammer - rolls like a tank for the first half, then jumps off into some hyperdrive destruction, not once, but twice. A++ shit here that really gets this this four-song EP going in the right direction. "Patience" is another h-bomb, faster-paced with some heavy off-time breakdowns, submarine bass torpedo action and grave-digging outro pound. Side 2 sees a slight dip in quality, "Mr. Plumbers Eye" is thug-thud that's okay enough and "Guidence" (sic) is the showstopper that slinks out the back door, a sludge-drone that crawls for minutes creating tension that's never fully released, ending in a stomp of cymbal hissing and doom riffing. Pretty fucking good overall though and I'm really enjoying thinking about what they could do with some more time. And still more enjoyable right now than the current acts the mighty Haze is pushing as heirs to throne, if you ask me. One of the only bands I've heard do a convincing take on mid-Nineties AmRep without bringing some modern weirdpunk or noise angle to soil the integrity of the project. These guys are throwbacks, and I can dig that. Get this and keep tabs on them for the future. Scum stats: released on their own, I have no idea how many, but don't tempt fate. Comes with a CDR of the tracks as well.(RK)
(self-released // myspace.com/animalloverband)
Arts “Vault Of Heaven” LP
I never really got behind the Youth Attack movement…or even had a chance to. Their stuff sells out in minutes. I hear there’s a Charles Bronson connection to the label (damned if I know for sure) and some folks are hip to that. Well, CB’s Mark McCoy is in on this LP too. Looks like maybe his Ancestors bedroom creep has moved out of the closet and into a full size rehearsal space. Good for him. This here is one hot slab of prime US blackened metal. No mention of powerviolence. It’s not as repetitive as Bone Awl, scatter-shot weird as Akitsa or as traditional as the initial Viking thrust of Mayhem and the like, but just as goddamn EPIC. Yes. In all caps. Focused it is and mean sounding as hell. Songs run around the couple minute mark (that’s fuckin’ punk) and slosh around in a melting pot of cvlt production, Void-damaged feedback, killer rock change ups and Nineties hardcore breakdown beats n’ spasms. The usual incoherent and regurgitated vox are on board, and that may make it or break it for most. Words are muddled, grunted and spewed thru sounds akin to that of the severed chords in tracheotomy patients. Sticky, wet, and causing a gurgled retch-effect not unlike that of the buried garden victims in Motel Hell. Unintelligible, but thank the dark arts it ain’t all cookie monstered. Also; it’s not so loud in the mix that it takes away from the madness that encapsulates it. The hit to these bleeding earholes would be "Funeral Shrill Of Adonej" (huh?) where all the furious guitar scree drops out and the track pounds some clear R'n’R riffage into a maddening circle pit oblivion. Brutal and punch hungry, this shit eats its young. It took a couple tracks to warm up to, but now it doesn’t seem to leave my turntable. I think I love this band, from every careening squeal to each spooky scrawl. It’s like hearing that Slices album getting all puked upon.
Let me break it down for all the Fonzies out there: If Dark Throne was the Oblivians, then Ildjarn was the Cheater Slicks. That leaves Bone Awl as the Reatards and these guys…uh…maybe the Necessary Evils!? Wrap yer head around that’n. Shit.
Metal is the only true garage left these days.
‘Scuse me. TRVE.
Packaging is intense (as with all YA products) and you’ll have to find it via some distro leftovers by now. Good luck.(RSF)
(Youth Attack// www.ihateyouthattack.com)
aTelecine "...and six dark hours pass" LP
Porn star Sasha Grey "stops taking the wang and starts making the clang" to quote my pal Vince Clortho. Horizontal Action really missed the boat on this one! Oh wait, they're a repectable label now...all that porn business is in the past. Good for them though. This thing isn't up their alley anyway. Straight up experimental sound collage work, which Grey has apparently been working on for years. A porn star trying hard to prove she's much more than a person who gets paid to have sex on camera, a la Asia Carrera perhaps, but without as much of Ms. Carrera's class. Supposedly her porn name was taken from a member of KMFDM combined with Dorian Gray, and she's been know to profess her fandom for Throbbing Gristle, Nurse with Wound, Coil, etc...on her various social networking sites. So there's some substance here, not just Traci Lords lip-synching to techno beats. What that substance is and how well it succeeds depends on how you want to approach this...it's nearly impossible not to let Grey's other "work" bias your interpretation. Most will be looking for sexuality here, and if not overtly, at least in a way where Grey lets loose some demons from her career in the sex industry or from her past. And they'll be hard-pressed to find anything in that direction, aside from the vague drawings on the sleeve and labels and some cryptic etchings in the dead wax. Musically, it's dry and neutral-toned drone with some found sound sampling. Tape warble, synth looping, digital drums, that all move along like so much no-tempo sludge. Cling clang bullshit of the highest order. It does have an ominous and dark quality, one segment has what sounds like some disturbing distorted animal noises, and the whole thing does feel a little creepy in general tone. I guess that might be interpreted how you wish. Those into B-list "noise" acts making fleeting musical comparisons to Current 93 might find merit here, but the sad fact is a lot of people are going to go into this looking for porn and come up empty-handed. I'm not a huge fan of Sasha's work on screen (and anyone involved in the show Entourage should probably be serving prison time anyway) and not really into her on record either. This thing will sell out a pressing two on sheer notoriety though.(RK)
(DAIS // www.daisrecords.com)
Atomic Suplex "Rock & Roll Must Die" 7"
British band, French label, bad name, total destructo-garage shenanigans. Singer (Danny Longlegs!) seems to be wearing Bob Log's space helmet, they have a Japanese fox on guitar (who is actually hot-shit on the axe), a female drummer who plays topless and a sax player. "Do The Suplex" is basically a frat-rocked cover of "Can Your Pussy Do The Dog" with Scandanavian amounts of wannabe-American bombast. Title cut and "I Am Rock & Roll" are Birdman/Stooges worship with blaring everything - sax, vox, guitar, you name it. As ridiculous a propostion as this is, I can't say that it's bad...it's tight as shit, guitar sounds great, the horn actually adds a good angle and it does rock the hell out, even if it is in the most obviously cliched and hackneyed way. They do their thing pretty fucking well, even if I have no idea who wants to hear this in 2010. I'm betting they're on one of those Fistful of Rock'n'Roll comps that the Electric Frankenstein guys "curate", which must be up to like volume 30 by now. Get in where you fit in, I guess....Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Frantic City // franticcity.free.fr)
Banque Allemande "Eins, Zwei" LP
I think it's a common sentiment that Germany has always been a little lacking when it comes to punk rock, aside from a few classics (The Pack, Big Balls and some other KBDers), and I'm struggling to think of any modern age notables. They obviously seem to do better in the chillier genres (post-punk, cold wave, whathaveyou), as stereotypical as that is. Banque Allemande are some Berliners that S-S tells us have already released a couple under-the-radar slabs leading to his discovery of them during his trolling of European Myspace pages. I'm glad the old man does the legwork on this stuff, because he's found himself another winner that fits neatly into the S-S demographic. Primitve and noisy, yet with an undeniable intelligence driving the car into the wall. All the lyrics are in German, giving it a nasty bite that rides shotgun to the pounding they put on you musically. Relentlessly paced scorch, with one of the more befuddlingly great guitar sounds I've heard in some time. Somehow it sounds like feedback that's just about to cut out, but it never does. It really keeps on you on the edge of the old seat there, white-knuckling along to the ramming speed rhythm section. Bass tone is untouchable, frenetic and balls deep, drummer is a pummeller extraordinaire. They barrel right out of the blocks with a song whose title I'm not going to type out, but it's a dangerously moving headfirst blast that shows no regard for safety whatsoever - they just keep going, building and building until you can't imagine how they hell they can end it without just fucking exploding, but thankfully the tape seems to run out before they vaporize. A real attention-getter, this one. The manage to keep up the jarring pace throughout, I swear one song has an "Oi Oi Oi!" chorus, taking some weird-punk left turns but in a cavemannish direction. "The Baumarkt Nation" is another one that just keeps on giving (for ten minutes even!) and leaves you punchdrunk. They have something in common with the meaner of the modern French guard, but are far more 1-2-3-4 punk in their approach, leaving the art and blues-rock elements (and synths!) out of the equation. It's honestly surprising how punk this band is at its base, and how they deliver it with the low-end tremors that you'd expect from Australian or US noise-mongers, not some Europeans. I guess Germany is one of the toughest of the Euro nations when you give it some thought. They even end strong with a four song sequence of what can only be termed as thug-punk. Ominous bass line riding your ass whilst the guitars slash yer face. You know, I see bands with foreign names like this and a somewhat arty cover in the S-S catalog and tend to think it's another weird electro/synth/noise thing from the Old Country being peddled, but shame on me for being close-minded. One of the more unique punk records of the year.(RK)
(S-S Records // www.s-srecords.com)
John Bellows "Clean Your Clock" LP
Vinyl re-release of a 2005 full length, originally self-released as a limited CD, as many home-recorded experiments such as this are. Bellows is a Southern boy, born and bred in Kentucky who relocated to Chicago for college, taking his eccentric catalog of songs along to the big city. He admits his musical influences were kicked off by the grunge explosion, hair-metal and Weird Al, and all of the above play out on 'Clean Your Clock'. The closest comparison I can muster is Sebadoh and their indie-ish/folk-ish ilk of the Nineties, with Bellows playing all the roles gone hayseed, switching from short-sharp nasty rockers to hillbilly shufflers with ease, acoustic blues scrapes give way to soft-boiled folksike meanders and out-of-tune pop playfulness. There's an endearing lack of ironicism evident and a welcome avoidance of modern bedroom-recording cliches (reverb abuse, muddled vox, synth overload, etc...) and you can tell this collection was painstakingly assembled over the course of years instead of hacked out over a jobless summer vacation. The folkier material and the handful of nearly-punk tunes are the strongest moments, including the rawer songs where he adopts a bullfrog bluesman croak, and there's also a certain twee angle that might put some off - cartoony instrumentation (I think there's some kazoo play and toys-as-instruments moments) and he affects some rather hammy vocal styles at times - but these goofier moments are in the minority. Looking at the big picture, it's an interesting trip through an artist's mind that goes above and beyond what we usually get from home-recorded projects these days. Incredibly creative and multi-layered, and the high water marks are enough to forgive the more self-indulgent and cornball passages. It's at least half successful, which is a pretty fair batting average in these overabundant days of four-track self-styled artistes.(RK)
(Moniker Records // www.moniker-records.com)
Big Black Cloud "Dark Age" LP
Well, they've thankfully dropped the "Here Comes A..." part from their name. This is a lot sleeker. As petty as it seems, I do have to think that name turned some people off from their records without even a listen as it just sounded too silly and made it easy for them to be mistaken for hipsters or even an emo band. And there's nothing emo, or even overly "hip" here at all. There's also little to no pretension as far as I can see. It's ugly music from weird people made for bad drug experiences. As a generality, it reminds me just a little bit of Mayyors if they were less obsessed with pedals and Brainbombs and more into Lovecraft and Rudimentary Peni's 'Cacophony'. There's a certain musty and dank Pacific woods feel to this material, an unspoken sort of menace about it all. I'm also going to say it sounds really dirty, sonically and aesthetically - and I'm not casting hygenic aspersions on the members, as I know none of them, but it just seems like these songs have been rolled around in mud and sludge, with twigs and stones sticking to them and various molds and fungi growing in the nooks. Lots of loping basslines carrying things with gooey elasticity and zombified rhythms. Even some broken trumpet. The drummer gets busy, but with subtlety, and it's enhanced with some moments of primitive industrial percussion - woodblocks and junk metal and such. The singer is obviously a wacko and gives us a good range of mental patient vocal styles: Gibby-style gibberish, straitjacket howls, off-key "singing" and just deadpan crazy. Guitars are splattered all over - death-ray crackles, sinister twang, outer limits reverberation, sandblast scree...there's no shortage of quality effects here. So, what does this make for overall? A pretty diversely fucked record from front-to-back. "Killing Time" sounds seasick and uses an analog keyboard tone like sonar bleating out a distress call from a phantom ship. "Vulcan Rock" sounds authentically frightening, and this even with them making "wacky" ghost sounds during it. Just a monster riff-job with as close to a hook as they can make. "Blow Up France" and "Nightmare City" will make the Mayyors thing I was talking about make sense. "Negative Neighborhood" just makes me queasy. A record that should get some attention, which I feel it deserves but probably won't get, and that will appeal to anyone into the nasty side of things from contemporaries like Pygmy Shrews, Tractor Sex Fatality, various members of the Load Records roster and other retro-AmRep/pigfuck scumbags. Visceral. Scum stats: 500 copies with silkscreened sleeves and download code.(RK)
(Stankhouse Records // www.stankhouserecords.com)
The Bipolar Express "Mineola Turnaround" 7"
Dallas, Texas bar-band with ill-advised name releases seven-inch with broken-blues on the A-Side and a mid-tempo garage-rock put-me-to-sleeper on the flip. News at 11. Watch out Sons of Hercules. 300 copies.(RK)
(Hairy Eyeball Records // myspace.com/thebipolarexpresstexas)
The Bitters "Have A Nap Hotel" 12" EP
I'm into this EP a lot more than I would have ever imagined. I'm also in the midst of a Smiths kick and a critical reappraisal of Morrissey as a person and artist. Not kidding. I'm not sure what's going on with my head. I thought this studio duo (and live quartet) had a moment here and there on a single and their Captured Tracks debut. I've not heard their LP on Mexican Summer because that label can eat a bowl of dicks. "Dark Wide Holes" leads off and is probably the least appealing track although it has a certain haggard and depressing quality. It's just not as "together" sounding as the rest of the compositions. Things picks up swiftly though, and it's all obviously carried to an upper plane by Aerin Fogel's ethereal vox. "His Room" switches from a strangely anthemic chorus to a frantic post-rock verse to great effect and "Trapper" is enrapturingly gothic rock romanticism. The flipside has only two, but they make 'em count. "Master of Sleep" is a unique post-punk torch song and one of the best examples I've heard to describe the "cave pop" genre they've created for themselves. "By Her Own Hand" is an irresistibly dark secret with a pull you must give yourself up to. Dramatic, romantic, drearily British sounding (they are Canadian, so it makes a little sense), even slightly pretentious, but creatively arranged enough to where the cold exteriors skillfully cover the warm insides revealed in subtle hints. Achingly melancholic, slightly sexy and excitingly dreary enough to forgive the necessary affectation. Oh yeah, this is ANOTHER record with Ben "Young Guv" Cook. Lovely cover image that fittingly evokes the fanciness at work here.(RK)
(Sacred Bones // www.sacredbonesrecords.com)
Black Sunday "Can't Keep My Hands off You" 7"
You never know what you're going to get from Black Sunday, as it's basically Alicja Trout's catch-all for whatever she doesn't end up using for one of her other projects. And this one is co-billed as an Alicja solo record anyway, which makes more sense. But you still get a weird combo of tunes. "Can't Keep..." is digital pop on the way girlie side of things, sounds like a weird J-pop song or something video game inspired. Canned beat, Casio set to cute, vocals from a fairy, it's pretty and all...the sort of thing a mother might make for her child? "Lights" on the flip is far more what we're accustomed to from Alicja, a sleek and dark synth-rocker with a big hook that jumps out at you from the shadows, as does the guitar solo. Nice keyboard roll carrying things along as well. Sleeve says this stuff was recorded at the Tronic Graveyard in 2009, so it's good to know she's still at work in the lab down in Memphis, as Alicja's definitely one of the strongest and most taleneted feminine voices to emerge from the garage/punk landscape in the past decade.(RK)
(Red Lounge Records/Disordered Records // myspace.com/redloungerecords)
Black Time "More Songs About Motorcycles And Death" 12" EP
Black Time give us another conceptual EP as what will most likely be their swan song, as Lemmy Caution segues into fatherhood, Stix focuses on Black Mamba Beat and Janie Too Bad drifts beautifully into the midnight sunset. A British band shouldn't be allowed to make a motorcycle themed record without copious Psychomania references, and the Time don't disappoint. I always felt they operated better in the smaller format, and in particular when they got conceptual (the French-film themed 'New Vague Themes' and the 'Dance Party' EP are my personal faves), and they create a good batch of fractured DIY anthems to two-wheeled death-tripping here. "Fast Motorbike In The Kitchen" is 100% British absurdism at work, "The Living Dead" is the cut that mathces rev-up bike sounds to garage-punkitude, "Cycles" is maniacally untuned pop, and if their interpretation of Gainsbourg's "Harley Davidson" is the song they ride off into the sunset on, I'm more than happy with that. It's been a wonderful trip Black Time. I'm pleased to see them go off on the high note of this 12", doing what they did best, and not on a sub-par LP, which they never seemed to be able get it all together for aside from their standout first full length. Magnificent artwork and Caution's liner-note manifesto is one of his best, and one of the endearing things I'll miss about the band the most, who certainly had more ambition and attention to aesthetic than many others of the modern age. They were a total package, whether it worked or not, and I even look back on their missteps with fondness. A unique band that will be sorely missed. Take this one for a final spin with the UK's finest band between the years of the Country Teasers last activity and the newly crowned champs the Pheromoans. (Ed. Note: I've just been told this might not actually be the last Black Time record at all now. Good news that makes this review sound pretty dumb, now doesn't it...)(RK)
(Wrench Records // www.wrench.org)
Bombon "Las Chicas Del Bombon" LP
I reviewed a tape from these girls last update, wherein I surmised that it was an okay release for girl garage-surf and all, but it didn't really need to make it past the cassette format. Well, call me a fool, because here's the vinyl. To rehash, Bombon are three pretty gals from San Pedro playing lowish-fi and semi-sloppy garage-surf with a Mexicali bent, mostly of the instrumental variety. It's average at best. Not technically skilled enough to really rip, not totally incompetent or shit-fi enough to be really raw, it's just straight down the middle. Nothing bad here, but this would struggle to even get the attention of a girl-garage maven such as Long Gone John. Nice silk-screened sleeves, but they skimped and just did fold-overs instead of real jackets.(RK)
(45 RPM Records // 45rpmrecords.bigcartel.com)
Boom! s/t 12"
Man, I'm sort of embarrassed about listening to this one. The cover does remind me of the sleeve from a L'Trimm 12" or something. I guess it's got that going for it. Musically, it's throwback late Nineties Alternative-style. Some ska-punk, some vintage Lookout! pop-punking, some Eighties hip-hop aesthetics all up in the mix or whatever. Bro-rock of the highest order...the chorus of the "hit" is "Let your meat hang low, drop to the flow!". Regrettably, it has more of a 411 vibe than a Chi-Peps thing, although I do detect the scent of slap-bass somewhere in here. I'm pretty much speechless about the whole thing. These guys should be a huge hit on the small stage at the next Warped Tour.(RK)
(Hovercraft Records // www.hovercraftpdx.com)
Bosom Divine "Bosom Divine!" LP
A really disappointing LP here. I thought their previous 7" was something special, a nice slice of clean and nonchalant garage that had two good sides and got plenty of spins. Plus a Cheveu member in the fold made it more intriguing by proxy. Perhaps the longer format exposes their weak points. "Hangover" actually sounds really British, almost Pulpy, "Accelerator" has a good hook and some angularity, but these fleetingly good moments are surrounded by pap that sounds like really boring garage rawk and/or unexciting indie-pop. "No Exceptions" closes with some style, an extended jam-outro with some sexy feedback and droney rock rhythm that the rest of the album could have used. Covering the Rubinoos' theme to "Revenge of the Nerds" seems like a good idea on paper but flunks on execution. I had much higher hopes. Three good cuts out of eleven, and a lot of cliched and boring modern rock. Not at all what I hoped for.(RK)
(Les Disques Steak // myspace.com/disquessteak)
Brainbombs "Urge to Kill" and "Singles Compilation" LPs
Ben Load makes nice on the years old promise to finally release these originally CD-only titles on wax. In the interim (these originally appeared in '99) The Brainbombs have gone through a few phases of "popularity" amongst the record nerd. There were the Nineties days when the band was actually pretty "active" and no one even cared and Blackjack was basically giving away copies of 'Genius & Brutality...'. Then somewhere around the turn of the century, people aside from the original 300 fans started picking up the scent...your mid-level garage geeks getting a whiff from the then-popular Scandanavian invasion of bands like Hellacopters, Turbonegro and such (which the Brainbombs had little to no similarity to anyway). Some "tastemakers" whipped up some "hype" and next thing you know 'Burning Hell" is selling for up to $100 on eBay and the hipper of the collectorscum started counting them as one of the modern greats, and the slow-on-the-uptake started playing catch-up while the band hibernated a bit, trickling out a single every year or two for much of the 2000's. I'm estimating Brainbombs popularity came to a head in '07, with the release of the second singles comp and the 'Stinking Memory' EP. It was around then your lowest-common-denominator hipsters and casual record hounds started catching on and everyone was now frothing over one of the most punishing bands in history, despite their penchant for Sotos prose and uber-misogyny. They were perhaps the ultimate "guilty pleasure" for your usually straight-laced trend-hoppers and scene hangers-on. The band seemed to have been made aware of this, and released their first studio LP in nearly a decade ('Fucking Mess'), sanctioned a live LP release, actually played live at a festival and even took part in a singles club (yuck!). You can't blame the Swedes for knowing the time was ripe for action. So, with Brainbombs records in the hands of doofuses and hack musicians throughout the United States, these trolls started forming bands using Brainbombs music as an influence, often confusing the base-level Stoogian thud and free jazz riffing of the original product with pretentious art-school noise-rock. No one got it right, and we were left with toothless impostors vainly attempting to be "heavy" or play "riffs" propped up with controversial imagery and forced themes of bad sex, drugs and bondage, and of course this led to the eventual backlash against these mighty Nordic warriors. With what I would imagine was at least a dozen shitheel imitator bands in NYC alone, those who were riding the hype train soured on the aesthetic they interpreted all wrong in the first place, and I believe that brings us to today where hipster douchebags are now recanting any fondness for something they now consider "gross" or "corny", leaving those fans who actually bought the records new in the first place alone to be stared at like date-rapists and punchbowl-shitters. Full circle now. Firstly, The Brainbombs were never "cool" to like. They just exist like electricity or clouds. Secondly, the Brainbombs created one of the most pure distillations of riff-rock to ever exist. They boiled it down to the riff and nothing else, and incorporated death jazz into rock'n'roll in a way that only the Stooges have ever done before or since. Thirdly, we all know the Brainbombs cultivated an image, an aesthetic through their artwork and lyrics that went in the only direction that would make sense to pair with the sounds they created. If this trick was eventually co-opted as the basis for Mysterious Guy Hardcore, well every experiment has its terrible side-effects. Brainbombs lyrics are the most ridiculous thing in the world when you think about it too much, but it just makes sense, as ugly or in bad taste as it might be. When you have one of the most holy concentrations of the riff created sitting in your hands you can only pair it with something base level enough to match the musical ore being dredged up. They made things confrontational for a reason. The music is not something ever made for appeal outside of a few hundred weirdos, and they're a band many people feel they have to justify their like of. The Brainbombs just are, take it or leave it, make excuses for them if you have to, but stop thinking about it too much. This music was not made for intellectualizing. End of story. So, "Urge to Kill" is my second favorite Brainbombs full length, and having it on black vinyl finally makes me feel a little better about things. "Driving Through Leeds" is in my Top 10 'bombs jams and everyone loves "Ass Fucking Murder". The first singles comp is an essential building block for anyone who is without the painfully rare first few releases on tough labels like Big Brothel and Big Ball, beefed up with some obscure comp tracks. They could have recorded "Jack The Ripper Lover" and just called it a day. It's that essential. It now appears that the Brainbombs story might be over, and all that's left to do is a vinyl issue of the second singles comp. What more could they possibly accomplish? No Balls are providing Brainbombs-lite for any stragglers still caring. Maybe they still have something left. Maybe they're just out there waiting. Maybe you should buy these records. Maybe...(RK)
(Load Records // www.loadrecords.com)
Brazilian Money "Doing What I Want" EP
DIY garage from Edmonton led by an ex-Wicked Awesome. Reminds me quite a bit of the stranger slices of Matt K. Shrugg's solo catalog, a slightly off-center rock base with pop flirtations. Medium-fi recording style, fairly bare bones for a four-piece, although it says they have two drummers here...I believe em and all, and I guess there's a bit of depth to the percussion to be heard. I've never really understood the double drummer gimmick though. "Doing What I Want" sounds like Segall vs. Shrugg, bounding garage with a big hook and some twang but thankfully leaving out the omniprescent echo-vox. "Macaroni Make Out Party" is more of the same, a little lower on the fi, with falsetto back-ups and an acoustic lunge. Two more on the flipside, a hectic punky jumble ("Gold Chains") and the meandering "Bones", an eclectic and off-balance stumbler that almost sounds like a drunken juke-joint singalong. In the end, I find it to be more Canadian than weird, whatever that means...Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Totally Disconnected // www.totallydisconnected.com)
Call Me Lightning "When I Am Gone My Blood Will Be FREE" LP
Long-stepper from a Wisonsonian trio with a heavy Who fetish and perhaps a slight penchant for the prog rock. I didn't know much about these guys previously, but doing my research I found this is actually their third LP, with their first being released on Revelation(?!) and the second was recorded at Albini's place and released on Frenchkiss, home to "rockers" like Les Savy Fav. What are they doing slumming in our neck of the woods, I wonder? I mean, these dudes were in SPIN, and now they're releasing an LP on a legit DIY label like Dusty Meds...hmmmm. Seems like they're climbing that ladder in the wrong direction. Who knows. Musically, I'm not sure where they fit on Rev, but can kinda see how they landed on a sub-major like Frenchkiss, who have dabbled in the "garage" genre a little bit (Fatal Flying Guillotines anyone?) - they have some anthemic qualities in a real pro-sounding go-getter way. Title track is really jaunty, almost sounds Irish or something. The drummer is quite the dextrous fella, and he certainly manages to stay busy. Too busy. I was expecting them to be a bit more powerful, but they seem more concerned with channeling their energies towards complex hooks and other fanciful diversions. My prog comment was directed at the busy-ness of some of these cuts, I get a sense of some half-baked Davies-esque concept/storytelling here with acoustic diversions and lots of "parts". The vocal delivery hints at things majestic, but checking the lyrics, they're slightly vulgar and goofy. "Old Cactus" is a cringe-inducing ode to Milwaukee's long-standing Cactus Club venue and the surrounding scene, even namedropping The Mistreaters (and the dude sounds like Perry Farrell on this one). I think they're really going for a Townshendian mod-inflected rock sound, but again, they don't have so much power which makes them sound more like fucking Big Country or some fey Pogues offshoot prancing about the English countryside. At best they do recall the worst of The Kinks catalog. Where's the balls? I left after a couple of spins of this not remembering a single moment of above-average (or even loud) guitar playing or rocking or even a deep hook. All I can recall is the drummer being pretty good and all over the damn place. Honestly, this whole fancyboy affair sounded pretty corny. I do hope that these guys are over enough with the Pitchfork crowd to fill up Dusty's coffers for some more Drugs Dragons records...(RK)
(Dusty Medical // www.dustymedical.com)
Car Commercials "Prisoner of Type" 7"
