END OF SUMMER RECORD REVIEWS 2012 (A to M)
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)(NG: Nick Goode)(EEK: Erick Elrick)(MO: Matt O)
The A-Heads "Discography 1982-2009" LP
Mid-tempo anarcho punk rock from the UK with melodic female vocals. Musically the songs lean a bit more toward the punk rock and roll side of things but at times strike into the peace punk territory bringing to mind bands like Crass or Flux of Pink Indians without beating you over the head with heavy political lyrical content. The more I listen to this the more it sounds like a female fronted version of The Subhumans. The first eight tracks were originally released on a few 45s and a comp back in the early 80’s. The last three tracks were apparently recorded as recently as 2009. Considering the 20-plus year gap between the older stuff and the new stuff, the band doesn’t sound too far from where they left off, which might be a good thing considering how awful some of the reformed punk band ventures can turn out ( for example the newest Amebix record). I would say this is recommended if you are a serious fan of all things anarcho and peace punk. If you are curious about the genre and are looking for a place to start, this might not fall under the category of essential anarcho punk bands to start with. (MO)
(Mass Media // www.massmediarecords.com)
Alarm Clocks "Live Nov. 7, 2009" LP
Few human beings have more reliable taste than Charles at My Mind's Eye, which I guess should be expected from the proprietor of one of the finest record parlors in the Americas. Legend has it he once forcibly ejected a patron from the store when he overheard the guy talking shit about Sabbath. Righteous? I think so. Alarm Clocks are one of Cleveland's (actually Parma', Ohio's) most well known Sixties garage acts, good enough to have been included on the first volume of BFTG and to have a retrospective CD released on Norton. Now, I'm no fan of Sixties band reunions, but this thing is pretty fucking hot and steamy. All originals except for a Chuck Berry jam at the end, including both sides of the killer "Yeah" b/w "No Reason To Complain" slab, and perfectly timed at nine songs in length in a tasteful lesson of not overstaying their welcome that many of this ilk forget (while not exactly a Sixties band, The Cynics are a great example of garagesters not knowing when to put the fucking mics down already after an hour and a half...and this could actually have been edited down from the master, but you get the fucking point). Mike Pierce still sounds like a young man and has a fantastic Howland-esque nasal delivery, and they get into grooves that will summon up thoughts of what the Cheater Slicks might have sounded like had they been born a decade or two earlier. Recorded on a whim by Diamond Jim Diamond for masterful fidelity, who happened to be at the Beachland playing with Scott Morgan at this very show. Way better than it has any right being, and is actually preferable to the Norton platter if you ask me. Scum stats: limited to 300 copies, paste-on covers with insert and highly endorsed by Greg Cartwright.(RK)
(My Minds Eye // www.mymindseyerecords.com/store)
Charles Albright "Things Have Changed" 7"
Two tracks on a one-sided slab from Sacto's busiest musician. "Things Have Changed" is a garage-punk crusher with a real obnoxious bass/guitar sound that I dig a whole lot. Sloppy, punk and dumb, just like it's supposed to be. I listened to this one a few times. "Let's Fuck" turns down the amplitude a little, and replaces it with a really annoying vocal thing where he it almost sounds like he's making wah-pedal noises with his mouth. Still, the guitars sound really good on this, even if the song sounds like a toss off. I dunno about this one. Not a lot of return on your investment here even though it has a good track. Scum stats: 240 copies with three sleeve variants. With insert and hand written/stickered labels.(RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // firstname.lastname@example.org)
Apache Dropout “Shot Down” 7”
Indiana finally starts getting some respect around these parts. Maybe I’m just late to the party? I dug the LP a bunch…kinda what I’d hoped the Brian Jonestown Massacre would sound like, back before I actually heard ‘em. Velvet-y rave ups with blisterin’ lead play and some good ol’shouting about in the studio. Scrappier production values help the Apache Drop into a more authentic Sixties hullabaloo this time around. “Shot Down” hammers home the fuzz n’ grit with a 13th Floors or Krayola inspired firestorm…but imagine Ian McCulloch vocalizing over the Trogg-lodyte riffage instead. I believe the DJ nerds out there call this a solid groover. “Sister Burnout” on the flip gives us more of the fuzzy stomp-stomp-stompin’, but also rollicks about like a hard-edged, budget Bowie. Really short and pleasing to my ears…and that’s a bit of a shock, considering this could be bordering on trashglam (and yer all aware on my glam take by now). Shit, maybe I am softening up in my old age. At least I can enjoy the ride! (RSF)
(Trouble In Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Art Institute “People Like It When You Fail” LP
Did they expect to fool us with the Pettibon cover? This doesn’t sound like Flag or Fucked Up. If it comes close to anything on the SST back log, I’d say Saccharine Trust. Saccharine Trust or Minutemen jazz being shoved thru a post-punk filter and a dollop of Talking Heads on top. A few songs lift from the MX-80 songbook (“…Drug Of Nostalgia” and “Lord Jim” especially) and that doesn’t happen so often. There’s a sound of Jello self-importance in tracks like “In The Key of Fuckin’ A” and in some of the sung-spoken tidbits throughout play. Synths and drum machines sprout up to bring a proto-new wave or Nothing People odditude to it as well. It’s a tightly collected listen until the noisy blast of “Red Grant” shakes it up at the end. I’m trying to place a better frame of reference than all the scatter-shit I’m chucking about. It’s not that easy. Perhaps a punkier Orange Juice or Tuxedomoon? A maximum Minimal Man? Definitely art school kids that put this together. From Houston, eh? Do they even have an art institute there? The DO have the art car parade and The Orange Show…and that fares better than any schooling in my book. Mature stuff. Some of the players may even have beards. Probably all of them are really tall and gangly. I’ve got an AI degree in industrial design and I don’t use it either…respect. An interesting spin. 300 pressed up featuring a locked roulette groove…drop the needle and one of two songs will play. It’s art, I tell ya. Comes with various bits of ephemera rattling about inside…sorta’ like a Kinder Surprise. (RSF)
(Art Institute // www.artinstitute.bandcamp.com)
Les Aspirateurs "Le Crime" 7"
Germans playing French garage beat? Must the krauts continue to pillage the Republic? I kid. Two songs of crisp and clean Euro-beat sung in French with sharp recording, sharp ties and decent haircuts. A-Side has a heist theme and nice harmonica break, B-Side is all harmony-n-rhythm. Executed with style and skill, like the hundreds of bands and records that came before them. If I was drunk in Paris and these guys were playing at the bar me and my old lady would probably have a blast dancing. But since I'm in America and stone sober, this is just a competent genre exercise for fans of The Kaisers and such. Scum stats: 300 copies with nicely screened sleeves.(RK)
(self-released // lesaspiratuers.de.gg)
Astryd Lindgren’s Great 5 s/t 7”
The intro ain’t all that. Shoulda started with something punchier than a so-so instrumental. Then it’s a cover of Freestone’s “Bummer Bitch”. Again? Why!? It ain’t an awful take, but I’ve (we’ve) already got at least four other covers of it shelved along side the original. There are plenty of other KBDs waiting for a good run-thru. Or (shock-horror) how about an original? This is the A-side ya’ goons…“Retard Rock” hits you like a Bag Of Hammers with what sounds like a Statics outtake or somethin’. That happened. The B-side on this is a barely even together. “Spring Time In Tokyo” is a mess, but it’s the best mess so far. “The Scene” snarls like Blight trying to get a Rip-Off Records deal. The phasered bass alone makes it worthy of a spin. “True Love” ends this debut in a spastic and crashing budget dumbness. I gotta’ say this EP would’ve been a lot better if the labels were flipped. Or the tracks were in a different order. Or this was 1993. Meep. Greep. Spoo. Fizz. (RSF)
(Ken Rock // myspace.com/kenrockrecords)
Atelier Mediterranee s/t 7”
Took me a while to just figure out just the band name on here. I think I got it right. I think…
What’s the sounds? A cluttered and failed Suicide attempt? ESG’s experimental dance music, made for cripples? All the above and less. Scratch the forefront synthesizers half-way on side one for a helicoptering guitar repeat. Add random background noises. Verses come along that are seemingly lost in a dope haze akin to the later Hospitals output. After a minute or so of thumbing their nose at rhythm, some percussion settles in. Then leaves. This isn’t really music. Still I keep listening to it. Warbly keyboard and some spoken word workouts follow up on the B-side. Besides. It’s French. It’s actually children under the influence of Cheveu. Ah, now this makes sense. It’s mildly terrifying. Tomfoolery for the ears of The Wire readers who sit in on the forum every once in a while.(RSF)
(Bruit Direct Disques // www.bruit-direct.org)
Atom Mouth Gimlies “#1 Outhouse” 7”
“A good pancake, a good flow” – translated from the Jumatsuga label page.
Not as riddim heavy as their tape I dug, but still just as dumb and thuggish. The Gimlies' “#1 Outhouse” is the sound of bongos played by a thalidomide child. Think one-string bass being stretched and thwacked over a contact mic. Add a guitar screech and vocals being transmitted thru a dictation recorder. Mix it up and there you have it...shitpunk for those who like punkshit. I’m a shit-eater myself, so I’m willing to dig in. Less Aussie grumble this time out and more of a deranged Happy Flowers type of stupidity on display (or even some Art Fag slapped upside its noggin). Four songs of equal rudimentary instrumentation, just flat out bashed for fuck-all sake. Muppet punk that eats these new jack Donavan infused garage “artistes” like a bowl of soggy Wheaties. Coming soon to a Finnish chaptered 'Leather Donut' or 'Waste Sausage' retro comp near you. (RSF)
(Jumatsuga Records // www.jumatsuga.blogspot.com)
Audacity "Vape Victim" 7"
This band should always be billed as THE Audacity, if I'm getting the gag right. But here they're just Audacity. Which doesn't make me smile. Not sure how or why this song is called "Vape Victim" - is it about someone catching The Vapors? Is it an electric cigarette joke? I don't know. There is a lyric about taking a shit, I do know that. It's in their pop-punky style. "Indian Chief" is tougher and garagier and takes a couple left turns in both pop and punk directions, but separately, which is OK. We just don't want those two words getting joined together with a hyphen. As seems to be the trend with these new G-Boozy platters, we again get an uncredited B-Side jammer, this one has some ramma lamma and Grease-y (the musical) stylings. These guys are sort of the midway point between Ty Segall and Thee Makeout Party, so if you're a fan in either of those camps you'd do well with this one. Scum stat: 270 copies, three sleeve designs. (RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // goodbyeboozy.blogspot.com)
The Aversions “Nocturnal Ghosts” LP
A French Canadian (Quebec?) outfit that’s been slogging away off the radar for damn near ten years. They’ve gotten mild to favorable reviews in these pages since the get-go but elsewhere I’ve never heard a peep about ‘em. Their first song here (“Spy Called July”) has an early Replacements thrust to it, but with a full-tilt/ balls-out rock execution. It’s got a nervous energy to it that I dig. After that it shifts into a dark post-punk thing and the vocals remind me of John Sharkey III when he went all Depeche Mode/Mighty Sphincter lover a few years ago. A bit of Jello Kennedys flutter up in there too, especially on stuff like “Scarlet Street”. The half dozen numbers on here do a good job of bringing back the 80’s SoCal punk scene, but with less sunny overtones. The kind a thing Le Face and Gestapo Kazi have been pulling off. Shit, there’s probably even a 90’s alt-friendly mall employee out there dying to here something like this. I could see my “edgy” cousin (a Toadies fan, btw) diggin’ it as well as some old studded punx. Broaden their horizons. Worthy a shot at college airplay. Comes with a fancy lyric book and a poster. Classy. (RSF)
(Die In Style Records // )
Bad Drugs "Raw Powder" LP
Rotted Tooth is doing a bang-up job of filling the fucked noise-rock gap between the Nineties AmRep and 00's Load Records roster, and I've enjoyed much of it so far (Shaved Women, Butcher Cover, Solid Attitude) even if they occassionaly drift a bit too far into noise without the rock at times. They have cultivated an undeniable aesthetic both musically and visually that has to be appreciated. Bad Drugs has members of Cacaw, Heavy Times and other Chi-town heavies probably identifiable to locals only and they're 110% dedicated to noise overload at all times on this record. "Ga'an Fishing" certainly sounds a lot like last LP era Hammerhead with a screamer on vox as does "Go Ghost A-Go-Go" with its bass driven riffage and dextrous drum work. "Chilling In the Name Of" ends the side and is where things start sliding more into the noise vortex - squealing guitars prick and stab, the bass sounds are totally fried and make for a sickly rhythm over which there's an almost harmonious singing part before it all shatters into a hyperdrive race down a dead end street. Crash and burn, and the sort of semi-cacophonous mess you'd hear on the early Today is the Day records. Side B starts off with a short skronker and then breaks your will with "Red Violator" a throttling drum crusher with unsympathetic bass throb and shards of needling guitar shred. Overkill in the best way. "Robo Clop" continues the oppression and they fade into darkness with "Master" which ends with a great freakout where the rhythm section turns the sludge to 11 and the guitar player wanks the fuck out. A fucking brutal record, and one you can't listen to passively. It demands attention. I can't say I'm going to listen to this everyday, but it's fucking good at what it does - an exemplary blend of Lightning Bolt art-noise and the burliness of Nineties noise-rock where pigfuck tailed off and bands became less concerned with rock and more into just throttling. I shouldn't have to tell you that this thing has locked grooves at each end either. Scum stats: 300 copies with incredible silkscreened artwork and a postcard-sized insert that is even screened. Glow in the dark vinyl too. A real piece of art. Glad to see this label finally set up a website too.(RK)
(Rotted Tooth Records // www.rottedtoothrecordings.com)
Blast & The Detergents "Brain Time Now" LP
"17 song epicfest" is a pretty funny label description, and there are certainly some goings on here that are epic in some way, even if that way is total clusterfuck. They seem to be using the following recipe: 1/3 Sonic Youth, 1/3 DC post-punk and 1/3 sloppy hardcore punk. The songs are huge messes, a series of experiments resulting in globs of music that fire off in all directions at the same time. Singer has a an everyschmuck sort of bellowing delivery that actually compliments these gonzo explorations. Hardcore-style drums fire off the beat, out of tune guitars often sound like they're being played by rank amateurs trying to create a wall of noise and end up sounding like trebly insectoid formations. Every song has a few left turns, post-punk angles that butt up against totally inept DIY slop, the sort of semi-organized chaos the Swell Maps made sound so beautiful, here is done in a fashion that is anything but. I feel like they had to improv some of this stuff, because there's no way people would write songs this way. A lot of time it feels like the drummer starts and the guitarists just start flailing uncontrollably while the singer recites some free verse. There are sparse moments of clarity where the band sounds an infantile Tyvek or they perhaps stumble into a free-garagey passage where they sound like an experimental Estrogen Highs. Everything about this record is fucked up and wrong which is what saves it from being boring. A complete mess, a hilarious and unintentional parody of Sonic Youth soundscaping and post-hardcore Dischord bands done by boobs jacked up on energy drinks and reefer, an awful American DIY record done with boundless and directionless energy. I'm not saying this record is amazing, because at it's base it's just not very good at all. But it's not very good in a very interesting way, whether it's honestly inept or intentionally sloppy I don't know, but I'm having a good time thinking about it. A terrible record for advanced listeners and cheap thrill seekers only. Ugly paste-on sleeves enhance the experience only slightly, because it's fittingly not even ugly in a cool way and the garbage colored vinyl adds insult to injury. (RK)
(No Clear Records // blastandthedetergents.bandcamp.com)
Michele Bombatomica and His Cheap Orchestra “Crooked” LP
Not my kinda thing. I’ll admit that right out of the gate. On first ear I’m hearing a lesser Starvations take on roots-folk punk, but with a heavy peppering o’ French, Italian, Gypsy and whatthefuckeverelse they can dash on top. It’s really starting to rub me in a Firewater fashion. No…that’s not a good thing. I’d imagine people who feel the need to own every goddamned Tom Waits LP pressed since the Eighties would get a grip on this and joyfully walk it, tucked under arm, to their next Steam-punk affair. Talented guys, I guess. Sometimes (Ok, always) I prefer an enjoyable listen over technical proficiency. Sorry dudes. (RSF)
(Bob Records // )
The Be Helds "Volume I" LP
It turns out that there is a pretty cool little scene out in Missoula, MT. Nestled in the Rockies and not particularly close to much, a crop of bands has incubated and begun to trickle out some worthwhile vinyl. This latest installment of MM cred comes in the form of a self-released 10-track album done up in the time-tested DIY tradition of screen-printed sleeve, stamped center labels, hand numbered sleeve (outta 300, which is, of course, the time-tested ideal press number for such self-released DIY debuts). Drenched in reverb and armed with some jangle percussion, The Be Helds knock out some satisfying, bare bones garage—only a duo but they make a nice racket. They manage to explore a lot of territory that can be lumped under the GARAGE banner – some western-tinge, a ballad, a couple ol' fashioned stompers – so the album has enough variety to keep it interesting.(DH)
If my brain had to act like a sponge - keeping the entire lofty garage pop and jangly VU worship I’ve had to ingest here within its soggy folds – it’d be so dense with over saturation I’d probably collapse under the weight, crashing thru my computer desk. I imagine it would look like a like a hundred pound lump of John Merrick noggin and land with the velocity of a wrecking ball. Hopefully that’d be enough weight to destroy my harddrive in the process. Then I’d never be able to look back at all the reviews I’ve written with “loft” or “jangle” in their description. Without coming off like a total cunt, I’ll say there are a few perks to spinning this LP. One is that The Be Helds fooled me into thinking they were a full band even though their just a wee two-piece. The basic tub-thumping is probably coming from a stand up kit and the guitarist has his reverb levels set just right. You fooled me. Another plus is that at a bunch of the tunes (esp. “Girl from My Head” and “But Kids”) seem to be inspired by the Gris Gris and not just another Oh Sees/Black Lips ape like most youngins cop out and do these days. Hell, these cats might be in their late 20s and not just some teenagers with sideways ball caps, ironic tees and partial gold grills. I can’t say I come away with much from this after repeated listens, but there still are a few tracks that stick out and could’ve made a descent single. Sometimes they manage to sound like Nobunny fronting a flowerpunk act. That’s kinda something...right? If there wasn’t already a sea of this kind of thing for them to swim in, they might have even gotten a more favorable review. Perhaps they’re the kings of the Missoula garage scene. Good for them. But for now I’m done. Please stop sending things like this to us. Apache Dropout and Night Beats excluded…all else, grow a pair and get burly. 300 pressed and hand numbered. (RSF)
(self-released // www.thebehelds.bandcamp.com)
Big Eyes "Back From The Moon" 7"
I gotta give Grave Mistake credit, as I always thought of it as a hardcore label, but Alex's releases really run the gamut of all punk styles. Big Eyes are from Seattle, and the A-Side of this is a great example of female-fronted power-pop that reminds me a lot of The Muffs, who were a great band in case you forgot. Very Cheap Trick-esque and Kate Eldrige has a can't miss leather-jacket-punk-girl delivery. Whether I dig the genre or not, a good song is a good song. The B-Side is more pop-punk, a little too sing-songy for me, but I'd rather have my little sister listening to and admiring Miss Eldridge than say, Rihanna.(RK)
(Grave Mistake // www.gravemistakerecords.com)
The Blimp "Not Beer" 12”
I think that your appreciation for The Blimp may rest upon your tolerance for one Mr. Franklin Q. Zappa. I know that main Blimp Lucas Gunn took lessons from Zoot Horn Rollo or some kinda shit, and the dude can play (although not on the level his bro Chris of the Hunches can), but it leans less towards Van Vliet action-spew and more towards the self-consciously wacky shtick that Zappa-doo-dah so, um, excelled at. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some pretty ace rocking moments here, particularly on the title track. As art-school drop-out as this comes off, you can tell these folks come from a punk background. There is an element of the retard-prog Cleveland’s legendary late 70s/early 80s scene spit out (Styrenes, Tripod Jimmie etc.). But just as they are building up a head full of steam, the circus comes to town, and you find yourself front row at a Man Man gig. Final jambroni “Dead Bones Blood Orange Brown Mean Land” (was this title discovered on an old cocktail napkin of the Cap’n hisself?) has some cool moments of twisty rock, but alas, The Blimp’s need to overburden their songs with “flourishes” renders the impact null and void. Not sure if all of the copies come w/ a DVD-R of Gunn’s Petertag film, but mine did, and, unfortunately, my laptop keeps rejecting it. Take that as you will.(EEK)
