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WINTER RECORD REVIEWS 2012

Key: (LB: Lance Boyle)(SB: Young Steve)(BG: Brandon Gaffney)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RK: Rich K.)(RSF: Rob Vertigo) (A.: Alessandro) (ES: Eddie Schneider)(NG: Nick Goode)(EEK: Erick Elrick)(MO: Matt O)

The Altered States of the United Snakes "Pagan Tiger Swing Band" LP
Not such a fan of this band's name (sounds like a bad hippie jam group who do US government conspiracy inspired songs) but I do love what they're laying down on this LP. I can't identify all the players, but it does have Columbus Discount main man Adam Smith on "oscillating feedback network"(!), and at least one member of Guinea Worms and Necropolis also in the ranks. Overall, it has a constant running vibe very similar to El Jesus De Magico, a sort of dubby and dirty Midwestern psych-out with various other tricks and influences coming in and out. It's loud and deep and sometimes reminds me of the nastier Twisted Village products, Wormdoom in particular. "Foolish Pride" opens triumphantly, sounding like a spaceship making its landing on earth during an electronics shitstorm with guitar/bass riffs falling from the sky. Smith's oscillating feedback network (whatever the hell it is) sounds amazing. Some tunes go for the melancholic and heads held low Cheater Slicks-esque approach, but mutated with electronic effects, more drugs and less alcohol ("Fancy Lines", "Picking up the Man"). Listening to endless jams like "I've Been Mad for Quite Some Time Now" makes you feel like you’re doped up and watching tracers scream through the sky while a garage band is stuck in a time loop playing the same riff over and over. Serious shit. Fave cut might be "Neither Do You" which sounds like the best Guinea Worms line-up deconstructing "Hey Joe" while hopped up on (and covered in) glue. The record of course ends on a massive drum-n-psych barrage ("Executive Suites") and stick around for the after-party Satanic dub bonus track as well. This is exactly what I wanted the last El Jesus De Magico record to sound like. Best Columbus psych record since 'Scalping the Guru'. Fantastic. Scum stats: 300 copies (100 each on black, white and swirl), with hand painted sleeves (with track listings done in ball point pen!) repurposed from the Used Kids' dollar bin.(RK)
(Lost Treasures of the Underworld // www.losttreasuresoftheunderworld.com)

The Anomalys "The World Ain't Round It's Square" flexi
As a novelty flexis are certainly a cool item, but I still don't imagine they're an effective way to release music these days, unless you're going for a really artistic angle like the semi-recent Brown Sugar, Dry Rot or Heavy Air releases or the Rotted Tooth summer flexi-club. Or the 'Group Flex' book, now that was a beautifully done piece of art. Pressing a flexi and releasing it in a standard 7" sleeve seems like a questionable use of funds, but maybe I'm wrong as this thing is apparently in its second pressing already. The Anomalys are Dutch garagesters who've had a couple releases on the Euro-loving Slovenly label already, and here they cover perhaps the best song (and volume) of all the Teenage Shutdown comps, The Savages' "The World Ain't Round..." which they do enough justice via a rough-n-tumble bottom heavy reworking. It's front-ended by a blooze-punk instrumental/theme song called "Anomalys Rise!" which has some fast-finger guitar runs. Actually sounds pretty good once you get the tone arm balance right. Scum stats: first edition of 250 on red plastic, seconf run is on blue.(RK)
(Mv50 Records // www.mv50records.com)

Apostille “Wrong” 7”
An icy bedroom synth outing, released in a galaxy far, far away (UK). “Wrong” offers up an electronic flutter that skips atop a dubbed and smothered drum track. Awkward and ghostly in tone. “The Road To War” reminds me of Joe Jackson’s “Stepping Out” run through a data-processor and spat out along glitched rhythms and quasi-religious Spiritualized key-play. Pretty. Fucked. Merose. Ping and blip. This guy has something to do with Night School if yer keeping tabs. I could see those who dig Merchandise finding this a fine way to spend ten minutes. (RSF)
(Comfortable on a Tightrope // www.comfortableonatightrope.blogspot.com)

David Arvedon “Best of Dave Arvedon Vol. 3” LP
The Mighty Mouth arm of the Almost Ready empire continues its ongoing campaign to bring the most outside of outsider artists of the past some modern acclaim, with David Arvedon the most recent signing to go alongside Charlie Tweddle and Laurice. Perhaps best known as the leader of obscure Sixties Boston garage band The Psychopaths (7” also available on Mighty Mouth) this is a legit reissue of his 1971 private press LP which is brimming with DIY wackiness. Self-admittedly inspired by The Monkees, Arvedon is the Zappa of basement garage, writing songs about his college roommate (“Alan Berkowitz”) and other (possibly fictional) people, trying to get a sun tan in Siberia, streaking (very topical) and other ridiculous topics, lyrics filled with non-sequiturs and sing-song rhymes. He works a bit off color on “I’m Yer Garbage Man” and “Whitey White”, throws in a few zany love songs, a tribute to Elliot Ness and “Basketball or You To Call” , which is about going to play basketball instead of calling up a chick who might possibly think she’s too good for him anyway. Instrumentation is just drum and guitar tracks (which I’m guessing are all David) and singing in an out of tune falsetto for the most part, when not adopting the voice of a character in the songs. This guy probably could have made a stab at a career recording children’s albums if he weren’t such a weirdo or maybe a novelty guy a la Ray “Gitarzan” Stevens if he didn’t take himself seriously. A genuine wack job, as evidenced by his own website. The guy’s got an interesting backstory (including once auditioning for the Modern Lovers) and this record is probably of the most interest to fans of Dr. Demento’s show.(RK)
(Mighty Mouth // www.almostreadyrecords.com)

The Avengers “We Are The One”/”Paint It Black”/”Teenage Rebel” 7”es
The Avengers are a weird band. Some people consider them amongst the greatest of first-wave US punk groups, while others acknowledge them as nothing more than a footnote in the history of American punk. The fact is, on the West Coast, they were one of the first, and, at times, one of the best. It’s a damn shame that the early San Francisco punk scene was so under-documented. I mean, think of all of the incredible Los Angeles bands that never had a chance to make their masterpieces. But then again, think of all the masterpieces that tumbled out of that scene.
But San Francisco didn’t have a Dangerhouse or a Slash. They didn’t have shit. Except for great bands. But those bands rarely escaped the city and weren't heard much outside the Bay Area. Many great records were lost to the vicissitudes of SF bohemian life circa mid-late 70s. In between playing dress-up and sculpting their hairdos, the mighty Crime managed to squeeze out a couple of classic sides, but The Avengers never got to make the landmark LP they had in them. Based on the Steve Jones-produced “The American In Me” 12” EP and the later collection, ‘The Pink Album’, stillborn on CD Presents, The Avengers had the potential to make one of the great first-wave US punk LPs. If you cobbled together the best of that material, and the best of their singles, you would have a truly classic album. Instead, we piece it together ourselves, but make no mistake, these three reissued singles represent some fine punk rock, in pure form, undiluted by time or trend.
Once again, Superior Viaduct rescues San Fran classics from obscurity, making them accessible to modern-day record hounds and voracious young punks hungry for the real shit. “We Are The One” is one of the first records Dangerhouse ever released, and kudos for looking up the coast for hot punk action, despite the scene raging around them. Is “We Are the One” corny? A dated anthem for yesteryear? Maybe, but you can still hear the fatalistic optimism and grasping at something beyond just being another American drone, all set to full-throttle rock n’ roll, with, yes, a powerful female singer leading the charge. If you can’t stomach “We…,” then “I Believe in Me” will make you gag, you cynical fuck. “Car Crash” is probably more your speed then. Reveling in gruesomely dead boyfriends and fast, muscular rock n’ roll that ends in a nice aural representation of an auto smash-up, this shit is tough. The “Paint It Black”/”Thin White Line” 45 didn’t emerge ‘til ’83 which is a damn shame (almost as much as the fact that the sides should be reversed, wtf). The Avengers chew up and spit out the Stones classic, retaining all of the drama (if less menace) of the original, streamlining it into a powerful statement that seems relevant, even after all these years. Sure, an incredible song to begin with, but easy to fuck up and make a parody of itself. But it should have been the killer B, because “Thin White Line” is as good as any song in their catalog. It’s a kiss-off that still manages to have an anthemic chorus. There’s a reason Steve Jones wanted to produce The Avengers; they have a similar monolithic power to the Sex Pistols, while still finding time to be snide and stick a finger in your nose. Finally, the third piece of this puzzle is the “Teenage Rebel”/”Friends of Mine” 45 that appeared in 1997 on Swedish label Really Fast Records, then kicked off the ‘Died For Your Sins’ collection that Lookout! released in ’99. Recorded in 1978, “Teenage Rebel” is a raucous slice of hormonal fuck-you, while “Friends of Mine” stands with the best of their catalog. Goddamn does Greg Ingraham’s guitar positively ROAR on these recordings. These singles solidify The Avengers as one of the early greats, as worthy of praise and respect as any West Coast innovators. Houston of course went on to a fairly successful singer-songwriter career (and eventually “reuniting” the Avengers, to unembarrassing effect), while bassist Jimmy Wilsey became the lead guitarist in Chris Isaak’s band and was later found dead, drowned in pussy.(EEK)
(Superior Viaduct // www.superior viaduct.com)

Bad Indians "Sun People" 7"
Ann Arbor's resident psych band (although I thought they were in NYC for a bit?) release their first record with Detroit's upstart Urinal Cake Records in a teaming that was bound to happen. Much like my beloved Cleveland Indians, Bad Indians have had their ups and downs these past few years, their high point still being the fabulous disaster of the 'Live at the Burial Mound' LP and the lows perhaps a slew of mediocre water-treading tape releases last year. Going in, I like the idea of having each member sing one of the songs (four of them), not something a lot of bands are capable of. "Sun People" (Ian) is a mid-tempo garage-fuzzer with a good organ line and some tasteful use of reverb, a pretty decent stroke, I'd call it a stand up double. "If I Had the Chance" (Autumn) takes the loft-pop approach to garage with some tempo shifting dynamics and dreamy female vox, and is the least memorable cut here. Side B opens with "Hate" (Morgan) which is the most Detroit-sounding of the tracks, with the toughest fuzz and backbeat, the soloing on this one gets pretty warm, a bit of a chugger in almost a Dirtbombs style. They finish with "The Other Side" (Jules) with more vintage-sounding fuzz and bit of desperation to it. It has a ripper of a solo at the end that pushes it home nicely. The best record I've heard from this outfit since their debut, makes a good sampler for people who might not know them yet. For fans of post-Black Lips garagefuzz and People's Temple. Scum stats: 100 on clear blue, this one also has the best artwork of all their releases. (RK)
(Urinal Cake // www.urinalcakerecords.com)

Baked Goods s/t 7”
Sorry, man. You lost me from the get-go, real fast-like. “Yo’ Pretty Smile” makes me think of Jack Johnson sunshine strumming along with Morrissey or some similar cat crooning on top. What?! A shitty-shit-shit thing to say, I know. The B-side’s “My Star” is more of a neo-soul thang and fares better if none too special. His voice does shine here in an Andre (Deadly Snakes) Ethier sorta’ way. I guess you could say it’s even similar to another famous garage Canuck, Mark Sultan. Yeah, that’d do. But…WOW…that opening tune. I’ll go back and try it again after a deep Ajax ear scrub. I’M BACK: It still sounds like something I’d hear over credits in a rom-com or backing some deodorant commercial. I tried. Pfft. At least he can carry a tune. Best of luck, dear friend. (RSF)
(Rice Toys // bakedgoods.bandcamp.com)

The Barbaras "2006-2008"LP
Compilation of most (or all?) of the recordings The Barbaras did during their existence, much of it recorded by Jay Reatard. The only vinyl these guys released during their time was a 7" on Goner and that's included here plus a dozen other tracks recorded in spurts over a couple of years. I'm sure The Barbaras mean a lot more to the Memphis scene than they will to me or you. Their live shows were supposedly highly entertaining fully costumed affairs with dramatically staged skits and prop usage. I've seen pictures. Looks pretty damn annoying from afar, but if they were from my town I might feel differently...this shit looks pretty zany and I'm probably too old to appreciate such quirkiness. Let's just be frank here and admit the biggest thing (to date) any of these guys will be remembered for to anyone outside of Memphis is being in Jay Reatard's backing band for his most popular run (and then moving onto Wavves after Jay canned them). Members went on to Magic Kids, who apparently kept all the wacky aspects of the act intact. Musically, The Babs play quaint indie-pop with cute keyboard touches and lalala harmonies, sometimes with a Kiwi-pop slant, sometimes it sounds like Beach Boys melodies married to garage-pop, sometimes they have a nostalgic girl-group/Fifties dynamic as well. A bit too nice for me as I said before. Jay Reatard loved these guys, so that always makes me think I'm missing something, but it's just one of those cases where I think you had to be there.(RK)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)

The Beavers “Don’t Go Away” 7”
The title tells all: they’re still fuckin’ here. Six years ago Cardwell reviewed a new Beavs single for the TermBo pages, surprising him THEN that they were still kickin’. Here we go once more…This is dirty nowhere-fi Rock &Roll. Organ fueled Euro-garage for those who have run out of Childish offshoots and Beat Man related records to horde. It’s on High School Refuse, which is a shock in itself. What’s next in the ol’ mailbag? A new Zaxxon or Yaki record? It swings the beat like those Euros tend to do, but not in a Crypt way…more like the Voxx/Dionysius glory years. Nothing here is really sticking to my ribs. The guitar solos add a touch of whack sound and audio-clarity to what sounds like nothing more than a well played practice recording. The B-side isn’t a cover of “Rejected at the High School Dance” and it leaves me feeling a bit cheated. With a smidge more production oomph, it could’ve been a solid time waster. Sorta Stones-y, sorta Back From The Grave-y. Oh well. I’m sure yer sweetly tatted gearhead cousin Ernie will dig this while he’s hoppin’ up the shoebox Ford. (RSF)
(High School Refuse Records // hsr-records.blogspot.com)

Bent Shapes “Boys To Men” flexi
Whoa. My mailbox just got smacked with a pop package misfire. I can only assume they aimed for the Pitchfork offices and postal shit got screwy during that Eastside Sandy storm. What we have here is a Boston indie rock band (that exclusively deals in flexi releases. How queer.) and I can’t even comment fairly on this. It’s kinda’ cutesy and sounds like it’s yearning to snuggle up in a Slanket© next to a stockpile of Mexi-Summer or Slumberland releases…if I would even bother to learn what most of said label discographies sound like. This just ain’t my bag. Well crafted? Well played?? Fuck, I dunno’. I guess I am a punk after all.
This. Robot. Does. Not. Compute. Bzzzt. Glitch. Crackle… (power down). (RSF)
(self-released // www.bentshapes.bandcamp.com)

Bitch Prefect "Big Time" LP
Bitch Prefect have created one of the exceptional indie-pop records of the year here, extending their reach beyond the admittedly great 7" on RIP Society, which I thought was very pleasant guitar pop but the earnestness they spread over a whole LP makes the pool feel a lot deeper. Obviously very heavily indebted to Kiwi-pop, The Clean/Great Unwashed in particular to my ears, but taking the Flying Nunnnery and making it sound a bit more workmanlike and mundane even - but in a working class way instead of via an art school upbringing. "Bad Decisions" is a runner for lazy pop tune of the year, or the summer-into-fall at least, and it's roll with the punches attitude is uplifting. "Freezer" is a great drawling love song about a girl who is very literally ice cold. Wonderful and clever stuff is no short supply on the record, and the presence of two vocalists who both "sing" in ragged/tuneless/nasally ways maintains personality instead of becoming annoying. One of my favorite "not punk" records of the year, a seemingly average bunch of guys singing about average lives full of being broke, in and out of love, unemployed, hungover, yet also hopeful and just happy to be here, to make it sound really corny. A great escapist pop record for me that has both feet in reality but tunes that keep my head high. Bonus points for great rambling notes/list on the insert.(RK)
(Bedroom Suck // www.bedroomsuckrecorss.com)

Bits of Shit "Cut Sleeves" LP
I was very into the 7" these guys cut over a year back, and I'm very into this LP as well. A slight bit less punk, and a bit harder rocking, making for a tough as balls mix of potent Aussie meat-rock. I suppose we should call these guys brothers-in-arms with the Cosmic Psychos, at least as far as being blokes you can trust making some rock'n'roll for listening to whilst getting pissed or driving a machine or both, perhaps exchanging the Psychos wah pedalling for slide guitar slinging. They're not quite as basic as the Psychos though, Bits of Shit at this point make me think of what Wire would've sounded like as an Aussie pub rock band, or Golden Earring as post-punkers, even something vaguely AC/DC. Danny's vox were a good part of the appeal of the 7" but they take an even bigger spotlight here, as he sounds like an incredible Australian ass-kicker, the scrappy kind of fella that might not be the biggest guy in the room but wouldn't hesitate to gnaw your ear off during a brawl. Maybe it's a common Melbourne accent, but it sounds like a con fresh out of the Aussie slammer to me, with a sneer that's one step away from Johnny Rotten. Aside fromn the wonderful vocals, the guitar playing on this is slick and gives the tunes a smart edge, balancing the low end with a powerful twang and the most aggro slide playing you're ever gonna hear. I mentioned this might be a little less punk than the 7" (but this is still a punk record, don't get me wrong), as I think the velocity is toned down a bit or is at least seemingly utilized in a more muscular way this time around. Shit, "Intro" (understandably placed second to last on the track listing) is almost Motorhead, and the instrumentals they pepper the entire record with are some of the toughest sounding bits. There's an abundance of killer riffs, a good variance in tempos and for a bit there I thought this LP was front-loaded (maybe just because "F" and "Rock Sing" beat the piss out of you right from the get-go), but after spending a lot of quality time with 'Cut Sleeves' I think Side B (or "Right Sleeve") is where it's at. Tough and non-swampy Aussie rock, almost the midrange between X and feedtime, which is a place I think everyone would like to be. One of the best of the year.Scum stats: 500 copies, with a limited "blue jean" vinyl variant and I've seen at least three different color inserts (red, yellow and white) on both regular paper and heavier stock.(RK)
(Homeless Records // bitsofshit.wordpress.com)

Bizarros "Complete Collection 1976-1980" 2XLP
Complete retrospective package of Bizarros recordings from Windian Records (who're doing a great job with their reissue selections thus far) which is more desirable than I know you think it is. I feel like The Bizarros get a bum deal when it comes to remembering classic OH (Akron/Cle) punkers and protos - Devo were gods as were Eel/Rocket/Ubu, Rubber City Rebels were dumber and punker pehaps (they fucking ate children fer chrissakes), but the Bizarros were right there on top of the second tier, and a good couple of floors above most of the rest of the Clone Records roster (Tin Huey, Waitresses, etc.) in my head at least. Nick Nicholis certainly had a noticeable thing for Lou and the VU (and poetic lyrics), and they jammed hippie a little bit, but overall they were smart and effectual players with more than a few rippers under their belts (the 'Laser Boys' EP in particular, their most aggro and gratifying record) as well as a good grasp on Television-esque guitar outings with a more Midwestern grip on the road. The split 12" with Rubber City Rebels is right up there on the list of 'Top Split Releases of All Time", a bit of a dubious honor in a way, but I remember a time when that record was in the upper ranks of my want list, and rightfully so. Their early material was good enough to get them signed to the demi-major Blank Records alongside Ubu and Suicide Commandos, and even after that label's demise they somehow finagled their way onto the Mercury roster proper for their full length, which is probably the least essential of all their records but still holds its slot in my collection. What I'm saying here is, you could use this record if you're unfamiliar (which I'm assuming you are) for cuts like "New Order", "Young Girls at Market", "Mind's A Magnet" and a good half dozen more slices of proto-goodness that can run with your Ubus and Rockets even if the Bizarro's name and legacy aren't as punk household staples as their peers. There's gold in these hills. Side D is the odds'n'sods run-off which has a few passable '79 live tracks (the drumming on "I Bizarro" is no joke) and three demo tracks from their never-was second LP which shows them catching the New Wave bug. Well worth shelling out some clams for this, and I know some collector types are going to say "Bizarros records aren't even that rare OR expensive!" - that's the state of reissues these days though, a KBD band with a 7" having a $200 price tag and one good cut deserves this treatment, but a classic Ohio punk outfit like this doesn't? I say get bent and get this. Small beefs: tracklisting seems a little odd to me (seems a little too mixed-up to me?) and some liners from the band members (who are all alive aside from original drummer) would've been cool. Still a great package though.(RK)
(Windian Records // www.windianrecords.com)

Boomgates "Double Natural" LP
I love ECSR enough that I'll listen to Brendan sing just about anything, including AT&T commercials and the pop songs on this Boomgates LP. That's not to say these tunes are lacking in interest aside from his vox, as I think some of the material here is as strong as any of the "hits" on the Boomgates' singles (two of which are reprised here), and his interaction with the absolutely lovely voice of Steph Hughes is wonderfully awkard at times, especially when he tries to actually sing. The tunes are very casual indie-pop, a bit on the twee side, endearingly simple and romantic. "Whispering or Singing" is jaunty enough to remind me of Velocity Girl, they do a song referencing 'Picnic at Hanging Rock', the version of "Layman's Terms" here verifies that it is indeed the best cut off their singles and all ten songs make up a more than pleasant whole. I'm invested enough in this one that I just like the idea of these two making googly eyes at each other while they harmoize, so I'm gonna give it a big thumbs up and I wish I would've gotten hold of this while it was still summer. Definite music for warm Sunday afternoons with the windows open. My only complaint would be they opened with the best song ("Flood Plains") so you feel like you're getting diminishing returns for the rest of the LP, but it's more of a plateau than a decline anyway. Probably a bit too vanilla for some, but I'm easily charmed by Australians. I still need the Dick Diver LP too, what the hell am I waiting for...(RK)
(Bedroom Suck // www.bedroomsuckrecords.com)

Brown Sugar "Tropical Disease" EP
If Brown Sugar's pre-LP work was a series of hit-and-run assaults on modern hardcore punk, and their LP was the decisive victory of the total-fucking-war, then consider 'Tropical Disease' as their victory lap across their newly owned kingdom. This review may mean shit to people who recognize that I'm from Buffalo and think I'm just being a total homer, but I swear this is no favoritism. Even if I didn't know these kids I'm sure I'd be just as enthralled with their take on hardcore-punk and advancement of the form, referencing everything from Clevo-core, Jappunk, the Stones at Altamont, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, garage rock, The Byrds, "Hey Joe", Stooges, etc...great riffs, humorous yet obtuse lyrics from an ESL speaker, a great drummer raised in the pop-punk and ska scene who now plays in a prog band, a vegan edgeman playing a bass that sounds like a tank. They had it all, man. "Sweet Water Pink Boat" would be the perfect song for this band to fade into the sunset on, but thankfully they still have a couple singles in the can which it appears will be released posthumously (one on Cowabunga due soon and other hopefully nearing completion on a mystery Euro label). One of my favorite bands of this decade so far, they grew with leaps and bounds on each record (think about the straight-nasty guitar sounds and pure HC-riff blaze on 'Deportation" and then consider the tasteful licks on this record) and like all of the good ones burned bright and fast. Essential to say the least, but fuck you anyways. (RK)
(Fashionable Idiots // tchardcorejournal.com/fi/)

Buck Biloxi and the Fucks s/t 7"
Mystery slop-punk outfit from parts unknown. A-Side lingers at the intersection of GG attitude and Supercharger fidelity for a coupla tracks worth of sharp garbage. "Weirdos on the Street" is a winner with the worst drum sound I've heard in quite some time and "Shut the Fuck Up" has a guitar solo I'm still trying to wrap my head around. They clean it up on the B-Side for "Shut The Hell Up", a mean-spirited Nobunnied Ramones-style pop jammer, and finish with "CIA", which is recorded so thin it almost doesn't exist. "Shut the Fuck Up" is the pick here, as it will haunt your dreams, but the whole 7" is a wonderful experience. Scum stats: 300 copies. (RK)
(Orgone Toilet // try Goner)

A Burning Bus "Anti-" 7"
The latest from living legend/American treasure Don Howland, this time with a full band (who actually plays in this outfit, I don't know yet...) and sounding as young and fiery as ever. Don't feel bad if you're confused by the name - Howland had an outfit called Burning Bush a few years back (which was Don backed by The Labiators) who released a Euro 7", but this is a different unit according to the few reports out there. The slight name change has to signify something, right? Line-up minutiae aside, this is indeed one of Howland's best (a hyperbolic statement to make about a man with Howland's back catalog, I know), as hearing him front a full band again, in particular one with this sort of "heaviness", is wonderful. The drummer really does some serious work, there's gotta be at least two guitars, one with the wah-phaser set on total overkill, some kinda synthy/theremin line repeated throughout and a striking bass subcurrent that things end up resting on. Really, the guitar sound(s) is a monster on this, while Don gives it a pretty hard vocal with just enough reverb to keep you disoriented. "Anti-" is a relentless tune from start to finish, death-space-rock style. This is what it's gonna sound like in December when the earth cracks open and the world comes it to its fiery end. Side B switches to 45rpm and goes for a really unexpected Wayne County cover via "Paranoia Paradise". Howland has always done impeccable covers, and this adds one to the list. Upbeat, punk and heavy at the same time, gang shout on the refrain is fitting and there's some extra guitar crush for added heft. A wise man said "Howland playing Hawkwind" in regards to this and I'm in no position to refute that statement - shit, I might even add a Pink Fairies/early Motorhead monster rock name drop to that. Really, the most heavy duty ass-kicker I think I've ever heard the guy play. Absolutely essential. Scum stats: 300 copies, screened sleeves.(RK)
(Harvest Recordings // www.harvest-records.com)

Cairo Pythian "Toytowne" LP
Dark wave chilliness from the Pacific Northwest. Cairo Pythian is the name of a man (not a band), who is accompanied by an assortment of friends in the studio in different combinations, captured with a fittingly crisp sound by Captain Trips Ballsington who deserves some credit for making this thing sound so convincingly Eighties and European. Eight tracks of cold and semi-gothy tales from the darkside of the mind, mostly concepts that revolve around mental instability, weird sex and general loner aesthetics. "Matthew Churchill" sounds like a song a stalker would write for his crush. All of the tunes do a real good job of putting the creep on you, made up of mostly synths and drum machine with occassional guitars and piano. The delivery sounds normal enough, it's the lyrics that will get you skeeved. Bauhaus comes to mind on first listen, other times he seems to be invoking Bowie coke mirrors and Eighties haircuts, sometimes taking an evil minimal synth approach. The type of record that the toughest and weirdest kid in drama club would make - theatric and unnervingly serious at times. "White Wicker" is just a great song regardless, sort of a Roxy/glam rocker with a sax break that just screams cocaine. Seriously, Check it out for yourself. It's the best cut on this thing, and even though I wish a few more were in this style, the record is a captivating and well thought out and played statement from a genuine artist, not a kitschy Eighties rehash move. The guy kinda scares me honestly. Weird shit happens in the shadows of the Pacific Northwest, and this is it.(RK)
(Perennial // www.perennialdeath.com)