Daniel Dimaggio's "other band" when he's not cranking out Home Blitz hits. A duo with pal Dave Sutton, Car Commercials have released a couple of LPs and some singles and tapesover the past few years and some "artier" labels, with this EP being their most cohesive record to date. It's still extremely experimental/free DIY "rock", but perhaps has the most structure of anything they've done. I had trouble listening to their previous efforts, but this one seems to roll with some slight semblance of order. Free-form percussion, loose guitar chords, mumbled vocals from both parties, tape warble, heavy breathing. Side B's "S's Pawn" actually sounds concrete, with raga-like guitar, maybe a full blown riff, kitchen clank backing and some sense of purpose instead of just a collection of sounds. "The Bag Saga Pt. 1" has a wheezy synth sound and acoustic guitar making for an actual song which cuts off abruptly seguing to the deconstruction of Pt. 2. Don't go into this looking for DD's pop/rock magic, but if you want to understand a bit more about him as an artist there's something to be gleaned from a challenging listen here. Press sheet notes that their "Eric's Diary" LP (also on Soft Abuse) was a "creepy concept album about tragedies in teenhood" which makes me want to revisit it, even though I felt it was barely listenable after I gave it a couple spins back then. Scum stats: 300 copies with download.(RK)
(Soft Abuse // www.softabuse.com)
Catburglars s/t LP
Buzzsaw PBR-fueled punk rawk band from Shitcago. I saw these guys live a couple times and wasn't too impressed, but they seem a little better on record. Good guitar tone at least. They think they sound like The Dictators for some reason, but they must be fucking high. Sounds more like something from the Mid-Atlantic circa the mid-Nineties, like a minor-league Candy Snatchers (i.e. the Dirty Fingers) or one of the B-Team Rip Off bands like The Spites or maybe even something on Junk with less rawkitude. They pull off the style adeptly, and give being vulgar and funny a good try, but come up a little bit short on the punchlines. The world doesn't need another cover of "Cherry Bomb" either. It's short, fast, loud and all, but not cutting quite enough mustard to make a real impact. They could take a few tips from The Ladies.(RK)
(Criminal IQ // www.criminaliq.com)
Wild Billy Childish & The Musicians of the British Empire "The Sound of White Columns" 12" EP
MBE are Childish, his better half (Nurse Julie) on bass and Wolf Howard on the kit and are Billy's current full-time gig now that the Buffs have been put to sleep. Four songs at 45rpm, "Papa Rolling Stone" continues his Who-influenced Maximum R&B style attack of the past few years, "Chatham Rocks" is the best cut, an actual punk-bopper that Julie sings and which reminds me of the Splash Four. B-Side has a boilerplate Billy anthem to being hated by women and closes with a Headcoats-like throwback garage plodder, interestingly called "Song No One Wants To Hear". Are there still Childish completists out there? I imagine somewhere in Europe there's still a strong contingent. The last record of his I was really excited about was the first Buffs LP, and shortly after thta is where I parted ways after a dozen years of dedication to the living legend. There's a lot of packaging and wax dedicated to what amounts to a bit of a toss-off, even for BC standards: heavy gatefold sleeve, full size color insert, heavy vinyl...a lavish package, and the project has a connection to the White Columns art space/scene which appears to be his current cause. Far better than that Vermin Poets nonsense, yet unessential for all but the hardest of hardcore of Jack Ketch followers.(RK)
(Smart Guy Records // www.smartguyrecords.com)
Chinese Burns "Rohypnol" 7"
The welcome follow-up to what was undoubtedly the best 7" from last year, Australian-made or otherwise. "Rohypnol" is a lengthy and driving garage beater, very sturdy and reminiscent of the adventure-rock of Ooga Boogas a wee bit. Scrappy guitar and the repeated and only lyric of "Come here! You're beautiful..I love you?" adds a somewhat creepy angle when taken into consideration with the title. I only wish there was more, but they manage to accomplish more with one side of a 7" than 75% of the other bands listed on this page have done with more acreage. Scum stats: 300 pressed, one-sided, hand-stamped dust sleeves, 100 copies are part of the interlocking Ben Lyon "quad-tych" artwork variant. Collect them all!(RK)
(Leather Bar Records // myspace.com/leatherbarrecords)
Chinese Restaurants "Summer Romance" 7"
Second single on S-S for NYC's Chinese Restaurants, and I've really fallen in love with "Summer Romance". It's quite different than the arty/noisy cut-upping and aggro-vation of the "River of Shit" EP and delivered as a straight...uh, pop song, I guess is what you have to describe it as. A wobbly and off-kilter pop song, but sticky nonetheless, packed with musical references (some more nonchalant than others) to Mungo Jerry, Question Mark, Joy Division and more you'll be noticing and trying to put your finger on. Repeat listens on this one will reap rewards, it's sort of goofily amiable, but never corny in its delivery and clever to just the right degree without getting overly snarky. Very warm as well in a fitting ode-to-summer in the city way, with some further themes under the surface perhaps. The one guitar chord(?) played for the duration of the song just melts into your ears. One of my favorite A-Sides of the year. B-Side loses me a little, an interpretation of a Mexican folk song done up with synth-drone and Spanish guitar and an emotional vocal. Reminds me of a Sun City Girls thing or something with a Residents twist? Others seems to say it sounds like The Ex, so have at that...A must-have for "Summer Romance", you don't even need to flip it over, but you probably should. Scum stats: 300 copies. I'm not usually a fan of personal photos as sleeve artwork, but the three generations of 'pulco on the cover lends a sentimental aesthetic touch that benefits the sonic appreciation.(RK)
(S-S Records // www.s-srecords.com)
Chopper Chicks s/t LP
Holy cow, remember Rip Off Records webmistress and "art dept." employee Poison Bambee? Well I do at least, and I'm sure Greg does. Her past outfit Los Webelos was a tolerable Cramps-like garage-mash but she gets a bit more punk here. The Chopper Chicks are Bambee (moonlighting as Bimbo Oklahoma) with two other Spanish babes (Racky Kentucky - who looks a lot like Angela from Jersey Shore - and Muri Alabama) doing minute-and-a-half 1234 shit-fi garage-punk trash. Covers abound, from the expected sources: Loli & The Chones, Plastic Bertrand, No-Talents, Spastics, Runaways, Supercharger, "Do You Love Me?"...they pack in twenty cuts on two sides at 45 rpms here, for the maximum in low fidelity. It's a pretty cartoon-like affair overall - matching outfits, grrl power, chainsaw chicks in Hot Topic outfits. Sloppy, incompetent, screechy, the covers are the most fun, if just to see how bad they butcher them. It is what it is, "110% lo-fi" garage-punk from Europe, and it at least reminded me of the glory days of the Rip Off empire...even if I never want to hear another cover of "Zodiac" for the rest of my life. I do enjoy the fact that these girls are still keeping the faith.(RK)
(Discos Mis Cojones Underground // discosmiscojonesunderground-at-gmail.com)
Clockcleaner "Auf Wiedersehen" 12" EP
12" swan song from one of the more invigorating bands of recent memory. I'm sad that 'cleaner no longer walk among us, but also thrilled to have been witness to their crawl to "fame" and subsequent mockery of it. The world needs as many Skull Music bands as it can get, but at least the demise of this flagship Skull act gave us Watery Love and Puerto Rico Flowers out of the ashes. And speaking of PRF, these four final Clockcleaner dirges certainly bridge the gap between the two John Sharkey projects. This is not the band that recorded 'Nevermind' or 'Babylon Rules', but a sleeker and darker trio more concerned with neo-Gothic dramatics and making songs suitable for dancing in front of a mirror while caressing yourself. Pitch black rhythms, surprisingly likeable basso-monotone vocal performance from JSIII combined with his always incisive lyrics, scalpel-like beams of digital guitar delay/effects, and the finest bass-n-drums teams the Eastern seaboard has seen in quite some time. "Chinese Town" is the obvious chart-topper here, but there's nary a wasted moment on all four cuts. "Midnight Beach" is a suitably galloping piece of melodrama to end their career on. I hope they'll be back someday, but I truly doubt that will ever happen. If you weren't on top of things enough to see them live a couple times during their run, you missed out. Pick up the pieces of your shattered life, beginning with purchasing this EP. That goes for all of you.(RK)
(Load Records // www.loadrecords.com)
Clyde & The Nightswingers "The Enormous Midnight" 7"
Here's a real head-scratcher for ya. If you believe the liner notes (from the mysterious Count No), The Enormous Midnight was an aborted Sixties "flim flam art film" from obscure exploitation director William Rotsler (who research reveals was also a Hugo award winning sci-fi author and artist) concerning a "poet-bum", a girl's reform school, sexual experimentation and LSD. The Count hints that these two tracks by Clyde & The Nightswingers "unwound via a reel", saved from obscurity and/or rescued from the vaults. And thank the gods, because "The Enormous Midnight" is a legit killer that sounds totally nuts. A brooding psych smolderer owing a debt to Sky Saxon with engaging and adept dual guitars, acid casualty vocals and just the right amount of background freakout noises and ominous echo. It's just shocking that a psych song this good has never been heard before. It has immediately become a favorite around TB HQ. Apparently a stereo mix with "gymnastic panning" also exists alongside this mono version, and could be released in the future. "On The Elevator Up" is the instrumental B-Side and is a bit more biker-psych-ish, with hot harmonica and guitar licks and some agressive drive alternating with some reverby tension builds and echoplexed pick slides. Again, a real killer kut and I can't believe this stuff has been unknown until now. Shouldn't people be flipping their lids over discoveries like this?! I'm shocked at how under the radar this is... Limited info exists on the web, no idea on pressing size, but it's packaged nicely and it appears this label is also responsible for the "Aliens Psychos and Wild Things" comp(s)...hmmm. I'd hurry up and go grab this now...(RK)
(Arcania International // www.monkeyclaus.org/arcania)
Cobalt Cranes "Freak Out" 7"
Cobalt Cranes hail from the musical wasteland that is Los Angeles, CA and this single is on the French Frantic City label, who in the past have been pretty strictly Rip Off-style garage-punk in their releases (wild Zeros, Pneumonias, Veines, etc...). Cobalt Cranes are certainly not garage-turkeys, more or less sonically aligned somewhere inbetween Bay Area indie-pop (Melton, Fresh & Onlys, Grass Widow) and the weird-garage sounds of San Diego (Shark Toys, Xmas Isle, Volar Recs) with maybe some essence of Captured Tracks. "Freak Out" and "Alright" on the A-Side are run-of-the-mill girl/guy trade-off voxxed indie-rockers with a compressed sound adding what some might call a "weird-punk" vibe. But not really. Both songs end on lame fade-outs too. Bummer. B-Side sounds like Foo Fighters doing a bad Sonic Youth cover. "Kool Thing" perhaps. Rough. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Frantic City // franticcity.free.fr)
Cola Freaks “Mig mig mig" 7"
Caffeined-up Danish bug punks whose Scandi-tundra’s frozen their widdle bwains so cold they’ve recorded the process of shock-treating ‘em back into animated cells. Good luck brothers of another mother country. What does that mean, you ask? Well I put the record on, very anxious to hear these nutters, whom I tried doing a show for during their last stint amongst the stars and stripes, and was unjustifiably disappointed: “Mig Mig Mig” is a mere middle-of-the-road winter-of-’77 cold wave type, a lot of which I’m accustomed to getting off to (Urban Slake, Vandaalit, Haeverk, Branda Barn… same genes to my four eyes, all fuckin’ BUMPIN’), but this one was a “meh”. Flip it and I’m in over my head. Not only does “Udsigt til ingenting” sound like Masshysteri, but it sounds better than Masshysteri, not that band’s ever tickled my grundle (I think the female vox make it a dollop gay?), but I might do that myself out of satisfaction with this little platter. The verse of “Knirk” (the hit) sounds like the Screamers. The chorus sounds like The Adicts. Mmhmm… The Adicts. Hey, street punk girls are really cute when you’re 16. And sometimes still are! At least I haven’t got a tattoo…(BG)
(Rob’s House Records // www.robshouserecords.com)
Conspiracy of Owls s/t LP
New outfit from member(s) of Detroit's The Go, who I'll admit that I liked a fair share. Their "Howl On the Haunted Beat..." LP was an underrated garage rocker and they had a coupla tracks in their day. This is some real limpdick shit though. Seventies schmaltz revisionism...AOR junk for all you fans of the Mac and the Dan at their worst. Fucking yacht rock, and I don't even think they're trying to be all that ironic. Eighties Beach Boys stylings. Barry Manilow disco-rock moves. Heavy Doobie Brothers vibes. Seals and Crofts breezing. There's not enough cocaine in the world to make this sound good. The craziest thing about this (aside from the fact they're calling it "psychedelic rock'n'roll") is that Robert Pollard is allowing himself to be associated with it.(RK)
(Burger Records // www.burgerrecords.com)
Crazy Spirit s/t 7"
This is my favorite record in a long time. Four dudes from the scene in NYC (Dawn of Humans, Perdition, etc) that's turning that place in to the post-apocalyptic crash punk wonderworld we've wished it would be for a while, rolling the visual andmusical styles of København, Portland, & Osaka into one. It's one thing to talk the crasher crust talk, another altogether to play music that is actually as insane as your shows look. If you haven't heard the tape (the 7" shares two and a half songs with it), this band sounds like a starved Dead Moon wrote a record having only listening to Die Kreuzen and Crucifix. Crushing, the right amount of noise, excellent songs, and the vocals are somewhere between Darby Crash & Terveet Kädet (yes!!). The drummer plays this weird galloping beat on every song, this weird western tinge that no one else really plays under such circumstances. Brilliant, wonderfully creative. The large step up in fidelity from the tape is to great effect, though it's too bad the lead guitar no longer sounds like someone is playing a Simon. The packaging is beautiful - screened outer sleeve, screened insert, screened labels, these guys have a hell of an aesthetic. Totally, completely essential. They're excellent live, excellent recorded, and I'm so thrilled to hear exciting new sounds from NEW YORK, OF ALL PLACES. "You are the sheep, I am the goat." Highest possible recommendation. (NG)
(Toxic State records // toxicstate.blogspot.com)
Crisis Hotlines s/t 7"
Austin, Texas punk band with some semi-tough tunes, which are really pop-punk at heart no matter how fast they play them, but they do play them pretty fast and with some commendable guitar action. "Flying Razorblades" sounds like The Spits playing power-pop maybe. "I'm Sorry Landlord" is pretty snotty. Great slicing guitar sound. Anthemic and shit. But still, tough guys playing pop-punk is still pop-punk.(RK)
(Ken Rock Records // myspace.com/kenrockrecords)
Cum Stain "Bachelor's Life" 7"
Lowest of lowbrow downstroke guitar punk from the shithole we call Los Angeles. Simple and stoopid, you should realize what in your for just by the band name and exposed frank and beans (in both cartoon and real life versions, which you don't have to scratch off like a lottery ticket to see) on the sleeve. Burger Records style budget garage-pop gone sleazy, including an x-rated version "Tonight You Belong To Me". "Bachelor's Life" will be the party-rock hit, and this EP as a whole will get Nobunny's fan base panting. Or pantsing.(RK)
(Florida's Dying // www.floridasdying.com)
Daily Void "Civilization Dust" 7"
Daily Void return to vinyl with the ol' concept single here, both sides being "Civilization Dust", A is "(Before Death)" and B is "(After Death)". I haven't been their biggest fan throughout the course of their evolution from latter-day Functional Blackouts into DV. Why? I don't know exactly, I think I just felt they were going a little too overboard with the nasty weird-punk attack to the point where it seemed a little bit like parody. Maybe it was too raw for even me. Maybe I thought the vox were unbearable. Regardless of my opinion, they maintain their fan base, and I'll admit I like this one. I'm also a sucker for conceptual EPs like this. A-Side sounds just right for a dirge-tempo soul-crusher with end-of-times lyrics and vibes, a spine-tingling guitar line enhanced with some death-ray effects, vox are shouted with apocalyptic intent and power. A perfect encapsulation of their aesthetic without going off the deep end; they manage to sustain serious intensity and sledgehammer dynamics with just enough "weird". The B-Side is the experimental take, with an additional cast of players including members of Human Eye, a Spit and more, making for a nice shard of weird-prog-punk with plenty of drum action and a lockgroove I saw coming. Cool record though, they utilize the format well and it's something I'll go back to. Includes typically excellent Ilth artwork via a transparent sleeve.(RK)
(Ken Rock Records // myspace.com/kenrockrecords)
The Daniel James Gang "Nothin' I Can Do" 7"
One of the Chinese Telephones gets semi-tough on this three-songer. "Nothin' I Can Do" is damn good power-pop, with more than enough power including a loud geetar solo. Sounds ATL-ish, like a harder and sneering Gentleman Jesse. B-Side drops the quality, as you get two mid-grade poppers, with a little pop-punk flair, maybe a little garage trash. Neither song has the hook of the A-Side, no matter how hard the guitar player tries. Pretty decent for modern American power-pop, although not as skillful as some Canadian or Japanese bands leading the genre these days...(RK)
(Lost Cat Records // myspace.com/lostcatrecords)
Dawn of Humans “Head Process” 7”
Seeing pictures of these weirdos (diapers, mud, shit?) long before hearing their music only suggested mental regression & distortion, but pleasantly they’ve got the total package here. Demented and fragmented punk of the Kuro flavor with melodies more at home in early Texas stuff. Cool mix of sounds, though through the babbling the record migrates pretty much totally towards GISM, but they play the production pretty straight all the way through. It’s great to hear bands mining the actual sound of the weirdest of nihonjin without just putting fourteen DS-1s on the guitars (not that there’s anything wrong with that). “Destroy” is a fucking anthem! Blows the rest of the songs away, glad they picked it to end the record. This cadre of apocalypse punks in NYC is really making the rest of that city look like dicks. At this point you should just pay attention to whatever the fuck these guys put out (Crazy Spirit, Cervix, Perdition, Nomad, D.o.H.), it’s all gonna be worth your time in some ways. Let’s get rid of New York and just leave these guys in the subway tunnels. Rules. Rules. Rules.(NG)
(Toxic State // toxicstate.blogspot.com )
Dead Meat "The King" EP
Great, another band dropping Killdozer, Scratch Acid and Scientists references in their press release without actually sounding like any of those bands. Slick alt-rock with some plodding muscle behind the three tracks, but there's nothing swampy, overly burly or lysergically twisted here. Maybe a little Gothy. Too calculated, too pro and too dull to deserve any sort of association with anything but the absolute lamest extensions of the latter-day AmRep roster. Barely noisy grunge-rock. 500 copies.(RK)
(FSS Records // flingcosound.com)
Destruction Unit "Eclipse" LP
The first two Destruction Unit LPs were difficult affairs for sure. It was as if Ryan had channeled every bit of rage, anxiety and hate he had experienced in his life into those records. They were simply dripping with viscera and it was mostly all his. They were a tough yet ultimately rewarding listen. He was aided by Jay and Alicja on those recordings, as well as Sean from Digital Leather, three people who he certainly shared a commonality in aesthetic with. On 'Eclipse' Ryan has turned things around. Obviously Jay is no longer here to help (and that fact may be expressed within the songs, and the LP is also dedicated to his memory), Alicja is absent as well (and is now a mother) and Sean contributes only lyrics to one song. They've been replaced by what I think is Ryan's brother and two other names I don't recognize. But it's not simply the line-up that has changed - the whole attitude of the project has shifted. Perhaps it's an older and wiser Rousseau, perhaps he's not as seething with rage and fire as he was during the initial DU years. He said himself that this new sound is heavily Krautrock influenced. You can certainly hear it, the motorik rhythms run through the Arizona desert filter ("Sand Leviathan"), darkly contemplative droning ("Depression" and the title track), a bit of dub creeping in ("Yuman Dance"). The brief "Dream Thieves" is the only vestige left of the old synth punk bloodlust. And there's honestly not as much synth on this as you'd think - it's mostly drum/bass/guitar drive with the keys providing more backdrop and texture instead of always leading the assault. The aforementioned tracks are all fine and well, but there are also two moments of complete brilliance that need to be heard here in the massive opener of "Time Traveler" and the Side 2 starter "The Princess". Both over six minutes in length, they reach heights of space-rock momentum and modern psychedelia that only the deepest moments of that El Jesus De Magico LP have come close to in modern times. Absolutely fantastic compositions that will take you places. Masterpieces both. Phenomenal, and great enough to get me to forgive the sub-par artwork. You should really hear this. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(FDH Records // www.fdhmusic.com)
The Dictaphone s/t LP
This French OMB opens up his long player with an instrumental ditty that has a solid throbbing backbone (akin to Sex Church) and cakes on guitar spirals and squiggly glop from there. It’s given off a thicker than Love Tan vibe, doing more with layers and textures. Even a bit of Pink Noise Ralph-ishness, but it comes off more organic. Somehow. I realize I’m just throwing around/name dropping the Sweet Rot/Kill Shaman discographies. Sorry ‘bout that. It really does bring to mind a lot that label, for quick and easy (lazy) reference. Dammit. They beat me to a Crucifucks cover. I wanted to do "You Give Me the Creeps". This seems heir apparent to the whole Northwest angle and creepy-crawl of the rainy day people. It has a nice collage/montage/decoupage thing going on, but the tunes aren’t really sticking to me as much as the fellow noiseniks perched on the weird branch. It’s pleasant, just not knocking me over.(RSF)
(Kill Shaman // www.killshaman.com)
DMV s/t 7”
The first track ("Butter Pecan") is a thick and meaty post-pound, almost DC hardcore sounding. A punch-rock surprise to me. I didn’t expect this at all. The second track (with a really long name…) ain’t shaking their Discord shingles none, but it's more punk than core and it has a steady gallop I can ride on. Couple of total fist pumpers. I could see these guys pulling of a solid tour with, say…Kim Phuc. Playing the same game, but still varied enuff to keep it innaresting. THEN you flip this lil’ bitch over and it’s…folk songs…?! Along the lines of country pop the Mekons spread, melded with folksy Bragg-ishness. It’s a This Bike Is A Pipebomb thang, I believe. What to think, what to think? They’re pretty good at both, but they lose me on the roots recordings. That A-side is more my speed. (RSF)
(Stankhouse Records // www.stankhouserecords.com)
Double Negative "Daydreamnation" LP
Second LP from these hardcore elder statesmen, showing the youth of today how it's done once again. Hard to believe that first LP came out almost three years ago. I guess some delays can be expected when everyone in the band is over 30 and probably have actual jobs and families and shit, and it was certainly worth the wait. For those outside the know on DN, it's a band comprised of North Carolina punk vets, including artist/drummer (and ex-Polvo member) Brian Walsby and Kevin Collins from Erectus Monotone. While the first LP (which cribbed a title from The Fall, harhar) seemed sort of textbook (but textbook done to perfection), 'Daydreamnation' is more of the record you'd expect from guys who have been playing in bands and collecting records for over 20 years. Firstly, it rips as hard, if not harder than any other HC slab I've heard this year. I guess that should be expected from dudes who probably actually saw COC play live plenty of times, and heard Ginn's guitar in person instead of only on record. There are straight pulls of Rollins-era Flag for sure and heavy doses of vicious Midwestern practicioners like your Kreuzens, Mensches, Tar Babes perhaps, and might as well throw the ol' Void reference in there, because what hardcore band these days doesn't sound like Void, amiright? But in all seriousness, they do have the malicious guitar riffs/leads/squeals to merit the connection. I'm a fan of heavy bottom end in the mix when it comes to this stuff, and the bass sound is wonderfully burly. Walsby's drumming is impeccable, shifting gears at will and locking down with some real teeth. Secondly, this thing is assembled from not just your standard list of classic hardcore touchstones, but informed by a knowledge from guys who were listening to say, everything on Touch & Go - Killdozer and Tar alongside Necros and NA and whatnot. It's just as full of velocity as it is sludge at times - "Beg To A Vile Nude" crushes harder than any modern day Jesus Lizard worshippers. I can't really break this thing down any better than to say it's a punk record that should appeal to fans of Direct Control or Fucked Up as much as Drunkdriver or Pissed Jeans. As powerful as it is smart, this a bloody rager of baller status that will have old men and young pisspots alike wanting to flip over the coffee table and living room mosh from start to finish, which is about all you can ask for from a good hardcore record. Scum stats: the first few hundred were on pink wax, but I recommend the black anyway for maximum toughness. Whatever the color (and this is in its second press now), they all have the same gorgeous sleeves, embossed text with foil print and even an obi strip. Great job.(RK)
(Sorry State Records // www.sorrystaterecords.com)
Drugs Dragons s/t LP
Tony Sagger, oh how I lover yer Midwest messed-up-edness. It’s the kind of thing that can only happen in the cornfields and dairylands. You see, the West coast is too stuck on good timez summer fun, hot dogs and kitschy fashion. The East coast is all too stuffy, brooding and image conscious. But out there in the Land o’ Lakes? You’d be hard pressed to find any dirt-head weird-ohs (that DON’T listen to Slipknot) to even start a band with, let alone a punk one. And it’s been that way from the beginning of DIY culture. The few, the proud, the BETTER. The best punk bands (rock bands, ANY bands) have never looked the part. Pit-stained fattys and metal heshers. Button up jazz band losers. Balding Chesters with creepy mustaches. Thick glassed nerds and booger encrusted noses. Pimply teens that carve Slayer into their forearms, soaking the blood up with tattered Bones Brigade shirts. Dudes willing to listen to the Zero Boys and the James Gang back to back. My kind of people. These cats rule my roost. And Sagger’s one of them. With Drugs Dragons it looks like he found a few more. What ya get is lysergic damaged riff-rawk, ala Seventies glam, Dead Boys phlegm and AC/DC metallic ka-chunk, encompassing outsider jams that bring to mind sadly missed Midwest alumnus like the Clone Defects or recent punk as fug Chris Ilth projects…but with that Sagger/Night Terrors strangled RNR and slurred drunken ‘tude. This shit smells of black mold and Muskey guts. Real punk for real men. First he gave us Skullrider, now a guy named Puke. ?! What homeless shelter/piss stank bus terminal does the Sag lurch about to find these guys? Puke is an apt title. The retched vocals are so snot-caked I’m afraid of catching an ear infection from the mucous dripping outta’ my headphones. Think Jamie Easter stopping the scat-jazz routine and cutting loose with some arena rock cockswing. But regurgitated back, all over himself. Slow burners kreep up on you as corpse painted choirs growl away atop chemically treated guit-fits, filled with Alice Cooper showboating and crossover punk n’roll. Quality damaged goods here that should speak to people who dig that 'Sconnie sound, Detroit tire fires, or even the “old dude” punk of new (Hank IV) and old (Pagans). Thank the gods of fishing and short track racing that these boys are just down the road from AKE, because I’d assume no one else will come in a 50 mile radius of them. Harsh yer mellow. Wake up dead. Rat People suck. Color Me Fucked. SAGGER 4 LIFE. 350 pressed, 100 on green. Get it if you’re man enough.(RSF)
(Dusty Medical // www.dustymedical.com)
Druid Perfume "Tin Boat To Tuna Town" LP
I've got a little bit of history with The Piranhas. One of the more polarizing bands in Termbo history. And even if I received hate mail from them after panning 'Piscis Clangor' I still never gave up on them, even if I didn't like what I was hearing. At their worst they still made you think a lot about what they were doing. True artistes, maybe even too much so at many junctures. I'm a pretty traditional guy when it comes to rock structure, so when people start throwing it out the window I tend to get dismayed. And the Piranhas (and everything these guys have done after) certainly have had no qualms about tossing the rock'n'roll playbook to the wayside. I'll even admit that it works sometimes. It's certainly working for Druid Perfume, and I dug the first record well enough and even forgave some of the Zappa moves. Taking them as a jazz-rock outfit with some punk touches makes it a lot easier to digest. Especially when they keep it on the Beefheartian side of the fence, as I have a real dislike of all things Zappa/Mothers referential. But hey, enough about me once again..."Kind Gentleman" is absolutely brilliant spoken word over a slithery and loose jazz-rock number. So great I wish they'd do more like this. "Pointed Hat" is ominous and rubbery and heavy. "Ain't It Rubbish" is like some Beefheartian vaudeville act. "Roll Down The Lids" puts the blues on for a weird burlesque grinder. "Who Made This?" is a dark and free journey through the funhouse. The trumpet and sax usage on this is fantastic as they manage to sound ill in both ways. Jimbo Easter gives a fine vocal performance, emoting to the cheap seats, expertly utilizing a Van Vliet-ish croak and a haggard yowl. The female back-ups that appear on occassion add a good dash of sex. Back to the whole structure thing I was discussing earlier, I think why I'm going to say that this is one of the best records of the year is because it does follow some sort of architecture. I didn't care for the singles they did between the first LP and this, because they were just too far out, too noodly, too free in their jazz. I'm probably a square for thinking that, and I also don't want to hint that this LP is too restrained either. It just has a focus that I think helps tons, and as weird as it is (and it's fucking weird) you at least have some sense of where they're at and where they're going. They don't go too far out on tangents, reel in the cacopohony and keep things concise and to the point. Jazz-punk is the new weird-punk. There isn't a moment on this record I don't enjoy, it's 100% engaging from start to finish. One of the most original sounding LPs you'll find today. And I still think 'Piscis Clangor' sucked.(RK)
