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RECORD REVIEWS OCT./NOV. 2004

Key: (LB: Lance Boyle)(MC: Mitch Cardwell)(JG: Jeff Greenback)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RK: Rich Kroneiss)(EL: Eric Lastname)
   (RS: Rich Dropkick)(SSR: Scott Soriano)(SS: Steven Strange) (TK: Todd Trickknee)

Action Swingers "Enough Already - Live!" CD
Count me in as a big Action Swingers fan. "Kicked in the Head" and much of the early scuzz was inspired drone/fuzz/punk of the highest order, and I think "Decimation Blvd." was a cool stab at '82 hardcore. I'm no fan of live releases, and this is no exception, but fans may wanna pick it up cuz (as far as I know) the band hasn't made any recordings in at least 5-6 years. Peter Bagge does the artwork, and I swear he's used the same grungy stink-drug hippy with an axe since the first time he saw Green River, for EVERY BAND. Not appropriate, but anyone who's done brilliant work like "Martini Baton" deserves some slack. Oh yeah - most songs are off "Decimation Blvd.," with a couple exceptions. (TK)
(Reptilian Records Inc. // www.reptilianrecords.com)

A-Frames "Complications" 7"
Another single from the A-Frames vaults, this time back on S-S. Two great songs, of course, from the punker and louder recordings that the Plastica 7" was taken from, put to tape for posterity by Chris Woodhouse. "Complications" is a panic sticken shoving match, and "Frankenstein" is a beast that ends on an appropriate bit of guitar monstrousness. Should be easier for everyone to get this time, I think it's a pressing of 1,000, so I don't want to hear you crying if you miss this one. A band so good at this point, they could take a seven-inch shit and I'd try to play it on my turntable. Oh yeah, they've signed to SubPop in case you haven't heard. Good for them I say. (RK)
(S-S Records // www.s-srecords.com)

AluminumKnotEye "Trunk Lunker" CD
After a low-key decade-long run, Wisconsin's AluminumKnotEye finally unleash an alb proper. These guys were making strange noise before strange noise was the current rave, before the nouveau indie bohemes copped the "art" schtick, before the last crop of garage punks dropped their Rip Off's covers and headed for discordant, angular horseshit that's as empty and worthless as it is fake. AKE are the real deal, and I love 'em for it. Think pieces of Chrome, the Residents, Big Black and Debris grafted onto the primitive r'n'r template birthed by the Pagans, the Electric Eels, early A. Cooper, etc., yet addled by the big-balls overdrive of early AmRep savagery and mangled by savage production. Keith's vox writhe and growl over the din as it explodes in short bursts and threatens to collapse, the barely-noticeable keys scraping weirdo patterns in the underbelly of it all the while. "Scales in the Tub" is tune of the year. Buy, or forever wallow in other stuff by other bands. Vinyl on Deadbeat forthcoming. (EL)
(Trickknee Productions // P.O. Box 12714 Green Bay, WI 54307-2714)

Anna & the Psychomen "My Baby Needs to Rock'n'Roll" 7"
Anna is a semi-hot Italian bird, and the Psychomen are her wrestling masked backing group. They crank out the speedy trash-punk that somehow seems to still go over real well in Europe. The do a song about cannibals, a Teengenerate cover ("Dressed in Black"), and there's a running skit between all the songs. The European equivalent of a Junk Records band. Of course, there are various P.Trash editions (somewhere around 570 total copies): clear wax, aqua wax, and 100 copies of the black wax come with a comic book that is actually pretty funny, and reminded me of the old Punk Magazine photo comics. A very lovingly compiled effort, but I can't see the tunes going over very well unless you live in Italy, Germany, or 1998.(RK)
(P.Trash Records // www.ptrashrecords.com)

Archie and the Pukes "Pukes Corrupt Children" CD
This band layed down one of the great, lost singles of the '90s - completely retarded, snotty formation-era hardcore punk. Funny, ragged, and annoying in the best possible way. I guess this is stuff they'd recorded & never released or something like that. Waaaay more reminiscent of, say, the Candy Snatchers than the ep. Still decent, but lacks the edge of "Worms" or "Human Butcher." Oh well - not bad, but I'm not crying over lost releases. (TK)
(Centsless Productions // 5945 Monticello Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45224)

Battleship “Presents Princess” 12"
Incredibly tough to pinpoint where these Oakland shit disturbers are coming from sonically, but fucked if I care, it works. The rub-your-dick-raw Greg Ashley production is perfect for the destructive vibe (early Black Flag?) working its way through all seven songs, but there’s a lot more going on than that. Impressively, the rhythms on “Presents Princess” are more complex than your usual arty scream and shout band, which gives some of the songs a dancey, almost Numbers like feel such as the ass shakin’ “You Could Feel”. And their controlled use of noise, especially their reliance on those two note dissonant chords, brings to mind noise purveyors The Sick Lipstick. Early Dischord and AmRep references also apply at times. As good as anything coming out on Dragnet and S-S these days, which is as strong of a recommendation you’ll ever get from me. The white wax in the most beautiful sleeve design I’ve seen in ages with screened covers seals the deal. Mandatory. (JG)
There's a lot of weird and diverse shit going dowm musically in the Bay Area these days, some which I like (Short Eyes) and some I don't (Gris Gris). Battleship have risen up from the dark and dank basements of the region to unleash these twelve threatening inches of wax on the world and send the record collecting public to their band-association grab-bags to try and describe their confusing and invigorating sound. It's tough to peg them. "You Could Feel" lopes along in a way that is reminiscent of the A-Frames, minus the robotic vocals. On "Parasite" and "This Dirt" they bookend Gang of Four-ish locked-in rhythms with eruptions of pure punk viciousness. A lot of contrasts, as rhythms slink and writhe out of your speakers only to be destroyed by brutal descents into instrument abuse. It's about tension and harnessing it. And these guys have a pretty good handle on when to reel it in and let it fly. Things collide at just the right times, yet song structures remain long enough to be torn down again. Angular and post-punk, yet replacing the artsy shit with a hardcore sensibility, which makes it that much more pleasing. Way better than I imagined this would be, and in contrast to a lot of bands flying the art-punk banner (which I'm not quite sure these guys actually are), Battleship's experimental tendencies tend to actually go somewhere, and that somewhere is upside your stupid head. Scum stats: 500 press, 100 of them on white vinyl, with thick silk screened cover w/insert. Recorded by Greg Ashley and mixed by Weasel Walter. (RK)
Members of the now-defunct Short Eyes and a few others churn out (yeah) arty post-punk slop that moves from tensely tight to nearly unwound at the blink of an eye. Overheard Brian Costello describing it as "Gang of Four on even more amphetemines" -- atonal vox, basslines moving on top of everything, twangy and exploratory single-note pummeling, 'cept at double the speed and noisier than barbed wire against sheet metal. I occasionally get the art-for-art's-sake vibe, as opposed to the similar and much-preferred art-for-music's-sake thing that a few other bands are pulling off on a far more interesting level. Still, the herky-jerk vague violence seems mostly real, and I keep coming back, so there's something there. A grower? Ask Rich Yardsale. (EL)
(Raw Deluxe // www.theerawdeluxe.com)

Black Lips "Live at the Jam Club" 7"
Live 2-track recording of an Italian gig from their recent European jaunt. The sound quality is a lot better than would be expected, in a medium-fi kinda way, and it sounds like one of the shows where the band actually plays the songs instead of self-destructing. Sounds pretty reminiscent of when I saw them a couple weeks ago. Great versions of "Wild Man" and "Jack the Ripper" plus two more. Scum stats= Limited press (400 copies), less than one hundred of which appear to be on urine colored vinyl. Surprisingly worthwhile. (RK)
(Shake Your Ass Reecords // www.syarecords.it)

Country Teasers "Laziness" EP
Four song offering on a Spanish label from the Teasers we all love. Heavier on the casio and electronics than I tend to like, but "Ahoy There" sounds atmospheric and genuinely unsettling, the title cut is a twisted yet poetic winner, and the electronics collage "Assfucksiation Initialized" is definitely in the running for best song title ever. Comes in a parchment-like sleeve with glued on cover, and a bunch of little inserts that complete the cover art and express the Rebel's displeasure with the postal service for losing the original artwork. Not the best thing they've done, but if you're a fan you gotta have it. Good luck.(RK)
(Discos Alehop! // Plaza de Cascorro, 13-1 Derecha, 28005 Madrid, Spain)