(Violet Times // www.violet-times.com)
Bloodhouse "Please Don't Meet Me" 7"
First vinyl release from Halifax's Bloodhouse, whose cassette I rather liked last year. They play heavy wall-of-guitar sounding indie-rockish stuff that will probably be called garage rock these days. But they remind me of Nineties guitar outfits from the last days of when college radio still mattered. They take that and slow it down to dirgey tempos, sounding almost like an Oh Sees 45 played at 33, which turns the West Coast neo-psych into icy sounding and dark music for travelling forested roads in the shadows and frost. Title track is exceptional, bass throbbing current and guitar prickling up your spine. "Cool Intentions" ups the tempo just the slightest bit from dirge to brisk walk perhaps without settling into plod at all. There's definite forward movement here, with string bending dips and more edge-walking bass playing keeping it's head down against the wind that carries the vocals. Stops abruptly on a dime, which adds some kind of gravity to it all. Fade-outs are for quitters. A great little record from a label I wasn't expecting them to be on for some reason. I'd look out for this and their mates Bad Vibrations as well.(RK)
(Caesar Cuts // caesarcuts.blogspot.com)
Bloodshot Bill “Lemme Rock” 7”
How the hell did this even end up at the TBHQ? I thought that Squooge guy was crucified years ago for shady record practices in our forum trenches? This is from 2010, so maybe it’s all pre-fallout. Who knows? Who cares. At least this ain’t bad. Actually, it’s quite good. Shakin’ the shack-style throwbackabilly from the Canadian star of retro-slop. Norton digs him…why don’t you? Is this really a one man band? Seems to me it’s prolly one man playing everything but recording it on separate takes. “Lemme’ Rock” is the sole original and has this call and response thing goin’ down that sounds like a bullfrog arguing with redneck. The rest of the joint is covers done with honest madman affection for authentic Fifties hillbilly grease. Hiccupping, yodeling, groaning and smacking a tad of Lightning Beat Man …but the covers he chose ain’t all right, alrite? (That’s meant to be positive, FYI). Kitschy and warped yet traditional sounding stuff. Good luck finding a copy under 10 US bones I suppose. No weird packaging or vinyl shape. Thick and sharp illustrated sleeve tho’! (RSF)
(Squooge Records // www.squoodge.de)
Bloody Gears "Frozen Rain" 7"
Dark post-punk from Boston, the title track is a brooding marcher, with piano and goth-sounding guitar bringing the melancholy and a gravel-throated fella expressing a tale of woe. It's a bit strange, the vox give it a weird(er than usual) modern take on late Eighties depression and the solo kicks it up a good bit energy-wise. Something just seems off, but that might be what makes it interesting. B-Side has two songs in a more melodic punk vein, I'm imagining these guys are big fans of Husker Du and Leatherface, two bands I was never big on, but this might be right up your alley. "Tragic Mistake" actually sounds more Wipers than either of those after a couple listens. I belive the A-Side is the "hit" from their LP given a different mix for a single. Pretty bleak vibes, and the songwriting isn't going to knock your socks off, but I at least dig that they're really going for it on "Frozen Rain".(RK)
(Grave Mistake // www.gravemistakerecords.com)
Born Petrified s/t 7”
Might be unfair to let me review this (I share band space with this cat), but someone has to jump on it ‘fore it’s too late. Before all those hallway closet record label big-wigs sweep him up and have him playing overseas Scion fests by 2013. Brendan “Born Petrified” Leonard is a One Man Band. One that’s got a pretty good grasp of all the genre will allow. There are the obvious hints of Jack Starr (duh), Adkins and the Cramps-ian worship that we’re used to…but he’s got a lot more than that tucked under his ‘stache. Not just crazy crazy, but songwriting crazy. He has a Townes VanZandt/Hazelwood erection, the real folk blues in his hip pocket and some sorta batshit savant knowledge of all instruments. Banjo, harmonica, guitar, bass, drums, odd random kitchen utensils and that ribbed wooden fish-looking thing that I always forget the name of. In a live setting I’ve seen him roll out gospel foot-stomps, Clevo proto-punk burners, Childish bluesy garage bangers and murder ballads that’d keep a Beasts O Bourbon fan weeping like a very attractive ladyboy. Let’s not overlook the fact he loves his critters. Critter songs > Pizza songs: get that straight in yer lumpy noggin. When it gets down to these porch (dining room) recordings, the similarities to…say…Golden Boys/JWC III or Paul Cary are aplenty. You get a bit o’ freak out, a sampling of hazy summertime creak, a dollop of grandiose melancholia and some rambling hillbilly fun. Wrapped up in 14 inches or less. Big bang for the buck. More records forthcoming and high-hopes for a Goner vs. Norton bidding war. Solid. (RSF)
(PB&J Records // brendanieleonard-at-gmail.com)
Brain Tumors s/t 7”
Great debut from a bunch of Minnesotan HCPMFs…a cunning mix of Post Regiment-y neck pickup jangled guitar lines and the infallible stop and go/Touch and Go lawnmower rhythms. They play just loosely and deranged enough to make the right amount of nonsense, and both sides have a nice swing from ripping to chunky, cookies in the cream, pizza in the vodka vomit. The artwork on this thing is wonderfully ugly - like a butthole made into a face made of buttholes basted in neon pink and fingerpainted greens and yellows. All of this is moot, as these Tumors bear the stamp of thee Fashionable Idiots - there is no greater seal of quality, highly retarded punk in our times. Additionally, I believe this is the only record I’ve seen with an offer to help with your math homework.(NG)
(Fashionable Idiots // http://fashionableidiots.blogspot.com)
Brain Tumors s/t LP
This band came completely out of nowhere and knocked me flat on my ass. Hate-drenched Midwestern hardcore that recalls all sorts of past throat-punchers like Mecht Mensch, early Tar Babies and Void. Not “they’ve obviously studiously researched the history of deranged early USHC,” but legit “these guys hate everything, including you, especially you, and maybe someone should make sure they’re not stockpiling weapons for a ‘Reckoning.’”
There is zero pretension here. Based on the shitty cover art and rudimentary lyric sheet (w/ shout outs to YDI, Desperate Bicycles and Husker Du), it seems Brain Tumors channel all of their remaining excess energy, after breathing, smoking and chewing/half-swallowing microwaved burritos is out of the way, into pure basement-rip that burns like a cleansing fire. Brain Tumors give me the same tingling, stabbing, puking sensations of We March, but with absolutely no rock n’ roll dirtying up the punch bowl.
The majority of this LP is remastered from a demo tape, with a few songs from a 7”, and a couple new joints. Opening trilogy “Group Therapy, V-Neck Reject, Whatabummer” is a frantic assault of constant gear-shifting, all at a thousand mph, signaled by relentless drum fills. A three-sided story with no happy ending. “Midnight Surgery” flirts with anthemic riffs, twisting them into new, malformed shapes. A song like “Improper Execute” isn’t so far removed from the kind of murky street-thrash that Crazy Spirit and other Toxic State bands are currently gracing the pages of MRR with. Perhaps I’m biased, but there is a certain kind of suicidal boredom and winter-driven self-hatred that the Upper Midwest (I believe BT hails from balmy Minnesota) breeds like New York City breeds rats. It gnaws at your mind and threatens to unmoor you from reality. Two choices: Join the Army, or join a hardcore band. Brain Tumors opted to go to war with themselves. As my grandmother used to say: “I wish ‘em luck.”(EEK)
(Dead Beat // www.dead-beat-records.com)
Branko “Branko!” 7" EP
Upon my initial spin: I hear a strange concoction of private press, Balinese sounding surf-funk and damaged rockabilly from parts unknown. Wacky, worldly instrumentals that whirl about with the occasional shouting and bonus percussive bits. The kinda thing I’m surprised doesn’t have the Mississippi Records or Finders Keepers label logo on it. It even stretches its rubberneck into biker blues and the psych-jam turf, complete with retardo guitar solos that should do the proto-fuckers out there real proud. Still sounds like forgotten I-rock from another time/planet. Damn near a full length LP on this tiny sider. A head scratcher worth seeking for the soundtrack collectors and foreign rock fans out there.
Upon my first research: I did an actual web-hunt and found out that these goofs are really Swedes (!?) and are currently active. This ain’t some lost archival thing? WHOAH. Had me fooled. Thumbs up to you, Shaman-master. Highly recommended to those of you who like music. (RSF)
(Kill Shaman // www.killshaman.com)
Brown Brogues “Wildman” 7”
The title track is a bottom heavy and muddled throat variation of garage, but it’s not a cover. It’s the kind of tune that has existed since The Black Lips & Co. rape-aped the Sixties sound, circa 2003. Maybe more of a Nineties worship, as it is a two-piece band and all. Not bad, but not much else to say. “Grind A Go-Go” leaves more of a mark on me by taking things up a notch into the red zone, harkening the first Horrors LP in abrasiveness. Simple, but I like some simple shit. And feedback. The last track is a slower take of the opener. Moodier and leaps better from what I can gather in these brain cells. Again, it’s simple…but it’s still easier to digest than most Flower Punk© puke that’s spat up these days. I’m interested if not totally sold on this single. I’d like to hear what’s next. They hate the blues. FYI… (RSF)
(Ken Rock // myspace.com/kenrockrecords)
Buck Gooter "Consider the Grackles" LP
I've reviewed one or two Buck Gooter releases before, mostly of the cassette variety, and I appreciated them for being weirdos from smalltown Virginia. I imagine they don't have a ton of fans there in Appalachia, and their local gigs must consist of alienating the regulars at open mic nites at dive bars. At least that's what I imagine. It seems like the more I hear, the angrier they get and Billy Brat and Terry Turtle are pretty pissed off on this one. It sounds more like a lo-fi industrial/noise record than anything close to country or even rock'n'roll. The songs all follow the same formula: programmed drum march, Brat shreds guitar and does some noise bits with various machines, while Turtle goes off on yelling tangents. The tunes go from deep poetic thoughts (the title cut, "She Sees Only Flowers") to goofs like "Skunks Are Cool" or its sister track "Cats Are Cool". Although I love weird bands coming from geographically odd places, the lustre of that initial meeting has worn off and I'm now left with a plodding 10 track LP where the songs just aren't all that interesting on their own - too repetitive, too similar and just not having a lot of meat on their bones. A lot of these just seem like shells of ideas that were never fully fleshed out. Not a great listen. Scum stats: 210 copies with screened sleeve and lyric insert.(RK)
(Kreephaus // www.kreephaus.com)
The Bums "Do It All Night" EP
These guys are from Atlanta and while they may sound nothing like The Carbonas, they did at least crib some design/font ideas for the sleeve of this. Shit, maybe a Carbona even designed it. Who knows. They proudly state things like "groovy bass" and "melodic saxophone" on their press sheet, on which they pretty much come right out and say they think they sound like The Stooges, which I guess they do in the most basic of ways - they're a rawk band with a saxophone player. That said, I can't make too much fun of them, as they seem to be goofin' a bit here, or at least I hope they are. They did include a glossy 8x10 action shot with contact info, so maybe they are serious...shit. Anyway, the tunes come off more like a Candy Snatchers/Black Lung label souding raunch-rawk act and I appreciate some "melodic sax" as much as the next guy. Not real sure what to make of this overall - if it's a goof, they played it too well for the gag to work, and if they're serious, well they're no worse than a few dozen other Motor City rip off artists we've heard over the years. At least it sounds kinda sleazy.(RK)
(Big Nose Records // audioh-at-bellsouth.net)
Call of the Wild "The Call" 7"
Hard chargers from Brooklyn, plugging some metal influence (NWOBHM/Motorhead style) into the garage-rawk template for a pretty ballsy sounding debut. "The Call" has a nervously energized metal riff that erupts into some wah-soloing, vox are of the gruff variety, total package reminds me a little bit of latter day Dwarves somewhat. "Tightrope" on the B-Side is head-down mid-tempo stoner jam that isn't too far off from Fu Manchu circa 'Action Is Go'. I do dig the burl here, the A-Side is above average, but that B-Side is a snoozer. Honestly, I thought they were gonna be a lame-o Chrome Cranks/Scientists styled sludgefest for some reason, so they at least exceeded my misguided expectations. I was gonna say they sound pretty tough for being from NYC, but then I listened to the Nomad 7" again. You can probably pass on this one. Ex-members of Turbo Fruits and Awesome Color, maybe that's a selling point for some of you. Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Jack Shack // jkshk.blogspot.com)
Campio Formio “Crackman” 7”
A San Juan band - that has three other releases already floating around the islands - finally got to sending one stateside via Princess Cruise ship. “Crackman” is an epic side-long conglomeration of bar rock, Don Cab-ish math punk and Shadowy Men surf/spy. Minutemen style change ups occur to keep it unusual and the track is so tightly played, it’s damn near prog-ish. The B-side continues along the same vein (minus the surf/spy bits), but cuts to the punch in three shorter tunes, tripping up moody dark parts with blasts of catchy pop-punk tunage and fluttered DK style vocals and random squawks in their native tongue. Campio ain’t dragging my favorite genres out of the cupboard, but at least they’re putting tracks together in a way that keeps them playing alone in their own kitchen. Kudos for not sounding like every other goddamn record in the review stack! 500 copies on “crack rock white” vinyl. Comes with a download code for a bonus track. (RSF)
(Dead Mofongo Records // www.campoformio.com/DeadMofongo)
Can Can Heads “Kusisessions Vol.2” 7”
Crack n’ bash art skronk (with horns!) that frantically chugs along in a No Wave pound that only stops occasionally to leave some Residents-esque residue behind. Has a more playful Notekillers vibe over all. More SF than NYC? Side one at least…The flip is getting pretty ZE. It even heads towards metal turf with the instrumental at the end. Dead Neanderthals should look ‘em up! Rumor has it these Finnish weirdoes have been around for damn near 20 years. Never heard of em, but their art/surf/wave/clap-trap stylings move me in a way unexpected this eve. Jolly good, pep-peps! (RSF)
(Kissankusi Records // www.kissankusi.com)
Cave “Neverendless” CD/LP
Kraut influenced space jams, played by Trunk City punkers with at least one AC/DC record in their collection and a sheet of acid tabs under their headbands. I saw them once and heard a bit of Deep Purple in the mix, but not finding that here. Everything was somewhat soured (sour kraut. Ha.) by the flailing hippie circle that formed up-front and center that night…to feel it brutha. Patchouli stink fanboys aside, this is a well crafted head-trip. It opens with “W U J” that is reminiscent of what that hyper-manipulated number on Neu! 2 could’ve sounded like. It settles into a loftier drone with “This Is The Best”. Twinkle-y keyboards dance along a threadbare stream of repeat until a ripping space prog bubbles over. Not to say it doesn’t lock the groove again towards the end. Towards the middle? It goes for a while. And I mean for a long while. For a real long while. I mean for…you get me. “Adam Roberts” sounds like the Jesus Lizard drum and bass shoved into a vacuum with Spectrum or the Spacemen along for the flight. Things start to get warm and flowery from then out with a bit of vocal chanting (“On The Rise”) and some pop sensibility (“DJ”). Pop music if you find Eighties video game sounds to be dance hits. Makes me wanna dig out the 2600 and tear up a few rounds of Night Driver. Then, like a sick in-joke, my CD starts skipping rhythmically and I gotta’ check to see if it’s on purpose or an actual flaw. Yup, it’s scratched. Hey, whaddya expect for a promo copy? Go by the vinyl, sucker. Still keep on keepin’ on. I’d assume if you got other Cave outings, this’ll do ya’ just fine. (RSF)
(Drag City // www.dragcity.com)
Cheap Time "Other Stories" 7"
Sweet Rot and Jeff Novak keep their relationship moving forward with this two-songer, a companion piece to the outstanding 'Wallpaper Music' LP. As I've commented about other recent releases, Jeff has reduced the Sparks-isms of the past a good bit, and on the A-Side here writes a direct glam-garage hit, nothing too fancy, just a killer riff, a small piano bit that adds some pomp and a two-note (maybe three?) solo that actually shuts the song down dramatically and abruptly. Jeff's vocals on this are really strong and confident, going from talk-talk to sneer to glam-camp with ease. The more you listen, you realize this tune ain't all that simple, he's just making it sound easy at this point. B-Side ("In This World") changes tack slightly for another of the Saints-styled punkers that he's been killing it with of late, even sounding unnervingly like Chris Bailey on this one (maybe even affecting a bit of an accent). The buzzsaw guitar drive is only broken up by another minimalist solo, then they riff it out for the ending coda. If you liked the direction he was going on the LP, you should keep following with this one. I'm really looking forward to see what he's going to do on his next solo LP as well ("Baron in the Trees", due out on In The Red later this year). Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Sweet Rot // www.sweetrotrecords.com)
Chinese Burns "Calculator" 7"
Chinese Burns have had a grip on me since they released the undisputed Best 7" of the year back in 2009. They followed with a nice little one-sided blast on Leather Bar and then went quiet. I pegged them as another band who burned hot and fast and left an exquisite corpse, but I'm forced to revisit that take now that this four-songer on Windian has arrived. "Calculator" I remember as being the leftover hit from their demo, an exercise in punk-as-shit repetition and twanged-out guitar slash. Sounds a bit British even. Lovely. "Oh How I Struggle" fills out the minute or so left on the A-Side with a bit of...filler, but that's okay. B-Side kicks in strong with "Kiss Fist" (not to be confused with "Piss Fist") a brash garage-punk number with phasery guitar tricks, a hot and tangy solo and some aggro screamalong vox. "Steal Your Prayers" has a stop-n-go countryside gallop that again sounds like it might have come from Medway as much as Melbourne. It's a stone fact these gents will never top the "Can Dig" 7", but not many bands ever will. If you were as enthralled with them as I was back then, then you need this if just to add "Calculator" to your arsenal. Scum stats: first 100 come with alternate (and superior) artwork from someone nicknamed Chopper whose real name is sadly NOT Mark Read.(RK)
(Windian Records // www.windianrecords.com)
The Christmas Bride "Planet Earth’s Motto: Someone Just Shit Out a Perfect Square" LP
This is a weird record, spearheaded by a dude from Chicago band Wishgift. Wishgift seems to take long swigs off the AmRep flask, whereas The Christmas Bride is a hyperactive power-pop unit with all sorts of stops and starts and things that would drive most power-pop-punk fans nuts. Of course, those are some of the most interesting moments, like “Ge Rm Ans” which sounds like a Pixies outtake, or “K.O. Boyz” and “New Hit Mekanik” which distill some of the finer moments of the Stiff catalog into minute-and-a-half bitesize morsels. There are certainly some effective hooks on this LP, but ultimately it comes off as overly thought-out; constructed like a piece of architecture, not leaving, breathing rock n’ roll. If these guys could reign in their urge to mug for the microphone, they might be able to inch a little closer to something like the classic Midwestern shut-in power of The Suicide Commandos. (EEK)
(Sophomore Lounge // www.sophomorelounge.com)
Chook Race s/t 7"
Melbourne three-piece who sound pleasant enough playing comfortably bland jangle-garage, three songs here, none of which are as striking as the cover of their record, a bleeding cherry tart picture clipped from what I imagine to be a Seventies Betty Crocker cookbook. A friend and I have recently been fascinated with such cookbooks and their disgustingly oversaturated hues making delicious dishes look like horribly coloured nightmares. There's nothing offensive about these tunes, except for the fact that perhaps they're exactly the opposite of the image's sharp colors and flavors. One up-tempo surf/beach number and two slow-strummers with the singer's off-putting vocals being the most definable characteristic. A rare Australian dud.(RK)
(self-released // chookrace.bandcamp.com)
Circle X “Heartbreaker” 7”
Circle X was a fascinating band. They moved through all sorts of scenes, cities, and situations fluidly, like a ghost, a wraith. First wave Kentucky punk, unheralded No Wave outsiders, French patronship, mover/shaker art-world ties; all the while experimenting with crushing, collapsing art-punk that walks an invisible line between rock n’ roll and high-minded aspirations, both sonic and conceptual. The story behind what became Circle X’s first vinyl release (in a paltry number of 200 copies) is almost a piece of conceptual art in itself. Too long to go into here, but the informative liner notes detail exactly how and why the music turned out the way it did, and also the novel way the records were distributed (part of a European art zine). So, for their first record, Circle X was an entirely different band than what it actually was; yet, they still sound like nothing but Circle X.