Cheater Slicks "Live Vol. 2" LP
"HELLO FRIEND, AND HOW ARE YOU? SAME OLD SAME OLD SHIT HERE NOTHING'S NEW." On this rosy note (from one of the greatest songs ever written by the Cheater Slicks…or anyone else for that matter) begins the second volume of CDR's Live Slicks series, this installment of which seems to be subtitled "Give Up". Seven tracks taken from various performances in Columbus throughout 2010, recorded with startling fidelity and power by the CDR mobile unit. The ultimate point of this 3LP set is to harness the live Slicks experience, which is a major part of what the band is all about. I've had the good fortune to see them at least a half-dozen times, and I wish I was still there watching them now. I've left Slicks' shows feeling on top of the world, and I've left them feeling melancholy and world beaten. I've danced with friends while they've played a foot in front of me, and I've stood in the back of room and stared at the floor for an hour with my eyes closed while they sweated it out on the stage. There's not a second I regret from any Slicks' experience. That's how important this band is, both to music itself and to me personally. For as much ass as they kick on record, you haven't really lived the Slicks experience until you've got a face full of Shannon guitar feedback in the flesh or seen Dana Hatch (clothed or unclothed) yell like a man whose soul is on fire. This volume contains three of everyone's (I'm sure) favorites, the already mentioned "Walk Into the Sea", "Possession" and "Murder", all of which transcend. Shit, they're all favorites and they're all bigger than God. "Used Delusions" is usually one of the more upbeat moments of a Slicks' set, "You Don't Satisfy" makes for great feedback hurling, "GoGo Gorilla" is an unexpected garage-romping treat and "Stop Breeding" is another great Dana-led hateball. I always have a tough time recommending live records, but this series is a glaring exception. Impeccable sound and song selection make this a must have for any self-respecting rocker. And if you've never seen them in person by now, you better buy a plane ticket to Columbus ASAP, I don't care where you live or what the cost. Notes: was reading an old Forced Exposure while sitting on the porch smoking the other night and Byron Coley gave 'On Your Knees' a good and funny review...and I just realized how sick it's going to be when all three volumes are out, and you can play them all back-to-back while getting blackout drunk at home. That's gonna be fun. Scum stats: limited to 500. (RK) (Columbus Discount Records // www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)

Claw Toe s/t 12”
Claw Toe is Darius from Criminal IQ with a backing band (I think he did the ‘Ingrown Ego’ 7” as a lone gunman) playing boilerplate weirdpunk in the city the genre was birthed in, even covering seminal weirdpunkers Functional Blackouts (“Kamikaze”). I thought the ‘Ingrown Ego’ record was a lark, maybe Darius poking fun at Blank Dogs and the pack, but apparently he’s deadly serious about this. “Another Saturday Night” sounds like mid-Nineties alternative plod, “The Drugz Song” is a pretty bad and forced gag, “Self-Help for the Hopeless” again really reminds me of Nineties sounds I don't want to recall. “Geriatric Stalker” is the best of the bunch, if you imagine it in the takin-a-piss on the Blank Dogs fashion I mentioned earlier. It’s gotta be a gag. The other two songs are the FB’s cover and another plodder. A very awkward listening experience. (RK)
(Criminal IQ // criminalig.bigcartel.com)

The Clean "Odditties" 2XLP
The reason The Clean is such a seminal band is partly due to their mastery of multiple forms of non-mersh songwriting. Sure, legions of bands can pen satisfying examples of common u-ground rock tropes, but how many groups can pull off the instant/unforgettable (“Tally Ho”), the sublime/otherworldly (“Point That Thing Somewhere Else”) and the show-stopping trick of uplifting defeatism (“Anything Can Happen”)? Effortlessly too, like a lazy magician, the bastards. Oft-times it seems only The Clean can accomplish this feat. This last decade has seen The Clean finally gets its props, on a level they probably never even imagined in their wildest dreams.
One of the essential components of their catalog, ‘Odditties’ previously appeared on self-released limited cassette, a less-limited Flying Nun tape, then a CD in the mid-90s. Now, nearly 30 years after its initial release, you can own these odds ‘n sodds on fresh wax for the first time ever. Once again, 540 Records provides a public service for lovelorn record geeks the world over. As you might imagine, the versions of certain well-known songs vary in both performance and sound quality. Warts an’ all is the name of the game, so if you like your record albums to be perfectly-sculpted masterworks, this might not be the place to stop for a squizz up the block (or a whizz with yer cock). In fact, the roots of early Nineties lo-fi can be found here; except, for the most part, The Clean wrote better songs. After side 1 plows through a few hits (title track, “Thumbs Off”), side 2 gets cozy with kitchen-fi cuts like “End of My Dream” and “This Guy” (“right heah!” - my head) which prefigure early Sebadoh strum, but with less whine and cheese.
Side 3 opens with a sweet spot – “At The Bottom” – which comes close to “Point That Thing” depths. A driving instrumental with streaks of darkness, “At The Bottom” is the soundtrack to treading water, to listlessness. Oddly, it sounds so alive. Almost like a living, breathing thing. Sort of like that depression breathing fetid air into your ear. “I know,” you tell it. It doesn’t listen. Follow up that touch of grey with an embryonic version of the Great Unwashed’s “Hold Onto the Rail” and you’ve got The Clean modus operandi in a nutshell. On side 4 we’ve got a “dub” version of “Point” (which, it must be said, was written by early member and Snapper mastermind Peter Gutteridge), a couple of sketches that never were, and it all ends with the charming “Stylaphone Music.”
My only complaint would be the lack of an insert/liner notes. It would have been nice to have the members put it all in perspective for us, maybe more details about the actual recordings themselves, but hey, a little mystery goes a long way. And it sure is fun to check out the flyers on the interior of the gatefold. Hey Mr. Time Machine, set co-ordinates for that Clean/Bored Games show, please…(EEK)
(540 Records // www.chaosintejas.com)

Crazy Spirit s/t LP
Sometimes I’ll be at a Crazy Spirit show and I’ll look around and think, “Man, I am too old for this shit. What the fuck am I doing here?” But then the band will lurch into some kinda gnarly knotty thorny half-hook buried under gutbucket drumming, shit-fi guitar sputter, and an always-moving bass that sounds like a sabre rattling in its scabbard. Over top of all of that, a weird little dude with something smeared on his face emits trebly screeches pitched somewhere between Darby Crash and a subway rat (rats do, in fact, scream). It “shouldn’t” work, but of course it does, and sometimes Crazy Spirit hits a glorious punk high-note that has been one of the better rushes the last few years here in The Big Rotten Apple. And, along with brother band Hank Wood (drummer here) & The Hammerheads, the Spirit has put out one of the most vital punk full-lengths of 2012. I’m not sure if these guys will ever write a song I like as much as the first EP’s “The Burning Churches,” but “Bed Bugs” comes close, bursting as it is with Crazy Spirit’s trademark B-beat (the kid from Accept the Darkness zine wrote something about CS’ frenetic drum-bash being its own version of the D-beat and damned if he ain’t on to something; nervous insect patterns). The wheedling guitar, especially during the eerie mid-song breakdown, is like a rusty scalpel in your brain, but it’s a lobotomy you don’t mind much -- it’ll all be over soon anyway. Manipulated movie soundbites are strewn haphazard throughout the LP, between songs and occasionally popping up during a few. “You” spazzes along memorably, while “What Have I Become?” is another one of their patented home-recorded ditties; kitchen-sink percussion, brittle blues guitar, treated samples. “I Become a Man” (“I become beautiful”) bugs out effectively, once again showcasing the slightly-off guitar leads that are like the beacon the rest of the band is rushing towards. It even shoehorns a relatively normal rock chorus in there. Full of surprises! This is the sound of roaming the city, skin itchy and flaking, feet sore and throbbing, people everywhere and nowhere. Being miserable and alone, surrounded by a million assholes, each one miserable and alone. Crazy Spirit and the Toxic State crew are attempting to reclaim the scum-filled streets for their own. The visual aesthetic is striking; the packaging for this record is impressive. Over-sized cardboard-thick “envelope” jacket with stamped inner sleeve, 12-page lyric/art booklet/zine, and a lovely, large screened poster. Some of the drawings are like extra-devolved versions of Charles Burns’ nightmare creatures. Interesting fumes and debris blows ‘round these parts.(EEK)
(Toxic State // www.toxicstate.blogspot.com)

Crusaders of Love "Take it Easy...But Take It" LP
Second LP from these Frenchies whose debut on Douchemaster was tolerable if generic modern power-pop in an Atlanta-centric style. A whole lot more of the same here, if you're looking for a not-quite-as-good Gentleman Jesse to fill out your listening time, here you go. Recording is fine, songwriting is fine, they do some Cartwright-style stuff alongside the Jesse-isms as well. I won't discuss the artwork choice other than to say it's questionable as is using what I think is a Woody Guthrie-inspired title, but I don't want to be too harsh. I just don't understand why anyone would listen to this when you could be listening to the 'Buttons' comp or, shit, a fucking Gentleman Jesse record for that matter...(RK)
(FDH Music // www.fdhmusic.com)

Dancer "On the Run" 7"
Haven't heard from the Daggerman in some time, but he's back with Dancer, another classy rock'n'roll outfit that fits perfectly into the stable. Members of Box Elders and Outdoorsmen come at you with vintage sounding powerpop'n'rock here, and I'll come right out and say I think the B-Side's the hit ("Shirley in Love"), a borderline City Rocker in the Twilley mold. A-Side has two rockers, one in a Dollsy vein ("You Got it Man") and another more streamlined power-popper. There's no reason the hordes of Gentleman Jesse fans out there wouldn't dig this, and it's a little tougher and West Coast sounding. Scum stats: 300 on black.(RK)
(Daggerman Records // www.daggermanrecords.com)

Divine Right “Pray For Me” 7”
Chi-town hustla’s offering up a whole lotta’ songs pressed into this tiny little feller. The tunes flop back and forth between Black Flagish mid-tempos (don’t they all?), Pissed Jeans gruff-ittude and the entire Sorry State or No Way catalog of new skewl hardcore. Simple and dumb enough for an idiot like me to enjoy this just fine. Not rewriting the punk books by any means, still…at least I’m not being forced to listen to the new Comadre or some shit. Dudes from Loser Life and Human Mess are in the mix, so that should prep you for what’s coming. The choice is yours. (RSF)
(Residue Records // www.residue-records.com)

The Dreebs “Bait An Orchard” LP
Art-noise three piece outta Brooklyn on the always weird as fuck Rotted Tooth label. Not sure what other acts these guys might have featured in, but on this they’re going for some post-No Wave vibes, most of the songs are setting up atmosphere with lots of shimmering cymbals and percussion with the guitar playing filling things out with odd tunings and feedback manipulation. On “Bite” they do aggro-drone with a thunderous drum march which melts into a cyclone of feedback. “White Lies” rides a timepiece piano tick into a skronk-out finale. “The Gym” puts forth a curtain of shimmering noise which is pulled aside for “Hostess”, winding it all up with a minimal and free jazzy thing, almost choral sounding. Pretty arty, fans of Branca or Thurston’s solo work might dig on it. The least abrasive record I’ve heard from the label. Scum stats: 300 copies on purple vinyl with the expectedly fantastic screen printed sleeve. (RK)
(Rotted Tooth // www.rottedtoothrecordings.com)

Drose “A Voice” 7” EP
Austerity measures from Columbus, Ohio. Bleak, spartan and possessing a barely-withheld malice, Drose approach metal with an abstract mindset. As twin guitars drone and crunch, ringing out in iron tones like distant industrial machinery, minimal drums thud and crash, echoing the death-throes of midcentury Midwestern dreams. Drose are coming to terms with their own failures and fears, composing heavy music with a discipline rarely heard in such circles. There is an emphasis on silence and space, utilizing the inherent dramatic tension in moments of calm before the storm. In this way, Drose recall Harvey Milk, but substitute the underlying southern-boogie vibe with a stern, crushing seriousness worthy of Swans. Snatches of Godflesh, Melvins, fellow townies Sword Heaven, and little-known mid-90s Richmond VA group Sliang Laos, bubble beneath the surface, but Drose are on their own journey and they seem to have it plotted out meticulously.
Besides this attention to detail, what sets Drose far apart from their peers is mainman and band namesake Dustin Rose’s high, keening voice, which soars above the lockstep skullcrush like a freebird. His singing wouldn’t be out of place on a Sigur Ros record, or even a pre-midnight swim Jeff Buckley session. No one-trick pony, Rose brings his register down to a foreboding rasp on the droning title cut. Live, they nailed it. Zero corny attempts at forced catharsis, just strategically-placed slivers of silence punctuated by huge swathes of jagged, streetcleaning sound. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a Drose album on Southern Lord within the year (Hydra Head has ceased operations, after all), but don’t let the nods to metal form fool you, Drose is more concerned with conjuring a dark night of the soul for their listeners, not throwing you devil horns while you attempt to headbang in your new Venom t-shirt. 200 on black; 200 on red? (EEK)
(self-released // droseohio.bandcamp.com)

Dry Hump s/t 7”
Second EP from these Lowell, MA (not Boston) mashers (they also have an LP I’ve never heard, but I’m rethinking that …), who play violent hardcore-punk combining Poison Idea nihilism and velocity with some Upsidedown Cross-esque aesthetics and lurch (including using the same Aleister Crowley picture). “Fist Your Heroes” is somehow as catchy as it is aggro, bellowing vox complimenting the power of the riff and the prickly guitar part on the verse. “China White” is downer hardcore excellence that fades into tripped-out noise. Some poeople are gonna cringe to hear me say this, but “Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead” reminds me of the earliest Fucked Up singles when they were a hardcore band to be reckoned with. This leads into more sci-fi sounds which are broken by one of their best raw guitar intros on “Mein Herr”, which is nearly d-beat in its relentless drum pound and face-mushing tempo. A damn good hardcore record, with exceptional guitar playing, some notable weird touches and a great shitty attitude. Vox might be bit too muscular for some, but I think it suits this stuff just fine. Black-and-white guy-in-a-mask sleeve might have you thinking MGHC on this one, but I’m not even sure what qualifies as MGHC anymore, and these guys are far burlier and more creative than some run-of-the-mill Void worshippers.(RK)
(Cowabunga Records // www.cowabungarecords.com)

Eets Feats "Ghost Slacks" flexi
Second volume (of four) of the Rotted Tooth Summer Flexi Series, Eets Feats are from Austin via San Antonio and peddle some Hozackian modern garage-punk. Heavy on the reverb, but they're playing some surf-style guitar stuff so they at least have a reason to be. Slurred vox, twanged-out guitar runs, they actually remind me a bit of Buffalo's very own Mayday. Dark-ish vibes, slick guitar playing and putting their punk foot first. Not too bad for the style, although they're certainly not going to stick out in an already jam-packed Austin/Denton scene. I'm not a huge fan of the flexi format, but I applaud Rotted Tooth's usage of the form. Yellow plastic, 250 copies, good lookin' art from Ryan Duggan, available by subsciption only.(RK)
(Rotted Tooth // www.rottedtoothrecordings.com)

Ex-Cult "MPD" 7"
The band formerly known as Sex Cult release their LP teaser single on Goner, and that record could be a contender as the Ty Segall production credit (and upcoming joint tour) is gonna at least get them in the door at Spin. I didn't realize this was the singer from Vile Nation, and his throat gives their indie-punk a needed edge. "MPD" is a throbber with an electrified cello (I think it's a cello, I'm no authority on classical string instruments), driving hard with a rigid post-punk foundation but still sounding a bit Goner-friendly yet together enough for Pitchfork. Looks like a Fresh & Onlys record, but actually contains rock. B-Side is a "No Fun at the Beaches" cover with a heap of reverb on the vox and a boxy sounding self-recording job. Oscillator gives it a little something, but it's a pretty standard lets-show-off-our-influences stuff for a B-Side if you ask me. If you can't wait for the LP, this will sate your thirst, but as just a standalone purchase you'd probably be better off waiting. (RK)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)

El Jesus De Magico “Just Deserts” LP
‘Scalping the Guru’ was an absolutely phenomenal record, so I had high expectations for this. Those expectations were not lived up to. The dub-psych overlords that made ‘Scalping…’ don’t seem to be the same band here. There’s a really good garage band on “Bone Knife” and a good jamming psych-unit on the title cut. The rest of it sounds choppy (not in a good way), and any of the depth the band had previously seems painfully thinned out here. They try and pull off a couple carnival tricks and stumble (tricks that Druid Perfume are also doing, and doing well). Apparently these were the last tracks recorded in the band’s funeral home lair, and then the various tapes were “stitched together” to make up songs. Not surprisingly it sounds a bit rushed and lacking in solid ideas. The gimmick works once in a while, like on the repetitive creeping parts in “Good UFO/Bad UFO Experience”, but most of the time it sounds like an art project gone awry. Chopped and screwed (up), they sound more like wacky art students (who probably dropped out, I’ll give them that) this time around than a real band with real chops. There’s a coupla moments, but nothing too close to their previous high water mark. Scum stats: 500 copies, with 100 of those on aubergine (sounds pretty ”arty” to me), and I like that they actually screened white paint for the lines on an already white colored sleeve.(RK)
(Columbus Discount Records // www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)

Evening Meetings s/t LP
This does not sound so much like the same band who released that 7” on Dirty Knobby earlier in the year. That single was straight clingclang, but this LP sounds like an actual rock band, and a good one at that. Their pedigree needs to be mentioned: members of A Frames, Factums, Love Tan, Le Sang Song, Intelligence, Dipers and Unnatural Helpers (I’m guessing on that last one, but who in Washington hasn’t been in that band?). Firstly, let’s just say there is little of the robotic sci-fi-punk of A Frames here, this band sounds as organic as can be. If anything, they remind me a bit of Sex Church right now (and good for Sex Church that they might actually have a band that can run with them), with less of a searing Spacemen 3 hard-psych drive and leaning more towards a dirty and primal old school Australian sound. At least on the A-Side, that is. “Wipe & Fade” is gritty in a Tex Perkins style, “Shimmer Street” is nearly a pop song, sounding a bit like a West Coast Guinea Worms. “Street Level” is the big hit on this side, an intense trip that blazes across prairies or the outback or whatever dark location you’re near…a real piledriver of desolation-rock. “Merry Go Round” sounds like The Intelligence without Lars singing, and they close the “rock” side with “Defended By Clouds” (which I thought was the title of this LP, judging by the spine), which is a slow death-blues crawl with some Gun Club inflection. On the flip side they start getting a bit stranger. “Hit Me” is minimal weirdwave, built on what sounds like a guitar sample and some stretched feedback alongside a live drums/bass line. “Spider at Work” sounds like a Country Teasers swipe, and “Blue Line” pleads to the ghosts of Suicide. The side starts lagging at this point, but they save it with “Ricardo”, a jittery yet rock solid piece of post-garage-punk, which sounds big and confident with just the slightest whiff of weird. “Love & Money” ends the LP sounding ominous, like the band and the tape are melting as they recorded this one-two droner. Gooey perfection. This LP is quite a bit better than I thought it would be (based on the 7”), and when these guys play the rock, they kill it. Like I said, Sex Church might be the only thing similar today. Even though they stumble a couple times on the B-Side, the A-Side is just about all winners and they close with a great one-two punch. Probably the best post-A Frames record/band I’ve heard yet from Erin or Min. You should definitely hear this. (RK)
(Sweet Rot // www.sweetrotrecords.com)

Exusamwa "Excusez-Moi!" LP
Where to start with this one...the band is made up of ex-member(s?) of prank-rockers Fat Day plus the proprietor of Weirdo Records. The record packaging itself is a brilliant bit of art: a thick, tip-on gatefold opens to reveal the board to a game called Excusez-Moi ("...the exciting game of mountain climbing in the French Alps during the late 18th century!") with hand drawn and colorful art, a cut-n-fold cardstock insert with player pieces and dice for the game (even though you get an additonal baggie with actual dice and bases for the figures) and a thick pro-printed 40 page zine that acts as both a rule book and an in-depth history of climbing/exploring the Alps. The basis of the game is to get to the top and avoid getting attacked by the Yeti and other pitfalls. I've seen some shitty gimmicks (and even other records-as-boardgames), and this is not one of them - the artwork, aesthetic and construction are impeccably done and extremely impressive. You'd think they were art students or something...The music itself isn't bad. The best parts are when it seems to act as a soundtrack to the game, with cinematic instrumentation, Yeti noises, weather effects and other atmosphere creating sonics that do summon images of mountains, France and the 18th century. That's about half of the record. Exusamwa the band are another animal, and what you'd expect from the Fat Day camp: distorto synth-n-guitar bashing, blown-out keyboard pop and oscillator/synth tomfoolery all done with high-pitched insectoid vocals. It's a pretty jarring difference between the two styles. Maybe they've should've put the game soundtrack on one side and the "band songs" on the other? Seems like a good idea to me. But it's their art, and if this is how they intended it, so be it. I'm a fan of the concept and the instrumentals and when the band songs fit in with them nicely, but not the ultra wacky art-rock stuff so much. A winning presentation goes a long way here, and the more whimsical-minded record collector should get a thrill from it. (RK)
(100% Breakfast // try www.weirdorecords.com)

Tav Falco & The Panther Burns “She’s The One To Blame” 7”
Underappreciated both then and now, Tav Falco and his various Panther Burns line-ups were right there with Cramps at the crack of the Eighties revisiting the sounds of America’s past and giving them some punk context. Tav followed a more traditional path than Lux and Ivy, and had a schtick of a different kind, but they both got mixed up with Alex Chilton and created some great rock music. This single is an exact repro of the very first Panther Burns release (right down to the envelope sleeves), and while Tav’s genius would be fully realized on ‘Behind the Magnolia Curtain’, this EP is like listening to the Cramps Ohio demos – essential and sleazy music in its first embryonic stage, just crawling out of the muck. It’s all covers in essence, the title track is a zero-fi rockabilly ripper originally done by Welshman Crazy Cavan and it’s so broken down it’s impossible to not get excited by it – good rockabilly, yes, that’s what I’m saying. Then it’s “Dateless Night” by early female rocker Cordell Jackson which sounds like it was recorded in one of the same caves the Cramps used with an exceptionally raw Tav vocal track. Flipside has a tango (“Drop Your Mask”) with theremin, which always reminds me of a weirdo Southern Phantom of the Opera vamp and closes with a live and muddy “Train Kept A Rollin” which sounds as much like the Cramps as Tav ever did. I think the big thing people might misconstrue about Tav is that he’s a rockabilly revisionist, which isn’t entirely true. They guy’s a weirdo, and repurposed old America just as well as his contemporaries and with an even harsher non-commercial aesthetic at that. This is just great rock’n’roll, and sort of daring stuff for 1979 – playing these tunes is probably about as far away from “punk” as you could get at the time. Alex Chilton believed in him, and I don’t think you can get a better endorsement than that.(RK)
(Mighty Mouth // www.almostreadyrecords.com)

Family Stoned "High Time Woman II" 7"
Debut wax from Olympia's Family Stoned after a couple more than decent cassettes. Surely indebted to Fred and Toody as far as the Pac NW rockers dressed as hippies visual aesthetic and in the slightly damp'n'outdoorsy mainline rock'n'roll they play. "High Time Woman II" has a slightly "off" Crazy Horse-style dynamic in both the vocals and playing, with a lengthy instrumental build leading into a couple of verses worth of baked vibes and mellow folk-rock with some hard guitar work. "Rituals" has a more determined approach, with a Sage-like drive to the guitar/drum charge, maybe even a slight aroma of grunge in the guitarfuzz. The lady handles all the vocal chores on this one, and sounds very confident and sure of herself in a thrilling way - her scream calls into motion the guitar scree that rides this one off the cliff. I think they did great with this, one side soft and one side hard, making a fine intro to a band I think has a ton of potential. Recommended. (RK)
(Perennial // www.perennialdeath.com)

The Features "Floozie of the Neighborhood" 7"
Members of the The Fingers ("Isolation") who moved from Pittsburgh to NYC and recorded this hit which was also released on the Paradox label. "Classic" misogynist punk jammer which is actually quite tame as far as punk tunes about broads go - there's a lot of worse terms for floozie out there. First heard this one on Back to Front #2 and it really dug in my head from The Stitches cover way back when. "Floozie..." is definitely an upper rung KBD cut, having a breakneck pace, a great hook, trebled-out production and a I love the drum sound - it's way out front in the mix and you can hear every click of the high hat. B-Side is a Beatles cover. Look out for a soon-to-be-completed Termbo article about the best punk rock Beatles songs/covers. Sourced from master tapes, sounds spectacular.(RK)
(Last Laugh // www.almostreadyrecords.com)

Feeling of Love "La Peur Es Une Illusion" LP
This collection LP is comprised of Feeling of Love’s 7” offerings from 2006 to 2008. During this time, Feeling of Love were one of the better French weird punk/gluewave bands. Barely a fit for those half-joke genres, FoL were heavily indebted to US trash-punk bands, particularly Pussy Galore. They had the same fucked take on the “blues,” accompanied by clanging percussion, pained vocals and harsh guitar tones. This approach hit it apex on their debut LP 'Petite Es Un Hit', which was a respectable facsimile of gutter-rock. Feeling of Love stood out cuz they tended to head towards the outer reaches instead of trying to ape the Oblivians or _______ (pick a Crypt band). Nevertheless, while this collection is not a bad listen per se, it does not distinguish itself, and becomes a bit of a chore to get through. It wasn’t until their second album, ‘OK Judge Revival,’ where they dropped their PG fixation and instead found inspiration in Spacemen 3 and the Gris Gris, that Feeling of Love finally came into their own. Still informed by their more raw past, ‘OK Judge Revival’ was a genuinely great record. Last year’s ‘Dissolve Me’ was on par, perhaps a slight step down, but more than worthy of your time. So, where does that place this early singles comp? Completists-only. (EEK)
(Les Disques De La Face Cachée // www.la-face-cachee.com)