(Bumbo Records // try a discerning distro like SS or a store that orders from Revolver)
East Bay Grease “Just Head” 7”
Well…this is a single with a Nervous Eaters song for an A-side. If I want to hear this regurgitated, I’ll listen to Teengenerate, right? Ready for disappointment. Wait, it’s on Classic Bar Music -“Records to clink glasses to!” East Bay Grease turn it into a porn-groove 70s moustache party soundtrack to great success… I really dig what is going on here. Like our proto-punk godfathers went to that party at the beginning of Anchorman and busted out a get-everybody-laid version of their most dangerous weapon. The flip is a Duane Allman tune and an original (Creedence-y but tonk), pulled off in the same whisky-sleaze style that vividly paints the picture of an after-hours party in the back office of Ashley Schaffer BMW. The novelty is overwhelming. (NG)
(Classic Bar Music // www.classicbarmusic.com)
Endtables s/t 12"
I want to begin with a little history for our younger readers."Those Were Different Times" is the name of a triple 10" compilation featuring the Electric Eels, Sytrenes, and Mirrors: three artistically minded, unabashedly damaged proto-punk outfits from the Buckeye State whose careers spanned the early to middle portion of the seventies. One state down and a couple years later the Endtables were taking a similarly daring approach in Louisville, Kentucky. "Lou-uh-vul" as the natives pronounce it was hardly a town that could be described as cosmopolitan back in the late eighties when I visited my mom's relatives every summer and I can only imagine what it was like ten years earlier. It's the kind of thing that's hard to get a grasp on today. In 2010 the impact the internet has on drawing people from the ends of the Earth together can't be understated when talking about the stamp geography leaves on the soul. Today any group of disenfranchised loners can find similarly minded compatriots on the internet within a matter of minutes. But 1979 was a different time, and Louisville was a different place than cultural hubs like New York, San Francisco, or even comparative backwaters like Milwaukee and Minneapolis. Racial tension so thick it could cut you with a knife, a shitkicker populace looking to kick the shit out of anyone different from them, and the stultifying malaise of urban blight hanging over the city like a fog - these are my impressions of Louisville. In short, not a fun place to live. Which is why the Endtables don't sound fun. They sound urgent and desperate, panicked and frustrated. Against a back drop like Louisville in 1979 it's all the more remarkable to see the overweight, bleached blond Steve Rigot decked out in makeup and full drag on some of the live pictures included inside. It's not a pretty sight. Rigot's look was more Divine eating a dog turd than a too late for the trend Bowie rip off. One might think there's something not quite right in the head with someone trying so hard to provoke, but then again maybe there's something even more wrong with the environment the provocateur is reacting against. Maybe both. At any rate, the Endtables sound like a slap in the face. Everything from the piercing, mongoloid James Williamson riffing, the plodding barely competent bass, to Rigot's atonal squawk and stark lyrics coalesce together into one abrasive package that goes off like shrapnel in this listener's ear. This music that is looking for a reaction; art created by weirdo kids projecting their social awkwardness onto the world at large only to have that impotent hate reflected back on them twofold by a hostile environment. It's that self fulfilling prophecy, that emotional Catch 22 that fuels the greatest punk rock. The formula can be summed up thus: "I might be fucked, but you're more fucked. Fuck you!!!!" Of course this impotent lashing out might not solve anything, but it does make for good catharsis. It also makes for great rock 'n' roll, as the Endtables recorded output testifies to. So great in fact that I haven't been able to stop playing this record for months now. Listening to Rigot's provocative lyrics about circumcision and suicide in 2010 with ears long attuned to the retroactively coalesced and defined "KBD" aesthetic is probably a different experience than in 1979, and for me the majority of the lyrics are more comical than provocative. Be that as it may the contemptuous vitriol with which they were spat out still rings true thirty years after the fact. It probably always will. The Endtables may be an artifact from a different time and place, but the music they left behind is timeless.(SB)
(Drag City // www.dragcity.com)
Ex Humans s/t LP
NYC outfit led by Josh from The Carbonas on guitar and vox who have a couple 7"es out on neo-street punk imprint Full Breach Kicks and the poorly distro'd Colonel Records, so I don't think anyone has paid them much attention yet. The 'boners certainly did their best stuff with Josh slinging the hot licks in their midst and he brings those talents to this trio and LP. As dumb as it sounds, it definitely has the "Atlanta Sound", due somewhat to impeccable Dave Rahn production (and the ATL "look" with art from GG King himself), but mostly because of the strongly written and played punk with big hooks and pop sense lit by guitar blaze. "Primitive" and "Move To Mars" have that anxious quality of the first Beat Beat Beat 7" (a record I really love) with fantastically snotty but not overwrought vox, stuff like "Islands" and "Halos" have anthemic Carbonas-esque punk appeal, "See You Around" and others play like a tough Gentleman Jesse. There's even a little Thunders-like junkie-punk swagger to tracks like "Emergency" and they make good on a cover of Ike and Tina's "Contact High". There's a two or three song section on the B-Side that gets a little flat, but the rest is pretty damn cookin'. Josh has a great punk voice and delivery, is an equally killer riffer and soloist and this LP is really his show and he delivers for the majority of it. For those who are fans of the Atlanta bands name-dropped above and uptempo punk with crafty pop influence, this LP is a good extension of that scene and sound.(RK)
(Rob's House Records // www.robshouserecords.com)
Femsickliver "Weed Whore" flexi-lathe 7" thing
Jesus christ. Femsickliver are yet another high-quality/low-IQ rock band from the greatest music city in the world, Cleveland, Ohio. Longtime Termbo celeb Russ Romance is the front-man with help from Marcus (Flying T-Bones), The Phantom Metaller, Teabagger, Mike Vulva and "piece of shit drum machine". "Weed Whore" is a demi-metal anthem about those chicks who love the herb at all costs with a disturbingly catchy chorus. There are also lovely couplets such as "You love to hit my Graffix bong/next time you'll suck on my dong". Good lord. Eldon Hoke is smiling somewhere in heaven. B-Side has two covers, pre-WP Skrewdriver's "I Don't Need Your Love" and a surprising choice in Pussy Galore's "Cunt Tease". Actually, not that surprising I guess...this one was recorded live "in the ghetto" with the shitty drum machine and raunchy guitar, while the other two cuts are surprisingly competent studio efforts. Rifuckingdiculous. Cleveland never disappoints when it comes to base level delights such as this. Thank god for that place. Scum stats: 25 copies on lathe cut flexi-plastic, mine came with a CD too. Cover sleeve drawing looks like it should be on the wall at Now That's Class (America's #1 rock club), back sleeve features live shots of Mr. Romance performing with some strippers at NTC. Supposedly a legitimate 7" from this band is forthcoming, but don't hold that bong hit in while you wait.(RK)
(Apartment 2324 Records // "No contact info, you must find us to fuck us")
Fergus & Geronimo "Never Satisfied" 7"
Precious indie-slash-garage rock from the drummer of Wax Museums and a Teenage Cool Kid. Teaser single for their upcoming full length on Hardly Art. Congrats guys, you've made the big leagues somehow. A-Side is quirky Anglo-style pop that Cheap Time/Novak does better. B-Side is a wimpy jangle-pop number. Sounds generic to me, but there must be a lot of girls buying their records or something, because they're getting a heaping helping of hype these days. Pitchfork approves, I imagine. Gack. Give me Wiccans or give me death, Denton!(RK)
(Hardly Art // www.hardlyart.com)
Fogna s/t 7”
I’d be lying thru my tartar stained grill to say I know jack about Italian hardcore, or its rich history. I’ve seen Raw Power play. I spun a Negazione cassette repeatedly in high school. Cheetah Crome Motherfuckers were a highlight to learn of some years ago. That about sums it up. But even with my underqualified knowledge of this otherworld, I can still say, without doubt…this shit rages. And it gets a little bent as well. "Fetore", the lead-off creeper, lumbers at such a pace you’ll think it’s spinning at the wrong rpm. Nope. Slow feedback washes over the tracks as a zombie ghost train appears from the tunnel, shouting dictator riding atop. This intro-instro has more to do with John Carpenter scores or a cannibal flick than what’s about to shred yr head. "Merda Come L’oro" is flanged-as-fuck 80’s damaged 'core with heavy, dark, cold-wave roots. Not sure what the frontman’s bitching about (the insert sure ain’t helping my dumb public school learnt ass), but he’s not happy, that’s a given. Both "Insomnia" and "E Brucia Tutto…" trot along in hostile perfection, with delayed barking, meat grinder rhythm, and more treated guitar effects. Two-piece gnarly bedroom brigade with a drum machine, but I honestly couldn’t tell. A mean spirited throwback, it’s true. But there’s also a modern whackado to it all that’ll entertain the open minded Dry Rot, Slices, Condominium sect that lives on this here board. It ends with more atmospheric Fulci-tones and negative vibes to make a solid wrap-around. Why not flip it and play it again? Sharp Crass-punk sleeve and euro-style centers. Scum check: an edition of 300. 100 clear, 100 green, 100 regular.(RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // myspace.com/flyingrodentfecalmatter)
Foot Ox “OOO” LP
Outsider folk-oddity and Elephant Six stylized pop that gels nicely when played between mid-period Jad Fair and the skewered tunes on that John Bellows record. You own those? You might want give this’n a go too. It varies quite a bit from track to track…recorded at different times and places…and I think most is recorded by the one Foot Ox man. I could be wrong. It can get a little too sea shanty for my well being, but when its compositions collapse upon themselves, crashing and sparking away, they pickle the remains in unconventional instrumentations and random kitchen bashing that starts speaking to me. The frail strained voice could easily get compared to Isaac Brock, and that’s gonna go down here as well as a fart in a confessional. But even with a deterrent like that (along with a strong reminiscence of sitting at the Cha Cha in Seattle, trying to grow a beard) there’s a genuine catchiness that I can’t shake. Gross. This Teague guy is really nice, I bet. Tyvek Claymation sleeve wraps an edition of 500, comes with a download code and a swell screened poster.(RSF)
(Stank House Records // www.stankhouserecords.com)
Freestone "Church" 7"
KBD #2 Records, er, Last Laugh continues with the ultimate band thereof. Everyone knows "Bummer Bitch," so let's talk about "Church" instead. This was my first time hearing "Church" and based on prior reviews I was expecting the most meandering, interminable prog epic known to man. It's actually kinda funny with lyrics about beating off and "creating hell" in the process, but I think it's trying to make a serious point which is simultaneously awesome and cringe inducing. Fuck it, no real story there. The immortal "Bummer Bitch" is the reason everyone needs this. You've heard it on a poorly mastered compilation, now hear it in pristine sound quality at 45 RPM. Were someone to assign me the task of choosing one tune to sum up the entire posthumously codified KBD aesthetic and sealing it in a time capsule to confound future generations, this is the tune I'd choose. When I die I want, "Suck my dick, eat my ass, lick my baaaaaaaaaaaaaaalls" engraved on my tombstone. Either that or something from Tolstoy. "Bummer Bitch" is one of the true highlights of 20th Century poetry. However, I was disappointed to learn that the first line is not in fact, "young and hot/dickless with a twat" but something altogether more pedestrian. Too bad. It'll always be "dickless with a twat" to me. Just like Harry Howes.(SB)
(Last Laugh // lastlaughrecords.us)
Gangwish “Space Case Vol.1” 7”
Submersive electronic tones pulse thru "Run Mr. Vapor" like a depth charge sonar, popping off over a metric ass-ton of propulsive drumming. Weird and spacey chimes come along, just to discombobulate. Tortoise fans (any?!) take note. Though this definitely gets more abrasive than any recent Thrill Jockey recording (or whatever label theys on).The flip's "Sea of Love" gets a bit more squirrelly within its glitchy trappings, and then lets an Italian crime score kick in. Sampled or over-laid vocals makes like there’s a K Records compilation floating just under the surface. Or something possibly femme fronted or J-Pop oriented. Not sure what just happened. It goes on for a while so maybe I’ll catch myself. Pitchfork? The Wire? Who wants it? Inviting enough, just not my usual party. 200 Copies in silk-screened sleeves.(RSF)
(Mind Cure / Dear Skull // myspace.com/dearskullrecords)
Gentleman Jesse & His Men "She's A Trap" 7"
Mistakenly thought the A-Side was "She's A TraMp" for a minute, but Jesse's too classy to pull that move. It's a top-of-the-(power)pops number for sure though, sort of an understated hook, but it's lethal, and that little whiff of reverb on the rhythm guitar part is the little touch that makes it a winner. A legitimate A-Side smash. The flip is a legitimate B-Side slow jam, obviously something called "I Won't Say Goodbye" is going to be a bit weepy, there's some quiet and wistful organ in the background punctuating the tear-pulling lyrics. The best thing he's done since that first single knocked everyone's socks off back in the day, and a perfect encapsulation of an aesthetic from a guy who loves Elvis Costello and Tom Petty almost equally. The Avi Spivak sleeve art is a bonus. Scum stats: 900 on black vinyl for the people, 100 on pink vinyl for the eBay machine.(RK)
(Douchemaster Records // www.douchemasterrecords.com)
Gestapo Khazi "Escalators" 7"
I've enjoyed what these guys have done so far, pushing out a pretty heavy (vibe-wise) and dark blend of Death Rock and SoCal beach punk making for some desolate American-style post-something. "Escalators" is a tribal thumper in the Christian Death mold with a sparse and surfy guitar line and foreboding presence. Flipside is "The Atomic Kind" and it's a mover, bass player is steering the ship here with a good line, and the Wild West guitar moves turn it into some sort of goth post-punk gunfighting thing,sweeping across the Mojave and straight into the Long Beach swells. The B-Side is the winner here, and as I've already said, I dig the genre(s) these guys are picking through and what they construct out of those pieces. I hope they keep working at it. Scum stats: 200 on black, 100 on clear.(RK)
(Eradicator Records // eradicatorrecords.bigcartel.com)
Girlfriends "Gov't Seizure" 7"
It's always awkward when a band sends a note along the lines of "You probably won't like us, but we're sending this anyway..." along with their record. Self-deprecation in a slightly gutsy way, or at least heading a bad review off at the pass. What do you want me to do here? Well, it's at least nice to be able to say Girlfriends don't suck. Pretty serviceable "garage rock" (or what Vice and Scion are calling garage these days, meaning it's medium-fi indie-rock), the title track does have a solid hook, dude has a good laid-back vocal approach and they do some tempo-changes that add some spice to the cuts. Guitars have a plenty of that good ol' reverbed jingle-jangle though, which the kids just can't get enough of these days. B-Side approaches some post-punky rhythm-n-twang. They'd fit right in at any Williamsburg loft-pop shindig, and at least seem to free of the pretension many bands of this ilk seem to take annoying pride in flaunting. Not mysterious or arty enough for Captured Tracks, not lo-fi enough for Woodsist, not dreamy enough for Slumberland, uh...not bad for being from Boston, maybe? I dunno, fair-to-middling, pretty vanilla overall. A bush league TNV maybe? I'm going to say they could probably head out West and have a single on some "hip" label in a few weeks though.(RK)
(Aurora 7 // www.aurora7.com)
Golden Error "Refuse Me" 7"
There's a running gag at Spiral Scratch records where we wonder if selling the Golden Error LP is considered pushing child pornography or not...thankfully this 7" is free of underage weenus on the cover. And I like what they've done the place as well. My favorite stuff of theirs since "Fucking in the Fitting Room". Recording is pretty hot, sounds classy and post-punk whilst keeping the band sounding loose as well. Ramrod rhythm section pushes the tempos, guitar adds some angularity and the vox are recorded clean and mean. No reverb obscuration for this guy. "Refuse Me" is a bouncy jammer (with a slight Shellac-y nod/noodle perhaps) and "New Weather Paranoia" is forcefully frantic and a bit garagey even. These guys grab their balls on the B-Side and do some X covers - "It Must Be Me" and "Coat of Green" - which fit their style well. They come out unscathed and have probably done the only decent X cover(s) in existence beside the A-Frames take on "Batman". That's something, right there. One of the best bands swimming in the cesspool of NYC right now, and I think this might be their crowning achievement thus far.(RK)
(The Hard Sell // thehardsell.net)
Grave Babies “Gouge Your Eyes Out” 7”
Still ghost-riding riding the low tones of their downer/Goth/glue covered tape, the Babies let loose a deuce that’s showing off they ain't shaking that Q.Lazarus tag I gave ‘em any time soon. There’s also a bit of The Cure’s 'Disintegration' feel to the title track. Squelched out and slowed to a crawl, then left to flounder in the gutter and root through gallons of animal slurry. The wife-y just yelled "Plain Song" at me from the back room. Bingo. Yeah. We gotta’ a dark past, is it fairly obvious? That’s why they hand me this shit. Bottom end is so fuzzed n’ bubbly it starts to sound like Tuvan throat singing. "Traumatic Visions" hits on a very Electric Prunes-style psych dun gone to brood…but it ends so quickly you might miss it. A little dab will do ya'. 300 copies with a download. (RSF)
(Skrot Up // www.skrotup.blogspot.com)
GRB "Discografia" 12"
This collects the cassette and excellent "Estoy tan Contento" 7" from Barcelona's GRB. It's a couple guys from Ultimo Resorte (the best of the first wave of Spanish hardcore) attempting to play faster and more manically and totally succeeding. There are a couple songs on the 7" recording that are later Ultimo Resorte songs, the bridge the gap nicely. It's raging, nuanced hardcore with low gruff vocals and really adventurous guitars - sort of like a meaner Koro happening in Spain instead of Tennessee. This label has been reissuing all kinds of killer stuff lately, the comp with Attak on it is a great buy, too. Killer packaging - the loose ends pictured on the insert (I guess the tape had a HUGE booklet) are welcome insights into both the worlds of Spanish punk and Spanish pulp pornography in the 1980s. (NG)
(BCore Disc // www.bcoredisc.com)
H-100s "Live April 2nd 1995..." LP
Oft-rumored live LP from one of Clevo's most essential hardcore acts finally sees release. The mighty Wedge himself says this recording is better than any of their actual "studio" records, and he should probably know. It's a close call if you ask me, but this thing has incredible sound quality for a live punk record regardless, as it was recorded directly from the board by someone who knew what they were doing. They hammer out just about their entire discography during this 30 minute live set, and that's with a good fifteen minutes of the Erbas talking shit to the crowd included. The story goes they were the odd band out on a bill with Integrity, One Life Crew (!), and 25 ta Life (!!) and ended up fighting some crowd members post-set (and winning), as they weren't that accepted by the Cleveland hardcore scene at the time, believe it or not. H-100s are one of the few bands that make me ill to think that I missed during their run because I wasn't paying any attention to hardcore then. The other bands that were on this bill are a good reason why I felt that way about HC at the time. I now know that H-100s were a step above the rest. Outsiders in a bullshit scene, confrontational, but with the nuts to back it up and just a raging fucking band, each member being a Clevo legend in their own right. Part of the lineage of crucial bands that runs from Gordon Solie Motherfuckers, through 9 Shocks Terror, Inmates, Cider, Upstab and others that make up one of the most vital strains of modern hardcore, and perhaps of all-time. Another reason why Cleveland is the #1 rock'n'roll town ever. DRRRRRRRRRRRRUGS! Scum stats: 500 copies only, no repress (and these guys mean it when they say that), silkscreened sleeve, insert/liners (from Paul E. Wog I believe), 300 on black/200 on shit brown. But this or be an asshole. You're probably too late anyway...(RK)
(SYG/Non-Commercial Records // www.cityslaang.com/syg)
Herätys “Helvettiin Ja Takaisin” 7”
Not a moment too soon… we have six more from the new kings of Sverige. They haven’t changed their style at all - still unbridled and rampaging Totalitär riffs (though this time they actually steal one on “Ei Diagnoosia”… see Disclose split) with Finnish vocals as insane as those on Ääretön Joulu, - but they just keep getting better and better at writing songs. Every song on this is as good as the best one on the 12” (“Ostovoimaa”). English lyrical breakdown - the topics are what you’d expect. Intelligent, concise (what could “ÄÄÄH” mean?). Have you forgetten how to hate? Please consult this record. Tops for the year, it’s great that someone is able to feed the hunger we all have for flawless Hudiksvall d-beat hardcorepunk. More cover art best forgotten, but their consistently genius band photography is worth noting. If you only buy one Swedish record sung in Finnish this year…(NG)
(La Familia // www.lafamiliareleases.com)
His Electro Blue Voice “Animal Verses” 7”
Whoah. Who went and pissed off the Italians?! HEBV come off like a furious, broken wind up toy this time 'round. Two noisy-as-piss post punk bashers that breathe life into that played out genre. Stuck in a riff repeat similar to other like minded imports (AH Kraken, Banque Allemande, Etc.) that is equal parts bitter, fucked, thick and hairy. Only darker. So very dark. Animal Verses is more of a death trip than I recall these dudes ploppin' down in the past. Lung capacity is pushed to the maxxx as the vocals spout off over unrelenting and epic swells. Whitewashes of noise shove at the rhythm, propelling the track forward…just to cut out/drop away and leave it dangling by a thread of guitar that chimes away in off kilter syncopation. Or so I think. !?! Not like I took music theory. But I do know I dig it. Immensely. "Black Veils" picks at the metallic 'Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste'-era dirtcake that’s clotting under their fingernails. I’m truly stoked that something like this could even exist in this day and age. It takes its panic medication near the end and goes from flailing into a stiff and minimal cinematic drone. Warped and damaged; this film-strip still flickers on. Flute and bells hold it down as they chant (instead of pummel) you back from the grave. It gets pretty creep-folk under the pulse. I guess I need to go revisit their back catalog…has been a long time. Noise rock for the new brood. Batshit goes batshit again: Presses 500 and makes 100 with fancy acetate overlay artwork and an “obi-strip” thang. Do yerself a favor, hate-wavers…jump on it. (RSF)
(Batshit Records // myspace.com/flyingrodentfecalmatter)
Holy Shit! “KBD OOP” 10"
Our favorite spastic Milwaukee party-hardy-core champs are back with more quirked-up DRI sounding tunes about the demise of Sega, their slight superiority of disposition to the comic book guy, Midwest drinking habits, etc. Lightning fast riffage and a rhythm section salivating over a trough of 2nd-tier thrash metal marinating in Beast Ice. They’re a band that celebrates trivial hardcore to the point of becoming it. Very much the homegrown version of off-kilter Italian greats I Refuse It!, but imbued with the plasticity and patent weirdness that any shithouse Midwestern environment implants in the brains of those cities’ bands’ pasty accomplices. (BG)
(Criminal IQ // www.criminaliq.com)
Ron House “Blind Boy in the Backseat” LP
Latest installment of the CDR folk making up for lost time/setting the record straight as to the merits of Columbus as a contender for the gold-medal with Clevo in being the preeminent industrial-art-fag-capital of The Birthplace of Presidents. Cleveland has the Mirrors, Styrenes, Electric Eels (I guess they could go either way), Pere Ubu – all that shit. Columbus? Well, I don’t know, I stayed there for a couple days a few years ago on tour, and all I could pick from the psychic underlay, the brainwaves, viiiiibez… was Ohio State jocks, restaurant bars, and shitty night life. Being weird there may be warranted, but it sounds a tad deliberate. Spending wholesome time in Cleveland like I do every 3 months is enough to understand the bands that come outta’ that nimrod Narnia: overwhelmingly thoughtless with a pinch of layman determinism. But I’m interested, Columbus. I am. There must be some genealogical reason for your great record store Used Kids. There must be some reason for the ‘Eels’ attraction to your High Street loft. The Tommy Jay & Mike Rep compilations that just came out were cucumber cool for fans of depressed sophomore folk, but this one might satisfy the punks, if in your notion of punk there’s room for the Styrenes’ bad-acid lo-fi weirdness and second rate KBD twang. I myself having started bands before I knew how to play any instruments, my ear’s keen to musical-sex mistakes, and they’re a tad obtuse throughout side A, The Twisted Shouts striking me as a slower and centimeter-higher-brow Pagans, while the Ron and Tommy/Rep/Kim stuff more akin to that Grim-O Comix budget-melancholia and sometimes sounding like Violent Femmes-meets-Cleveland Confidential (crackly voice and all… sorry). While the ‘Eels had “Stucco” and “Jazz Is,” these cats had oblique ‘n atonal transgressions like Side B’s “Love Yourself/Lose Yourself,” which appropriately follows the catchiest number on the platter – “Statues Lose,” which may or may not warrant the “most avant garde group spawned in this town” brand provided by the liner notes (that go on to call Kim’s bass playing that of a “growling hungry lioness on the prowl,” which, if the tracks included are an accurate representation, is preposterous). “Entirely Different Person” is a somber and drunken Devo-ish number. Altogether, it’s a great artifact of a lesser-known kernel of Ohioan proto-spunk, but simultaneously more proof that the posterity-minded create a less testi-chomping brand of RockRoll than those who’ve accepted its ephemeral nature. But that ain’t you anyways, pencil-neck! Recommended. (BG)
(Columbus Discount Records // www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)
HPP s/t LP
My personal favorite of the recent group of Olympia punk bands making the rounds. HPP are the most traditionally hardcore of them all, not so reliant on latter-day SST guitar tripping like Gun Outfit of Milk Music, but going back ta basics for some Flag-esque core-punk. There are a few moments where they mix in some skate rock action and come off sounding like a lower-fi and non-metallic Annihilation Time, which is pretty cool in my book. Vox are a little raw and sloppy but not too growly or macho sounding. The do a good job of alternating minute-long blasters with longer riff-oriented mid-tempo heavers. Guitar playing isn't overly flashy, but has some real guts and effective squeal when called upon. Good and rough enough, who needs a fucking solo anyway? They grind out 15 cuts here at a good clip, recording has a very nice slightly raw sound (almost sounds like it was captured live to tape) that gives it an interesting energy - it's very engaging in a weird way. Great punk shit. I don't think they have any connection to SexVid other than geography, but they put up some of the same aesthetic - band symbol for cover art, no credits other than song titles, no pics/inserts/details. I'm ok with it too. Sometimes I don't want to know what's behind the mask anyway...(RK)
(Perennial Records // www.perennialdeath.com)
The Humms "Lemonland" LP
Southern rockers from Athens, GA who have a few EPs and comp appearances out there already, none of which I remember hearing. The Humms are one guy at the core (named Zeke, I shit you not), writing and playing everything here, who picks up some ringers for live shows. It's real trad Americana stuff, full of hot twang, Country-Western flavors brought into the garage arena, some smoky BBQ pickin' for sure, and doing the same thing dozens of Europeans are trying to pull off these days (Vermillion Sands, Movie Star Junkies perhaps, Mojomatics, a lot of Italians). Lots of bar-billy roadhouse rocking and Southern Gothic touches, in a true vampires, death and devils referential way. Childrens' folk lullabies and Fifties slow dance love songs provide the mellow moments. "Fat Bat" is mass appeal garage-pop, "Little Freaky Girl" (a derivivative of "Baby Please Dont Go") goes shitshack hillbilly stomp, and I get a weird vibe that this guy is a carnie running Midway concessions for a day job. All the bases are touched, everything is played with the utmost skill, but I'm just not feeling any connection to songs that should honestly be full of soul. Mundane. I'm sure this raises my rank on another Euro label's shitlist, but I have to ump this game as fair as I can.(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
Inservibles one-sided 7"
Inservibles are my favorite thing from Mexico these days aside from glass-bottled Coca Cola. One of my Top Five Modern Hardcore outfits to boot. They pack three cuts on a single side here, and it is what it is: absolutely face-ripping shit-fi core-punk from one of the outer rungs of Hades. Guitars sound super-distorted and fucking insane and of course the vocals once again bring new feats of echo chamber insanity. This sounds like doing (bad) drugs. Not at all disappointing, look for the 7" version of their demo tracks making the rounds as well.