The A-side is a dense, noisy rendering of a Rolling Stones song, 'Goat’s Head Soup‘s “Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker),” that you would never mistake for the original. It chugs along with a stumbling groove, the thudding proceedings being slowly strangled by the mangled strings of abused guitars. Wondering if a young T. Moore managed to get ahold of one of these severely limited copies? “Look at the People” establishes the Circle X template; nothing less than a journey into darkest night, galloping faster towards the abyss, embracing the void the city provides to the true seeker. It’s a precursor to the impending EP’s “Albeit Living,” and also a nice companion to the Jack Ruby reissue from last year. Circle X wants you to get lost, wants you to end up in a puddle behind a dumpster, wants you to look in the mirror and be repulsed. This is thrillingly nihilistic music just as “entertaining” as your Flippers, your No Trends, your Mars, even your Black Humors. An outstanding reissue; from the excellent packaging, which both includes and enhances the original artwork, to the still-potent music contained within. Put down your “raw-noise-punk” flexi and embrace nullification, not as a pose, but as a necessary reaction to the filth around you.(EEK)
(Poutre Apparente // www.poutreapparente.free.fr)
Cobwebbs "Look Out" 7"
Second single from Antifade, and I feel like I want to know a bit more about the label and scene it's documenting. Seems like a lot of younger kids here, aesthetically looks like it could be sort of like the Cali-scene that birthed the whole Ty Segall/M. Cronin/Moonhearts empire. I'm always interested in looking for (or imposing) parallels like this on bands and people I know nothing about, if alt least to see what angle whey're coming from (if any). Cobwebbs are some Brisbane youths and on the A-Side they're doing easy-as-pie fuzz-garage, blown-out and murky with lazy-sounding vox, ripping a page from the Nuggets textbook and running with it. Just a real basic riff which they proceed to fuck around with over and over. I appreciate the lack of fidelity, but it's treading water for most of the running time. B-Side seems an abrupt change, with a real wispy and hazy indie-pop number awash in reverb, almost Spacemen 3-esque on a small scale. Again, the vocals are distracted and mumbled in a way only bored teenagers can make sound right. I'd give the Living Eyes single a chance before this, it sounds a little half-baked in more ways than one.(RK)
(Antifade Records // antifaderecords.webs.com)
Coffin Pricks “Group Home Haircut” 7"
It’s always a pleasure to hear Chris Thomson sing in a punk rock band. His incisive lyrics and snotty, adenoidal voice has held strong for a quarter century now, and he still sounds as pissed-off and annoyed as ever (may be unfortunate for him, but a blessing for us). Coffin Pricks is his new Chicago-based four-piece, after laying low for a few years following the dissolution of Red-Eyed Legends. Other members of Coffin Pricks have done in bands as disparate as Bob Tilton, Cavity and Daylight Robbery. Here they come together to make instantly familiar aggressive post-punk, not far removed from Thomson’s past bands. The quality is top-notch; “Group Home Haircut” holds the melody in the bass and Thomson’s sneering vocals. The guitar is jagged and slashing, the playing is on-point. “Right Kind of Loot” and “Cielo Drive” are both memorable quick-steppers, leaning more towards the Skull Kontrol side of Thomson’s fence, but with a Wire-like attention to keeping it succinct. Looking forward to hearing more from these vets.(EEK)
(Stationary Heart // www.stationaryheart.com)
Cold Warps "Slimer" 7"
Canadian garage-poppers I've never heard of before, even though they have a few cassettes/records out already and might now be allied with the burgeoning Ottawa scene (White Wires, Peach Kelli Pop, Going Gaga Records, etc..). "Slimer" may or may not be a Ghostbusters reference, or perhaps the "sliming" mentioned is a vague reference to You Can't Do That On Television, but cultural minutiae aside, it's actually a really good garage tune: hooky, fittingly sludgy low end rumble and sluggish tempo, cute Stooges reference, power-pop "breakdown"...should be giant hit with fans of the lighter end of the garage spectrum. "Dream Creepin" on the flip is poppier and upbeat, still catchy and having a good textural feel with the trebly whang of the guitar against the burly bassline. Both sides are fine examples of this genre (happy garage?) played and recorded very very well. I'm giving bonus points for being from Nova Scotia and for the incredible packaging as well: a foldover matchbook-style sleeve with screen printing that would make the guys at Toxic State envious, with a great color scheme as well.(RK)
(Fundog // coldwarps.bandcamp.com)
Constant Mongrel "Everything Goes Wrong"LP
Mixed-results full length debut from Contant Mongrel, whom I've enjoyed on previous cassette/CDR releases flown my way from Oz over the past year or so. At first glance, or at least through the album's first three tracks, they come off as a darker spirited UV Race, working the repetitive thud as structure angle with slight tweaks - a post-punk slant ("Reflex"), slightly outta tune aggro dum-dumming ("In the Night"), goofy chug-a-long ("B. Crystal"). But they let their personality really shine through on the side closing "Felony Fights", a saxophone death-dirge that digs them a pretty deep hole to crawl into. They crawl out of that ditch and right into another UV Racer, this one sounding the most redundant of the bunch. Damn, I was hoping they'd roll around in that pit for a bit. They sort of implode at the end of this one into a jumble of piano and drums getting knocked over, but right themselves into "Four Legs", a song about being in love with a dog (or a cat..or a rat?) that borrows from "Sex Bomb" a little too freely. It's impossible to borrow that riff and do anything better than Flipper did with it. Then it's onto an actual cover of X_X's"No Nonsense" that is a more of a victory in selection than execution. I like where their heads are at though, and they redeem themselves again with the side-ender. This time it's the title cut (and I'm a big fan of ending records with title cuts, aesthetically speaking), a taut stretch of electric wire with keys coloring in the landscape that goes on for an admirably long stretch without losing tension until the watery coda. Great track, even if it reminds me a bit too much of the domination Total Control. Sorry. The two truly noteworthy tracks here make up more than half of the running time of this eight-songer, and the best recommendation I can give is that if you're a fanatic for the now sounds of Australia, you'll like this one a lot, as it fits into (and deepens at times) the mold some of the guiding lights of the current crop have laid down already.(RK)
(80/81 Records/RIP Society // www.8081records.com)
Thee Cormans "Biker Bitch" 7"
You just can't go wrong with a Cormans record if you ask me. Well, maybe if you're too uptight to enjoy garage-surf anymore, even if it is done with a disregard for fidelity not seen since the days of Pre B.S. Records. When you're looking for something that's a fun listen that doesn't get all heavy on you but still has some kicks, these guys do the job. "Biker Bitch" is the topside smash, with bellowed voxxx about some skank and is really an upbeat Budget Rock punker in the classic tradition (meaning Supercharger, Mummies, Phantom Surfers, etc.., not the anything-goes "Budget Rock" of today) with some wyld guitar shredding and a bit of cavernous echo. Flipside is "Cummin' N' Goin'" which ups the fuzz pedal ante to fucking nasty for a rip-n-snort instrumental with some string smokin' solo runs. Super classy artwork and neat-o pocket sleeves make this thing even cooler. Mine's on red wax, maybe you'll score as well. Who are these guys anyway? Do we even need to know? The fact that they supposedly laid the legit smackdown on some jabronies at one of their recent shows just makes me like this that much more.(RK)
(In the Red Records // www.intheredrecords.com)
Crisis Hotlines “Don’t Wanna Go To No Jail” 7”
Austin band full of guys from other bands I’ve never listened to either. Dumb punk, but not in a knuckle draggin, no-brain, coolie KBD style…think pop-punk dumb. Not quite mall punk, but still silly stoopid. The B-side gets a little tougher, but I’ve grown tooi weary to care. Like if the Spits went cute and sour, decided to throw their “hip” points out the window and record soundtrack cuts for the next American Pie abomination. Hell, they might already have. More Fat Records sounding than anything that has ever entered my home. 7-10 Splits...Remember them? Me neither. 500 exist. 100 pressed on yellow. (RSF)
(Eradicator Records // www.eradicatorrecords.bigcartel.com)
Cruddy “Negative World” LP
Texas trio that has had a few worthwhile tracks here and there, but nothing as fully realized as this. The first thing that came to mind on the initial spin was when I played my Krunchies LP at the wrong speed. It moves along like a less hyper version of them kids…but still throws around the similar stop and start, jagged little punches. A mutant take on mid-paced Eighties punk like the sounds the Kill-A-Watts and Catholic Boys use ta’ sling about, or even pre-pop Carbonas. The rhythm section has their shit locked down, that’s fo’ sure. Really diggin’ tracks like “Moment Of Fear” and it’s bugged out guitar warping. I guess that’d be the Texas thing to do, as history shows. Really Red has gotten a response to its awkward coolness. There’s a solid and burly take of the Suicide Commandos “Burn It Down”. They take it ten years into the future instead of over the thirty-five it’s been and the retro-fit fares quite well (that makes sense if you read really, really carefully). The whole production is clean and well separated; I bet even the Razorcake bunch would even dig it. This is a solid, no frills, well-made/played punk release. If yer gonna’ grab that Women In Prison single or the Video LP down at yer local dimestore, you might wanna’ check for this’n too. 500 pressed up and wrapped in Zero Boys sleeve art-outtake. 150 copies on heavy red wax. (RSF)
(12XU // www.12xu.net)
Alex Cuervo "Mein Name Ist..." 7"
Alex Cuervo has been in a bunch of good bands: Blacktop, the underrated A Feast Snakes, Gospel Swingers were decent, and I even like his recordings with This Damn Town. You should definitley skip the Now Time Delegation LP, and his current outfit, The Hex Dispensers, are a band that a lot of people seem to like, but which I tend to think are pretty...well, kind of lame, which this record cover and the fact it was released by Razorcake seem to confirm. I hate to bring up shit like this in a review of a solo record, but I gotta talk about something here. I imagine Cuervo is playing everything on this and it's recorded well. "Hateface" is a downer with a dark hook and some crooning, and "Big Cruel Ball" is pushed by an ominous bassline, has some distorted vox, creepy synthwork and backing moans for a decent dark voyage in a Haunted George vein. Scum stats: 400 on black, 100 "sprinkled" and an undisclosed Secret Society edition, which has splatter vinyl and a 12"X6" screened sleeve which will give OCD sufferers nightmares when thinking about filing it, but is kind of a cool idea.(RK)
(Red Lounge // www.redloungerecords.com)
Cumstain "Hurry Up and Kill Yourself You Scumbag..." LP
I'm all for making fun of Crass and potty humor when done well. I have no beef with Burger Records (harhar) either. They do what they do, and I dig their enthusiasm. Same goes for Cumstain. I appreciate their attempts at dirty jokes. I guess they work just fine. Musically it's the Burger blend of sing-songy lowest common denominator Nobunny budget pop and the punky-reverb-surf of the spin-off Segall/Cronin bands like Party Fowl and shit - you know, the bands that had members of better bands making music that wasn't as good as their full-time gigs. There's nothing wrong with this record at all, it's punky, lo-fi, hooky, one-sided and Californian. The band is actually pretty tight and they get up to Ramones velocity with ease, but it's not really funny or offensive in any way despite their trying. Marginally clever at best. I'm sure Cumstain strips down to his undies at shows and grosses people out and stuff. The Burger Records equivalent of GG Allin. You gals should love this one.(RK)
(Burger Records // www.burgerrecords.com)
Curtains “Deep In Night City” LP
I ain’t gonna bullshit ya or pussyfoot around; this record sounds like a near perfect pairing of early Christian Death and Chrome. Now, I’m aware some bands and their labels lay claim that sound yet never deliver, but this here is not the case. These Chicagoans breathe life into the (always near)Death-Rock carcass. When not frolicking thru the space junk graveyard and/or giving their phaser pedal some serious workouts, Curtains deliver instrumentation that reeks of Alex Gibson’s under appreciated Suburbia score. Imagine those doom-edged surf punk tracks or even Bobby Beausoleil’s Lucifer Rising compositions getting worked over all good n’spooky by The Virgin Prunes. It’s enough to make you think its 1982 all over again. And that’s just the A-side. The B-side gets off on confusing ears with sideshow tales thru jazzy headtrips and awkward time signatures. It all becomes darkly humorous but definitely never funny. Remember way back when Peter Murphy holed up in a musty flat somewhere - dying with the pneumonia or whatever - and he and the Bauhaus boys went kinda’ nutty mad for a while? This is how you make fishcakes. Take one tab too many, play 'The Top' at full volume and sweat up a funk. 'Deep In Night City' is a quick listen, but still a damn satisfying one. This band shares members with ET Habit, and they’re a solid act as well. Scum stats: mail-order copies pressed on burgundy vinyl. There were also 90 copies available with limited edition art and numbered sleeves. Looked neat, but I’m gonna go with the original Chris Ilth collage project over most everything. Either way, Deadbeat seems to be on a roll. (RSF)
(Dead Beat Records // www.dead-beat-records.com)
Cyclops "Eye Can't Take It" 7"
Gimmick/budget punk rock two-piece from Boom Boom Luchessi and Jonny Cat from the label of the same name. A-Side is two dum-dum pounders that are actually pretty punk and are a couple of the better Luchessi tracks I've heard in some time. Very Trashwomen-esque and Rip Off snotty (think of an even dumber Spoiled Brats). B-Side is "Goblins Part I", which will be great for playing on Halloween-themed DJ nights and radio shows - tons o' reverbbbb, diabolical and nonsensical vox/cackling and a simple drum/guitar anchor. Garage punk, that's for sure, including guest harmonica from King Louie. I thought this one was gonna suck, but it's quite alright for a few minutes of schtick.(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
Dark Ages "Can America Survive?" LP
Dark Ages unloads 10 tracks of sinister hardcore that falls somewhere in the realm of current bands like DOouble Negative or Raw Nerves, mashing up some weirder musical elements with an Eighties hardcore sound that brings to mind bands like Black Flag, Die Kreuzen, or Bl'ast. There is some cool interplay between the bass and the guitar which helps push the band past the typical Eighties hardcore style. Plenty of Ginn style guitar freak outs here, but there is also a lot of solid bass playing on this record which I really enjoyed (guitarists usually get all the glory) and it has me thinking of early 'Word as Law'/'Souls at Zero' era Neurosis stuff which is great in my book. Vocals are of the typical short and barked variety, this is okay but I feel like more could be done here. I will say at times the singer actually reminds me of Sean McCabe of Ink And Dagger. The recording is really crisp and clear and gives the impression that the band spent a good amount of time on it, which is commendable but I wish this recording was a little bit scratchier and rougher sounding, might add a little more depth to the chaos. Overall a solid release, I will now go and look into their back catalog. Super thick black vinyl (180 grams?), heavyweight LP jacket, poster, and download code.(MO)
(Sorry State Records // www.sorrystaterecords.com)
Davila 666 "Pa Que Vives" 7"
I've said it countless times (what haven't I said countless times at this point...), but I just don't get this band's appeal. Spanish-language garage that isn't all that exceptional sounding to me. Title track is borderline alternative rock for people who think Little Steven's Underground Garage is showcasing the actual underground garage scene and not just a holding tank for bands safe enough for the mainstream. B-Side sounds like a hippie drum circle. I couldn't be more bored right now. Scum stats: 500 on black, 100 on "Puerto Rican flag colored vinyl".(RK)
(Oops Baby Records // www.oopsbabyrecords.com)
Dawn of Humans "Blurst of the Bloodfish" 7”
These NYC freakazoids used to play and practice occasionally at a showspace I lived at. Shredded-looking but nice dudes. Punks. Live, the singer usually has his cock out, is usually battle-painted or wearing something flamboyantly weird; almost like he’s being his very own totem animal. There is a shamanistic aspect to his performance. And the sleeve on this sucker! Big silk-screened fold-out with artwork that looks like Nick Blinko went to RISD. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Dawn of Humans are a visual band. I like the music, but live is where they, err, shine. I’m sure someone far more well-versed in international HC could pinpoint their sound via a Brazilian demo tape from 1984, but, to me, it sounds like devolved, shit-fi hardcore. That ain’t a judgement, I dig it, particularly the second side, where it gets more unhinged, spaced-out, and desperate. Toxic State’s been on a roll lately, releasing some of the best of the “new wave” of NYC scumcore. All the kids say “DoH!”(EEK)
(Toxic State // www.toxicstate.blogspot.com)
Dead Neanderthals “The V-Shaped Position” 7”
The Neanderthals continue their onslaught, ruining the lives and ears of Morphine fans and Zorn fetishists worldwide. Imagine skinning the spasms off The Mad’s “I Hate Music” and grafting them to blast beats. Or rummaging through old Knitting Factory jazz sessions and sewing ‘em to the ass-patches of grindcore. There are even overdubs this time around…of yet MORE SAX. Jesus. The last song actually breaks prior length barriers with its slow Lysol build up leading to a Machine Gun punch of a finale. Brötzmann has done more damage to these Dutchlanders than a crate full of scratched Slayer LPs and stretched out thrash cassettes could ever dreamed possible. Bless ‘em for that. This here release is an older import 3” CD worth of tunes, reissued and made 4 inches wider by Bat Shit Records, USA. Tracks are stretched over green or white vinyl in a micro-pressed edition of 200. Comes with a poster of the eye-catching artwork. Hang it in your gym locker. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.bigcartel.com)
Dead People s/t 7"
This Youtube video involving the band Dead People is far more entertaining than anything on their record, which is run-of-the-mill echo-psych garageshit that I would expect from a band from Brooklyn, not New Orleans. Two guitars, drums, mumbled vox and four tunes that all sound the same in their attempt to be wild. This is the sort of stuff that is today's equivalent of what we used to deridingly refer to as RAWK. I also think saying you hail from 'Gnarlins' isn't helping your case, and neither is being from NOLA and not having Matt Muscle in your band. Not even terrible, just really boring. Windian Records is having a bit of a bad streak here, I get the feeling that they're trying to find a good 'unknown' band, but Dead People are totally not it.(RK)
(Windian Records // www.windianrecords.com)
Deep Sleep "Turn Me Off" LP
Ten song LP at 45 rpm, Deep Sleep play a style of melodic punk/hardcore that brings to mind bands like The Descendents and Dag Nasty. Precision tight playing, catchy riffs, and well sung vocals that are as discernible as they are urgent. That is not to say that these guys are doing another Descendents rip off band, but rather they wear their influences on their shirt sleeves. The music is melodic and poppy at times but still remains abrasive and harsh with some excellent guitar riffs that remind me of Nineties screamo bands like Yaphet Kotto or Bread and Circuits, yet other influences come through like the guitar riff in the track “Nothing Inside” which is swiped from Black Flag’s “Rise Above”. Overall the songs are short, fast, with lots of quick turns, unexpected breakdowns and stop on a dime tempo changes. Singer Tony Pence has a vocal approach that sometimes brings to mind Milo or Dave Smalley, but his voice is still his own and is nicely accentuated with the occasional “ooohh” and “aahhh” backing vocals. Too often bands that are attempting to play this style of melodic punk rock wind up sounding bloated, overly produced, and sickly sweet in the pop department, the kind of crap music you would expect from Fat Wreck or bands like Polar Bear Club or Rise Against or some other garbage like that. Deep Sleep is coming from a very obvious DIY punk rock perspective and it is a very good thing. Writing fast and thrashing melodic hardcore is one thing, but doing it well is another. This band is doing it well and I would like to hear more. Cool offset color artwork, large fold out insert and digital download code. (MO)
(Grave Mistake // www.gravemistakerecords.com)
Deliverance Bros. “Give it Back” 7”