Feral Future "Come Out Swinging" 12" EP
Neo-riot grrrl sounds out of Austin from Feral Future, three gals up front with the token boy drummer playing primitive yet aggro punk with some anarcho-Crass influence. The sentiments of the songs are about as subtle as a sweatpants boner, lots of F-bomb hurling, I think the refrain on at least three of these songs is "We Don't Give A Fuck!". One tune is called "Fughandi" (!?) and the chorus for that one is "Get bent Boss man!". Really, it is. Singer has the Kathleen Hanna delivery down pat, and I'm having trouble deciding whether they're dumbing down the tunes to sound purposefully atonal or they're just not that great at playing instruments. It gives them a bit of character, but it's not pretty either. "College" is the anthem, which is about going to college or becoming a housewife and possibly coming out of the closet, but they give it a serious moshpart breakdown which is hilarious to me for some reason. Tough chicks for sure. Not a great record though, I think the parts I enjoyed I was enjoying for the wrong reasons. Then again I don't think I'm the target audience here either. (RK)
(western Medical // www.westernmeds.com)

The Fitt "The Fitt Is Dead" LP
Leftovers compilation from Pittsburgh's The Fitt, a power trio of lads who released a handful of records both on their own Deadfinger label and Big Neck Records. Their LP ("When The Fitt Hit the Shan" yuk yuk) was actually a decent 12 inches worth of grungepunk and these last recordings from 2011 take their powermoves to further extremes. Chunky riffing and jackhammer rhythm section have them sounding like a less precise Helmet (but still getting some mileage out of the lockstep) or a less distorted Unsane, without so much of the grunge touch the band had previously. These songs are 100% mean and lean, no pussyfooting at all and possessing a darkness that wasn't evident earlier. They'll definitely attract the more metal-oriented ear (alterna-metal might be the proper term), they were a tough one to categorize, too metal for the garage crowd and too garage for the metal heads. Big Neck was the closest these guys were going to come to a home. This is their heaviest shit, and is more akin to the Relapse roster than anything in the punk/garage scene at all. Head axe/voice dude Pat finished these recordings off post-breakup with a fill-in drummer and it's a solid set of thrashy tunes. The complete destruction of Neil Young's "Helpless" is a perfect moment to end it all with.(RK)
(Deadfinger Music // thefitt.bandcamp.com)

Glow Kit s/t LP
The most listenable of the recent package we received from FDH Music, Glow Kit is a couple of the Danes from Cola Freaks (that right there should sell some copies, because the kids fucking love those guys) playing Euro-trashed out short and sharp New Wave Power Pop songs. Jay Reatard's legacy lives through bands like this, but at least these guys aren't just aping 'Blood Visions' the whole time, they actually rip off the riff from 'Blew My Mind' for one tune as well as pulling some Angry Angles moves, showing they're no one trick pony. They alternate the style enough from track to track - some garage-pop, some pop-punk, some synth-punkers and they even do some convincingly dark post-punk sounding cuts that are the best flavor here. The last track on this is the best - "Take it Back" - where they do a real atmospheric synthy jam-out to close up this shop. One of the better Jay rips I've heard, not quite up to Useless Eaters level, but not too shabby for a couple of Europeans. They're at least trying to rock outside the box somewhat. (RK)
(FDH Music // www.fdhmusic.com)

Golden Pelicans “Hard Head” 7”
I’m just gonna come right out and say it: Golden Pelicans are the best band Rich Evans has ever been in. Yes, that includes the Stud Dogs and Harry & The Commish. This single is that good. “Hard Head” is the perfect balance of we-could-give-a-shit slop and really catchy playing. It stumbles right out of the gate as a ball-grabbing garage-punker then breaks down into a hookfest of party-rock (nearly frat, but without the sax), with fantastic gravel-voiced singing that is just out of tune enough to make it sound tough. A top notch cut. “Jump In A Lake” is more tough-n-hooky garage-punk, this one reminds me of the Devil Dogs, without the greaser/turkey vibes, but with 100% of the attitude. Relentless onetwo pud-pound, even more hoarse vox and a spicy guitar solo. One of the best legitimate garage-punk records I’ve heard in a looong time. They were the real deal live as well, can't wait for more. Scum stats: 500 copies, 75 special editions come with a foldout promo poster.(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)

Good Throb s/t 7"
Good Throb’s initial public offering draws from all of their previous bands’ work (the Sceptres, the Shitty Limits, Tortura et al.) in the shadows of Utreg punk, with a hint of "Swiss Punk Now", a bit of the Australian X’s burliness, but any desire for comparison is overwhelmed by a certain wall of sound and ferocity - on every instrument - that breeds a perfectly nasty sense of empathy. Empathy for a visceral breeze, for the methodical assassination of tedium, for the distilled detestation of our rosy society, and for Tesco anthems. “Animal Fuck” funnels sparse guitars into verses describing the wonderful feelings of bar/dance class/mixer/party hopping to find fulfillment and barrels into a refrain so perfectly harsh and simple that it reminds you that you are such a primate (and that you need whatever distortion pedal this is). “Cosmic Libido” is the most Nixe-y. I believe this band was originally defined by their initial lack of experience in their respective positions, but you can hardly tell. Shouts so raw, guitars so troubling. “Feminazi” offers valuable insight into a British culture that we bastard sons of the colonies can only imagine as the Peep Show cast showing up at a punk show horny and desperate (it also makes for a fitting soundtrack to any episode of that show). “Bag” is the hit here - a droning, absolutely brilliant Brainbombs-ish heavy hitter about the droll existence of the grocery store cashier. One pound is about 1.62 dollars, if you need help sympathizing. “Would you like a bag?”. The collage insert is simply stunning. Apparently their drummer is a young Michael Caine. Raw depictions of a mundane universe, the sounds of a fallen empire. Tops. (NG)
(Super Fi Records // www.superfirecords.co.uk)

Gooch Palms "R U 4 SIRIUS?" EP
Semi-cute garage-pop from Australia, two-piece action with the guy playing guitar (naked apparently) and handling a majority of the vox and the gal doing stand-up drums and theremin/organ/vox. The A-Side has a couple of treble-charged garage-poppers, one with a good theremin break the other with an organ sound lifted from intermission at a minor league hockey game. "Participant 91" sounds like a Misfits pop song with eerie church organ, "Watch This Space" is notable for having someone whistling on the refrain. You just don't hear a lot of whistling on records these days, it's a real shame. All in all this is probably good-n-wacky fun for those involved, but it's not anything you really need to hear on record yet. (RK)
(Anti Fade // antifaderecords.webs.com)

Grand Trine "Boehmians" 7"
Montreal's Grand Trine play it nostalgic on this single, covering two songs from Sixties garagers The Bohemians, a band who just happen to have been led by the father of GT's Tobias Rochman. They turn "I Need You Baby" (original version here) from a textbook Sixties treble-raver into a drumbox and keyboard heavy rush of modern garage that actually sounds a bit Eighties in execution. On the flip they reinterpret "Say It" a bit less extremely, doing a straight cover but making it sound more lush with a deep guitar twang becoming the lead instead of the organ wheeze of the original. A real weeper. Repro labels and a 300 press make it even more lovingly authentic. (RK)
(Almost Ready // www.almostreadyrecords.com)

Heavy Times "Lost Dogs" flexi
Leave it to Rotted Tooth to start a summer-flexi club, as they're certainly one of the best labels around and about today when it comes to heavy duty album art and packaging concepts. The club features four flexis with screened panel sleeves from a selection of artists and colored plastic with a nice looking logo on each in an edition of 250. Bands contributing are Cave (who get 500 of their version), Sewn Leather, Eets Feats and this one from Chicago's Heavy Times. I've never been too into their records so far, chalking them up as another Hozac also-ran, and their two songs here certainly aren't disagreeable and do evoke a bit of the summertime feel. "Lost Dogs" is power-pop that has a good Midwestern rock'n'roll feel to it, and for some reason "P.O. Box" reminds me a little of Livefastdie if they played pop-punk. The Jo Dery sleeve is my favorite thing about this, because that's a pretty cool looking dog. Orange plastic on this one, available by subsciption only.(RK)
(Rotted Tooth // www.rottedtoothrecordings.com)

Hellshovel "Auto-Pilot" 7"
Hellshovel is Jeff Clarke's post-Demons Claws' outfit, whose output has been rather uneven (or uneventful) from what I've heard so far. Half-baked. Or too baked perhaps. "Auto-Pilot" is conceptually interesting, as this one sounds like a tune that's getting ready to take off, but never really does. It taxis on the runway for a couple minutes, sounding very much like VU but never getting to the hook. Instrumental build with jetplane sound effects which towards the end segue into oscillating propeller-like spinning and guitar strings coming loose, reaching a climax and crash finally. It works as lo-fi garage experimentation at the least. This GB platter actually has a B-Side, another instrumental in a Nuggets-psych vein, working out a springy lysergic strut with phased guitar and an acoustic running alongside a simple drum beat. I like the feel of this record, but also feel like it's wandering a bit aimlessly as well. It's still more coherent than the other singles I've heard. This style probably works better over a longhaul, but I haven't heard the LP to verify that idea. Scum stats: three versions of 80 copies each. (RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // soundcloud.com/#goodbye-boozy-records)

Homostupids “New York Jammin’” EP
It’s hard to believe that ‘The Glow’ EP came out over six years ago now. It seems like just yesterday I was raving about how great Homostupids are…oh wait, it WAS yesterday. As you should know, there’s been no greater band in America than these guys for the past half-decade. I’ve extolled their virtues time and time again on these pages. Every new release or live show is like Christmas, Thanksgiving and my birthday all rolled into one. They’ve slowed down a bit (both in activity and in actual tempo) in the past year, so I couldn’t been happier to nab a copy of this Hozac platter, as I’m not entirely sure there will be another ‘stupids record any time soon. Actually, I have no idea if that’s right or not, but I just get that feeling. The A-Side is jammin’ alright, with a couple of “new” tunes that sound live in the studio – “Screwry Turkey” is another animal-themed winner which bleeds into a version of “In His Basement” (or “In the Basementman”) you’ll recognize from their live set. Great fidelity on these cuts, as always, and I gotta say I like ‘em a lot. Surprising, I know. B-Side is the New York side, with “Hawk (Live NYC Version)” which is their slowed-down take on this classic from the back catalog recorded in some Big Apple shithole, stage banter included. Well worth trying to track down a copy of if you weren’t enough of a baller to spring for a Hozac Club subscription (like myself). Scum stats: 500 copies only.(RK)
(Hozac Records // www.hozacrecords.com)

Hot & Cold "Border Area" LP
A bizarre record with a bit of a mysterious story behind it, as Hot & Cold is two brothers who supposedly hail from Canada and are now transplanted to China making bedroom psych-rock and minimal synth music released on a Chicago-based label. I'm a tough sell when it comes to electronic music, but this stuff has some merit. Drum machine, bass and synths are the entire make-up here, but it's not wave-y or truly minimal synth, these two write what I have to describe as rock songs but play them through their weird instrumentation filter. As someone already astutely pointed out, a song like "Vanish" is pretty much a Doors rip, and on a lot of these songs you find something familiar to latch onto, like they picked a bunch of garage songs and just repurposed them here. I swear half of them are just versions of "Nobody Can Tell Us" with montone vocals, the simplest basslines ever and various synth squeals. It makes for interesting listening for sure. You could lay on references like krautrock (and the certainly abuse some version of a motorik beat throughout) and I supposed they're somehwere down the evolutional chain at which Suicide and Von Lmo sit at the top of. I think the mistake here would be to pile on a lot of baggage when trying to listen to this, when you should just take them for what they are: really simple rock songs, recycling classic ideas (and classic rock even) and tunes and presenting them in a mutated form. It's more fun that way. There's nothing overly intellectual here I think, aside from these guys being pretty good at ripping it off, which is what rock music is all about right? Recording sound is as dry as the guy's monotone, which maybe robs them of some personality, but I think one of the hooks here is rendering common tunes faceless. I mean "Sweet Fatigue" is a blatant VU rip, right? The outright thievery here is astonishing and talented in its own way. A tough one to genrify, but I supposed this could be latched onto the Moon Duo/Wooden Shjips/Sacred Bones variety of neo-psych somehow. Really reminds me a bit of the Pink Noise except these guys seem way more comfortable in their skin than that guy. Cool record. (RK)
(Moniker Records // www.moniker-records.com)

Hygiene s/t 7"
A very literally self-titled 7" from the best post-Black Time UK band now that I'm officially declaring them the winner in their long-standing competion with The Pheromoans. A-Side is their theme song "Hygiene", which is certainly anthemic in their post-pub-punk style. A simple singalonga punk tune, which stops then returns (in what I have to call a Fall-like moment) before belting out one last verse and hoisting a pint before closing time. B-Side is "Hygene", which he might be singing in French (the singer is actually Canadian after all) over a scrappy and scratchy little garage-punk thing that makes me think of Billy Childish if he had followed the Fuck Off Records sound instead of the Big Beat way back when. This is top shelf modern British DIY, doing in the UK what bands like Tyvek and Home Blitz have done for the States. Very much recommended and I hope the recurring rumors of their split are just that. (RK)
(Sorry State Records // www.sorrystaterecords.com)

Impalers "Demo" 7"
Austin's Impalers 2010 demo pressed to wax, which preceded the Todo Destruido 7" in real time, but was pressed to wax after, if I have my timeline straight. Anyway, I was a fan of the TD 7", a total fucking ripper for sure, so I was stoked to hear this one after the fact. Plus, the I really dig the awful cover art. I'm no d-beat maniac, but there's a always a band or two in action in the genre worth listening to and Impalers are one of them currently. Pretty much taking the best of Discharge and Motorhead and throwing some more metallic vox over top (and over-the-top), this is full-on motorcharged (see what I did there?) blaze from members of Hatred Surge and Mammoth Grinder (love the former, not super keen on the latter). There will always be something energizing about some dude bellowing out an "OOOOOH!" right before the riff hammers down. "Return to Eden" is the most crushing cut here, and the lack of overpowering reverb makes the attack seem more devastating. It's fun writing reviews of this stuff, adjectives just come out of the woodwork. I think this pup is already out of print, but I'd snag this or the other if you see 'em and aren't afraid of the genre. (RK)
(Beach Impediment // /beachimpedimentrecords.bigcartel.com)

Johnny Ill Band "In the Winter Time" EP
For as interesting and enervating Protomartyr are to me, Johnny Ill Band are exactly the opposite. Generic garage rock for the most part, "In the Winter Time" has awkward lyrics that seem to be trying very hard to be cute. The B-Side is actually the most interesting this band has been, with two songs about dudes - "Matt Larson" is the bass player of the band (and this is an idea Lamps did a few years ago with "Tim Ford") and "Dan Braun" is about some guy who hates everything. Quirky garage with some kiddy organ. Probably a good local band to have around to open shows, but on record there's not much to report. (RK)
(X! Records // www.x-recs.com)

Kam Kama "The Tiled House" 12" EP
Six-song EP from some Bloomington, IN kids with an affinity for black and white design aesthetics and post-punk/New Wave. A real pro-sounding job here, as they shelled out for recording at Magnetic South, mastering by Zero Boys legend Paul Mahern and then mastered for vinyl at Chicago Mastering. They certainly covered all the bases there. Musically Kam Kama are an adept band, and I get that they're trying to go for maybe a JD/Bunnymen style sound, and they got the watery Eighties bass and clean guitar sound right, but these tunes sound more like the marriage of The Police and Rush. The drumming and synths give it a real prog-rock feel, and the guy sounds a bit like Geddy Lee. Seriously. A bit too busy for the stark dramatics of romantic goth, they do get some melancholy vibes across but in a more indie-rock or emo vein than anything else. "Halfway Hotel" and some of the slower moments on other tracks summon a bit of an emotionless Gary Numan comparison, but that's about as excited as I can get for this.(RK)
(Sister Cylinder // sistercylinder.bigcartel.com)

Kitchen's Floor "Live in Brisbane" LP
Kitchen's Floor had become a difficult band for me to listen to last year, as they're one of the most wonderfully depressing bands of recent vintage, and there were some dips in my psyche that had me just not wanting or feeling comfortable listening to them for a spell. This was right around the time of Brendan's (Negative Guest List) passing as well, which then made the disconnect even more palpable, as they're a band that will forever remind me of him. They were one of the first and foremost bands he pushed on me, and maybe in retrospect I think I understand why much more after his death. This is a vinyl issue of the "Too Dead To Notice" tape BA originally released on Negative Guest List, and it will forever be my favorite Kitchen's Floor record. The unplugged strum and percussion of the Matt/Julia line-up (and the seemingly messy state of the band and this gig from what the liner notes say) here still sounds totally defeated and lost, but the flicker of hope and joy or just the promise of it still feels detectable and existentially warming. To put it simply, this is the rare record where the melancholy, self-doubt and uncomfortable reflection actually makes me feel better. And to put it even more simply, it reminds me of a guy I greatly admired and wish was still with us. It doesn't get much more live than this LP, at least for me.(RK)
(Quemada Records // quemadarecords.blogspot.com)

The Knots "Heartbreaker" 7"
Sometimes I feel that writing reviews of all of these reissue 7"es is a waste of time. We all know they're great, right? Well, I was flipping through some internet pages the other night and realized I had totally missed or forgot that Sing Sing had done the Nasal Boys 7" somehow. So maybe reviewing these singles is relevant, at least as a reminder for anyone who isn't a fanatic internetter/record hound, and maybe even for some of young'uns who are just coming around. The Knots bio can be found in this excellent blog post by former staffer Eric Lastname. My favorite part is the 11,000 copies supposedly pressed, a number that's been dismissed as bullshit by pretty much everyone in the collectorscum world with an opinion that matters. But I'll tell ya what, the world could certainly use 11,000 copies. "Action" is one of the top KBD-era tunes (it would be in my Top Ten, perhaps even Top 5), just non-stop energy, a massive hook, great and simple lyrics delivered with premium snot, hot solo with some phasing, handclaps...everything you could need or want out of a punker. Perfect! And it's the B-Side! "Heartbreaker" is the A-Side in name only, as it's the wimpy little brother of "Action", sort of the same build but with a little more New Wave slickness and pop action instead of the punkola on the flip. Still, it's a damn fine rocker that straddles power-pop and punk nicely. Every home needs a copy of this record (certainly anyone with a DJ night at the least), far more affordable than the 1977 Records version from years back, and this is apparently already out of print, so if you see some distro or store with a copy you better drop the green.(RK)
(Last Laugh // wwww.almostreadyrecords.com)

Kraus "Supreme Commander" LP
Kraus is some mysterious guy down dere in Noisyland, pumping away on some instrumental strangeness. Originally released last year on cassette, ‘Supreme Commander’ gets the wax treatment courtesy of upstart Chicago imprint Moniker Records. It’s not hard to hear why Kraus caught Moniker’s ear. ‘Supreme Commander’ is a unique take on home-recorded whatchamacallit, demonstrating a focus on sculpting a personal soundworld that brings to mind underappreciated fellow countrymen like Pumice and Crude, but remains singularly Kraus. Tracks like “Sumer is Icumen In” sound like a bedroom take on library music, while the grinding and noisy “Guinea Coin Blues” recalls King Loser honcho Chris Heazlewood’s solo work. I swear that the laser gun-like sounds in “Bath Tube” are made by a karaoke machine from the early Nineties. “Speed Queen” tests the patience a bit; too long with a go-nowhere idea. Side Two opens with some tape fuckery and various chopped/screwed sounds. Midway through the second side and I’m starting to think of these bizarre little assaults of cheap audio gear as soundtracks to extremely short science-fiction flicks. Then “Mono Lulu” comes on with its echoed-out rudimentary drumbeat and sharp pokes of Hawaiian guitar and I realize I want to hear what Kraus could do with something a bit closer to a traditional song. He’s got great sounds feeding into his tape machine, but I’m curious to hear him apply them to something slightly more conventional. Not that this isn’t a very cool record, cuz it most certainly is.(EEK)
(Moniker Records // www.moniker-records.com)

Lamps "Under the Ground Under the Water" LP
The kneejerk reaction whenever a band of the Lamps caliber releases a new LP is to immediately crown it their best yet. Kneejerk that I am, I'm pretty damn sure this is definitely the best Lamps full length. The previous two were very very good records, that's a fact, but I think this one is the most immediately identifiable as fucking great. It's relentless. Bulldozing. Exciting. The opening gambit of "Dogcatcher" seems all smiles, as it's nearly a pop song, they turn on you a bit with "Clouds" and then you see the hammer in Monty's hand right before he smacks you with it on "An Irrational Fear of Sailors". "Pigeon Guided Missile" has you punchdrunk and on the ropes, just mercilessly receiving bodyshots, just about ready to puke. "G.B.D." from the Sweet Rot single becomes "H.B.D.", I'll leave you to your own devices to decide why, but it somehow sounds better in this sequence anyway. "Pagodas" is a better Karate Party song than Karate Party ever wrote, and that break down at the end is just straight Sabbath-inspired evil. "Famous Chimps" is streetsweeping LA scum rock. I just feel like my record player should explode after "Hawaiian Voters" cuts off. There's no other way for this to end. Even though they reprise a few singles cuts, this is their most pulverizing effort to date. Could be the Woodhouse recording, sounds like he might have given Monty some of his secret weapon effects pedals, as I don't think I've heard guitars this nasty on an In the Red album since 'The Sicko Inside Me'. And speaking of that, Jimmy Hole is now apparently the full time bass player, and no offense to Tim Ford, but think that's a big reason this LP pounds like it does. The thank you list on the inner sleeve lists four bands: Clockcleaner, The Mayyors, Pissed Jeans and The Hunches. That's about the only company that could share space with the Lamps after this LP, which is better than any record all but one of those bands ever made.(RK)
(In the Red Records // www.intheredrecords.com)

Lazy “Party City” 7”
OK, let’s get it out of the way. What a shite name. (Yeah my pasty ancestry comes out in moments of annoyance). There are literally twenty artists listed under “Lazy” on Discogs. Twenty! It mostly reminds me of a mediocre Nineties indie band that used the name as a self-fulfilling prophecy. The glory days of slacker rock!
And a quick internet research session reveals that, as of two years ago, this Lazy (from Kansas City; which one? no idea) was a fairly generic indie band themselves. I have no clue what transpired in these last 24 months, but I suspect it has something to do with mainlining the Dow Jones & The Industrials catalog, and maybe a brief obsession with Brainiac. “Party City” is an excellent jerkwave dance hit, but “Silence in Crisis,” a frantic punker with an instantly memorable chorus, is the winner on this platter. “Boys in The Girlsroom” is a speedy rant sung by a lady (no info listed), and makes me excited to hear more by this group.(EEK)
(Moniker Records // www.moniker-records.com)

The Legs "AAAA The New Memphis Legs!" LP
I'll come right out and say that this record is waaaay better than I thought it would be, I'm sorry if that offends anyone involved. I had no idea The Legs were this mighty. All I knew was the track from the 'Hot Pinball Rock' compilation (which is itself a comp that is waaaay better than it should be) and figured they were just one of many one-shot toss-off Memphis bands that existed for a show or two when one of the Oblivians had some spare time, a few cases of beer and a couple pals in town for a long weekend. But apparently there was a lot more to it, as Eric O, James Arthur and Neckbones' drummer Forrest Hewes actually recorded this brilliant piece of twin-guitar garage-punk back in 2000 in a different sitting than the Jeff Evans session that birthed the pinball track. The A-Side is absolutely monstrous, "Drunk" is primo-scree in the red garage scuzz, "(Let's) Do the Legs" is ripped from The Oblivians (natch) punk playbook (and dig that drum break!), balls-out two chord drunkeness beat right into the ground. From there they start covering the 'Ugly Things' compilation overtly for a couple tracks, dragging "I Want Love" to hell and back and diving headfirst into a stomping "Driving Me Insane", then ending with "Been Kinda Lost" which has an evil (yet still really drunk) guitar sound that stretches a comparison to a completely shitfaced Beguiled. On the B-Side their legs give out a bit for a couple tracks of totally hammered hammering, but they find them in time to close with "Doin' it Too Hard" and some hard soling action that sounds like a couple amps are about to explode. Okay, this thing is only nine tracks long, but the first five are so gonzo it's worth the ticket and you get to listen some amplifier murder on Side B. Think about it, Eric O. + James Arthur = better than 90% of other garage bands. Plays at 45rpm for maximum blowout action! Proto-Bad Times vibes! (RK)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)

Livefastdie “Practicing for the Gangbang” 7”
Camero Werewolf dusts off the axe for the first LFD record we’ve seen since…damn, maybe the “Shit Amplified” LP? It’s been a few years, I know that, and even though they’ve survived a few “last ever” shows I’m glad they’re still around. Their set at this year’s Horriblefest was the best I’ve seen them. They’re a real well-lubed punk-rock machine at this point, active duty status or not. “…Gangbang” is a A+ example of the LFD formula = fuzzed-to-shit guitar riff, Ramones verse-chorus-verse with a retarded concept for a hook and an absolutely molten-lava-hot five alarm blaze of a solo. You can’t lose with this one. B-Side is a tough one for me. “You Ruin All My Fun” could probably be a great pop-punk tune if you had the Ergs record it in a studio. I just found it mildly annoying. Rumors are circulating that a certain classy NYC label is working on an LFD 2XLP singles comp soon, and the A-Side of this 7” will be a great inclusion…(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)

Loud Squirt “Déjà vu Revue Blues” 7”
The second wreck in the review pile from the back from the dead High School Refuse label. I assumed they went tits up half a decade ago...Upon first listen, I’ve come to realize that either my stereo is going to shit or these Netherlanders can’t master a recording to save their lives. This ain’t bad, but like The Beavers single, it’s murky as fuck. The Squirts tread the same waters as that Baddat For Trubbel style of pub-punk, though this is a tad more overblown and metallic. The A-side’s “Déjà vu Revue Blues” and “Tappin’ On My Shoulder” should fare a listen just fine, I just wish they weren’t so muddled by the mix. The B-side offers “Little Jackpot Girl” which sounds more like the later Fatals tracks trying to swing an oldies cover, or possibly a full riffin’ Bantam Rooster. But this ain’t Bantam Rooster. Hell, it ain’t even Superhelicopter. A 'Blood, Guts & Pussy'-era outtake attempt with a hint of New Bomb Turks called “Willy-Nilly Breakdown” wraps things up. What a weird little time bubble, their homeland floats around in. (RSF)
(High School Refuse Records // hsr-records.blogspot.com)

Lower Plenty "Hard Rubbish" LP
I listened to the "Mean" cassette that preceded the release of this vinyl so much I unfairly didn't give it the attention it so deserves, and it honestly took me a bit to figure out the LP wasn't just that cassette on vinyl. Yes, I am an idiot. I recall lazily painting them as the Australian Dutchess & The Duke in my review of the tape, and that's fair in the instrumentation (predomninantly acoustic guitars, wonderful and slight percussion, male-female vocal interplay) for sure, and fair in the aching emotion of the songs as well. I think where Lower Plenty separate from that comparison is that there's a bit more...dejection perhaps, the glimmers of hope are blurry and worn, the best times seem to be in the rearview mirror. Still, there's plenty of beauty to be found in Sarah Heyward's singing, and even though the souls of these songs are as disheveled as the mess depicted on the record's cover, there's a familiarity to them that's still warming through the sadness. When she sings "Let me tell you a story..." you're immediately riveted. "How Low Can A Punk Get?" is the seemingly light-hearted moment, a casual chatter from the UV Race's Al Montfort that is not a Bad Brains cover but still answers the question. Deaf Wish's Jensen Thjung and Dan Twomey fill out the quartet (which I used to think was a trio), and the LP is a collection of beautifully downcast songs that summon serious emotions about regret, love and loss.(RK)
(Easter Bilby // ineedinsulation.blogspot.com)