Die Böslinge s/t LP and Schund s/t LP
When looking at worldwide punk scenes, it seems that people think of certain countries as standing out. Australia, Holland, and Sweden all gave birth to some amazing music and no punk can deny the brilliance of The Chosen Few, Nitwitz, or Hangover’s “Sick Society”. But while these scenes are well documented and high profile, others that are just as exciting get looked over. Maybe it’s because they tend not to sing in English, or maybe it’s because they never had a “Bloodstains Across…” comp to showcase the highlights.
Austria is at the top of the heap. Though the comp “Es Chaos is die Botschaft!” served as an excellent overview of the music, it got poor distribution (at least stateside) and left very little influence on today’s punk rock historians. The list of classic (or at least should-be classic) records from the country is astounding. Dirt Shit (whose sole EP is a strong contender for “top punk EPs of all time” honors), Chuzpe, Pöbel, Dead Nittels, Extrem, and the subjects here—Die Böslinge and Schund—all released records that stand up with the best.
Die Böslinge released one insanely good, and insanely rare, EP. The 3-song single, released in 1981, is a want-list staple that, with a pressing of a whooping 200 copies, is not being erased from those lists any time soon. It’s one of those records with a jangly guitar and loud, inept solos that go on for a few seconds longer than you’d think they should…and it’s fucking brilliant. The songs are simple and the melodies get stuck in your head for days; you end up singing along despite your lack of understanding of the language. At least I do. If you’re familiar with Germany’s PVC, think of their songs, slow them down, subtract a few years of guitar lessons, and that should give you a rough idea.
Höhnie Records in Germany recently did humanity a favor by issuing an LP by Die Böslinge, Scheiss Polizeistaat!. The A-side of the record compiles 9 songs from the band’s early days, all recorded in 1980. Included is the EP, as well as six unreleased tracks, including the best song here, “Polizeistaat”, which, I suspect, translates to “Police State.” (Punk rock themes are, indeed, universal!) The flipside of the record has eleven songs recorded in 2001-2002 by a slightly revised version of the old lineup. While odd that such a short-lived band would reform 20 years later, these tracks are decent enough. That’s not to say that they’re great, because they’re not. I listen to the A-side of this record 10:1 over side B, but it’s telling that an old band could get together so far removed from their heyday and make something true to their original vision.
Not content with pulling only one Austrian band out of obscurity (for the time being), Höhnie also reissued Schund. Like Die Böslinge, they released one record, a four-song EP in 1982. The Schund EP was pressed in an amazing (by Austrian standards where 200 was the industry standard) 500 copies, albeit with two sleeve variations. Musically, Schund were powerfully raw, catchy punk rock. Unlike the folks recording in the UK, there were no major labels or big budgets, nor, I assume, the desire to recreate the costly recordings of that country. Schund’s recordings are rough and ugly—the guitar has a loud crunch and the drums are buried and often sound as if they were recorded in the alley around the corner. The most immediate and noticeable thing are the vocals, distorted and urgently delivered by a punk rock beauty to rival Penelope.
This reissue follows the pattern of the Die Böslinge LP, where side A provides a look at the essential and side B is more disposable. The record opens with ten songs recorded in the studio in ’81, all of which are memorable. At times, the songs are proto-hardcore but never fast or mean enough to find classification alongside Discharge and company. The second half of this record is live material from ’82. The recording isn’t as great as the studio stuff, but not that much worse either. All but two of the songs are repeats from the A-side, which is a let-down. Still, the tunes are strong enough that it doesn’t hurt to hear them again. Höhnie deserves applause for their reissues of these and other great European punk classics. I hope they and other labels will continue to find such great and overlooked music to reissue.(DH)
(Höhnie Records // www.hoehnie-records.de)

Digital Leather “Dance ‘Til Dead” CD-R
The best out of the three recently released Digital Leather CD-Rs and the best no guitars band I’ve heard in years (tho' I guess that ain’t really saying too much). This short six-songer finds DL sounding quite different from last year’s s/t LP with most of the songs being played with faster tempos and incorporating some disturbingly catchy pop hooks. The rundown: “Black Flowers”, recently reworked by Lost Sounds, gets a new treatment here with great results. The title track’s my pick of the six – the perfect song for the next drunken, dysfunctional, robot themed dance party you throw. If songs like this were spun by dance DJs around the globe, the world would be a better place. “Fantasy Boys” reminds me of a good Gene Defcon song. “She Had a Cameltoe” is a perfect pop song, except it’s called “She Had a Cameltoe”. And if “Help Me Kill Myself” and “Styrofoam” don’t have you singing along and jumping around like a dork every time you hear them, there’s no hope left for you. I know the lack of guitars will turn some people off, but the songwriting here is so strong that you really shouldn’t worry about it. If ya only got the chips for one of ‘em, then this is it. Recommended. (JG)
(Fatal Seduction // mwong55@earthlink.net)

Digital Leather “Mork Teknologi” CD-R
My least fave out of the bunch, “Mork Teknologi” is the most Eighties sounding of the three releases, and has the lowest hit to miss ratio, especially when compared to the other two CD-Rs. There are a few strong songs, most notably “In the Video Phase”, but this is for completists only. Your call. (JG)
(Fatal Seduction // mwong55@earthlink.net)

Digital Leather “The True Story of Your Death” CD-R
Friendly album title to go along with the imagery in the song titles about killing, disease, cremation, omens, demons, vomit and doom. Definitely the antithesis of “Dance ‘Til Dead”, with most songs being the perfect soundtrack for slitting your wrists (well, slitting your wrists while dancing, at least). Dunno how appealing that sounds to you, bub, but after repeated listens I’m sold on most of the songs here. I should admit that I do have a soft spot for some very early Human League (basically an all-synth Devo for wimps) and this release sees Digital Leather drawing influence from them. Songs like “Formless Kingdom” and “Waves of Disease” sound like modern day interpretations of “Being Boiled” and “Circus of Death”. Better yet are the few songs that go for the melodies like “Sad Like You” and the pick of the batch “Fancy Lad”, both of which bring to mind a fucked up take on another guilty please of mine, “Holiday”-era Magnetic Fields (Joy Division comparisons would also be appropriate). At 54 minutes, this release is too long, but cut out a bit of filler and this would have been a much smoother listen. Hell, condense the hits from these three releases down to one record, sequence it properly and you’d have one of the best full lengths of the year. (JG)
(Fatal Seduction // mwong55@earthlink.net)

The Dirges "Cold River" 7"
Ross the Boss is one of rock's great underappreciated talents. The Brides' first single remains one of my favorites in the history of recorded music (and I mean that), but it seems like he drops in and out of the scene far too frequently to make a more indelible mark (the Dirges have already broken up). Their SOUNDCHECK at the Blackout was better than half the bands' actual sets. The Brides + soul description that everyone uses is apt enough, and "Cold River" is a great tune. The flip isn't as good, but that's what flips are for, I guess. I hope we get some posthumous releases, but somehow I doubt it. Extra thanks to Alex for sending another copy when the first was lost to some psychotic postal worker. (TK)
(Missle X Records // www.missliex.com)

Fatals "Slave My Soul" 7"
"Slave My Soul" is The Fatals most damaging and violent song yet. It reminds me of Unsane's "Streetsweeper" slowed down or reversed or something, it's that fucking heavy and dense. Their perfect marriage of blown-fi recording and great trash-punk songwriting is what people are nuts for, but I think they have a bunch of little tricks up their sleeve as well, like the aforementiond Unsane swipe (whether intentional or not), or the way "I Wanna Dance" kind of ack-ack-acks along proving that they are more than just an average garage-rock band being carried by the rawest of production. A great record easily on par with their debut, and it smells great and sounds even better. 500 copies, already sold out.(RK)
Another loud, rude, fucked-up single from France's favorite garage-punk do-gooders. Similar to the debut, but the songwriting here ain't as keen. All-out noise attack's still intact, though -- think the Oblivians, but more punked-out and frantic, or maybe even the Dwarves circa "Free Cocaine." So, really, the ride's almost as fun and still worthwhile. Standard cool Yakisakana packaging, too. (EL)
Good God DAMN does this shit sound great!!! Seriously, I think the Fatals have taken the trash rock aesthetic to a whole new apex of awesomeness. Tricknee (I think it was him) was expressing some doubts over on the message board as to whether or not the Fatals would sound good with “normal” production, to which I answer a simple: who gives a fuck? Since the records do have the most perfect blown out production I’ve heard in ages, I could care less about what they would sound like if they recorded at Ghetto Recorders or something. But the production is only part of the puzzle as to what makes the Fatals so bedazzling, beguiling, and balls-out bombastic. “Slave My Soul” does just what the title says thanks to a punishing riff and bone-crushing beat. Yow. The next song, “Need a Bitch” is more of a slow burner, which is appropriate since from the title one would assume it’s about a blues we’ve all had on one occasion or another. Side B opens with a plodding slower-that-mid-tempo tune that almost made the word “rawk” pop into my head for a minute. It’s redeemed however thanks to its primal execution and great intrumental meltdown. “I Wanna Dance” is another slice of the desperate, (likely) drug-addled, fast paced dementia that I’m coming to expect from the Fatals. Slave your soul…I don’t know about that, but I would recommend doing everything short of selling your soul in order to get your hand on this already out of print gem.(SS)
(Yakisakana Records // www.yakisakana.tk)

The Fatals "Stereo No-Phonic" 7"
The third installment of the Fatals rampage throughout the underworld of gutter-garage, and it's spectacular as well. "You'll Be Mine" and "Livin' in My Bed" hammer along at Dwarves-speed, "So Tired" fools you into thinking it sounds big rock, until the breakdown peels your face off, and "Feel Allright" is their finest moment on this slab, a slower song that proves they can turn the velocity down and still sound completely damaged. P.Trash already has a Fatals singles comp planned for next year (with some unreleased stuff), and I know of two other singles purportedly in the works. I just wonder how long they can keep up their reign of terror. Scum stats: 114 clear wax, 115 red wax, and 310 on black wax all of which are already sold out. Second press upcoming on different colored vinyl with a silkscreened sleeve.(RK)
The title track's probably one of the best things these guys have done -- sounds blown-out and evil and nasty and fun, like chasing down baby rabbits with your pa's speedy riding mower. Four more songs, four more burners. Limited P-Trash run, so move like lightning. (EL)
If I had to pick the "undergound buzz band of 2004," the Fatals would have to be at or near the top of the list. This French shit-fi garage noise has been eliciting raves from just about every corner, and deservedly so. If you dig the Evolutions, Reatards, Persuaders, or any lo-fi act that infuses a high level of aggressive energy, their singles are definitely must-haves. My sole waiver dating from the first time I heard them is this - how great would they be without that perfect scuzz-production? Pretty good, for sure, but I'll have to wait for more tracks or a (hopeful) live show to know for sure. In the meantime, this'll more than do, as the platters they've turned out thus far have to be swimming around any non-dummy's 2004 top tenner. (TK)
(P-Trash Records // www.ptrashrecords.com)