Scum stats: 300 pressed, hand-stamped dust sleeves, 100 copies are part of the interlocking Ben Lyon "quad-tych" artwork variant. Collect them all!(RK)
(Leather Bar Records // myspace.com/leatherbarrecords)
The Intelligence "Males" LP
By my count this is the seventh Intelligence full-length, which is pretty remarkable for a band with a liquid line-up that has included anyone who's anyone in Seattle during it's ten-plus year run. When you consider the fact that Lars has recorded/played every LP up to this one essentially by himself, it makes it seem even more daunting. One of the few bands I can say that I've enjoyed more as they went on (I'm usually that jerk who only likes "the early stuff"), Lars decided to record 'Males' with a full band, and if the rumors circulating that this will be the last Intelligence record are true, it's only fitting. Perhaps he felt he finally had a solid enough line-up to share the studio, and I'm sure it helps that this combination includes his better half Susanne on bass, and the mighty Woodhouse himself on just about everything else as well as being the the engineer/producer (and on a side note, Woodhouse now looks like the lovechild of Kim Thayil and Weird Al) and the owner of the studio (plus Beren, poached from Eat Skull on drums). A rather convenient set-up that seems to have produced the best Intelligence record since 'Icky Baby'. It's no secret Lars is one of my favorite songwriters of modern vintage and his aesthetic has become one of the more unique voices of today. Funnily, the record begins with some underwater gurgles, a trademark "sound" of his, and then the wetness sort of disappears for the rest of the LP. This a pretty concise eleven tracks here, free of some of the fat that slowed 'Fake Surfers' and 'Crepuscle...' down, and also missing some of the fake-tropicalia sounds (that's the only way I could describe it) that bugged me about 'Deuteronomy' at times. "Bong Life" rips out of the gate and the staccato pacing keeps lurching forward with hearty bass sounds, great live drums and scaling guitar lines. "Tuned To Puke" is a smash hit with a big time anthemic hook. The guy can do weird-pop to perfection. The vocals are recorded pretty clean throughout, which works well. "likelikelike..." is the crest of the initial wave, a song re-recorded from the Raw Deluxe 7" and one for the future 'Greatest Hits' LP. "White Corvette" is the most digital sounding of the LP, humorously bleeping a curse and making good use of the robotic rhythm. The ending three song suite is wonderful summary of all Lars has done so far - "The Beetles" is rubbery pop with top shelf hook, "Chateau Bandit" is revisited from what may have been his best single and given a frantic tempo replacing the loping thump of sounds past and he fittingly saves the title track for the closer, a song that that does a lot with very little - a simple guitar riff, marching drums, and five words of lyrics, with the word males manipulated as a chorus, intoned by Finberg with an almost melancholic deadpan. Eerily, it's the most like a "band" The Intelligence have ever sounded. Half way through he simply says "That's it" and the song turns the corner into a sheet of ringing guitar feedback collapsing on the original rhythm, like the wave crashing down one last time, crushing the pipeline shut perhaps once and for all. For all the quirkiness and weird-punk touches Lars often layered on his songs, they were always pop tunes at heart, and all the watery reverb in the world could never obscure that. If this really is the end, The Intelligence leave behind pretty vast catalog and a stunning evolution from "Girlfriends & Boyfriends" to where we stand now. I'm not rosy enough to say there were never mistakes made or bad ideas, but I am smart enough to know that some of the higher marks of the past decade were on Intelligence records and I'll remember them fondly. You don't get on In the Red if you're not in the top tier, and they were always at the top of the A-List of this little thing we call underground rock. Man, this really sounds like a eulogy. Thanks for the mammaries Lars. And look out for his new band Puberty. Who kinda sound like The Intelligence...(RK)
(In the Red Records // www.intheredrecords.com)
K-Holes "Swamp Fires" 7"
"Swamp Fires" is almost hilariously slow and dragged (or maybe drugged?) out. The title sums the vibe up here, they're dredging through the slime and leeches, not unlike Scientists, Chrome Cranks, Blowtops and so many more have before. Pretty fucking theatric. I hope they have a fog machine onstage for this one. Possessed Dawn-of-the-Deadbeat vox. Saxomaphone for added creep-a-billy antics. Yankees trying to sound all New Orleans voodoo-ey. It gets somehwere eventually, but it really takes a while. B-Side is "Werewolf With A Tan" and they switch singers to a chick doing a Lux-style vamp and shift gears from spooky to zany. Minor league muck with a real cheesy vibe. B-52s doing a Cramps cover at a Halloween Party that Fred Schneider forgot to show up for or some lame ass shit. Oh wait, they're from Brooklyn? NO WAY.(RK)
(11th Hour Records // thek-holes.blogspot.com)
Killer Dreamer "1000 Years of Servitude" LP
No better way to start your record than with a DJ scratch intro, right? This is exactly what you would expect a record released by Razorcake to sound like. Bouncy, plodding, nothing to really grab onto. The covers and labels are nicely screened (the cover looks like the best Sega Genesis game I never played), there's a nice attention to detail on the packaging, but the record is pretty nondescript. Imagine if Swiz was on No Idea. Scrappy and a little too melodic, it's a lot of bland tastes that taste bland together. (NG)
(Razorcake // www.razorcake.org)
(45 RPM Records // 45rpmrecords.bigcartel.com)
Kitchen's Floor "Loneliness Is A Dirty Mattress" LP
Kitchen's Floor are utterly depressing DIY-punks from Brisbane. Depressing in the best way however, as their songs stink of piss poor squalor, loser life and generally being fucked in any and all ways. Spread out before you over two sides you really get a sense of their purpose which I didn't fully absorb via their 7" (on RIP Society as well, who are giving Aarght! a run for their money for best Aussie label these days) that was my introduction to the band. Here, they sound like a totally talentless The Fall at times, devoid of any purpose than to bang on a ragged drum kit, barely play guitars and whine about how things have turned to shit. At times it might even sound lazy (which was a big beef I had with Psychedelic Horseshit and other shitgazers) but there are also some perfect moments of clarity and musical ability (the bridge/chorus of "Failure", the drain-circling of "Downed It", the upliftingly Teasers-esque "Lander") that attempt to make up for it. A lot times they get dangerously close to being terribly annoying, but never manage to fully put both feet over the line - but whatever pot they saved from the kitchen and constantly bang on really wants to get me pissed. Vocals veer from anti-anxiety med slurring to occassional disinterest and there are a few songs of actual energized performance as well. I like it better when they're just making sloppy DIY clangor glued together with guitar than when they try and do the hippie folk shit. Those songs make me think they reek of body odor and live in squats. I'd rather imagine them as disgruntled art students or kids lost in the suburbs when I picture them making with the noisy bits. I don't necessarily love this record, but I like "like" it quite a bit and the things I seem to dislike about it drop away with each consecutive listen. You'll be challenged to find a better downer of a record this year though, I'll tell you that. I think I'm just trying to keep my distance from the parts that evoke real sadness here. Challenging stuff if you allow it inside. I've heard word that Kitchen's Floor have gone bust recently, or at least changed members, leading to the formation of another outfit actually called Dirty Mattress. We'll have to see how this plays out. It's a shame they won't reap whatever rewards this LP will give them together, but imaginingwhat a mess things must have been to have created "Loneliness..." in the first place it shouldn't really be any surprise things went South. Double bummer.(RK)
(RIP Society // myspace.com/ripsocietyrecords)
Knaves Grave "I Don't Wanna Be Yr AARP" 7"
I'm obviously initially charmed by the Some Kind Of Wonderful still used for the sleeve, as it's a fave of my wife and I. A great Hughes-penned slice of high school drama containing top notch performances from Stoltz, Masterson and Koteas. Knaves Grave are an ATL four-piece and the press sheet pushes them as a power pop band. I guess I can get into that, but it's more like indie-pop in line with Captured Tracks and such, than coming from a classic power-pop angle. They achieve a big sound, really strong bass-driven stuff, guitars drift into reverb-wash dreamland, but in a rather macho way. Good gang-style vox from a girl or two (or maybe multi-tracked from one?) and back-ups from the guys with tasteful amounts of echo and toughness. Title cut is certainly anthemic with a big swinging hook, B-Side sounds more like an authentic American power-pop song given the modern recording style du-jour. If you stripped these tunes down they might actually sound like legit mid-80s pop-rockers. Given this recording treatment though it makes it veer towards something like the Vivian Girls if their songs were ghostwritten by Gentleman Jesse. You can't deny the hooks but I'm on the fence as far as the execution goes. But that shouldn't stop this from having some broad appeal for fans of indie-pop and the now sounds of girl-fuzz. Scum stats: 300 copies on blue vinyl.(RK)
(Army of Bad Luck // www.armyofbadluck.com)
Kriegshög s/t LP
Man. Japanese punk. There's such a loaded sense of history, so many great and fucked records. The expectations for a band willing to step up to the plate in this post-Death Side world and write a great, original album and assume the throne of Japanese Modern Kings of Punk are HUGE. When it works, we end up with great masterworks like Framtid's Under the Ashes or Gloom's Recommendation of Perdition - great LPs carving their own niche, spawning their own legions of bootlegged backpatches and legions of imitators. They were well on their way with their three 7"s, but Kriegshög has now handedly usurped said throne. An unspeakably devastating hardcore attack from Tokyo certainly somewhat akin to labelmates Destino Final's rampaging (but not too fast), efficiently bludgeoning style, but with a giant nod to Kuro, Japan's finest fire-setters - Masaki's vocals are wonderfully, horribly caustic and venomous. Their previous records are all great - chunky, super aggressive songs with the perfect amount of blown-outitude - but they clean the recording up a bit here to superb results. Production is a lot like Bastard's Wind of Pain (no insane Zigyaku leads, though). So. They start this thing off with a wonderful goth-charge kick drum/clean bass thump as the sounds of atrocities fade in, then fade out, and the blitzkrieg begins with "Heathen (Code Z)" and an introduction to their HUGE guitars. There are hooks, there is melody, but no songs infer a positive state of mind. They re-record (better versions of) two songs from the 7"s, and the new material is just totally scathing. "Temptation" is like GISM stripped of all ineptitude, and "Burn" is the M.O.A.B. here, kicking off the B-side with the sounds of the earth being ripped in two. The sounds of of the raw punk apocalypse. By the time the pressure has built up the bridge on this song, you will be unable to ignore the primal, yet acute urge to throw furniture at the pedestrians below your dingy Tokyo high-rise window. It's been much hyped, as LPs on Paco's label have really made a name for themselves as of late, and to make an offensive understatement, HG:Fact has released some legendary records. It totally lives up to all that's been said about it, though! While what happens on this 12" isn't entirely new ground, they are doing new things and doing them quite well. It's a noble pursuit to try to bridge the gap between Kuro and Bastard, and they totally succeed on all counts. Crushing and enjoyable, this one will get you through some shit. Worth the high price of import, one of THEE records of the year. The New Wave of Brutal Hardcore Massacre is upon us, hopefully these guys will make it into the US. Massive gatefold cover, plastered with babbling incoherent English slogans, thresholded black and white skulls, skeletons, soldiers, bombs, babies, Obi-strip, the dust sleeve with the plastic inside... It's the total package. GREAT. SUPERB. Joujou joujou joujou. (NG)
(La Vida es un Mus // www.lavidaesunmus.com)
(HG:Fact // www.interq.or.jp/japan/hgfact)
Lakes "Solar Flecks" LP
Heavy folk music from somewhere in Australia. I take this to be the work of one man, Sean Bailey, who also plays in punk band Wasted Truth, and he does the sort of difficult scab-picking that Kevin did in Pink Reason. Musically, it's a different horse though, with ragged Eastern-flavored acoustic/electric guitar and a drum kit made up of a tom and a crash cymbal making for a really depressive drone-like headspace. The vocals are absolutely rough, as in Bailey doesn't sing well at all, but that's part of the gut-wrenching aesthetic he's going for along with the haggard sound he gets out of that guitar. A little pushy to be truly folky, but the inwardly cast lyrics and primitive instrumentation give me the feeling there's a bit of the hippie in him anyway. Interesting enough for people who dig visceral introspection like this, and at least the Aussies put a bit of feeling their version of a popular genre for pretentious Americans. Paste on covers, I'm assuming it's limited to a handful or two.(RK)
(Inverted Crux // www.inverted-crux.blogspot.com)
La Sera "Never Come Around" 7"
Side project action from Vivian Girl Kickball Katy, making an East Coast/West Coast connection with this Brady Hall fella who directed some Vivs videos. Katy is going for the girl-group gone loft-pop sound on the A-Side, administering an overdose of heaven-sent reverb to the entire arrangement and setting the vox to melt hearts on contact. Pretty flawless in her vicious attack on the ears of hipster gals and their boyfrends. Diabolical even. B-Side is the superior cut, going for the nasty dreamcore approach suddenly becoming popular again amongst opinionated ladies and the young men trying to get in their pants. The bassline will match your jogging heartbeat as you're whisked away to Slumberland on a satin sheet of cooing harmonies carried by a dozen white doves. Pretty music made by pretty people which I have no business listening to, executed with the skill of an emotionless assassin. This is just a teaser single for an LP on Hardly Art, which is going to lead to some broken hearts and mix-tape inclusions I'm sure. I feel like I've sullied this record somehow by listening to it with my brutish scum-rock tainted ears.(RK)
(Hardly Art // www.hardlyart.com)
Las Nurses "Just So Pretty" 12" EP
I've reviewed a couple of Las Nurses' singles, and they do just fine for post-punk-punking, especially taking into consideration they're from Spain, not exactly a hotbed of punk action. But they're doing their best to makes things happen along with a bevvy of other bands both in the garage and hardcore scene. Three songs per side here, recorded with great fidelity, and their brand of rhythm-n-bang seems to be getting a little more aggro. At times they sound like they could be on the Touch & Go roster of the mid-Nineties (i.e. any band that was influenced by Shellac), getting a real "classic" bass-n-drum lockgroove going to which they add guitars that alternate between buzzsaw and thick twang and the singer sidles into the grooves perfectly, almost robotically. "Mike Oldfield" is the jam here. The label wants to throw a "Spanish A-Frames" comparison on them, and I'm feeling that a slight bit in the mechanical lockstepping they get into (and some guitar sounds in particular), with maybe a bit more of Intelligence flair and some New French franticity when they pick up the pace. Cold but not coldwave, they manage to keep this thing on the (post)rock playing field without any synth or zaniness to their dark and machinelike mid-tempo hammering. You wouldn't know this was Spanish if I didn't tell you (they do one song en Espanol though), and it's a rather crafty EP in construction and execution. Scum stats: 500 copies, first 100 on color.(RK)
(Rococo Records // www.rococorecords.com)
Lee Van Cleef "Virgen Por Delante..." EP
Yeah, the band name, I know...they're Spanish, give 'em a break. Four tracks of espanol pop-punk rife with Chuck Taylors, Queers and Ramones rips, sunglasses and ripped jeans. I have no idea what they're singing about, but it doesn't help any. There's not much to say about this other than it's not good. Limited to 150 copies though!(RK)
(Blondes Must Die Records // www.blondesmustdierecords.com)
Les Bellas "Belladelic" LP
Recorded in 2005, 'Belladelic' has sat unreleased since then, with the band breaking up after releasing two well received singles on the French Profet label that I thoroughly enjoyed. The promo sheet speaks of a mysterious "famous West Coast garage punk label" that was supposed to release this LP but "flaked" on the offer. Oh well kids, that's how it goes. And I wouldn't blame the guy, as this is hardly a mind-blowing record. Heart-melting perhaps, as there's plenty to fall in love with here, in particular when they release they fuzz on cuts like "A Dream That Slips", a wyld cover of "It's A Crying Shame", the title cut or "You Got My Soul". It's all very convincingly played vintage Sixties pop, beautifully sung by a duo of mademoiselles. The horns/piano orchestration on "Drown" makes for an incredibly deep wall-of-sound sensation. "New 18/6" is another well-arranged number that wouldn't be out of place on the soundtrack to some lost heist film set on the Riviera. "A Dream That Slips" is the album's high point, a massive sounding and moody pop hit with a slight sense of desperation making it that much more dramatic and thrilling. The triumphant horns and organ help out once again. The only lacking moments are the country-themed "Mistrial Blues", which is so short it doesn't hurt overall, but could have easily been left out as it seems out of place; a sort of pedestrian "Funnel of Love" cover and the fact that over the duration the slower songs seem to start recycling themselves. But taken as a whole, it makes for a wonderful diversion, full of great sounding guitar, gorgeous swinging Ye-Ye vocals, classic dream pop sounds and some go-go style freakbeating. There's no denying it's superbly recorded and arranged as well. Yet it's also almost too safely retro-sounding and repetitive after numerous listens, but that's something I think is a given when you consider the aesthetic here. I feel some ex-Bellas are doing a more interesting job with this style currently with Liminanas. All things considered, you're definitely getting what you're paying for here in spades and it's well worth the time and money if you're at all intrigued by this sound.(RK)
(Les Disques Steak/SDZ Records // myspace.com/disquessteak)
Libyans "Paralyzed" 7"
This is my favorite stuff yet from Libyans, with "Paralyzed" off the LP, sounding like the singer's backed by a charming and frantic Weirdos offshoot. The momentum waxes & wanes, the guitars & vocals entirely hook-laden. Will not leave your skull. The second track is a lot less Dangerhouse and, though frantic and pretty ripping, is a total b-side & vastly eclipsed by the single tune. Faster & choppier riffs make for a style they are less suited for. Leadoff song is great, though. Two song, one-sided single with a blank b-side covered in lyrics, wedged in a nice screened (and sealed!) rice paper envelope.(NG)
(Sorry State Records // www.sorrystaterecords.com)
The Liminanas s/t LP
Full length outing from this retroactive French group after a couple of rather cute singles on HozAc and TIM. The core of the group are Marie on drums and occasional vox and Lionel on guitars/bass/organ and operating as the songwriter/composer/guiding hand. They utilize two other gals on vocals for the songs Marie doesn't sing, Mu who has the huskier pipes and Nadege who does a couple of the peppier numbers. They give us an even dozen tracks that sound convincingly Sixties - plenty of fuzz guitar and freaking, minor psychedelia, Ye Ye, Hazelwood/Sinatra beaters, Gainsbourgian French kissers, there's a good variety of styles and tempos. Lionel has a good ear and his compositions are laden with hooks and drama when needed - sitars, melodica, piano, theremin, various organs/keys and guitar echoes/effects are utilized to give plenty of depth. It's more exciting to me than the Les Bellas LP, as it seems to have a modern touch on the production end that keeps it from seeming so safely retro and really gives it some more passion. A gorgeous sounding record that will appeal to fans of girls-with-exotic-accents pop vocals and cool vintage guitar sounds. There's only a couple of songs sung in French, one instrumental (that sounds like it came from an episode of Mighty Boosh), and "Funeral Baby" is pretty damn sexy as are more than a few others. Great for Sunday morning comedowns.(RK)
(Trouble In Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Liquor Store "Free Pizza" 7"
The much-anticipated debut from Jersey no-counts Liquor Store. What a novel idea...dumbasses singing about pizza that actually are from Jersey, I'd say "Free Pizza" is taking the piss out of some West Coast poseurs if I thought these drunks really put that much thought into this shit. Absolutely ridiculous from the relentlessly nasal vox and na-na-na-ing to the Chuck Berry licks and dumbass lyrics. Pissing all over your budget party pie. Comes with an actual coupon for a free personal pizza from Sarim's family's joint. B-Side is "Trash Sandwich (Parts 2 & 3)" which is East Coast style no-fi punk with blazing guitar licks which I'm assuming are of the Name Brand variety. Pretty fucking anthemic and reminds me a bit of the raw VCR demos from way back when. East Coast is the best coast, dummies. Scum stats: 500 pressed. That's a lot of free pizzas.(RK)
(Almost Ready Records // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
The Lo-Fi Jerkheads "In Your Stereo" 7"
Follow-up single to the debut reviewed down below there alphabetically...the Jerkheads have decided not to give Vex Ruffin top billing on this one in an act of selfless "band" solidarity it appears. As I requested in my review of their previous effort, this joint is thankfully devoid of any pseudo-hiphop tomfoolery. Good news. "In Your Stereo" uses a booming bass drum loop, some raygun fx and movie samples to compliment the fuzz-guitar and vocal drone. Very sturdy and just raw enough for some low-tempo hurt. "Let's Drink Some Wine!" sounds totally French. Wait, are these guys French? Who knows, could be...wouldn't be surprising considering some of the other acts on Slovenly these days. More background sample chatter while the singer dude sounds swarthily European over another drum loop and I believe he's actually playing the guitar here instead of sampling. A bit Feeling of Love-esque. "I'm Cool" leads off side two, and I think it's using the same toolbox of guitar sounds and laser effects...and is that a Cookie Monster sample? Jeez. "Volcano" is more of the same sonic construction, maybe a more punk/less weird Black Orphan type thing. Not as agressive as the best cuts on the debut, but a little bit nastier in delivery, and this one does slide alongside some modern Glue Wavers nicely. A little less creatively built than the first, but I think they're going for a more aloof and laid-back sleazy vibe here. Still very taken in by what they're doing here, and I hope they tinker with the formula some more and get a good balance between what they've done on their two records thus far.(RK)
(Black Gladiator // www.slovenly.com)
The Love Triangle "Splendid Living" 7"
So we have the vocals and drums of England's Shitty Limits abandoning the violent and dangerous tinges of their usual songs to create some great dirty garage-pop with atypically punk and loud drums. They're going further down the soul-punk road than in their other outfit - comes out like a blown-out Nerves and a crass, ill-thought of punk relative of Jonathan Richman. The A-side is a devastating hit that anyone can get down with - pop genius. The second song sounds a bit too much like Shitty Limits, and the third song, "Orgasms in Heaven", has what must be the greatest bridge chant I've ever heard. Fun, killer, dance-inspiring. Chalk another one up for DIRE. (NG)
(Dire Records // www.direrecords.com)
Lumerians "Burning Mirrors" 7"
Two-songer from yet another San Francisco psych-rock outfit, a descriptor that probably already makes you want to stop reading. I wouldn't blame you, as this stuff is getting done to death. But Lumerians are actually decent at it, from what I hear on this single (they purportedly have a 12" out somewhere as well). "Burning Mirrors" (label bills it as "Deathray Bradbury"?) has a satanic organ, bubbling bass and ringing fuzz. Builds up a mean-sounding stomp that sounds way more Spahn Ranch than Haight Street. Flipside is an Osmonds tune ("Crazy Horses" or "Chevaux Fous" as it's billed here) that was just waiting to be covered, with vox echo-ed underwater and more fuzz guitar effects. Perhaps some theremin. A little bit by-the-numbers, sounds in line with the Alive/Total Energy brand of non-threatening sikerock. The A-Side is definitely more interesting than the last few Wooden Shjips songs I've heard and overall seems less like beard-o hippie psych and more like Spacemen 3 jamming. I dig that one a lot. Scum stats: 500 copies, 100 on white.(RK)
(Rococo Records // www.rococorecords.com)
The Mantles "Pink Information" 12" EP
Let's just get this out of the way, again: Mexican Summer blows as a label, this 12" (and all of their releases) is far too expensive to the point where I'm going to call them price gougers. The Mantles, good fellas that they are, sold their band copies at the nice price and should be commended for their actions (as did The Young). I just hope good bands stop releasing shit on this label altogether and put an end to this problem, and let Mexican Summer fade into the bottom-feeding hipster label they truly are. Okay, enough about that shit. The Mantles LP on Siltbreeze was a dream and I fully backed at least half of the cuts on it, even being a non-pop oriented guy I had to respect their moves. I love this 12" though, as the band gets right to the point. "Cascades" is a jaunty breeze of fresh New Zealand airy-pop and "Situations" is a brief fractured moment in (Nineties guitar-pop) time that mate perfectly together. "Lily Never Marries" and "Summer Read" (which sounds just slightly like Thunders on the chorus in a bizarre twist) close Side A and assure me they're the only modern day band that deserves a Clean comparison. They're that scrappy and excitingly poppy. The side-long "Waiting Out The Storm" is the real gem here though, an extended indie-guitar-rock sprawl that dances with the ghosts of the VU (who aren't dead anyway, I know) in a loft somewhere with opaque sunlight warming the window panes. So good it passes by in what seems like seconds. I like that The Mantles also don't really sound all that "West Coast" to me somewhow - they seem out of place in way, they could be Australian or from New York or Phoenix or Miami. I dig that. In short, I'm into this more than their LP, but I have a short attention span anyway. Fuck you Mexican Summer. Long live The Mantles.(RK)
(Mexican Summer // www.dicks.com)
The Mark Sparkles "Uppers and Downers" EP
Medium-fi pop-punk from a Seattle six-piece(!): 2 guitars, rhythm section, and two singers/tambourine players according to the sleeve. I'm going to say this has a heavy Screeching Weasel influence, even though I have no idea what they actually sound like. Girl/guy alternating off-key vox used to (unintentionally) hilarious effect on the B-Side. Much like the Touch Me Satan record reviewed below (who are all members of this outfit it appears), it inhabits that particular limbo where it's not lo-fi or sloppy enough to be charming or skillful enough to actually be good. I'll give them points for trying though. Scum stats: 50 copies, lathe-cut job.(RK)
(Abandon Hope Records // abandonhoperecords.bigcartel.com)
Meercaz s/t 7"
I've been wrestling with Meercaz ever since that CD on Gulcher appeared what seems like a couple of years ago now. A case of a band I wanted to like just not catching on for some unidentifiable reason. Things just didn't click in the way that made me want to keep going back for more. Leave it to Sweet Rot to release the record that finally opens the door to my full appreciation of the band. A perfect and succint single that has me excited about going back to the LP for reppraisal and looking ahead to the 12" upcoming on TTT. Meercaz are the vehicle of frontman Muslim Delgado accompanied by some of Portland's finest via Kyle of Meth Teeth/Leper Print and Clay, formerly of Clorox Girls. Understatement is certainly part of the bands M.O., which does explain their consistent under-the-radar flying so far. Nothing frilly or fancy here, the recording of the tracks actually sounds somewhat murky which adds to their aesthetic haze. "Never Too Late to Learn" turns a cliche into an immediately engaging and melancholically subdued slow-tempo rock'n'roll song that is deceptively strong and memorable. Muslim's vox are nearly crooned in a comforting and charismatic style, and there is some wonderful guitar work going on here with what seems like a few solos and some damaged proto-punk effects. "Brainscanning" is the flip, with some self-conscious lyrics and outer-space guitar phasing bracing a major league hook. It seems sort of odd how the strength of these two cuts lies in their unobtrusiveness. It's a trait that could easily lead to forgetability (and perhaps that's what happened with my disconnect from previous efforts), but here the personality draws you in. Heavy on the nuance. Simple done very, very well, and I quite enjoy the proto-weird-rock tangent this embarks on. It could also be a case of these being the two best songs Muslim's written so far. I'm returning to the LP to find out.(RK)