Lumerians "Transmissions from Telos Vol IV" LP
I was only familiar with the Lumerians 7" on Rococo heading into this all instrumental LP, but they've had some other records come out On Knitting Factory between that single and this LP. The A-Side tracks (there are no song titles) all have an exotic feel to them, whether it's the percussion or some jungle-sounding strings or the very Middle Eastern raga sounds of the closing track. COuld be the soundtrack to psychedelic adventure film, maybe a cross of Indiana Jones and Danger Diabolik. And please don't let my B-movie comparisons sell the Lumerians short musically, and there's nothing trashy here - everything sounds great and is played great, I just don't have a frame of reference classy enough for them. B-Side blasts you into outerspace, showing some love of the Chrome catalog and dark usage of oscillators and synths. This side hits a crescendo around the mid-point, docks at the space station, and then turns into a creepy stalker-esque roam through it's haunted passages and tunnels. A really good instrumental record to throw on during nights when you don't feel like getting too involved with what's on the turntable and just to zone out for a spell. Scum stats: 500 copies only.(RK)
(Permanent Records // www.permanentrecordschicago.com)

Mad Monk & Apache Dropout “My Wild Life” EP
Mad Monk is John Terrill, veteran of Dancing Cigarettes and Walking Ruins and Indiana rocker-at-large, here teamed up with garage-sikers Apache Dropout for two originals and a cover of the VU’s “I’m Not A Young Man Anymore “. “My Wild Life” is a low key garage strummer, the type you’d expect from an aging rocker looking back, a little melancholic but victorious as well. “Double Shot of Brandy” reminds me of a mellower Ron House tune (including the singing style), but with not as much bite to the lyrics. The VU cover is standard fare with good piercing guitar. A mellow and mature platter that I’m sure was an honor for Apache Dropout to make with a local legend, however this one’s for Hoosier rock fanatics only. Scum stats: 500 copies with pop out centers. (RK)
(Family Vineyard // family-vineyard.com)

Manic s/t 7"
Down and dirty hardcore action from ATL, descendents of Die Ficken who I remember from the 'ATL Demos' cassette. Probably the most mean-spirited release on SOD to date, these dudes mean business playing balls-to-the-wall barreling hardcore slammers all at a relentless pace that does not let up. Refreshing 'core in the fact that it's not caked in reverb, as I imagine these guys live scuzzy enough lives that they don't need to doll their music up in layers of it. Possible points of reference include Siege, H-100s and Bukkake Boys (whose guitarist recorded this clusterbomb to great effect). For real players only, great cover image matches the nihilism of the tunes. (RK)
(Scavenger of Death // scavengerofdeathrecords.blogspot.com)

The Max Block "Air Ache in the Belly of the Leech" LP
Further treasures unearthed from the soil of Old Zealand. The Max Block only managed to squeeze out one 12” EP during their mid-80s existence, but the principal members went on to such greats as The Renderers, Flies Inside the Sun and The Terminals. The last of these is the closest analogue to The Max Block. Both bands imbue their particular version of rock n’ roll with a rollicking, funhouse spirit; but where The Terminals delve into agonizingly turbulent emotions, sounding as if they are fighting for their very lives, The Max Block, while still retaining a sense of drama, know that the dawn will eventually come, and with it, light, and another chance to make things right. Siltbreeze does us a favor here and bolsters the original six-song EP with nine extra tracks, two of which are live, but none repeat, and all are worthy of inclusion. Sixteen years later and The Max Block finally have an LP, and despite the fact that it is a stitched together affair, the music is strong enough to justify it’s reappearance. A nice companion piece to the recent Pin Group reissue, this collection is further proof of the intrinsic magic that flows through so much music born in Aotearoa. May it never be obstructed.(EEK)
(Siltbreeze // www.siltbreeze.com)

McShitz s/t LP
As most of us know by now, only Cleveland, Ohio, USA can get a certain kind of relentlessly, unapologetically stupid punk rock music just right. It ain’t easy, folks. The path is littered with the rotten corpses of bands that try to capture that once-in-a-lifetime genie-in-a-bottle transcendence of prime GG corn-holing the Angry Samoans while The Dwarves do coke off the dicks of each member of Adrenalin OD and then proceed to sell the snot-smegma to Fang fans high on acid in 1985, as drawn in a comic book by Sockeye. But if anyone can, it’s Clevo, dummy!
I missed out on the prime McShitz era, but caught what seemed like the tail-end in the early 2000s. Made up of a tight-knit group of friends that have been in a bazigillionkamillion bands together before and since (family tree would look like a Sicilian’s scrotal-nest thru a microscope), the McShitz still play once in a blue moon, usually at Clevo shit-punk hoe-down Horriblefest. They veer from outta control hardcore insanity to catchy, desperate Hickey-like “pop-punk” (more like a basement thrash version thereof), all within a minute or two. They can also bite down hard on a classic-sounding punk song as good as..….anyone, really. This collection LP is their 'Faust Tapes', their gift to an undeserving world populated by squares, norms, and devolved mutoids. I guess we should be thankful, but, instead, my head just hurts. Owww, what happened? Where am I? Dammit, not again.(EEK)
(self-released // www.myspace.com/themcshitz)

The Men "Jennifer" 7"
I know a singles club release isn't always a great representation of a band, but I've heard all of The Men's records, and they're all at least as tame as this one. I do not understand what is special about them. "Jennifer" is an A+ example of a "rock" band getting "deep" by playing a wimpy folk song about a girl. Fuck this shit. Who do they think they are, Pavement? "New Pop" has bucketloads of energy, but it is faceless and textureless power-pop disguised with a dash of Husker Du-inspired guitar heft. I recently read an article where the author described The Men as redefining punk much like Fucked Up has redefined hardcore for this generation. Really? Firstly, I still like Fucked Up, but saying they redefined hardcore by turning into an indie rock band is ridiculous. They didn't redefine hardcore, they STOPPED PLAYING IT. The fact that they turned into a pretty good indie rock might confuse some people, but let's be realistic here. Secondly, The Men are barely punk to begin with, so how they are redfining that genre is difficult for me to fathom. I blame articles like this on bad musical educations. Kids these days are getting brought up listening to yahoos on message boards and blogs with no more knowledge than what wikipedia has to offer about rock history. When I was a kid we had to learn shit the hard way, by calling into the punk show on your local college radio station and asking dumb questions, reading zines and getting the guys at the counter of the record store to stop smoking weed long enough to tell you all about what other bands the dudes from Pussy Galore were in and how great they were live. You actually LEARNED shit that way. I'll end the old guy rant now before it gets too embarrassing...(RK)
(Matador // www.matadorrecords.com)

Mil Mascaras “Fuzz” 7”
I remember hearing a song or two by these ladies of France a few years back. Pretty sure the main singer is the same woman who fronted the great Crack Und Ultra Eczema. This 7” isn’t as good as Crack Und, but it’s not bad. “Fuzz” is a little too straight for me. A decent garage number, but nothing you haven’t heard before. “I Said So Far” is a little closer to what I expected, vaguely Slits-like, but still not quite up to snuff. “French TV” reminds me a bit of Girls At Our Best and is easily the best thing on this single.(EEK)
(Hozac // www.hozacrecords.com)

Modra "The Line for the Men’s Room" LP
Sleepwalking blues deconstruction from Aus-expat Michael Bray and assorted partners-in-crime. The recording is raw and intimate, claustrophobic at times. Guitars cycle through meandering, haphazard lines, at times almost pretty, until a sudden intrusion of wrenching sound will bluster up and disappear just as quickly. The music moves like smoke, a ghost of itself. “The Restless Dream” grasps for Denudes-style nullification, and, like that band, the descent into their own personal heart of darkness reveals the very reason to keep drawing breath. “She’s Too Big” is like a drunken bull in a hall of mirrors, gradually thrashing about until he slips on the blood and knocks himself out cold. “Her Taste in My Mouth” is most likely about eating pussy, but hey, you never know with these weirdos. After all, its barren Dead C. aimlessness seems to be disguising the piercing domestic anguish at the heart of the song. It’s all falling apart, it’s all crumbling down, the music crashes around your ears, too tired to even stand up straight. There is a palpable sullenness here; it lashes out in unpredictable ways. Modra is here to harsh your mellow, brah, get into it.(EEK)
(Savage Quality // www.savagequalityrecordings.com)

Mountain Cult s/t LP
Four piece rock unit straight outta Brooklyn, which is something I usually make fun of, but I’m not going to this time around. Firstly, I have no idea who these cats are or who they run with, which is a good thing. Secondly, a few days after buying their s/t 7” (recommended) I was attending a show at a local artspace and in the john was perusing the old fliers on the wall and noticed that Mountain Cult had played there some time recently, a gig I certainly knew nothing about. The fact they were playing with some of the absolute WORST in suckass local art rock bands might have been the reason I didn’t pay attention. I’m left wondering whether they have friends in some of those very shitty bands, or just didn’t know anyone here and got stuck on some shit show by accident. Who the fuck knows or cares, I’m just trying to show that these guys are running under the Termbo radar, purposefully or not, which is a very good thing these days. This record is really something. It’s certainly blues/garage derived, some sort of mutant variant of the same strain that infected the Birthday Party, Scientists, Chrome Cranks, Cramps, whoever. It’s only eight tunes long, and plays at 45, but it has some legs to it. “Climbing the Clock Tower With A Rifle” sounds like modern Australia to me, the most upbeat and fast tempoed number you’ll hear on the whole record, “Don’t Feel Sick” opens with a classic fuzz guitar intro the drums and bass just sidle up next to for an extended session of slurred vocals and guitar exploration. The guy’s vox are a real touchpoint here, giving the band's drugged-out feel something extra. He’s mumbling them completely unintelligibly, but still has a good delivery somehow – like he’s too close to the mike and just nodding off. “Christmas Day” is repeated from the single and is the winning cut, a real rubbery rhythm and the guitar player just solos and sees how long he can sustain notes while the rhythm section does their thing. “All Eyes On Her” is actually the first instance of them being “creepy” or whathaveyou, and it has a really slow build and maybe an Aussie feel, but without the swamp. Sometimes I feel like the band sounds like what the JSBX might have turned out like if it was led by Neil Hagerty instead of Jon Spencer. B-Side opens with a forced entry (“Overachiever”) and as close to a rocker as they get, and the ending trio of songs bring their “style” to it’s apex – mumbling vox, stumbling guitars, rumbling rhythm section. “Bed” sounds like a beatnik freakout. “Videodrome” almost attains a Killdozer-like sludge – like watching them fall down stairs in slow motion, but its repetition is gratifying instead of grating. After a half-dozen laps with this thing, you start wondering how they made this record…was it some variation of the game where you all drink a bunch of cough syrup and then see who can stay awake the longest? Except these guys decided to record some songs while doing it. For the amount of slow-mo shuffling on this one, it actually flies by pretty fast as well. Far far better than I thought it would be – I honestly didn’t think they could pull off a full record based on the 7”, but this stuff actually gets better the longer it hangs around. Highly recommended. Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Little Big Chief Records // littlebigchief.bigcartel.com)

Movie Star Junkies "Baltimore" 7"
Two tracker from these Italianos who've had some notable moments in their now-lengthy discography (at least four LPs and as many singles as Feeling of Love if not more...) when they get the garage and rural-feeling Euro psych-folk mix just right. They're certainly a creative bunch (they did a Herman Melville themed LP at one point) for the genre, which is more than I can say for many of their peers, and you could say are forward thinking for a band who fit the Voodoo Rhythm aestehtic. Anyway, "Baltimore" has a soul-funk JSBX (circa 'Orange') groove with some shadowy organ moves that doesn't sound too corny. "Everything is Holy" has a solemn European feel, sounds Greek to me for some reason, the sort of thing that would be conducive to wine drinking in the evening on the farm. They do their thing very well, without going too lo-fi or bloozy. Adult contemporary Euro-garage. Scum stats: three versions of 93 copies, each with some uncomfortable male nudity.(RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // soundcloud.com/#goodbye-boozy-records)

Mujeres “Soft Gems” LP
This is sort of an odd one. Every time I get a quick glance of this one I think it's a Sex/Vid record. Mujeres are four kids from Barcelona and they sound like the Spanish (the country...) version of Davila 666 (but singing in English) mixed with some Oh Sees. No Lips-ian darkness on their garage stylings, it’s straight bopping shamalamadingdongery, with some drum smash and guitar flash breaks a la Dwyer and Co. One listen to this record and the first thing you’re thinking is “Man, I bet they’re some really nice guys…” I think these cats are a big deal in Spain, like on MTV "big" and I also think this record is at least partially funded by Warner Music Spain, which would explain where they got the bread to print an awesome looking slick 12X12 booklet with some very nice artwork/photo collage stuff (CM Ruiz?). Not that there’s anything wrong with that. If you’re looking for a kinder, gentler Davila or KK&BBQ, but still want the exotic feeling of listening to a “foreign” band, well here ya go. Red vinyl too. (RK)
(Sones // www.sones.es)

Murder By Guitar “D.O.A.” 7”
Martin Savage lives! Glad to see the guy still pumping out records. Savage Records (and magazine) seems to have been put aside, and he’s now operating under the Human Audio Recordings brand (with a reviews blog as well). I was not a big fan of past MBG releases, and this 7” is their last gasp, recorded before the band imploded. Euro-punk with dark-synth, in the vein that bands like Cola Freaks are playing, but with the songs still having the garage-touch that’s in Savage’s blood. “Nightmare” and “Duration” are a throwback to the Lost Sounds melding of garage-rock and synth-punk. “4532” might be the best thing I’ve heard from the band, sounding the most modern and least garage, with a fittingly bleak ending sequence. Scum stats: 200 copies with two sleeve variations. (RK)
(Human Audio Recordings // humanaudio.blogspot.com)

Myrrh s/t LP
There's something a bit pretentious in an all-instrumental album where none of the songs have titles and the only credited instruments are viola and drums, particularly when it has black and white desert imagery that brings to mind ideas of Mysterious Guy Dirge Rock. There's no real defense for the position except to roll with it, and taken from that stance this is an enjoyable record. Eight tracks and 41 minutes of glacially paced rock makes for great background listening, and when I say this would be a great record for putting when you're in bed with all the lights off I don't mean that as a bad thing. The viola might throw you a bit, and there's some string plucking going on, but for a good 90% of the duration here it's just a repeated drum pattern with massive waves of feedback and crushing sheets of fuzz. There's actually a bit of variance to the pacing, from super slow to super-super slow. Ah, I kid, they actually have a pulse on a couple of the B-Side tracks, they're quite adept at harnessing the squelch, and remind me some of Skullflower. Stoner rock made by people who didn't grow up listening to metal. Like I said, a good record to throw on while you're working on your photo zine or folding laundry. Credits say this was recorded on one day in 2010, could be some improv-work here, I dunno. Originally released on tape and remastered for vinyl by Soft Abuse. (RK)
(Soft Abuse // www.softabuse.com)

Naked Intruder s/t 7"
Heavy metal punk sleaze from Alabama (where else?), featuring Gary Wrong on drums, a Hibachi Strangler or two (why aren't they making records anymore?) and some dude named Deke Purple on vox. "Effect Defect" starts things off with a properly crunchy riff and ends up being the best cut over the long haul - has the macho dumbpunk sound of No Talk with lyrics ghostwritten by El Duce perhaps. The other three cuts are more of the same, lyrics waxing poetic about pussy, drugs and more drugs. "D.I.P." has a Fang-like creeps-on-acid crawl to it, and is the #2 hit here. Not the best Jeth Row Records release, but perhaps the overall sleaziest, which is really saying something. My biggest complaint is that they didn't use the insane insect-man with sword hovering over some girl's bed colored-pencil drawing as the actual sleeve. Scum stats: 400 copies.(RK)
(Jeth Row Records // jethrowrecords-at-yahoo.com)

Nervous Ticks "Badlands" 7"
Richmond, VA garage outfit I've never heard before. This brief meeting (one side, two songs, about four minutes of music) left me feeling a bit nostalgic for the Nineties, as these guys work the blooze-punk angle that a lot of bands did well back then, including Scat Rag Boosters and the many offshoots they produced. The only problem is that Nervous Ticks don't do it any better (or worse) than any of those acts of yore, nor are they adding anything new. I guess the time is ripe for kids who didn't live through that time to appropriate this stuff - tub-thump 1-2 drum punch, guitar twang, wyld vox - and it's interesting to think Goodbye Boozy is still around to help. I'll give Gabriele credit for doing his part to keep the lineage alive. Scum stats: three versions of 80 copies each. (RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // soundcloud.com/#goodbye-boozy-records)

The New Season s/t 12"
Vinyl reissue of CDR-only release from 2003, The New Season were a trio from Melbourne led by Jarrod Quarrell who went on to St. Helens and Lost Animal, bands I'll admit I've never heard until researching this review. The six tracks on this EP are confident and well played indie-rock, similar to Dinosaur Jr. (vocals in particular) with less guitar pyro on "Make It Easy on Yourself", sounding like pre-major Urge Overkill on "The Pirate...". "A Dark Horse" is very Mascis-like again, and they invest this one with a grungy Mudhoney hook. "Be Tough" closes with melancholy vibes and a Seattle-ish rock sound. Wipers? Screaming Trees? Something like that. Wasn't expecting this to grab my attention, but it did, as it's good in an understated way. Not gonna blow you out of your chair, but the songs are built to last. I really like where this label's head is at with this and the Psy Ants record. Scum stats: 300 copies. (RK)
(vacant Valley // vacantvalley.blogspot.com)

No Bails "Soundproof Room" 7"
Title cut is straight thud-rock from Kalamazoo's finest, pairing legendary Goner Records message board personalities Dutch Hercules and Useless Eater with Lindsey Crappor on the drum throne (har har), blending the dumdum assault of local heros The Spits with the Cosmic Psychos stomp-on-the-wah approach to guitar playing. Very classy. "Werthers Original" is an ode to your grandpa's favorite hard caramel candy and "Skate or Die" is the skate rock anthem feedtime never wrote. Goes great with Buck Biloxi, some chili dogs and a bottle of ripple. Scum stats: 500 copies with screened pocket sleeves. (RK)
(Orgone Toilet // www.nobails.com or try Goner)

The Nubs "I Don't Need You" 7"
A real interesting one from the Last Laugh offices here. Firstly, this is the East Coast Nubs, not the West Coast Nubs of "Job" fame. These Nubs were from New Hampshire, and were contemporaries of young GG and his Jabbers, and this single was even recorded in the same studio as 'Always Was...'. The A-Side is punk blaster you might recall from KBD #12, a wacked-out fuzzbox freaker with a proto-punk thud, and as many have already said it sidles up real nice next to "Gacy's Place" or even "The Creeper". Just a good'n'nasty 70s fuzz sound. One of those punk blasts that actually are essential. The B-Side is some weird shit, a song called "Dogs", the lyrics of which are written from the perspective of a guy who thinks he's a dog. Pretty wacky, in a humorous Zappa-like fashion. One-finger keyboard line gives it some New Wave flavor against the deadpan vox. Reproduced without a sleeve like the original, but the test press edition (25 copies) has a great insert with essential biographical info and vital stats (the band combined weigh 880 lbs and are 29'9" tall, whereas the Beatles only went 560 - 23'3"). Transfered from the original analog masters for the loud sound.(RK)
(Last Laugh // wwww.almostreadyrecords.com)

OBN III’s “Blood On Yer Face” 7”
I have no idea where this Orville kid finds the time. Apart from his work with his band here, he’s also doing full time duty in Bad Sports (and playing as Nobunny’s backing band on tour), recording bands in Texas (including the great Video LP from last year) and even collaborating with James Arthur in JA’s Manhunt (possibly one of my most anticipated forthcoming LPs). I dig a bunch of songs from the OBN III’s singles I have (still haven’t heard the LP, but I think I get the gist of his MO from what I feel like is a half-dozen 7”es already), and the title cut is another good ‘un (with him playing everything and recording) in a less garage-y style, just sort of an indie-rock pounder here that sounds like a good Ty Segall cut. “Being Honest” on the flip is a slow break-up/fuck-off song, which definitely sounds like a B-Side if you know what I mean. A-Side is decent though, and fervent fans will need it. Scum stats: part of Matador’s Singles Going Home Alone subscription series, which I haven’t heard much scuttlebutt about, but has a pretty hot line-up including The Men (another hot band I don’t dig), LA Guns and Steve Malkmus, Wounded Lion, Jesu and more. (RK)
(Matador // www.matadorrecords.com)

Obnox "Rojo" LP
Lamont “Bim” Thomas has spent the last two decades playing drums in too many bands to list. A few of them are The Bassholes, This Moment in Black History and Puffy Areolas. The number probably hovers around two dozen. You always know what you’re gonna get with Bim behind the traps: full-on commitment, righteous swing and head-cracking beats. In other words: no holdin’ out. And anyone who knows Bim knows the man likes to talk. Too bad Gift of Gab was already taken as a hip-hop alias. But Obnox is apropos as well. So, it seems as natural as a morning hard-on that Thomas would eventually step out from behind the kit and tell us what he really thinks. The last couple of years have seen a flurry of activity, resulting in a blitzkrieg of 7”s, 12”s and shows around the Midwest (‘Nox is based in Cleveland). Bim found a sympathetic engineer in Paul Macarrone and the duo have holed up at underground Clevo shithole venue The Black Eye to record a whole lotta rock, groove and noise.
‘Rojo’ throws all of these components into a blender and mixes up a delicious and nutritious shake for that ass. This is Thomas’ ESP-Disk album. Full of stabs at free jazz, in-the-red tape saturation and snatches of fresh beats, ‘Rojo’ is the best thing Bim has done to date (although there’s a double album waiting in the wings). “Kristy Greene” (former guitarist of Drunkdriver) is some kinda swamp-rock/noise-jazz collision that gets damn near hypnotic. “Tia Vincent” (former Pygmy Shrews bassist/singer) spews out heavy beats and searing, half-submerged guitar solos. “Esme Barrera” (RIP) is an unclassifiable amalgamation of styles that sounds like a leftover from the ‘Check Your Head’ sessions. “Marcy Mays” (Scrawl leader) is the centerpiece of the album. I swear, at times, the blown-out skronk of this track sounds like a Laddio Bolocko jam, and that’s a rare bird indeed. If you thought Thomas was just a garage-punk drummer, this cut will get your head right. “Lili and Aggie” (Z. {Volt} & Magnetix drummer) brings more rumbling and squealing coupled with Thomas’ deep-voiced narration. If you haven’t picked up on it, all of the tracks minus the first and last, are the names of some of the underground’s most dynamic and kick-ass lady musicians. It’s nice to see Thomas pay respects to who most would see as unlikely inspirations. ‘Rojo’ ends with “You’re An Idiot” aka the foghorn leghorn. If you’ve ever talked to Bim for longer than 10 minutes, you’ve probably heard this sound. And now, you can hear it whenever you want. O joy.(EEK)
(Permanent // www.permanentrecordschicago.com)

1-800-Band s/t LP
Terribly named band makes terrible record, news at 11:00. This is ex-members of Crimson Sweet who had a good song or two (and fewer than I remember in retrospect), and at its absolute best there might be a song here that sounds a little bit like the worst The Cars had to offer late in their career. This band has seemingly found a calling in bringing AOR influences like the Doobie Brothers and Jimmy Buffett and other Yacht Rock faves into the bar-rock arena. This is just awful rock music and anyone who thinks otherwise should probably have their head checked. (RK)
(Slow Gold Zebra // www.slowgoldzebra.com)

Ono "Albino" LP
I can’t say I’m feeling this attempt at a mélange of New Orleans voodoo funk, the darkside electronics of Burial and flashes of old-school industrial. These all come together on the six long minutes of “Veil” to sound like a discarded Foetus outtake. Speaking of six minutes, the next one, “Calvin” is that long, and just when you thought it couldn’t possibly be, yup, the mark of the beast 6-6-6. This last one is a painful cover of “All Tomorrow’s Parties” that I prayed would stop, but just kept going and going. Wait, I was wrong! The mark of the bleat, 6-6-6-6; “Berlin Cowboy” starts out like a parody of a Bad Seeds song and then jumps headfirst into spaghetti-western mutant disco. It’s not nearly as cool as it might sound. “Albino” opens with some noisy slide guitar, but eventually settles into some uninspired beats. “Good News” closes out the album and that’s an apt title as I don’t think I could have taken another extended tribal dirge, especially one with the gawdawful pseudo-rapping going on here. Ono is like the male equivalent to that TuN-EYaRDS;} chick. I imagine them wearing warpaint at their shows. Crash Worship this ain’t. (EEK)
(Moniker Records // www.moniker-records.com)

Overnight Lows “Cones & Rods” 7”
“Cones & Rods” kicks things off with a wafer thin intro that leads to a stellar 80’s SoCal sound. Dumb-slop, frantic and bringing to mind the usual suspects (Angry Samoans, for one). A familiar bouquet of that Carbonas/Feelers stench is also apparent. This sorta’ stuff was the bee’s knees ‘round here until the twee-psych pap took over. The flipside’s “Shouldn’t Say It” offers more of a southern flavored punker with beefy mid-tempo hooks. I’d say it vibes along the lines of The Original Three recordings. Funny how I never bothered to check these kids out until now. It took the return of Mississippi’s Blahll! to force ‘em down my throat. I gotta’ say this taste pretty darn good. (RSF)
(Blahll! Records // www.blahllrecs.com)