Thee Fine Lines s/t LP/CD
I'll just start right off by making the Billy Childish reference, as these three have obviously immersed themselves rather deeply in his catalog. But, don't let that be off-putting, as this record works out just fine on it's own merits despite the debt they owe to the Medway Sound. 14 tracks which cruise by entertainingly for the most part, with only a couple snoozers, and a couple killers ("Do It All Again" and "Bring Her Back"). I give them a ton of credit for not doing any covers, although a lot of the song structures are borrowed rather liberally from Headcoats tunes past ("The Mess I'm In" kind of reworks "Troubled Times", and so forth). Plus, the vocals sound almost exactly like Billy and/or Ludella/Holly, right down to the cadence. Recorded loud and raw, which helps keep it from sounding boring, the playing is proficient enough, and the girl is a real looker if that makes any difference. I've listened to this a lot more than I ever thought I would. Sure, it's all been done before, but it's still fun.(RK)
(Licorice Tree Records // www.licoricetree.com)

Thee Flying Dutchmen "Dance Dance" EP
What a fabulous piece of crap this record is. Fitting of the Dutchies modus operandi: inane between song prattle, AM radio through a dimestore boombox recording quality, the doubt in your mind whether amplifiers were even used, super deluxe packaging. These goofs manage to roll all of this crap up into some primo unadulterated organ driven monkey-shaking that is proof positive that talent don't mean jack. It becomes almost painful listening to them try and start "Night of the Psycho", which of course makes it the best song on this record. I feel stupid for even liking this. You should too. (RK)
The new torchbearers of budget-rock trash tear it up appropriately on 45. No surprises here, but that's the point: simple, stupid, loud, fun. Just as dirty as the Mummies and three-quarters as essential. And they've bestowed upon us another single to spin during those naked parties you 'n' me both love! Dig in! (EL)
(Boom Boom of Renton // www.boom-boom.net)

The Four Slicks "Betty Lou" 7"
Every time I listen to a newer record with JOn Von on it, I realize how brilliant his moving to France was. I mean the guy is living it up over there: playing in rock'n'roll bands (and I thought that Les Drageurs LP was great, by the way), partying it up in Paris surrounded by gorgeous French girls, wine, cheese, culture, not to mention getting to live in the same country/city as some of the best bands out there today. Ah, to live the glorious life of an expatriate. Anyway, Four Slicks are JV's newest project, built on the Euro/Franco obsession with Fifties American pop culture and hot rods. It's tightly played rock-n-roll-a-billy with a little bit of punk mixed in, including a cover of "You Lied to Me Honey" and three JOn Von originals that could pass as covers. There are ties to the No-Talents (drummer) and other Parisian scenesters. The music is nothing innovative, but I find it somewhat enjoyable simply on principle.(RK)
(self-released // www.fourslicks.com)

Gazelles! "Pink Notions & Plastic Panthers" 7”
The consistently strong Goodbye Boozy label has come up with another winner in this two song lesson in no-bullshit punk rock by the Gazelles! There is nothing fancy here: Just raw, riff-laden puddin pounding and a few sneers. It is simple stuff but it is smart. At its best it is a good update of Hearten-era Pere Ubu, where space and sound got spread apart and made sinister. Pile on that some nice Laughner cum Ashton guitar leads and you got yourself one hot single. Only 300 of these pups so get it quick.(SSR)
(Goodbye Boozy // goodbyeboozy@tin.it)

Gorilla Angreb 7" EP
If I had to pick one guy who’s played on the most great punk releases in the past few years it would be Peter Bonneman. Others have been impressive, but Peter just leaves me in awe when I think about it. The obvious question that I have to answer is, “Who the hell is Peter Bonneman?” I’ll take the long route to answer that question.
It seems that a lot of heads have been turned lately by the two EPs by Sweden’s The Regulations. They’ve nailed an early US hardcore sound with good enough songs to even appeal to “garage” fans who think they hate hardcore. (Of course, when it comes down to it, The Reatards, Henry Fiat’s Open Sore, Catholic Boys, Short Eyes, Frantic, and so many others are as “hardcore” as they are “garage,” and what gets labeled what is just an issue of semantics and fashion.) But as much as we have Black Flag to thank for inspiring the Regulations sound, the band that is more immediately responsible is Amdi Petersens Armé. Seeing them was monumental for The Regulations kids, who quickly adopted their style.
APA was from Copenhagen and was the first of a seemingly endless stream of ultra-retro bands from that city to break out and appeal to a worldwide audience. They were inspired by old US hardcore—Black Flag, Minor Threat, and the like—and set out to recreate the sound and claim it again as their own. Unlike most bands with the same idea, APA paid attention to the smallest details and internalized everything about the era. They looked as though they’d just walked off the set of Suburbia. The leader of the Armé was a tall lanky kid named Peter. He’s our man.
The scene in Copenhagen is an incestuous one, and the same folks tend to play in each other’s bands. APA was Peter’s band—he wrote the songs, fronted the band, played guitar on the first EP—and his friends backed him up. Similarly, he played drums for The Young Wasteners, a band that APA drummer, Rasmus, sang and wrote songs for. Despite being from Denmark in 2002, their 12” is one of the best early 80’s SoCal punk records ever, right up with the best by The Adolescents, Red Cross, Agent Orange, or The Circle Jerks. Peter has also played in Lokum, Stress, No Hope For the Kids, and Gorilla Angreb. I’m sure there’s more.
When APA toured the States a few summers ago, their bass player, Tommas, kept telling me about one of his other bands that he thought I’d really dig. Gorilla Angreb, he explained, was a female fronted band that he and Peter were in (drums and guitar, respectively) that was influenced by the old Killed By Death comps. I anxiously (and skeptically) waited about a year for him to mail me a copy of the demo. It showed up on a reused 10 year old low quality cassette tape with no cover and tons of hiss. The songs were stripped down and minimal and sounded like the track listing for Bloodstains Across Denmark 2. Mai’s vocals shriek. The songs last a little over a minute each. Short and to the point, and one of the most exciting demos I’d heard in a long, long time.
Gorilla Angreb next appeared on a double EP comp that showcased the bands from their city. København I Ruiner was nonstop, with tracks from Amdi Petersens Armé, Asbest, Incontrollados, Lokum, No Hope For the Kids, Young Wasteners, Snipers, and, of course, Gorilla Angreb (among others). Their tracks were more developed than the demo and were the highlight of the comp. “København (Ligger I Ruiner)” and “Soldat Til Leje” are not as rough as the demo, but come across as much more complete. Mai’s vocals are more trained, and we get hints that she’s got a great voice. On these songs, GA’s influences really start to show, and they bring to mind The Lost Kids, Mad Virgins, and other European classics. “Soldat Til Leje” features an organ solo to rival The Dickies.
Kick N’ Punch Records (incidentally run by Tommas and a friend of his) has just released the debut EP by Gorilla Angreb. The record caught everyone by surprise, including those who’d been into their previous recordings. Continuing the progression from the demo to comp tracks, the new record sounds as if it’s been recorded by another band entirely. Any trace of crudity or innocence is gone—this is very deliberate and intelligent, full of melody and hooks. The unavoidable comparison is that this is almost identical in style to LA’s X (though a friend of mine has pointed out that one of the songs sounds like Australia’s X as well).
It’s not as raw or urgent a record as what I was expecting, and at first I thought it didn’t live up to my expectations. The more I listened to it, the more it grew on me, and the better the songs seemed. The record might not fit in on a volume of Killed By Death, but I could see them opening a show for X alongside The Brat and The Plugz. And, depending on how drunk and out of tune Exene was, I can see them blowing away the headliners.(DH)
(Kick-n-Punch Records // www.kicknpunkrecords.com [US pressing soon on Feral Ward])

Government Issue “G.I.’s First Demo” 7"
Government Issue were among the first wave of DC hardcore bands. Their debut EP, Legless Bull, was released in September, 1981, the fourth release on Dischord Records. The label’s first 15 or so records were instrumental in inspiring kids across the world to start their own bands, book their own shows, and put out their own records. Not that the DC kids were the first folks to do those things, but they were easy to relate to and the message got through. Truth be told, Legless Bull is my least favorite of these releases and seems less relevant than Minor Threat or Teen Idles, who still excite me. That’s my quick take on GI, but we have at hand the issue of this EP. Eleven songs, recorded at Hit & Run studios in 1980, including the DC staple “Stepping Stone” (surprise, surprise!). The liners note that three of these songs never ended up on any later releases. The songs are generally a little slower and lacking a bit of the polish of later releases (not that Legless was polished, but…), and though there’s an historical charm contained herein, I can’t help but wonder why these tracks were released on vinyl. It’s the sort of recording that you get excited about getting a tape of, listen to a few times and think, “Wow, that’s neat,” and never feel the need to listen to again. Because, yeah, it is kind of neat to have a look at the early stages of what many consider a seminal band, recording at such an early period in time where it wasn’t a well traveled path, but in the end, the music contained therein really doesn’t stand out and warrant repeated listens. We’ve heard all the songs before, and we’ve heard them when they sounded a little better. If you’re the type of fella who really thinks that Government Issue were the best, then maybe this is for you, otherwise I don’t suspect you’ll be throwing this on the turntable all that often.(DH)
(Spontaneous Combustion Records // www.spontaneous.com)