(Sweet Rot Records // myspace.com/sweetrotrecords)
The Menthols "Michigan Works" LP
I was describing this record to a friend just the other day, and the best thing I could come up with was that it sounds like Michigan. NOT DETROIT. Michigan. Upper peninsula shit. Lower peninsula balls. Where lines blur into Wisconsin, Canada, Nowheresville, Kalamazoo, Bumfuck, MI. Throbby bass, stabby guitar, doped vox and you know the drummers got to be a good driver. One night in a particularly hazy 4:00 am reverie I was thinking that they sound like Mudhoney might have if they were from the Midwest, had no knowledge of heavy metal and didn't have awesome record collections. I think I might have been on to something. It's almost anti-psych. They sound too real. These guys don't need costumes for themselves or their tunes. Totally grounded. The Friday night jam sesh done good. "Long Time Comin" lumbers through dark forests, "That's All You Got" shows off some fangs - but the fangs of a possum or raccoon cornered by ennui, not those of some fucking majestic lion who thinks he all hot shit. This is fucking breadbasket rock'n'roll. "Switchblade Night" cuts right to the primal quick - smack, smack, smack, jab, thump, done. Rock jam. Log jam. Ram jam. On "Don't Give Us Yours" they get weird, must've been written on a night they all took acid and jumped down that muskrat hole. No bullshit, just heavy Midwestern dudes making heavy Midwestern music vibes. "Fire Fire Fire" sounds like the cousins of Clone Defects who took wood shop instead of art class. Thumpy. This thing won't singe your eyebrows unless you literally set in on fire, but it will plant a steel toe in your backside if you're not careful. I don't think many people outside of the Midwest or Rust Belt will be hep to it's understated charms however. This type of stuff wouldn't play on the West Coast or in hip urban metropolises. Which makes it that much better. Really thuggy rock from dudes who actually have day jobs that entail manual labor and drive shitty cars who have something to truly be all angsty about. There's a rough hewn and genuinely alive quality here with a subtle ominousness. Something nasty in the woodshed perhaps. That's all I have. I'm obviously somewhat fascinated by the everyman attitude I feel they're imparting here. I can dig it. I don't know if you're ready though....Scum stats: 400 on black with out-of-control silkscreened sleeves, 100 copies on green with paste-on covers (the images on which I swear were swiped from an old Steve Jackson Games catalog), and a few test press editions for the true believers out there.(RK)
(UFO Dictator Records // www.ufodictator.com)
Mickey "Highway Bound" 7"
Superlative A-Side here, with a crucial vocal performance glam-packed with sneering and screaming and the band pulls off a knockout Berry-via-Dolls jammer with much-needed piano accent and tasty guit-lick. A direct fucking hit, which is what I was waiting for from these cats. Flipside is "Wild Kind", with stompy backbeat and some sexy and snaky rocking that mates Alice Cooper Band with a sharp Bolan-esque chorus. Mickey's best effort to date and I think they really nailed their target here, mixing up the formula just right and digging in deep with the hooks. This band was tailor made to crank out juicy singles like this and I think their aesthetic has a lotmore running room as well - which could result in a monster LP if they play their cards right.(RK)
(Florida's Dying // www.floridasdying.com)
Midwest Beat "At The Gates" LP
Dusty Meds, really cranking out the hits this season. Midwest Beat play all variations of popular garage genres: honky-tonk barn busters, soul-infused whiteboy rave-ups, country-tinged twangers, gentle folk melodies, slowdance crooners, 'Mats styled rockers, slightly baroque indie-poppers, Cartwrightian garage hookers...They have all the bases covered here for maximum appeal to all you fans of pleasantly delivered garage-pop. I think this Ryan Adams guy (no, not that one) is in Jaillll and Goodnight Loving too, and at least one of these bands should be climbing pretty far up the indie-rock ladder. Actually, looks like Jailllll are already on Sub Pop now? Goodnight Loving would be my pick of the bunch, as I think they have the most moxie out of the three. But this isn't really my bag anyway, so what do I know. Midwest Beat do what they do well and have the beards and Byrds records to prove it. Lots of jangle for your buck here, bringing plenty of hooks and harmonies for all you ladies out there. Another could-be contender for Dusty, but I fear they might be a little too diverse for their own good at times...almost sounds like they're trying too hard at the expense of a defining band personality. Pretty damn slick though.(RK)
(Dusty Medical // www.dustymedical.com)
The Moles "Untune The Sky" 2XLP
Well, here's a wonderful reissue that snuck out with little to no fanfare. Aussie pop that sounds closer to home in New Zealand, The Moles were led by Richard Davies (no relation to Ray...or Dave for that matter) throughout the early-to-mid Nineties and gained some acclaim from their US tour (and collaborations) with GBV and Bob Pollard. Even still, for most of us The Moles were a blink-and-you-missed-them-band, with limited vinyl releases on import labels. Honestly, this is the first I've paid attention apart from recognizing the Richard Davies name, and I'm more than pleasantly surprised. Evoking the sounds of The Chills, The Bats and The Clean (in that exact order), it's full of Brian Wilson obsessiveness (in a true and unannoying way, and before it was hipster chic to love the guy), pastoral vibes, fuzzily warm guitars, bubbly organ (and the occassional horn) and catchy Barrett-like pop-sike turns. Moody, slightly melancholic yet ultimately uplifting, much like the best of the Flying Nun flagship pop acts. This 2XLP compiles the "Untune.." LP itself (originally a CD only release I believe), with the second disk tacking on some singles tracks, including "What's The New Mary Jane" that might be recognized by devout Flaming Lips' fans. A beautiful and engaging listen from start-to-finish (both records too) full of gorgeous hooks and lysergic pop. Highly recommended, in particular for fans of current groups mining the NZ sound (The Mantles perhaps?). A sleeper candidate for reissue of the year lists.(RK)
(Kill Shaman // www.killshaman.com)
Moralens Vaktare "Jag Ar Ett Djur" 7"
The most appealing of the recent batch of Swedish bands on Ken Rock, one of the finest labels to ever emerge from Nordic lands. Stefan's been cranking out the vinyl for almost a dozen years and should be commended for his dedication to the "Ken Rock sound", ignoring trends and just steadily releasing trashy rock'n'roll. These guys are pretty punk, without the rawk or pop-punk shit obscuring their target. Sounds sort of Belgian KBD-style - ringing dual guitars, up-tempo and catchy enough to pogo to, well played and they all have long hair, which I like about them for no particular reason. No costumes or ironic image-shit, just punk rock Swedish dudes banging it out for kicks. In the vein of The Kids, or even Lost Kids, maybe (Euro) Chainsaw a little bit, perhaps even The Dogs (France) 'cuz they have some real hooks here. Songs are all in Swedish so I have no idea what they're singing about, but it sounds punk. Great tinny production style, lots of cymbal crash and little-to-no bottom end. Slip these cuts on a Bloodstains comp and people would be freaking out over it, it's that authentically '79-82 sounding. Good stuff.(RK)
(Ken Rock // myspace.kenrockrecords)
Moscow Moscow Moscow "Fans of Stalin Show Your Bottom" 7"
Doesn't every town have their own Communist-themed gag garage band? Buffalo had one for many years called Mockba, who were pretty good for this micorgenre. They had some good schtick and that John Leningrad sure was a crazy fucker. CCCP track suits, a Kommunist Kangaroo gimmick, they really did it well. And Mockba could actually play some great surf-inflected garage. MoscowX3 are a guy-gal two-piece who don't really schtick it up all that well (their best joke appears to be the title of this 7", which is a real groaner) and play it fairly pedestrian throughout. The dude's a good drummer and all, but the guitar playing isn't all that hot and there isn't a hook or even slightly catchy moment to be found here. If you're going to be a joke band, you really gotta go for it. Buying a couple of fur hats at the flea market and making a few bad puns just ain't gonna cut it, especially when you don't have the chops to back it up. Nyet. Scum stats: 500 on yellow vinyl.(RK)
(Eradicator Records // eradicatorrecords.bigcartel.com)
Mother's Children "...That's Who!" LP
Glam-rock/power-pop hybrid action from Ottawa's current kings of swing, riding high off the A-Side of their 7" which was a banga-banga humpa-humper. This thing shimmies and shakes from start to finish, absolutely bursting with exuberant hooks, liberal sprinklings of glitter and power-pop with some actual power. They kick it off in style with the cocksure swagger of "Shaky Sue" and don't let up until the dead wax sends the tonearm home. These kids have the chops to pull this whole thing off, the guitar playing is scalding and the drummer is a beast. Strong vocals which they split three ways and all four of them share the songwriting duties to great effect. Meaning it's chock-full of hits, mixing up the expected Slade/Bolan-style moves with the punk energy of The Kids and the sharp poppiness of The Boys. Other quality points: they don't do any covers, they manage to do their thing without goofy costumes or a schticky gimmick (which is something most Bay Area bands have yet to figure out), every single song is about girls and it's recorded really crisp and loud (which is what an album in this genre requires). Drop the needle anywhere on this thing and get a hook stuck upside your head. I'm not much of a fan of this sound overall, but this shit is done so well it transcends my genre specificity. I think it's mostly because of the fact that while they might be playing in a "lightweight" genre of sorts, they still manage to rock with some balls. Glam-pop doesn't have to sound wimpy, take notes here all you wannabe lo-fi popsters and bubblegum chewers; spend less time worrying about your platform boots and bowlcuts and concentrate on rocking the fuck out like these cats. I give it a month before Burger releases this on cassette. Scum stats: it's on Deranged, so watch out for limited test press versions and other "variations" on eBay...just get the black vinyl, it sounds better.(RK)
(Deranged Records // www.derangedrecords.com)
Much Worse “Proper Execute” EP
Some real hambone hardcore outta Minneapolis, that, like a plethora of high-octane modern ‘80s rehash (Government Warning, Wasted Time) has that golden hue of a genre formulized to perfection and death, but with the sonic knowledge and octave-orgasms of modern H-100s/9 Shox-ushered Chardcore (Sweet Tooth, Straightjacket Nation). Side B’s first cut even rings as a reworked “Mobile Terror Unit” – one of the more reductive/no bullshit hardcore, uh, compositions ever sharted out of this country. And I’d wager there’s no little men with Morrissey t-shirts manning the axe like the first band mentioned. Powerful boondock desperation that, despite not having any of the sloppy musical mishap that makes bands human and relatable and fun to listen to, they’ve perfected a style and it’s worth noting/revering. Pragmatic hardcore for a saturated world. Jerry’s Kids fans take note/acid. Best slab of ‘core I’ve heard since the Dry Rot LP.(BG)
(Pass Judgment Records // www.passjudgmentrecords.com)
The Narcs "I Want Dope, I Want Pussy, I Want All That Shit" EP
True Rotcore sketchballs with their debut 7", long-awaited around these parts. A real WNY treasure, these guys, a cottage industry unto themselves: they all live in a warehouse, manufacture tons of their own merch (shirts, patches, demos, stickers, posters, hats and even skateboards - which they actually produce themsleves - yes, they have their own board press, and a side-venture as the skate company called Moose Knuckle) and run their own showspace there as well. Sort of awe-inspiring when you consider they're also Rotcore hoodlums who you would think couldn't get it together enough to scrape together beer money. They pack ten cuts on this, none more than a minute-and-a-half, lots of skate-rock Cali-ripping, DRI-like irreverent hardcore, and weird stop-start punkers, surprisingly wanky bass and guitar at times, broaching subjects from "Swimmin In Wimmin" to "Nightmare" (about working in a factory) to possible drug anthems like "Slow Coke", finishing with one the finest punk-rock songs to come out of WNY this decade in "I'm Dangerous", which I'm going to tell you physically harms people every time they play it and which any sort of recording will never do justice to the live version of. A local delicacy that still doesn't even hint at how great they are in person. They're one of those bands that I wish the whole world was watching every time I see them, just so people outside of Buffalo and Rotchester would know. Another doomed Rotcore act that no one will fully appreciate, which is both their burden and one of the best things about their strangely insular and self-defeating mindset. I do wish the artwork was better, but these guys are just the types to not do anything the way you wish they would, to the point of self-destruction. Good to see Brett rolling out the Reel Time releases though, I still think and hope there are big things in store for these kids and their scene (if they decide they actually want to sell their records to people outside of WNY), and I'm thrilled to be able to watch it unfold. There are some kids out there who I'm happy will carry the torch into the future, if they even survive to see it...(RK)
(Reel Time Records // BrettM552000-at-yahoo.com)
Nerveskade s/t 12”
Oh man. They started the record with the same soundcheck they did at Chaos (and probably elsewhere) - the guitarists’ bloodcurdling screams welcome you to a world where Lebenden Toten & Atrocious Madness buried the PDX static/fuzz pedal a bit and uncovered their low and mid-range. Fantastic in concept, fantastic in its crushing execution. Really really fast punk designed for the most ADD-addled, string headband-wearing of us, with truly ridiculous artwork ripe for three of noise punk’s favorite games (“Crust Sonic the Hedgehog or cop?”, “How many anarchy circles?” and “Count the penises!”). The drummer is channeling early Napalm Death and later Gauze simultaneously, the whole band is similarly on the brink of losing total control, it’s relentless, ripping, SICK. The version of “Forced to Live” tortures and blows apart the single cut. It’s still noisy, it’s still all over the place, but it’s much fuller than most of their contemporaries. This record wakes me up if I’m sleeping or awake, it scares away animals, it cures a hangover and then induces another, far worse hangover. See them live at all costs - they’re killer and they get at least a million extra points for whatever time machine they built to bring 1982 Bubba Dupree to the future. (NG)
(Black Water // www.blackwaterpdx.com)
Nightgaun s/t 7"
Pretty by-the-numbers Crucifix-courre from some Arizona punks. Nothing too dangerous or exciting, just loud and angry. The production and technique is there, but there's not too much behind it - it's all songs that just don't quite sound finished. "Freakin Out" is the winner of the six. Could be cool in the future, but ain't quite there yet. PS: I think ditching the vocal delay would make this record hit a lot harder…thanks Guille! It spread like the plague.(NG)
(Primitive Future // nightgaun82-at-gmail.com)
Ouija "Tropical Depression" 7"
"Surfy garage punk" says the label. Total bullshit. Nothing surfy here at all. And nothing garage either, unless we're using the definition of "garage" that just means anything that's low-to-medium-fi. This is straight up indie rock poncing about with maybe some folky touches. Guitars are jangly, not twangy, which is really a prerquisite for the surf genre. This sounds more like Sonny & The Sunsets and that whole deal, except these guys are from Florida, not SF. Scum stats: 250 copies.(RK)
(Clandestine Records // clandestinerecords.bigcartel.com)
Outdoorsmen "You And Me And Rock'n'Roll" 7"
More unabashedly non-PC garage-punk action from one of my favorite West Coast acts. They always show a surprising amount of balls and attitude for a Bay Area outfit, carrying the flag fellas like Shane White and Greg Lowery waved in years gone by. Remember when being offensive was actually permissable and even encouraged in this genre? Those were the days... This four song EP shows off their melodic side, busting out some no-frills hooks on both A-Side cuts. Great lyrics too! On the flip "Sun Tan Lotion" has a little bit of a nasty Childish streak, and "Singer in the Band" sounds like a poppy Motards somehow. Another winning entry in the Outdoorsmen catalog, as they wisely changed things up just enough here. Really, I would've liked to have seen them just do an LP instead of three more singles, but I'll take what I can get. Purist garage-punk-fuck like this is a rare bird in these times. The plus side of more singles means we do get three(+) more sleeves to marvel at. This has some of their most tasteful and somehow funniest sleeve art so far (I only see one exposed dong, three and a half breasts, two severed heads and one swastika on this one). And the back design is even better (and is what I hope they have printed on their tour t-shirts). (RK)
(Daggerman Records // www.daggermanrecords.com)
Outdoorsmen "Drunk Driving" 7"
"Drunk Driving" is a cautionary tale about the horrors of DWI and its repercussions. Not really, but it is an insanely stupid and catchily nasty true garage-punk slow cooker that is one of the best they've written. "Dead Meat" on the flipside is a balls-to-the-wall mover and shaker with a wicked guitar blow-out solo. You already know I think this band is great, so I guess I can just stop talking now. Just let me say, all you fonzies and turkeys out there, this one's for you. It should also be noted this is the only Outdoorsmen record so far without tits on the sleeve. They've totally gone PC on this one, the fucking sellouts. Fuck off. Scum stats: 500 total, 100 of them on clear, and 30 or so on a nice transparent pink/purple with blood stained sleeves.(RK)
(Clown College // myspace.com/clowncollegerecords)
The Peep Tempel "Fatboy" 7"
Whitebread faux-blues two-piecer from Melbourne. Slick as shit and corny as all hell. At least it's recorded loud. This guy has a weird accent though, sounds like he could be European which would explain the blooze-rock fixation. Digger & The Pussycats would eat these guys' lunch, which ain't saying much.(RK)
(Arbitrage Records // arbitragerecords.com.au)
Peripherique Est "Demos Vol.2" EP
Second (third?) vinyl appearance from French punk rockers who apparently only record demos. Their self-released "demos" LP was decent and all, but I wasn't as impressed as many. It just sounded exactly like TV Killers in their prime. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it wasn't quite a refreshing blast of punk rock in 2005 or anything. I also think it was a good example of rarity enhancing people's opinions, as no one could get that thing. There were like 100 copies pressed. Hard to believe it came out five years ago...fuck, we've been at this for a long time. Anyway, in 2010 I'm finding this style a bit more enervating at least. "Hey Jack" is the front-running hit. It kinda cribs from the Knots' "Action" a bit, but they turn left instead of right on the chorus. Frantique and killeur with a ripper of a solo. They peel off two burners with lyrics in French after that in the style of all your Belgian/French KBD classics - relentless ringing guitar a la Kids, Dogs, Starshooter, etc...A pretty good and deft replication of that particular vintage. They close up shop with "Marie" which has a little more Gasoline-like punk attitude. These recordings are absolutely not demo quality, they sound studio slick and do achieve a rather ripped guitar sound. I like 'em a bit more this time around, especially "Hey Jack", but it's still nothing to drool over. Absolutely competent and skillful classic punk moves though, you could do a lot worse these days...Scum stats: 500 copies on black with a kraft paper-like inner sleeve for an interesting twist.(RK)
(Rob's House Records // www.robshouserecords.com)
Personal & The Pizzas "Raw Pie" LP
Singles compilation LP from the cash cow that is Personal & The Pizzas. Label spew sez these versions are all "mastered" or "re-mastered" or whatever from the singles/splits/cassettes/8-tracks, plus "studio" versions of two already released cuts. Does pizza-punk really need to be mastered? Or recorded in a studio for that matter? I'll fully admit I enjoy more than a few of these songs, but I've also never seen this schtick live, which I can imagine might dull the experience a little after the first guffaw. But one can't help but like stupid Stooges and Ramones parodies/tributes done as well "I Can Reed", "Tearjerker", "Brass Knuckles" or "I Don't Wanna Be..". I'm not going to lie about enjoying something this intentionally schticky and well, stupid. It's the same conceit that allows one to enjoy The Spits or The Mummies when you think about it. Nothing wrong with that. The disturbing thing about this release is that there are 500+ people who are willing to buy the same shit not just once, but up to four different times. It's silly to complain about it, but doesn't this sort of shenanigans devalue the music more than a bit? It just makes it all seem so disposable. And maybe it is. I guess the New Bomb Turks or Billy Childish followed the same template to an extent - release a shitload of singles, then comp them all somehwere along the line or slip them onto full-lengths or whatever. But it didn't seem so tossed off in those cases. I don't blame Personal and his boys for this at all, and I'm sure there's no conspiracy here, but just in general, I think we all need to think about this shit a little more. How am I supposed to care about some of this crap? It's more than a little insulting if I think about it for too long. Best thing I learned from this LP = Personal smokes Newports, a man of impeccable taste. Worst thing about this record = I hate to say the words "vinyl glut", but I'm just sayin...also, I love Ben Lyon's work as a whole, but this thing would've looked sweet with the art from the Raw Pie tape blown up to LP size. Scum stats: I'm not playing along with this one.(RK)
(1234 Go! // www.1234gorecords.com)
Personal & The Pizzas "I Want You" 7"
Personal & The Pies soldier on regardless of all negative pizza-rock novelty band stereotypes thrown at them. Hey, these guys are from Jersey, they're used to having garbage thrown at them, right? Hey-yo! "I Want You" is slowdance love songing a la "Swallow My Pride". B-Side has two, a cretinous lo-fi stomp about not trusting "Party Boys" with a less cheezed-out vocal than normal and someone pressing some random keys on an organ for a solo-oh-oh, and the unlisted "I Don't Wanna Think About It", another heavily emotional semi-acoustic handclapper with a watery yacht-guitar solo. Par for the mini-golf course here, except there are no songs actually about pizza?!(RK)
(Trouble In Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Pheromoans "Midnight Watchdog" EP
Pheromoans fire their latest volley against Hygiene in their death-battle for most invigorating current UK outfit. They've certainly got the whole shambolic thing nailed down here, A-Side has two of that variety with vocals done up in a weirdly whispered falsetto style, and a worthwhile modern extension of the Smith/Wallers root of post-punk. "Robotic Son" being more Fall, "Sussex Tomb" bringing the country tease. My favorite part of Pheromans' records somehow ends up being the spoken word cut, and "Midnight Watchdog" is their best version of the formula so far with some lovely instrumentation and a ready-for-sampling drum break providing a palette for the missive. There's a short bit at the end that I think is the sign-on/off "jingle" for the CBC, in a fitting nod to the Canadian label releasing this. Really, Pheromoans and Sweet Rot were destined to be together at some point. Tension is building for the LP soon to be forthcoming on Convulsive, with which I think they could put Hygiene away once and for all with. War on the terraces, mates. Comes in the usual high-quality textured-paper Sweet Rot sleeve.(RK)
(Sweet Rot Records // myspace.com/sweetrotrecords)
Pluton s/t 12" EP
Quite simply the best French record released this year not made by Feeling of Love. A trio with FX from Splash Four/Volt/Immaterial on the axe (and theremin in a few spots), English vocals and organ from another Guillame (not FoL's G.) and a Sylvain on the kit. Weird-garage that sounds like Cheveu battling it out with The Intelligence. "Ain't On Time" is a rocquer with heavy and meaty breaks, "Love Meets The Gun" is a theremin-laced outerspace instrumental and "Cutting Edge" is lightspeed punque rock with big rhythm guitar-line, a swinging solo and monster hook. Best cut, that one right there. "Disto Cheap" opens side two sounding like the best of The Cheeraks, "Self Confident" Falls into an angular pattern, post-rock'n'roll like a French Pheromoans, and "Forgiven Not Forgotten" puts the organ out front for a rolling Crash Normal-style crusher. So yeah, one of the more solid efforts from France recently, especially the A-Side threesome.(RK)
(Plastic Spoons Records // plasticspoonsrecords.bigcartel.com)
Prosthetics "Bad Intentions" LP
Hardcore thrash-punk from some dirtbags out of Tempe, Arizona. Ten tracks playing at 45rpm for maximum density and smashitude. Not wacky thrash either. A more straight-forward version of Annihilation Time maybe, with less quality guitar solos. Definite metal-punk action, think initials like DRI, MOD or SOD - without the jokes though. These guys are serious business, even if they're singing about "Tripping Balls" or "Skullfuck". "Reefer Madness" and a couple others touch on Inepsy-like Motorhead worship. The twin guitar riffage is mastered loud by the mighty Jack Control and the singer has a good yell that's tough enough for the material. Dirty sounds if you can handle the thrash.(RK)
(self-released // www.prostheticsaz.com)
Psycho s/t 7"
Old guys from Boston that used to play with GG reunite to play scum-punk. Surprise! What the fuck is going on with near-retirees in Boston? Boring songs, near-Woodsist level of shit illustration on the front, and painfully "controversial" lyrics that only work with highly exaggerated Swedish accents. We're all firm opponents of die-cut serrated saw blade edges on records, but once again it proves to be a helpful indicator of the bland and straightforward music contained within. They do get some points for the press sheet's smarmy dig at Municipal Waste and "marketing points": ("Shaped vinyl is very appealing to collectors"). If you're into 'Hated in the Nation' enough or you're enough of an Allin completist to know who these guys are, you could probably get down with this. (NG)
(Patac Records // www.patacrecords.com)
Puffy Areolas "Rock'n'Roll Express" 7"
I'm a mark for Eighties wrestling references, and Puffys slip one in here rather cleverly. You can namedrop one of the most electrifying tag teams of all-time and not have to sound like a goofy punk band ala Foreign Objects or whatever. So, titular cut is outer-space warp driving via mind-bending laser sound effects with Krauty playing Ricky Morton and just getting beaten up by the freighter class starship drum-n-bass propulsion and anti-matter guitar drone. Culminates in a dogfight that the drummer ends up winning. B-Side has a loping thug-punker in "$200 Jeans" wherein Capt. Krauty does battle with the SS Primo Scree once again, and an action-rock atomic drop in "Teen Scene Cream" that allows Dusty some room to bass it up while the drummer puts on another clinic. And Krauty does some more yelling. With echo. Hey, I love the formula and they sure as hell haven't broken it yet. Prescription meds psych-rock. Scum stats: not sure on the number, but there's a tour/SXSW sleeve variant that differs from the "regular" version with acetate foldover design (that looks like it might be Jimmy Garvin vs. Kevin Von Erich).(RK)
(Die Stasi Records // myspace.com/diestasi)
Purling Hiss "Hissteria" LP
