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WINTER-INTO-SPRING RECORD REVIEWS 2013

Key: (LB: Lance Boyle)(SB: Young Steve)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RK: Rich K.)(RSF: Rob Vertigo)(ES: Eddie Schneider)(NG: Nick Goode)

Ash to Dust s/t 7”
A fairly low-fidelity recording of discordant riffy hardcore with wailing, distant, “hey the singer is in the other room” vocals. Lots of stop-start negative vibes, a few pummeling choruses wash right past on the A-side. The reverse’s “Realms” starts off very noodly-Flag, but drops out before the ideas seem like they come to fruition. “Bright Light” finally executes, with a double-time version of a “Damaged I” beat and lots of vocal/guitar freakout. A beefier recording and more of the long stuff would behoove these guys - this last track is a banger. Cover art features a giant tree penis coming out of a tar pit. Cool. (NG)
(Video Disease Records // www.videodiseaserecords.com)

Ausmuteants "Ah...What An Ugly Face Every Face Is" 7"
Aussie quartet, all of whom are coincidentally named Kurt, hailing from Geelong, a place John Sharkey once called "the place where dreams go to die". Members are active in running the Anti-Fade label and bands like Bonniwells, Living Eyes and Leather Towel (who I want to hear just based on their name, which is right up there with Dick Diver as best monikered Aussie bands...and speaking of which Ausmuteants is a good one itself). "Daylight Robbery" has a wheezy organ lead running over some great locked-in post-punk rhythm work from the rest of the band, "Spit on the Cat" sounds like a great punky Lost Sounds demo and even gets a bit Total Controlled. These kids have a good knack for being synthy without sounding too stereotypically synth-punk. "Red-Bellied Black Snake" has a certain Spits-like quality to its android punk rhythm and deadpan vox, "Bloody Rip Off" sounds like classic Aussie post-punk, female led in the vein of Suicide Squad perhaps, very anthemic vocally and instrumentally and the probable hit here. Very latter-day Aberrant sounding. As with most Aussie efforts, US distro provided by Easter Bilby.(RK)
(Heinous Anus // Easter Bilby!)

Avon Ladies s/t 7"
Authentic Clevo hardcore transplanted to the desert. I don't think all of that sun has done much to improve Chris Erba's mindset though, as he's still in fine form as one of the most maniacal frontmen of hardcore moderne. Perhaps his peyote intake has gone up, as there's a certain darkly lysergic underbelly to this band. This 7" is a few steps ahead of their first record, showing some more focus, some more directly channeled hate and bad vibes. True rippers. "Combat Shaman" is jackhammer hardcore muscle flexing. "Candy Sex" is THEE fucking track here, just a straight stab of classic Cleveland hardcore punk rock, the gang chorus is a thing of beauty and exactly what we want to hear from a band whose lineage goes back to H-100s and Ruiners. A real dirty tit stomper. B-Side starts off with another beating, with some bendy guitar scree initiating an avalanche of a breakdown. "Scrambler" tries to murder you before the record ends, with an anxiousbuild blasted apart and put back together and ripped up again. Menacing hardcore like this only comes from Cleveland, or from someone who has Cleveland in their blood. Grab this fucker before it grabs you. (RK)
(Distort/Fashionable Idiots // fashionableidiots.blogspot.com)

Bad Indians "Are on the Other Side" LP
I've reviewed a lot of this band's stuff, enough so where I feel like I'm boring you with the old "I wish they'd do something as good as the 'Live at the Burial Mound' LP" line I'm going to have to trot out. 13 song LP, all four of them swap vocals/songwriting chores which should make for some interesting stuff, or at least you'd hope. I can't say there's not anything good here - the girl who writes the cute C86 songs sounds adorbale ("She Is Gone" in particular) and their boilerplate "psych freak-out" is actually pretty good ("Scarlet Wrote To Say") and sounds more UK-style freak-psych than an American bad trip. The guy who wrote that one also did "The Path Home" which is an interesting proposal - sort of like what the Black Lips might've done with a Kiwi-pop song...not a bad angle to think about. He also did the B-Side opener "Love & A Shovel" which is a great Sixties referential garage smoker, like what I want every Apache Dropout song to sound like. They might want to consider letting this guy handle the bulk of the songwriting. His songs are the landmarks here, along with one or two from the others, but the filler in-between is just anonymous jangle and really vanilla soundingballads that I'd expect from a Brooklyn loft not the solid state of Michigan. There's certainly some good here, but it could use more.(RK)
(CQ Records // www.cqrecords.com)

Baby Tears “Rusty Years” LP
Mushed mouth scum covered rock outta Omaha, Nebraska. Crunchy as peanuts in a turd and just as tasty too. Hyperblown and somewhat textured in mulched metal overtones. A plodding noise(ier) rock variation of FNU Ronnies, mayhaps? A nasty thought, close cousin to Meat Mist? Maybe if the Meats brought in keyboards, chucked the MITB influence and trolled the Live Fast Die vibes a bit more. Bashed and bruised tunage I can get behind. Looks, feels and sounds like a Rotted Tooth Record. Better than another Frances Harold record or Mayyors clone. Moodier and willing to groove, unlike most of these types of acts. Pick one up. (Ex)Fag Cop sez so. There’s hardly any to go around. 200 pressed in screen printed jackets. (RSF)
(Rainy Road Records // www.rainyroadrecords.com)

Banditas "Save the Rats" LP
All-girl trio from Boston playing mid-tempo garagey rock with a recording credit due to Margaret from Mr. Airplane Man, which allows me to shoehorn that band reference in. Recorded in analog for a very confident guitar sound, the gals harmonize well and the songs have a more country/folk slant than Mr. AM or say The Husbands. Less garage fire, more soul here, with some pedal steel, a few ballads and a very dusty sheen to the reverb dynamics. Plenty of "woman scorned" songs, and the gospel-revival vibes would probably make these gals a hit at various hippie lovefests and organic food festivals. There's a "hidden" bonus live track on the B-Side that sounds like it was recorded with a handheld. They do their thing well enough and the production adds a good bit to their olde timey aesthetic. Not my thing, but this is probably pretty inspirational stuff for gal rockers in the making out there. Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Ride the Snake // www.ridethesnakerecords.com)

Banque Allemande "Willst du Chinese sein musst du die ekligen Sachen essen" LP
I'm not usually one for foreign dishes, but I did enjoy the 'Eins, Zwei' LP from Banque Allemande enough that I'm willing to look past the overbearing title of this one (something about a Chinese restaurant?) and give it the respect some guests from faraway lands deserve. BA hail from Berlin, and add a sense of class to what we can call "punk music" coming from one of the old world's richest centers of the arts. They create long sprawls of what, at base level, is really just 1-2 rock'n'roll but play it with an arty edge that takes the repetitiveness of the VU into a modern phase, with agressive guitar playing and a well greased rhythm section pushing the pedal to speeds that are often of the ramming variety. The closest modern band I can equate it to is France's Feeling of Love and their more recent efforts, but instead of the dreamier and psychedelic angle, BA take on a more assaultively punk charge. Or perhaps if Der TPK were really from Germany and played actual rock'n'roll music. I have no idea what any of these songs are about, as they're all sung in German, but Side 2/Song 2 sounds like it could have appeared on an AmRep Research & Development 7" with an earth-moving bass tone and face peeling guitar scorch. There's only six songs making up 40+ minutes worth of music, much of it being tightly swinging modern rock pounders with rich guitar tones. After a couple listens I come to the realization that there's not so much "art school" here as there is just a rock band with a great sense for dynamics and compostion letting their compostions take flight. Pretty heavy stuff, but not in a dopey way. Smart but not too pompous. That last song on the Side 1 is just a really good garage song when you get down to the root. Not a record to overthink (as I've already done), it's just mature rock'n'roll from foreign lands. Fantastic artwork too. Limited to 400 copies.(RK)
(S-S Records // www.s-srecords.com)