Guy from The Manikins stankin’ up my turntable. More power-pop infused garage-lite. Fuck me. This is like the sixth record in a row of this ilk and I’m starting to break out in a rash. Just because I’m living in the SF area doesn’t mean I wanna listen to this type of shit. Songs for mustachioed dudes in Sonny Bono vests and chicks in high waisted denim to bounce around to. At least the lyrics are somewhat dark. Pass. Track two is more Camper Van than expected and that makes it an almost enjoyable throwback to some roots damage. Dylan harmonica play and all. Still...it ain’t gonna take up any of the precious shelf-space around my compound. 300 made in factory style sleeves. (RSF)
(Radio Obligato // www.radioobligato.com)
Destination Lonely "Kiss or Kicks" 12" EP
Newer French garage act which is notable for reuniting Marco and Vince from The Fatals. As far as The Fatals go, I'm still a believer in the first three singles, a fine testament to the brand of high-grade blown-out garagetrash France was capable of creating back in the day. The band fell off quickly after that first initial blast, but that's just the way it goes. There are scores of bands who had only a few EPs worth of good songs in them, but their later efforts shouldn't diminish the fire of their early days. Back on topic, Destination Lonely sounds nothing like The Fatals, which is good (been there already) and bad (because this isn't entirely great). They start off cookin' with the title track, which has a good fuzztone (obviously) and moves like an updated Sixties action-garage blaster with a bit of a nasty undercurrent and a balls-out wah solo. Great tune, full of energy and piss. "I'm Down" is a slo-mo blooze number that they destroy with a total destruction drum-n-guitar blowout towards the end - the problem is, the trad blues one-two puts you to sleep by the time it arrives. I don't care how wyld the breakdown is, you have to be interested enough to get there. And speaking of interest, "Stuck In My Mind" has little to offer in that category. Forgettable at best. B-Side starts with an intriguing cover choice in Childish & The Blackhands' "The Axeman Cometh" which they give the total reverb treatment. It's ok for moody guitar moments and they deviate enough from the sound of the original to make it interesting, but I don't think it's a good idea to waste one of only six songs on your debut 12" with a cover song. But what do I know. "So Blue" is a boring and cliched broken heart tune and they end with "That's All" which is a step in the right direction again with some agressive Oblivians-style bad attitude and more slick-fingered guitar melting. If these guys would keep it uptempo and destructive they might have something here. Six songs, two-and-a-half of which are worth hearing, could have made a good 7" and saved five inches of vinyl. Not really worth the investment.(RK)
(Les Disques Steak // disquessteak.bigcartel.com)
Disaster "War Cry" LP + flexi
One of the earliest disciples to the altar of Discharge, Disaster originally recorded their heralded "War Cry" album in 1990. It made a worldwide splash with hardcore fanatics but the group disappeared without subsequent releases and the record did not remain in print. During the intervening years, it has become an integral entry in the D-Beat canon and the band's legend has grown. At long last, La Vida Es Un Mus has lovingly repressed the album and has raised the bar for quality reissue standards in the process. "War Cry" has been released here as a standalone 12" (with loud, brilliant mastering) with three additional tracks (two of which are Discharge covers) appearing on a flexi that is included. A 12-page booklet reproduces fliers and images of the band along with a pair of old interviews showing both their dedication to and sense of humor about their style. About this record: "The title hasn't been decided yet, but I thought something like ‘See Nothing, Say Nothing, Hear Nothing.’”(DH)
(La Vida Es Un Mus // lavidaesunmus.com)
Divine 6/7 s/t 7”
This is the Alabaman quartet’s first release. Evidently tied into Pine Hill Haints…and I shat all over their fun last time out. This is at least more Termbo-centric, if not my taste. “Someone’s Gonna Have to…” is mid-tempo (actually darnright sluggish) punk broke loose from the poppier Ramones mold. Irma Thomas (“2 Winters”) gets covered and the track gives off a BBQ fronting The Touch-Me-Nots vibe. It fares a’ight. “Cool Out” and “Cookie” on the flip are more good time summer cook-out jamz…and if it wasn’t for the plates piled thick with meat, that stuff ain’t my bag. Maybe if I was gorked full of Tecate and eating ribs on a patio of somewhere Southern while this band played on, I’d hang out and watch ‘em, but probably forget what I heard by the time I hurled up the sticky sauce in the mensroom. Actually, the whole platter reminds me of the pre-Quadrajet tainted Wednesdays - and it should - it’s the SAME DUDE! I just found that out. Take that like ya want. I’m sure folks over at Razorcake are bustin’ a nut over this… (RSF)
(Arkam Records // thewednesdays-at-hotmail.com)
DM Bob & the Deficits “They Called Us Country” LP/CD
Euro-hillbilly made by folks that’ve spent time on Voodoo Rhythm, Crypt and some other fine filth purveyors in the past. 'They Called Us Country' sounds like it could have been one of them one-shot offshoots that Sympathy woulda pressed a million copies of back in their autumn years. Crafty lap steel work and boozy balladry. Nothing fancy. It’s sorta like a Workdogs album…a good time, if none too special. The band themselves call this a package of leftovers. Tracks that didn’t quite fit the jib of their trashier jabs. If ya dug the early Teasers records that actually still had some Country in ‘em…you might toy around the thought of pickin’ this up. If anything at all, “Hooker Bones 2” is a serious jam. A wrecked and woolly swamp-thing that picks at the carcass of “In The Pines” and coats it in a sickly Beasts Of Bourbon humor. A bit of redneck euro-Stones swagger (The Stones were Euro. Check.) here and a smidge of Buck Owens, Hank Sr. or Jeff Evans there. It’s all hooch in the long run. Points given for the really wack (read: stellar) take of Lou Reeds’ “Satellite of Love”. (RSF)
(Off Label Records // www.offlabelrecords.de)
The Dreams “Morbido” LP
This is a reissue of a cassette, evidently. Kill Shaman continues its US takeover via Triple Alliance related releases. This here’s a duo tooling about in strange synth drones, worldly beats, old oscillations and other modern bedroom glue-ishness. Or at least for starters. There are hints of industrio-gothic tendencies (think Naked On The Vague) and the Siouxsie-blues as well. Not a complete downer, though. Up sprouts the sounds of No Wave's dancier pasts that’d give Liquid Liquid listeners or raga-stoners something to sink their drug-riddled teeth into. Really warped, warbled keys and polyrhythm abound. Not an everyday listen, but it’s got something goin’ on that brings me back… (RSF)
(Kill Shaman // www.killshaman.com)
Druid Perfume s/t LP
Third large sized platter from Druid Perfume, a band who are doing everything right at this point. I never thought I would fall for these weirdos as much as I have, but this LP is just top shelf shit and possibly even an improvement on last year's "Tin Boat to Tuna Town", which was itself an absolutely incredible record. Hobo-circus jazz-punk done with feral intensity and gooey intelligence. "Balloon Artist" kicks it off all jazzbo-rock style, with Jimbo Easter sounding particularly rabid over the drum-n-sax rhythm bleat. "New Hair" goes free(k)-jazz, "Mucus" and "Wax Hand" flop about like Flipper gasping for air, heavy and tantric. "Persian Rug" is an off-kilter downhill ride over rough terrain guided by blind sax, culminating in "Scissors" which is as close to funk-punk as I want to get, but it's done with a serious Sun Ra big band intensity. Side A is a hell of a ride, and they use Side B to spread out over only three tracks. "....." is a dreamstate look into Jimbo's head, "Crumbs as Boulders" blasts through dimensions for a space-jazz trip-out and "River of Sadness" closes with largely instrumental skronk played by a garbagepit orchestra. Total sax meltdown. A seriously tasty platter full of weird-jazz and skronk-punk from the best band in Detroit not called Human Eye. It saddens me that I've never seen these guys live. Scum stats: 300 copies only, which seems like not enough to me. Obviously great artwork, with printed inner as well. For some reason I really love the Urinal Cake label design too.(RK)
(Urinal Cake Records // www.urinalcakerecords.com)
Electric Blood "Single 2011" EP
I want to say there's been a recent resurgence of interest in New Zealand sounds, but honestly, when has Kiwi-pop and Flying Nun ever been out of style? I guess there's just more good people out there these days willing to invest the time and money to reissue stuff on wax and start digging up tapes and obscurities. And Electric Blood are certainly an obscurity. Robert Scott's first band (circa '77-'84 or so) before he went on to greater renown with The Clean and The Bats, Electric Blood had various cassette releases on Scott's own Every Secret Thing tape label, with 'Electric Easter' actually getting a CD press in the 90s, but this here is the first vinyl the band's ever seen. I honestly remember some these tapes getting reviewed in Forced Exposure and lamenting the fact I'd probably never hear them. Four songs here, "Windowsill" is loose pop played by a version of the band including Robert's brother Andrew and a couple of "non-musician" friends, recorded live and off the cuff, painting a sedate portrait of the early days of the "Dunedin sound" with hints of what it would become later as well. "Pennsylvania" is sort of an experimental goof, with piano and just the name of the state repeated randomly, sort of like one of the stoned moments where you and your pals start zoning out about how weird a word sounds..."Match" is busky meander with some twinkling guitar and the most definite vibes of Scott's later bands. "Bumble Bee" is accordion quirkiness with those always wonderfully cheerful and quirky NZ vibes. This isn't exactly a masterpiece, but it's very interesting for those of us who've spent a long time obsessing over the Flying Nun catalog, and goes along great with the Bilders reissue program happening on Unwucht. (RK)
(Spacecase Records // www.spacecaserecords.com)
English Singles "Disaster" 7"
Second single from this band of Sacto vets, pulling membership from Nar, Pretty Girls, FM Knives, Lyme Regis and a few dozen others I imagine. Looking at that list, you know what we have here - exceptional pop. Period. "Disaster" has a hook that sinks deep enough to hurt and a sharp British design. These are the kind of songs Gentleman Jesse would write if loved Dan Treacy instead of Tom Petty. B-Side has two more janglers that you're going to end up liking whether you like it or not. Another in a very very long line of great singles from these guys in different formations. I've always liked these bands better than The Bananas, who everyone loves, but I'm a dick. So you gotta like this. Will someone please put the leftover Lyme Regis songs out now? Scum stats: 300 copies with three different color variations on the silkscreened sleeve, with lyric insert.(RK)
(Squirmy Records // squirmyrecords.bigcartel.com)
The Enthusiasts "Sinkin/Risin" 7"
This is apparently The Entusiasts' second single, and they're from a small town north of NYC, not the actual big city itself. The title cut is exactly what you might expect from some college age dorm dwellers in the midst of their rock'n'roll education: plenty of classic rock hits, "alt rock", spilled bongwater, warm beers and maybe some dabbling in the underground garage scene. It's basically a borrowed Led Zep riff placed in a modern rawk setting. Reminded me a little of Lenny Kravitz, which isn't even that modern I guess. Good vibes, clean recording and maybe a little guitar showboating. "Joanne" is the B-side slow jam where they ape T.Rex with maybe a little Nuggets vibe as well. Very well manicured and all, Little Steven would dig these cats, but they might even be too clean cut for him. They probably have a future on the frat party bro-rock circuit though, if they can learn a few 311 covers. Scum stats: a conservative pressing of 150 copies. For some reason they stapled the edges of the foldover sleeves. Staples and vinyl don't really mix, kids.(RK)
(Magic Sleeve Records // enthusiastsny.blogspot.com)
Estrogen Highs "Irrelevant Future" LP
Estrogen Highs have always interested me, from their debut as straight out of the practice room garage-punks to their latter day evolution into Kiwi-influenced pop-rockers, as you won't find a band more earnest in their approach than these kids. Stefan has the guts to put everything out there, both emotionally/lyrically and musically, and whether it works or not, he did it his way, which is very admirable in today's musical climate. Their records are always a mixed bag (and there were a couple singles that honestly weren't that good), but it's always thrilling to hear them unfold. Their first two LPs usually contained a half-dozen great songs surrounded by a half-dozen clunky ones. Charmingly clunky at least, but when they hit those great ones it's inspirational. I feel like this band is always trying so hard and when they succeed you're as happy for them making it work as you are to just be listening to a great song on its own. I really felt the "Cycles" 12" was their high water mark, and my high hopes for this LP were rewarded. They open with the never-was title track for their first LP "Tell it To Them", a low-key Wipers styled punker, then into "Alchemy Contest" which sounds very Sebadoh-like (which happens on a few along the way) in its emotive guitar playing and nearly folksy-rocking. "Grass of Leaves" is a skittery pop hit with a can't-miss chorus and slight organ bleats. They round out the side with some Chill-y vibes, a weirdo noise track and end with another no-frills hit in "It Has To Rhyme". I think the B-Side is where they really score, with three killers wedged between a few good-enough tracks. "They Told Me Everything" is revisited from an early single and is straight pop perfection in a more confident Lou Barlow vein, "The Seventh Sunday Of The Ordinary Times" is the best song on the LP and their toughest cut ever, and "I Saw The Light" which shows off how far this band has come with an almost Stones-y rocker with fragile pop touches, make up an unbeatable three song sequence smack in the middle of the side. "I Wanna Be Tall" closes with happy-go-lucky pop for a feel good ending. It's encouraging to see the band (and Stefan in particular) sounding more confident and skilled than ever, and if you've not been into these kids based on previous ventures I implore you to give them another chance here.(RK)
(Trouble in Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Evening Meetings "Forgotten In Seconds" 7"
Members from the A-Frames/Love Tan/Factums/Le Sang Song axis play a free-willy cling-clang jam on the A-Side, somehwat structureless and sounding a bit improv-ed, reminds me of some of the more offbeat Homosexuals side projects. A drumbeat stumbles around the room while a couple guitars get "played" in various plucking and slashing manners with random sax bleats for added atmosphere. "Hello Mr. Evening" on the flip plays off a keyboard preset for a more palatable and repetitive no-fi weird-wave track. Echoed-to-shit vox are murmured through the heating duct from the bedroom upstairs of where the synths and keys and maybe a guitar are being manipulated in various layers of rhythmic blurting and buzzing. I dig the B-Side more for its barely-there feeling of vague musicality. 500 pieces.(RK)
(Dirty Knobby // www.dirtyknobby.com)
Factrix "Scheintot" LP
Superior Viaduct continues one of the most inspired regional reissue campaigns of all time with a duo of Factirx reissues, their sole studio LP 'Scheintot' and a LP/CD/DVD combo of the band's live collaboration with Monte Cazazza. For the unaware, Factrix were an extension of Minimal Man formed amid the late Seventies SF underground scene, recorded 'Scheintot' in 1981 and apparently made an impression on no one aside from fellow freaks like Julian Cope (who pens wonderful liners for this reissue) and perhaps some of the bands they opened for (SPK, DNA, Cab Voltaire, etc..). It's an album that in retrospect was far enough ahead of the curve that it would surely doom them to obscurity in their heyday. I don't even know what to call it. Post-punk would be the obvious umbrella to place it under, but with pre-Industrial, No Wave, New Wave, Goth, Kraut and so many other angles being touched on that any genre tag seems irrelevant. My personal Factrix saga began many years ago in the pre-internet days when I got wind of them from reading an article (that I think was in Forced Exposure, but I can't even remember now) that described them as sounding like or being related to Chrome somehow (who were gods to me at the time...and still are), which shot their records to the top of want list. Of course I never found any of their records, but then the internet came around, and I found Blank Generation and Min A-Frame's file-sharing server. It was the first time I ever tried downloading anything (using a dial-up connection at the time to make it even more painful), and I think they only things available were his own files. Scrolling through the downloadable options, I noticed that he had a Factrix folder, and 'Scheintot' became one of the first things I ever downloaded. Cool story bro. Anyway, a lot of the time when you desire a record for so long and after years of searching finally find it, said record turns out to be not as amazing as you had hoped, the thrill of the hunt overriding the actual kill. 'Scheintot' was not one of those instances - I listened to it constantly for months and months. Particularly at night. The only reason I mention all this meaningless personal information is to try and impart how special this record is, or at least how important it is to me which will hopefully rub off on you. It's weird in every good way possible. Psychedelically evil. The soundtrack to bad dreams. Music for dying to. Subconscious rhythms played from a Roland drum machine tweaked to the slowest possible speed it could work at without not existing at all, forboding bass lines that lulled you into an uneasy sense of dread, guitar sounds like slivers of glass or bending steel and a wide assortment of electronics and oddball instrumentation that were always inserted into the proceedings with impeccable taste. This is not some gang of art-schoolers playing lookit-how-craaazy-we-are. It's three musicians with a frightening and intelligent vision executing nearly unerringly. "Ballad of the Grim Rider"/"Snuff Box"/"Phantom Pain" is a triple-play that will put you in another time, another place. Absolute perfection that will hypnotize anyone. And that's just the Grim Side. The A-Side (Party Side!?), begins with the horror show that is "Eerie Lights" and ends with the subterranean instrumental "Anemone Housing" that will inspire you to crawl into a hole somewhere dark. Between these you get three more equally potent tunes of pulsating beauty. As close to a perfect record as you can get in my book, and it still shatters my brain to think that this was made over 30 years ago. Ridiculously good, aesthetically untouchable (everything is perfect, from the album art to the song titles to the lyrics and their deadpan delivery) and absolutely essential. I hate to say it, but sometimes I love this record more than I love any particular Chrome record. One of my favorite pieces of the SF Underground puzzle.(RK)
(Superior Viaduct // www.superiorviaduct.com)
Factrix/Cazazza "California Babylon" LP/CD+DVD
Have no doubt, I am quite aware that it is bordering on sacrilege to recommend the digital permutation of any given release, but fuck your rules, man, and plunk ‘er down for the shiny little discs instead of the large matte-black future ashtray/target this time around. Hear me out.
There’s a funny thing about 'California Babylon'. It kind of sucks. Factrix’s 'Scheintot' is a milestone of the early American stabs at Industrial (in the TG sense of the word) music, comparative to a Cabaret Voltaire or an SPK. Maybe not quite reaching the early highs of those units, but certainly a respectable showing in the grand scheme. You’d think that pairing the San Fran ensemble with noted freak/raconteur/mail-art superstar Monte Cazazza would yield fascinating, or at least loud n’ weird, results. Sorry to break it to you: it doesn’t. The team-up comes off as awkward as a pair of tits on Genesis P-Orridge. For the most part, 'California Babylon' was recorded live at a dance studio in 1981 (with a few tracks from a show in ’80). Half the “songs” sound like the first few minutes of a Sonic Youth show; level-checking, OK yeah, here’s the place to stand for good feedback, what’s that tuned to? etc. I suppose some of the textures could have influenced 'Bad Moon Rising'. “Pro Man Son” introduces a Cab Volt-style thudding rhythm accompanied by vague samples and amorphous guitar (and violin) noise for seven full minutes, going nowhere, and taking its damn time getting there. Any time Cazazza decides to open his mouth, instead of the televangelist hellfire you might expect to erupt, he just sounds like a tentative nerd, with no grasp of drama or tension. Even though 'California Babylon' was made long before the now-cliched tropes of noise coupled with television samples became a subcultural punchline, the album still fails to deliver on its promise. Closer “(Look at That) Lesbian” implies some boundary-pushing, but no, it’s the same ol’ sturm und din. So why am I even recommending this album at all? Bonus tracks, baby!