Second LP worth of fried effects pedals and smokescreen bluesrock with wads of goopy psychedelics mucking things up wonderfully. Purling Hiss is the project of Birds of Maya guitar wizard Mike Polizze and 'Hissteria' doesn;t sound to far off in spirit from 'Ready to Howl'. Sexual guitar fuzz feeding barbiturate-laced rhythms which ebb and flow from Stooge-ian stumblebumming to Blue Cheer whack-offs. Dangerous riffs swing from the rafters while Polizze blitzes them with acid-trip peak solos, machine-gun style guitar mania going off in all directions. It's over the top, it's wanky, it's excessive, it's great. On "Whipple Dam" (which is just a mega-riff set on repeat, propped up by a sanctified drum rhythm and given repeated coatings of Peter North-like guitar splooge) he even uses his "vox" to add an extra layer of psych dynamics. Pretty relentless. That's just Side One. Side Two opens with a mobile monolith with big-muffed vox and a drive that could inspire thoughts of some dude cruising a Trans Am through some volcanic landscape Heavy Metal (the movie) style. FUCKING MOLTEN, that's what I'm saying. Second song sounds like T.Rex drowned in Nyquil for more than a few moments. A more immediate listen than the first Hiss LP, this one makes for a fulfilling second (or third) course to the Birds' mega-jamming 2XLP opus. As I said earlier, it's total guitar-burn overkill, but tastily so. Recommended.(RK)
(Richie Records // testostertunes.blogspot.com)
Quest for Fire s/t LP
Firstly, please don't get this band confused with the Quest for Fire from Toronto, who are a "psych-rock" band on Tee Pee with a couple ex-Deadly Snakes in the line-up. This Quest for Fire are from Milwaukee and are a hardcore band with an ex-Catholic Boy. I've heard a lot about QFF, as those Wisconsonians are happy to talk up their local heroes and make with the scuttlebut, and they've been given some "best band" accolades by many cheeseheads (much like the Mystery Girls and The Kind of Jazz Music That Kills and Pink Reason had before anyone outside of Milwaukee County had ever heard them). So, yeah, I'm interested as I've always put faith in Wisconsin, and they're right most of the time, even if the place seems to be going to pot with all the folk-rock and power-pop these days...but enough about me. This record could easily get the overused adjective "sick" applied to it, or go in the "bloody little ripper" file, and it wouldn't be unfitting. The centerpiece here is obviously Eric Apnea's drumming, which is just fucking lightspeed on this. One of the best recorded documents of his ability. I'll never understand how he can play so fast. Best drummer in the world aside from maybe the guy from Human Eye. Thankfully the rest of the band is adept enough to keep up. The aesthetic here is weird hardcore, with a base coat of thrash-n-burn, some grindy blastbeating, even throwing up some straight up metal licks and stoner riff breakdowns. Schizophrenic in the good way, meaning nothing seems out of place or forced in. When they segue from sounding like Napalm Death to The Fix to Nuclear Assault it actually sounds natural. Thematically, I think the songs basically deal with drugs and eldritch Lovecraftian things. Wacky. Guitar playing is as technically proficient as the drumming with clean tone, well-crafted solos and plenty of chugga-chugga to go along with the frantic hardcore blaze. Lots of seamless gear-shifting going on. The only fault I might find is in the vocals, which are of the growly/throaty variety that often bugs me about the grindier end of the hardcore spectrum, but they're fitting for the music though. How else are you going to sing along to this? A perfect record for stoners into hardcore and hardcore stoners. Scum stats: 500 copies with a great lysergic front cover drawing.(RK)
(HS!BF Records // www.hsbfrecords.com)
Quintron "Ring the Alarm" 7"
Mr. Quintron. You certainly know him and you can't help but love him. The fourth Oblivian, inventor of the Drum Buddy, overlord of the Spellcaster Lounge, partner/paramour of Miss Pussycat, NOLA legend. He's (not so) quietly been at if for decades, weaving a unique sound combining everything from gospel to dance/techno to swampbeat to garage and anything else that strikes his fancy. Remember when he was on the Bulb roster? Shit. "Ring the Alarm" has Q creating the "Swamp-Tech" genre, sort of like a hillbillified arrangement of some dance-phenom hit packed with organ, xylophone lines, church bell samples and singalong lyrics. "Jamskate", which I believe was released on an EP previous, is just what it sounds like - a popcorn organ cut for group skate at your local rink. Turn on the disco lights and lace 'em up. For fans of the Macarena and puppet shows. Scum stats: 400 copies on black, 100 Euro Tour editions on yellow vinyl.(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
The Reactionaries "1979" LP
Archival material from this San Pedro-centric new label. As we all know, Reactionaries were the pre-Minutemen band of George, D. and Mike, during which they had a lead singer (Martin Tamburovich) and played only a few gigs before D. quit and the main trio ended up back together as the band we all love a few months later. I'd never heard any Reactionairies stuff before this, and it's surprisingly listenable Cali-punk for the time, carried by Boon's then still-growing guitar heroics and this Martin guy has a decent punk voice. Certainly just as good as many of the lesser Masque bands, upbeat punk with pretty bold hooks and anthemic choruses. Watt is playing his heart out and wrote all the songs too, a lot of which became Minutemen material. Ten tracks recorded in the practice shack with good enough quality. Better than I thought it would be, lets put it that way.And that's the A-Side. The B-Side of this is all ten tracks from the A-Side, as covered by various San Pedro musicians in various formations. Jack Brewer, Joe Baiza and Dukowski are the big names (along with Watt and Hurley themselves) alongside other Sac Trust members, and youngsters from FYP, Toys That Kill and other bands popular with the Razorcake demographic. It's a novel idea, and I guess it works okay, even better if you're a fan of these bands, or especially if you're part of the San Pedro scene. I'll probably never ever flip this over from the Reactionaries side again. It is a nice way to fill up a reissue LP when you don't have enough material. So, overall, The Reactionaries side is good enough to stand on it's own, the liner notes from Joe Carducci are fantastic and there are a few cool pics on the back sleeve. Minutemen super-fans will find interest in the history of the songs here, perhaps if you're writing a thesis on the evolution of "Tony Gets Wasted...".(RK)
(45 RPM Records // 45rpmrecords.bigcartel.com)
Red Mass “Split Brain Experiment” 10”
A lesser band would have worn out their welcome by now, but I have no problem with this Choyce onslaught. The shock of it all is how varied the end products are, yet the quality continues to ride so high. It seems light years ahead of anyone else as prolific these days. Even the tracks they press that I don’t like or I just can’t grasp (there’s been a few…a smidge) have never stopped me from plunking down for their next platter. This three inch overgrown single is probably my fave of the past few…dozen or so…RM releases. File this in the “Adventurous” section of yer Expedit©. 'Split Brain...'s four songs snake along in their own repetitive rhythmic wizardry, slowly working towards the dark and apocalyptic t-t-tension release that melts the wax on the side two finale. The title cut shows that a Fifties greaser ballad can have more in common with, say Devo (think "Gut Feeling") than I ever realized. A dreamy little number for the hallucinating mind. "Blood" pings along in a sputtered epileptic odyssey that jerks about uncomfortably but never quite makes lift off. Wait for it…wait for it…nope. Tease. More sparse pulse pounding with an occasional slicing guitar lead to shut the side down. Juicy appetizers. If the A side was the mood builder/slow jerk, the flipside is where it pops off. "Pigs" is the nasty number that has Roy spewin’ derelict street-preacher Manson-rants over some off kilter tribal riddims. Jamie Easter and the Neu Wyrd Dee-troit (which isn’t that new anymore, but still just as great) aren’t far removed from this Montréal born bloodbath. If’n you had a hard-on for the later Piranhas and their family tree, or the recent Timmy’s Organism shenanigans, yer in for a pleasant shock/surprise. Shit gets squirrelly when the fugged up ton o’noise frazzles the speakers within this two minute soundscape. The final track is the “rocker”. Smacking its lips of salty proto-punk, acidic metal and BFTGarage, "End Of The World" is the most str8 foreword basher on the wax…and that’s not saying it still don’t get nuts. A total meltdown wraps it up with what sounds like a sax player continuing his dirge thru a burning studio fire. Dante’s Inferno. Tormented souls screaming for a way out as the last groove rolls on. A nice companion piece to the "Guns" track on that Scars cassette. That was an ugly mean-spirited downer. Well worth the price of admission. 500 copies exist. I guess there was a red vinyl version of 100 too. Damn. Someone else can review the Florida’s Dying record. I’m running out of gushing expletives...(RSF)
(Rococo Records // www.rococorecords.com)
Red Mass s/t 12"
Regrettably, I just gave up on Red Mass about a half-dozen releases ago. I pick them up when I see them, but Roy's moving at such an accelerated pace I just can't keep up to date, and honestly, with as many releases as he has behind him already, you have to imagine the quality control just isn't there. Rabid fans have told me otherwise, but unless you are just that (i.e. boo-boo nutty for this band), it's difficult to be a casual fan and know where to jump in (and out) of the pool. All that said, I do think Roy is an extremely talented dude, and a guy who perhaps gets overshadowed somewhat by more popular Montreal peers like Khan, Sultan and Demon's Claws. This 12" opens with a good'un (thankfully) in the intense lo-fi rocker "Blackeye", that dips into the uncomfortable recesses in Roy's mind that he often visits. It's got a drone-tempo that hooks you in, eerie vox from the man himself and a pretty incredible backwards harmonica solo to blow it all up at the end. Things completely shift gears to an electro doo wop collaboration complete with a Work With Me Annie appearance(!) and some help from Bloodshot Bill, and ends with an average Spits-ish punker. Side B starts with a simple duet between Roy and what I'm guessing is his woman (Hannah Lewis), and it's uh...almost cute. "Hurt Me" appears next and is a cool Spacshits-esque punker with Dorito Dan, "Nightcrawlers" offers a garage-psych romp with the guys from Ultrathin that has some entertaining backwards guitars/keys and vocal effects. It's the most fun cut here, especially when the trip goes bad towards the end. The closer is another collab with Hannah called "Let's Grow Old Together", a straight soul crooner. Ehhhh. Sentimental and all, but I'm not here for that. A completely schizo and somewhat frustrating record. A couple of quite well done and deep-hitting cuts, a couple toss offs and more than a few moments of self-indulgence. I understand the eclectic and elastic nature of this project is what makes it intriguing, but it's also what makes it so difficult to stay involved with over a whole record. The high points do soar, but there's also too much middle ground to tread that saps your energy. I know I sound redundant, but some editing would do wonders, and perhaps releasing some cohesive full lengths would help the hesitant listener to get involved. I know there are plenty of people who want to get into this, but Roy's making it difficult. Perhaps that's his mission. Wouldn't surprise me. I'm going to listen to "Blackeye" again and then put it away...(RK)
(Florida's Dying // www.floridasdying.com)
Red Red Red "New Action" LP/CD
The debut Red Red Red LP was an absolute monster, one of the best LPs to come from modern-age Detroit, right up there with Cloney D's and Piranhas "Attack", which is saying a lot. Yet the band never received the acclaim they rightfully deserved, probably due to sporadic live shows and a lack of touring/self-promotion outside Detroit and Buffalo. Ryan put the band on hiatus for a spell (and did a stint in early Druid Perfume), and now he's turned his attention back to RRR with a changed line-up and a new record. The velocity has been toned down some, but it probably would have been impossible to replicate the speed of the first LP anyway. That thing was so fast it seemed like it was gonna fly right off the turntable when it really got going. The title cut kicks things off with a righteous display of guitar riffing and soloing. Raw power for real that continues throughout, full of chunky punk jammers with an abundance of balls and ugly guitar sounds. Some off-kilter deconstructed angles keep you guessing and Ryan blasts the sax on quite a few cuts to give added charisma. "Regeneration" is a weird-punk shit-stomper and "Negative Reaction" replicates the near-hardcore minute-and-a-half fury of "Disconnected". There are a few lengthier "jams" that approach Vulgarian out-sound exploration like "Coming Down", with more of a metallic undercoat though. I almost wish there was sax on every tune. "Can You Be Trusted" sounds like DC post-hardcore given some blood and guts. An outstanding guitar-centric punk rock elpee. Kudos to Bart for releasing this, as I think he had a couple of transitional years there where Big Neck was struggling to find/keep its identity with the dissolution of most of its flagship acts and a real lack of new bands that were running with the rough-n-tumble ethos that the label was built upon. I think this record really brings the "Big Neck Sound" into a new era and hope that Bart continues to run strong into another decade, as I think the underground needs more of the no-nonsense rock'n'roll he's always provided us with.(RK)
(Big Neck Records // www.bigneckrecords.com)
Retconned "High And Rising" 7"
Minimal-synth moves with a bad attitude from down South. Fucking dry ice. Sneering vox show contempt for something...I get the impression this guy doesn't like much. Thick synth sounds sequenced for maximum passive agression and having a nasty semi-industrial vibe. Analog beep-boop-blip and stretched-out drone-tones. A real bedroom Trent Reznor without the eroticism and pretty tuff-sounding for synthfoolery. Has a real apocalyptic and angrily paranoid vibe. At least he's mad about something.(RK)
(Army of Bad Luck // www.armyofbadluck.com)
Revilers s/t 7"
Some Boston street hardcore punk dudes playing Boston street hardcore punk exactly like other Boston street hardcore punk. The formula recently re-brewed by The Trouble, et al. Drinkin. Fightin. Guffawin. It's executed well enough, and, uh, tougher than the Dropkick Murphys, but it still smells like the streets are about to run red with Sam Adams.(NG)
(Patac Records // www.patacrecords.com)
Rise Up Howlin Werewolf "Michelle" 7"
Southern cookin' from an ex-Quadrajet/Wednesday, based out of the legendary music town of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Not as bluesy and broken as you'd expect from the name and credentials. "Michelle" is a soulful depresso-rocker built on a whiny Farfisa and some emotive drum work. Vox sound slightly Cartwrightian, with some added edge and reverb. But you know me, I'm always a B-Side guy, and "I Cry For Commercials" is my preference here - a sly garage cooker with more some powerful drive and organ grinding. Short and sweet. A neat little record, housed in only a green dust sleeve.(RK)
(Black Owl Radio // thewednesday-at-hotmail.com)
Running s/t 12"
Putting a sticker on the sleeve comparing yourslef to "Clockcleaner on speed" is a rather ostentatious way to begin a relationship with prospective listeners. I entered the 12" with a weird feeling, to be sure. Running hail from Chicago, and for some reason I like their name conceptually, even if it does elicit some "arty" vibes...you know, fast-paced action rock back uses a verb for a name kinda schtick. Jeez, I'm really throwing the book at these guys already...they don't come out of this too bad though, even if they sound more like Francis Harold fronting the Mayyors on...meth or whatever...instead of the sticker blurb I mentioned earlier. They certainly try to pair up velocity with today's popular digital delay effects set to stun on both the vox and guitar. It goes by in a blur. It sounds "right" for a punishing and fast punk band of today. The thing it is lacking is a bit of drama or personality, which is what really makes a band like Clockcleaner something to aspire to, not just the sounds they used as a vehicle. And just to be a little more fair to Running, when you decide to play it this fast and pounding, you do have to sacrifice something. Scum stats: there's a crazy limited edition of this with silscreens and woodcuts and colored vinyl and other fancy things, total press is 500.(RK)
(Permanent Records // www.permanentrecordschicago.com)
San Francisco Water Cooler "II" LP
I don't even know what to say about this one. I listen to this and feel like I'm seeing the aftermath of a tornado or explosion in some art-hippie's loft workshop - just shit strewn about everywhere and I'm trying to make some sort of sense of where everything is and what happened. I guess it reminds me more than a bit of Sic Alps in many ways - hippie bullshit reverb folk songs and "whimsical" sonic experiments that make me pray for actual rock songs to appear. And they do on more than one occassion. "The Desert Waits Outside" gets off on the good foot with a jammy inner-to-outer space treble-psych starblazer and "Reverie" is a fuzzy garage-popper obscured by a haze of weedsmoke. Then there's four tracks of mediocre filler surrounding them. The B-Side at least has more longer tunes, but the whiny vocals just start bumming me out at this point and the last song on this is some accordion hippie-folk bullshit. Sometimes I want to say this is what the Dead would sound like if they were a mediocre shitgaze band, sometimes I just want to say they should keep records like this on the other side of the Rockies. Vapid West Coast balogna.(RK)
(Sun Sneeze Records // myspace.com/sanfranciscowatercooler)
Scorpion Violente "Uberschleiss" LP
These noise guys certainly know how to come up with killer sleeve art. Looks great. Sounds synthy. SV are what Brainbombs would sound and look like if they were sleazy French disco-douchebags instead of Swedish accountants. Intentionally skeezy lyrics ("You smell like my sister.."?!) and song titles ("The Cherrypopper") play into the fetish-sex imagery and deadpan sketchball vox. An interesting array of synth sounds/loops, a good portion could be the action theme to a scrolling video game, like Castlevania with real whips and ball-gags and gimps instead of vampires. Well, maybe some vampires too actually. Keys sound fittingly dirty and damaged, manages to feel rather un-slick for all digital instrumentation. Lots of wet echo on the drumbox, you can almost feel the coital sweat spraying. Gross. The soundtrack to your next dungeon dance party.(RK)
(Avant Records // myspace.com/avantrecords)
Serious Tracers "Demo" EP
Seven song demo tape committed to vinyl from this Austin, TX garage-punk act. Pretty damn likeable, sounding like The Drags gone weird-punk a bit, traditional mid-fi guitar twang with off-kilter rhythms and broken structures. "The French" gets a little bit zany, but rolls along with CJ/Lorca-like gusto, "Cocaine Island" sounds weird Detroit-y, "Attack of Technology" or "Rock and Roll Fucker" could be some of the missing links in the chain connecting The Fells and Tyvek. Not something that's absolutely amazing, don't let my hyperbole get you too dazzled here, but it's a crafty little demo-thing that shows you can still play garage-punk with some style these days and I'd like to see where these guys (and gal) take this thing. If you can sound somewhat like The Drags and not fall totally flat on your face shows you have a little something worth talking about.(RK)
(Sick Thought Records // myspace.com/serioustracers)
Sex Church "6 Songs By..." LP
Made up of parts of some of the better acts to have emanated from Vancouver recently (Ladies Night, Defektors, Vapid, Modern Creatures) plus Wisconsin expatriate and secret weapon Nickg on bass (ex-Catholic Boy, Tear, Master Ape and more), Sex Church have proven themselves one of the brighter lights of 2010's rookie class. This LP review is months overdue, but the fact that it's stayed in the constant rotation pile next to the tuntable and hasn't yet been filed for at least half a year should speak volumes considering the massive amount of releases to make their way down the pike since this was released over the summer. Guitar rock'n'roll taking Spacemen 3 psych and krautrock drone as a starting point and adding touches of modern garage-rock (there's a certain Slicks-y downtroddeness) to make a mean half-dozen epics that really exemplify the quality-over-quantity paradigm. "Mistaken" might be the best song for night-time driving made this year. Tracks like "Old Enough" and "Not Anymore" and their dark and somewhat Western sounding blood-on-the-strings quality give some credence to the gothy Gun Club comparisons lobbed at them (and that's a good thing in my book). "Ghost" sounds swirlingly proto-punk and "The Floor" wonderfully drags a hazy VU-like magnificence into modern times without sounding at all textbook. A definite contender for best-of-the-year lists, and for me, Sex Church are one of the bands I point to when people try to say there's no good modern music anymore. 500 copies that I would hope are sold out by now.(RK)
(Convulsive Records // convulsiverecords.tumblr.com)
Sexdrome “Grown Younger” 12” EP
Coming back atcha with more shit I know very little about. Sue me. So what if I hit all the wrong points of reference. I dig it. It’s still a good review. Deal.
I ordered this to pad out my package along with that Arts LP, knowing that there’s a whole lot of “snooze-you-loose” over in that Youth Attack death camp. Not a regrettable purchase, after all. Danish dudes that stir together a whole lotta influences, mish-mashing ‘em all into a heady, hateful brew. If you could take the Crass family punk styling, early Neurosis and doom band eviltude, real (see: non-progressive) Shit-Fi metal and even some Cle-punk abrupt ear damage…then bury it in noise rock thuggishness…you’d get a bandaged mess like the cover depicts. Simple repetitive sludge and crunch that’ll crash against an art punk/black metal hybrid moment with very little or no warning. Some of it (due to recording technique, I believe) makes me feel like it’s just vocals and guitar attacking me from my smoldering speakers. Militant marching drums ping and pop up to give it the industrial SPK vibe. Once it wears you down, shit slows to a syrupy crawl adding a little Upside Down Cross sugar to the cake batter. Vocals are of the shouted whisper variant; vacuum locked on the “reverse-suck” setting. Odd little breed. Glad to own it, but it can take a lot out of ya in one sitting. Fills me with the urge to curl up in the shower stall and cry. Stop this abuse, ladies. Again, Youth Attack’s sharp and intense packaging wraps it up. Thick tip-on sleeve and a big-ass book, full of nasty S&M imagery to piss off those BCO kids. My mom don’t mind, why should you? The blogpost generation has latched on to this release like blood hungry leeches, so if’n ya can’t find the OOP vinyl; the tracks are all over the fool place waiting for the download. Have at it.(RSF)
(Youth Attack// www.ihateyouthattack.com)
Simple Circuit "Boarded Up Houses" 7"
More Austin rock action from Super Secret, this being Simple Circuit's sophomore single and I swear all the alliteration there was by accident. Like any Austin band, it has an ex-Inahalant (Lisa R.)...I kid. Well, not about the Lisa being in The Inhalants part. I have no idea what bands the other dudes were in. Title cut is personable mid-tempo indie-rock with a little New Wavey beeping on the chorus and a nice guitar hook. Reminds me somewhat of Blank-Its. Good song. B-Side is "Moon Druggies" which isn't quite as fetching as the A-Side, but it's slightly above average garage-pop that recalls The Pets. Not too shabby for an Austin outfit and again, I'm thankful they aren't playing rehash garage-punk-rawk. Scum stats: 300 copies, 100 on white wax.(RK)
(Super Secret Records // www.supersecretrecords.com)
The Sleaze "PCP" 7"
The finest punk band of the Twin Cities offer up two songs of juvenile-delinquent punkrock. "Crush" sounds like a better mannered Shoot It Up with a goofy spoken word bit. I don't remember this kids' vox being so quacky before, but it's dumb and great. "PCP" may rival their previous smash hit "Smokin' Fucking Cigs" as their defining number. Sheer stupidity that I give a Christgauian A-. Scum stats: 300 pressed, hand-stamped dust sleeves, 100 copies are part of the interlocking Ben Lyon "quad-tych" artwork variant. Collect them all!(RK)
(Leather Bar Records // myspace.com/leatherbarrecords)
Sloa Knivar "Hemmakvalls Massakern" EP
Hammer-down rawking from some Swedes. Pretty beefy stuff, like a very heavy metal Turbonegro or Gluecifer. They do have a song about sailors. Really loud and riffy, hoarse shoutalong choruses, I can't believe this is a girl singing, because by the sounds of it she must be one scary broad. Four songs of Scando-rock that should have come out in the late Nineties on Man's Ruin or Bad Afro.(RK)
(Ken Rock Records // myspace.com/kenrockrecords)
Son Skull "Birth Scene/Rewind" 12" EP
Olympia, WA is not the first place anyone is going to think of when it comes to good modern hardcore. But look what they done did here. Female-fronted 'core though, okay I see the catch. This is going to be some riot-grrrl shit, right? These people look sort of hippies too, probably something folky in here...sure that's what I was thinking. Pretty much wrong on all accounts. The lyrics might deal with a little bit of gender-ish stuff, but not overbearingly so. She's got the hardcore yell nailed though, forceful and not shrill, no screamy caterwauling ruining the party or anything. Really, the vox have more personality than a lot of dudes in this genre these days. Musically, it's certainly hardcore punk, not land speed record setting but dynamically mid-tempo and heavy for the majority. "Boston Girls" is pretty hot riffer. "Ryan & Crystal" goes off on a more SY guitar-rock tangent like their scene peers Gun Outfit. "Perennial Death" is the anthem of the EP, "Housing" actually does go for the landspeed record with a righteous breakdown and gonzo guitar squelch. Overall a great mix of juvenile punk-core and adult guitar noise that does certainly sound Northwestern in some intangible way. It's the woods, perhaps, giving spirit to the music. How's that for some jive hippie shit? Being the disgusting sexist that I am, I'm usually not a fan of female-fronted punk, but this young lady does a fine job. I'm a fan. Lots of exciting things coming out of Olympia and from Perennial Recs, and as good as Son Skull are, they're just the tip of the 'berg here.(RK)
(Perennial Records // www.perennialdeath.com)
Sotatila "Vituiks Meni" 7"
Havoc Records returns from a brief hiatus with the second EP from a group of heavily talented Finnish/Austrian punks. The singer Jukka plays drums in the still-kicking Riistetyt now as well (who still play with their original singer, Finland's #1 Bret Michaels impersonator) and recorded this right before they came stateside, I believe. The nightmare continues: they throw the Mellakka approach sideways on top of the Death Side style of devastation - the last song on the A-side, "Miks Sä Elät?" (why are you alive?), does wonders with that fantastic Muka-chin chunk-beat. Full, relentless, and barreling, this is my favorite release of theirs so far. Recording is spot-on. The leads cut in perfectly, the drums are exactly as thunderous as they ought to be, there are some great female backing vocals… This is hardcore devotee's hardcore by design, but it certainly inspires the all-important mindless drunk raging that everyone wants. Killer platter. Felix Von is back full-force - I believe his next two releases are (really) 'WHY' and 'Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing', so get this before his catalog is cleaned out by closet punks the world over. (NG)
(Havoc Records // www.havocrex.com)
Sugar Stems "Sweet Sounds of..." LP
Oh, this sure is sweet and sugary, by gosh. Summery power-pop with strong female vocals from an ex-Flip(s?) with a slight garage bite that keeps the songs from falling into silly confection, perhaps due to the pull of an ex-Leg Hound on guitar and a Catholic Boy/Teenage Reject on drums. Fourteen well performed and written tracks that rock more often than not, and I enjoy the fact the don't really do any "slow jams" and keep the tempos tight. There are a couple of tonky numbers and some rockabilly guitar outbursts, Drew Leghound sings/harmonizes here and there as well but the girls keep the vox sweet and lovely for the majority of the tracks. Produced crisp and loud by Justin Perkins, WI engineer of choice these days for good reason. Certainly well done for the genre and free of the schticky shenanigans many West Coast practicioners of this style fall victim to. A solidly built record that should have wide appeal even outside of the Termbo demographic. Dusty Medical's latest slate of releases could have him holding a big hit with some good luck and the right breaks. Lets hope it's Drugs Dragons...but seriously, this thing could really have some mainstream potential. I'm also shocked there isn't a candy apple flavored color vinyl version of this.(RK)
(Dusty Medical // www.dustymedical.com)
Teargas s/t 7”