Bed Wettin' Bad Boys "Ready for Boredom" LP
I've been up and down with these Aussie dudes - not a fan initially but their second single had me thinking they had something aside from a terrible name. Even if they were borrowing liberally from The Replacements, they were doing so with some sort of Aussie-inflected dunderheadedness - I think dumbed-down power-pop depression was a possible comparison - slowed and drunk and wallowing in it, three guys who can't sing drowning in beer and things-gotta-get-better sentimentality. This is their most competently played record, and even though the singing hasn't caught up it's the best they've sounded and they still come off like they can barely play. Musically, it doesn't get any simpler - plain old rock'n'roll you've heard warmed over several times before. Pop songs about being lonely and shit being hard and relationships being tough. Plain matter-of-fact shit that they're wearing right there on their sleeves with a shit-eatin' grin. Like wimpy Eighties post-New Wave "rocking", not quite power-pop, but what was left of rock after punk had its way with it. Some of this shit honestly reminds of the nearly-embarrassing songs Steve Jones wrote in the latter Professionals days and on his solo records, just obvious sentimentality that's almost heartwarmingly dumb and hokey. Embarrasingly emotive, but these guys call themselves Bed Wetters, so maybe that's the schtick. Lowest common denominator heartstring pulling. It's almost clever. Almost. The Replacements certainly did it with a lot more flair and talent, and they were totally shitfaced most of the time. I imagine these guys are trying to be just as drunk, or at least I hope they are. It's not really depressing, as it's such a cartoon it's impossible to relate. Maybe they're just a bunch of scrappy losers trying to articulate their feelings and it coming off cloddy and buffoonish. Sitting around the pub crying into pints with your mates, waiting for something better to happen. I'm trying to find the entry into appreciating this for whatever it is. Average joe rock? ECSR play the everyman card, and do it perfectly and I believe in it. I believe in the things Brandon sings about, I believe in the sentiment ECSR's music conveys. These guys here just sound like a bunch of babies.(RK)
(RIP Society // US distro via Easter Bilby)

Bill Bondsmen “Overcrowded Control” 7"
Bill Bondsmen “Nineteen” 7"
“Overcrowded Control” leads off with hoarse and high Martin-y vocals over an effects-laden guitarist’s idea of an Eskorbuto song - particularly the bass playing - by way of Cleveland. These guys have been at it for a while, and this kind of sounds like the Daily Void went to 1999. Bizarre and great. “(Untitled)” borrows the beginning of Flag’s “No More” and takes it into some vaguely Rudimentary Peni territory (instrumentally, at least). Plodding and ripping. This one particularly makes me want to be scared by them in person. “Nineteen” is not the Dogs song, but is a teetering riff that’s at once completely haunting, threatening, and vicious - the entirely appropriate sounds of Detroit. The space guitars really kick this shit up a notch into a sweet mid-paced bedlam. Similarly, “Things Fall Apart” is unrelated to Chinua Achebe. It rounds out the double-whammy with a song structure imitating the car crash sentiments being shouted into a perfectly annoying locked groove. Great releases, and a band whose history is well worth digging into. (NG)
(self-Released // billbondsmen.blogspot.com)

Birth Deformities "Suburbanized" 10"
A little late on the review for this one, but it's one of the best ten inches I've heard in years! Yeah, that's sort of a joke, but not really. Ten inches are a neglected format for good reason, but you'll get your money's worth out of this one. Birth Deformities are Nic from Cowabunga's outfit with some dudes from Culo, and this record combines some spectacular packaging with pretty solid Midwestern hardcore-punk. No gimmicks, no overt Void aping, no reverbed to shit recording, no mysterious guy moves, no tough guy NYHC worship. This is pretty reverential 80s punk that reminds me of DKs, a less weird version of the WI classics, and even Fatal Rage (as someone else pointed out to me). The no frills production helps it stick to the totally straightforward course, vocals are barked but not growled, "Don't Set Me Off" and "I Messed Up" would be the two tracks I'd pick for a comp. Honestly, the artwork on this elevates the music to make them a bit more than average, but it's just as good as any Culo record I've heard. Would've made a great 7", but the packaging wouldn't be as gonzo then...Scum stats: pretty fucked. 630 pressed total: 100 on green mixed for mailorder only, 105 on marble blue (UK edition), 425 on black. There's also a test press edition (20) and a tour edition (30 that came out before they had covers?). Anyway, this thing has some of my favorite art of 2012, an elaborate pen and markers job by an artist known as Drug Face, a jumbo poster sized insert version of the cover (in full color - "most" of the copies have this), hand stamped or drawn labels and and a silk screened inner sleeve with lyrics. A+.(RK)
(Cowabunga Records // www.cowabungarecords.com)

Black Boots s/t 7”
Six track EP of throwback budget slop and organ gonzo-soul produced in an automotive scrap heap. Comes from the land of the Space Burrito and their scent lingers here like a stinky cheese. “The Raven” pounds as if the early R&R Adventure Kids teamed up with The Okmoniks to 'Get Real Stupid'. There’s “Blood Fever”; an instrumentals that would’ve done Estrus a solid in their Crust Club era. “See Right Through” shows of the frontman’s pained Oblivians rasp quite nicely. A kit bashing catchiness I can’t deny. Just when you think these Boots are too gorked on a model glue high, they strut out a strong bluesy guitar solo and cut through the clatter. The keyboard lass shows off her chops (chomps?) during “Waste Time” and “Bottle In My Hand” with her vocals landing on the sturdy punker grounds between Terri Wahl and a young Exene. If you got a sizable stack of Drags 45s on steady repeat, this might be an excellent choice for you to pick up at the next record swap. I assume Thee Corman’s have tried to fuck ‘em or eat ‘em by now. Far better than I’d imagined. Fun trashy shit. Grey marbled vinyl in a Total Punk–esque stamped sleeve. (RSF)
(self-released // blackboots.bandcamp.com)

The Blind Shake "Garbage on Glue" 7"
I'll admit to not knowing shit about The Blind Shake until they started playing with Michael Yonkers, and even now I'm still playing catch-up. They've made at least a half-dozen LPs (some with Yonkers, some without) and have been rocking Minnesota for almost a decade and are certainly a rock (and psych) band to be reckoned with. If you're not familiar with them at all, well this is as fine a starting point as any. Both songs are heavy and rhythmic weird-psych, and put them on a playing field that only bands led by Timmy Vulgar are usually allowed to operate on. "Garbage on Glue" has oddball-punk angle that could make you think of a really smart Spits, or a less-robotic A-Frames in the way they work the repetition. "Go Go 78" is the sneaky B-Side killer though, it's psych-rock done somewhere in the middle ground between Human Eye and Puffy Areolas (at their best), almost Stoogeoid at times in it's dark riff workout. A deceptively simple song that outrocks a good portion of the country's peddlers of things heavy. A band that is certainly deserving of more attention/respect than I think they get, and this record is another reason why.(RK)
(Sweet Rot // www.sweetrotrecords.com)

Bomber Jackets “Centurion Timeline” 7”
A couple of Pheromoans and a friend throw their entry into the bedroom synth sweepstakes. “Larching” plinks along real shabby like, offering Genesis P. tone deaf vocals over an afterthought of a drum and key tune. The title track actually does a swell job of bringing to mind some of the earliest attempts of this sort’ thing. Shoulda started out with this’n instead. It’s not stellar, but definitely offers up that Mute or Industrial records fledgling sound. Real drums (or better machine programming) bring “Male Bimbos” to the forefront of the heap. More Gristle-isms still, but the track has this calypso gone wrong and even a Seventeen Seconds Cure demo feel. Eighties Italio-gutbuster film scores haunt underneath its industrial overtones. If only the second and third track were pressed up, it’d make for a much more favorable listen, at least to my ears. The opener kinda gets things off on a lame foot whereas the other 2/3rds sorta rule the roost. Be careful of where the needle drops, children. (RSF)
(Night School // www.nightschoolrecords.bigcartel.com)