It boggles the mind that the five extra tracks on the CD didn’t either comprise the original LP itself (These tracks originally appeared on a 2003 double CD collection put out by German label Storm). Cazazza is in fine voice here, imbuing these subtle, haunting songs (yes, songs) with implied menace and palpable sorrow. “Silver River” is a ghostly ballad that sounds as if it belongs on a private-press psych rarity from California circa 1971. Charlie himself woulda been proud of this one; him and Dennis finally laying down that righteous track, high out of their minds as the sun comes up. Talking about walking the line between unending bliss and all-consuming paranoia. Dig it, brother. With disturbing static eating at its edges, “Noctimbre” is the kind of spectral concoction that California Babylon tries so hard, and fails, to get right. The three tense minutes of “No Trees” is better than the entire LP in toto, IMHO. “Obsession” is excellent Throbbing Gristle-worship, effectively beating both Psychic TV and Coil to the punch. The compact disc’s final cut, “Prescient Dreams,” originally appeared on a 7” released by Subterranean. Thankfully, it’s saved from obscurity here, and now we can all revel in its beautiful Eno-inspired swells and Laurie Anderson-on-ludes narration. Conclusion? If Superior Viaduct threw all of the bonus tracks on a 12”, then you would have a worthy, perhaps even superior, companion to 'Scheintot'. Wow! And I haven’t even gotten to the DVD yet! 'Night of the Succubus' sheds all sorts of light on the proceedings. And along with light, come shadows. Expose yourself.(EEK)
(Superior Viaduct // www.superiorviaduct.com)
Fag Cop "Whimpers From the Pantheon" LP
I'm going to go out on a limb here and just assume I'm a more rabid fan of Fag Cop than most of you. The Eat Records 7" was a fetching debut, which was followed by a stellar sophomore single, a World's Lousy appearance and some cassette action. Then the lights went dim, until this guy resurfaced as Ex-Fag Cop on Batshit, and I have to admit I wasn't into that single so much, great artwork/packaging aside. So I was approaching this LP with some concerns, concerns that were immediately put to rest as soon as "Nailed It To The Cross" stomped a mudhole in my chest right out of the gate. A perfect example of shit-fi punk trashcanning, using early Reatards, Persuaders and the Sack O Shit Records roster as references without sounding backdated either. This selection of tunes, a lucky thirteen of 'em recorded at "Dan's Home", is the finest Fag Cop material yet. The shit-fi ethos are still running rampant here, but turned down just a slight notch for some semblance of clarity, and the songs themselves actually have "hooks" or at least catchy choruses and/or riffs. When listening to the earliest FC stuff, I was just blown away by the sheer force of ineptitude and the ballsy amount of fuzz/static/slime he coated everything with. A tune like "Automatic Kansas" (the catchiest thing I feel he wrote before this) was just a plain old ballbuster that got over more via the ridiculous delivery and sonic destruction. This time it sounds like the guy remembered to write some tunes before he got shitfaced and recorded them. It's one of the better modern takes on the punkest parts of The Oblivians I've heard in some time - except I think maybe there's a bass in there. Slopped out and liquified blues riffs, shitbox drum sound, a just-aggro-enough vocal presence (somewhere between Jay's shrill Reatards voice and a huskier grunt), a wide selection of trashed-out guitar sounds and effects, and enough reverb where it sounds like they're running the tape machine underground. The tracks showcase a wide varitey of variations on the "style" - some have a tinny Drags sound ("Rotten Age"), some a deeper and fuller basso grunt and there's anomalies like "Honkey Was A Monkey" that combines hardcore with a weird post-punk thing, most likely by accident. Some of this could actually pass for hardcore if you gave him a Greg Ginn guitar sound and a cleaner recording. Shit's fast. Really, this is packed with killers - "Money" is lurching sonic menace and he does some of the best Reatards catalog-raping I've ever heard. Not that it's a total rip off, it still has that Fag Cop sound...yes I just said that. The FAG COP SOUND. Fuck. Anyway, the only thing I don't really get is why they put all thirteen tracks on one side at 33rpm - why not just split it over two sides at 45rpm and have grooves you could drive a truck through? I dunno. Euros are weird sometimes. I guess there's a different version of this record coming out on Bat Shit domestically as well. Buy them both for sure. Quality flaming garbage like this is getting tougher to find these days. (RK)
(Rank Toy Records // ranktoyrecords.tumblr.com)
Family Curse "Julia Armant" 7"
Who is Julia Armant? Some dead broad. Family Curse (NYC) commemorate her passing with this post-punk roller, singer Erick "Carrie" Bradshaw (formerly of Golden Error) sounding very Mark E. Smith-like here, deadpanning over a band sounding very much like The Fall, not surprisingly, and not in a bad way. Referencing The Fall is no crime, especially when you do it with force, as is done here - the bassline is authoratative, the guitar arty and tasteful, the recording crisp and no-frills. A tasty cut. The B-Side picks up the pace to nearly manic, Bradshaw babbling with agility around the elastic art-punk moves the band peels off, ending in a noisy blow-outro. Whoever said it reminded them of Popular Shapes hit the nail pretty close to the old head with that one. Swell looking minimalist packaging from Drawing Room, a simple kraft-style inner sleeve with stickers, which makes for a good-looking "company sleeve" if that's what they're going for.(RK)
(Drawing Room Records // www.drawingroomrecords.com)
The Famines "The Complete Collected Singles" LP
The complete singles collection from The Famines, an Edmonton based drum-n-guitar two-piece rock'n'roll outfit who recorded these sides from 2008-2011. Firstly, not every band that has the perseverance to stick around long enough to release a half-dozen singles deserves to have them collected on an additonal record. I've seen a few singles comps recently that don't really need the comping. This one is obviously a labor of love for the label, as the Mammoth Cave CEO ranks them as his favorite band on the hype sheet. I imagine they're mainstays of the Alberta scene, and I've reviewed a single or two of theirs in the past. Which brings me to my second point, in that when I give a not-so-great review to a record and a fan of the band takes the time to e-mail me and say I really missed the boat on something I do tend to give the next round a more intent listen just in case. The case the e-mailer made was that I dismissed The Famines as a merely average two-piece garage band, when they are so much more than that. Words like incredible and powerful and smart were tossed around if I remember correctly. Hey, I'll admit if I'm wrong. If I actually am. And I don't think I am wrong in this instance. I think the band has a good sense for design and presenting their music in interesting packages on the singles I've seen. And musically they are far from terrible - I don't mean to be disparaging by calling them average, but it's the word that fits them. They're good at what they do, a tight band who utilize the two-piece formula well, understanding the dynamic and making things always sound very loud and full. The invest their songs with some well thought out concepts and songwriting and their lyrics and ideas are certainly intelligent, a "thinking man's" garage band of a sort. They're certainly not bloozy White Stripes or Black Keys styled sauce-hounds, perhaps investing some post-punk or even post-hardcore ideas in their songs, and I've thought of both Shellac and Nomeansno in passing while reviewing them. So sure, they have some tricks up their sleeves, it's not like this is some Estrus rehash or plainjane garage rock, I'll admit that, but it's also nothing that invigorating either. It's polite two-piece rock'n'roll that swings pretty good and is a bit more clever than it is exciting to listen to. I imagine this LP is of far more interest to locals and Canadiana devotees than it is to me. Soory.(RK)
(Mammoth Cave Recording Co. // www.mammothcaverecording.com)
Far Corners “Ruling The Roost” 7”
Gotta admit, I actually liked quite a few ol’ Turpentine Bros tracks back in their existence. They laid down some smooth adult garage, footed firmly in the American Deathray or Saints camp, and it rump’d my booty just fine. Plus a nice organ tone. Welp, I guess this is what happened to them. They moved away from Boston and dumped the keys…and evidently piled on a bunch of filth. None too special, but definitely in step with the trends of today. “Ruling The Roost” has a West Coast art (Wood)house vibe. Some nice chiming guitar sounds, but when it’s over…it’s done forgotten. “Gold Choice” on the flip fares better and really takes the noise up a notch. Blown out practy-space recordings for those who miss Eat Skull. A jam, but still having a hard time remembering it while sifting thru other releases in today’s crop of bedroom label skuzz. Folks who still jump on board for very gawddamned Hozac sound-alike release imaginable will be pleased. Scum stats: 165 on either frothy purple (more) or beige (less) vinyl. What’s up with Limited Appeal and their pressings barely clearing the 150 mark? Damn dude. Limited Appeal…by choice.(RSF)
(Limited Appeal // www.limitedappealrecords.com)
The Flip Tops "Are Still A Band" LP
You know I'm rooting for any members of the Rip Off Records roster that are still kicking, and I think the Flip Tops are the last of the mohicans - The Suspicions might still be around although they were a late addition to the team...are The Makers still playing out?...Marked Men maybe? - and while they might not have been the greatest band, Joel Jett is surely a great frontman. I think that paraphrases every review of a Flip Tops record I ever wrote. I honestly don't remember if their first LP was any good, and I don't really care to check, but I'm sure it was at least average. They storm out of the gate with "Customer Service", a definite A-Side for a single, all trebly and aggro and making me get stoked to reminisce about The Metros and Problematics. My interest then waned exponentially with each song. These guys were B-teamers at best in their prime, but they do try hard, and I guess a band playing this style in 2012 is actually something different from the norm. Catchy songs abound, they throw some power pop moves in the mix ("Boyfriend Street") and a bunch of rammma-lamma Fonzie stuff, cover a bunch of the standard Rip Off songwriting bases - radiation ("Radiation Bomb"), hate ("Hate My Guts"), an adjective+love song ("Retard Love") and the old pick-a-verb and add Me Up staple ("Lock Me Up"). There's a couple old-style rippers here, and the twin guitar attack is pretty hot. This would've been pretty exciting in '98 or so. I'm glad there are still bands and labels flying the Rip Off flag, and this might be of interest to you youngsters who missed the glory days of one of the greatest labels (and sounds/aesthetics) of all time. Garage punk when you still had to be somewhat punk. And the Ben Lyon art should grab the eye of the average Nobunny/whatever band Ryan Kill-A-Watt is in now/Personal & The Pizzas consumer. Jeez, that Joel Jett sure can yell, what a great frontman...(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
Forced Laugh "Symmetry of Deceit/Live At Club Anthrax" EP
A bizarre little record from Vancouver that reeks of Old Blighty. It's good to see a band even attempt to use Rudimentary Peni as a starting point, and while it's a foolhardy task, Forced Laugh make an inspired go of it. They also throw a ton of UK DIY influences in the blender: Homosexuals, Swell Maps, Instant Automatons, Tronics and more all get referenced at some point in the sound, even if it's in a haphazardly mashed-up way. The 'Live at Club Anthrax' tracks have festival noise pumped in throughout the entire side, which itself turns into a backing noise track for four stabs of sloppy and loose shit-fi punk ramble, sort of the the middle ground between Tyvek and Pheromoans for amodern vantage point. Bass is forward in the "mix" with trebly guitar feedback and some Limey-sounding vox riding shotgun. The 'Symmetry of Deceit' side gets weirder still, with more deconstructed DIY assaults, piercing feedback and some outright punk moves. Four more tracks (including the riveting "Michael Caine Codex"), this side sounds more RP than the "live" side, with the songs circling in on themselves in some sort of imploding vortex of squelch. It's just falling off the vinyl in cacophonous sheets, with an array of wonderfully shitty guitar sounds, primitive playing and all sorts of peripheral noises. Total chaos, and it's wonderful. Quite a brilliant record, I'm disappointed in myself that I let this sit around for so long. They also get a 10 out of 10 for artwork, with a six-panel fold out insert of claustrophobic collage work peppered with jokes both inside and overt, and paste-on sleeve art that even carries a mocking Deranged Records logo. I really like what these guys did here, and so should you. They're practically giving these away, and I'm betting they have some copies left...(RK)
(Gold Records // forcedlaugh.wordpress.com)
Foreign Objects "No Sensation" 12” EP
Eight tracks at 45 rpm, this record crams a very big noise into a very tiny space. Tight, wiry, angular songs that are loaded with anxiety and tension yet still remain extremely catchy and melodic at the same time. Although Foreign Objects might bring to mind bands like the Avengers, X, early Sleater-Kinney, Wire, Minutemen, or Gang of Four, there is no sense of aping or attempting to recreate genres past, but rather making music that sounds urgent and original. Having seen the band live and having picked up their demo cassette and 7” I enjoyed what the band was doing but this record far surpasses anything I have heard or seen from them previously. Excellent recording by Mr. Will Killingsworth, great cover art, a highly recommended 12”. (MO)
(Vinyl Rites // www.vinylrites.net)
Foster Care "Bad Vibe City" LP
Surprisingly great full length debut from this NYC combo, half of which are also ExHumans members (Josh plays drums instead of guitar on this, who knew? Which also makes this ex-Carbonas...). It's sloppy and balls-out garage-punk, the sound of which reminds me of the days when Crypt was winding down as a label releasing active bands and Rip Off and Big Neck were ruling the slop-punk roost. The singer sounds really dumb, and I mean that as a compliment. A little bit of Stiv-sneer/slur via Timmy Vulgar with some rapid-fire rambling ability as well. Guitars are slashy, choruses are shouted, drummer never hits the brakes, the tempo is just careless and non-stop throughout. At various time this sounds like the best of the Motards, Epileptix with a bigger bottom end, an American Stipjes or a NYC version of The Brides or Problematics. There's no blooze, psych or "weird" modern-bullshit sidebars in any of their tunes, all of which are nothing less than a full throttle punk assault on your face. Sizzling tunes that will leave cigarette burns. I don't really need to start dissecting songs here (although "Viva la Muerte" is my favorite at the moment), as all thirteen cuts make up a more than satisfying whole, recorded heavily by none other than NYC trash king Camero Werewolf himself. I like me some bass in the mix, and this thing is burly as hell. No slow jams or heavy Flipper-ripoff crap though, just fast moving garage-punk with max attitude, a cocksure swagger and just-slightly-sloppy execution that gives it some drunken bluster. As good of a traditional garage-PUNK record as you can hope to find these days and the best Jack Shack product to date.(RK)
(Jack Shack // jkshk.blogspot.com)
Friends of Dorothy "No Sex on Paul Fashion Street" 7"
Gay jokes still play fairly well over in Europe for some reason, which explains the moniker for the latest post-HFOS band, a story which itself has been one of diminishing returns since the dissolution of what was once one of the mightiest punk squads on the planet. FoD features the vocal stylings of Sir Henry Fiat himself (here renamed Paul Fashion) and he's assembled a competent backing band, members I imagine we might recognize if they weren't also operating under new aliases (whereforartthou Instead of A Hug?). While these guys (and Swedish punk as a whole) may never again scale the heights of their bandage-headed predecessors, they still give it the old college try. These four tunes are well played, well recorded and reach some of the velocity HFOS was renowned for, but injects them with big pop hooks and choruses instead of the blunt-punk 1:30 barrages I miss so much. It's still all very self-deprecating and good humored, a shinier and slightly more adult band and songs from guys who probably outgrew the music I still like a few years ago. And I don't mean that as a real slight, as even though this is not as punk as I like, it will still wipe the floor with any pop-punkers and garage-boppers out there. Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Ken Rock // myspace.com/kenrockrecords)
Front Line "Basic Training" EP
30 years after it was recorded, Front Line's 'Basic Training' EP finally gets issued in its full glory after making the tape trading rounds as a demo for decades. Ten tracks of hardcore-punk from Norfolk, VA, some of which appeared on the second 'Master Tape' comp. Absolutely righteous rippers that come off the vinyl sounding blazingly hot (salvaged and mastered from the OG tape apparently), razor-edged cuts of sharp and to the point Eighties core that surprisingly stand up well next to heavy hitters of the period like White Cross, Mecht Mensch, Tar Babies and others - not as gut-wrenchingly twisted as some of their Midwest contemporaries, but flying fists first ragers that are tightly wound and have some adept speed shifts for showing off various pit moves. Songs are about the beach, drinking, drugs, fighting and Quakers(!?), and all resonate with the looking-for-a-thrill young punk still deep inside us all with a welcome sense of humor. Sometimes the guy's delivery sounds like early days Mike Muir. Definitley a plus. I'll be filing this with my Prevaricators records as Virginia favorites. Packaging is excellent - pocket sleeves, fold-out full size insert with lyrics and flyer repros. Scum stats: already sold out first press was 500, with 100 on purple for mailorder (with a bonus interview insert as well), second press is just as good and still available for mandatory purchasing.(RK)
(Beach Imepdiment // beachimpedimentrecords.blogspot.com)
The Gaggers “You Ain’t No Fun” 7”
This band spreads their releases around like a disease. I can’t keep track of what came out, but I think I might want them all. Gaggers got me interested more than most with their Bat Shit single, and if you’ve been listening in at all, this here is more of the same. Messy Seventies snotpunk with its mucous mucked vocals set on high. “Ain’t No Fun No More” is a long playing slice of Euro-KBD worship. “Bored Of You” on the B-side even busts out a sweet harmonica solo…not expected. It ends with “Nothing To Me” that pools up in a Carbonas-style bloodstain. Think of an almost proficient UK Sleaze-cum-Stitches, wrapped up in a pinstriped and safety pinned persona. But within my skewered mind they're better than both. Fightin’ words…I know. Still hard to look at ‘em (they sure do WEAR their influences), but I think I just might buy the rest of their catalog anyways…if I can find it all. Crazy. 500 pressed out there, 100 with alternate screen printed acetate sleeves. (RSF)
(Pure Punk Records // www.purepunk.it)
Generacion Suicida "Demo" 7"
There has been never been a shortage of great punk/NC in LA, but the latest wave of bands — Rayos X, Kruel, Tuberculosis, Asko, and so on — is one of the best. Generacion Suicida, who share members with some of the aforementioned, stand out from their HC peers with a much more classic sound. GS's approach, with m/f vocals and driving punk songs, is similar to the throwback SoCal, X-inspired punk that Gorilla Angreb and Masshysteri have done recently. This vinyl pressing of the band's five-song demo outs them as among the most exciting bands going.(DH)
(Symphony of Destruction // www.symphonyofdestruction.org)
G.Green "Funny Insurance" 7"
I remember reviewing a G.Green cassette or CDR long ago for Termbo and calling it one of the worst things I'd ever been sent for review. I don't remember why I thought it sucked so bad, but that was many years ago, and many even shittier releases from far shittier bands ago. Obviously my bad review didn't deter this kid in any way (and why would it?) and look at him: releasing records with Gerard Cosloy, playing SXSW and living it up in Sacto. Believe it or not, the band (which is basically this Andrew Henderson fella with a couple pals) has got better since that fateful demo and are writing some decent goofball pop songs. Sort of awkwardly charming and loose, these two ragged pop tunes have Andrew singing in an almost tough guy voice on "Funny Inusrance", which is the garage-rocker, and switching to a higher pitch for "Sounds Famous" which is the quirkier more DIY-pop sounding number. Both of these tunes are fun enough and I think fit in well with the twitchy pop in favor with "the kids" these days. Not exactly pop-punk, but sort of similar in a roundabout way. Anyway, they got better, I'll give them credit, and I look forward to hearing more.(RK)
(12XU // www.12xu.net)
Ghastly Spats "We're Breaking Through The Hymen!" 7"