The Grabbies "I Wanna be Blind" 7"
Not nearly as funny as the live Grabbies record (see below), though the lyric sheet displays some nice retarded pigeon English - songs about forks-in-the-eye, "time to suck or leave" and general drugs/booze debauchery. This sounds a lot better, though, and it's easier to make out the tunes, which are cool, screechy hardcore done up with Killed by Death moxie. I'd put this in the new hardcore camp before I'd pair it up with, say, the Feelers, but the two wouldn't really sound that far apart if you played 'em for yer Uncle. Nice raw shit for fans of the Regulations, Holy Shit! and all that. (TK)
(Proud to be Idiot Records // www.ptbi.8m.com)

The Grabbies "Live Raw Punk Shits" 7"
Wowsville drug addicts Paddy and his butt-attendant Bazookajoe have been extolling the virtues of this band so often that I had to check 'em out. I mean, just about every good piece of vinyl in the world has to pass through Wowsville Records, so I figured there had to be something behind the raves. From what I understand, these greasy Wops moved to San Fran for a while, played some shows & cut some records before disbanding. This live document is worth it just for the broken English stage banter, seriously some of the funniest shit I've heard on a record in ages. Musically, well, I think you had to be there - the sound's OK, the band kicks out hardcore-ish energy, and it sounds like they were a blast on this particular evening. Songs? I dunno, sounds alright, blurs together a bit, yer call! I think the "I Wanna be Blind" 45 is the place to start. (TK)
(Proud to be Idiot Records // www.ptbi.8m.com)

The Gris Gris s/t LP/CD
The last band (and first to do it in a long time) to knock me outta my socks & outta nowhere live is The Gris Gris. Greg is a first-fucking-rate songwriter, and this distinctly Texan (he relocated from Houston to San Fran) psych/noise racket recalls moments from Red Crayola, 13th Floor Elevators, and you know - that kinda TX weirdo drug brew. This was recorded right at the beginning of the band's formation, and I know future recordings will bridge the live to studio gap, but this is a nice document nevertheless. It's beauty broken up by cannon shots of undigested noise. It's a peaceful afternoon spent around the bong. It's a band that doesn't really sound like any other current operators. It's something that should be high on yer "need to purchase" list - unless, of course, you're one of those spiky haired types or something. (TK)
(Birdman Records // www.birdmanrecords.com)

Handsome Stranglers "Mad Man Stomp" 7"
Most modern 'billy-damaged crap pisses me off because it takes cues from blahshit like the Meteors instead of goodshit like the Cramps, but it seems as though the Handsome Stranglers have heard and answered my pleas. This really does sound like early Cramps, with screams & grunts & owwwwwws from the vocalist and a reasonable tempo for the style (where's the rush, Chuck?). Lacks an original voice, but I dig it a lot, surprisingly. (TK)
(Savage Records // www.savagemagazine.com)

Hard Feelings "Rebels Against the Future" CD
I know there are a lot of Schooley fans out there, and I love that Revelators album quite a bit myself, but the Hard Feelings have just never done anything for me. I've seen 'em a few times, and I've always been bored outta my gourd. The first album drummed up a killer tune in "We Need Another Vietnam," but unfortunately, that prediction turned out a bit too prescient, so please - next time write a song called "Trickknee Needs Some Free Drugs" or "The Packers Will Win the Next 10 Superbowls." Buy it to support Rich Dropkick's gambling debt or to help the excellent Beerland Club stay open a few more years. Musically, I just dunno...(TK)
(Dropkick Records // www.dropkick.com.au)
(Beerland Records // www.beerlandtexas.com)

The Heartattacks "Challenge You" 7"
Is this a Jap-band? The title track is a nice Teengenerate Rip Offer (though down a notch on the intense-o-meter), and "Let's Go Rock 'N Roll" is a less memorable (but still decent) song that reminds me of that Swindlers 7" on Rip Off, but (again) a bit down intensity-wise. Not bad, I really like this area of th' punk rock, and if you do, too, grab it. (TK)
(Savage Records // www.savagemagazine.com)

Hue Blanc's Joyless Ones 7"
Pretty cool bluesy garage junk from Algoma, WI's finest. Double-drum thud lays the foundation for odd poetic lyrics and strange twangy guitar pluckings that kinda remind me of something the Sailors might unearth. The last tune has Country Teasers written all over it, though I'm not sure if it's intentional or not. Out of the ordinary and surprisingly good, for this genre. I hear they're a hoot live. (EL)
(Trickknee Productions // P.O. Box 12714 Green Bay, WI 54307-2714)

Skip Jensen and His Shakin' Feet 7"
Four solo tunes from Serge of the Scat Rag Boosters. Probably the most minimal of the one man bands going (it's just guitar and a tambourine strapped to his foot, no drums to speak of), and it's probably the most traditional of his three and a half records. Two songs are just brief interludes, and the other two are minimal blues done quite convincingly. Great for slow Sunday mornings, and SKip is working on a full-length as we speak. Scum stats= 500 pressed, 300 on color vinyl (clear, and ?), the other 200 on hockey puck thick black, with cardboard sleeve, 25 have alternate sleeves. Damn.(RK)
(Delta Pop Records // www,deltapop.com)

Knugen Faller “Skellefte Stadshotell” EP
“Pop punk” has lost any meaning it may have had, and has become a euphemism for “slickly produced, follow the template, shoot for the stars” rock. Frankly, there is nothing punk about it. Knugen Faller, from Umeå, Sweden, do not play that style of music. The songs on their EP are upbeat, undistorted tunes with female vocals sung in Swedish with tons of melody. Without being ultra-retro it wouldn’t sound out of place among a stack of late 70’s Swedish punk singles. “Demokrati” is the best song on the record, and one of the better songs I’ve heard anywhere in a while. It’s an absolutely standout pop-punk song that should still be worth repeated listens ten years down the road.(DH)
(Cage Match Federation // www.wastedsounds.com)

Kodiaks "Cherry Blossom, Evil, and Alcohol" 7"
No real songs to report here, just a band kicking the shit out of their instruments whilst a Japanese guys croaks over top of it in what I assume is English. All the songs are propelled by the same primitive thump and accompanied by a whole lot of guitar mess. They bump along in a bull in a china shop way, and I guess "Beat Jazz" is the best representation of the Kodiaks sound, but there's just not much about the proceedings that grabs you and asks for more than a cursory listen. 500 pressed, 400 black and 100 yellow.(RK)
(Super Secret Records // www.supersecretrecords.com)

Les Hell On Heels s/t CD/LP
Four gals all made up in the latest RnR slutwear do the big rawk garage thing that's all the rage in Canaduh. Reminds me of "Worm Boy"-era Pandoras, with touches of their earlier stuff. Lacks a measure of grit and slop, two of my favorite rock 'n roll things (could be the production?), but I know this kinda thing has appeal in a lot of quarters. Jeff Dahl cover.(TK)
(Bomp! Records // www.Bomp.com)

The Lids s/t LP/CD
I think that next to Lost Sounds, the Lids LP is the record that I have been hyped-up over most this year. They absolutely slayed me live at the Blackout, and the single is already a classic in my mind, so I had very high expectations. I listened to this twice in succession the day it arrived in the mail, and as I was walking out the door on my way to work afterward I came to realize that The Lids may have have just made the most real rock'n'roll record I've heard in years. Their ability to marry delicious pop songs to buzzsaw punk structures and their admirable adherence to this formula is something to be applauded. The record is absolute fun, from start to finish, and their dedication to this is what makes them more genuine, and more sincere than any art-punk new-wave post-punk posturing could obviously ever be. The rock'n'roll world needs more band like The Lids, more bands to pick up where the Ramones left off and not necessarily go any further. Bands to just take that bubblegum sensibility and punk rock realness and pound it into our fucking ears and heads until we realize this is what rock'n'roll fucking is: fun, catchy, energetic, danceable. All adjectives that may not mean shit to a lot of music fans these days, but should. The Lids are doing what the forefathers of rock'n'roll, the Killers and Kings, expected and assumed their musical legacy would bring to pass: that bands would keep making records that served no other purpose than to entertain the shit out of those listening, to inspire their fans to move, shake, grab their partners and have a fucking party. The Lids are doing it. What about the songs? I'll tell you about the songs. They reprise the the three tunes from the single and tack on eleven more that are just as enjoyable, if not more, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they are fucking lying. Forget about musicial proficiency, and trash-punk thrash, and moody garage-skronk for the twenty minutes (maybe) that it takes to listen to this record, and tell me it doesn't make you want to poke your eyes out for taking everything so seriously. This thing was a classic before it was even released. I mean that. Lowery does play the annoying trick of adding an extra track to the LP, but you can forgive him, since you owe the guy one for releasing this in the first place. Buy this record or forever burn in a musical hell of your own creation.(RK)
(Rip Off Records // www.ripoffrecords.org)