Broken Prayer s/t LP
Chicago heavyweight division outfit featuring ex-members of Civic Progress, Libyans, Posion Planet and others. None of those bands were very remarkable, I'll admit, but Broken Prayer are better than their resume will have you believe. I've heard people mentioning an AmRep/T&G style attack from these guys, and it's there a slight bit via the bass playing/sound and the sorta post-hardcore angles on the more lumbering tempo'd songs. The real rub here is the synth/electronics, which they utilize as a textural effect and noise attack very effectively. Sometimes it seems like they just have a wall of feedback/static in the background, sometimes it juts out with dirty sounding laser effects or squeals. When they just have the synth ride shotgun with the rhythm section, it's not as hot sounding, and comes off like a faster and less dynamic Lost Sounds. The meatiest tunes reside on Side B - "Proud" has a really nasty synth sound and I'll allow them the Screamers reference on this one, "Father Figure" achieves maximum Amrepitude and has some earsplitting noise squalls, "Had to Laugh" seems to grab a bit for the neo-goth thing the kids love today and actually sound good doing it. When Broken Prayer play it fast-n-hard they sound like your average b-grade hardcore with a synth player trying to keep up. When they finesse it to mid-tempo or slower they have some interesting moves. This LP is split about 50/50 between those two variations. The lyrics/song concepts are a bit trite, but it's anencouraging effort from some kids who are probably starting to look past the HC scene a bit. Growth is always good. (RK)
(Sorry State // www.sorrystaterecords.com)

Buck Gooter "Witch Molecules" LP
The White Boy-esque pairing of old dude and young dude rocking out together makes Buck Gooter interesting on paper, as does the fact of their hailing from smalltown Virginia. I was into the weirdness at first, but with each release it's become a bit too much of the same old song. The duo play guitar and twiddle with electronics and drum machines for industrial strength noise-rock rhythms over which they alternate screaming and/or bellowing words. It's metal-heavy at times, most certainly abrasive. The electronics work is primitive squelch, and it gets under your skin in both good and bad ways. As a somewhat experimental noise project, this succeeds. I get the Wolf Eyes reference - I don't get the Killdozer or Flipper reference, except for the volume. Those two bands wrote rock songs. Buck Gooter are just working out variations on a theme, which is noisy as can be, but not exactly making for great tunes. There's very little variation to the grind, to the point where you start to feel like you're listening to the same song over and over. Could have been a good fit on the early Nineties Noiseville roster. Nothing too memorable, but they certainly execute their idea with maximum aggression. The most interesting thing here is that they wrote a song about Judith Scott. (RK)
(Beau Trevail/X-Mist // beautravail.bigcartel.com)

Buffalo Tooth "Only Son" 7"
The psych-blues from the Bay Area trio with members of Glitter Wizard, shockingly enough. Title cut is a real Bay blazer, proto-metal/NWOBHM influenced, but also cribbing some guitar parts from "Kill 'em All" and the Iommi catalog. Drummer really pounds it out and the guitar fuzz is palpable. You can't really knock this one, it's a legit ball buster. "Head Trip" on the flip is more of a bluesrock jammer that reminds me of Mountain more than anything. A little Blue Cheer as well I suppose. Buffalo Tooth are more of a straightforward rock'n'roll affair than the jumble of genres that Glitter Wizard peddles and appear to be costume-free. I also know that this record would get serious plays if placed in the jukebox of any dive/biker bar.(RK)
(Archer's Guild // buffalotooth.bandcamp.com)

Cartoons "She's A Rock and Roller" 7"
Yonkers KBD-punk that I wasn't all that familiar with, which was comped on a Hyped to Death volume at some point, but who the hell could even keep up with that series? Two sides of 100% punk, "She's A Rock'n'Roller" is a Pistols-esque rocker with Lydon-like sneer, buzzsaw guitar, a ripper of a solo and a big finish. "Who Cares" takes a more Thunders/Heartbreakers approach, again with killer guitar making it go over big time. Rumor has it this was possibly a "fake punk" record made as a promotion for a hair salon?! If true, that makes it even better. Highly recommended for fans of NY-style punk with tough guitar and one of the few KBD-era reissues of late whose musical quality is equal to its obscurity.(RK)
(Last Laugh // www.almostreadyrecords.com/llr.htm)

Case Studies "Villain" 7"
Years ago when my old buddy Danny Ferducci (RIP) from Boom Boom Records was telling me about this terrible band from Seattle called The Flying Dutchmen, I certainly never thought that nearly ten years later I would be listening to an acoustic folk 7" from the guy who was the brains behind that outfit. And on top of that, I certainly never thought I would actually be liking it. Danny is probably rolling over in his gave knowing that Lortz has gone folk and that I'm actually buying into it as well. Seriously though, as good as Thee Dutchies were, the Fe Fi Fo Fums were even greater, and I feel their sole LP will stand the test of time and be regarded as one of the classics of (true) Budget Rock for future generations. Then we have The Dutchess & The Duke. Their singles and first LP are some of the most important music to me, personally, of the past decade, and I mean that. "She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke" is a record I will take to my grave. D&D imploded after a couple LPs, and Jesse retreated into solo recording as Case Studies. I haven't really talked about CS so much, as I'm no folk music expert. When I'm listening to these recordings I'm just in awe of Lortz's knack for writing such heartwrenching tunes, and his ability to produce so many of them. This guy's well of inner torment and sadness seems to have no bottom. And while I empathize and wish him nothing but the best as a person, I have to admit it makes for really great music. I feel like Ferducci would have enjoyed that sort of exploitation at least. Both songs are stellar acoustic guitar-led weepers, with Lortz harmonizing with himself and some slight percussion providing depth. "Villain" is the slower and outright sad track and "Dull Knife" is a more D&D-esque slightly uptempo number with a weary soul. I recommend buying absolutely everything this guy has ever recorded, as he's one of my favorite artists of the past decade and doesn't get the respect he deserves for making some of the most endearing records of modern times, and having the talent to leap across genres while doing so. But I get the feeling that maybe he likes it that way. You need this guy's music in your life.(RK)
(Sweet Rot // www.sweetrotrecords.com)

CC Riders s/t LP
Memphis super-jam group led by Monsieur Jeffrey Evans, with a backing band made up of Jay Reatard (guitar) and Alicja Trout (drums) right around the genesis of Lost Sounds and James Arthur (who was also playing in the Legs at the time, post-Necessary Evils) on guitar as well. Now, before you get thinking about the wild and crazy guitar antics this band could get up to with those players, just cool your jets (although this thing will get hairy, don't worry...). You need to think of this as a Jeff Evans record first and foremost and then you won't let yourself down. If you read the liners or any interviews regarding the band, this was basically a vehicle for Jeff with Jay, James and Alicja happy to be along for the ride and play in a band with a legendary guy they all admired very much. It's a mix of Mr. Evan's usual menu: some standards, some garagey versions of punk tunes and a few of his story-tellin' originals. "The Long Long Ballad of the Red-headed Girl" is literally long, but a great Evans honky-tonk spiel-type thing. My favorite moment on this is a real Memphis-style rave-up version of "I Gotta Right" that quite honestly slays. They also do a pretty fucking killer "Train Kepta Rollin'" with plenty of guitar shred. "King Riders Boogie" is righteous Memphis garage and "This Pussy's Gotta Give" is a good reminder that Jeff is punk as fuck and not afraid to work blue. The record closes with three "blues" variations, with Merle Haggard's "Workin Man Blues" particulary motivated and rockin'. A record that's a lot of fun to listen to, particularly if you're a Jeff Evans fanatic, but Reatards fans will dig on it too. I'm happy to add this to my Memphis collection. Scum stats: 500 copies. (RK)
(Spacecase Records // www.spacecaserecords.com)