Evenly mixed gender four-piece weirdo outfit from Sydney. Pretty bizarre, even for Aussie standards, this reminds me of one of those weird-scuzz bands Rich from Florida's Dying always picks up - like Hungry Gayze or Chill City Cop Pillars or Jeanie & The Tits. Three songs on the A-Side, "Flesh Thing" is some sort of synthy spaghetti-western theme which they chant over, like a really goopy Black Lips with a dark Sixties touch. "Sordid" is out-of-tune DIY with a great phaser solo, like a really stoned Pheromoans or even a bratty Country Teasers. "Kid" sinks even deeper into the slime, a dank and moldy slo-mo traipse through a cavern of sludgy bass with a backing track of insects buzzing around your head. Wow. That's quite an A-Side. On the B-Side they write a couple longer tunes and their posture gets a little better as well. Not so much slinking around, as "The River" could be an early TV Ghost track, with guitars so reverbed they just sound like springs and a complete mindbender breakdown/turnaround. Maybe a theremin? Where'd that spy guitar come from? The young man babbles like an imp while the girls shriek like the young brats I imagine they are. "Border Town" is haunted garage with a spectral background noise behind the dirge-tempoed plod. Sounds like the gals got locked in the echo chamber and can't find their way out. A pretty stunningly fucked and out of nowhere record. The closest Aussie band I could pair them with is maybe Straight Arrows on bad shrooms, and Owen recorded this thing, so there. I really like this a lot, it's dark, punk and young sounding. Please ignore the "humor" of the EP title and label, this is seriously good. Scum stats: I thought I read 300 copies somehwere? I can't find my notes...there's at least two color variations on the sleeve.(RK)
(Heinous Anus // ghastlyspats-at-gmail.com)
Ghost Bikini s/t 7"
If you had to guess what a band called Ghost Bikini sounded like, you would say something like a spooky surf band, right? If I showed you the record, which looks like a rip off of the Ant Trip Ceremony LP you might be tempted to go with Oh Sees-eque neo-psych. But your first guess would still be correct. Yes, I'm trying to kill time here... the A-Side is preferable, as it's spookier or whatever. Lots of reverbed surf guitar, maybe a Man or Astroman nod, fairly pedestrian. Not bad, but just unexciting, you know the drill. B-Side gets all saucy with some harmonica wang-dang-doodling and a more trad garage "rave up". Yadda yadda yadda. If a band's from ATL and an ex-Carbona isn't involved in some way, it's probably something you can pass on. Like this.(RK)
(Ravaging Records // ghostbikini.bandcamp.com)
Grave Babies “Pleasures” 7”
More death pop from these Seattle natives (is that racist?). “Pleasures”: tin-tin production with that trendy bedroom crunch and smooth as molasses vocals. Lot o’ strange glitches and clicks in the intro/outro…oh wait. Locked groove! That was fast. Not too excitable, but it doesn’t offend me. “Deathwish”: the hit. Morrissey finally fronts a good band. I kid, I kid. The keys in this remind me of something I can’t quite place. I’m sure it appeared on 120 Minutes in my youth. Or maybe it’s The Gories' “You Little Nothing” riff?! If ya like early to mid-period Depeche Mode (I do) or that messy-gone-pretty Merchandise LP (I do), I think this will fill yer void for bleak and gloom. No need to slit the wrists for now. More fucked up locked grooves. Spin it again. 500 exist on clear wax. (RSF)
(Hardly Art // www.hardlyart.com)
Grown Ups “Spare Time” 7”
A scrappy and simple platter of note bending, trashy snot-pop and kit bashing from a few Albertans. Akin to the first Cheap Time single or maybe some of those earlier, punkier Ty Segall outings the young tykes might recall. The title track almost feels like a budget rock stab at Superchunk?? Definitely not as abrasive as their 'Modern Documents' LP. These four songs on display breeze by without really offending or enlightening. They might pull off something stellar someday, but this tends to hunker down into the just ok zone. (RSF)
(Mammoth Cave Recordings // www.mammothcaverecording.com)
The Gruberger Brothers "Greetings From Reading, PA" LP
One of the many terrible things I've done in my life is not reviewing this record (and many others, of course) in a timely manner, as it's absolutely spectacular. I don't want to spoil the great liner notes for you, but the Grubergers were the brains behind O.Rex and Afrika Korps (along with Kenne Highland) and ran in the same circles as the Gulcher gang, Gizmos, Slickee Boys and others. The Gruberger Brothers was not actually ever the name of a band (they did have an outfit called Spike), but this record compiles 18 songs from various tapes the bros recorded between 1978 and 1980 that were barely or never at all released. If you're a fan at all of the Gizmos/Korps or the whole axis of late Seventies pre-punk fanzine writer-rockers (including guys like Saunders, Turner and Meltzer and the whole Indiana Gulcher crew), then you're gonna love this stuff. Songs like the Cub Koda inspired "Rock & Roll Is Better Than Music" can only come from a certain place and time that I wish I was around for - semi-competent smart-ass songs from nerdy dudes who had an unfettered love for what rock'n'roll music was and what it was becoming (punk). If these songs had been widely available for years they would be held in high regard right alongside 'Music To Kill By'. Dumb-smart tunes and playing, homages and rips of everyone from The Ramones and Heartbreakers to Hackamore Brick and The Kinks. Thrills abound, like the ridiculous "Dance Fool Dance" and it's anti-disco fuzz grooves, the total "Amerikka First" swipe on "Walking Out", not one but TWO epic versions of "Burn Out" and the ultimate jammer on this platter "Here Come The Pussies" which is one of those songs that is such an immediate classic that you get pissed off you've never heard it before. So great. So if you're any sort of record collector, fanzine dork, Gizmos fan, sloppy rock'n'roll aficionado or punk rocker in general, you need to have this. Just look at that O.Rex band photo and tell me they don't look like one of the greatest bands of all time. The tasteful and highly informative liners from Mr. Rerun and Kenne Highland are just icing on the ol' cake. If you don't like this sort of stuff, you're probably not a good person. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (RK)
(Rerun Records // www.rerunrecordsstl.com)
Guilty Pleasures "Summer Strange" LP
The Guilty Pleasures' long-unreleased LP finally sees light after sitting in the can for 10+ years. For those of you who weren't at any Rust Belt Revolts or early Chicago Blackouts, Guilty Pleasures were Bloomington, IL's hardest rockers, a seed band whose members went on to fame and fortune in other acts. Jerred Gummere would find acclaim with Chicago's Ponys, Matt "Billiams" Williams became the cornerstone of Chi-town rock with the Hozac crew and has manned the stool for everyone from Baseball Furies to Vee Dee to Lover to The Dutchess & The Duke (and you can still catch him with some band as dummer-for-hire/tour manager across the US on pretty much any day of the week), bass player Srini continued on with Whiteouts, France Has the Bomb and others, and the singer...well I think this was his only band. This LP was recorded in 2000 with Jim Diamond, and I'm pretty sure they broke-up/relocated soon after which is one of the reasons they put the brakes on the release. It made the tape (or CDR) trading rounds amongst the underground and was always on the "Best Unreleased Records" lists whenever garage turkeys would congregate. I hadn't listened to it in a few years before Dusty Meds sent a copy this way, and I have to admit it still sounds great. Garage rock before delay and psych infiltrated the scene, just raunchy enough, loud and lewd stuff with piles of hot licks from Jerred. The kick-off tune "Somethin Wyld" was always my favorite cut, and it's just like an LP opener should be - explosive and energetic, a pace setting ripper for a genuinely solid full length. The opening triple shot is as exciting as anything from the time, and honestly the whole first side is six end-to-end burners. Really, the only mistake they made on this was putting all the hits on the A-Side. The B-side does lag a bit, but still has a version of their classic tune "Trash Bag" revisited from their single on the beloved Sack O Shit imprint. I might be looking at this through rosier eyes than some, as I was fortunate enough to see them live a couple times and they're a remnant from an important era in my personal musical history, but really, there's over a half-dozen killers on this, and if you're fond of the Baseball Furies, early Big Neck Records, the days when Hozac was still raunchy, or just want to hear a pre-Ponys Jerred rip on guitar, you need this record. Todd Killings himself tells their story better than I ever will in the liner notes, you should buy this and read them...(RK)
(Dusty Medical // www.dustymedical.com)
The Guns s/t 2XLP
Jaw-droppingly comprehensive "discography" release compiling just about every single thing The Guns ever put to tape in their all too brief career. If you've been playing catch-up with Cleve-o hardcore history via Smog Veil's reissue of the seminal 'New Hope' compilation, you'll remember The Guns as being the band that stole the show on that record (which wasn't an easy thing to do, as almost every band on that thing is good-to-great), and that appearance (along with a track on the also necessary 'They Pelted Us With Rocks and Garbage' comp) was the only vinyl release the band had during their existence, despite actually recording an LP in 1984. I'll leave the story telling to the liner notes (told in great detail by Tom Dark and Sean Saley), but I imagine you can connect the dots here: bad luck, personnel problems, shitty timing, etc... left the LP an unreleased treasure and made The Guns legend that much larger. After years of rumored releases (both legit and not), Smog Veil has finally amassed all of the material and presented in the way it should be, as a be-all/end-all collection with all you could possibly want and then some. The full sessions for the comp tracks, the full LP session and another record with an assortment of radio broadcasts, practice space recordings and live sets. Overkill? Sure, but it's wonderfully gluttonous. The Guns are certainly one of the best hardcore bands you've never heard, "I'm Not Right" is an outright classic and the LP stands up with just about any full length that actually was released in 1984, whether they go a little metal on it or not. Everyone was doing it then, and it sounds great today. Teenage rage done just as well as their better known peers (DRI, Negative Approach, The Stains), from a Cleveland hardcore scene that got little to no national attention. Scott Eakin and Dave Araca (sadly both now deceased) formed the band when they were 15 years old (as a two piece!), and The Guns music has all the teen angst ("Locked Inside", "Rotting Away") and high school hate ("Preps Suck", "Kill Preps") necessary to make this material timeless and the chops to make it still sound invigorating 25 years later. Great guitar sound and playing, clever songwriting, and I'm still amazed at how fast some of these songs are for the time. Whether you think the live material and multiple versions of songs are mandatory or not (answer: yes, they are), the studio material is still essential for all you part-timers out there. For the lifers and Cleve-O rock fanatics, the extended material tells a great story. Everybody wins. I'm relieved that this stuff is finally out there for the masses, don't disappoint me...Scum stats: 900 copies only (no repress), excellent liners/bio and classy gatefold presentation.(RK)
(Smog Veil // www.smogveil.com)
Hard-Ons “Alpha Males” LP
The twelfth full length release (I think?) from these Australian pranksters and if you’ve followed them up 'til now, you’d pretty much know what to expect. Or so I’d assume. I’ve only listened to a handful of their tunes over the last couple decades and in all honesty, I used to think they were two separate bands. I stand corrected. 'Alpha Males' sends them careening from Big Star worship and gleaming pop goofiness to metallic grindcore violence and crossover thrash at the drop of a guitar pick. They’ve had damn near thirty years to perfect this sound and they sure can work it…I just can’t be certain I need to listen up. I like DRI, Redd Kross, Napalm Death, Cheap Trick, John Zorn and Motorhead as much as the next record store clerk, but put ‘em all on one LP with Ween-like stoned humorisms and you’ll loose me in a flash. If you love these guys, you still probably love this. If you’ve never heard ‘em before, you might wanna’ grasp yr tongue firmly and prepare for the seizure this platter induces. (RSF)
(Red Lounge Records// www.redloungerecords.com)
Hey Colossus “Dominant Male” 12”
Opening with the title track, "Dominant Male" leaves you a deep scar of Whitehousian power-noise before it settles into a brutal thwack of repetit-ism and crunch. “Relentless”. What’s in a name? In this case… everything. It’s a slushy Burmese or Skullflower gone Swansflesh sorta churn, bleat and bowel cleanse. There’s a few calming moments of chiming expermentism interspersed (kinda Emeralds-y) but usually this is followed by a berserk blast beat onslaught or cone dusting noise rock blowout. Things sprawl out in a Kraut drive for a bit on the flip (listen to “Eurogrumble Part 2”) then soon enuff it crashes back into a mess of pedal art and electronix tomfoolery. If you’ve got a sizable collection of Shit & Shine or various early Load LPs, this here is a snuggly little muff to squeeze into bed with ‘em. (RSF)
(Clan Destine Records // clandestinerecords.bigcartel.com)
The Horrortones "Triple 7" Collection" 3x7" box
By the name of the band you just know you're getting into some serious schtick here, but when a band sends in a triple 7" box set for review, I have to at least give them some words. I'm just curious to know what I'm getting when presented with just the band name...cheesy horror-garage? Psychobilly? Sub-Estrus hot rods and BBQ sauce twang? I just can't think of any way this name could offer up any sort of positive reference. The fact that all the songs are covers is mind-blowing (and even more questionable is the fact that some are actually covers of covers...), even if the premise here is that the group is just a loose party band, whose membership includes whoever happened to be around to jam that particular night. A "rock'n'soul" revue of sorts. Oof. I want to make some sort of Detroit Cobras joke here, but I can't even kid about this anymore. Imagine Les Sexareenos without any soul or energy and you might be close to what unfolds over nine sides here. Serious Vegas lounge action or perhaps the bar band in my own personal hell. Songs given the treatment include "Mojo Hannah", "Ramblin Gamblin Man" (ugh), The Dirtbombs "arrangement" of "Livin' for the Weekend", the Compulsive Gamblers version of "Whole Lotta Woman" and other cover songs that when taken in one sitting must violate the United Nation's Convention Against Torture in some way. This is just one of those cases where you think "Fuck, imagine if the resources expended to make this were actually used for a good band...", but I'm trying to quit armchair record label running these days. Let's just say that including the fact that Spencer P Jones once played in a Horrortones line-up in no way makes this even the slightest bit acceptable. Scum stats: they actually made at least 150 of these. Jesus.(RK)
(Mere Noise // www.merenoise.net)
Husky Dudes "Hollow Human" 7"
Just looking at the cover of this...oof. Bands that start with a bad joke for a name never fare well in general, and this gag is so bad I kinda enjoyed it, being a guy who did have to shop in the husky section as a lad, but enough about that. I guess this band is of the older-dudes-playing-throwback-core variety, and it features ex-members of various bands I've never really heard (Followed By Static maybe...can't recall either way, which is telling). Five songs of hardcore punk drawing from days of yore: classic DC, 90's East Bay, Flag (of course)..."Bank" is the winner here, a slow and gruff riffer that plods at just the right pace and gets a little sloppy in a good way. Not too bad, mostly mid-tempo crunchers with some fast breaks and mosh downs. Another fair-to-middling Austin punk band, at least they're not playing bar rock or "psych" I guess. The best thing about this is the prison yard photo on the back sleeve, which also contains some more "jokes" in the credits. Most people will probably pass based on the band name and logo, and that's probably a fair assumption, but this isn't as bad as you think. It's also not real good either.(RK)
(Bombay Cove // www.bombaycove.com)
The Hussy "Dokks" 7"
The Hussy "Stab Me" 7"
Two more singles from The Hussy, who have been very busy of late, touring, recording and releasing two LPs, a tape and these singles in the past year or so (along with being remixed by Pink Reason on his latest single as well). That's a lot of garage rock from Wisconsin. Live, Bobby Hussy is a hell of showman and they're both real nice people, which is usually the kiss of death phrase leading up to a mediocre or bad review. So, the Goodbye Boozy single is of the one-sided variety with two songs, one of which is kind of lame ("Dokks") and one which is a real solid rocker ("On the Cover"), but one-sided singles with one good song don't cut it. The Eradicator 7" has four songs, two of which are average, one which is yet another hard rocker ("Hard To Erase") and one which is a Midwest Beat cover (blech). Combine these two records, and you'd have a solid two song single to throw in the jukebox. As it stands, you don't need either, and should probably stick to the LPs. Scum stats: GB single is limited to 240 with three cover variations, the Eradicator single is 500 copies on four different vinyl colors.(RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // email@example.com)
(Eradicator Records // eradicatorrecords.bigcartel.com)
Incredible Kidda Band "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" 2XLP
Ten years or so after Detour originally released and quickly sold out of this collection on vinyl (and a repress five or so years later that went just as quickly), Red Lounge somehow got the permission to re-release it this year, making hundreds of power-pop fans worldwide very pleased and scratching this from the top of "Records that Should Be Repressed/Reissued" lists of many collectors. If you're somehow unaware of the Kidda Band, they're quite possibly the best pure powerpop band to come out of the UK, who released a couple of singles in '78-79, turned into The Kicks (and later We're Only Human) and then faded into obscurity until recordhounds dug them up and comped them on Back to Front and Powerpearls. This 2XLP collection compiles most of their recording sessions from 1977 through 1980, called "demos", but they all sound great, including the songs from the singles and tracks that were later issued on 7" by 1977 Records and more recently Last Laugh (who continue their Kidda reissue campaign) as well, 30 tunes all told (and this issue includes a bonus cut not on the Detour version, "She's A 50" from '77) and there's not really a dud in the bunch. Kidda Band is one of those Power Pop acts that transcend the genre to the point where even people who are not actual Power Pop Wimps actually dig them too. They're like The Nerves/Plimsouls of the UK. Everyone loves them, the songs are that good. There's not much more I can say about the music to recommend it, it's just some of the best stuff of its ilk ever recorded. The differences between this issue and the old Detour version? Well, there's that one bonus track. Sound fidelity seems about the same (great either way). Red Lounge had the good sense to make this a gatefold (which Detour did not), with a different cover (I kinda liked the Detour cover better) that looks slick as fuck. Most of the pics/paraphenalia from the printed inners on the Detour version are re-used for the gatefold and there's a lack of liner notes on either edition, but the band have a website that will tell you absolutely everything you need to know and then some. If you're a real dummy and want to stick a toe in the pool first, I'd say check out on the 7"es on Last Laugh and then get this, but I imagine this version is gonna sell out immediately as well. Just play it safe and buy this and all the singles. Supposedly there's another LP of "lost" demos comign out soon as well, and more action on the Last Laugh front too. Can't recommend this music enough, essential for any collection.(RK)
(Red Lounge Records // www.redloungerecords.com)
The Intelligence (with Kelley Stoltz) 7"
I thought Lars said The Intelligence were done after 'Males'? Or did I just infer that from some passing comments made in conversation? I should have known he'd never let the band go away anyhow, even if he's kept himself busy in his role as secret weapon on tour with Thee Oh Sees and playing in Puberty, who I haven't heard much about since that 7". I just had The Intelligence neatly filed away in my brain, I was glad it would have ended on a high point with 'Males' (both the record and the song) and although I loved the band very much I was okay with the way our relationship ended. But now he's back, and I'm pleased about it for sure, but I had already moved on...how do I let The Intelligence back in my life? Why do I feel this way? Where did Kelley Stoltz come from? I'm just going to accept this and deal with my emotions in private. The A-Side is Lars and Stoltz doing everything, recorded by Mikey Young to make it a real super session. It's an ok tune, kind of minimal from where the last LP was going. B-Side is kinda better though, it's called "Lake of Dracula", who were a very good band and you can read Lars talking about them here. It's a nicely wound-up little Finberg number. A good teaser single for their next LP "Everybody's Got It Easy But Me" on ITR as well, of course. I'll always have room in my life for The Intelligence, I'm glad they're back but they apparently never even left.(RK)
(In the Red Records // www.intheredrecords.com)
The Ills "I Kill Me" 7"
The Ills obviously borrow wholesale from the Rip Off Records catalog, right down to the latter day Poison Bambee-esque sleeve design and one-sided single stylee. Three songs packed on the only side, and I have to admit it's a surprisingly good effort. Middle ground between Spoiled Brats and Dirty Sweets I'd say. Maybe some Kill-A-Watts in there too. Gal singer has a perfect feminine sneer for this style, retardo male back-ups will always work, mid-fi recording quality does the job. "Give Me Everything" is the sure fire hit, as you can never go wrong with a "Gimme gimme gimme" refrain, and the title track is a rocker. "Gorehound" falls into mid-tempo slog a bit much and would probably be too poppy for Lowery, but it's bookended by two good ones, so you won't notice much. From Iowa and not Europe, which was a bit of a surprise. Well done for what it is...and not to be confused with The Illnesses. Scum stats: special edition of 50 with clear vinyl and cover. (RK)
(Delete Bin Records // www.theillsrock.com)
Johnny Ill Band “Ask All The Doctors” LP
Seems like a lotta tasteful doods in the know are down with this Johnny Ill kid, but I’m not feeling it.