Richard Papiercuts “A Sudden Shift” LP
Solo odyssey from the Chinese Restaurants frontman, whom I shall refer to as Dick for this review, with accompaniment from various NYC comrades, including members of Pop. 1280 and Bunny Brains. As Chinese Restaurants, this guy provided me with two of my favorite songs of recent vintage in “River of Shit” and “Summer Romance”, and Dick’s solo work steps up the fidelity, leaving the scuzz on the bottom of his shoe and making full use of a 24-track studio. The one thing I never fully dug about the Restaurant’s vibe at the time is his giving into that noise artist tendency to uh…annoy people, for lack of a better phrase, by going just a little too far with things, the Obama samples on “River of Shit” being a perfect example. I’m just your average working class Joe over here, and I have little patience for that kind of wackiness, but you have to expect that sort of thing from a guy who associates with the likes of Mattin and Malcolm Tent. Where this record excels is his finding a perfect balance between rock music and art music, vulgarity and beauty, and crafting art-rock that appeals to traditional minded sorts like myself without having to dumb it down. “Porkography” is a free-skronk intro that sets the table for “Yolanda”, built on a simple sonar synth bleep and guitar/bass pulse while Dick croons in a manner somewhere between Glenn Danzing and Bryan Ferry. Repetitively fascinating and a very NYC sounding song to a non-native like myself, something I feel I’d hear in my head wandering desolate streets alone at night, the glow of the skyscrapers above my head while I stroll through the dark. “Virdiana” is all chirping guitar, maybe a xylophone and Dick harmonizing with himself, one persona deadpan, one persona a cracked-voice nutter – almost a dance song with a crackling Reed-y guitar solo. “The Devils” is a guy being dragged through the wilderness and singing his pain out, very SCG or maybe Alvarius B sounding. The side ends by answering my prayer for a new recording of “River of Shit” sans the Obama samples, with a synthesizer fart emphasizing his vulgar moans of ecstasy. “The Tank” opens Side B with some more free jamming, this time a little on the freakfolk side which segues us into “Mary Ann(The Lens)” which is a surprising little gem of baroque UK-sounding pop-sike, or at least a mocking approximation of the form, cello solo included. “Working Hour” reminds me of wandering the house in the middle of the night, either unable to sleep or freshly awoken from a dream and looking for a snack or the bathroom, the moonlight playing tricks on the family pictures, your sleeping partner, sort of a beautiful and melancholic reflection on how strange life seems in those quiet moments. The fact it is a Tears for Fears cover (and a couple other brief moments on the LP) make me fear Dick is taking piss on my leg when I'm not looking, but I don't think that's the case. Of course he makes another left turn then, with “Let’s Make Love” another instance of Dick mocking (in a nice way of course) a genre, this time a nearly Home Blitz-ian bit of powerpop, which almost devolves into a sex instructional but instead ends with some tawdry sax and a post-coital cigarette. He closes with “Johnnie”, a wistful acoustic number with a gentle organ and handclap percussion. Hyperbolically speaking, a really great record, with its campy moments revealing a deeper emotional resonance, a record made by an artist who I don't think is hiding behind these contrivances but using them to talk about life, family, love, loss and the beauty, humor and sadness of it all. Wonderful stuff and a record that will reward repeated listens, as the tracks are dense with references you might not catch the first few times around the block. Scum stats: I honestly can’t believe there were only 300 copies pressed of this, and if there are any left at this point, shame on all of you. (RK)
(Pena Records // penarecords.bigcartel.com)

Penetrators "Teenage Lifestyle" 7"
I gotta give Windian credit, as they've quietly become a quality source for reissues of essential punk music, right alongside Last Laugh and Sing Sing. This is their second release from the Kings of Basement Rock, and certainly the quintessential Penetrators record. "Teenage Lifestyle" is simply one of the greatest and dumbest garage-punk songs ever written. If you don't love it, there's quite obviously something wrong with you. Nuff sed. "Rock'n'Roll Face" on the flip is definitely one of the top 5 'trators cuts (I'll add "Shopping Bag", "Stop Action" and "#1 Band in Town" to round out my personal choices, but it's a tough call), more really dumb and really exceptional garage rocking from upstate. If you don't know this band yet, you've got some explaining to do. Another essential reissue, I'm hoping they continue this campaign and release a Curtis Seals' "The Scandalizer" 7" next! Syracuse New Wave rules! Scum stats: 100 pressed, 100 came with a replica Fred Records promo sticker and envelope.(RK)
(Windian Records // www.windianrecorss.com)

Phantom Family Halo "When I Fall Out" LP
Phantom Family Halo has been releasing quality psychedelic rock records for a good half-decade now. Principally a vehicle for Sapat drummer Dominic Cipolla, the Halo relocated from Kentucky to Brooklyn a few years back, and have several imminent records due on the revamped Knitting Factory Records (which, confusingly, has nothing to do with the world-famous music venue anymore, and also, apparently, own the entire Fela Kuti catalog). ‘When I Fall Out’ is the “sister album” to ‘Hard Apple Moon,’ and, while enjoyable as a whole, it doesn’t quite get “there.” The problem with psychedelic rock is that it is all about transcendence. Nothing more, nothing less. And transcendence ain’t some shit you can just download an app for, or buy at a store, or even pray your little heart out for; it comes like a flash of lightning, and vanishes quicker than spliff-smoke.
The second track on ‘When I Fall Out,’ “White Hot Gun,” comes closest to RalphWaldo territory; a driving rock song with screaming, ascending leads and a real urgency to get somewhere, even if it’s just further from here.
Something about “Dirty Blade” intrigues me. Echoed-out drums lead a languidly-paced near-ballad; it possesses a certain intimacy that borders on the sensual. Draw a bath, light some candles, you deserve it, girl. Unfortunately, the awkward funk-lite of “Light Year Girl” pulls you right back to reality and reminds you of your earthbound status. Closer “Vital Energy” is the most Sapat-like cut on the album, and, thus, my favorite. It’s got that ‘druids gather in the forest’ vibe that ‘Mortise and Tenon’ projected so effortlessly. There will be more forthcoming from this chameleonic ensemble.(EEK)
(Knitting Factory // www.knittingfactoryrecords.com)

The Philosophic Collage s/t 7" EP
Deluxe reissue of this ultra-obscure St. Louis art-punk EP from 1981, which I'd wager would be on a Homework comp if Chuck Warner actually made it to the letter P in that series. In brief, the story goes: avant-garde "artist" Timothy Tyme decides to ride the New Wave and make a "punk" record, recruits some accomplices (an in-law and a school chum), hits the studio, self-releases the EP and then they end up becoming a real band. Apparently they weren't well liked in STL due to Tyme's outspoken genius schtick and fled to Chicago after somehwat alienating themselves from their hometown punk scene. A couple cassettes followed, then Tyme abandoned his band in Chi-town to return to STL with his zine-writing wife (Noisy Paper). "Toxic Poppies" would be the comp track. Tyme's voice is a totally over-the-top nasal whine that definitely gets under your skin, but this track has the best backing sounds: great jazzy drumming, a catchy and minimal bassline and requisite synth squiggling. The other tracks follow the template with Tyme's wacky vocalizing and rather well written lyrics the defining quality ("Planned Obsolescence" is comp-able too), and all except "Poppies" have some free-form harmonica as well. Drummer and bass player map things out pretty well for the synth to swoosh and wiggle around in. Most definitley inspired by Pere Ubu, with the mandatory Beefheart/Zappa nod as well. Great package from BDR with vintage pics/zine write-ups on the insert and liners from Mr. Tyme himself. The most interesting of the BDR St. Louis archival series so far, at least until the Max Load package comes out...(RK)
(BDR Records // www.rerunrecordsstl.com)

The Pin Group "Ambivalence" LP+CD
I wonder if a child has ever fallen down the well in Roy Montgomery’s throat.
I can see him lying there, perfectly still, languishing in its darkness, snuggling into a slow, graceful death. Montgomery’s trench-deep voice often summons visions of stentorian figures of old, tragic Max von Sydow-type characters, admonishing Death, peasants, and his own broken heart. The doomed tones of someone trapped in a prison of his own devising. And that is to say nothing of the man’s uncanny ability to coax some of the most luminous, tranquil, and soothingly acidic tones out of a guitar, a few delay pedals, and a cheap recording set-up (see any of his solo works, particularly 'Scenes From the South Island' and 'Temple IV').
Much like his masterful later group, Dadamah, The Pin Group embody the sound of suppressed domestic strife. The silent accusations; the unseen, withering glances; the coldest shoulders in the warmest beds. It’s enough to make you want to self-snuff with a pillow. Interestingly, especially for music that is at once so intimate, yet so cruel, the majority of lyrics to these scattered songs were not penned by the singer, but by mate of the band, poet Desmond Brice. The knowledge of this makes the songs even more devastating. As if Brice couldn’t bring himself to actually voice these forbidding words, so he needed to feed them to a puppet (A Feeble? Sorry Roy...) to let them loose into the air. Like a snake-tongued ventriloquist with nothing left but poison in his heart.
This collection encompasses The Pin Group’s only two singles (Flying Nun’s first and third as a label) with a few other odds n’ ends (and includes the 1982 live EP expanded on accompanying CD). While the material is the same as the 1997 Siltbreeze CD (complete with baffling “Low Rider” cover and a very cool version of Red Crayola’s “Hurricane Fighter Plane”), the sequencing has been switched up a bit. Considering two of their best songs (“Ambivalence,” “Coat”) appear twice, this is crucial. But, somehow, you never get sick of hearing those songs again. It makes an inevitable sort of sense. We repeat the same actions, make the same mistakes, run in place for decades. The Pin Group understood this better than most. Here is your soundtrack to the rest of your life.(EEK)
(Flying Nun // www.flyingnun.com)

Pink Reason "Ache for You" 7"
Newest Pink Reason wax, on Kevin's own label Savage Quality, which seems to be thriving now that he's settled back down in Columbus. "Ache for You" is a cover of an obscure WI band called The Sleds that K has been a longtime champion of (perhaps a future Savage Quality release?), and this song must have been their hit. A beautiful piece of punk hurting with a dramatic vocal and desperate progression. Very darkly Midwestern and dead-end driven. I really like the recording job as well, good drum anchor, just a bit of paranoiac crackle to everything, and a loud guitar solo towards the end that catches you by surprise. B-Side is another WI obscuro cover, this time "Darken Daze" by The Jaguar, who you might know from the NGL comp LP and/or from his many years of making music on the fringes of the Wisconsin punk scene. This one has a pleasant mid-tempo lope, with an emotive vocal from Kevin that gives what could be a plucky sounding number a little bit of danger around the edges. Effective use of bass pedal/sound dropping off, as it gives the tune a real shove when the rubbery effect kicks back in. There's a nice twisty and wandering coda at the end (with some piano hammering too?). I think this might be a perfect Pink Reason record for this point in Kevin's timeline. The almost unbelievable depression of 'Cleaning the Mirror' is behind him, he's got a family now and a few years of travel, times and records under his belt. I think him going back to his own label shows both how much he cares for his art and being able to control it, and the fact that these cover songs are both just about the most pop-sounding thing he's done says something about where his head is at. Add to this the fact that the bands/songs are from his homestate and are are artists he cares deeply about, this starts turning into more of a (re)statement of purpose, the outsider championing those who are even more outside than himself. A new chapter in the Pink Reason book, or just a guy who is getting a chance to do with his music what he maybe dreamt of years ago in a Wisconsin basement. Add to the fact that this PR line-up can claim members of Psychedelic Horseshit, Eat Skull and TV Ghost and it's easy to call this one a no-brainer purchase. This might also be the first PR record that actually left me with some positive vibes, which says a lot. (RK)
(Savage Quality // www.savagequalityrecordings.com)

Prefecture s/t 7”
Another Rerun release of a now defunct STL band, this time the vintage is 2006 or so, and the band is Prefecture. Involving some of the same players as Syntax Error, with member(s) of Civic Progress and Manipulation as well, it’s sloppy fast-paced punk. Vocals are winning me over, totally obnoxious and nasally, sort of like The Sleaze but more haggard and jabbering. “Automatic Labor” is dunderhead punk, bass heavy, with a good vocal froth whipped up. “Patriot Act I” ups the tempo for some harder core. “Want Adds” is the winner, a sloppy and fast garage-punk tune that sounds like a beefy Candy Snatchers. Makes a bit of sense these tracks were originally planned for release on the always great Sack O Shit label back in the day, as these guys would fit in well with class acts like Whittingtons, Spider Babies (without the intentional misogyny and offensiveness) and such and still appeal to the more hardcore types as well. Hardly essential, but if you followed Civic Progress and Manipulation you might need this piece to complete your collection. (RK)
(Rerun Records // www.rerunrecordsstl.com)

Primitive Hearts s/t 7"
Four tracks of garagey powerpop from Oakland. Cute girl-guy vocal interplay, super saccharine upbeat tunes with a little bit of greaser ramalama as well. For fans of Shannon & Da Clams, a more polite Nobunny or a less rock'n'roll Gentleman Jesse. Recorded loud and slick and not my bag at all, but I'm sure some of you ladies will dig it.(RK)
(No Rules! // www.norulesrecords.org)

Protomartyr "Colpi Proibiti" EP
The most Tyvek-sounding of the Protomartyr records thus far (in particular when mixed into rotation with "On Triple Beams"), which is by no means a bad thing. "Baseball Bat" takes a common punk accessory and makes a driving indie-garage anthem of it, gang chorus and slowdown/speed-up part included. "You're With A Creep" is plucky DIY-pop with ringing guitar and fitting everyman-style vocals that aren't sung so much as slurred in time. Low key and enjoyable. Kev Boyer makes his guest appearance on "The Milk Drinkers" which is pop as much as punk (listen to that guitar shred) but never pop-punk. "Psychic Doorbell" closes with a UK post-punk variant, bouncy and a bit choppy as well with strong guitar (again, yes) and maybe an Americanized Hygiene feel. A very promising young band with a great aesthetic that I'm still trying to put my finger on which is exciting in itself. Not easily pigeonholed, another in a a long line of recent winners from Detroit. Baseball themes will always get me (I'm racking my brain trying to figure out whose stats are listed on the rear sleeve, but I'm thinking the JMC is actually singer Joe Casey's Little League stats...), as far as I can tell 'Colpi Proibiti' means death warrant, their artwork is always intriguing and thought-provoking. Very much worth investigating, even for those smart guys out there who think they know it all. (RK)
(X! Records // www.x-recs.com)

Protomartyr "No Passion All Technique" LP
An unmeasurably great debut from Detroit’s Protomartyr. They were sold to me by some dudes from Estrogen Highs as “this band Kevin (of Tyvek) sometimes plays in that’s like three kids and a likable Mark E. Smith type figure,” and they kinda look like the Mayyors, too. Beautiful, perfectly constructed songs with lyricism that’s actually valuable. They mine the same treasures as the Male Nurse, Echo and the Bees, the more subdued moments of CPC Gongbongs, the aforementioned Fall - and some of this reminds me of the Doors and the Birthday Party (and the Grindermen, and that’s a compliment in this household… all apologies). Intelligent, correct punk-but-not-too-punk rock music. Swell-ly Detroit, and supremely genius. “In My Sphere” opens the ceremonies with the best chorus of 2012 - the titleworthy “it’s all passion, it’s all technique”. A great recording lets a lot of creeping, smart, and Scanlon-y licks warm you up to huge and searing choruses on nearly every track. Music for the future - and more endearlingly so when you see the age gap between frontman and instrument pushers. We’re all learning lessons here, the feeling of a brilliant professor you want to take issue with but can’t find a valid reason to, so you doodle cocks and holes on your notes. “Three Swallows” might be our generation’s prettiest ballad to the bottle and things it leads you to do, like a Marc Maron episode singing you to sleep… “All alone with you, you used to be so beautiful, but tomorrow don’t wait for me. Three swallows left for me.” The Stephen Morris beats behind “Ypsilanti” pair nicely with the late DC sounds the stringed instruments are makin’ for one of the best tracks on the slab. Somber choruses seem to be their forte, and “Feral Cats” is my favorite that they’ve tried - the hook wakes me from each and every depressing dream that starts my day, and after 15 minutes of confusion warms it up as I remember this record is better and more important than bad memories, or a fictional Uncle Jesse telling me I’m not fit to be in Jesse and the Rippers. Shades of 'Empire Strikes Back'-era Teasers with even larger and appropriate production. “Wine of Ape” nearly closes the round out with the uncontested best tapping riff of 2012. The intensity of the Hunches on a shorter leash, the charm and smarminess of das Intelligence with the palatability of any band you wished made it on TV (congrats, Ty). A shoe-in for top five of the year and a reminder that the greater Detroit area only continues to shove us all into submission as their city falls into reckless abandon.(NG)
People seem to be digging this Detroit band, and I can see why. Protomartyr, much like cohorts Parquet Courts, play a new-ish twist on modern US post-punk, which is to say, they’re a streamlined update of mid-90s indie rock (the good kind). I’ve actually seen people reference “late-period Black Flag” regarding this band, which is so ridiculous I wonder if everyone has lost their hearing and is reviewing records via the cut-up method. The Fall refs are slightly more on point (albeit lazy as fuck).
Main ‘martyr Joe Casey has an almost Julian Casablancas-esque mumble, which, hey, let’s not open up that can of worms. It works, though, for the most part. Occasionally he sounds like Pissed Jeans’ mouthpiece Matt Korvette, which gives Protomartyr the curious slant of Pissed Jeans covering Tyvek (I would buy that split 7”). An obvious touchstone for Protomartyr, Tyvek would have to be at the top of the hill in regards to “modern US post-punk,” and the influence is unmistakable here (Tyvek mastermind Kevin Boyer sometimes steps in on guitar). I’m not sure what these guys are rocking on the turntable/iPod during late night kitchen drunk sessions, but early Mekons has to be in heavy rotation. Both the new Tyvek album and Protomartyr’s debut LP are bursting with the kind of jagged, raucous near-anthems that The Mekons once pulled off so messily, ie. by the skin of their teeth.
“In My Sphere” sets the tone; it’s a rousing lead-off that throws the album title at you and provides exactly that; a lot of passion, and just enough technique to make it hit home. There are some excellent songs here: “Hot Wheel City” has an agitated swagger, while the “Free Supper”/”Jumbo’s” double-shot is the peak of the album. “Free Supper,” perhaps the most Tyvek-like track, takes a generic punk riff and rides it hard, segueing into the spaced-out, mid-tempo ode to a beloved Motor City watering hole. Unfortunately, there are also moments that recall the notso-hotso aspects of that 20 year-old sound; “Three Swallows” and “Ypsilanti” give off the mothball whiff of sweater-rock of yore. “How He Lived After He Died” is a more successful distillation of this sound, but the one-note grayness gets a bit smothering after a while. “Feral Cats,” on the other hand, really does sound like The Strokes. “Too Many Jewels” justifies those Fall name-drops and the albums ends strong with the biting “Principalities.” I think PC edge out PM slightly in the tunes dept., but why not snag both and decide for yourself?(EEK)
(Urinal Cake // www.urinalcakerecords.com)

Psy Ants "Bit Tongue Prik" LP
Posthumous release from Brisbane's Psy Ants (originally called Science), members of which went on to Per Purpose, Knee Chin, Cured Pink and other current Aussie acts. Three piece aggro paying tribute to one of my favorite eras of music, late 80s/early 90s guitar-damaged post-hardcore rock, combining US pigfuck with Aussie manglers like King Snake Roost or Lubricated Goat. Aberrant + AmRep or Chicago + Adelaide even. Actually a bit more Touch and Go than AmRep. Discordant string noise with an intense rhythm section, coming off like a less smart Rapeman on the outset, guitars that go from prickly sharp to blunt trauma feedbacking. "Bingo Wings" lopes like a finely tuned Albini-led band until its pace is broken by some out-of-time skronking and then falls back into lockstep. Singer is excitable in a Yow-ish fasion but doesn't overpower the songs. Shitstorms like "Toska" or "Belts & Ties" have Killdozer-ish burl infused with off-kilter Skin Graft-y noise digressions, perhaps even Buttholes-esque. "This Could Be Hell" is the masterstroke, a bulldozer rhythm with guitars stretched and wrenched into nauseous forms. Drummer sounds like he's using hammers instead of sticks. Pummelling. "Deny Flesher" sounds like a seasick Jesus Lizard with better guitar sounds. Seven cuts deep, this is was quite an unexpected delight, as Psy Ants reference some of my favorite music yet still manage to sound somehwat modern doing it, squeezing some life out of a rock I didn't think had any blood left in it. Much better than the bands these guys are in now. Better than the Civil War re-enacting of Slug Guts as well. Very highly recommended, it's a shame they're already done. Too ugly to live apparently. (RK)
(vacant Valley // vacantvalley.blogspot.com)

Psychosurgeons “Horizontal Action” 7"
A true labor of love, Crypt Records pulls out all the stops on this reissue. Featuring a gatefold jacket, 8 pages of liner notes/history/interviews, and an excellent remastering job courtesy of Crypt boss Tim Warren, you have absolutely no excuse not to own this perfect slice of total KBD destruction. I’m so used to the muffled version on ‘Killed By Death’ #2 that it’s a welcome shock to hear the pounding drums driving the furiously-strummed almost-jangly guitar. A high-velocity hip-shaker about fucking, “Horizontal Action” never gets old. “Wild Weekend” is just as good, if not better. Put simply: This is a classic single, and you should probably get familiar if yr not already.(EEK)
(Crypt Records // www.cryptrecords.com)

Puffy Areolas "1982: Dishonorable Discharge" LP
A coupla few years back it seemed like everyone was ready to blast-out. Lotta noise, feedback, caveman rid-dumbs, bad vibes in search of worse vibes, the whole nine. The country was (is) fucked, so let’s get stupid and kill ourselves. Or something. There was no philosophy behind a lot of these bands, but they sure all liked Brainbombs. Most of the kids who helped this half-assed scene churn are probably all now strategic-fund managers (your father must be very proud). Ask me, they should all be more pissed than ever, but I guess sushi seven nights a week really does soothe the savage beast.
Well Lord Almighty pass me that last whip-it, cuz the fuckin’ Puffys are still kicking and screaming and cranking the shit out of their amps and staring you down with waves of tumultuous psychedelic noise rock aimed at your crotch. On this, their second full-length, the Areola line-up stabilizes somewhat, and the focus is far more evident. These songs are a little closer to “songs” than before, and the band sounds “tight” (both meanings, dillweed).
Opener/title cut “1982” is a vicious hellstorm of psychedelic hardcore that swings way harder than music this fast has a right to. Mega-fast boogie bassline, borderline free-jazz drum flurry, feedback-ridden pick slides. Mark McCoy, black metal is dumb; you should put shit like this out. “Not Tonight” is the lemme-get-closer-to-ya-baby smooth-talker; a blue-collar Midwest strut only concerned with carnal pleasures and chemical excess post-punch-out. “Dark Places (Guyana pt. II)” is the real head-soak here. While guitars phase in ‘n out of grace, the drums lay down some kinda clattering yet pummeling groove with demented bass stabs glueing it all to the floor like a fuckin’ rat-trap. This is a perfect example of the kind of molten force that can turn a shitty punk dive into a mound of ash. Why the fuck aren’t UK taste-makers (looking at you, Mr. Wire) shitting themselves all over this kinda wreckage? Sorry some cunt-slip professor-spawn from Northampton, Mass or film industry anal-fibber from SoCal didn’t jizz it over to you par avion, but yer fuckin’ asleep at the goddamn wheel. But apparently Sun Araw put out the best rec of the year or whatever. Not Not Fun is the ESP-Disk of our era. Total.
“Funk Your Head Up” takes one of the all-time corniest puns and proceeds to lay a Funhouse-sized slap on that questioning brow. Yes, Nigel, this is rock n’ roll music. Fuck this shit, listening to this LP right now just makes me wanna see these fools live BLAMMMMMM. Is there anyone else even trying to do this shit these days?? Sure, a Monoshock reunion, but where’s your fucking band, DUDE. You too, lady, you don’t get a free pass. This music is for sweaty fucking, “rolling dirty”, shooting Drano, jerking off into a rusty pipe, or whatever the fuck gets you off.(EEK)
(Hozac // www.hozacrecords.com)

Pussy Dogs "Ain't Nothin' But A Pussy Dog" EP
Pussy Dogs "Bite Off More Than You Can Chew" EP
Philly trio of no-talents selling "the loest-fi money can buy" on these two EPs. The five cut "Ain't Nothin..." EP is the debut, wherein they attack the songs with a heart warming passion for sounding godawful that I haven't really seen since perhaps the very early days of the Boom Boom of Renton label. Like Zombie IV bad. Originals that will have your mind wandering as to where they ripped them off from. "I've Got A Steady Date" has the most potential to stay with you, but they're all pretty evenly shitty. Think The Statics without the charm or hooks. The "Bite..." EP somehow takes a couple of steps backwards as far as fidelity goes, which is remarkable, as that first EP sounded pretty bad. You could say this one has a bit more personality in its lofi-ness, as instead of sounding evenly awful across the board, here the guitar is so crackling it starts to break up, the singer makes it a point to sing too close to the mic and it just sounds like the drummer is picking up his kit and dropping it. A more punk affair, with more of a GG/scumfuc aesthetic (whores, going down, etc..) to the lyrics and less garage in the approach, but it's hard to tell. They're even dressed tougher on this one, switching from skinny ties and thrifted suits to jean jackets without shirts underneath. Watch out for that lock groove ending! Enjoyable as an exercise in shit-fi fucking off, the "Bite..." EP in particular (with between song studio banter left intact), and I applaud their efforts and experimentation in the field. For me, a record just sounding this shitty is a victory. (RK)
(Pissdrink Records // thepussydogs.bandcamp.com)

Rajayttajat “Rajayttaa!” 7”
Some weirdly damaged rock from the land of the Atom Mouth Gimlies. This is more KBD than their tub-thumping, knuckle scrapping ape-compatriots, but none more bright. Somehow - within their fish filled bellies and beer soaked brains - they’ve managed to recall the rudimentary structure of Roky’s “Blood Hammer” and do it a fucked justice. Three other globs of mucus are on the table as well, all full of James Williamson leads and the sounds of Hubble Bubble at their punkiest. Mangled yet still catchy. Dudes are some of the best mess around. Flimsily recorded in an igloo or some shit, then stored on salt and aged to perfection. I suggest finding this tiny tin-eared heap before its too late. (RSF)
(Bad Vugum/TNT Tapes // www.tnttape.blogspot.com)

Rangda "Formerly Extinct" LP
Honestly, it’s stone-cold baffling how three of the most exciting musicians in that nebulous zone we’ll call post-improv/free-rock, can get together and make such a dull, tepid, lifeless record as ‘Formerly Extinct’. Snatching their moniker from a Bali demon-queen, Rangda consists of Sun City Girl maestro Rick Bishop, proponent of actually good modern-day psych-folk (in Six Organs of Admittance) and brain-shredding scree via Comets on Fire, Ben Chasny, and Chris Corsano, a drum savant possessed of nearly-inhuman skill and precision. Sounds like some kinda Marvel What If…? team-up. A Mahavishnu Orchestra for these complicated modern times. You know exactly what you want when these dudes step on stage together. No pussyfooting. Bring it, putos.
And, on their 2010 debut, ‘False Flag,’ they sho’ nuff did. Elegiac Eastern-tinged instrumentals suddenly shorn in half by frantic yet assured moments of pointillist brutality, like tossing a rat in a cobra cage. It hit all the sweet spots you hoped for, and sometimes that’s all you can ask.
So why oh why is this new album so damn boring? The recording may partly be to blame; it’s sterile and brittle, all of the instruments are stripped of their warmth and left there to stand naked, shivering. Since there is no bass, this coldness becomes a dominating aspect. The playing, of course, is excellent, but the songwriting seems a bit phoned-in. It’s all so lab-like it ends up coming off like a post-Sublime Freq take on late 90s math rock, of all things. Imagine if later Don Caballero was fleet-of-foot, and occasionally leaned on a wah-wah solo. Or if US Maple just played the extra-tricky parts of their songs for a few minutes straight. “Plugged Nickel” sounds like Shellac for Kali’sakes (and I like Shellac). All the out-of-body lift from the debut is anchored heavily here. You wanna try to break through, but Rangda doesn’t even extend a helping hand. Obviously, any offering by these fellas is gonna have some “moments,” and they are here, and there, but few and far between, and frankly, that ain’t fuckin’ good enough.(EEK)
(Drag City // www.dragcity.com)