CCR Headcleaner s/t 7"
Jam-packed EP from some Bay Area weirdos, four long tunes that stretch the limits of the 7" format to near-breaking point. The only thing I really know about these dudes is that there are some members of Long Legged Woman involved, whose LP from a few years ago was an under-the-radar favorite around here at HQ. So under-the-radar that I even forgot about it until now, but that's my fault not the band's. I think there might be some sort of last-lineup Hospitals connection as well, but that's no more than a semi-educated guess on my part. In relation to modern sounds, I feel like they might be on a similar wavelength as Puffy Areolas, in a psych-punk trip with massive guitar hemorrhaging way. Or perhaps the negative space version of Thee OhSees. Or a more purposeful Big Black Cloud. They're definite brown acid trippers, not day-glo Wavy Gravy flower children. They start off sprinting with "53rd and 420", gradually slowing the riff down and down, the vox taking a turn for the feral as the pacing turns into a discordant guitar battle. "Life of the Party" slips in the backdoor with a Satanic riff and the reverbed vox slathered on nice and thick (this is the one that will make you think Puffys), but it's all too brief. "Cocoon" sounds very Columbus, El Jesus de Magico vs. the latest Pink Reason style. Slow and feeling low. "Sanctuary City" closes it out with a broken down jam session that stinks a bit of patchouli. I was peaking for the A-Side of this, but the B-Side is a gross 7am come down. They look like hippes, but I dig some of their scene. (RK)
(Caesar Cuts // caesarcuts.blogspot.com)

The Coltranes "I've Got Heaven In My Smile" LP
The Coltranes "Visions of Terror and Bliss/Chrisbenoit" EP
The Coltranes are a fresh-outta-high-school trio of freaks from some nowheresville town in the California desert, and you need to hear them. Leave it to France's Shogun Records to be so far ahead of the game that they've already released two full lengths from these kids. The "Visions/Chrisbenoit" 12" is a compilation of two early demos/EPs, and they're not as fully realized as the "I've Got Heaven..." LP, which is where you need to start. On this LP The Coltranes sound exactly like what I want a weird-punk record to be in 2013, which is to not sound like much else out there. I guess hardcore would be the starting point, but they twist so much other shit into it that you can't really call them a hardcore band. It's just acid-fried weirdness, with elements of metal, grunge (or "alternative rock", depending on how old you are) and garage-punk all making up a bizarre genre of their own. For lads as young as they are, I can't imagine how they've processed all the bands and records that their music references - perhaps that's the wonder of the digital age and instant downloading, that they were able to achieve what used to take us ten years of record store digging and tape trading into probably a fraction of the time. Or maybe they just arrived at this sound naturally and haven't even heard half of the bands that I think they sound like. But no matter how they arrived at this LP, the music is fantastic and has had me excitedly listening for weeks now. Agressive punk rock damage, with the vocal duties split up between one kid that has a raw and screaming delivery and another kid who croons like Glenn Danzig - both are great, but the Danzig soundalike just makes his tunes even weirder and better. NASA Space Universe might be their closest relatives musically (they are labelmates of course), but even that's a stretch. I hear everything from Tar Babies to the AmRep roster to Flipper to Nirvana to Timmy Vulgar bands to The Feelers to thrash to surf...I could keep going. They alternate between HC-speed rippers to doom-riding dirges, with heaps of outstanding riffs and breakdowns, weird guitar sounds, submarining basslines and tricky drum playing. Desperate sounding and smart songs, perhaps a reflection of teenage angst against desert burnout and boredom-induced drug experimentation. The thin recording just makes things seem more odd - sometimes I think I'd like to hear these songs with someone like Mike McHugh giving it a huge and nasty sound, but in the end I guess the trebly production gives it some more character and even keeps them even further from sounding like anyone else. There are these weird alt-rock parts that remind me somewhat of the Dry-Rot/Uranium Orchard songs that aren't hardcore tunes. It's all very dark and downward spiralling though, with what sounds like a radio interview from an old Art Bell show connecting some of the tracks together. Surfy mosh-parts are juxtaposed against noisy freakouts and slo-mo crawls. Serious breakdown riffing happens often. Hammerhead sci-fi vibes even. I want you to listen to this record. Get the '...Heaven...' LP from somewhere, and if you like it (which you should), then go back and try the EP compilation. It isn't nearly as good, and sounds more like a typical teenage HC-punk band figuring out what they're doing, but it has glimpses of the fantasy world that is the LP. This thing is almost a year old now and I feel like it should be getting people's attention somewhere other than Temecula, CA - I can't imagine how weird that punk scene must be, and I'm betting The Coltranes are even fringe dwellers there. Scum stats: 500 copies of each, on heavy vinyl with full color inserts.(RK)
(Shogun Records // thecoltranes.bigcartel.com)

Cop City Chill Pillars “Hosed” LP
So this ain't two separate bands? Vewwy inneresting. I vaguely remember hearing the first record, but blew it off mostly due to the dumb weed eating alien artwork. Ruff stuff, I tell ya’. Sleeve design strictly for Burger fanboys. What I recall was catchy/punky/bedroomy/weirdy/beardy - but not enough of any (or all) of those things for me to wanna revisit. Hosed on the other hand is a different warbly beast, altogether. The same catch-punk structures are apparent but really frazzled in that Ralphian wrecks kinda way. Floating in a vodka infused sub-q fluid and oxycodone cocktail, the slurring junkie in command vaguely remembers to sit up and talks of such things as carpet lollipops and bottomless stomach pits; things of interest to most young adults. Drugs are at work here, boys. Nods to a nodding off Electric Bunnies at their most off kilter best. These Cop Citians are better than the landslide of a Blank Dog inspired pancakes that repeatedly try to bury me in the reviewing crawlspace on a bi-weekly basis. I’ve had to Wet-Vac away a few hundred of them pesky critters just to find the room to type this. If anything negative can be said about this full-length, it is probably a tad too much. The mid-tempo never really changes pace and the woozy tone doesn’t venture too far from its chosen path. It's borderline trance inducing, which may be the point. You’re supposed to feel uncomfortable. Fidgety and nervous. Perhaps the tapes were warped or peeling even before the plates were pressed? I’m starting to crack by the 3/4 mark. Haven’t I heard this before? Is my nose bleeding? I'd suggest taking it all in sober and while sitting upright, so not to choke to death in chunder. Prescription from Doc Vertigo is one side per setting. (RSF)
(Florida’s Dying // www.floridasdying.com)

Crappy Nightmareville “Nautilus” 7”
At first I thought this was Crappy Dracula - and that wasn’t gonna’ bode well for anyone. “Nautilus” comes across as whimsical and sickly at the same time. A woozy drunken lullaby, bobbling along like the score to an Ernie Kovacs drinking binge. Mitch O’ Connell should put together an animated video for them. More vaudevillian terrors are conjured on the flip’s “Bionic Pet Sounds”. Circus contraptions calliope onward, until the second half turns down a dark alley, leading towards Residents terrain. Playful at the start of the day, yet crashing like a hung-over bowery bum once night falls. Effective, but never gets as weird as you really want it to be. Would work well accompanying tattered 16mm strip loops, an early Todd Solondz film, or even as a live street corner jamboree - but as a vinyl platter (and tragically not a wax cylinder) I can’t imagine many rotations on its own.(RSF)
(Black Velvet Fuckre // myspace.com/crappynightmareville)