Lost Sounds s/t CD/LP
A lot of words have been spilled over Lost Sounds the past few years, but there’s a simple reason for that – they consistently deliver extremely high quality records. No changes to that here, but this album is a departure of sorts from the black metalisms present on their last two full lengths. Calling this their “pop” record would be too easy - the songs are still as ferocious as ever, Jay’s screams help that - but there’s no denying that the songwriting does focus more on catchy melodies than on any previous release and the accompanying cleaner than ever production enhances this. The distinction between all the instruments allows you to hear just how carefully crafted each and every song on here is. The synths sound better than ever, as does the drumming, as evidenced on the album’s strongest tracks, the redone “There’s Nothing” and “I Get Nervous”. I’ve listened to this at least twice daily since getting it and I don’t think I’ll stop anytime soon. One of the year’s best, as always. (JG)
I'm one of those obsessive music types that is always trying to explore parallels between what is going on in music today, and how it references the past. I often wonder which the truly important bands of our time are, who will be the ones we will still be talking about in five or ten years. The bands with staying power, those who broke ground, who carry influence over the pack. I believe the Lost Sounds are one of those bands. Four official full length releases, plus tons of demos, singles, rarities, and they still get better, they still come up with something different, something new. Their latest is just the next step in an evolutionary process that has seen them transformed from garage-punk noise to the incredibly talented future-wave rock band they are now. The songs are tighter, more concise, and they've reeled in a bit of the sonic excesses that were originally their trademark, and substituted a skewed pop sensibility that manages to not diminish their power in the least. Their most accessible record yet? Sure. I think it's more or less a distillation of their sound, as if they've boiled down all the previous records and come up with this, the band in their purest and most potent form to date. And in my search for musically historical relevance, I've come to decide that the Lost Sounds seem to be travelling on a trajectory pretty damn close to another band, that probably turned out to be one of the most influential bands on the underground rock landscape, that band being Sonic Youth. Think about the similarities. The Lost Sounds were steeped in Oblivians/Memphis blues-garage-scuzz in much the same way SY cut their pick-teeth in the Branca/Chatham guitar symphonies of the NYC art-shit crowd. At their center you have the guy-girl duo. The girl with the the artist's background and good looks; the guy who is equal parts brooding and thrashing, adamamant and outspoken in his beliefs of what rock should be. Just thank God Jay's extracurricular activities have a tendency towards the punk of the Final Solutions and not some free-jazz skronk bullshit. I guess that makes Rich the Lee of the group, counterpart and early bandmate to Jay's Thurston, equally versed in the music that created them and as equally talented, if not as vocal. And surely The Reatards are a better starting point than The Coachmen. The Contaminated label/Goner crowd their own Sonic Death fan club, eager to snap up the demos, limited edition records, attend the live shows, and see what other bands are riding along in the wake. Does that make the Jonas/Jon/Patrick bass axis the equivalent of the Edson/Bert/Shelley rotating drum stool? The Fitts as a parallel to Free Kitten? (I would say yes, except for the fact that Fitts records are actually good, and Alicja has never had an annoying hag named Julia Cafritz in her band). Does this make the Bad Times an updated Dim Stars? Is signing to In the Red equal to a jump to SST, the premier indie of it's time? Hey, didn't Steve Shelley put out The Clears record? And really, aren't the Lost Sounds doing some of the same thing with synths that SY did by sticking drumsticks and screwdrivers into their guitar strings? That being, fill in the quiet gaps with sounds and textures that create moods, that evoke emotion. Both bands possess the ability to create that thing we call a sonic landscape, or soundscape, guitarscape, synthscape, escape, or whatever -scape you want to attach. They have the ability to transcend genre, to create places in music none of us have heard before or knew we wanted to go to. The talent to wrap you in grand sounding swirls of sound and still be dirty enough to grab you by your black t-shirt and rock your eyeballs back into your head. Harnessing power from the the quiet, tense, and tentative moments within a song to make the the destructive explosions of noise that much more lethal. Sonic Youth early on ostensibly made records about America, and you can see LS doing the same by making records about the world, about the times we live in, that much nearer to total destuction, apocalypse, a future full of frightening technology. Their albums exist within a timeframe of sorts, each self-sufficient and progressively different. You could say the Memphis is Dead'-era mirrors the SonicDeath/Kill Yr. Idols period. Statements of purpose and such, still working out the old influences and finding their own footing. Are covers of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" and "You Must Be A Witch" similar exercises in exorcising demons past and declaring starting points? Look at 'Black Wave' as their 'Bad Moon Rising', in its sprawling dissonance and steps out of the garage/punk murk. 'Rat's Brains...' subs for 'EVOL', showcasing their evolving versatility, ripping harsh and raw chunks from the corpse of rock and balancing it with extended moments of lush cold wave dynamics. That brings us to the new self-titled record, their 'Sister', arguably Sonic Youth's best record, and what appears to be the Lost Sounds peak up to now. Both records represent a noise withdrawal of sorts, a streamlining of sounds. The songs have become more internalized, less demonic, placing more emphasis on creating a great song in their own version of the rock mold, instead of attempting to blow the listener away with sheer brute force. Far from tame, but as close to a pop formula as they can come. I might be way out of line with this rambling, I might be talking straight out of my ass. I just know that something is happening whenever a Lost Sounds record comes out, something a little bit bigger than most other bands. It's tough to get perspective when you're there listening to it happen. Will the Lost Sounds turn out to be as far reaching and influential as SY? They're already halfway there. No one outside of Europeans and a rabid underground following paid much attention to Thurston, Kim, and co. until almost their seventh album. I do think that as bands talented at making the inaccessible accessible, at making harsh rock interwoven with evocative synth/guitar textures, their early careers are eerily similar. I don't expect the Lost Sounds to make their 'Daydream Nation', or to get one iota of respect from the mainstream. They're a great band, very likely the best of our time, and I wouldn't wish that upon them. They could explode into the next leaders of 'alternative' or whatever it's going to be called next, or implode and never make another album. It still wouldn't take away from what they've already done, although I'd much rather see the ride continue. It's been a pleasure to watch and hear it unfold so far, and if you've at all missed out you should start playing catch-up now. (RK)
Memphis's most prolific provocateurs of punk/wave unleash another annihilistic platter. This is by far the cleanest and most keys-centered effort they've pushed out yet, but don't let that fool you -- they're still just as powerful and loud. On the other hand, this won't make a convert out of a critic. Minor complaint: "There's Nothing" and "Clones Don't Love" kinda lost something between the demos and their proper reworkings. But, hell, it's a minor gripe. Toss this one on the tall pile of LS releases worth your an ear-bend. (EL)
Here's my Lost Sounds take - band pens first major project, and names it "Memphis is Dead." Band next makes career-defining masterpiece, and names it "Black Wave." All the while, sketches nearly as good as the official shit make their way onto demo releases and singles. Band continues making great pieces, but none quite reach the heights of the aforementioned masterpiece. Only a total change in approach will allow it, and that change is frought with peril (I'm not sure how I'd take to Jay doing Gary Numan or Alicja taking on Mortis). Band keeps turning out great stuff at an alarming rate, but ya gotta wonder when the next twist inevitably occurs. I look at it like this - the gorgeous "Clones Don't Love," the catchy "I Get Nervous" and the Hooters-like (sorry, but it's true!) chorus of "And You Dance" need strong consideration for the Lost Sounds' Greatest Hits album of 2007, and there aren't any true slouches in the batch. Almost everything else out there sucks hard in comparison. (TK)
Lost Sounds S/T No doubt there's gonna be a lot of ink spilled (html encoded?) about this record by all of my esteemed colleges this issue, so I'll make this short and sweet. The Lost Sounds can do no wrong. They could release a seven inch of Jay farting show tunes in the shower with Alicia playing Dio songs on a recorder and you know that you'd lap it up like a dog with his head in the toilet on a sweltering July afternoon. I would too. Of course this, their first album in two years is much better than that. In fact you could say (if you are the type that's inclined to issue rock journalistic proclamations) that of all their records to date this is the most focused and coherent. They've peeled away a lot of the sonic-skuzz that made Black Wave and the Future Touch EP so appealing, but in the process have lost none of their visceral appeal. Throw in an increased abundance of hooks (NOT of the bubblegum variety mind you…the chorus of "I Get Nervous" is like a fucking meat hook that slashes its way into your brain and just keeps tearing. Fucking insane, paranoid and GREAT!!!) plus the requisite songwriting brilliance and you've got an essential release by one of the best bands of the decade. With this album the Lost Sounds have delivered the perfect soundtrack to turbulent era we live in: neurotic, contemplative, raging, sensitive, abrasive, and fun - the perfect soundtrack for people trying to stay sane facing the prospect of four more years of the Bush Theocracy. For most of you this is already an automatic purchase and whatever we say is irrelevant. For those who haven't hopped on the wagon yet: buy this album, see 'em on tour, get the t-shirt, and snap some photos - because in ten years the Lost Sounds are going to be one of those bands that everyone and their brother will claim they saw (oh how loathe I am to say it…) "back in the day."(SS)
(In the Red Records // www.intheredrecords.com)

The Lucky Punch "Kick Up a Hullabaloo" CD
I've gone to the well far too often with this take on Dead Beat releases, but...if you like the mid-'90s Junk Rock aesthetic, this is a good release. In fact, I'd say it's one of the best of the ilk I've heard in a long time. I mean, most of this stuff makes me run screaming from the room, but The Lucky Punch are a really good band that doesn't go for the obvious, and I've listened to this several times (for actual-pleasure) since receiving it. I'll probably shelve it again for time-capsule replay in a few years, in which time bad memories of Dragons (& twenty other bands) overload will be outta my head. If you dig stuff like the Candy Snatchers, Hellbenders, Mud City Manglers & other bands of that general design, you'll love this record. (TK)
(Dead Beat Records // www.dead-beat-records.com)