Ripping punk in the Burning Spirits vogue from the land down under. Serrated, sick, rusty vocals. Huge guitars. Wordy lyrics that would fit appropriately on a weird Japanese-English translation sheet… Most of this, especially the first riff in “The Mirror Stares Also” could be straight outta 'Bet on the Possibility', but it’s not really derivative… Just catchy, excellent songs. Drummer is a hurricane. Wonderful execution, I think this is the first release on Yeap’s Hardcore Victim label - a winner for sure. The cover art is slightly catty-wompus, but what can you do? Shoulda stuck with the Lip Cream teargas canister from their previous release(s?), it’s a <100 copy lathe cutting or something. Additional praise for the best annoying locked groove since the Busy Signals. (NG)
(Hardcore Victim // dbeat_holocaust-at-yahoo.com)
Teenage Moods "Sugar Band" 7"
Oddball little 7" from a Twin Cities group I'd never heard of before. Teenage Moods sound young and full of promise and "Sugar Band" has a quaint UK pop sound in a playfully twee-ish Pooh Sticks manner. Simply played, innocently catchy and just a little endearingly rough around the edges. "Flower Hunting" is more on the lullingly strummy indie-pop side, very day dreamy in a way that pleasantly and warmly washes over you. Not much info available on band or label, sleeves have a homemade look and the labels remind me of the green ones on a few Raw Records singles. Quite charming and I'm going to assume quite limited.(RK)
(Salvaged Production // myspace.com/teenagemoods)
Jorgen Teller & the Empty Stairs s/t LP
A whole lotta sprawling improv guitar and psych-jazz jizz on this, all recorded live. Sometimes it gets a good pounder rolling on but often it looses me in its confused meanderings. Believe you me…this is a jazz record. The second side esp. will let ya know. Skronk-n-wonk of a less focused or unscripted Chatham? The Gordons getting lost in a haze, stumbling about and losing their pop hooks. All that and the vocal mic don’t work….Chris Corsano goes a-pounding, teaming up with Mingus and Thurston more. Who the hell truly knows, but it is squawking like a goose in heat. A trio of Denmark scene vets/room clearers who probably are a blast live from what I can tell. As the pieces continue thru uncertain travels, they hit an almost Branca/Sightings abrasive stride…only to collapse in sonic shards of dust n debris. When it cooks it cooks. I just have a hard time getting past simmer. There’s quite an attack for those brave enuff to stick it out til the ends of the tracks. Better be open minded and not looking for some power pop poofsterism, I reckon.(RSF)
(Mastermind Recordings // myspace.com/mastermindrecord)
This Heart Electric "Polar" 7"
This Heart Electric is Miami native Ricardo Guerrero composing/recording everything himself, but taking a more interesting approach than many bedroom recorders of the modern era. Meaning he's not reliant on the lazy echoed vocals and lo-fi fuzz many recent "artists" have floundered about in. "Polar" is a strange little British electro-pop tune with impeccably dramatic vocals and some exotically flavored percussion. Wonderfully evocative of neon beach night-life somehow. "Nowhere To Run..." has a slightly futuristic bent, but he brings the weird levels up with some falsetto vocal stylings that start as girls murmuring and increase in volume after an abrupt pause where he starts in with the high pitched warbling himself. Lots of background chatter and bleeping, I swear I hear the Vincent Price laugh from Thriller sampled in the mix somewhere in there and it's all suspended in a determined and bossy motorik beat. A rather fascinating little record that reminds me slightly of a classier and dancier Pink Noise.(RK)
(Die Stasi Records // myspace.com/diestasi)
Anders Thode "Emma Eckstein's Nose Job" 7"
The weak link in the chain of the Leather Bar quad-pack of one-sided singles. Thode is a member of #1 Danish punk rockers the Cola Freaks doing some bedroom 4-tracking here. Drum machine, mumblemouth vocals, keyboards, obscured by lots of fuzz and warble. Quirky and lo-fi to a fault, and just not all that engaging. Let's leave this kind of bullshit to pretentious and lazy Americans. Scum stats: 300 pressed, hand-stamped dust sleeves, 100 copies are part of the interlocking Ben Lyon "quad-tych" artwork variant. Collect them all!(RK)
(Leather Bar Records // myspace.com/leatherbarrecords)
Timmy Zorganism s/t 7”
What do ya want me to say? Is there anything left? Buy this damn thing. More wavy-brained, outsider-insected skuzz by the leading Human Eye gill-breather. If you thought he was going more trad-rock with the last single…taking the proto-Seventies vibe up a notch, well, ya’ dun thunk wrong. Back into the primordial pool of grunt and puke, we go. Timmy sounds his most VanVliet on this, rapping about the homeless and hungry from thru psycho-derelict slant over some serious loosey-goosey guitar wank, bubbling scree and some of the most shit-banging drum hits I’ve heard since punk first miscarried. This is the most “out-there” of the out-there’s released after the 2x7” set on Sacred Bones. They bookend the (not so) straight forward recordings nicely…and funny enough…you can do just that. If…IF you were lucky enough to pick up the adorable little collectors box Bat Shit was offering up. It’ll house your complete singles run. Each adorned with the stenciled booger-eating grin of Tim-Eye hisself. Dude can do no wrong. Or at least when it’s wrong, it still feels right. Knowwhutimean? 500 pressed and quite a few on glow vinyl. 100 of the copies came in the custom painted (in four fashion colors!) singles box.(RSF)
(Bat Shit // myspace.com/flyingrodentfecalmatter)
Total Control "Paranoid Video" 7"
If you follow Termbo with any regularity, you know I'm all up in the ass of the Australian scene these days. I love all that shit. RIP Society, Aarght!, ECSR, Brisbane, I'm eating it up with aplomb, much like the rest of you. But I just can't get into Total Control. And that's because, if you follow Termbo with any regularity, you might know that I'm allergic to synth. And TC is all synth, all the time. No guitars on this. Maybe a keytar. "Paranoid Video" has a video-game running beat with monotone vox and other key squiggles jogging along. "Real Estate" is the slooooooow droner with industrialized retro-wave synth layers and massive dub-like echo. Futuristically Eighties sounding. Not my bag, but people seem to be digging it. If I wanted to hear this I'd throw on some Gary Numan, because that guy was a fucking weirdo. Scum stats: 500 copies with stark black and white art.(RK)
(Smart Guy Records // www.smartguyrecords.com)
Touch-Me-Nots "Keep Talking Like That" 7"
Touch-Me-Nots return to vinyl after what seems like a lengthy hiatus since their LP, line-up bolstered by a full-time third member on bass, and with some special guests on this one (Greg Ashley of Greg Ashley fame and Jay Rosen of Better Beatles and more). Two cuts, the organ-laced and semi-melancholic "Hard to Forget" and the twang-rock title track. Adult garage for fans of the Reigning Sound, Black & Whites and others rocking in a similarly "nice guy" way. (RK)
(Classic Bar Music // www.classicbarmusic.com)
Touch Me, Satan "Festival of Lights" 7"
Debut wax from this Seattle mixed-gender quartet. Semi-sloppy semi-poppy grunge-punk with femme vox. Playing is rather average and not really incompetent enough to add some charm, but not adept enough to add any charge either. Vocals are pedestrian. This whole thing just kind of hangs there. There's a Julie Ruin (aka Kathleen Hanna) cover for the chicks which isn't all that hot, but I understand the sentiment and the neo-grrl moves they pull on their own songs. They fare a bit better on the B-Side, sounds like the guitar player figured out how to use that pedal on one song and they actually muster up some punk feeling even if they don't effectively execute it. Scum stats: probably only a hundred or less, as this thing is definitely a lathe-cut job with spray-painted labels.(RK)
(self-released // myspace.com/touchmesatan)
Tractor Sex Fatality "Bloodeagle" CD
I will proudly and confidently saw that I'm probably a contender for being TSF's #1 fan. It was love at first sight (no homo?). Which is why the state of their discography pains me so much...few bands have caught as many bad breaks/poor decisions as these men. Delayed releases spending years on the shelf, labels not coming through, the band themselves dragging feet...just to prove my point though, this is the SECOND of their records that has been sent to the purgatory of CD-ONLY releases. The first being 'Peel & Eat' on the Deadbeat imprint, a label I would expect such things from. But 'Bloodeagle' here is on Big Neck, maaaan...why Bart, WHY?! You could easily have moved 300-500 of these puppies on 12". They'd have paid for themselves. Instead we (and you) get saddled with a great release on a dead format. Does anyone buy these things anymore? Well, you should buy this one. What will most likely be the death knell of TSF as far as "new releases", this is their most recent material (recorded in 2006 I think?) and quite probably their most accessible. And by accessible, I mean your Pissed Jeans and Clockcleaner fans shouldn't have much problem getting into this, although it's a bit more indebted to Scratch Acid than the Jesus Lizard. "Dialtone Grinder" (reprised from a single) is TSF doing Druid Perfume before that band even existed. Title cut it a throb-n-stab pounder with a moshable breakdown standing firm against guitar sleet. "Faggot Ballerina" is weird-garage in a Vulgarian style (equal parts Cloney D's and Human Eye, and Ward is one of the few drummers who can come close to that Billy guy from H-Eye). SAXOMOPHONE SOLO. "Bucketful" is Buttholes-style catchy in that underhanded and rolling Texas way, and "Mouth on the Wall" is Northwestern-style grunge from mildewed forests that smell like mushrooms. Bleating and punishing. If this was on 12"....jeez. They do a Goblin ass-swipe even, and this was five or so years ago. Ahead of the trend, these guys. I wish more of you cared. You fucks. I think this would be stunning on some banana yellow vinyl with red splatter. The artwork would look fantastic blown up to 12" size as well. Goddammit. Scum stats: it's a fucking CD. Fuck. It's only like $8 though, I can think of a lot worse ways to spend $8...shit, that won't even get you a pack of cigs in NY state anymore. Do the right thing.(RK)
(Big Neck Records // www.bigneckrecords.com)
Trailblazer "Gut Reaction" 7"
One-man synth/guitar band originating from Kentucky with a two-song effort here. Drum machine is set to jog, while this guy layers some synth and guitar lines over and over creating a trancey dance effect with some moany vox plopped in the middle of all the echo. Repetitive to the extent that it almost gets nauseously loopy. "Mallard" is the B-Side with a tougher drum beat, a stream of babbling reverb-vox and a semi-cheesy organ fill. Again, mechanical repetition is the "hook" here, drilling this rhythm into your headspace for maximum enjoyment/annoyance, depending on how you're feeling at the moment. Pretty simple formula when you break it down and not really as arty/avant as it may appear at a glance. I have little idea what to compare this to, but I feel like it would be at home on a label like Troubleman. Limited to 300 copies.(RK)
(Moniker Records // www.moniker-records.com)
Tunnel of Love "Rockin' Rollin' Bitches" LP
This record is almost ten years old now and it's finally been issued on vinyl, fulfilling the dream of dozens of people. Originally a CD only thing via the band, it was then repressed by Big Neck Records - ON CD ONLY AGAIN. I have no idea what Bart was thinking on that one. Anyway, Black Gladiator steps up and shows that they are true garage turkeys by putting this total piece of shit on wax, and by piece of shit I mean spectacular garage-punk blowout. For those not hip to TOL, they're a satanic sounding garage three-piece deconstruction/destruction unit, known for smashing live shows played in capes and striped tights and not much else. It's punk shit played as loose as can be possible without completely falling apart. Sort of rawk at times, but played with the aplomb and excess of Guitar Wolf. Electric Eels doing MC5 covers maybe. Gracefully clocking in at under 25 minutes, it's a rather perfect distillation of crap-fi ethos and give-a-fuck attitude. Total rock'n'roll guitar goodness, "Ride Jesus Ride" sounds like they're covering Slayer's cover of "Inna Gadda Davida" from the Less Than Zero soundtrack, and I think this thing gets better the deeper you get...by the last track it's just an incredible mess, melding the most gutter-dredging punk to classic rock Steppenwolf action. They get so close to the edge of unlistenable it's ridiculous and impossible to not enjoy. Worth every penny. I'm unsure of the staus of this band at this point...I think they were based in Boston originally then moved around some, and could be broken up now for all I know. If anyone can get us a copy of their Euro LP from a couple years ago, get at us please!(RK)
(Black Gladiator // www.slovenly.com)
Two Tears "I'm So Out Of It..." 7"
Two Tears is the now long-running project of ex-Red Aunt Kerry Davis (an ex-Screw and sometime Beehive & The Barracudas associate as well), who has had a few records out sporadically on French and domestic labels spanning the past five years or so. Davis has one of the more pleasant voices in garagedom and it certainly helps carry this trio of songs along. The A-Side has two chipper and semi-tough rockers, just her, a guitar and some drums. "I Like Your Face" plays real strong and truly rises above any "garage" tag you want to throw on this. It's just great rock'n'roll. The B-Side, quizzically titled "1/2 Gay 1/2 Ethiopian" is a rather wonderful instrumental workout that reminds me somewhat of a lo-fi/primitive Hot Snakes or RFTC. Good stuff and it's nice to see Kerry still slugging away. Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Windian Records // windianrecords.blogspot.com)
Tyler Jon Tyler "Separate Issue" 7"
Chicago trio's second single of indie-pop styled garage, again on a Chicago label. One of the those bands I think people in their hometown love a lot more than anyone outside of town is going to. We like to call them "local heroes". It happens. Having some familial relations to The Ponys, whom they also share some sonic similarity to, both tracks are crisp and clean mid-tempo indie-rock with firm female vocals and just the slightest twang to the guitar. Pleasant and well played, but I don't hear anything to make them stand out from the dozens of other outfits doing the same thing.(RK)
(Rococo Records // www.rococorecords.com)
Tyvek "Nothing Fits" LP
I didn't mind Tyvek's first LP at all. It was good. I would have liked for it to have been great, but it just wasn't in the cards - the band just didn't strike until the iron was a little less than hot, their seeming lack of new material at the time had many thinking they were bored and of course the artwork (which was funny in its own way) had the record nerd cognoscenti scrambling to their keyboards to make Primus jokes. In the end, it was a good record, a little plain, but good. After another tape-to-vinyl release got everyone pissed about sound quality and other crap again, Tyvek snuck out there and recorded 'Nothing Fits', and it sits as the frontrunner for record of the year right now. A lot of people would say this is the record Tyvek should have made for their first LP - which is true if you want to talk about the record in general just having a massive impact - but also false, as the Tyvek that made that first LP and all that came before certainly didn't seem confident enough to make a record this forcefully punk. All the smarts are there, and I still think they retain their shambly DIY approach in a way, but the guitar attack on this thing is stunning coming from a band we're used to belting out scrappy and trebly songs that were sort of...nerdy, I guess. This thing just bares its teeth, sometimes in a grin, but it's still showing off those fangs. "4312" opens as a rip-roaring garage cut, surprisingly traditional, then they do a double jab combination with the stuttering "Potato" and "Animal", and you start to realize the guitars are going to be staying this loud and chunky for the whole record - in fact, whoever recorded this did a great job in welding all the instruments together for a monstrous and primitive thud, yet still giving them some separation. They do a new version of "Future Junk" that is tough as nails, or as tough as a guy that looks like Kevin Boyer can sound. Fantastic and this begins a three song stretch which convinced me I was truly listening to a great record the first few spins. I'd keep putting the needle back to the beginning of "Future Junk", through the pounding anger of "Nothing Fits" into the DIY-punker of "Outer Limits" and it's excursions into future rock. And speaking of DIY, tell me these guitars don't sound like the fucking Swell Maps, loud . Side 2 continues strong, with "Underwater" being a choppy example of "vintage Tyvek", and their playful continuation in "Underwater To", another strong candidate for best song on the LP, which turns the guitars down a little for some dreamy and strummy and gorgeously off-key pop. Then they rattle off three quick punkers ("Pricks In A Car" is particularly humorous and expletive-laden, maybe a sequel to "Honda"?) and they close with the confidently aggro anthem of "Blocks" which is another of Boyer's vague rants against or into the future that they break down into some wall of guitar damage that just exudes natural force. A great idea to end on such a powerful song. His shouts of "Fuck the bullshit!" are exactly what this band is doing. No bullshit. A band out there taking punk rock to the next stage. Simple. Brilliant. A band evolving, changing their sound quite a bit and sounding magnificent doing so. Something not many bands are capable of doing, making it that much more impressive.(RK)
(In the Red Records // www.intheredrecords.com)
Ulan Bator "2 Degrees" LP
Second in Killed By An Axe's reissue series, following their well-done Bastard LP from the summer. I can't front and say I knew a whole lot about these guys before getting this, other than that they were a French experimental/industrial band from the Nineties that I'd never actually heard until now. The lack of liner notes doesn't help information-wise, but do some digging and you'll find they have some serious credentials within their "scene": recorded by Michael Gira, collaborators with Faust, releases on Young God. Serious shit. And dig this little tidbit: "they built a recording studio in an unused chalk mine and recorded their first three albums there." Jesus. "2 Degrees" is their second LP from 1996, which received some critical acclaim at the time. It's kraut-influenced post-rock, largely instrumental excepting some passages with evilly distorted serial-killer mumblings, equal parts ominous drone and somewhat prog-like rhythmic lurch and noodling. Exceptionally played, of course, and evoking a creepily European and subterranean darkness. A song like "D-Press TV" and its filthy bassline and downward spiral certainly creates some Swans-like bleakness with a much more subtle delivery. "Silence" is an almost math-rock sounding drone-scape. "Sea-Room" is the monolith here, a purely evil creeper with a queasy bass moan, crisp drums and guitars like needles with the vox of an inter-dimensional monster stalking you through the composition. Impassive, dreary, cold and surprisingly unpretentious sounding. Five long cuts on thick wax with unsettling sleeve images of what I imagine to be an abandoned subway bathroom in some Hostel-like European outpost. Definitely worth some investigation for those of you into dark and weird shit.(RK)
(Killed By An Axe Records // myspace.com/killedbyanaxerecords)
Useless Children "Skin/Nameless" 7"
The polar opposite of happy-go-lucky Aussie garage-punk like ECSR, Boomgates and Ooga Boogas, Melbourne's Useless Children are dark, harrowing and heavy on this three-tracker, which was recorded by Eddy Current himself, just to add another layer of scene diversity. The two A-Side cuts attack like NYC's finest scum-rock peddlers Unsane, rife with agression and violence. A notable bit here is that the drummer is also the lead singer, which I've always imagined to be a nearly impossible feat of concentration, and the fact it's a female doing this adds even further interest. Her rabid screaming pairs up nicely with the bludgeoning, adding an interesting gender twist to a usually male-vocaled genre. The guitar turns into a skin-flaying sonic whip on "Nameless". Pretty sick. The B-Side is a death-dirge with two-note bass throb, mournful guitar, back-up moans and a rivetingly pained vocal performance from Ms. Masters. A bit reminiscent of the New Flesh on this one. Quite nasty.(RK)
(Criminal IQ // www.criminaliq.com)
The UV Race "Knife Fight" 7"
I think the UV Race's recent barnstorm across America (and I think some of them are still over here residing in Brace Belden's bedroom) really won the hearts of many Americans. Charming people and a charming band to watch on stage. A real gang dynamic. Familial almost. And the best part is that you can hear them growing and improving a little bit with each record. "Knife Fight" is undeniably pleasant punk song dichotomized against violent lyrics. "Talk shit on UV Race, stick you in the face!" "Frustrations" brings in droning cacophony from horns and keys making for a real headache, almost too difficult to enjoy, and a case where the song's subject is directly linked to the invoked feel in a great swipe. "I Hate You" is crazed and offbeat, with post-punk Gang of Four-like danceability, creating a somewhat complex sounding web of sounds by weaving simple lines from all instruments together in a subtly crafty way. "Garbage In My Heart" is swampy and sweaty and clammy, has a fantastic watery keyboard sound - rubbish heap drone rock, and I love the incorporated horns making for a nearly Boys Next Door nod. Marcus' liner notes, wherin he once again talks about the creation of the songs and what they mean and why they were written, once again steal the show and make for an added treat. Sometimes too much info hurts a band, but here it only adds to the enjoyment.(RK)
(Fashionable Idiots // http://tchardcorejournal.com/fi/)
U.X. Vileheads “Catch 22” EP
Almost every ‘80s rehash/worship release of the last five years (whose numbers are probably surpassing the stuff yer all taking cues from by now, eh?) can be placed somewhere on the timeline that stretches from the Agnostic Front coast to the Agent Orange coast with a little *’82, *’83, or *’85 next to it. And since it really was that limited of a time slot in the grandiose ‘Merican rock gamut, every band going into the same low-budget studios unaccustomed to mixing the sounds of young males not knowing how to come of age, the myriad of diverse analog recording techniques can essentially be studied on a locality basis. And who to do this but the SWEDES? This one sounds like a Roger Miret-fronted Necros/Government Issue hybrid stopping at Inner Ear Studios on tour in ’82, but the engineer’s got 30 years of practice at locating the mixing board’s “guitar” knob and turning it up. Well tread stuff, but executed perfectly and with an honest sort of drive that those without the boulder-up-a-hill cerebral tension can’t really fathom. Oh, and the “catch 22” they’re singing about is work experience/job qualification… Hmm. At least when American bands sing about dumb subjects (y’know, like hotdogs and racism) they do it with some urgency. Are you Nordic folk just pulling stuff to complain about out of a hat? More pedantic than Regulations, less interesting than Instangd. Steel pretty good stoof, yah. (BG)
(Sorry State Records // www.sorrystaterecords.com)
The Vacant "Kings of Evil" EP
Wrecked'Em Wreckords is like the single-A Memphis ball club, with Goner being the major league affiliate obviously. But no one ever gets called up to the bigs from this squad/roster. The Vacant are Confederacy of Scum-styled sub-metal hard-rock, like Antiseen or The Hookers without the guts-n-glory...or talent. They do a song called "Sexual Hitler"....no, really, they do. I don't think they're trying to get signed to Rock-O-Rama or anything, but just being bozos in generally ignorant way. They also do "Sexy Bitch" amongst the eight piles of shit on this record. Cover art is stock skull-n-flames clip art given the Photoshop pixellation treatment. Unlistenable. I would have saved this for a Garbage Can installment, but no one has the guts to step up these days it seems...(RK)
(Wrecked'Em Records // www.wrecked-em.com)
V/A Black Feelings/Grand Trine split 7”
More goddamn synth punk, but at least it moves away from the typical sonic template a bit. I said a bit. Let’s not get too crazy. Black Feelings lead off with some shouted and slightly panicked vocals, trying to keep afloat in music that has a bit o’ world beat influence to it. Is the musical refrain built around steel drums? Electronic steel samples? Asian flavored chimes?? Hard to say, but I’m still gonna’ blame Blank Dogs. The second half of the tune makes good for an unintentional chuckle (the bridge reminds me of the Mr. Show theme…haha). Hoo. Hee. Ahem. Seriously now. It’s a solid grower to these salad fingers. I like that plinky-chink guitar. I said it. I’m not proud. There’s a stab at Savage Republic tribalism that coulda’ gone on for longer at the end, though. The label says this is a smidge more electro than Black Feelings usually rolls. I’ll accept that. Grande Trine supplies the rocker of the two. Fairly agro and needling the same vein as Static Static and the like. The keys vs. guit solo is pretty damaged to the root. Everything corrodes away into a crackling, hiss and fuzz wash, only to come back at’cha with a 'Space Ritual' freakout. I’m down for this. At least for the time being. There’s around 500 of these. (RSF)
(Blue Skies Turn Black // blueskiesturnblack.com)
V/A "¡Brutales Matanzas!" compilation LP
Brilliant compilation from Cintas Pepe in Mexico City with a much-needed sampling of Mexican and Peruvian punk in 2010. Great from start to finish - the record runs from demented and vicious to the inevitable (sorry, I am gonna say it) Eskorbuto rough punk rock. The highlights: "Rock de la Basura" by Los Margaritos - great, raw vocals atop a song that might be the Kids invention with an incredible chorus. Mixtape material. Los Monjo has been on most peoples radar for their great 7"s and they bring it just as hard here. I love the singer's delivery, it's got a gruff Articles of Faith sound to it. The Ratas del Vaticano stuff is my favorite that they've done so far, especially "No Estoy Chido". The stars of the show are Inservibles, who're just totally crushing. Somewhere between Confuse and old Chicago punk? It's truly deranged and manic, rabid music. Vocals as intense as the guy from Xenofobia but with a higher, tortured tone of voice slapping back. These songs are on their EP; that and their demo (now pressed on Shogun) are real essential. Crimen finishes the thing off strongly with two songs straight outta late 00's Richmond and then an A+, weird as fuck laughing/screaming leadout track that (thankfully) doesn't turn into a locked groove. Excellent comp, it's a well-done look into two scenes that are ripe for insight. Awesome to hear so much cool stuff you had no idea about. So, the run-down - Murderers? Check. Masterfully screened, Clay Records-esque sub-cardstock sleeve? Check. A Mexican band in (what must be) Klan hoods? Check. The only English on the record is one-line lyric translations and a hilarious thank you berating non-Latino listeners - truly firing on all cylinders. Excellent work by the Cintas Pepe guy. Rock de la basura. Buy before election season, as we probably won't be able to mail our Mexican friends much longer!(NG)
(Cintas Pepe // cintaspepe-at-gmail.com)
V/A Crack Pipes/John Wesley Coleman III split 7"
The less said about the Crack Pipes the better. You might remember their SFTRI record(s), but probably not. Texas bar-bq-blooze...blech. The JWC side is the real deal though. I'm a big fan of his 'Steal My Mind' LP and its damaged and drunk rock'n'roll for men, and on his side he goes the schticky route a bit, but I kinda like concepts like this. And this being Coleman doing three Minor Threat songs ("Guilty...", "Minor Threat" and "Straight Edge"...harhar) in his own blown-to-shit handguns-pot-and-beer style of lo-fi garage rock and it's a lot of fun and actually done really damn well, dragging the tempos down and making them work for him. He tosses one original on the pile as well, a strummy popper called "Shut Up & Love Her" that makes great gravy for the covers. Did I say fuck split singles yet? There you go. Buy it for the Minor Wes stuff and use the Crack Pipes side as a coaster or something. What a shitty format for some good tunes.(RK)
(Sick Thought Records // try Goner or UMed maybe?)
V/A Ghost Hospital/Blast & the Detergents split 7”
Ghost Hospital takes on a simple repeat-o-garage thump and hammers it into a fairly entertaining 2-track value pack. The songs rollick and tumble along, drenched in that recently hip spooked-out reverb, but there’s an added bonus of empty paint can thwack, just to give me a tickle. Catchy, if none too original. "Sitting Duck" does something strange and downbeat. Kinda’ like self-sabotage. Is it the gross de-tuning thing happening at the bridge? I can’t quite comprehend. Whatev. The tempo melts like heated earwax. It makes me scratch my head, and I’m ok with that. Think of Thee Oh Sees slowed to a less frantic, understated crawl. "Mateo" kicks in without you even being aware and continues along in the same vein. More of a herky-jerk post-punk ‘tude this time around. Like I said above; not new…but still pretty good. It’ll speak to the fans of the Woven Bones/Dictaphone/Flight bumper-crop out there, that’s fer sure. Neat. Easy. Short.