Cuntz "Aloha" LP
I'll say it for the hundredth time: these new Australian bands just continue to kick asses and take names. 'Aloha' kicks off 2013 with a massive headache, coming off like Flipper and Venom P. Stinger in a head-on collision. Pick up the pieces and glue them back together haphazardly and you get this. "Homeless" is not a dedication to their label, but about the actual homeless. And eating ice cream. They are truly delving into the seedy side here. Songs about meth, bums, alcholism, gambling and other filthy vices. I was sure this band were a bunch of grizzled veterans, but from what I've gleaned they're a bunch of young up-n-cummers, a new wave of Aussie muckers rolling about in the dirt. Thank god for them. There are plenty of throbbing basslines here, a rhythmm machine that operates at two speeds: steamroller and tank. The vox are a treat, as the fella sounds like a nutter, spitting out his tales from the wrong side of the tracks like a forceful drunk conversationalist - staring direct in your eyes and talking AT you, not to you, and certainly not allowing you to get any words in edgewise. They're not just head-down pummelers though, these guys have some finesse, some clever post-punky tricks, a devious Fall-like twist of the shiv here and there. "Lost" slips in an electrified keyboard bleat while this guy puts a new twist on the David Yow lyrical approach. This melts into "Meth", which pastes together a sticky synth-line and pointy guitar. Really seasick in a way that truly does recall Flipper. "Hip Hop" comes up with another incredible synth sound (or is that a fucking guitar?!) that I believe they stole from a Tubeway Army record and repurpose here for ultimate rhythmic hypnosis while this guy mumbles his lines like he has dementia. "Punt" is ground-in-the-dirt pound with a touching AC/DC tribute. As I've said already, the singer does a good thing by using Yow's stylish cadence/ramble for his delivery but not adopting the actual singing voice (if that makes any sense). At this point in the record you'll feel as if you need a punch in the face, and "Hoonin'" delivers it. "Mum" is a monolith that sounds like heavy mining equipment operating in a massive cavern a few leagues under sea level, very dangerously close to the earth's crust. They end the record on a pleasant note, which I'll leave you to discover on your own. Just a massive, massive record, and one of a very few (if any at all) that are deserving of the Venom P. Stinger namedrop. Scum stats: painfully limited to 300 copies, but I've heard rumors of a repress...(RK)
(Homeless // US distro via Easter Bilby Inc.)

Dead Ghosts "I Sleep Alone" 7"
Two lo-fi tracks from one of the better Black Lips emulators. I'm not ragging on Dead Ghosts for it, but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who wouldn't say they sound pretty goddamn similar to Atlanta's favorite sons. I still love the Black Lips and I like some of the bands that ape them too. It's a good sound to mimic. "I Sleep Alone" is country-styled weeper, one guitar going twangy the other sliding, an echoed vocal and some sad-sack lyricizing emphasized with a melancholy organ solo. Black Byrds. "Spot A Trend" is a practice space recording that sounds good and haggard with a really drunk-n-sloppy vocal and a choice guitar-fuzz tone that combine for a splendid mid-tempo garage tune that has me misty eyed thinking about the Lips before Vice got a hold of them. I'm slightly bummed that it fades out, but what can ya do. I like the hand drawn "labels", it adds a very personal touch. I just wish there was a little more meat on this sandwich.(RK)
(Randy Records // randyrecords.blogspot.com)

Death Camp "Teenage Nightmare" 7" EP
More quality goods from the Rotcore scene, this time in the form of four heavy metal songs with some hardcore leanings from a bunch of young swine calling themselves Death Camp. The guitar player from Brain Car/Bad Taste steps up to the mic here with a twin-guitar thrash attack behind him. "Teenage Nightmare" is the closest they get to hardcore on this EP, in a NYHC vein a la Warzone: there are at least two heavy duty breakdowns, super tough-guy vox and one ripping guitar solo. "Empty Space" is the middle ground between that song and Exodus (the band not the movie). The B-Side is essentially straight thrash metal, "Punch/Line" sounds like a Testament tune off of 'The Legacy' or 'New Order' and "Curtain Call" follows the trail Nuclear Assault blazed. I've seen some mention that there's a goth element to Death Camp, but I don't see it unless we're describing the singer's haircut or the fact that the Rev. Jimmy Sinn did the artwork. This shit is way too macho to be called goth. The first record on Black Rebel, run by Cam from Rational Animals. Great art/logo, comes with foldout poster/lyric sheet as well. (RK)
(Black Rebel // blackrebel.bigcartel.com)

Desperat “Demokrati Eller Diktatur?” 7”
Excellent second EP from this group of old Swedes. The dense recording reminds me of the later Avskum stuff without all the stray open notes, but Desperat are straying a little bit further from what they were doing a decade or two ago than those guys. Dee beat indeed, but this doesn’t really need to be considered amongst the drain-clogging deluge of that wave. This is the Hudiksvall sound made a little bit more gruff. A healthy amount of Swedish introspection leads to the lift of a Headcleaners riff on “10.000 Offer” (a song about Catholic pedophiles) to great effect. “Sveriges Största Ljugarbänk” is the tastiest kött on the platter - sounds like Anti-Cimex attempting to write a song for Runnin Riot in 84. Beautiful layout from Umeå’s busiest punk Marcus, who has completely defined what good Swedish punk records look like in the 21st century. A great release, and heartening as usual to see guys from the old guard refuse to Ginn… they’ve done well at making something new and interesting.(NG)
(Beach Impediment Records // beachimpedimentrecords.blogspot.com)

Divorce s/t LP
Grinding teeth-to-the-gums noise rock. Partially electro-driven and buried in fits of shrill feedback. Vocals sound like Ragan McNeil under the spell of Captain Howdy. I'd be surprised if this front-gal Jennie Fulk didn’t vomit before, after and during every show. She's gotta at least shit her pants from time to time. OMFG. All I can imagine is some ghastly twig of a thing, writhing under a fright wig, biting and the heads offa infants and speaking in goblin tongues. Musically there’s the rhythms of the now tried n’ true Jesus Lizard formula, but the spastic layers of power and violence (and not always at the same time) keep them from sounding like the usual clones out there. Sonically, this is way more fucking depraved. Like a No Wave skull mulch being flung at your head by some meth-jazz fanatic. Not too removed from a No Babies swill or the ugly slop Meat Mist shovels about, either. That'd be a tour, let me tell ya. Maybe they can come to the states once their home arrest ankle bracelets expire. Dees-gust-ing. Another Rotted Tooth Recording, not on Rotted Tooth. Fancy screen printed sleeves and either purple or green vinyl. 500 pressed, I think? (RSF)
(Night School // www.nightschoolrecords.com)

Endless Grinning Skulls “Fear, Ignorance, Control” 7” EP
Unhinged and fairly creative, dark and bleak hardcore that’s pretty reminiscent of Deathreat - low-pitched caterwauling vocals sitting on top of dirty instrumentation. Less exciting guitarwork than their last 7”, but still hanging around in the same dingy corner. “Grovel” gets a little bit Die Kreuzen goes to Boston. Four tracks of anti-Sunday school anthems that will provide a fitting soundtrack for the copious black smoke air pollution of Papal Conclave ‘13. Nice layout on the sleeve that folds out into a great Ilth-meets-Rudi P collage. (NG)
(Viral Age Records // viralagerecords.blogspot.com)

Ex Con s/t 7"
Looking at the cover of this I was expecting some sort of Die Antwoord-esque schitck (or maybe a Circle Pit parody), and guess what? I was 100% wrong. Recorded live after hours at some tavern (with all parties involved being hammered I imagine), with the guitar player from Slug Guts swinging death riffs around his head with no regard for the personal safety of the straggling regular patrons finishing up their last call beers. He is joined by a ferocious woman on vocals and a rhythm section that sounds like a couple guys who work in a rock quarry. Reverbed to the max, and it sounds brilliant. This is primo scree noise rock, using the Pussy Galore theory as some sort of beginning to their own end. The two A-Siders burn hot and fast, one with a gnarly metal-riff breakdown that's sheer evil, the other a possible example of what The Cramps might have been like had they been born thirty years later and fetishized labels like Black Eye and Aberrant instead of Sun Records. The band gets to stretch their legs on the B-Side ("Right Brain"), with a guitar solo adventure that plays itself into some sort of self-destructing loop. Death riding a fucking surfboard. Recorded by Luke from Blank Realm for added credibility. I feel like Brendon would've been pushing this heavily in the pages of NGL, which is the best endorsement one could probably give this record. Buy buy. Scum stats: 200 copies.(RK)
(Bon Voyage // bonvoyage.bandcamp.com)