Mr & Mr & Mr & Mr & Mr Evil s/t LP
I’m a big fan of genre plundering when it works. Some thievery is pretty easy. You can throw a sitar in almost anything and it will sound good or at least wrong enough to be interesting. What is hard to do is to merge funk or hip hop with punk rock. At its very worse, you get funk punk like the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Limbomaniacs. Almost as bad are “funk” songs by the Big Boys or raps appearing in the middle of a song ala False Prophets. However, once in a while it works. Perhaps the most successful marriage of funk and punk occurs in the Oblivions music and that’s because the funk is so internalized that you don’t think, “Ahhhh funk,” but the stuff makes you dance and it is funky so.... Lately, the French band Crash Normal has been able to pull off mixing hip hop beats in with garage punk. The Dirtbombs have successfully made funk their punk or something like that. And now this debut by San Francisco’s Mr & Mr & Mr & Mr & Mr Evil shows that there is at least one more band able to fuse punk rock with funk & hip hop. However rather than attacking the funk from a garage angle, the five Misters wallop the beast with MX-80 Sound and, at times, early Butthole Surfers in their hands. Like MX-80, there is an almost anthemic sound to the guitars, a sort of swirling build up. Meanwhile the rhythm section ka-lumps like they’ve been living on Johnny Pate blacksploitation soundtracks. Not all the songs are funky gems. "Ambush" comes at you like some dementoid Urinals spew and "Jaws" reminds me of the great Frisco band of yore, the Wounds. I’ll keep spinning this one for a while and look forward to whatever comes next.(SSR)
(Professional Driver Closed Course Do Not Attempt Records // www.midheaven.com)

Monoshock "Runnin' Ape-like from the Backwards Superman: 1989-1995" CD
This is one of those records/discs I get that just pisses me off. It angers me to no end when I find out about a band ten years after the fact, and it turns out they were one of the things I have looking for all along. In the early Nineties, while I was busy wasting money on Tar LP's and filling the gaps in my Crust Club collection, Monoshock were laying down these shit-hot singles which I for some reason ignored. Pisses me off. This is exactly what I wish that Comets on Fire CD I blew ten bucks on a couple months ago sounded like. Fuzz-psych without the stupid hippie sidetrips, although they seem to get progressively more 'out there' on the later releases. But shit, if "Primitive Zippo" isn't one of the best songs I've ever heard in the rawer-than-Mudhoney Stooge-inflected genre that doesn't really exist, except in my head. Monoshock lay the psych-trip on just thick enough for guys like me who aren't so much into the 'far out' jamshit but crave some thick fuzz. The screwy Hawkwind influence, incredible lyrics, and sense of humor are just gravy. I would say the first ten tracks on this are absolutely necessary, and I'm a jackass for not hearing them sooner. The liner notes are exquisite as well. A reissue that is actually worth the scratch. (RK)
The first label that comes to mind when I think of Monoshock is "organic." Yeah, you hear that tag tossed about here and there, but it's a rare case where it's actually a reality in this day & age. Monoshock were not aiming at anything - they weren't looking to be part of any scene, they were unconcerned with genre, and there's much space taken up by the happy accidents where inspiration overtakes blueprint. They created their own, insulated world, and meant it, man, not as a display of peacockery, but because they truly loved what happened when they plugged in and hit a groove. All the above is hearsay - it's just what the grooves are telling me - but I'll bet anything I'm correct. Like the Monoshock CD I've had around the house for a few years, I rarely pull it off the shelf (for some reason), but when I do I'm rewarded with some great noise. I think it's because they reward active listening, and none of the hooks are set up to rip your face off. Either way, if you're sick of schtick, this is as good a place to start as any. Great packaging and liners, too. (TK)
(S-S Records // www.s-srecords.com)

Motorama "No Bass Fidelity" LP/CD
Motorama are a sharp looking and sounding female three-piece from Rome who have decided to buck Italian rock tradition by actually making an album that does not suck at all. Strange. Imagine the Husbands on a '77 style punk death-trip, and you're getting a decent idea of what these girls are doing. But they throw a lot of curves into the songs as well, as in "'77" which is a perfect early Sonic Youth meets the Stooges scorcher, or the slow twang of "Nag" that builds up into wonderful explosions of ass-whup stomp. Lots of downer dynamics, just rough enough production, a singer that coos sweet nothings in a foreign tongue as well as she belts it out in English, plenty of tricks with the runaway garage bashing, and tight guitar/drum rhythms all make this a winner. Never really heard of them until I got this record, and the name Motorama had me scared a little, but these ladies are doing something really different and really good.(RK)
(Vida Loca Records // www.vidalocarecords.com)

Neurotic Swingers "French Fries, Guillotines & Love" CD
Lots of people 'round the world seem to have hard nips for this band, but I don't know whether I'm even qualified to review it. The tough guy catchy punk w/ Thunders-drawn guitar approach ain't my apple, so I'm afraid I can't come up with a fair judgement call. The songs sound fairly well-written. Do you like Taxi and shit? Ya might like this. There's also a vid included on the CD. (TK)
(Dead Beat Records // www.dead-beat-records.com)

Night Terrors "Zurfluh!" LP
Goodbye Boozy takes the plunge into the long playing format with the debut full-length from Wisconsin's Night Terrors. Tony Sagger & Kevin Mistreater plus a drummer combine to form a group that one would hope is equal parts Saggerian anti-rhythm and Mistreateresque thunk. But somehow this seemingly winning combination doesn't deliver. Sure, there are a couple brilliant moments, like the duet "Take This Man Away" or "Serial Killer", but for the most part the songs just plod around. I'm probably trying to dig this a little bit more than most, just for the fact that I am a card-carrying member of The Tonys fan club, and I get a kick out of his vocals, but you can't help but notice the whole thing is kinda dull. Woulda made a better single. I'd have much preferred a Sagger LP. Scum stats= 500 pressed, 100 on white vinyl.(RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // goodbyeboozy@tin.it)

The Nitz "Necromania" CD
Metallic EC (comix/Coast) hard(rock)core. Not sure what else to say - most of the songs sound the same, the band can play pretty well and all subjects are pulled from B-Grade horror flicks. (TK)
(Reptilian Records Inc. // www.reptilianrecords.com)

No Hope for the Kids “Das Reich” 7”
If you were to go back in time as little as two years ago and tell me that I would be not only taking the time to review a hardcore record with a cookie cutter Regan-era title like “Das Reich,” BUT ACTUALLY DIGGING IT, I would have thought you were nuts. With the exception of shit like Black Flag and the Bad Brains, I don’t even get that hot and bothered by original hardcore, let alone some puds trying to pretend the joke didn’t get old over twenty years ago. That’s why it comes as a surprise to me that I kind of like this record. Side A wouldn’t sound all that out of place on that Dischord DC hardcore comp, and the samples of goose-stepping storm troopers are just over the top enough to make me think the band was perfectly aware of how cheesy an effect that is. Awesome. The b-side actually has more in common with shit like Blitz or whatever in that it’s a pop song dressed up punk and trying to act tough. I don’t think this is gonna cause any of you douchebags to trade in your jean jackets for spiked leathers or anything, but I can certainly think of worse records to spend four bucks on.(SS)
(Backwards Masking)

Notekillers s/t CD
Christ, this is a tough one for me. An anthology of stuff, mostly unreleased, by the late 70s/early 80s Philadelphia “punk” band. I put punk in quotes because while this is loud and takes on some of the form and sound of punk rock and would certainly fit within what many of us called punk way back in the early 80s before it got divided into a million genre ghettos, I’m not sure what this is. First off, it is all instrumental. Second, it is musically much more accomplished than a whole lot of punk rock. These guys actually were ace musicians and pushed themselves, trying to get the most out of themselves and their songs. However this is not a wanky affair. The songs, though some pushing 5 minutes, are economical. There is more built on pure repetition than stuffing a dozen tricky turns into a tune. In this way, Notekillers are a logical step away from the mid 70s art/proto punk scene that spawned many a Cleveland band, Ralph Records, and LAFMS. The one thing that keeps me from totally embracing this is the lack of something besides guitar/bass/drums. Some vocals or even a sax would grab me more.(SSR)
(Ecstatic Peace // www.forcedexposure.com)

The Observers LP/CD
The Observers were one of the best bands I saw this summer. Everything a band should be—they were energetic and confrontational, intriguing and interesting. And, yes, Snuky, you could dance to it. They toured on this LP, So What’s Left Now, released on the always great Vinyl Warning Records. It’s a record that I immediately fell for, but with repeated listens it hasn’t lost any appeal, as so often happens with musical crushes. The songs are really well written and stay interesting even as they become familiar. That’s a rarity. They play a style similar in ways to No Hope For the Kids, melodic punk without at all being poppy.(DH)
(Vinyl Warning Records // www.vinylwarning.com)