Blast and his pals have a little more going on sonically, but still keeping within the same shambling ballpark. Minimalism smacks like a trash rock variation on the Sonic Youth skills. It even goes and gets all art school sputtery ‘round the halfway mark, just to buzzpunk(© Eric Davidson - 2010) off in a messy outgoing riff. "Time Misses a Beat" adds weird syrupy slide to the mix. Bugged out and anxious. Pretty unhinged and off the cuff sounding. I dig. Especially that garbage, fall-all-over guitar solo. Looks like the Blast & the Detergents side just pulled into the lead. It’ll satisfy yer short term mucky-muck cravings. 300 of these slabs exist. (RSF)
(Scotch Tapes/No Clear Records // myspace.com/noclearrecords)
V/A "Greetings From the World Wide Web" split 7"
Total bowl of fruit from....wait for it....Michigan?! Damn, I was totally hoping to shoehorn a Brooklyn joke in here. Anyfuck, this is some sort of gimmicky "Bold Experiment In Sonic Pictography" with really cute retro design and mock scientific liner notes. Peeling away the facade, this is one side of noise. Just one static tone for the whole side by Brand Labs, the "corporation" or "research institute" or whatever the schtick is, sort of an audio test tone or whatever. Yeah, whatever. The other side is precious indie-rock from a band called Fawn that could very well sound like Coldplay, if I really knew what Coldplay sounded like. This is what I think they sound like anyway. Nut-shriveling. A real waste of everyone's time, and the free button doesn't make me feel any better. Thanks for nothing.(RK)
(Brand Labs // www.brandlabs.us)
V/A Inerds/Coworkers split 7"
Inerds are probably Buffalo's second most brutal band at this point, only taking a backseat to the mighty Hog Lust. Six bombs of power-violence shock on their side featuring the old male/female vocal-grind split, excpet the rub being that it's actually two girls. I usually dislike when gals try to sing (or should I say scream) in this style, but they pull it off damn well. Play this for someone blindly, and they might think the lower toned voice is a dude - she's that br00tal. Did I mention this is brutal yet? Coworkers do sort of a downer-core thing with some mathy touches and some post-hardcore edge. Lots of action in their song structure, bass current moves rather swiftly, they break down/build up multiple times, singer has a slightly deranged flavor and there's some screamy gal back-ups. I've enjoyed watching them live, and the recording is certainly good, but I think they have more to offer than what we get out of the two songs here. I'm sure we'll see some more from them in the future though. A good chance to experience two very different Rust Belt flavors.(RK)
(Wrong Foot Recordings // www.wrongfootrecordings.com)
V/A "The New Hope" 2XLP
Seminal compilation of Cleveland hardcore/punk released in 1983 finally officially reissued after my years-long hunt for an OG copy ended this past year. You win some...eh, everyone wins here. Assembled by Tom Dark, it's a near-perfect document of the transitional period of rock histroy where the original ideals of punk were being commercially co-opted by "The New Wave" and hardcore was becoming the sound of choice amongst the underground. Of course, Clev-o bands marched to their own beat regardless of what the rest of the country was doing, producing an eclectic collection of bands with that unique and authentic Rust Belt moxie. There's a story behind the whole thing, but I'll let you read the liner notes yourself. Because you're going to buy this, if only to have The Guns tracks on vinyl, one of the greatest under-documented/unsung bands of the time. And there's so much more necessary listening on this thing. Spike In Vain, Starvation Army, The Dark, Zero Defex, Outerwear, PPG...it's a regional comp of excellence on the level of "Flex Your Head" or "This Is Boston..." even if it's not half as well-known as those records, packed with bands that might not be household names anywhere but their hometown but with the talent of their national peers. The original had 11 bands comping 30(!) songs with nary a dud in the bunch, from the Flipper-esque drug-punk of Outerwear or PPG, hardcore intensity from Zero Defex, Starvation Army and others, the Offbeats goofball punk, the uncategorizable Spike In Vain, evil punk from The Dark...it's a fantastic collection ripe for discovery. The bonus LP adds another couple dozen vintage tracks from all the bands involved of equal quality. No live cut filler or shitty sounding rehersal room cuts, a popular trick amongst punk reissuers. Nothing but the real shit as you would expect from the city that I think might be the greatest bed of rock'n'roll in history. Thank god Smog Veil came to their senses and did this on vinyl (with recycled paper used for packaging and pressed on run-off vinyl for maximum environmental goodness, which I can get down with), and the news of future Peter Laughner box and possible a Guns retrospective should make everyone happy. 500 copies only, I wouldn't waste much time picking up what is most likely going to win the Reissue of the Year prize.(RK)
(Smog Veil Records // www.smogveil.com)
V/A Passive Aggressors/Prsms split 7”
Two abrasive Brooklyn bands that make me realize not everything blows in that burg these days. Passive Aggressors have a hint o’ Rick Fork going on in the vocals as well as the feel of post-punkish Jehu worship (were they already considered post punk?). There’s a sax solo on here! Nice. I would tell ya more about the middle of the track, but Mitch Cardwell just called and broke my concentration…he just gets me all goose-pimply. Track two ("Finisher") chugs along thru riff and swirl bringing to mind a freak-break in a Battleship song (funny…wait for it…) or a good Arab On Radar track. More of a battering ram than a dance punk tune, but this’n is fairly toe-tappin’. PRSMS should sound like Battleship, right? Or maybe Rice(!), but that’d be too obvious. Plus, I really can’t pretend to be an outside party since I was in a band with Aleks fer Christ sakes…but if ya wanna believe me, here we go: four songs of spastic guit-fit and pummel that melts shit like foresaid Battleship into a discordant puddle. Maybe not that abrasive…but still, this ain’t yer grandma’s music. Four bashing cuts that dump all their past bands artier change-ups for strait up repeated jack-hammering thru 50-sec hyperventilations. This is what I hoped No Age sounded like. Shitty that they don’t. Not a bad start-up for a dude who thinks Adam Ant‘s 'Prince Charming' is an a-ok song. If’n ya get off on Battleship, Hot Snakes, Chris Thompson related projects and/or cum stained tight jockeys, by all means…buy a copy. Sharp as all get out screened sleeve. A couple paper color variations that I know of. Work the goat!(RSF)
(Neck And Tongue // www.neckandtongue.com)
V/A "Stuffs Vol. 1 " comp LP
Oslo's Compost Modern Art with an international extravaganza of a comp, featuring some pretty hip acts (and a couple unknowns) mainly from the US and France with a couple of random Euros as well. Mostly unreleased cuts, let's try and grade this thing out...Side One: Matt K. Shrugg with a Pizzas-esque speeder, Ty Segall and a bounding garage-siker, Agent Ribbons (Austin,TX) do a very very nice garagey girl-group number, Sic Alps mail it in for yet another comp with a sloppy noise cut, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth sound a fuck of a lot like Mayyors (which isn't bad), Bipolar Bear prove they sound as bad as their name implies with a boring synth-gurgler, Sneakers do a falsetto-voxed New Wave indie-pop cut that's equal parts irritating and catchy. Side One Score: 4.5 out of 7. Side Two: Dictaphone serve a killer Cheveu/Teasers hybrid (that also appears on their LP), De La Cave do some video gamey synth that reminds me of a female voiced Digital Leather ("Black Flowers" in particular...there's quite a resemblance), Cheveu offer up a riveting synth/guitar spy theme instrumental, Crash Normal make a deathdrone synthstrumental, Feeling of Love's track is actually pretty poppy, Bungalow Ranchstyle (Oslo) play aggro-wave, and Don Vito do deconstructed noise rock. Side Two Score: 4 out of 7. Total Comp Score: 8.5 out of 14, which is somewhere around 65% choice cuts. Which isn't that shabby for the comp game these days. Best Cut: I'm going to say it's a tie between Cheveu and Dictaphone. France fares very well as a whole on this LP. Worst Cut: Bipolar Bear or Don Vito. Best "Unknown" Act: Agent Ribbons. I'll give bonus points for sleek gatefold packaging and exceptional art design, with a small bit of art from each band inside and a clever tracklisting concept. Scum stats: 750 copies.(RK)
(Compost Modern Art Recordings // www.cmarecordings.com)
V/A Vivid Sekt/Bog People split 7”
Split with two new troops from the Portland young dirt noise crue…Vivid Sekt brings two tunes of mid-paced, early UK fashion politik-punk. The first goes on way too long, not so hot, but the second has a killer jump-off-a-cliff bassline with sparse, Crisis-y guitars on top. Nothing too memorable, other than this is the first record I’ve heard with anti-census lyrics (!)… we need one about nutrition “facts”. And regardless of my predisposition to wholeheartedly love a band named BOG PEOPLE, their side really is utter destruction, bringing some total jacket anthems to the table! “Depression” is blown-out Headcleaners/Huvudtvätt possession, complete with broken flange/chorus on the guitars and a low, gruff, almost disinterested-sounding vocalist. Mixtape material. Raging. “Chaos Tribes” keeps the Swedish paint-huffing alive with a cramped chorus that defies logic and lodges itself in your pons. This will garner dozens of listens, two of my favorite songs I’ve heard this year. Their tapes and footage are all worth looking up, too - particularly the “81 in 09” tape and the video of them playing on a bridge. “I lace my boots, I charge my hair, and now I’m living in an ice age.” Brilliant.(NG)
(Fear of War Records // fearofwarrecords-at-yahoo.com)
Vex Ruffin & The Lo-Fi Jerkheads s/t 7"
Debut from both the "band" and the Black Gladiator imprint, a vanity label offshoot of the Slovenly Records empire run by world class garage DJ/turkey Bazooka Joe. Vex Ruffin and Co. are a semi-mysterious outfit (or solo artist perhaps), semingly from California and taking on the unenviable pursuit of mixing garage-punk with some hip-hop aesthetics. Sounds awful, I know, but they surprised me. The A-Side doesn't start too promising though, as "Jerkhead Anthem" is caucasian hip-hop at its core, which is something that will never ever work, no matter how hard you try. Sometimes we might look the other way (Beastie Boys), but it's a recipe for certain failure. Sure, they craft a nice beat and some of the lyrics are slightly funny, but in the end it just reminds me of Moistboyz or something else terrible. The good news is, the record really picks up from here on. The thing they can definitely do right is take the sampling/looping template and use it to create ripping punk songs. If they stick to this and leave the rhyming out, it's actually quite interesting. "It's Hard To Be A Motor" sounds like cut-up French garage rock, like Cheveu remixing Magnetix or something (actually, it's constructed from a Panics sample! Damn!). The B-Side goes next level, with the crushing "New Wipeout" which is apocalyptic punk with a savagely looped buzzsaw riff and thunderous beat that sounds a hell of a lot like the Spits in a very good way. "Youth of the Beast" closes, an instro cleverly built into a slinky Sixties go-go beater, sampled organ grind and guitar reverb (a Guitar Wolf sample!) with some phantom sounds in the background, making for an incredibly hooked and simple rhythm. If they stay away from the fake garage-b-boy shit and just use the construction techniques to make more scuzzy garage samples and such I think they have a lot of potential. I'm intrigued by the mechanics of it all and will definitely be into hearing more. Again, as long as they stay away from the "rapping". I can't stress that enough.(RK)
(Black Gladiator // www.slovenly.com)
El Vicio "Longanisse" 7"
El Vicio have been lurking in the shadows for a bit, remnants of the Nasty Product empire that have carried the torch into 2010 by forsaking some of the garage bombast of their past for the more psyched-out sounds of today. They're certainly much more interesting on this single than I ever remember them being in the past (meaning I don't remember anything from their other records, although I know I've heard them...). And I also don't recall Lionel from Liminanas being this band before either. "Longanisse" sounds just like a Limiananas song awash in fuzz guitar and sultry female vox. The guy knows his reverb. Bottom heavy, with some theremin perhaps, making for a good psych-out droner. B-Side has "Death Trip 2024" which is an evil repeat-o-rocker with a wicked display of wah-pedal overkill for the duration of the whole song. Pretty fucking relentless and over-the-top great. I'm all for completely ridiculous abuse of effects pedals, and this delivers. "Trash" is the most traditional song, a motivated garage-beater that is reminiscent of a Franco-Black Lips. Far better than any of their previous singles.(RK)
(Rococo Records // www.rococorecords.com)
Void Vision “In 20 Years” 7”
Perky n’ perculating minimal synthetic electro-musique. VV’s gotta’ pretty swell vocalist with a breathy charm to her. "In 20 Years" releases a spooky sci-fi lean along with some favorable bpms for the noise-popsters and dance fans out there. "Black & White" on the flip has more of a dreamy homespun cold ‘puter vibe, retrofitted with a few 80’s-styled flourishes that get sprung to the surface. Might even get the closeted New Order lover or casual Debbie Harry fan in you to hit the waxed floor. Songs are too melodic or upbeat to fall under the downer Goth blanket that most of these type acts battle beneath. Quite honestly, not sure who to compare it to…femme-fronted Depeche Mode? Yaz? Outta’ my league here…but I’m not hating on it. I used to wear black skirts. Newer Zola Jesus converts might eat this up. Sacred Bones probably has a contract already written up. Just ‘cause it’s a little too mainstream for my tastebuds doesn’t mean there’s not a club in Williamsburg packed to the gills right now, jamming away to this. 500 copies exist in a sharp looking thick assed sleeve. You might mistake for a Cro-Magnon release. Oops.(RSF)
(Blind Prophet // www.blindprophetrecords.com)
Vomit Squad "Amon Ra Bless America" 12" EP
Montreal super(stupor?)-group made up of Choyce (Roy Vucino of Red Mass and dozens of other gangs), Skid Marks (or Dorito Dan or Colonel Lingus depending on what you prefer), Blacksnake (known to some as King Khan) and a fella name of Richard Ritalin who I believe is the "brains" behind the outfit. Surprisingly, I think this is the first time Roy and Khan have been on record together. Crazings. So, the concept here is mongo rock'n'roll in a Gizmos way with Ritalin spouting off lyrics dabbling in various conspiracy theories, satanism, Egyptian mythos, the apocalypse and other tangents. Six songs at 45rpm, it's a mixed bag quality-wise. There's obviously a certain toss-off vibe here, as this isn't exactly serious business. It's certainly dumb, musically and aesthetically, which is the desired end product. The title cut does manage to have a pretty stupid and anthemic hook. Ritalin's monotoned monologues are appropriately silly and the tunes are lo-fi slop that they probably sat down and banged out in a day. Incompetence like this is very charming when it's kids who actually can't play a lick, but when it's good musicians just dumbing it down, the turds lose a bit of their sheen. "Rapture Gun" is the best idea Richard comes up with here lyrically and "ABCDEFG" is the one cut that actually has some KBD-styled punk snot while Ritalin recites quotes from B-movies. This thing has a moment or two, and was probably a lot of fun to make and delivers on the cheap thrills. Serious MTL/Choyce/Khan completists will dig this the most. I'm still waiting for that Deathareenos LP...(RK)
(Psychic Handshake // myspace.com/psychichandshake)
Watching The Train Wreck "Serve Very Loud" EP
Hey, what a trainwreck of a name, huh?! Hey now! WTTW are from Omaha, home to...uh...Warren Buffett. And the Brimstone Howl. Cool dudes, all of them. "I Am The Machine" is a shit-fi blast of punk rock with eardrum-shattering guitar solos and a swirling rhythm not unlike a log hastily circling the bowl on its way to the sewer. I like this. "Money Don't Buy Happiness" is a dum-dum Midwest rocker, anthemic garage-metal almost. B-Side has "Soundman Scum" which is a plodding-punk middle finger and they close with "Rainy Road", a fittingly angry and pissy guitar blowout which summons some nasty stringed elements and has the best vocal of the bunch. A nice slice of shit-fi Midwestern rock that certainly isn't trying to be hip or trendy, just loud and loose. I'll keep an eye on these kids. Scum stats: 50 lathe-cut copies with silkscreened sleeves and download code.(RK)
(Rainy Road Records // rainyroadrecords.bigcartel.com)
The Welders s/t 7"
BDR Records continues their unearthing of the St. Louis punk rock scene with this single from the all-girl Welders, who look like they were pulled from the crowd at a Fabulous Stains concert. Culled from a 1979 recording session for a record that was never released due to financial backing dropping out, it cleaned up really nicely for being taken from a 30 year old tape. Four adorable mid-tempo pop hits flirting with punk and power-pop that never get too cute. "P-E-R-V-E-R-T" has a bubbling bass sound that adds a little bit of toughness to the lipstick and saddle shoes. "Debutantes in Bondage" is the cutest song about abduction you're ever going to hear. "S-O-S Now" flips things around and is actually about being a prude and "Baby Don't Go" is power-pop yearning you'd expect from some teenage girls who idolized The Monkees and Beatles. A lovingly done release from a band I never even knew existed and as I always like to think after a nice archival find such as this, a good reminder that there's still a whole lot out there to discover. Fans of early girl-fronted pop-rock should be pleasantly surprised, there's a good attitude here that doesn't rely on the usual caricatures of leather-girl Pinky Tuscadero tough chicks or Debbie Harry sex-bombing. Just a quartet of sweethearts singing about boys, sex (and not having it) and having fun. Scum stats: 500 copies of red wax, with well designed pocket sleeves and a fold out insert with liners/pics.(RK)
(BDR Records // bdrrecords.blogspot.com)
Whatever Brains “Rappers Delight II” 7”
It’s been a while since I could say something sounds Teasers-y. Wait. I’ve never said that anything sounds Teasers-y. Have I? Well, this one kinda’ does. A tad more jangling at the roots mayhaps, but still...just not as abrasive or rude. More indie rock than the Rebel's taste for UK hostility. I’ve actually never listened to these cats. This is the fourth or fifth release for em. It’s not leaving too much of an impression on me…until the weird grunge/metal hybrid ending of title track shakes me around. That was cool. It’s not giving me wood or anything, but it didn’t hurt my pride. The "Village Sewer" tune feels a bit like the Unnatural Helpers brand of noise pop. Are these guys from up North? Again with the gimme-indie-rock glaze and not. So. PUNK. Whatever. Brains. We go back to the angular Teaser riffage on the flip's "What Makes a Man…" but the vocals aren’t anywhere near as acidic. Snotty and repetitive with musi…meh…I’ve stopped caring. There’s 500 of them if yer a fan. Co-release between Funny/Not Funny Records and…Sorry State?! Aren’t you a hardcore label?(RSF)
(Funny/Not Funny Records // www.funnynotfunnyrecords.limitedpressing.com)
Wheels On Fire "Cherry Bomb" EP
Second single from Athens (OH) bassless garage rockers. Rather straightforward rolling, handclappy as all hell with some organ flavoring. Mid-tempo Reigning Sound-y ("Time Bomb High School" era) beat, should go over well with the Wisconsin and Denton demographic - garagey-pop a la your Midwest Beats, Goodnight Lovings and whatnots. Worshippers of the Cartwright form. Not enough rocking for your hardcore turkeys, but pop enough for your budgeteers and Burgers. Four songs worth. Personally, I find it a bit bland. But I like punk rock and shit. Scum stats: 100 on purple, 400 on black, silkscreened sleeves.(RK)
(Kind Turkey Records // www.kindturkeyrecords.com)
When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth “Peaced” 12”
A brutal ride thru modern noise-psych that’ll perk up the deafened ears of most Puffy Areolas and Hospitals fans out there. Abrasive shit covered bash and scrape…pressed up by a book publisher. That also befriended the Golden Boys. ?!? Odd things going on. These Dinos are definitely out there, but since they call Austin home, it shouldn’t be long before they win over some fruit-loopy folks down at the methadone clinic. It may blur together at the seams, but the tracks like "Selected For Jerry Duty" are stoner jams. Other songs (esp. "Conjurin’") grate on you like a grade school tattletale. Teasing - egging you on - causing anxiety panics and the occasional concrete wall punch. By the time side one collapses, I could use a drink. If ya removed the metal-edge from Woodhouse and let him drag his scraped and bleeding knuckles thru the Dipers demo dumpster (which he probably owns), they’d get infected and seep some awful puss like this from the wounds. Someones gotta’ pick up the Mayyors slack. What did I just say? I’ll explain later…I gotta go scrub the corn out of my dingleberries. Deth to overproduction. Mud that kills. A few hundred are out there, in Siltbreeze approved cover art. (RSF)
(Monofonus Press // www.monofonuspress.com)
White Boss s/t LP
White Boss seem to be the heaviest of the New Wave of Olympia "hardcore" bands. There's a phrase I never thought I'd be using. Ominous low-end sounds aid in the creation of a tense and muscle-flexing mechanism for rage delivery. Tempos are certainly heavy and sure-footed. Drone-stomps punctuated with edgy guitar. Borderline doom that occasionaly whips itself into a sustained frenzy. At their best they're riffing metallic on a tune like "Darkness/Lightness". Perhaps the tempos drag their feet a bit much at times, but the SST-style guitar play this grouping of bands is so fond of does its best to keep you engaged. Sometimes it just feels like there's not much going on though, but they make it work for themselves on the closing "Pulse" which builds brick by brick into something nearly as enthralling as the majestic photo on the sleeve of this thing. Again, there's something primal/natural being imparted here. It's the forest...or at least the design aesthetic getting you thinking in that direction. Runes. Evocative landscape photos. I can't say that I'm not taken in by it, it does add an extra layer of depth, even if it's borderline Mysterious Guy...Three songs per side, ending with a lock-groove for added artiness.(RK)
(Perennial Records // www.perennialdeath.com)
White Whale s/t 7"
Guitar rock three-piece made up of members of Buffalo hardcore heroes Everything Falls Apart. No core here though, it's driving punk rock that almost sounds like Marked Men with a heavier and less pop-punk delivery. The hooks are there, but with a darker and more angsty tone. Reminds me a little of the more emotive guitar dynamics of the RFTC/Hot Snakes crew as well. Forceful vox and guitar, recorded with a slight bit of fuzz to give it that needed edge. Both A-Side tracks are tough hits and "1995" on the flip is recommended listening as well. Western NY has a lot going on these days, and the Whale are elbowing their way to the front of the DIY pack with this impressive debut and some high energy live sets. Check it out, the EP is also available for download at their website for all you cheapskates...(RK)
(self-released // www.thepalewhale.com)
Wiccans "Teenage Cults" EP
We got a little taste of these cats on that Denton party platter LP from Play Pinball, and they really step up to the plate on this EP. Featuring members of Wax Museums and Bad Sports, but I think you could say that about anyone walking down the street in Denton, and it's the best thing from the town since the first few Wax Museums slabs. Not the usual pop-garage schlock from this scene, this is actually rooted in muscular Eighties style USHC with some TOTALKBDDESTRUCTION undercurrent and somewhat reminiscent of the over-the-top bluster of YDI. The real deal-sealer here is this fucking singer though. I can't get over how sick his style is. Just balls-out husky-as-shit yelling at all times, raw dogging it at the top of his lungs for the whole record. I can't imagine how he keeps this up for a whole live set without shitting his pants or at least bursting a blood vessel. A-Side has two brainbusters with great guitar and some tempo changes suitable for heavy pitting. The B-Side is where they really excel though. "Endgame" hints at some sort of amphibious conspiracy theory in a ripping minute-and-a-half during which they cram in a great little weedy sounding solo. "Teenage Cults" is the hit without a doubt. The vox just go right over the top to astounding effect and there's a total killer of a breakdown. Intense. "Seeds and stems/bottles and cans/studded bracelets and diagrams". Hesher-core magnificence. Recorded well with some heavy bottom end that helps the songs crush that little bit more. I give a lot of credit to this Adam Cahoon fella for coming up with one of the most ridiculously great vocal performances of the year. Worth buying a copy or two. Scum stats: 300 copies, with lyric insert and hand-stamped labels.(RK)
(Pass Judgement // www.passjudgementrecords.com)
Wounded Lion "Pointed Sticks" 7"
A-Side is not at all about the power-pop band, and kind of sounds like a retarded Gary Glitter remix. I just don't get this band at all. Too cute for their own good, although they do wrench some great guitar sounds out of this exercise. The B-Side is a barfy Jonathan Richman-esque kiddie tune. It is called "Muppet Babies". MUPPET. BABIES. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WITH THIS SHIT?(RK)
(Trouble In Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Woven Bones "I've Gotta Get" 7"
Woven fucking Bones. One of those bands who sounded cool at first, and I do enjoy some cuts off their first couple of records. I happened to stumble into seeing them live and they were actually pretty decent. And honestly, if they would've put their best two or three songs on a single or EP, released them and disappeared, I'd probably be looking back at them fondly someday. It was a novel concept for a moment or two there. But now they just won't go away and they've driven their JAMC fuzz-worship with some Gun Club motifs right into the fucking ground. They exhausted my interest after three records that sounded the same and now they have to be up to at least #7 or so. What are they gonna do though, it's not like they can really change things up operating within the specific corner of sound they've painted themselves into. They've been exposed as a one-trick pony. It's exasperating really, but they seem to be finding some modicum of popularity in the indie-rock minor leagues (Hardly Art is a Sub Pop subsidiary after all, and HozAc has become a pretty hip stepping stone of a label these days) and I'm quite sure Pitchfork has spun them some good yarn. Good for them and good luck to 'em. I just can't dig it myself.(RK)
(Hardly Art // www.hardlyart.com)
Wrong Words "What Went Wrong?" 7"
Three-pieced jangle-pop from the land of Budget Rock...that place is full of this stuff. Two songs of UK-inflected power-pop laced with San Fran garage flavor. Could be called the West Coast version of Gentleman Jesse & His Dudes, with more technical finesse than your typical Budgeteers and I'd be lying if I tried saying there wasn't some adept craftsmanship on display here. Fucking hollow-body guitars with hooks and rainbows flying out of them and I bet everyone has a real great time at their shows and shit. Me? Oh yeah, I'm freezing my ass off over here and getting ready to have a few feet of snow dumped on me tonight. This dog don't hunt 'round these parts.(RK)
(Trouble in Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Zebrassieres "Gooey Zoo" LP
One-sided 33rpm LP from these Ottawa funsters, part of the growing Going Gaga stable and scene-sharers with White Wires, Suppositories, Mother's Children and other pop-oriented acts from Canada's capital city. Zebrassieres throw down eight cuts on this, jumpy and poppy Eighties punk style, reminds me a lot of the Dickies or Devo's goofier side. Not exactly New Wave, but almost getting there, and the organ certainly enhances this effect. There's no problem with the construction or execution, they have more than enough energy, the keys provide a little quirk, the guy has a decent voice...but it all blends into one rather unmemorable chunk of pop-flavored fizz. Much like their town's hockey team, they seem to have all the necessary parts and skill, but don't really put it all together well enough to win the big one. Scum stats: 330 copies.(RK)
(Going Gaga // goinggagarecords.bigcartel.com)
Zero Heroes s/t 7"
Four songs at 33rpm from this mid-fi and mixed gender garage-rock act from TN or Alabama or somewhere. Anna Bomb sings on all of them, and they seem to be going for the Ronettes vs. Ramones thing. "'96 Sable" is a piss-take on the classic gearhead car song, as she rides around her shitty car going 20 mph. The best of the bunch. The rest of the cuts just sort of plod along mid-tempo, laying more reverb on the vox, which are sort of tuneless the more you listen...the B-Side kicks off with "Teengenerate Me". Oof. Like Girls at Dawn meets The Stipjes or something. But not at all as interesting as that sounds...(RK)
(Black Owl Radio // thewednesdays-at-hotmail.com)
Zond s/t LP
The absolute gray of the sleeve of this record speaks a lot towards the sound of the band. Bleak. Relentlessly so. Morose. Sullen. Not a bright moment to be had. The guitar maelstrom strikes the sun from the sky, obscuring it in a neverending haze of feedback and scree. The rhythm section is used as a blunt instrument to propel you even deeper into the caves of depression they've excavated, eroding the faces of mountains with a sandstorm of crushing dymanics. Elemental fury that ravages the landscape, dragging its shadow behind, leaving everything dark. Apocalyptic force. There's a disarming moment somewhere towards the end of the first side where it all goes quiet save for a dog barking in the distance. At this point you might think the attack breaks or at least ebbs somewhat, but the unnervingy tranquil moment is sucked right into a black hole, erased from the record and absorbed into anti-matter. Zond don't necessarily sound evil whilst reaping their whirlwind, they just sound like an unrelenting dark force wreaking destruction without any sense of order or morality. It just happens. Looming like the death star over an unsuspecting planet. Precedents could be the more harrowing of Nineties noise rock, Bailter Space, Sonic Youth if they got really, really angry. An arsenal of death ray guitar sounds, subliminal bass lines, vocals carried by the wind, feedback, drone, drums as the mechanism propelling the moving parts of the infernal machine. Ten songs, two sides, possible bad vibe overkill, I think there's a punk song hiding somehwere on Side Two. A distressing listen that you probably shouldn't mess with if you're already having some emotional issues. I also can't imagine listening to this record during daylight hours. Compellingy bleak stuff that novices will want to be careful with.(RK)
(RIP Society // myspace.com/ripsocietyrecords)
To read past reviews go here.