At all. JIB give off a quirky indie “rock” that sounds a bit like Johnathan Richman here or a smidge like Pavement there…or in the case of “Used to Be Confused”…both of those at the same time. There’s even some Weezer to it, and that’s not doing it (or me) any favors. From what I’ve gathered, Johnny Ill’s all about the matter-of-fact vocals and his off the cuff storytelling. While I understand this, and I gotta be honest here, his voice ain’t really the strong point to what’s playing and those mundane upfront lyrics don’t make me wanna listen to this more than once. You put yer hands in the laundry water and now they smell like soap. True story. Great. I’m happy for ya. It’s atonal and not in a charming way. This is not Home Blitz. This is not even The Noddzzz. This is dull, hurting my head and…for fuck sake…rhyme some shit, now and again. I should have tossed this record to someone else for review, because now all of the amazing Michigan bands I love are probably gonna’ turn on me after they read this. Hell, half of the Terrible Twos play on here. Some Fontanas and a possible Piranha as well. There were a couple songs on earlier singles and comps I thought were alright. But this is not a step in a better direction…or a step I’m willing to take again. Maybe they flat out rule face live? I hope so. Sorry. I pass. (RSF)
(Urinal Cake Records // www.urinalcakerecords.com)
Johnny Throttle "Lost Sputnik" 7"
London punk rockers second single on Wrench, released to accompany their recent LP on Dirty Water Records. These guys would've made quite a stir in the days when Hit List magazine was still active, as the boys play a decent version of the old junkie-rock style quite popular back then. Dead Boys/Heartbreakers influenced with perhaps some street-punky singalonga moments. I didn't mind their "Stukas..." single so much, but I'm also not sure it was good enough to warrant them getting a record out on Crypt either. Two tracks of nothing all that special.(RK)
(Wrench Records // www.wrench.org)
Joint D≠ "Strike Gently" LP
Debut LP from Joint D≠ (formerly Joint Damage, the insert will explain it) brings us more aural documentation of the currently piping-hot NC hardcore scene. Featuring members of Brain F≠, it's more than a side project of that band, however they do travel some similar sonic ground. Joint D≠ are more of a straight hardcore outfit than Brain F≠'s garage-core mix, there's certainly the influence of Nick's love of international hardcore (Sweden, Japan), but delivered treble heavy and with precise stop/start gear shifts. Actually reminds me a bit of local act White Whale, another band of kids from hardcore roots who adapted into a propulsive rock outfit with Husker Du/Wipers-esque charge. Eleven tracks of aggro yet catchy hardcore-punk, with the epic "(I'm) Haunted" that opens side two being particularly impressive along with a handful of others. Like any good HC record, it doesn't linger too long, but winds up leaving you wanting more. The type of thing you'd expect kids with good taste in music to make. A couple tracks have guest vox from Elise of Brain F≠, and if you liked their records at all, you have another one to add to your collection. Scum stats: 100 copy mailorder version with crimson wax and different obi. Also not totally sure that some copies didn't escape into the wild without the name-editing sticker.(RK)
(Sorry State // www.sorrystaterecords.com)
Kim Phuc "Copsucker" LP
As much as I like this album, and I do quite a bit, it was a little disappointing to find out that almost half of the songs had been previously released (in different recorded versions, but still...). Then again, these dudes ain’t no spring chickens, and they have real jobs, real wives, and real lives. To paraphrase Mr. Show – “I can’t spend all my time fucking around in a punk rock band.”
But when these guys decide to fuck around, they do so with a mighty wallop. I highly recommend catching Kim Phuc in a live setting. They have a single-minded head-down intensity; they mean business, and are able to hold their own at hardcore shows, even though most of their material leans towards a pounding, mid-tempo attack. At their best, Kim Phuc come off like a basement-punk version of Killing Joke. While firmly a US band, they have echoes of bleak UK post-punk running through their sound. Considering what a crusty town their homebase (Pittsburgh) used to be, it kinda makes sense. All of their hits are here: “Prostitute,” “Weird Skies,” “Wormwood Star.” My favorite of the new tracks is the punishing lead-off cut, “Animal Mother/Local Round-Up.” If you need a dose of darkness (seriously, stop smiling for a fucking second, the world is going to shit), snag this sucker.(EEK)
(Iron Lung // lifeironlungdeath.blogspot.com)
Kitchen’s Floor "Look Forward to Nothing" LP
Here we have a perfect, succinct (10 songs/20 minutes) example of depression-in-action. Not inaction as in paralyzed (although a few of these songs will stop you dead in yr tracks), but as in harnessing-of; reign-taking, a shouting-down of all the crummy black feelings collected at the bottom of yr coffee cup, the existential nullification of one’s own distress. In pop song format.
'Look Forward to Nothing' opens wide with the blasted doom-pop of “No Love,” bits of Bill Direen poking thru its suffocated screen, then jumps right into “Graves,” which sounds like the killer, quasi-triumphant second half of the previous song. A slight pause, then a genuinely great song sticks itself in yr craw. “116” has shades of the appealing domesticity of Guided By Voices (is that a house number?); simple but effective guitar hook, a bummer of a chorus (“I am the last one you’d love”), and then it’s over. A minute and a half. Anything more would be frivolous.
And despite its raw Ahia squall, 'Look Forward to Nothing' is not necessarily a lo-fi record. The vocals are blown-out, providing that extra desperate edge, but the band plays tight and economically. The longest song, “Everyday,” is an instrumental, as if the singer is just too numb to be bothered. In fact, the entire proceedings are deep-fried; not in a boiling oil sense, but in an acid-exhausted sense. There is a weariness to these sounds, as if Kitchen’s Floor are wringing the last remaining life out of this style. What style? Well, Nineties “indie-punk.” Tons of Columbus, some fellow Southern Hemisphereans (Doublehappys? S.Fits?); pull-quote: “Skip Spence raised on Archers of Loaf.” The smeared acoustic drawl of “Kidney Infection” would almost sound at home on Beck’s 'One Foot in The Grave'.
This album reminds me of cursed times past. Go nowhere, do nothing. There was something comforting in the aimlessness of a “Don’t give a shit about shit” lifestyle. I suppose there still is. Kitchen’s Floor are down on their knees, searching out the final crumbs from this particular table. Crawl on, say I.(EEK)
(Siltbreeze // www.siltbreeze.com)
Lakes "Crossed With Leaves" 7"
Latest from Sean Bailey as Lakes - I've seen some mention that this was recorded with a full band, but the credits say otherwise - not that it matters much, it sounds great whether it's one guy or five playing these two tracks. I'm not a true believer in the pagan-folk thing or whatever we're calling this 'genre', but I've enjoyed Lakes more than any other modern stuff I've tried on. My big problem with most bands of this style is that it usually sounds so hokey and melodramatic that it just makes me laugh, but for some reason Bailey avoids that pitfall. Maybe it's because he's not crying about his inner torment and is more or less just taking the listener along on his spiritual trip - runes, nature, cycles, and other Nordic-type stuff. Sure, there is some confessional element here, but it's more introspective and esoteric than just some hippie-folk crybating. Maybe that's the difference between a guy from NYC playing this style and a guy from Tasmania - maybe it's just in my head. Perhaps we'll never know. I do know you get two blood-letting cuts of neo-goth dark folk here, both emitted from a dank and ancient forest, very much on the midnight woodland tip. You can smell the embers of the fire while chicks in robes and dudes with beards stare into the flames and dance for gods with long-dead names. Sort of beautiful if you'll allow yourself the indulgence.(RK)
(Quemada // quemadarecords-at-gmail.com)
Lamps "All Seeing Eye" 7"
New record from thee Lamps for the first time in a long time, and as usual Monty and crew come with a great looking and sounding record. I'm gonna review it in reverse, as I think the B-Side is the better cut (but hey, I could be wrong). "G.B.D." is 100% RDA approved dumb throb-n-pound-o, with some oscillator or ring modulator noise accompanying, sounds malicious and determined to at least bruise you, if not do something more hurtful. Monty's vocal seem like the declarations of a man lost inside this trap. A wonderfully punishing tune. "All Seeing Eye" is actually pretty upbeat, especially for a song whose title sounds rather paranoiac. Maybe that's the rub. Monty sounds like he might be singing with a latex mask on, but one without a mouth-hole. It's a Lamps pop tune, like they're trying not to be mongo, but they just can't help revealing themselves. I keep thinking of one of those pictorials in Famous Monsters or whatever, with Frankenstein holding a bouquet of flowers. You can dress them up, but you can't take them out. or something like that. Shit, this song is pretty good too...Welcome back Lamps, I missed you. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Sweet Rot // www.sweetrotrecords.com)
Lantern “I Don’t Know” 7”
Expected some lofty bunk (it looks like an X Ray Eyeballs sleeve, fer chrissakes), but find myself pleasantly surprised. On the A-side I’m delivered a hybrid of Sixties garage-banger, Childish worship and a kinship to The Morlocks' early output. Snotty attitude and repetitive trash-mud blues. The B-side’s more of a Raw Power cum NY Dolls stomper, but still blown to bits and full of that hand-held recorder fidelity. Somewhere down a nearby alley, there’s a white-hot solo getting tossed about. Not bad at all, and a welcome surprise following the rest of the fodder I had to sit thru to get to this…Gimme more. (RSF)
(Mammoth Cave // www.mammothcaverecording.com)
The Larchmont Trash "I Spent The Summer With..." 10"
Garage trio from Norfolk bringing absolutely nothing new to the table. Oh wait, they wear ski-masks, no one has ever done that before...eh, I'm being too mean right off the bat. These guys cover Slippery Slopes "Bikini Binge" that shows some sort of ill-advised judgement which I suppose I can appreciate. They do two songs about ex-Olympic venues (Lillehammer and Lake Placid if you must know), which actually isn't all that interesting now that I've heard them. Doing songs about cougars and one that is actually called "Ratt Fink" is not all that entertaining either. Musically it just sounds like bland, cleanly recorded mid-tempo garage-twang. No energy, sub-par "hooks" if any at all, just pretty fucking bad. I wouldn't even stick around for the live show. Not even truly saucy. Nice screened sleeves would be the only "pro" I could list here. Scum stats: 250 copies too many on the label that also gave the world Gary War.(RK)
(Shdwply Records // www.thelarchmonttrash.com)
The Lasters "Minimum Viable Product" EP
The alliance between The Lasters and In the Red seems a little bit odd to me, but who am I to question Larry Hardy's judgement. I was under the impression The Lasters were a Mike Hunchback project, so maybe that had me confused a bit, and I'm not even sure that's entirely true anyway. This is the band's third single, and I wasn't a big fan of the previous two. "Depression is the New Gay" is kinda funny, and it's borderline pop-punk, high energy and catchy as shit though. "Ivory Tower of Beer" reminds me of Livefastdie, killer buzzsaw guitar sound, but the singalong vox again bring up the dreaded pop-punk reference. B-Side has two more, "The Lasters Lose The Power of Speech" which uses the gimmick of just mumbling nonsense for half of the lyrics and "Let's Get Along" is pretty straightforward punk in The Spits vein, but without the weird/dumb aesthetic. This is their best single for sure, but the pop-punk stuff throws it off a bit for me, although there's a big enough fanbase for this kinda style to sell out the pressing I'm sure. The songs are fucking catchy and all. A million times better than Mean Jeans at least. Scum stats: 200 copies, half on black and half on blue.(RK)
(Futilitarian Records // via www.intheredrecords.com)
La Ligne Claire "Cheri" LP
Six song mini-LP from a French 2 guys/2 gals quartet and it's reaaaaal loose. I'm supposing you have to call this No Wave, as it's all cling-clangy and improv sounding jammy cacophony. The drummer actually keeps a definite beat, but it's just a really slow one. Over this "rhythm" people pluck strings, goof off on flutes and other horn-type instrumentation, chant and talk and whoop and do whatever else they felt like while the tape rolled. Very avant-garde and experimental, sure, but who the hell wants to listen to this? If you're some egghead who wants to hear anti-rock'n'roll, go right ahead. There are parts where it sounds like they might actually start to play a song, albeit a really out of tune and "arty" song, and then it usually devolves into some more cling-clangy free-whatever this is called. I certainly found nothing enjoyable about this experience, but you might be smarter and more adventurous than myself. Like I said, go ahead enjoy it you egghead hippie, it leaves more rock'n'roll for me.(RK)
(Bruit Direct // bruit-direct.org)
The Liminanas "Trouble In Mind" 7"
Tour single from what is becoming one of the flagship acts of TiM records, here paying tribute to their label with "(I've Got) Trouble in Mind", a fine example of their retro-pop stylings - it's a really catchy French language number (except the title chorus) that is driven by tambourine and bass/drum line and some less is more guitar flourishes. Sultry, sleek and smooth going down. B-Side is a more psychedelic droner with some minimal harpsichord(?) lines and a trance-inducing French chant lyric - sort of a Baroque twist on a Spacemen 3 number perhaps. I felt like their LP was too much in one sitting, but they sound just fine here. On the TIM Records division of the Trouble In Mind label. 500 copies in plain black sleeves with some familiar looking graphics...(RK)
(Trouble in Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Little Queenie "Blackout" 7"
Fantastic and fairly low profile Bay Area punking here, from ex-members of critic's faves such as Gris Gris, Battleship and even the mighty Short Eyes. Two basses, some drums and king-among-men Icki on vox makes for good stuff on "Blackout", which has elements of the S-S Records roster (I'm thinking the most motivated of A-Frames songs, or maybe even Mayyors without Woodhouse and his army of guitar pedals) with some of the post-punky elements that Battleship excelled at. It marches right up your ass with determination and some understated vocals, perhaps even a bit Aussie-like in it's head-down drive and lyrical content. "SS Shipwreck" is the flip and I keep hoping this is about Scott Soriano on a desert island, but I don't think it is. Dual bass drive again keeps this thing moving, not speeding, but a brisk and burly pace and Icki's lyrics take on the narrative here of the shipwrecked man himself. A nicely paced double-sider which I was impressed by, and I know further efforts can up the ante should they ever materialize. Recorded with taste and class by Greg Ashley. Scum stats: 300 copies, which is Sweet Rot's smallest pressing size yet so act fast.(RK)
(Sweet Rot // myspace.com/sweetrotrecords)
Living Eyes "Ways To Make A Living" 7"
Thinking about whether Living Eyes sourced their name more from Radio Birdman or The Bee Gees won't get you very far, but it had me thinking for a second that the instrumental at the end of the B-Side was an interpretation of the Gibb's disco hit. I need some sleep. Moving on, what Living Eyes are is a Pebbles-styled garage group with a singer who has a weird sheep-like bleating vocal style that works out okay in the end. Title cut is a likeable mid-tempo number made more likeable by the fact these kids all look like they're barely seniors in high school. A wonderful melancholy build-up and release - pretty good moves for a bunch of teenagers. "Nose Diving" has some nastier Childish-like punch and a muscle-flexing fuzz solo, and the already mentioned instrumental closer has some twangy snap to it. In the grand scheme of things, I'm saying this is good for a garage record made by some high schoolers. Are there any Australian records that haven't been recorded or mastered by Mikey Young at this point? Where does the guy find the time? Scum stats: 300 copies .(RK)
(Antifade Records // antifaderecords.webs.com)
Lonesome Savages "All Outta Love" EP
A Wisconsin super group of sorts: Max Elliott (of Zola Jesus and solo work) and Dead Luke himself join forces with a couple local jobbers and do some Crampin' and vampin' around Bobby Hussy's studio. Four songs you might mistake for covers (well, at least one of them is...) but there are some little touches that make them jump a bit more than you think - the flute on "Black Hair Woman", piano on "Got Love...", which are the two best cuts here - and the recording is greasy and echoed-out to perfection. Elliott's vocalizin' gets a little too Lux-y which I think takes away from the tunes somewhat, but it's really no huge sin. It just makes the Cramps idolatry seem a little too brazen, especially on "All Outta Love" which might as well be a "Human Fly" cover (or a half-dozen other songs The Cramps taught us). I have to say I do like the overall vibe these guys lay down for some garage-turkeyin' these days, for as reverential as it seems they have some saucy chops and the piano really works. I think the great recording helps this one quite a bit as well. Scum stats: first 100 of the 350 total pressed are on purple/gray vinyl swirl. First 25 of those are numbered with silver ink and thus are the Silver Edition. Remaining 75 colored vinyl versions are numbered in black ink and are considered the Black Edition. The "normal" press is black vinyl. OK.(RK)
(Kind Turkey Records // www.kindturkeyrecords.com)
Loose Grip "Cereal" 7"
Was not expecting the teeth-rattling hardcore bluster this record contains when I first scoped the sleeve showing four lads enjoying some cereal on the roof of an Aussie shack. A pleasant surprise certainly, especially when I was expecting something along a poppier Antipodean line. There's a smart alec streak to go along with the blaze here, as this is set up as some sort of concept record chronicling what I imagine is a day in the life of these kids. The A-Side follows this sequence, in three songs in under three minutes: "Light Me Up", "Baked" then "Cereal" - makes sense, no? There's a lock groove fake-out at the end that sends you into a frightening moment of stoned time vortex as well. B-Side revs back up with the heaviest and best number here, "Maccy D's" which seems to further their hunger-sating quest. The submarine bassline here really barrels down on your ass and the sloppy-as-shit solo and top-o-the-lungs vox fulfill all aggro requirements. A real ripper with just the right ratio of slop vs. precision. "Wipe The Slate" ends the day and the record with a nearly metal riff and sheer vitriol on the lyrics/vox. Just what I needed here, an Aussie record that is punk as shit when a lot of recent releses/bands seem to have been going off on pop/noise/not-so-punk tangents. I haven't been brained this hard by a debut release from Down There since the first Chinese Burns 7" perhaps. What a bunch of brilliant brats, sharing members with Kitchen's Floor and Per Purpose as well?!(RK)
(Bedroom Suck Records // www.bedroomsuckrecords.com)
Lost Sounds "Lost Lost" LP
Long story short, Lost Sounds were the best band in the world for a few years in the early '00s when they were at the height of their powers, both on record and in the live setting. Jay and Alicja were an incredible songwriting tandem and their relationship also fed the sense of tension that was so much a part of their sound. Add in Rich Crook (also a great songwriter in his own right), as the drummer (one of the best in the game) and friend caught in the middle and you had a rare band dynamic that led to the creation of truly great music, and a lot of it. They released four LPs, at least four singles/EPs and tons of demos during their active years. I like to think they were ahead of the curve as far as releasing their own demos on CDR and selling them on tour and through Alicja's Contaminated mailorder, and these demos were good enough that most of them ended up getting proper vinyl releases of their own. And they apparently didn't even release everything, as this LP has more than a few cuts I don't remember hearing before. 13 songs buffered with some noise/sound outtakes (and a bonus four song single) spanning their career from 1999-2004. The A-Side has some real gems in "A Foreign Play" (2001 - from a Memphis comp on Makeshift Records), what was apparently Jay's first acoustic demo version of "Black Coats, White Fear", the unreleased demo of "No Count" (a wonderfully simple Jay garage number), a beautiful cover of "I Cannot Lie" (no idea who did the original) and more. B-Side delves into the last days of the band, and listening to the lyrics of "Genetic Engineer" and reading Alicja's liners saying it "reflects the sentiments that led to the demise of the band" really hits hard. Then hearing Rich's "Fuck your band" answering machine message between tracks shows how real the tension was. The side ends with an echoed up version of what was their magnum opus, "Total Destruction", and it's an apt finisher for the record and a fitting description of how the band imploded in the end. The seven-inch adds four more worthwhile cuts, in particular "Look At Me" which is apparently the last thing Jay and Alicja ever recorded together. I own every Lost Sounds release from CDRS to splits, and this is definitely a necessary piece of the story for both casual fans and dorks like my myself who hung on everything they put out. It wraps things up nicely. If I had one beef with this, it's that I wish there were more liner notes from Alicja (and Rich too) and maybe even some stories from others close to the band (Eric O, Ryan Wong, their various bass players who almost always seemed to be named John) or just some pics/flyers and shit. From that perspective it really seems oddly lacking, but musically, it's excellent and necessary. Scum stats: the usual Goner clear vinyl edition (100?) which sold out in a day.(RK)
(Goner Records // wwww.goner-records.com)
The Lures "New Boy" 7"