Ex-Cult s/t LP
Ex-Cult are in the enviable position to possibly be the next Goner band to go big, or least they've been dealt the hand and we're going to see how they play it. Favorable press from the main(er)streams (Pitchfolk and lesser hype-blogs), the credibilty of Goner behind them (which to true-believers like us means a hell of a lot, but to yer average blog-gobbler simply means they played for the same minor league team as Ty Segall, ECSR and Jay Reatard - no slight to Goner intended), a big rub from Ty Segall himself (interview name drops and a production credit) and what will probably be some heavy touring supporting Ty and associates have stacked the deck in their favor. I'll be honest and say I'm rooting for them, if just because I love Goner. Musically, I haven't exactly been blown away byt he singles leading to this LP. The interesting thing here is that this is basically a crew of indie-rockers (most of the Magic Kids) who got a hardcore guy to sing for them (ex-Vile Nation fella). Much of the time they sound like an American version of UV Race, taking the simplistic thud of the UV and leading it further into post-punk territory. They're making a lot of Wire comparisons and I suppose it's there, but with the angularity filed down by guitar jangle. It's well put together, but it seems like some tracks are treading water in the twin-guitar pool that certainly sounds right texturally, but might be a bit lacking in the hook department. I think they're trying to stay away from the obvious hook-laden indie-jangle though and playing up the stoic and workmanlike Aussie-style of Eddy Current or the UV (again). "Better Life Through Chemistry" is probably the hookiest tune here and it makes for a good posi-vibe rocker. "Don't Feel Anything" is a short and dark reverber that shows they can move and swing well, but I wish they'd do it more. "MPD" (which was the teaser single for this LP) is most definitely the strongest and most identifiable track - it's dynamic enough where they don't just sound like they're trying on another band's tricks for size. "Day to Day" is deep and dark and shows off a punk edge. "On Film" might be the best song concept here - great guitar interplay, almost sounds like a Ponys or even a RCTL cut with a dark rock feel, best vocal hook and lyric for sure. They got the reverb on the vox right, but I feel like this guy is affecting an accent somehow. Who knows. This certainly isn't a bad record, but the pastiche elements leave me feeling like they're still working their identity out, which is fine. They're a young band with time to grow. They've played their hand as well as they're going to here, but they're going to have to up the ante if they want to get to the big table. Man, these card playing references are terrible, I'm sorry...(RK)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)

Fake Limbs “Man Feelings” LP
This LP is as Chicago as those stupid hot dogs. You know, the ones with cucumber and celery salt up on ‘em? Fake Limbs is coming from a place and time when Chicago was Touch & Go and Touch & Go was indie rock, emphasis on the rock. They have the Jesus Lizard rhythm section arting it up a smidge under a restrained Dave Thomas caterwaul. Like a savant yelper who’s having a problem spewing towards the microphone (shoulda’ gotten a multidirectional). Bob Weston produced it and it’s as tight as any Shellac tune, but with a more cock rocking guitar added. Still, I dunno’ about all this. Fun to watch, I’m sure…but a chore to make it thru in a single setting. Occasionally their 90’s influence of math and/or the post hardcore clears and I’m left thinking Rage Against The Machine if fronted by an apolitical nerd with cleaner hair. That don’t fare good for no one. The jacket could be framed and hung next to your first Pissed Jeans LP, completing your suburban home mutilation motif. But for the love of Allah, don’t play ‘em back to back. Those polite bruisers in the Jeans will take out these dudes shins, then drive ‘em to the emergency ward. (RSF)
(Blvd Records // www.blvdrecords.com)

The Finders "Finders Keepers" LP
Studio recordings and demos retrospective from the post-Rockers outfit The Finders. Recorded between '81-83, these guys were certainly trying to hit the pop charts and obviously didn't make it. Why didn't they "make it", you might wonder? Well, they weren't very good, that's why. Pretty limp borderline AOR power-pop, with a novelty Three Stooges tunes ("Calling Dr. Howard" - which isn't even as good as "The Curly Shuffle" hook-wise) being their biggest claim to fame. Lots of really obvious and cliched songwriting, mundane hooks you can see coming a mile away and a singer that isn't the greatest at carrying a tune. A pretty painful listen for me, but I'm also a guy who will love some of the most bottom-of-the-barrel KBD retrospectives. So I'm certain there are powerpop geeks out there who will find some merit here. That Rockers 7" is hot stuff, so I'm wondering what happened...(RK)
(Cheap Rewards // www.cheaprewards.net)

Flesh Lights “Too Big To Fail” 2x7”
Double whack attack of TX garage punk. “Too Big To Fail” leads things off with a deep swagger and a thundering MC5 yank-away outro. Gang choruses (by John Wesley Coleman III, obviously) and studded belt worship that feels as much akin to Turbonegro as it does OBNIIIs. A meaty punch. “Flashback” is more of what I was initially expecting; a catchy, throbbing and very much an Austin sounding thing. Sorta poppy, in that crunchy Texas sound they all do so well (and often). Think of it as a happier (!?) Video recording. “No No No” should wet the panties of the Hozac magazine old guard. This is my fave of the double stack. More of them Williamson meets Kramer leads blasting away, bringing to mind the better Hellacopters records (they DID have some), if you were to strip the overproduction back to basics. Not all the way back to the 'Supershitty...' era, but still...pretty, pretty good and raw. “Lens” is a pounder that's more in sync with the peppier B-side. It’s awrite. They let it open up a tad in the second half with a busy-fit prog break that will surprise first time listeners and get you’re Crimson lovin’ uncle on board. Bass blasts and another one of them monsters-of-rock solos. Two of the songs are solid hitters and the other deuce that’s workin' the back seat don’t hurt neither. I hear they used to be more power pop inclined? Thank Christ they scrapped that gout away. If you’re down with the modern TeXas sound or need something to tide you over that obviously lazy Orville Neeley (har) heads over to the studio with a case of beer and quarter inch tape, this'll do ya just fine. 300 sets pressed, 100 on green. Comes with an advert to order custom fit studded gloves. Prepare yourself. It’s leather nite at the Chain Drive. (RSF)
(Super Secret Records // www.supersecretrecords.com)

Friend Collector “American” LP
Well here’s a tasty scrapheap for the headphoned self-haters out there. Friend Collector is a Baltimore band made up of tinnitus league scene filet’ers that spent their “formative” years in such decadent sludge acts as Pfisters and The New Flesh…and boy howdy, does it show. Both of said bands most brutal moments are on display, thrice fold. You get the manic grunt and pummel of the Pfist, sans the jazz-bo antics and Scratch Acid worship. You get that ugly, throbbing sonic chunder of the Flesh, but even less musical. I should say less AmRep instead; they still carry a tune underneath all that gorilla bludgeon. Records like this are good as any argument as for gun control. Bad day >lock n’ load >clean those fucking streets. Something for the Travis Bickle in all of us. Crank up the Walkman and skip away those rainy, sewer filled nights in this rotting metropolis. The fed up, barked out vocals reek of a hardcore Oxbow more than any David Yow or Michael Gira. Some bits remind me of a less slushy Drunkdriver (maybe a non-rock Pygmy Shrews?) or if the Unholy Two where to lay off the drugs, sober up and became less wretched. The hog grunt simplicity of the eight minute platter ender “Stacking the Deck” isn’t reinventing noiserock, but it is shoving it slowly through a meat processor a dozen or so times over. What remains is spat out the other end; the bare and gristly essentials to being just ugly. You’ll know within seconds if yer down with Friend Collector’s sounds or not. Man up and enjoy the rotation or go play dress up with some broken dumpster Barbies. “You make the move…You make the move...It's your move…Don't try it, you fuck…” (RSF)
(Terra Firma // www.terrafirmarecords.bandcamp.com)