Rat Columns "Sceptre Hole" LP
Interesting release here from David West, one of the minds behind Rank/Xerox, certainly among the brighter examples of post-punk these last few years. Rank/Xerox are an impeccably economic band, recalling 'Scavenged Luxury'-era Middle Class, which puts a big dumb grin on a guy like me. West is a fantastic guitarist; live, he projects a subtle intensity that builds, coils and unleashes, not unlike an Andy Ex or whoever the hell the guy was who played guitar in Donkey (when are you assholes gonna get hip to them? It’s only been 15 fucking years and counting). As to be expected, this “solo” project displays far more diversity of style, and thus, a more forgiving sense of give-and-take. West is Australian (take a sec to dip into West’s now-defunct power trio Burning Sensation, it’s worth yr time), and even though this album was recorded in San Francisco, there is that unmistakable Down there air wafting about, although much of it comes to us from those pasty-faced magical isles of Noisyland.
“Eastern Vibrations” hits an immediate G-spot for me, deftly conjuring an Alastair Galbraith-like shadow into the room, but imbuing it with some Jefferies bros heft. A long slow beat thumps in the distance while guitars get bowed and bent and a gurgling analog synth threatens to overwhelm everything. The vocals are pitched at the perfect level of trance/cool and it never erupts, sustaining its hovering tension. It also could easily have melded into Total Control’s 'Henge Beat', and that’s a compliment to both parties. Whew, I coulda gone for a whole rec o’ that squeeze. But, alas, this is West’s showcase and he, plus combo, promptly burst into a winning splash of noise-pop called “Death is Leaving Me” that doubles as a killer new punkhouse dance hit, and a fairly exact recreation of prime college radio circa 1986. “Flowers” sounds like a more sophisticated, complex Kitchen’s Floor; which is to say, it sounds like really good Straightjacket Fits. Which is to say, it’s cool shit. Three for three, dude’s on a roll. Just as “Nearsighted”s jazzy guitar line starts to get too anemic-Monochrome Set, right as the yawn begins to blossom on your face, it does a neat little breakdown that resolves into a Comsat Angels-style slow-burn coda that actually ends a little too soon. Has this guy been breaking into my house and playing my records while I’m not home? “Dying Day” is achingly melodic sludge-pop, like a superslow Ride sipping tea with Flying Saucer Attack. Even in its more subdued moments, such as those during “Spectre in the Hall,” an evocative, dripping instrumental that has shades of lost explorers of post-punk’s ethereal outer edges like Dif Juz and Crispy Ambulance and bits of 'Another Green World' Eno, West shows real craft and attention to detail.
Flip the script (of the bridge), and the album hits a bit of a nadir unfortunately, with a few too many samey-chimey indie cuts; “Frozen Over” comes riding in like 18th Dye, but never erupts into the kind of stately frenzy they could pull off. And the frustrating thing is, unlike most any “indierock” outfit these days, I know West can tear that guitar up, make it scream for sweet mercy while still drawing the melodic line fairly straight. But, hey, this ain’t my record now is it? I’m just blabbing about it, trying to drop a bunch of names of unappreciated outfits that this reminds me of; why, because this is good and that stuff’s good, and sometimes I can’t be bothered for anything else. The first half of this record is exceptional, and that bodes well for a shining Rat Columns future.(EEK)
(Smart Guy // www.smartguyrecords.com)

Rational Animals “Cross Eyed Delights” 7”
One of the more interesting things about Rational Animals has been the hard rock (or even metal) tendencies they slip into their hardcore, something that seems to be coming to the fore more often over these last couple of singles. “Cross Eyed Delights” sounds like a grunge band covering Bl’ast. Interesting, in that I’m interested in what the fuck they’re thinking. Mining the late-era SST sound is a popular angle these days, and you could say Rational Animals are doing it here, but in the worst ways – more like plodding Gone songs, lacking any of the tension or weirdness that made the bands of the that era worth talking about. “Way After Midnight”….fuck. Reminds me of a “blues jam” by Rollins Band. Oof. I kinda wish there wasn’t a lyric sheet for these songs either. Not sure what’s going on, but I’m a bit concerned how that new LP is gonna come out. Breaking news: might not come out at all, I heard these guys broke up. Again. Scum stats: 100 test press copies with tour cover (pictured), with actual release/art coming soon on Katorga (you should be able to pick up one of the remaining tour editions via discerning mailorders like Reel Time or Grave Mistake if you really feel the need…)(RK)
(Katorga Works // katorgaworks.com)

Razar “Stamp Out Disco” 7"
I never thought I’d see the day when all of the timeless Australian punk singles collected on the ‘Murder Punk’ CD compilations would be available for reasonable prices on the vinyl format; and most of them legit, to boot! Hell, I’m reviewing two of them in this update alone! Thanks to labels like 540, Sing Sing, Crypt and others, we, the cash-strapped punk rock waxheads, can spin these klassik killers in the comforts of our own home, or blast them at the bar to drown out all of the empty-skull idiot-chatter. It’s pretty fuckin’ cool, and so is this single.
“Stamp Out Disco” is self-explanatory, an obvious but necessary slag off to one of the prevailing trends of mainstream music in the late ‘70s. Why would you wanna slap on a bodysuit and try to re-enact ‘Saturday Night Fever’ when you can go wild to this kind of snarling rock n’ roll? Got me, Manero. “Stamp Out…” even ends with a burp. Classy, refined, proper. This song is so good it even inspired another great punk song 25 years later (Functional Blackouts’ “Stamp Out Techno”). “Task Force” is a sarcastic swipe at the eternal punk enemy -- the cops, the pigs, the fuzz. Jackbooted shit-lickers and fascist protectors of the rich and dignified; Razar spits and sneers at these state puppets and even throw in some “oinks” at the end to make sure you know which side they’re on. How about you: are you a punk, or a cop?(EEK)
(Sing Sing Records // www.singsingrecords.com)

Regal “Possible Endings” LP
“Ahhhh…The French!” (Apply my best Orson Welles impersonation HERE.) They love their off-kilter garage, don’t they? So why change? It’s been damn near 20 years. Sonically, Regal reminds me of the countrified era-Teasers having a hoedown barn burner with the more rural US TermBo acts. Bands that got a lot of wax product pressed on Boom Chick and such a few years back. The slip n’ slide guitar play and the blessed dry vocals are the hi-lites within. Tracks such as “Palestine” and “Fox” bring the Golden Boys or Demons Claws to the forefront of my lobes, but decks ‘em out with a bit of that Glue Wave weirdness the Frogs know so well. Lyrically they’re pretty pissed off at someone/anyone, juxtaposing bad vibes and threats of ass fucking against acoustic strum and porch fiddle play. Hellshovel? Sure. Something like that. “Do As I Say” has a Deadly Snakes tone, before they went all Bad Seeds on us, and I’m digging this tune a ton. A pleasant spin overall, even if their influences are blatantly stamped to the plates, stitched to their sleeves and possibly even tattooed to the entire ensemble’s foreheads. Less head scratching than most of their fellow freedom fries…give ‘er a go. (RSF)
(Azbin Records // www.azbinrecords.bandcamp.com)

Runny “The Legendary Runny EP” 7”
Knowing the label that released this, I wrongly assumed Runny would be a sub-par Dwarves shock rock outfit with potty mouth lyrics and metal-punked riffs. Half correct. There’s potty mouth all over it, true…but within a posi-queer ride. Runny shakes up their dunderhead Big Black fisting overtones with a call n’ response dance punk, yet there’s very little electro to its clash. “Sucking On The Wrong Dick” and “Way Up Inside” bobble along like a testoste-ruined Peaches stuck in a metallic churn, a slushed Flipper drive and very little else to do or say. “Punish Me” starts off the flip, bringing The Pixies and Weezer to mind, but that tragedy ends relatively soon as lead vocalist (Lemon Cookie?!) jabbers on like GG Allin scouting for man cubs down at the ol’ glory hole. The package completes itself with a glitch o’tronic dance mix that doesn’t seem outta’ place. Throw it on at yer next swinger’s swap or foam party. (RSF)
(Drug Front Records // www.drugfrontrecords.com)

Satanic Rockers "Eviction" 7"
Australia just keeps giving and giving. Their supply of incredible music shows no signs of waning whatsoever. This, the debut single from Melbourne's Satanic Rockers, is top of the heap material, whether we're talking Aussie league or the entire fucking world. From the first seconds of guitar feedback I knew "Eviction" was going to be a frequent flyer on the turntable. The fact that I first listened to it at 33 rpms is neither here nor there. It just got even better when played at the proper 45 revolutions. The devil's DIY, mock metal, primordial guitar oozing from the dirt, it's the ultimate in no-fi guitar rock. I want to say Chain Gang playing Death Metal, but I just keep thinking of El Gang because I want to think that's where the Rockers cribbed their name from. This type of dank scuzz doesn't come across the desk very often. Actually nothing like this ever has. Are you ready for the master butcher? Guitars buzz like demonoid insects, sticking to a thick and grimy coating of feedback. Lyrics to die for are delivered with the tenacity of Beelzebub on ludes. Ridiculous genius a la Benjamin Wallers. "Rat Versus Boredom" dials back the evil, keeps the guitars floating in a tub of cough syrup and delivers a sharp missive about scene rats while sounding absolutey bored by it all. It's the title of the song after all. I don't know if hitting one string as fast as you can technically qualifies as a guitar solo, but we left technique down the road a ways anyhow. Damaged stuff that I want to soak in. I would advise investing in multiple copies immediately.(RK)
(Quemada // quemadarecords.blogspot.com)

Scarcity of Tanks "Ohio Captives" CD
With their third full-length of 2012, and sixth in four years, Scarcity of Tanks could never be accused of sitting around with their thumbs up their asses. Led by Matthew Wascovich, SoT is always changing, already on to the next phase of development. The Clevo ensemble has morphed yet again; this time a sextet with old and new faces. Pounding the drums is Elliot Hoffman (ex-15 Minutes to Fame), Rich Raponi of Murderedman/McShitz manhandles the guitar, legendary Mirrors founder Andrew Klimeyk picks up the bass, vet Cle saxophonist Dan W. blows some wind, and John Petkovic of Death of Samantha/Cobra Verde fame provides backing vocals, piano and other assorted instruments. This mix of people comes up with some of Scarcity’s most trad songs yet, and it works. Wasco sings more, stretching beyond his usual even-toned and repetitive poetic statements, at times getting into more of a Jack Brewer approach, twisting his voice around the words. “Paco Unfolds” rolls out heavy like Last Exit. “Fox Back” takes it slow and low like Lungfish until Petkovic’s sweet backing vocals come in along with a glockenspiel and the band crescendos and you don’t know quite what to call this stuff. Rock, jazz, punk, nothing is quite adequate. “Quigley Dictum” is pure Mission of Burma art-punk burn, while “Glenville Hermetics” settles into limber free-rock that builds into an affecting swell of sound. “Dear Pine” is the nod to hardcore while the title track sounds like an homage to one of Wasco’s muses, the Minutemen. Epic closer “Operational Choices” sounds like a return to Scarcity’s roots, but really it’s just a way station until the next pending trip.(EEK)
(Total Life Society // scarcityoftanks.blogspot.com)

School Jerks s/t LP
First long-playing record from these Toronto punk rockers, who have steadily become better from record to record, but none of the singles were still that memorable. This LP blows anything and everything on those records out of the water. Edgier and more blown out than the EPs (and only one track is a do-over on this), a great modern interpretation of super sloppy Black Flag riffs and foul mood hardcore. Not a band reinventing the wheel, but a supremely listenable slab of mean spirited punk rock. Their drummer’s band Kremlin is fucking amazing, and maybe that rubbed off on this one, because this is a great short and fast punk record, for those who want to hear 'Nervous Breakdown' or Circle Jerks instead of 'My War' or Void. Recording sounds just shitty enough for me to love it. Nice artwork, color vinyl, big ass fold out poster, there you go. The only School Jerks record you need to own. (RK)
(Grave Mistake // www.gravemistakerecords.com)

Sectarian Violence s/t 7”
East Coast breakdown, tuff guy hardcore that should bloody the masses in ‘da pits just fine. Six tracks spat fourth that throttle angry balding ex-youths in Neg Approach shirts (armpits torn the fuck out) and the young scrappers who really miss the sounds of the first couple Condominium singles. It’s good shits. Pounding violence for meathead destruction. Surprised I don’t hear that much about them…but then again, it’s not like I read MRR monthly. (RSF)
(Grave Mistake // www.gravemistakerecords.com)

Sex Church "Somnambulist" 12" EP
Extremely happy that Sex Church got a record released in 2012 just under the wire, as they've easily been one of my favorite groups of the past couple of years. 'Growing Over' was a fantastic LP and I was fortunate to catch them on tour as well, where they played in a record store basement and blew my mind. HARD PSYCH. The first two cuts on this three song 12" EP are far less on the psych/drone side and honestly really remind me of early Nineties indie-rock, when college radio mattered and bands cared about craft and craft - something about this gives me a Sonic Youth vibe ("Slipped" in particular), maybe mixed with the epically guitared punkdrive of latter day Wipers and even some acerbic and sharp angled Chicago-style post-hardcore vibes, mixed with Gun Club deathisms. Godly riffs they run up one side of the mountain and down the other, the band has a real hard-edged and even pissed-off purpose on these two rockers, maintaining their S3-like dream weapon attack, but these visions sound more restless and aggro than ever. "Wrong Side" takes up the entirety of Side B, and for as much as I hate to call them death rock, this is fucking DEATH ROCK. It's a funeral march into the forbidden zone, I love that they pulled some sax into the arrangement, this thing just circles like a glowing portal into another dimension. Live, this would be the cut they would be pulling the smoke machine and strobe out for. A fucking harrowing crawl through purgatory, right up to the gates of the beyond...heaven or hell? They don't sound nice on this one, so I'm guessing you're doomed. A stellar EP that advances the band nicely, throwing down their most aggresive set of tunes and leaving us hanging as to where they're going next. Absolutely recommended. (RK)
(Psychic Handshake // www.psychichhandshake.com)

Solid Attitude "BB Gun Picnic" LP
45rpm long player from these Iowa City punkers whose 7" had some good parts which didn't really gel into an impessive whole, but there was enough there to think they'd nail it down with some more time in the lab. Eleven songs here, and while it sounds like a more cohesive effort, there's not much in the long run to remember it by. Trebly and dirty garage-punk that kicks around in mid-tempo pacing for the majority, throwing a couple slow crawlers in the blender as well. Singer is trying real hard, working the nasally sneer and foaming-at-the-mouth jabber for maximum craziness, and I'm sure he gives it all in the live setting. I feel like they're getting close to the nasty Midwestern punk of the first Piranhas LP or Epileptix, maybe even Nervous-era Functional Blackouts, but just not totally getting there. KBD-damage welded onto garage-rock structure, maybe even a less rockin' Clone Defects in passages. "(Cool) With Me" is the highlight as it has the best guitar workout/feedback. I could throw the "not bad for Iowa" thing at this, and they're probably a good band to have around town. As far as the record goes, it's not bad by any means, it's just not good enough to break through the crowded playing field these days. Everything sounds a little too similar and just a little too average to be remembered. Six spins, and I still can't find anything to really rave about. Scum stats: 300 copies, and the first Rotted Tooth release with a pro-printed jacket for some reason.(RK)
(Rotted Tooth // www.rottedtoothrecordings.com)

Southern Comfort “Silver and Gold” 7”
Circle Pit were a band that got better and better to me the more I listened, and now that it appears they might be no more I'm glad that Angie Bermuda has kept busy with projects like Ruined Fortune (recommended 7”), playing with Straight Arrows from what I hear and with Southern Comfort alongside former Circle Pit comrade Harriet Hudson. “Silver and Gold” is a Velvets-esque soaked in reverb slow-strummer heavy on the atmospherics. Just guitars and voice, sort of heavenly, and this could be considered the Australian take on the Brooklyn-based loft-pop-by-girls movement I’ve often railed against (La Sera, Vivian Girls) and for (Girls at Dawn, Vivian Girls) at times. Am I giving it a pass just because it’s Australian? Maybe, but covering a song off of ‘Zuma’ certainly helps their case as well. Their version of “Don’t Cry No Tears” somehow packs on a little more reverb than the A-Side, with the solo so obscured by feedback it sounds more like a theremin than a guitar. Very much of interest for Circle Pit devotees. Supposedly a 12” is in the works as well, which I will be all over. Scum stats: 256 copies only, metallic ink sleeves are a nice touch. (RK)
(Black Petal // www.blackpetal.com)

Spent Flesh s/t 10"
Philly's Spent Flesh come at us with a complete clusterfuck of a 10" here. The best way I can describe this is like some zany hardcore band trying to cover 'Teenage Hate', but taking all the garage-punk parts out and replacing them with metallic riffing and over the top insectoid effects pedals. A grindcore version of Dean Dirg or HFOS even. Dude has the Reatard vocal sound down pat and owns a t-shirt to match. Just a completely ridiculous record all around. No one really listens to this stuff, right? (RK)
(FDH Records // www.fdhmusic.com)

Spider Babies "The Twenty Year War" LP
Kevin "The Stalker" Shapen has been plugging away with the Spider Babies for nearly two decades now, with some hiatuses and side projects here and there, and the band hasn't changed much sonically since they released their first single on Tombstone Records (yes, the Fred Cole/Dead Moon label, remember?) in '94. Sleazy garage-punk about booze, sex, drugs, criminal acts and women in an extremely non-PC fashion over 20+ releases on labels as diverse as Screaming Apple, Rat City, Get Hip and the (almost) always reliable Sack O' Shit Records, who come off a hiatus of their own with the release of this LP. Not surprisingly, I own a good portion of their catalog (the band and the label), so I feel I'm enough of an authority to say this is actually pretty good as far as Spider Babies' LPs go. It's no 'Ten Inches of Terror!', but for 20 years in there's some surprising quality here for long time fans. Recorded in Denmark with a lineup I imagine Kevin picked to accompany him on his recent European jaunt, the band sounds tight and a bit heavier and less fuzz-caked than you might remember, but the vox sound exactly the same, and tunes like "What You See Is What You Get" and "In My Room" (not a cover) are pretty tough. "We're Only Friends ('cause You Got the Drugs)" and "Wanna Get On You" fulfill the total-scumbag quota required on a SBs record (and which are actually kind of tame in comparison to some of their uncomfortable "hits" of the past) and this LP has some of the most tasteful sleeve art of their entire career. Breaking absolutely no new ground here, but the raunchiest of garage-turkeys and fans of the band (I know you're lurking out there) should come away from this feeling pleased. And a little bit filthy. Scum stats: 200 on green/red swirl, 300 on black, plus a test press edition with appropriately raunchy sleeve.(RK)
(Sack O Shit // www.pukeandexplode.com)

Spider Fever s/t LP
The first Spider Fever record I've heard, and only their second release if I'm not mistaken, so I don't feel too bad for being late to the party. The draw here is that this is Mario from RFTC's "KBD punk" band, with Speedo's brother on bass for additional Swami family relations. I have to say there's nothing really "KBD" sounding about any of this. It does remind me of the hard indie-rock of that Sultans record a bit, and a good half of these songs are just punk-RAWK with admittedly blazing guitar playing that's closer to sounding like Zeke, Speedealer or any other member of the Scooch Pooch roster. Pick one. I'm gonna go with LaDonnas. Just don't pick The Hookers, they don't count in this instance. There's another quarter of this that is High Energy rock'n'roll, the kind those crazy Swedes sure loved a few years back. Pick one. I'm going with Gluecifer. And the final quarter of the songs sound like the Foo Fighters, I swear to god. Yes, I do know what the Foo Fighters sound like. There is zero TOTAL KBD DESTRUCTION to be found here, I promise. Plenty of "GUNK PUNK" I believe, though I'm still not entirely sure exactly what that is, but I think this is it. Well played and recorded good-n-loud gunk punk, mind you. But gunk punk nonetheless. What your position is on gunk punk will greatly influence your enjoyment of this platter. Please keep that in mind before attempting to purchase.(RK)
(Windian Records // www.windianrecords.com)

Spits “Mude und Einsam” 12” EP
If there’s one band who can get away with releasing gimmick records in this day and age it’s The Spits. They’ve earned the privilege to do such frivolous things by being one of, if not the most punk band in the land for over a decade now. That’s dedication kids. The gag here is that they’re re-doing their very first record (the pretty-damn-rare ‘Tired & Lonely’ 7” which they self-released back in 2000 or so), but with the lyrics sung in German. By King Khan. And releasing it as a four song 12” maxi-EP complete with slick-as-hell gatefold sleeve. Talk about gluttonous…this Red Lounge guy really loves to throw his douchemarks around, and I gotta say I dig his style. This thing obviously sounds great given the format, Khan does a great job fitting in – he just does the mongo-vox straight-up and doesn’t interject his own style in any way, which was the right way to do it. Nothing fancy as far as playing, they just mow all four cuts down punk-style, I’d have to say “Schwarz Fahren” (“Black Kar”) is the most fun, as they lay on some serious synth squiggle and Khan goes full-on retard with the vocals. “SK8EN” is rather humorous as well. As far as Spits novelties go, I’ll say this is more essential than their storybook Vice 10”, but not as good as the Midnight “Slays the Spits” 7”. Scum stats: 1000 copies, with at least five colored vinyl variants which will give the SERIOUS SPITS COLLECTOR fits. (RK)
(Red Lounge // www.redloungerecords.com)

Straight Arrows "All the Time" 7"
With the flood of interesting bands and records from Australia still coming in at an alarming rate, Sydney's Straight Arrows might have slipped from your attention this year after releasing a very fine LP in 2011. This may be due to the fact that this one-sided and double-barrelled smoker is their only release over the past 12 months or so, and also partly because main man Owen Penglis has been giving Mikey Young a run for his money as busiest man in the biz, recording a good portion of the records you loved from Australia this year (Royal Headache, Ghastly Spats, Southern Comfort), as well as acting as tour drummer for Home Blitz on their Aussie jaunt and playing in some other projects including Ruined Fortune (which he also recorded). This single bodes well for the Arrows sophomore platter due out next year, as "All the Time" is a wonderful garage marcher, with guitar fuzz ripped right from '66, an undeniable and moody hook and great nasally vocal. Reminiscent of the early Black Lips in all the right ways. They back this up with "The Hilton Bomber", which is not a Thought Criminals cover as far I can tell but a vintage-sounding rave-up in the truest sense of the meaning of rave-up - quickfast guitar energy that bounces right into a squealing solo and leaves you wanting a few minutes more of it. Great garage-punk and the best of the recent Goodbye Boozy bunch. Scum stats: 3 different versions of 93 copies each, aka the SSLD pressing model. (RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // soundcloud.com/#goodbye-boozy-records)

Staring Problem s/t 7”
Femme fronted darkness that has a Cure feel slathered with some of that modern neu-gothic, Sacred Bones style of warble n’ drear. Imagine if Vivian Girls hopped on a bill with Swann Danger, smoked some cloves and smeared their eyeliner…this would be the darkness birthed. “Seed” leads things off with a cold downer, but soon they pep up a tad with “Faced”. This track heads towards a more jangle-pop or Shop Assistants turf, but never thoroughly shakes their gloom. “OCD” really takes The Cure trip even deeper. This gal’s gotta’ good voice for this sorta’ thing. None of the usual Siouxsie trappings, but the post punk disaffection and lull is in full effect. Not bad. Not bad at all. (RSF)
(Blvd Records // www.blvdrecords.com)

Strange Attractor “Mutant Love” EP
The Statues fucking sucked, but Strange Attractor do not. They are pretty damn good punk band, especially considering they’re Canadian. “O.M.L.” sounds like the singer from The Panics fronting The Gizmos. Tunes like “Nothing New”, “Juli”, “Tell It How It Is” and “Nite Stick” are just-weird-enough Sixties garage rockers with a punk snarl that really sound kinda slick in a good way. Great variety of guitar sounds and use of some sound effects, and the guy’s vox are really able to carry the songs. Seeds vs. Angry Samoans aesthetics. There’s not a lot of bands today capable of making what seems to be a standard garage-punk sound, yet elevating it with some creative tweaking and not just dropping a ten-ton bucket of fuzz on things, adopting a food-themed gimmick or going too pop (power- or –punk style). This is played really well and recorded for maximum enjoyment. Eight songs and it’s way above par, and honestly better than it has a right to be. Not gonna set yer world on fire or compete with Mad Nanna fans, but for a fun and dumb record it’s got the goods. Deluxe gatefold on Red Lounge! (RK)
(Red Lounge // www.redloungerecords.com)

Strawberry Savage “Too Cold To Cry” 7”
Martin Savage’s current outfit, a two-piece pairing him with his former Dixie Buzzards band mate Jenny Silver. Country-influenced garage-pop, four songs here, the most notable of which is a cover of King Louie’s “Walking With the Light”, and that’s just because Louie writes incredible songs. I always kid that Savage’s work is derivative of some other currently popular band/sound, and this time I feel he’s reaching for a Vermillion Sands (or Georgiana Starlington) type of thing, with just a dash of The Poppets lollipop schtick. I was hoping this was going to sound like that TJ & the Lipstix single for some reason. But it doesn’t. This isn’t terrible, but it’s also nowhere near good either. Martin Savage records I would recommend before this one: any Blacks record, the first Tokyo Knives 7”, any of the first three Locomotions singles (or the LP), The Humans 7”, or that TJ & The Lipstix single I already mentioned. Scum stats: 200 copies with two sleeve variations. (RK)
(Human Audio Recordings // humanaudio.blogspot.com)