Rhino 39 7" EP
As everyone knows, Dangerhouse was the greatest label of all time. Their ugliest wart (Howard Werth’s “Obsolete”) is still a solid power-pop track that makes the label a bit more interesting, and doesn’t flaw the catalog. One of the last, and hardest to turn up, singles issued by the label was a three song rocker by Long Beach teens Rhino 39. “Prolixin Stomp” fits the Dangerhouse mold— it’s an infectiously catchy dance tune about prescription meds. As if The Dils were a bit less intellectual, had a bit more teen angst, and hired Joe Ramirez of The Eyes to pen some lyrics (“Take a Quaalude Now”). “Xerox" & "No Comprimise” on the flip don’t quite draw the same comparisons. A year before others heard Discharge and started to speed up, this is debatably one of the first recorded hardcore tracks. The medley doesn’t even break the two-minute mark, but manages to be economical and doesn’t sacrifice the song to the speed. “Xerox”’s eleven second solo is one of the best committed to vinyl. This reissue is a straight-forward, true to the original pressing of that groundbreaking release done from the master tapes, and accompanied by an old interview from Flipside that predates the record. So far, bootleggers around the world have done perfect reissues of at least five Dangerhouse releases; perhaps the future will find the rest of the catalog given the same treatment.(DH)

River City Tanlines “Black Night” 7”
Record reviewers are a lazy bunch. Have you ever read the one about that Japanese band that sounds like Teengenerate? How about that arty punk band that sounds like Gang of Four? Same thing goes for girl-fronted bands always getting compared to other girl-fronted bands, but at least that one makes more sense. Nothing more dramatically changes the sound of a band than the gonads of the singer. Girl vocalists remind me of other girl vocalists – it’s that simple. River City Tanlines sound like Bitchschool and the Riff Randells during the poppier parts (“Black Night” is a pop fan’s wet dream), Girlschool during the rockin’ parts and Crimson Sweet during the wavy, guitar freakout parts. Good company for sure. And Alicja from Lost Sounds is the singer, which should seal the deal for a lot of people (her new solo CD-R is recommended as well, although those who can’t handle the mellow stuff might complain). A strong debut on clear yellow wax. (JG)
(Misprint Records // www.misprintrecords.com)

The Sores “Play 6 Songs of Despair and Frustration” 12"
Thought this thing was called “T.E.O.E.” for the longest time, ‘til I realized that the white spray paint spelling the rest of the band name was just really hard to see. The Sores have a Woodhouse produced 4 song CD-R floating around out there that I’m a fan of. It took a while to grow on me – it is a challenging listen - but the completely blown out noise fest, with highly unconventional songwriting and a distinct sounding slide guitar, works in a way that’ll likely please fans of boomy, thumpy punk ala The Intelligence. But after a bunch of listens to their first “official” release, I can’t say the same thing. The songs just aren’t as good and the production, while adequate, doesn’t come close to touching the Woodhouse sound. They have a brand new single out on Kryptonite, which I’m hoping has the same songs as the CD-R. Also, they’re Scott Soriano’s favourite band. (JG)
(Borox Records // www.thesores.com)

The Spinoffs “Straight Leather Jacket” CD
Calling any sub-genre of punk “dead” has gotta be one of the most clichéd statements out there, but seriously, isn’t pop-punk dead? Any signs of life that the movement was clinging on to had to have been lost when Mutant Pop Record’s mascot, Snorkel Bob, died this past summer (RIP Bob). Amazingly, there are still bands out there keeping the spirit alive, and even more amazingly, some bands do it very well like Vancouver’s hit writing machine, The Spinoffs. The songs are super fast and short (only 2 out of 17 break 2 minutes), the vocals are spot on and completely unique, the drumming is metronome tight, and the production is fantastic. It’s kind of sad that this record didn’t come out five years ago, as the kids would have gone apeshit over these guys, but today this record will likely toil in obscurity. Recommended if you’re an ex-pop-punk dork, like me, who still doesn’t mind the occasional stroll through memory lane. (JG)
(Amp Records // www.amprecords.com)

The Spits “19 Million A.C.” CD
After the rather ho-hum “Wheelchair” LP this singles and rarities comp does the job. These guys ain’t rocket scientists, I think we’ve determined that, but they can write frighteningly simple 3 chord hits. Not all of the singles or comp tracks are included here, but even if you already do own all their records there are a few unreleased songs (the GG “Drink, Fight & Fuck” cover is genius) and plenty of alternate versions of the hits that we all love, to make this a worthwhile release to pick up. (JG)
(Dirtnap Records // www.dirtnaprecs.com)

The Stabilisers "Last Chance Saloon" CD
Limey foursome delivers the jumpy power pop ala late 70s UK-style, with a clever sneer; a debut disc on an eye-talian imprint. Pretty damn energetic, full-sounding recording that hits the spot immediately, then continues to bubble like a meddling cold sore. The ridiculous (and funny) “Bendy Head” is a deceiving opener—things grow catchier from there on (but they aint afraid to rock out). The Stabilisers turn on the power pop rock and roll and the result had me thinking, a more badass version of the early Jam with Ray Davies screaming along. Then that went away for awhile and came back, but I never lost interest- plus, they boast the prolific Allan “Crojack” Crockfield, early bassist for Thee Headcoats, among several other notable resume entries. Catchy, fun, and rockin.(LB)
(Skipping Musez // www.skippingmusez.com)

Sweet JAP "I'm Only Moonlight" 7"
Somehow, Sweet JAP sound alot meaner and punker on this record than ever before. The A-Side is an incredibly short Registrators-ish blast. The B-Side, the inexplicably titled "Found There 'No Go'", is the winner, a really agressive screamer built around an Alleycats-like guitar hook. If there is a problem with this record, it's only that it's too short. I'm gonna assume this is a 500 copy press, 100 of which are on gold vinyl. Ken Dirtnap accidentally sent me a black vinyl copy, then remedied the situaution quickly by shipping the gold over to TB HQ, proving he is a stand up guy, even if he puts some lame records out on occassion. You should buy it too.(RK)
(Dirtnap Records // www.dirtnaprecs.com)

The Time Flys "Energy" 7"
Nice little single here that I was expecting to hate. One of The Cuts plays guitar on it, which immediately had me scared, because I am one of those guys that does not dig the Cuts. At all. But the A-Side of this thing is actually great. "Energy" is an unassuming piece of Gulcherian proto-whatever that somehow just weasels its way into repeat listenings. So simple that it's just great. Almost glammy a bit, and with some strong vocals. It will grow on you, trust me. The B-Side isn't nearly as hot. A tempo-changing semi-rocker that reeks a little bit of hippie. But "Energy" is a great tune, and I've heard their next single is even better than this one.(RK)
(Birdman Records // www.birdmanrecords.com)

TJ and The Lipstix "Masquerade" 7"
Two song one-sided single from another Martin Savage project. Senor Savage contributes songs and Swedish guitar licks, while two chicks (the Italian Valentina and Jenny from Dixie Buzzards) make with the fun-style vocals. "Masquerade" is upbeat and simple girl-pop, and "Hey" is sort of a call-and-response style slow rocker. Primitive and lighthearted, and kinda weirdly endearing. Look for a full length early next year. Collector stats: 83 on red wax (which is really see-through pink), 116 on aqua wax, and 301 on black wax. Jesus. (RK)
(P.Trash Records // www.ptrashrecords.com)

Tyrades "Incarcerated" 7"
I've come to the realization that aside from being probably the most exciting live band on the planet, The Tyrades may be also be the world's best singles band. Their last 7" was mind-numbingly good, but I think this one may even be better. "Incarcerated" is a Tyrades anthem that may even beat "I am Homicide" as their best tune ever. It's a classic stab of Tyrades art-punk destruction, and song that almost sounds broken, lurching between moments of all-out fury and razor-wire guitar shred. A fabulous and dead-on Wire cover follows, with great vocal interplay and the required abrupt ending. The B-Side is almost as good. "Cubicle" is mean and lean with a great bass sound, and "PCP" manages to sound both humorous and dangerous. Their rapid-fire attack works best in the 7" format, and while the album was great, I always find the singles even greater. This one is obviously no exception. (RK)
(Die Slaughterhaus Records // www.dshrecords.com)

The Ulcers "Hot Skin & Cold Cash" LP/CD
Debut LP from British Rip Off Records coulda-beens, and it fucking cooks. I shit you not. Add the Ulcers to the short list of great new bands from the UK, alongside the Real Losers and Black Time right now. Vintage Rip Off sound done very well: short and piercing leads, nice medium-fi sound, catchy hooks, some undeniably energetic and killer tunes ("Action", "Electric Love"), cool classic punk cover tune ("Attacking the Beat"), and more. A little bit more of a Brit-punk influence ("Headcase" sounds remarkably Brian James era Damned-ish for example) than your typical Rip Off sound-miners, and sounding a bit like recent Locomtions stuff as well, The Ulcers have made a very catchy and fun record that is even better than some full-lengths that actually came out on Lowery's label. Very worthwhile if your into this type of thing, and you know I am. And the yellow with red streaks vinyl looks awesome, which should cement the deal.(RK)
(Damaged Goods // www.damagedgoods.co.uk)

V/A Black Hats / The Reverse split 7”
Split record from a few bands unfamiliar to Mr. Boyle. The Black Hats side charges out with a solid, familiar blues stomper, “Trouble If Its Fair” — with a cant-do-no-wrong guitar riff, then they turn things up a step or two on the quick and trashy "(Have Ya Seen) My Brother." Flipped it over… The Reverse play the dirty rock and roll card, with a few more than capable numbers (complete with trash can snare down a hallway and exploding cymbal crashes) I bet they’re pals with the Mistreaters. Yet more fine rock and roll from the fine city that Jeffrey Dahmer called home.(LB)
(self-released)