Fruiting Bodies “Wilderness Pill” 7”
A double shot of rolling instrumental thickness, making the best of post-grunge/post-rock/post-post sound. Not overly mathy - so don’t expect to confuse this with Don Cab, AMF or something awful like (shudder) Cap’n Jazz. It’s heavier and bordering on some southern sounds, like if you fed a plateful of Screaming Trees leafy greens to the pork belly of Engine Kid. It ain’t bad, but I’m still waiting for the vocals to kick in. Who are they? They’re from Seattle and proud. That’s all I know. 500 pressed. Silk-screened in a classy envelope style sleeve. (RSF)
(Suburban Sprawl // www.suburbansprawlmusic.com)

The Gaggers “Rip You Apart” LP
The UK has had a fevered history of fashion punks. Blame Malcolm McClaren. I’ve been down on the retro suited, safety-pinned and polka-dotted crowd for so long that I even wrote a song about it some ten years ago. (It was about The Briefs, so not a hard song to write.) Still, sometimes you’re able to look past all that silly shit – like bondage pants and vegetable-dyed hair – and realize you’re spinning a pretty damn good record. The Gaggers have flung a few near golden E.P.s stateside, but other than Bat Shit Records, yours truly and maybe Termbro #1 (Rich), no one else seemed to care. Whatever stick is up your collective ass should be removed before any internal damage settles in. There are at least twelve of you ‘tards reading this - wasting your boss’s dime while surfing the webz – who would eat this up whole. 'Rip You Apart' collects a few tracks from earlier singles and a heaping glob of new songs (as of its 2011 release date. Fuck, we’re behind over here.). The velocity of their snot rockets seem less like generic throwbacks of the usual 77’ sounds and more along the modernized goods that were spasmodically delivered through The Stitches, early Functional Blackouts (think “Livin’ Like Jesus Christ”) or first few Feelers records. Less art damaged than the Black Time, but too abrasive for the Buzzcock worshipping grandpaps out there. One of the best straight up punk acts from the UK in a long time. So sneer like yer Billy fucking Idol, slash yer goddamn wrists and get over it. These guys sound purty great. Throat shredding, ear-ringing, sinus cleansing, nosebleed production punk. Just pray that zitbag teenage cousin of yours will fall for this instead of any awful Amp Magazine crab/crunkcore shit. (RSF)
(Dead Beat Records // www.shop.dead-beat-records.com)

Gardens "Days to Name" 7"
Gardens are not a good band. I've seen them live twice, and both times they were one of the least entertaining things I've ever seen. I feel the same way about their records. This one has two songs of medium-fi jangle-pop or indie-rock, depending on which side of the bread you feel like buttering. The keyboard adds insult to injury. Italy Records were also fooled into releasing a Gardens record, so don't feel bad Urinal Cake, every label takes one for the local team now and then. (RK)
(Urinal Cake // www.urinalcakerecords.com)

Giant Claw "Mutant Glamour" LP
Giant Claw is a fellow by the name of Keith Rankin who creates synth compositions that sound like he's using a Nintendo console, but also trying hard to make it not sound so much like a Nintendo or Gameboy or whatever. It certainly never sounds analog, more like Casio presets and repetitve video game tones. He incorporates a bit of sax in a few places which adds some needed humanity. "Brain on Cream" actually sounds like something that could've snuck onto the Drive soundtrack - cinematic and Eighties retro-wavey. This record is intriguing when he does things that make you forget you're listening to what sounds like music for the boss stages of a video game, the songs where he manages to make it sound full-blown and less 8-bit. But then there will be a passage that will have you remembering one of the levels from Mega Man which breaks the illusion. Great execution though, which made it decent enough for a few spins. As a soundtrack/score project it has its moments, but it also has some potential as a prog-rock dance game for the Wii.(RK)
(Orange Milk Records // www.orangemilkrecords.com)

G.Green "The Gay 90s" flexi
The more I hear this band on record the more I like them, and the more I wonder why I seem to remember a demo they sent me years ago sucking so bad. Did they change or did I? Who cares. This little project is the type of release that makes me think flexis aren't such a bad idea sometimes. It comes packed with a zine/sleeve that tells the story of G.Green thus far, containing a rogue's gallery of current and ex-members (which includes dudes like DJ Rick and Rod from Hospitals/Eat Skull) with nice printing and assembly. This kid reminds me some of a West Coast version of Homeblitz, off-kilter pop songs played with exuberant energy and personality. Something about it reminds me of The Fall as well, but without the obvious signs, and there's something Sacramento-ish to it as well, in the way the Sacto bands could almost make pop-punk sound cool. G.Green are not a pop-punk band though. Weird-pop maybe. Wounded Lion without all the cute bullshit? A more playful and less dangerous Tyvek. A good couple tracks of modern US-DIY here. Keep an eye out. Scum stats: 250 copies.(RK)
(Italian Beach Babes // italianbeachbabes.bigcartel.com)

Glitter Wizard "Horses" 7"
I've been a fan of some of the Glitter Wizard material I've heard thus far. Sure, they schtick it up quite heavily with costumes and funny made-up names, but the music is pretty legit psych/rock/space or whatever rock genre they've decided they're playing that day. "Horses" sounds like Deep Purple's "Highway Star" cut through with some proggy keyboard explorations and a searing guitar solo, with just a dash of proto-doom on the refrain. That's a lot of baggage to pack in one tune, but they pull it off. Recorded very nicely, the vocals settle perfectly in the mix, I dig the thumpy drum sound and the organ is thick. Well played sirs. "Fire" summons the ghosts of Budgie, Diamondhead and/or Montrose - and some Deep Purp moves again - for a straight-up NWOBHM sounding ass-kicker (they nick the riff from "Breadfan" if I'm not mistaken), with another worthwhile guitar solo and great playing all around. This stuff does rock hard, if you can stomach the gimmickry, which I usually can, although I wouldn't blame anyone if they couldn't.(RK)
(Captcha Records // www.hbsp-2x.com)

Glitter Wizard "Hunting Gatherers" LP
More over-the-top gimmick-rock from Glitter Wizard...man, this sleeve is something else. Looks like a scene from that Ringo Starr caveman movie. Anyway, they continue to cover all rock-genre bases here. The first song alone, "Worship the Devil" ("I don't worship the devil, he worships me...") is the union of Jethro Tull and Spinal Tap...well, just about everything this band does can be likened to Spinal Tap I guess. "Blood of the Serpent" goes to the Deep Purple well yet again, "Motorider" is stoned boogie rock, like a less heavy Nebula. I'll let you guess who "Space" sounds like. B-Side is bookended with two "epics" of boogie'n'choog, again in a Deeply Purple style (they should change it up and rip Rainbow once in awhile). The brief acidfolk tune ("Sunlit Wolves") is the best thing on this record and makes me wish they would just run with this sound for a whole record at this point. The goofy "Wizard Wagon" sounds like the Fu Manchu record with the vans on the sleeve (and for the record, I enjoy Fu Manchu for the most part). I'm all for bands who use copious amounts of oscillator, but right now I'm not sure how much more Glitter Wizard I can take. A full LP serving of this schtick is a little too much after you've already experienced it a few times. It's music played with masterful skill and a real dedication to their vision, which is something I do admire about them, but it's also one-sided enough where it's easy to feel like you've had more than enough. These guys are definitely serious hard-rockers behind all the costumes (and ex-Monoshock, by the way) and are more than capable of pulling this shit off. I wonder if this wouldn't seem even sillier if they were playing it "straight" though. Shirts off to ya, guys.(RK)
(Captcha Records // www.hbsp-2x.com)