Subsonics "In the Black Spot" LP
First LP in seven years from Atlanta's beloved Subsonics. Like any band that's managed to keep it rolling for 20+ years, they have a loyal fanbase that holds them up as one of the greats, and there's a lot of people in ATL who will say they're best local band ever. The Black Lips love them so much they did a Rob's House split with them. I think the last time I checked in with them was their last LP on Get Hip, and not a whole lot has changed. Pre-punk garage sounds with a heavy duty dose of VU worship, mostly mid-tempo rockers heavy on the treble with a bit of tasteful fuzz, at their wildest they sound like The Cramps if they were normal joes and not weirdos from Mars. Classy garage for adults, the sort of band whose shows you could take your mom to and not have her get freaked out. Much like their former label mates/bosses The Cynics, they're that sort of band where they've managed something of a career in the underground rock secene and created a following by not doing anything that different from record to record. They stick to the template and those who like that template will follow. If you're not already a fan, I doubt this record will make you one. If you are a fan, well commencing grooving on these mostly mellow tunes.(RK)
(Slovenly Recordings // www.slovenly.com)

Surgeons “Whip Them Lord” 7”
Surgeons are ex-members of Le Face and continue down the same dark path. Shadowy and sharp post-punk with a slight beach-punk twang. “Whip Them Lord” is in line with the Le Face tunes on the split with DVA Damas, underground (as in subterranean under the actual ground) goth-punk for slam dancing, catchy, rhythmic and with some keyboard texture as well . “In My Scope” has a really thin and sharp guitar sound balanced out with a prominent bassline, reminds me of a more treble-laden NASA Space Universe. I like this one, as I’ve liked some Le Face records in the past – I feel like they’re almost on to something really good, and even though it’s still not totally there, they keep getting closer and closer to fully grasping it. (RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)

Syntax Error s/t 7”
Semi-recent archival release from Rerun here, as Syntax Error were a short-lived STL band from 2003-04 or so, and the three cuts here are sourced from their demo. Synth-punk was pretty hot in 2003, and Syntax Error play a high-bpm version of the genre. Drum machine, blown-out Casios, some budget electronic effects and bass/guitar. Sounds quite sharp for a demo (due to a remastering job for release), the B-Side cut “Transistor Love” is the crusher with a guy-girl vocal duel and a good finale. Drum programming is solid and the songs hit too hard to be called quirky New Wave, which is a plus. A-Side has their theme song and “Ashamed to be Human”, which are both aggro enough. Hardwave? Is that even a real genre? Not sure how necessary this is today, but if you’re into Digital Leather or just synth-punk in general this may pique your interest. For some reason the packaging aesthetic gives me a Flying Bomb Records vibe. Features an ex-Last Son of Krypton and future members of Prefecture and Medical Tourists. (RK)
(Rerun Records // www.rerunrecordsstl.com)

Teenanger "Frights" LP
Despite touring frequently and releasing records on the reg, Teenanger haven’t quite gotten their due. This LP should change all of that. Confident and completely comfortable in their own skin, this Toronto four-piece plays deceptively “straight”-forward punk. Meaning, they don’t lean too heavily towards a particular ghetto of the endlessly-reduced sub-genres of punk everyone squabbles over. They merely play well-written, well-recorded, high-energy punk rock songs with hooks, grooves, and a self-assured cool. This is a short LP, but every song hits, and there are a few stand-out tracks. After “Cheap Thrills” and “Frights” start things off with a bang, “SLW” jumps in, guns blazing, and crams one of the best and most classic-sounding choruses in a punk rock song this year into its short duration. Teenanger is perched somewhere between hip-shaking garage-punk and snotty ’77 lip-curl. While I’m sure they throw-down with Ty Segall at the local indie haunt, I see them more at home in a dilapidated bar in the sketchy part of town on a bill with The Curse and Viletones. “Cops (But Not)” has a sex-brained bassline, a killer chorus, and a double-time rave-up midway through that throws your ass in the hoosegow and has its way with you. “Tired of You” sounds exactly like The PeeChees, and, Nineties hate be damned, that’s a good thing. “Walking on Eggshells” is a fantastic song; coulda been an A-side on Radarscope Records, a less-wacked Soft Boys. “Bank Account” is a satisfying conclusion, more frustration set to a beat that hasn’t gotten played out, despite the decades of abuse it has endured. Teenanger do it justice.(EEK)
(Telephone Explosion // www.telephoneexplosion.com)

10¢ Fuck Flicks “8 Songs About Drugs and Sex” 7”
Organ and rock riffed garage that mighta’ had a shining moment in the late-80’s on Get Hip or the likes, but they fall pretty flat nowadays. Just too safe and ordinary for my liking. Filthy fuck lyrics abound, and true…the title “Pussy Flavored Ice Cream” gets a giggle out of the kindergartener in me…but the whole thing reeks of a bar rock explosion. It wanders aimlessly around that sad, insufferable ground where a DMZ or Lyres reunion meets up with the Junk Records-era of sonic output. Shudder. The picture sleeve is trying real hard to appeal to my boner as well, with its wannabe Inga one sheet layout and grinder-flick imagery, but then I take in the not-so-subtle computer fabricated design. If yer gonna’ do it right, it should’ve been hand cut and cheaply printed by Art fuckin’ Chantry. Dave Crider is rolling in his label grave. The whole package wants to be Fleshpot on 42nd Street but flounders like an inept Tarantino brainfart. Fake sleaze = safe sleaze. Call me back when you guys finally shoot some coke up yer dicks. Then we can hang out watching Findlay triple bills all Christmas Day. (RSF)
(Drug Front Records // www.drugfrontrecords.com)

Testors "Together" 7"
Somehow, "Together" was the first Testors song I ever heard, I think from the first 'Spit on Your Grave' comp or from a mixtape or something. But this was my first Sonny Vincent experience, and shortly thereafter I hunted down those Incognito Records 10" comps which were godhead, and the only source for Testors material until Hozac and Swami teamed up for the 'Complete Recordings' 2XLP (which is sadly out of print on vinyl right now), which is also 100% mandatory. One of the best things I've ever heard said about the Testors was Jim Hollywood from Baseball Furies saying how mad he was when he heard them for the first time - they were so good he was pissed off that he hadn't been listening to them all along! Makes sense to me. "Together" is the last gasp of Testors records, sure, and could be called their New Wave song, but it's a fucking killer punker with a pop hook, vocal harmonies and some tasteful synth. Still one of my very favorite Sonny cuts. "Time Is Mine" on the flip is a little tougher, a "life is hard on the streets" classic NYC style punker with another great and understated hook. Windian gives the reissue something extra by including an early version of "Time Is Mine" called "This Time Is Mine" with different lyrics and some rawer guitar sounds. Studio recording sounds good, making it a nice bonus. Replica labels and sleeve, limited to 1000 copies, this one is right up there with Last Laugh and Sing Sing as far as quality goes. Essential music from a band every bit as vital to NYC punk history as Thurders, Hell, Ramones and the rest of the CBGBs pantheon.(RK)
(Windian Records // www.windianrecords.com)

Tigerfox “No More Style” LP
Gotta admit, I want to hate this record. Still not 100% sure I don’t, but there’s something not totally awful. Firstly, I was expecting warmed-over power pop for some reason. But these guys listen to Roxy Music records a lot evidently. This LP is a sometimes gross amalgam of campy Sparks, first handful of solo Eno records, Roxy/Ferry pomposity and Bowie. It's like they're the Plastic Letters of glam. Lots of swooshing synth sweeps and ear-piercing soloing while the singer straddles the line between interesting high register and annoying whine. Sometimes he sounds a little too much like the Thomas Function guy, but I’ll say that about anyone who sounds even slightly annoying...might actually sound more like the guy from Harlem….who knows/cares anyway. The one semi-modern band I can liken them to is The Valentinos, but Tigerfox aren’t quite in that league, even for as briefly as The Valentinos existed. There are one or two instances where all their stars line up – the right hook, the right pouty vocals, the right synths (“All Talk”). More often than not they stumble though – awful hook (“Today In News”), bad Clashy-reggae song with bad synth sound (“Nouveau You”), bad New Wave (“Nighthawk Drive”), too prog (“Fantastic World”), I’ll stop there. I do kind of like the fey carnival sound they get on “I Can’t Explain”, and that was the right choice to close with. There are a couple of songs worth a listen on this, but for the most part it overreaches, but at least they’re overreaching, I guess. The results are not good most of the time, but they're taking some swings. I’m also going to have to deduct points for using Kickstarter to fund this release. Ex-members of Half Rats and Boy Toys (and probably others), who were not good bands either...(RK)
(Flamingold Records // www.flamingold.com)

Trin Tran "Dark Radar" LP
Man, I dunno what’s going on at Drag City these days, but they be laying some stinkers lately. Why on earth they felt the need to issue this decade-old recording is beyond what my feeble brain can comprehend. Why not just reissue Numbers’ first album, because as dated as that record sounds, it’s the superior version of exactly what this record wants to be (jerky angular robot-punk). Maybe I should root for Trin Tran cuz he’s only one guy, but so is Quintron and that guy doesn’t need any fucking help. This record would have sucked at the turn of the millennium and it sucks even more now. Apparently, this is the first record released under a new DC sub-label, God? Here’s further proof that he doesn’t exist (and/or hates the human race). Skip this turd and go buy a Factums record instead.(EEK)
(GOD? Records // www.dragcity.com)

Tyvek "On Triple Beams" LP
As I said in the Lamps review above, with bands of this stature, it's tempting to say their latest record is their best. With Tyvek it's harder to decide. I will say that I feel Tyvek are the most important band we still have in the "underground" since The Hunches left us. Kevin Boyer's songwriting and lyrics are a step above anyone else on the playing field right now. "Wayne County Roads" is probably the biggest hit hes penned thus far, or at the least the most obviously anthemic and inspirational. It's an undeniably catchy pro-Detroit song, the sort of local shoutalong anthem I think we all wish we had a band in our town capable of writing, a band we wish we could be this proud of coming from our own streets. Maybe coming from the Rustbelt I identify with this type of sentimental ode to home more than usual. The nostalgia of Boyer's songs seems more evident on this record than before, and the overt punkness of 'Nothing Fits' is dialed back quite a bit as well. There's still that very Swell Maps-esque DIY chug on many tracks, lots and lots of hooks delivered with conviction and a slightly obtuse pop sensibilty and tons of guitar. And there's a message, which might be the most odd thing here, as we don't get many bands that actually have something to say anymore. There's certainly something political here, not exactly preachy, but there's commentary about urban flight, gentrification and Midwest/Detroit decay that sit alongside sentiments as general as friendship, hometown pride and hope for the future. "Midwest Basements", "Little Richard", "Scaling" are all up there with some of this band's best work, in both music and meaning. "Early Spring" and "City of a Dream" are songs written with such a passion for Detroit it's impossible not to feel. I only live across the lake, so maybe I hear it louder than some, in my own faulty urban landscape. It's hard to say whether this is the best Tyvek record or not because it really doesn't matter. It's their most important, most sentimental, most urban, most Midwestern and probably the most accessible to "outsiders". It's hard not to love it.(RK)
(In the Red Records // www.inthredrecords.com)

Unholy Two “Cut the Music” 7”
Unholy Two return to our turntables for the first time since they ruined hundreds of needles with ‘$kum of the Earth’ a year or so back. No longer the hottest faction on the Midwest indie circuit, they’ve been picked up by a major fed (the 12XU offshoot of Matadog) and impress greatly here with a double-sided theme platter of sorts. “Cut the Music (I’m the Nightstalker)” is shot out of a cannon directly at yr skull to kick this shit off, and it’s as close as I've heard a band come to the palpable music-as-violence I’ve really only known Unsane to pull off before. I’ve been told the band is utilizing a three-guitar line-up these days (Freebird rule applies), and it sounds every bit like it. The feedback is thick enough to touch, the drums pound you with kidney shots so forceful that you’ll be pissing blood if you listen to this one too many times in a row, and the vocals are total satanic venom. Richard Ramirez was a vile fuck who supposedly scooped one of his victim’s eyes out with a spoon. Guess what the Unholy Two want to do to you… B-Side pays tribute to perhaps the greatest wrestler of all-time to never actually hold a major title strap in his day (although he will be forever remembered as one of the greatest Intercontinental champions of all time), Scott “Razor Ramon” Hall. Big and squelchy repeat-o-riff gets fed into the meatgrinder and ground chuck comes out of your speakers. Strangulated vox cut a promo on you (yes, you!) while guitars spit feedback at each other and the song melts down into a heap of smoking amps and flesh. Drummer’s (Garvin) stomp is again relentless throughout and keeps the action in the ring as best as he can before it turns into a free-for-all. Quite possibly the most dangerous band at large in Middle America right now, and I’m not quite that you ham-n-eggers out there are ready for this shit yet. For heavyweights only, and highly recommended if you like riffs and volume.(RK)
(12XU // www.12xu.net)

Unwed Teenage Mothers s/t EP
Mississippi based garage-poppers grabbing at the brass ring with their latest single. The 12” on Play Pinball had some cool moments, in particular when they were mixing Marked Men power-popped garage with some Southern-style rocking a la Lover and Reigning Sound. On this one they leave the garage in the dust, and sound totally slicked-up in an undeniably Strokes-like fashion, pulling some major rock moves that sound big and hooky but don’t leave much of a lasting impression. Nothing too punk here, but their jive is sounding polished enough to at least get a dance with a Pitchfork-friendly label. I’d say they’re selling out, but with a name like Unwed Teenage Mothers there’s not too much of a chance…but nobody thought Jay Reatard had a chance with that name either. Who knows. Good luck kids. Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Speakertree Records // speakertreerecords.blogspot.com)

Uranium Orchard "1st LP" LP
Uranium Orchard is Drew and Jordan from Dry Rot with a new drummer, forging ahead with some concepts carried over from that band but treading into some strange(r) new ground as well. Dry Rot were a very special band. I feel like the baggage they were forced to carry when people "discovered" they were Christians was really just one of the many things that made them ten times more interesting than any hardcore band of recent vintage. They were one of the few bands that didn't make a bad record and did make what could be considered the best hardcore LP of the past decade and four (five if you include the double-flexi) of the more interesting and conceptual EPs of recent times as well. Intelligently constructed, both musically and aesthetically, they were equally as thought-provoking as they were sonically punishing or experimentally rocking. Envelope pushers. If you want the lazy nutshell blurb, this Uranium Orchard record is an LP's worth of what everyone called Dry-Rot's "weird" songs. There's no way to categorize it. Alternative rock might be vague enough. Laden with soundbites and samples (a young lady speaking about underworlds, the outer space scream from Alien), subtle looping and tape manipulation and mixing studio recordings with live performances, the architecture of the record itself is enough to keep you riveted. The music itself ranges from actual rock songs (that do really sound like 90s alternarock - somewhere between Sonic Youth and Seattle), to conceptual soundscaping and synth layering, jazz-punk runs, noise jams and acoustic interludes. Opressive crushers like "Failure Drills" and "Psychic Bleed" firmly cement them in the punk arena, despite what the other tracks might tell you. There's a sci-fi vibe permeating the album, hauntingly extraterrestial at times, eerily robotic at others. The philosophy behind it all seems to be loosely explained on the insert, which quotes Mein Kampf, Elie Weisel and Soren Kierkegaard. Cryptic, sprawling, spiritual and perhaps even overreaching in an admirable and fascinating way. Musically speaking, the drummer can go, whether laying on the smash or jazzing it up, the array of synth sounds is impressive as is the versatile guitar work, and the constant presence of low end bass humming could be the real anchor to earth here. I've been listening to it for months and am still finding new layers with each listen. There are few records this year that I will recommend more than this one, both intellectually and viscerally.(RK)
(Cold Vomit // coldvomit.bigcartel.com)

Useless Eaters "Black Night Ultraviolet" 7” EP
Fuck if I know. This shit is boring as fuck. Do the kids really wanna freak out to this? Eaters dude has gotten a few good songs out there; those Devo-flavored ones on that one record were pretty deece, but the demo-quality of his recordings doesn’t do him any favors. Sometimes (many times) amateur-ish recordings are not charming, do not impart a sense of intimacy, and essentially just suck all the power out of your music. Is it laziness? An aesthetic choice? Either way, unless you’re LiveFastDie, you should probably stop. This EP makes attempts at some sort of sexy new wave, but I think more time spent with the first Ultravox! record would do wonders. I mean, a song called “Moody Bitch” should strike a fierce pose, should it not? Being one degree removed from a Death Cab for Cutie song is not the way to convey your anger. This kid is obviously talented, but more time spent wood-shedding, and less time throwing every idea at the wall (13 singles in 3 years?!), would benefit all of us, including the environment. For godsakes, think of the children. (EEK)
(Manimal // www.manimalvinyl.com)

UV Race "Racism" LP
This is a pleasant album. I don’t mean that pejoratively. If you have an idea in your mind’s eye of UV Race as some sort of “crazy” and/or wildly unpredictable band, well then, you need to get out more. I can’t say I’ve disliked anything the UV Race has put out, but I can’t say any of it has blown my wig back. This album continues the streak. Ten songs in a half hour, most of which are simple and catchy. The most memorable songs are slow and pretty: “Be Your Self,” “Life Park,” and particularly “Sophie Says.” “Bad Egg” has lovely “Waterloo Sunset”-style horns. Less successful are the obligatory nods to punk: “I’m a Pig” and “Nuclear Family” come off like parodies, and maybe they are. But they’re still throwaway; B-side material at best. “Raw Balls” and “Unknown Pleasures” almost justify those off-target Swell Maps comparisons of a few years ago. The LP closes with the extended “Memenonome,” which seems to repeat some of the melodies from earlier in the record, and fades out with more horns and stoned chanting. Verdict? If you’re already a fan, this will satisfy; if you’re not, it’ll probably satisfy too.(EEK)
(In The Red // www.intheredrecords.com)

V/A James Arthur/Alicja Trout split 7"
I don't feel like I should have to lay out James Arthur's credentials for you, as if you're this deep into a Termbo review section you should know that anything the guy touches is gold, from Fireworks to Necessary Evils to A Feast of Snakes to the New Memphis Legs. A founding member of the Golden Boys. A CC Rider even. His solo LP as James Arthur's Manhunt was one of the most overlooked top shelf LPs of modern vintage, and the (hopefully) soon to be released second LP from that combo is at the top of my can't-fucking-wait-to-hear list. His track on this, "Go West Old Bastard", is a wide expanse of Texas-style Krautrock instrumentalism, atmospheric guitar tracking hauled by drumdrive that picks up speed into a tornado of oscillation which drops crashing waves down on the dust. I've heard the new LP is mostly instrumental tracks such as this and I'm looking forward to two sides of similar sprawl. On side Alicja, a figure just as impressive as James when it comes to back catalog, you get "Close Ur Eyes" a quiet and trebly solo effort, which reminds me of Nervous Patterns. A hooky garage-synth number with beautifully sad vocals, melancholy vibes and a somber solo. I'm not usually one to recommend two-song splits, but this one has some merit, as it's one of the best Alicja tunes I've heard in a long time and the teaser for the JAM LP is worth a look. (RK)
(Spacecase Records // www.spacecaserecords.com)

V/A Bad Trouble/Wooly Bullies split 7"
Splitter from the USA's #1 rock city, Cleveland, OH. Wooly Bullies steal this one with "Waiting for You" which is a fantastic song and a fine example of a band emulating the Black Lips garage-punk approach but investing it with a bit of their own spirit as well. A real hypnotic psych-out crawl that they layer with fuzz guitar shredding, a jangly yet dark backbeat, female backing vox, and a desperate lead vocal. The song picks up intensity and heaviness as it progresses, the guitar turning chaotic and the girls murmurs getting thrown about in the storm. I'm a fan of this one, it's heady and full of dark charisma. The best song I've heard from them (and I'm pretty sure this was on a tape), I'll be holding onto this one to use for inclusion on the Son of Back from the Grave compilation series I'll be bootlegging in another 20 years or so. Bad Trouble are punk rawkers, whose three songs do little more than make sure this split single has one side that kinda blows, making sure the format is executed properly. These guys wouldn't even have made it on Junk Records. Hopefully Wooly Bullies put their tune on an LP so people actually get to hear it (or check out the 10 minute(!) version on their
soundcloud page). (RK)
(Fone Records // fonerecords-at-gmail.com)

V/A David Bay Leaf/Batt Lion split 7"
Oddball split that cames to us via some old Blank Generation connections oddly enough. The label is run by BG contributor Kenny on Broadway, and David Bay Leaf is a band led by one of the guys from Ohioans Radar Secret Service, whose CD from way back then was a minor hit amongst the more Neoteric types. Their two tracks are sort of twee post-punk affairs, sparse, melodramatic and melodic with affected vocals and a slightly dark touch. Batt Lion on the flip are a confusing band, firstly for the fact that they're from Youngstown, OH - if you've ever been to Youngstown, you'll understand my confusion as to how anyone there has the sort of record collection that would result in a band that sounds like this, and secondly in that they're mixing genres in a way that is similar to a kid at a self-serve ice cream sundae station - they throw everything in the bowl, creating a mess that does result in a couple good mouthfuls of weirdness somehow. "Part Earth" mixes surf guitar, pop-punk, and grunge for a alt-rock tune with hiccupy vocals. "Witches Wheel" begins with a fuzz-guitar intro that makes you think they're about to jam on "The Pusher" for ten minutes, then the guy kicks in with some MC5-style testifying vocals as done by a muppet, which breaks into some kinda glam-rock-metal riffing and rolling before heading back into stoner rock turf on the solo. It's surprisingly not completely bad, but uh...different...which is better than boring, but still not as good as actually being...good. Points given for having a drummer named The Breeze though. (RK)
(Lion's Care Recordings // lionscarerecordings.wordpress.com)

V/A Family Curse/White Murder split 7”
Family Curse goes a little snottier, sans phlegm - more like the season-changing snot - punker, and spicier with a more aggressive tune than what we heard on their first single. Hanson-bros level of mean vocals, a Gauze-y bass tone that fits this style like an Italian condom, and tremolo three-note solos knock it outta the park. In the best way, this doesn’t sound like it’s from Brooklyn. To lean on the crutch of trite comparisons, imagine Rikk Agnew’s mom replaced his steady diet of bacon grease and donuts or whatever for Monorchid records (speaking of which, these guys would fit nicely on a bill with Whatever Brains and late Popular Shapes… I wanna see that). Off-kilter and anthemic, it’s a winner. White Murder wipes the slate near-clean with a pleasantly barreling tune on the flip. Sweet and catchy vocals from two non-males that pull off an above-average execution of a “Motherfucker” refrain keep the song lively with a pretty simple trebly stop-starter that pairs really nicely with the other side. Can’t help but think they could go weirder and more interesting places if the singers checked out different melodies, though. Family Curse is the edgy brother with some whiskey, White Murder is the party they’re livening up. Both songs are nice fits on any 2012 mix you might have in mind. Nice split that makes sense, that keeps your attention, that begs for more material from both groups. And really cool Spivak/Spain-y art gone Addams Family from FC’s guitarist charms whatever else needs charming, to boot.(NG)
(Doormat Records // www.drawingroomrecords.com)

V/A Flying' Trichecos vs. Mr. California split 7"
The last gasp of the Trichecos, and their original on this adds one more stunner (but you knew I was gonna say that) by the name of "Tick Tock" to their brief yet phenomenal catalog, killer Paulito screaming eagle wah-solo included free of charge. The epitome of dumb and drug-fuelled music with lyrics to match. They also do a timely cover of Mr. C's "Barack", which I'm sure was the key to an Ohio win for the incumbent. I'll miss these guys more than you, I'm sure. The Mr. California side is retarded, with a version of "Smokin' Crack" full of synth farts and guest vox from Dr. Larry and Anus that must have emanated from an after hours "brainstorming" session in the basement of Now That's Class. And if you thought that was retarded, it's followed by a disco version of the Trichecos chart-topper "It Fell Up My Nose" which could only come from the beautifully twisted mind of Terry California. Thank god for all of the people involved in making this record. Recorded by Steven Peffer Enterprises LLC! Artwork by Food Fortunata! A split single that you just can't go wrong (or right) with, highly recommended as are any and all Non Commercial Records releases. (RK)
(Non Commercial Records // noncomrecords-at-gmail.com)

V/A Low Times/Eets Feats split 7”
Low Times are a gaggle of Tex-Ass youngin’s that deliver reverbed, surfy and somewhat doom ladened garage. “I Don’t Belong” is reminiscent of the moodiest Ty Segall or early Black Lips tracks…and I mean that in the best way possible. “Oh, There’s No Way Out” cuts loose with a pretty swell sonic nosedive. Slurred and woozy guitar propels it drunkenly down the rabbit hole into more psychedelic territory. Much better than yet another goddamned Oh Sees record. Good lord. Just enough BFTG snot, nasal rasp vocals and haphazard delivery to make me return again and again. And again. A garage turkey, through and through. I could see Slovenly snatching these lads up. Eets Feats fiddles within the same ballpark (and possibly shares some members) but also dip their toes in an artier, skronkified stew. “We’d Bum” keeps the ‘verb knobs turned to a respectable low level (a plus to my earses these days) and bashes out some cool angles. Perhaps you could call them the Lamps of the jangly-garage impaired?? “Gravity Drag” does just that. It’s a knees-to-the-asphalt Beguiled/Evils type o’ scrape, offering up a voodoo rhythm and surf overtones. It keeps the darkness going strong through its mostly instrumental tunage, but indecipherable lyrics come along and kick up a dirt-mess towards the end. Not a bad starter, fresh meats! Keep plugging away. (RSF)
(Aye Aye Aye Tapes // www.ayeayeaye.com)

V/A Native Cats/UV Race split 7"
Aussie splitter which coincided with the Native Cats US tour in September. Ride the Snake has been the driving force behind most of the Native Cats US releases thus far, and while I can't say I'm in love with the band as much as the label they've certainly garnered some critical acclaim and have a unique aesthetic, which is made a bit more exotic by coming from Tasmania. I've found them more likeable in smaller doses, and "Ten Years Transportation" finds me liking them more than I ever have on record. Great timepiece cadence pulls the most of out of their usual bass and synth/drum programming song construction, a tense post-punk atmosphere punctuated with rich sounding synth lines and percussive crash. Effectively shadowy and an unnervingly calm vocal adds something almost sinister. The UV Race might be Australia's busiest gang right now - an "early days" comp LP (which we Americans finally seem to be able to get in on after some label chicanery), a reissue of the live split with ECSR on Almost Ready, this split, their (great) third LP 'Racism' on ITR and another LP reaching the US now which serves as a soundtrack to their own film apparently (which I can't wait to see/hear) - and they pack their side hardcore-style with four(ish) new ones. "Endless Summer" is a meandering intro-style thing which bursts into the punker "Shat Itself" on which we learn "franga" is the Aussie term for condom, the touching yet brief "Wire Strainer" (which Marcus confesses is about his deceased father in the liners) and a reprise outro of "Endless Summer" with added saxophone wandering. I can never get enough UV Race, and to their credit they won't even mail it in on a split, managing to make their side sound like a completed idea/set of tunes instead off the toss-offs a lot of bands throw at split releases. Their aesthetic is wonderfully consistent, from the Marcus liners to the common images in their art (which is also referenced in the Native Cats art), and makes even their most brief of appearances that much more relevant to the band's catalog as a whole. About as essential as a split single can get, in particular for Australiana completists. Scum stats: first press of 350 now sold out, second pressing still available. (RK)
(Ride the Snake // www.ridethesnakerecords.com)