"New Boy" is a direct-hit TVPs cop right down to the artwork, with a paper-thin recording that works out quite well - high treble guitar strum, a sneaky bassline and hissing drums carrying an extremely catchy melody. A definite lo-fi pop hit, which is followed with another on the B-Side called "Falling Out (Of Gerald's Car)" which slows down the tempo just a bit for more of a melancholy popper with DIY flair. These kids are said to hail from "Hull, East Yorks", but have an allegiance with the Twin Cities scene that has them sounding like the middle ground between the Real Numbers' UK fetishism and Boys Club's charm, this is also something fans of the lo-fi pop of First Base (without the saccharine and cheese) could get into if they wanted something a bit more British. A pleasant companion piece to their 'Teenage Moods' 7" which flew under everyone's radar as well, and with a bigger hit on the A-Side. I imagine this is a bit limited, but the pressing info is as vague as the lidentities of the personnel. Definitely worth a look up.(RK)
(Salvaged Productions // salvagedrecords-at-gmail.com)
Mad Macka "Adidas Tracksuit" 7"
Mad Macka (aka John McKeering) has been a heavyweight on the Aussie scene for years, blowing amps with the Onyas (who are one of the more underappreciated Aussie acts of the Nineties), The Egos, Boondall Boys (another underappreciated band/record, this time from just a few years ago) and the current line-up of the almighty Cosmic Psychos. The fact that he was asked to step into Robbie Watt's slot after his tragic passing should say more than enough about Macka and his guitar (and drinking) skills. A legend. "Bored!@rics" makes me think this is about actually seeing the band Bored! at a place called Ric's, and from what I can decipher of the lyrics it's a possibility. It's gonna be tough for you to pay attention to what he's saying anyway because the riff on this thing is a fucking champ. High test(osterone) guitar glory making for a mid-tempo stomp through yr skull with a smokin' solo or three, the sort of Stoogoid gonzola only legitimately heavy thugs can make sound true. So ballsy it hurts. "Adidas Tracksuit" is actually the B-Side, and it's an anthemic slab of rock'n'roll in a Dictators/Dolls vein, brimming with licks upon licks and a hell of a chorus. Making it even catchier is what could be the Australian pronounciation of Adidas (Ah-dih-dahs, say it without the long e vowel sound), which took me a minute to catch up to. They do make some damn fine track wear. The sleeve art for this defies description, so let's just say you should buy this ASAP from wherever it is you're procuring your Aussie imports these days.(RK)
(Swashbuckling Hobo // swashbucklinghobo.bigcartel.com)
Mahas "Dead of Night" 7"
Straightforward garage-rock from this Houston outfit who probably share members with a few other bands we've heard of from the ever-growing list pumping out the vinyl in H-Town, a city whose family tree is getting more twisted than Denton's these days. If I were ranking said list The Mahas would be pretty far down on the depth chart unfortunately. "Dead of Night" is paint-by-numbers garage that does have a decent hook but is just too plain to leave an impression. "Fool" is full of textbook moves as well. "Ghostshit" on the flip sounds a bit like a more polite RFTC without the horns or gusto. A competent band going through the motions, nothing more, nothing less, nothing you'll really remember. Scum stats: 250 copies on black, plus a record release version of 40 copies with alternate sleeve. (RK)
(Death Exclamations/Cutthroat Records // cutthroatrecords.blogspot.com)
Thee Makeout Party "Jungle Cruise" 7"
Full disclosure: I liked some songs on this band's LP. How or why I don't know, I was just feeling the vibe for a minute there. I'm not ashamed, but just sort of weirded out by it, and I've since recanted and gave away the LP to make myself feel better. This single rescues some cuts from their "lost" second LP, recorded before the band split up. The title cut sounds like a Sesame Street live music segment, or perhaps Yo Gabba Gabba would be a more modern reference. My 8-year old niece would dig this one. "Bubblegum Song" is a super wimpy number about wanting to write a bubblegum song, done as only the guys who started Burger Records could do it. This tune sounds very demo-ish though, the guitar overdubs sound way out of sync with the rhythm section, perhaps in a rushed attempt to sound orchestral or something. And I honestly appreciate what the Burger fellas do, even if I don't care for a lot of the music they release - I dig their enthusiasm and posi-vibes. And in the case of this record, I don't find anything wrong with writing music that grammar school children can appreciate, other than the fact they are foisting it on an audience of "adults". Back to talking about my niece, I wouldn't feel bad if she got into this band, that's about the demographic it should appeal to. This one actually comes with a black-and-white coloring book style sleeve and a box of crayons (no, I am not bullshitting you), which I'm honestly going to try and use to get said niece into music (and records) other than Miley Cyrus. I'll let you know how it works out.(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
The Mandates “Photo in my Wallet” 7”
Oh Lordy …Power pop. Why me? I remember some bands that sounded like this, but I’ve tried to scrub such things free of my lobes. I own a Plimsouls record. It’s all I need. Is this what Exploding Hearts sounded like (or worse, The Plastic Letters)? I’m just too smart of a fish to get caught in these sugary confections. If they’d play SF people would eat their panties alive. Burger is pressing a tape I bet…right now. Wrong person to hand this to. Totally wrong. The flipside fooled me for a second. I thought they’d amped it up a bit, but it was a RPM speed change that caught me off guard. Curses. (RSF)
(Mammoth Cave // www.mammothcaverecording.com)
Mars "Live at Artists Space" LP
In early May 1978 there was a five-day "festival" at a gallery in lower Manhattan called Artists Space during which two bands played each night for five nights. The event has gained legendary status in the time since (indeed, the first sentence of the recent oral history of No Wave recounts the happening) in part because it was here that Brian Eno was introduced to the bands he'd compile on “No New York.” Until very recently, however, the only evidence available to most was the simple but awe inspiring “Bands at the Artists Space” flier, as no recordings were known. Turns out that they were just buried away until now. This album compiles the two sets played by Mars on the final night, each with an identical set list but a unique recording and feel. Set One, a nice quality cassette recording, is a stellar showcase of the band and their oft eerie and fractious rock. It’s a nice companion to the studio recordings. With Set Two, the rough recording itself steps up and acts as an instrumental part of the experience. This set seems angrier and moodier, and I'm sure that has more to do with the aesthetics than the performance. “LAAS” is an archival release documenting an infamous event in which a band in prime form delivers a well-executed set, twice.(DH)
(Feeding Tube Records // www.feedingtuberecords.com)
Martyr Privates "Bless" 7"
Very impressive two-song debut from Brisbane's Martyr Privates, whose membership includes a refugee from Slug Guts. Eschewing the mire of Slug Guts, this trio goes for more of a Spacemen 3 approach, but with a bit of the rugged Outback dust on them instead of overly lysergic trips. "Bless" is a repetitive droner that sounds biker-psych tough, a victorious riff echoed, hiccupped and then kicked about by assertive drumming. "Native Son" sprawls out for a longer walk through the wasteland, head down and determined, a bit more lyricizing this time and maybe adding another note to the single note solo of the A-Side. Stoically and grittily psychedelic and very worthy of your attention. One of the best Aussie imports of the year thus far. Scum stats: 300 copies, start looking now.(RK)
(Bon Voyage // bnvyge.tumblr.com)
The Maxines "The White Out!" EP
Our pals over at La Ti Da Records are back in business with this single from Olympia's The Maxines, which picks up where the Ka-Nives left off somewhat (and also has the guy who was in The Jewws). A two-piece garage-a-billy act with a healthy Hasil fetish and adding some off-balance punk moves too. "White Out" has a Blank-Its feel with some sharp guy-gal vocal play and "Sweet Nuthins" has a the gal belting it out huskily and well, sounding like Mr. Airplane Man at their best. I'm left wondering if "Queer Mods" is commentary on messageboard culture or about gay people really into The Jam. This dude sounds a lot like CJ from The Drags, and "Queer Mods" is the sort of short but cool tune that band would've done, and their version of "The Hunch" is actually pretty good. Recorded by Captain Tripps Ballsington himself, who has a stranglehold on the Olympia recording situation.(RK)
(La Ti Da Records // www.latidarecords.com)
Charlie Megira & The Modern Dance Club "Love Police" 2XLP
An album cover like this certainly gets the attention of juvenile-minded sorts like myself, and I recall seeing this one a couple years ago along with descriptions of Charlie Megira as Israel's greatest guitar shredder and rocker. I believe it was a CD only release for a bit and a tough buy domestically until Oakland's Guitars & Bongos label pressed it to American wax last year. It's a sprawling effort as you might expect, and the hyberbole surrounding Megira's axe-wielding prowess has some legs. Thirty-one fucking tracks is definitely excessive, but you can't blame the guy for going for it. The A-Side begins in unassuming fashion with a breezy Sixties surf instrumental that had me thinking the worst, i.e. I was in for four sides of surf and exotica, albeit from a really good guitar player. Thankfully, he follows this with a shredder called "Rhythm of Hate" that sounds like 'Earth A.D.'-era Misfits. The rest of the side follows the same pattern: twangy traditional surf numbers backed by heavy-metal-punkers Charlie belts out in a Danzig/Elvis baritone, with "Existence" having the choicest satanic riffing and "Wall of Death" being the best instro (spy-style, complete with film soundbite). Side B delves into more experimental soundscape pieces between the twangers, with "(Used to Be...)Psychic Youth" throwing the curve of being a Joy Division inspired bit of gloom and "Elvis Is Not Dead" adding some New Wave vibes. Side C gets meatier, pushing the straight surf almost completely aside, leading off with a savage punk tune ("Beneath the Underground"), more soundscaping, a haunted prairie plucker called "Here Comes Your Mama", the backwards "Ode to a Cocksucker" and "Homeless Body" which is just goth-punk at its core. Side D opens with "Freak Junior", a tune that I think might be Charlie's pisstake on Dino Jr. Or The Cure. Or Dino Jr.'s cover of The Cure. He then revists "Psychic Youth" from the side previous and gives it a very Sonic Youth-like makeover. He hits his best song title with "Da Homogreaser Stomp" which brings to mind French friers like Fatals, Kung Fu Escalator and the whole Nasty Product gang for a blown-out garage-punk whomp. The rest of the side is filled with "Another No Wave Exercise" (the first was way back on Side A) and some chopped and screwed bonus cuts. There's a whole lot to digest here. Knowing this is from Israel certainly puts it in a certain light: Megira co-opts the Fifties greaser look as only non-Americans can, and you of course end up giving him some geographic leeway in the ol' "This ain't too shabby for a band from..." vein. Closer inspection shows the guy putting on costumes much like he switches genres: New Wave, No Wave, punk, gothy post-punker, etc., and it all gives off a real takin' the piss attitude that I wasn't expecting in the end. I get the feeling this is a double LP so Charlie can run through every genre in his repetoire just for the sake of showing how easy he can do it in a snotty pro-musician way at times. Or it's just a joke that starts to get really stale after you've heard it 31 times in a row. The fact that there's a healthy handful of quality tunes here makes you question if it's simply via the force of his technical skill or if it's really from the gut and/or heart. Almost every track has a fairly obvious nudge-nudge-wink-wink factor which after a couple dozen times starts to feel condescending and a bit annoying. Hopefully I'm wrong and the guy is just overly excited to show off his chops and there's some sort of cultural miscommunication leading me to read this much into the music. Considering just the tunes, this was an easy listen for the first couple spins, but once you see most of the parlor tricks done more than twice they're not so impressive. Even if there's at least one real winner per side, that's not a great ratio for a double LP, guitar virtuoso or not. Scum stats: 525 copies, heavy wax, heavy gatefold with various pics that could easily be mistaken as stills from a re-enactment of Mystery Train.(RK)
(Guitars & Bongos // guitarsandbongos.bigcartel.com)
The Mistreaters s/t 2XLP
Career spanning double LP compilation of singles, odds and sods from one of the very best garage-punk acts of the past decade, Milwaukee's Mistreaters. 'Grab Them Cakes' is one of the few classic full lengths of the 2000's and their Estrus follow-up was no slouch either, and they released a fine string of singles along the way as well, just about all of which are contained here along with some choice comp tracks, demos, covers and a few unreleased gems as well. Along with the Baseball Furies and Clone Defects these guys were the heart and soul of the Rust Belt garage-punk boom that I was lucky to live through. The band always delivered live, with one of the most punishing rhythm sections of the time, a guitar player who knew how to play killer riffs and a highly entertaining frontman. These guys had the balls to make garage-punk heavy, while everyone else was treble-charging the 'treaters attack was chock full of bottom-end pounding and even bordered on metal at times. And that's not to say they didn't have hooks either, as their songwriting was always catchy and full of memorable guitar parts. Twenty-six tracks here, and there's not a single dud. Higlights include both sides of their killer 'Personal Space Invader' EP on Estrus, their under-rated P.Trash EP, their bloozy Goodbye Boozy covers record and even some nuggets from their 'Don't Do Drugs and Stay In School' demo tape. I was also glad to see what I imagine was their final recording session from 2011 included here, four tracks that stand up to their best material. Aside from great originals these dudes could blow out some killer covers as well, always making them their own, and here you get the only Beguiled cover ever pulled off in the history of garage-rock. They do a Blowtops song better than the Blowtops and even do a great Tubeway Army cut. As I said, one of the best bands of their time, this stuff is absolutely essential. They sounded unique in a time when bands seemed to be striving to all sound the same. There should be a copy of this and 'Grab Them Cakes' in every home. One of the few bands I can honestly say I'll truly miss. Scum stats: 325 copies only, which seems like a low number to me. Beautiful full color gatefold and printed inners with a shitload of pics showing their evolution from young men with brushcuts to the grizzled veterans they became.(RK)
(Dusty Medical // www.dustymedical.com)
Mob Rules "The Donor" LP
Straight out of the gate Mob Rules unleashes a barrage of noisy flailing hardcore with shrill guitar tones, spastic drumming and crazed tempo changes, with no consideration given to where one song begins and another ends. Peppered with sludgy breakdowns, blast beats, and off time drum solos, 'The Donor' manages to remain as memorable as it is assaultive, a feat that many bands attempting to play at lightning fast speed while cramming in ten riffs per song often fail to achieve. Pushing past the typical Eighties hardcore sound that seems to be so prevalent these days, Mob Rules brings to mind moments of The Jesus Lizard, B'last, Rorschach, Unsane and Buzzoven, offering something unique in a sea of seemingly retreaded ideas. (MO)
(Sorry State // www.sorrystaterecords.com)
The Monsters "I Want You" 7"
If you still yearn for the days when labels released at least three different colored vinyl variants of each release with alternate sleeves to match, well Squoodge Records is still carrying on the practice for you, the dumbass consumer. You might not even receive the records you order, but hey, the guy is at least trying, right? Seriously, I struggle to imagine the market for a lot of his releases (I guess Europeans will buy anything, because this guy certainly isn't exporting much of this shit to the US), most of which are Beatman related or obscure Euro one man bands, with square vinyl, 8", 6" and other expensive gimmicks the style of which ran both the comic book and sports card industries nearly out of business. I guess someone's gotta do it. The Monsters have been around for over twenty years, and were one of the earliest Lightning Beatman projects aside from his solo stuff. I've hung on to a couple of their records over the years, and still have some of the early and crazed Beatman solo stuff, back when he was still into apartment wrestling and before he became The Reverend Beatman and got a little too into rootsy rock and left the punk behind. His Voodoo Rhythm label is an industry itself, still cranking out the Cajun/zydeco/roots garage trash out of his Switzerland base. If you're too young to remember him at all, his early catalog is still worth exploration and the guy is a truly original nutjob. This novelty item...excuse me, single...is just the title track on Side A, which is Beatman growling over a repeated 1-2 drum beat for about two minutes or so, with a little guitar twiddling. It's recorded loud as shit, with a boomy glam-stomp sound, and is actually sort of cool in a dumb way. The B-Side is three remixes of the song, all of which sound exactly the same and turn the song into a trebly Childish-like garager. Maybe that's the gag, they're all the same mix? Who the fuck knows. No idea why this exists. At least I got to talk about the Beatman a little bit. Scum stats: 666 copies on black, 111 copies on red, 111 more copies on green, all with different sleeves, plus a "test pressing edition" of 10 copies with another sleeve variant. The three sleeves I saw all actually look pretty cool, not that it matters any. This Squoodge guy is so nuts he even lists the weights for the sleeves (300gr/m2, whatever that means), and I'm sure the numbers skew a bit when he needs to "repress", in true shady label fashion.(RK)
(Squoodge Records // www.squoodge.de)
Moralens Vaktare s/t LP
High energy punk-rock-n-roll from Sweden, sort of the little bro band to Baddat for Trubbel, and these guys have had some memorable seven-inch cuts so far. Blending equal parts of Belgian-style Euro KBD-rock and UK pub hound R&B roll, they burn through an even dozen here with no lack of spunk. All tracks sung in Swedish (including a translated Eddie & The Hot Rods cover), which might bum out some no-foreign-junk sticklers, but you really don't even notice so much as almost every track is packed to capacity with treble-laden hooks and vocal harmonies that'll keep your attention. Total retro-worship stuff that Euros always do well, but it's better than pop-punk and has a slightly ragged garage edge that keeps it from being completely wimpy. It's also by no means tough, even in a pub rocker sense. Just happy and upbeat rock-n-roll with a slight whiff of punk. If you're riding the Baddat wave, this would be a good side platter. The thing that ruins this record is the artwork, which is one of the worst album covers I've seen in years. Such a terrible idea. A shame, really, and a total deal breaker for me. Yes, I'm that superficial. No one should own a record that looks like this.(RK)
(Dead Beat Records // www.dead-beat-records.com)
Mordecai "Waste" 7"
Mordecai embody the DIY punk ethos, embracing all of its glorious limitations — amateur musicianship, home recording, hands-on artwork — to turn out this beautiful gem, which is worth more to me than a thousand perfect power-pop 45s. Seriously, I have no use for a slick pop tune in a world with "Drag Down", where you can hear the bass come in prematurely, then immediately back off, only to start back in again like it never happened — all within the first 10 seconds. No need to edit that out as they've just as soon moved into the heart of the song, where the hypnotizing percussive rhythm of the guitar strumming battles for attention with loose, wild solos. Here and especially on the flipside, the wailing guitars fall somewhere between an ambulance siren and crying baby, but are in the hands of some thoughtful composers who can shape what may have seemed an aimless noodle into a fist-in-the-air riff. And the riff in "Waste" takes its time; you can see it trudge up the hill before turning around its hook. Besides an intense feeling that John Morton was in the room lending his spiritual guidance for this recording session, "Waste" kinda has a bit of a Crime feel (a thought that did not disappear after giving the old-timers a spin on the turntable). This is the second vinyl release from what is truly among the more exciting groups going. It does strike me as a very studious and deliberate endeavor, perhaps a bit like No Wave analyzing and deconstructing punk before cobbling it back into something noisy and interesting.(DH)
(Wantage USA // www.wantageusa.com)
Murderedman s/t 7”
Proletarian Art Threat, Self Destruct Button, Lives of the Saints, Jerk, Clan of the Cave Bear. These names might mean nothing to you, but if you’ve been kicking around the Cleveland music scene for a decade or more, you would recognize them as upper-echelon acts in the punk/hardcore/math/noise game (full disclosure: I did some time in Jerk). Murderedman seems to be the musical equivalent of that old small town (yeah Clevo’s a city..…until you’ve lived there) conundrum: between you and your friends, you’ve dated and/or slept with every boy/girl around. What’s a single human to do?
In Murderedman’s case, they decided to say “Fuck it!” and have a giant orgy, although in this case, feedback, sludge, and negative vibes take the place of gyrating limbs and heaving breasts. “My Time As Fire” is a study in controlled chaos, alternating dense rhythmic passages with singer David Russell’s trademarked demonic vocals and broken sax bleats. “Deathtrap” is audio quicksand via subterranean bass lunges and steel-wool guitar scrapes. The side-long “Mountain Time” continues the unease; a suffocating stare into the abyss, and the abyss is laughing back. Self released and limited to 200 copies.(EEK)
(self-released // murderedmancleveland-at-gmail.com)
To read reviews for records N through Z go here.
To read past reviews go here.