V/A Career Suicide / Jed Whitey split LP
The Catholic Boys have played at least a couple times with Toronto's Career Suicide, and told me CS was a pretty impressive live band. Their side here is solid hardcore with some early(er) punk influences, pretty good but certainly not something that makes steam fly outta my ears. One of the CS dudes is wearing a Gizmos shirt on the insert, so ya know that their influences go back further than Agnostic Front, at least. Australia's Jed Whitey is surprisingly RAWK, with touches of speedy punk to round 'em out - I dunno, it's decent, pretty catchy, actually, but the Rick Sims-like vocals recall times both good (Didjits) and mediocre (Gaza Strippers). They probably woulda sounded at home on Junk back in the day. (TK)
(Deranged Records // www.derangedrecords.com)

V/A "Hot Pinball Rock Vol. 2" CD (Included w/Multiball #22)
I wasn't sure they were still making this mag. I'm no pinball wizard, but I've always found the articles to be interesting, and the music coverage is alright. I liked it better when they released split singles with each issue, but I understand that it's financial suicide at this point. Thirteen bands do thirteen odes to pinballin', the best being the always phenominal VU-drone rock of Viva L'American Death Ray Music, a nifty Fall (?) cover by the Country Teasers, and the first track I've heard of James Aurthur's new band, The Golden Boys (great echoey Western desperation slop). Other worthy tracks include Eric O's Dutch Masters & the Goddamn Gentleman. Gets a bit cute over the course of CD, but ya can always skip forward or turn it down and read the mag. (TK)
(Multiball // www.hotpinballrock.com)

V/A Intellectuals / Rock'n'Roll Adventure Kids split 7"
I hate split singles for some reason, but this is one of the good ones. The Intellectuals side is fantastic. Drum Girl and Guitar Boy bash out two two-piece pounders on a four track that give us hope that there are still some good Italian bands out there. "Lover" is a kinda moody rocker with a deep and desperate hook, and "New Ballance" is the punkier number, with what sounds like accompaniement from their fax machine. Proof enough that the boy/girl guitar/drum duo can still be done well, and good enough to leave me wanting more. The Adventure Kids side is country themed with two 'Back from the Barn' garage-country rockers that are funner than shit, and really show off the bands "range". Playful hoe-downish bashing that's hard not to like, recorded by Greg Ashley. I would rarely recommend buying a split, but I'll make an exception for this one. Plus, its on incredible yellow vinyl with black splatters that I wish smelled like a rotten banana.(RK)
(Vida Loca Records // www.vidalocarecords.com)

V/A "Pain in the Big Neck" CD
If you must buy a compilation CD, which I am generally loathe to do, you couldn't spend your money any better than here. Big Neck may not be the biggest label around, but Bart has toiled for years to amass an impressive and diverse catalog that most labels would yearn for, and which is well represented by the bands appearing. And while some other labels may get all the fanfare, Bart continues to put out great record after great record, whether people are listening or not. Why? Because the man truly cares. I mean it. But enough of my gushing, let me take this CD apart for you. Most, if not all, tracks are unreleased. You have your standard Big Neck heavy hitters: Furies, Blowtops, Lost Sounds (who contribute a version of "Frozen in Time"), Sagger, Locomomtions (another top-shelf song from the "Teacher" 7" session). You have your stand-out Buffalo talent: Trailerpark Tornados (an outtake from their recent single sessions), a great song from a great little local band called Mockba (wave-pop stuff), Concubine Forming, plus a heavy rocking number from an old Buffalo band called the Jack Jimmy Hoodlums, whose single was actually supposed to be Big Neck's second release. PLUS, you get unreleased Radio Beats, Sweet JAP, a muscular new MHz tune, Sick Fits, Functional Blackouts, AND an "I Got A Right" cover from the Catholic Boys (taken from the recordings that spawned the "Brainwash City" EP). Hows that for quantity and quality? Want me to say something bad about this record? OK. The 7-10 Splits song sucks and the mastering is a little dodgy. Other than that, no complaints. A great testament to a label that I wish many more years of success to, because Big Neck and Bart deserve it. But you should just buy it 'cause it's good.(RK)
Like most comps, this one's half notable and half forgettable. Standout tracks here hail from the usual standout bands: Catholic Boys, Blowtops, Sagger, Lost Sounds, Baseball Furies, Sick Fits, and a couple more that've slipped my mind. Decent sample of current r'n'r goodness, but not really essential. (EL)
This is one of the best compilation albums in years - lots of bands we (staffers and most readers) are already "all about." First with the criticisms - like most CD comps (and CD releases in general), this is too lengthy to be effective as a cohesive whole. I understand that every jitbag with a keyboard will bitch if you don't shoehorn 20-30 bands "because you CAN," but it really does knock these things below shit like "AK79" or "Tuatara" or "Cleveland Confidential" or whatever. The levels are also frighteningly uneven - I know it ain't hard to bring these to a studio (or someone with a bit of technology) and even the levels in an hour, and it costs less than $100. Other than that, you get killers from the Blowtops, Catholic Boys and Lost Sounds, backed up by some great tunes by Sweet JAP, Functional Blackouts, Sagger, Baseball Furies, and more. Nothing on here particularly sucks, and there are a few bands I'd never heard that I'm now diggin'. Like a mix tape done by someone with fine taste, with the added benefit that (most of?) this stuff is unreleased. (TK)
(Big Neck Records // www.bigneckrecords.com)

V/A Popular Shapes / Kurt split 7”
Sadly, the Popular Shapes have broken up. To help with the healing process, we get two new songs (mysteriously titled “1” and “3”) on this split with Germany’s Kurt. Not quite as good as last year’s LP, but not much is. The tempo’s slowed down a bit on these two angular tracks, but Nic’s distinctive yelps are still there as are the dueling guitar parts, sounding kind of like a modern day, art-punk take on the weirder Pixies songs. Kurt Bloch production would’ve been nice, but I’m guessing that gets a bit expensive after a while. Don’t have much to say ‘bout the flip, ‘cept it’s not nearly as good as the Popular Shapes side. Cool dayglo silkscreened sleeves, too. (JG)
(On/On Switch // www.ononswitch.com)
(X-Mist // www.x-mist.de)

V/A "Shakin' in My Boots: A Texas Rock'n'Roll Compilation" CD
CD compilation of various modern day Texas garage bands from a label based in Austin. The good: the first appearance of James Arthur's Golden Boys, who contribute the great "I Want You"; a great and noisy Excels cover from the Ka-Nives; a live Hard Feelings tune; the Ugly Beats Legends cover. The bad: lots of average-sounding bar rock and boring surf-styled stuff. The ugly: three words, Jesus Christ Superfly. Yes, they apparently still exist. Christgau says C+ overall, but Dave Crider will probably dig it.(RK)
(Licorice Tree Records // www.licoricetree.com)

Vulvettes "This is the Science We Believe In" CD
This is a release that should have been reviewed here long ago, but for whatever reason, it somehow slipped through the cracks, which may be somehow appropriate. The Vulvettes music is what inhabits those cracks, weirdo art-punk that most of us are probably not ready for, that the world wasn't even ready for when they inhabited this earth back in late Nineties San Francisco. Dissonant keyboards, tape loops, drums made of junk, rambling madman vocals, songs about vermin and aliens. Definitley not conventional by any means, but still a song like "Sunny Backyard" can worm it's way into your favor. "Alien Nation" even lays down some of the template for the future-punk that the A-Frames would later expand upon. Actually, I would imagine that someone could make some kind of graph bisecting post-punk and srt-punk, place Factrix, The Vulvettes, Karate Party, and the A-Frames at their respective points and draw a straight line through them all. They've all carried the same torch, handed it off to one another in different forms/sounds. Definitley not easy listening, but those up for the challenge will get what they're looking for.(RK)
(Dragnet Records // www.dragnetrecords.com)

Wire "On the Box: 1979" DVD/CD
Up until a year ago, one of my most cherished concert videos was Wire concert filmed in studio for the German TV show Rockplast. Drunk last summer, I stuffed it into the box of a Samari film I rented and returned it to the video store. I nearly fractured my damn skull beating it against the wall for the slip up. Now, I can stop hating myself (at least for that fuck up) cuz Wire has reissued the Rockplast show on DVD and included with it a CD of the same performance. Both will thrill any Wire fan.
The material covered in the concert is stuff from the first three albums (Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, and 1-5-4). The performance is as tight as Wire gets and loud, so even those who live and die by the punkiest of their records, Pink Flag, will at least get a rawer take on the songs from the second two records, if not enjoy them. Actually, I don’t see why anyone who like any Wire can’t enjoy this set. There are only one or two dull spots in the whole thing.
There are several more things to recommend this: First is that the video image is great. The tape I had was a zillionth generation dub, which had great sound but a crummy image. This was taken direct from the Rockplast archives so it looks great. And since this was originally record on 2 inch video tape, the sound quality is excellent, far superior to most concert tapes. Also, tacked on the end of the DVD is a 20 minute interview which will be a treat for you big Wire-philes.(SSR)
(Pink Flag)

Zolar X "Timeless" LP/CD
There's gotta be tons of pre-punk glam projects that never saw the light of day, though Zolar X is the first I've heard (there are compilations floating about that I haven't picked up yet). They had their own language, dressed like gay aliens (gayliens) even when offstage, and shared the stage with bands like KISS back in the day. Musically, the first few songs on the A Side are REALLY FUCKING GREAT - Sweet/Dickies/T-Rex catchy/weird/silly robotic spew that oughtta satisfy anyone. Surprisingly "punky" and direct, these fools could pen some catchy numbers, for sure. Side B shows heavy decline into Boston territory (especially during "The Horizon Suite"), so just ferget to flip it, stupid! (TK)
(Alternative Tentacles // www.alternativetentacles.com)




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