V/A UV Race/Eddy Current Suppression Ring “Live at Missing Link” LP
Way back in 2008 I received this recording on cassette, loved it, and have since thought (or wished, if you’d prefer) someone should release it on vinyl. This was back before ECSR saved the world, before AT&T commercials, before these two bands co-mingled and gave birth to Total Control and took their dominance of the Aussie-rock playing field to even higher levels. I think UV Race had only one 7” released at the time this was recorded, and ECSR had just released ‘Primary Colours’, so we’re talking two bands right before their break into wider popularity. I thought the recording quality of the tape was fantastic (even if the crowd sounds pretty tame/small…but it is an in-store show if I’m not mistaken), so it sounds even better on wax, I assure you. UV Race side is a quick six song bash through most of the songs from their first single (“Lego Man” which is still one of their best, “Outta Control Kids”, “Bad News”) plus three more that ended up on the first LP and SS single. Marcus’ vocals are up front, and he even does some “spoken word” to start their side. ECSR side is all hits, starting with the song everyone in the modern world can identify now (“Memory Lane”) into “Pitch A Tent” with extra-hot Mikey Young solo action, the first “appearance” of “Time of Day” (which might be my favorite ECSR tune) at that point, an in-the-pocket run through “I Admit My Faults” and the emotionally fulfilling closer in “I Don’t Wanna Play No More”. Live records are always a hit-and-miss affair, but this one succeeds on a couple levels – firstly, the split live record is a great idea. Not too much of one band or the other to start dragging, and allowing for inspired and quick sets from both. Secondly, this is a great snapshot of a moment in time of two bands on the upstroke of their trajectory (which still continues skyward), a little bit younger and rawer than they are now. Absolutely necessary. Scum stats: first 200 on white vinyl, with a clever full color cover, plus an insert showing the hand-made covers for (most?) of the 300 copies of the cassette, plus a test press edition of 25 copies with paste-on covers.(RK)
(Almost Ready // www.almostreadyrecords.com)

V/A The World’s Lousy with Ideas Vol. 9 7”
The World’s Lousy series returns after a three year hiatus, and what a fucking return it is. Almost Ready Inc. continues their collaboration with the Cheater Slicks, who contribute “Silver Fox” to this single, which may very well be the best song ever compiled on World’s Lousy wax. A masterstroke of melancholy and yet another example showing them as the only band in the world that can make depression sound good. A nice warm-up to get some fires stoked for their new studio LP, which is supposedly going to be called “Reality Is a Grape”. In other Slicks’ Fan Club news, we have the third volume of the Slicks live series on deck (via CDR), plus reissues of ‘On Your Knees’ and ‘Destination Lonely’ forthcoming on Almost Ready soon. If someone could just get that ‘Forgive Thee’ box set and the 2XLP version of ‘Don’t Like You’ moving and then whip up a singles comp we could just call it a day. Side B of this has a real big beat garage hit from Thee Spivs, a band I feel are a bit underrated in the UK rock sweepstakes these days. They’ve got a few recommended records out on Damaged Goods already, but haven’t made much of a dent over here yet. Sure, Pheromoans and Hygiene are weirder, but if you’re looking for the band carrying on the garage-punk lineage begat by countless Childish outfits and the Armitage Shanks in particular, look no further. “Men Don’t Cry” has a gutsy bottom-end catchiness, with a sharp solo and brash Cockney vox. A definite hit. Closing out the proceedings are Ron House and his Psandwich, covering the Fun 4 obscurity “Singing in the Showers”, which of course has yet another of Ron’s song-making vocal performances. The guy is a first ballot Hall of Famer and he’s assembled a more-than-capable squad to back him up these days. Don’t forget to grab last year’s “Northren Psych” LP as well. Statistically, I think this WLWI volume actually has the highest batting average of any installment to date. Look out for more info on the plans for World’s Lousy 10 and 11 (both are planned to be LP-sized), which will be taking the series to even higher conceptual reaches. Plus, a five year anniversary repress of World’s Lousy Vol.1! Scum stats: various cover variations, plus a XXX-rated test press edition of 25 copies. (RK)
(Almost Ready Records // www.almostreadyrecords.com)

Vegetarian Cannibals "Before the Fact" LP
The legend goes that Vegetarian Cannibals were a punk band from Jack White's high school who recorded this tape in '89 or '90 on a boombox and hand-dubbed copies for their pals. It has since been lost to the obscurity of Ben Blackwell's tape collection (he supposedly owns the only surviving copy). Surprising (suspicious?) recording quality from a condenser mic, but there are convincing sounding pause button hits between tracks. Members supposedly went on to the band Forge, whose single I actually own and don't think I've ever listened to. This is the punk record you and your friends probably would've made if you were punks in 1989 raised on a diet of Dead Kennedys, Ramones, Sex Pistols and whatever else the mall had to offer. Dum-dum punkers about preppies, conformity, metal heads, MTV, that kinda shit. They steal the Batman theme and turn it into the chorus for "Fad Man". There's an honest-to-goodness nasty buzzsaw guitar tone on quite a few tunes and a splendidly shitty drum sound (I don't think he has a kick drum, or just doesn't use it). Many of the tunes are goofy in a Gizmos style, "Little Pink Pillow" is a garage song that sounds more BFTG than KBD. These kids were hip enough to cover "Gary Floyd", actually use a delay for the vocals and also do "Helter Skelter" and sound like loveable scamps stumbling through it at the talent show. "Just Say No" is as close to a KBD-sound as they get (and seven years too late to be comped) and is their best punker. Of course this thing is at it's best when it's at its most inept, and they're slightly more accomplished players than The Trend. 14 tracks (including "bonus tracks" at the end of each side not credited on the OG tracklisting) that are pretty good naturedly fun (they do work blue on the last bonus track), including a vintage loop of the MedAlert bracelet ad. A good case that the world is ready for post-KBD comps from 84-90 and beyond, I'm sure (or hopeful) that there are tapes/bands like this across the nation that have yet to be soaked up and fetishized. Liners note by Jack White III! Fun fact: Jack's first punk show was Fugazi! Scum stats: 200 copies with slick paste ons.(RK)
(Cass Records // www.cassrecords.com)

Violent Change “Suck On The Gun” 7”
A fairly new San Fran ensemble that’s doing it better than most who reside over that god forsaken Bay Bridge these days. The title track serves up 70’s style proto/Penetrators riffs real nicely on top of a bucket-fidelity rock swagger. If this was a lost Vom tune or something, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit. Stellar. The warped choruses will also muddle the brains of those whose feet are stuck in the weird punk circle of hell. Florida’s Dying should be all over this: TOTAL PUNK. “Feeding In The Dark” really shows off their Bob Pollard worship, and it ain’t bad. From production to chorus to length, they love their Ohioans. Flip the platter and fall off the cliff with their theme song. “Violent Change” is a trip thru the garbage dump of inept hardcore and the Hospitals scathing past. They end shit on a downer with “Southern Agrarians”. Beatles-esque? Scratch that. More GBV worship. Such homage, you’d think they even got Rep to lovingly fuck with it. It’s all a nice throwback to Midwest drunkenness, no matter what decade of indie or punk you dig. A good sampler of sounds overall, but that opening tune is what keeps this single from entering the halls of long time storage. Hoping they got more goodies like that’n in their fanny packs. Bring it. (RSF) (Melters // www.melters.bigcartel.com)

Weird Party "Hussy" LP
I know what a bad party is, but what’s a weird party? EVERY FUCKIN PARTY. Get more than ten people together in a room and the peculiar vibes will fly, I don’t care how sober or intoxicated these persons might be; shit will get weird. People are strange, so said Sterling Morrison (or was it Grant Morrison?). Or it could just refer to Republicans, who are freakier than most pierced-and-tattooed punk rockers these days.
Weird Party is from Houston, and well, what else can be said about that? Business is BOOMING down there. And it’s hot. Weird Party ain’t sweatin’ shit, they’re cool as a cucumber. And they play a form of rock n’ roll, pitched somewhere between snarling Ninetiess garage-punk and a more sharp-edged, post-punk style, that seems in short supply these days.
Opener “Pale Brunette” nicks a snippet of a Beguiled lick and, while the band proceeds to beat it into the ground, the sneering, threatening vocals, courtesy of former Fatal Flyin’ Guilloteen Shawn Adolph, poison the soil. While WP is on more of a garage tip, there are a lot of parallels with a kick-ass old-guy (ahem, “mature”) punk band like Hank IV. Guitarist Kyle G. was once in Sugar Shack, a ball-busting Estrus concern that were “five weeks ahead of their time.” The title cut ends the first side, and brings a welcome descent into sleazy gutter-trawling a la Penthouse or a stripped-down Gallon Drunk. It’s hard to get that sound right when you’re 22 years young, but come back a decade later, and it welcomes you into its arms like a long-lost lover.
The B-side keeps the frustration rock rolling, with “Bath House” being the pick hit. When the band digs in, as on closer “Itinerant,” it would be wise to shut up, respect your elders, and get weird.(EEK)
(Sex & Death // www.sexndeath.org)

Weird TV s/t 12"
Truly tough sounding female-led punk rockers from Olympia deliver on the promise shown on their 7" with an aggro extended player. Spanish vocals from a frontwoman who delivers them with a voice so confident it's jarring, the words containing such passion you know they're about sex and lies without translation. Being from Olympia there's going to be a grrrrl connotation, and this young lady is certainly pissed off about some shit, but I don't feel like there's any overtly feminist sloganeering here, just raw emotion from a heart on fire. My high school level Spanish roughly translates some of the song topics to spiders, vultures and liars, and the 7" was all sex if I rember right. Dramatic stuff. Romantic even. It's thrilling to hear this kind of emotional sentiment from a punk outfit these days. The band itself might be the best purely punk sounding band I've heard from Olympia recently, with the exceptional guitar playing we've come to expect from bands hailing from this locale. Solid riffing, squealing solos with tastefully utilized distortion showcasing some very strong songwriting. Mostly mid-tempo sluggers but they open it up to ramming speed on a couple tracks too, paying tribute to Eighties Los Angelino punk, 'Damaged'-era Flag and their own Pac NW punk roots as well over an anthemic half-dozen songs. Both sides have three, the B-Side progression from the anthem ("Mentiroso"), to the blazer ("Boy Piss") to the heavy pounder (the fitting coda of "Aranas") always gets an extra spin from me. That spoken-word style beatdown at the end over some thick soloing just kills. A total package, the tunes are exceptional, the visual aesthetic even adds some mystery (fold out poster included) and the Trips Ballsington recording job works wonders for the band, crisp and clean with no smoke and mirrors, befitting of their no-bullshit style. (RK)
(Perennial // www.perennialdeath.com)

Whatever Brains “Whatever Brains (II)” LP
Rob Vertigo has admitted an aversion to their game, so I’ll attempt to pick up the reins. Whatever Brains are very much the best band in the fine state of North Carolina these days. On their second album, they’ve become complete masters of the transition from banner-waving of the halcyon odd 90’s underrepresented freak punk bands of DC to Mudhoney-level fuzz-heavy hooky amphetamine anthems (with or without a reptile, depending on your tastes) - like a Myrtle Beach conch shell, you can hear what you want to. Most of their songs make me wonder how they play harmonized licks that Thin Lizzy couldn’t, while half as fucked up as they usually are, but we’re two generations removed, so one could just chalk it up to high fructose corn syrup or something. “Bad Dads” is the opener, a song about touring (something they excel at) - their van is the Narcotanq, apparently - and again they indoctrinate the listener harshly into Rich’s nasal and high pitched wails. They’re snottier, more aggressive, yet more fetching this time around. This seems to be the review session to reference Skull Kontrol, but who fucking cares, it’s still apt and you demand to be informed, right? It’s been long enough. Really what they do is hard to quantify in terms of anything else, but I can’t help but think it’s somewhat useful to drop some names to nurture some sort of preparation. Excellent songwriting all around, and the lyrics take me aback every time. They pull off the slow jams more effectively ever now, and “Marquee Warfare” is my favorite yet. The snotty, ulcer-ridden vocals have a divine ability to sour anything and everything that could be considered saccharine in the songs’ delivery. “Summer Jammin’ 2” is a carnival music rendition of a song off of their first 7”, and a perfect example of such. It’s also admirable (and a quality most TB denizens probably share) that someone can write “The Petfinder” about buying a dog with their wonderful fiancee and still hold such animosity towards some shitty someone in the past. Romantic, even. To reorient towards “The Petfinder” - this is my second favorite song on the record. Perfect harnessing of Marshall Suite-era Fall into the Brains’ wheelhouse. A four and a half minute-long song about fish and schnauzer-poodle mixes. They’ve grown so well into making you wait for the chorus, that after nodding along for 3 minutes the most mundane topic simply kills. “The Clot” wins the race, a slow-paced number where they’ve honed into the best and meanest bass tone I’ve heard on a record since the fourth Gauze LP to bolster the most absolutely devastating rhythm section on a song of the year - disguising a medium-ly veiled dishing about monogamy and the perils of 2010’s sexuality (garage punk sex or not). It’s cool to hear. “Syllabus Dot/Episode Rot” closes the record out in WB’s-as-shit fashion, hammering their style in a way that demands recognition. Wailing choruses drown treble waves. A sonic hot tub time machine. Truly one of my favorite bands of the last decade, and their ambition grows with each release. Bonus points cause Manute Bol was a cool motherfucker and this photoshop job is tops. Scum Stats: N/A - but scum seekers should track down their Record Store Day 7”, as their Double Negative and Wall of Voodoo covers are among their best efforts. (NG)
(Sorry State // www.sorrystaterecords.com)

White Lung "Sorry" LP
I’ll admit that, after a perfunctory glance n’ listen, I wrote White Lung off as trashy hipster-punk. Y’know, Vice Mag horseshit that you can forgive your 19 year-old cousin for liking, but you wouldn’t be caught dead…etc. But I kept hearing word of a live show not to be missed, so, after ignoring them on a few trips thru my neck, I finally deigned to give ‘em an in-the-flesh look-see, and, hoo-boy, I don’t wear hats, but if I did, Id've probably eaten right then and there. Bulldozer, steamroller, Sherman tank, whatever modern industrial equipment you wanna name; they had that thing. The rhythm section charges full-speed ahead, diamond-sharp, while the guitarist peels off endless hyperspeed variations of Greg Sage riffs, and the singer, she has a dramatic urgency that suits the furious dexterity of the band. It’s hardcore with melody that doesn’t rely on standard 1-2-3-breakdown hey-ho let’s-go riffing.
‘Sorry’ is the best-sounding White Lung stuff to date, but there are caveats. While it sounds great, it also ends up sounding quite monochromatic. Each song seems like a slight variation on the preceding. But, of course, if you approach White Lung as hardcore, then this becomes less of a concern. Yet, I still want more songs to stick their necks out. Even on a ten song/19 minute album, we could use a hit or two. “St. Dad” and “Thicklip” come closest for me, but anyone who’s already a fan would most likely tell you that the whole damn thing is a hit. And maybe it is. I can see White Lung getting “big”, and they’re one show you wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen with your youngers at. No use trying to hide the whiskey in your purse and the joint on your breath, it’s gonna come eventually. Might as well be cool about it and get it over with.(EEK)
(Deranged // www.derangedrecords.com)

White Pages “Please Kill Them” 7”
One-sider, four songs, all clocking in under a minute and a half. I enjoyed some tapes I’ve heard from these Cambridge punkers, and these tunes are just sloppy enough, guy-girl vocals mixing it up, crafty bass playing leads the charge with some scratchy guitar just barely making its presence heard. The best description I’ve heard of this band yet is a poppier Krunchies, and I’m stealing that one. Beards and glasses geeky-garage with some punk-pop hooks and charm. “Forever Unclean” has a rougher vibe that I dig the most. Clever lyrics and concepts raise it up a level, including the Costanza-influenced label name and of course the Dino Bravo inspired insert scored them some points as well. Scum stats: 250 pressed. (RK)
(Can’t Stand Ya! // whitepages.bandcamp.com)

White Suns "Sinews" LP
A few years ago, the neo-New York noise-rock scene was in full bloom. Bands like Drunkdriver, Twin Stumps, Pop. 1280 and others were bringing a certain kind of 21st century angst to once-standard underground tropes, of which many a music-listener had left bleeding to death on the side of the road back in the early Nineties. In a boring twist of fate, it had become uncool to be pissed off. Don’t you have an iPhone, man? Aren’t you on Twitter? Don’t you watch The Office? Isn’t The Now just so groovy? What war? Homeless who? Corporations wanna do what? Nah man, it’s all good. Chillax. After all, we’ve got WiFi, and cupcakes.
It felt good to smash n’ bash and scream and shiver and make things go boom. But inevitably, life moves on, people change, anger dissipates, hotheads cool, and steam evaporates. At the time, White Suns were the junior bros on the scene. Skinny, nerdy dudes eager to flail along with the slightly older bands. But, as that scene faded, White Suns ascended, becoming the leading NYC noise band of the past few years. Their debut on Weasel Walter’s ugEXPLODE label, 'Waking in the Reservoir', was a bracing study of familiar noise moves with forays into blastbeats and outre’ screamo. It showed a band willing to wrestle with big blocks of sound (WS has no bass geetar and both guit & drummer fuck wit da ‘tronics). Sinews is the logical extension of this wrasslin’, finding White Suns treating these blocks like pieces on a chessboard. The attention to detail, and the ability to exercise great restraint, push White Suns beyond being merely a “sick” noise band, and into a higher-strata of makers of extreme sound.
Featuring a stunning cover painting by former Twin Stumps vocalist, Alessandro Keegan, ‘Sinews’ is a seething, brooding album that trades in an oppressive claustrophobia, which is especially ironic, considering its greatest strength is the long moments of near-silence that punctuate the brutal, heavy bits, instead of the other way around. Seven-plus minute opener “Fire Sermon” is filled with such flashes, oscillating between tension-filled fuse-lighting and the detonations themselves. All pounding, hammering, and drilling, “Footprints Filled” demonstrates why White Suns fit so well on those Drunkdriver bills. “Flesh Vault” is a dead ringer for Circle X. Decaying amp fizzle and random thump wander lazily around while singer/guitarist Kevin Barry speaks in a trying-to-stay-even tone, betraying the desperation that erupts into “Temple.” Having a six-and-a-half-minute closing cut called “Oath” may strike some as pretentious, over-reaching, corny. And, as Barry shrieks about speaking “with a thousand voices,” you start to wonder, OK, maybe an Instagram account is the way to go, but then the avalanche-style drums cave your head in and it feels good. Nihilism as hedonism. “I want you to hurt me,” she said…(EEK)
(Load Records // www.loadrecords.com)

White Wires “Crazy” 7”
I’ve not been as gaga about this band as many others. They’re certainly a serviceable punk-pop band with a knack for textbook hooks, but I’ve never found anything exceptional about their records. “Crazy” fits their M.O. – big hook you feel like you've heard before (this time in a slowed-down Buzzcocks style) which does the job, but it’s all a bit cookie-cutter clean. B-Side is a cover of The Poppees “I Need Your Love” (or maybe they’re doing The Boyfriends version, being Canadian and all) that sounds a bit sluggish. Not my favorite Total Punk release, and not that punk at all now that I think about it...Scum stats: 500 copies, 75 special editions come with a foldout promo poster. (RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)

Wiccans "Field II" LP
I wrote an extensive review of this record that I felt summed up my many feelings regarding it perfectly, which I then proceeded to lose when I somehow erased a good month's worth of content in a fit of idiocy in late October. Disheartening. I've redone some of that lost batch, said fuck it in regards to a few them, and I know I'll never recreate the 4:00am thoughts that I thought so eloquently described this record at the time. The gist of the story was that I did not like this record when I heard it pre-release. I thought they went too metal. I kept listening, because I like this band a lot, but it didn't gel for me until I saw them live. Then it made sense of course. One of the best basement sets I've seen in years, as they completely destroyed. They've moved on from the high school hesher vibes into some heavier themes. Masonic imagery, out of body dimensional travel, psychic powers. Real heady stuff. There are great riffs all over this record, some stoner rock jams (the title track in particular), a lot of wah pedal space transmissions and "Telepathy" is a frontrunner for most destructive track of the year. Total kill. It's a step beyond "Skullduggery" aesthetically and musically. They're all growed up or some shit and have honed their rather unique vision of hardcore into something formidable. Cahoon's vocals and lyrics are the X-factor and the absolute machine that the band has become executes to near perfection. There's still room to grow, but they seem to be almost there. (RK)
(Katorga Works // www.katorgaworks.com)

Wounded Lion “Walrus” 7”
If there’s a popular band that I’m not very fond of these days, Wounded Lion are definitely it. I imagine people who like them are drawn in by their quirkiness or whatever the fuck you wanna call their cutesy schtick. I still get pissed every time I think they have a song called “Muppet Babies”. FUCK! “Walrus” starts out sounding kinda cool, ripping off the Batman theme a little, but then the vox about “I’m a little walrus…” kick in and ruin it. C’mon. I don’t know why this shit bugs me so much. I love some really dumb shit, but this is just too…fucking cute. I always think I’m missing the joke here (and maybe I am), as guys whose records I love play in this band at times (Lars/Intelligence, Monty/Lamps), but I just don’t get the appeal. I’m the asshole, I know. What do you know, the B-Side is Sic Alps cover (Massive Place”) from ‘U.S. EZ’ (a record I like a whole lot), and it’s rather straightforward and not bad at all. Go figure. Part of Matador’s Singles Going Home Alone subscription series. (RK)
(Matador // www.matadorrecords.com)

XYX “Teatro Negro” LP
A bass/drums duo from Monterrey, Mexico, XYX released two head-turning 7”s a few years back. Then, they vanished. Some shows here and there, but no tour and no additional records. Bummer. Then, outta nowhere, an LP appeared this year, courtesy of Austin’s Monofonus Press. Apparently, the album was recorded back in 2010, and the time-lag is an indictment of how lame and boring much underground music is these days, as it took two years for someone to actually release it, and in a pitifully small edition of 300 pressed at that. It’s a crying shame, because this LP is in the running for Top __ of the Year. Man, I hate those lists, but I love this record.
XYX is the brainchild of bassist/singer Anhelo Escalante. Her voice - strident yet stirring - is multi-tracked and delayed to excellent effect. “Simulador” establishes her presence immediately, followed by “Sobrenada” which showcases Mou Ortiz’ frenetic, tom-heavy drumming. The way these two play together is thrilling. Songs such as “Desierto” veer fluidly from heavy to melodic to danceable to psychedelic. The band they most remind me of is Yoshimi of Boredoms’ all-female psych-punk outfit OOIOO. There’s also the agitated fury of Brazil’s As Mercenerias, spliced with Load/Skin Graft Records-style bludgeon. In some ways, this is what a group like Pixel Tan was trying to do back in the early 2000s. But they couldn’t quite get the mix right, and they didn’t have the intense focus XYX evidently does. This duo is not flailing around. A track like “77 dias” stretches out with a sense of grandeur you rarely hear in music this stripped-down. A completely DIY affair, Ortiz engineered and mixed the entire LP.
I’ll leave the final thought to Escalante, who writes on her
website : “…we definitely made all we could make with two instruments, a delay pedal, tons of LSD, four arms, four feet, endless cups of coffee, and zero money for two years. This project helps to demonstrate how much you can do with so little. I didn’t know how to play bass, and Mou didn’t know how to drum. This project started from absolute dust, and I am comfortable with seeing it return to its original form.”(EEK)
(Monofonus Press // www.monofonuspress.com)

Yes Mistress "Gunna Get Arrested" 7"
I'm guessing there aren't that many people in the world that loved Shoot It Up more than me (many of the fine people in Cleveland, Alessandro, Mr. California, Andy FI and the more drug-addled punk youth of Long Beach might have one up on me..), so much so that their unreleased 12"/LP is on my shortlist of records that I feel it's criminal went unreleased (and I still have hope...Andy?...). Joe Jizzum has struck out on his own (aside from being a frequent Mr. C collaborator) now that SIU seem to be on permanent vacation, and Yes Mistress is the vehicle for these endeavors. Shoot It Up it is not, aside from perhaps some scummy lyrical content. Both songs are quite slick and Californian sounding, a combo of pop-punk hooks and TKO Records style beach/skate buzzsaw guitar punk. A little piano gives it some Dollsy (or Duane Peters-y) swagger even. If you were a fan of the perfect shitstorm of garbage-punk that was Shoot It Up, you might not be that into this one... Scum stats: 200 copies with policewoman sleeve, and 100 limited edition copies with acetate sleeves, police tape "obi strip" and a Get Out Of Jail Free card (?!). (RK)
(No Front Teeth // www.yesmistresstv.com)

The Young “Dub Egg” LP
I've enjoyed The Young's records to date quite a bit, being hipped to them by Termbo staffer and former Austin resident (DH) way back when they just had a tape out. Their various singles were under-rated rippers (the Criminal IQ 7” in particular) and the ‘Voyagers of Legend’ LP was a great guitar record with psychedelic and space-rock accents done well. It was at least good enough to get them on Matador for their second LP. You can’t fault a band for changing a bit when the big boys start calling, but The Young really changed here. Just about any sign of the riffage and psych/stoned guitar drive and exploration of their previous efforts is gone. What we are left with is someone living out their Neil Young fandom on much of this, dipping into Seventies boogie/choogle at times, taking a bad side-trip into country rock and adding a few more songs that seem like stock swipes that could just be called “T.Rex Song” or “Big Star Song”. The most disturbing thing about this record is realizing that when the vocals get really whispery and croony it sounds way too much like Billy Corgan. Not sure what happened here – maybe they felt they had to step the songcraft up for the bigger label crowd, maybe Pitchfork got to them, maybe they thought they needed to try and compete with Kurt Vile, I have no idea and really have no right to guess. There’s a definite songwriting talent here (and possibly two good songs), but there’s little to no real "rock" or anything to latch onto in general. 'Dub Egg' is a real bummer, that’s about all I can say. Scum stats: the egg-themed vinyl (white wax with plain yellow labels) might have been a bit obvious but I still appreciate the effort, but I’m not sure when Matador started pressing Dynaflex records – you can practically bend this thing in half (…and it probably says something about how good I think this album is that I actually tried it…)(RK)
(Matador // www.matadorrecords.com)




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