Good and Angry "Quietus Volume One" LP
Atmospheric indie-rock ensemble from NYC playing from the shadows and reaching for the light. Three long wanderings on each side, making the most of restrained feedback dynamics - sort of a quiet noise, nearly orchestral - including some cello interplay. Quiet moments might recall a masculine and non-countrified Mazzy Star, other times it verges on the psychedelic in a somewhat Velvets-y fashion. A glacial MBV, or a very restrained S3? The cello passages are beautiful and melancholy (as all cello sounds, right?), layers of guitar make a good bed, and when the guy wakes up he juxtaposes some vocal anger against the soft psych. "No More Babe" lays a lot of echo on you, like an artier version of the first Medication 7". "Serve the Queen" is fittingly regal and works the shoegaze angle some. Sounds very out-of-time - like this could have been BIG at some point in the past I can't put my finger on. A limited pressing of 300 copies, pretty good Sunday music for mature listeners (who might have drunkenly listened to the Grabbies 7" reviewed below on Saturday night).(RK)
(self-released // goodandangry.bandcamp.com)

Grabbies "Shut Up And Learn" 7"
I feel stupid even posting a review of this, but on the odd chance that someone reading this is unaware of this record, I'll say a few things. This is the greatest live record of all time. Listen to this record about a dozen times in a row and you will finally understand what punk is. Your life will be immeasurably better with this these seven inches of vinyl in your home. I'd like to personally thank Distort and Fashionable Idiots for making this available to more of the population, as it can only make the world a better place. Now shut up and fucking die, you are a fucking piece of shit. (RK)
(Distort/Fashionable Idiots // fashionableidiots.blogspot.com)

Guardian Alien s/t 12”
Exactly like you'd think it'd be. Sci-fi drones and tape manipulations, scattered amongst arcade sound-effects and otherworldly chants. Guitars plink and meander as the noodling space dust falls away. This gradual build up comes at you from so many directions; it’s like the aural equivalent to the Xtro script. These sounds aren’t songs; they’re scapes. After a good grip of minutes, the flux capacitators kick in and the freest of the free Hawkwind rituals take to the controls. Something for the Wayne Rogers and/or Ben Chasny collectors that haunt Aquarius Records on new release day. Vocals appear and disappear like someone spinning a Plastic Ono Band record in the studio, compulsively twiddling the volume knobs. Guardian Alien moves with the tide, letting calm pychfolk lulls drowned in waves of cacophony, then back again. Since released, these travelers of space and time have signed on with Thrill Jockey. Lift-off achieved. An improvisatory delight that you'll probably wanna throw onto your next Fusetron order, if it's still available. Edition of 300 pressed on asteroid stone grey vinyl. Comes in a snazzy transparent parchment–like envelope with insert.(RSF)
(Swill Children // www.swillchildren.org)

Gueule Ouverte s/t 12”
This cover art tells me absolutely nothing. Al Hirschfeld draws a popcorn kernel? An x-ray or police sketch of a tonsil stone? What gives…This Mouth Agape is a French Canadian punk duo that likes to keep it really minimal. Like Anals sans keys minimal. Think of a gruff, stripped bare Metal Urbain teamed up with that Lamps gorilla pummel. It’s low end only, ladies. Bass (or is it baritone guitars?) and drums that manage to entertain throughout this entire EP, even though I have no clue what’s been said or what’s been played. Just a couple simpletons sluggin’ it out and learning how as they go. Primordial amplified ooze that occasionally grunts like Art Phag or Numbskull, both of which are pleasing to my canals (all of ‘em). There's a misstep into raga groove that bugs my ass a smidge, but the rest of their inept post-punk mayhem makes up for it. (RSF)
(Stochastic Releases // www.cavatrankil.blogspot.com)

Hammering The Cramps s/t LP
Archival Aussie release, even though I believe the music involved is only around two years old? Seems too soon to be considered archival. Whatevs…Hammering The Cramps sound nothing like Sparklehorse, their possible namesake (look it up). This is more like a messy practice sesh of retards hashing out Neil Young riffs and failing in an oh-so-grandiose way. And this is a good thing. Sure, there’s definitely a New Zealand pop goes tragically wrong (possibly due to drugs) sound at work, but there’s also a respect of early Flaming Lips and southern noise haze at play. The guitars thrust and chime away through shimmering crescendos, as taught by the Sonic Youth School: Deathtrip 101. Even so, these Cramps stay pinned to the earth by the Flying Nun back catalog. The more listens I give it, the more I start to believe this is really just Home Blitz under a pseudonym. Seriously, the vocals are Daniel’s dead ringer and some of his song structures are apparent as well. So superfans, take note. This is a cool mess that those who delve into the outsider realms of Jad Fair or Rep & Co should find intriguing. One take wonders. We should all be thankful that someone remembered to press record on the tape deck. I can only assume that Brendan NGL loved the shit outta these guys. Great stuff. (RSF)
(Wormwood Grasshopper Records // www.wormwoodgrasshopper.blogspot.com)

Hunters “Hands Of Fire” LP
Richie handed this one over to me, and I can only assume it’s because he saw the names: Nick Zinner and James Iha on the press packet. And that dreaded Brooklyn label address. I’m not gonna’ pass judgment that quick. I’ll wait a few more seconds. The record has that NYC schmear fer sure. Yadda Yadda Yeahs are in there sonically and probably some Be Your Own Pets as well. There’s a bunch of Sir Thurston Moore inspired guitar works chugging through the tracks even. The vocals make me think of The Breeders at points, so at least the lass doesn’t shriek like the rest of those Big Apple banshees. Indie rock with some gonzo guitar scree applied…that’s the best I come away with. The opening “Deadbeat” had me expecting good things with that down tuned tone syrupin’ about. It’s like The Zulus newish record fronted by Jenna Tyrade. “Brat Mouth” sounds like the meanest scumrock attempt the Vivian Girls or Coathangers ever tried on. A 'Confusion Is Sex' break musses its fashionable hair for a moment or so, and truthfully, it looks better ratty anyhow. “Headache” is a pop song that leaves me limp. It ends with “Acid Head” spitting out a Nirvana (or is it a Kurt penned Hole tune?) so-so sound. Hunters should get bustling and jump on that Sub Pop Metz train. Two songs are worthy of repeated spins. The others, well let’s just say if this was a modern radio staple, I’d not rush to turn the dial. Though, honestly I don’t feel the urge to need a physical copy in my house. That opening track is available on a 45. Send that next time. Then I’ll think about you kids taking up precious bin space here at the compound. (RSF)
(Aagoo Records // www.aagoo.bigcartel.com)

Impo & The Tents “Don’t Give Me Your Number” & “Nothing To Say” 7”es
A double pack of Swedish power pop arrived today and somehow I gotta’ muster up the strength to review it. I can’t pretend to know fuck-all about the history of such sounds. Usually within seconds of the initial spin, my brainswitch flips to snore whenever it hears such things. Just to be a lousy lay, I’ll say this: Impo is catchy pop. The vocals remind me of a Dickies-meets-Sparks hybrid, which gives them a quirky upper hand in the genre. At least it’s different than a lot of the other polka-dotted clones. Musically, there are a few points that sound similar to some major Bay Area kitsch-deliverers, (Nobunz for one) but nothing that works me into such a lather. The third track “Eating From My Hand” is by far the punkest of the bunch and I can kinda’ hang with it for a while, drink a beer and nod along. It wins me over like that Perfect Fits song or two I’ve kept in my collection. But otherwise, meh. Sharp comic art on the sleeve that looks to be Lucille Ball being strangled by a young Craig Wasson. Pressed upon Blue wax.
The “Nothing To Say” single on Push My Buttons is a tad less fey, but still rollicking along with the same bubble blowing drive. “That Girl” would fit in on the Last American Virgin soundtrack just fine. This’n has more comic artwork featuring ass worship and mild nudity, giving it an edge over the other record in sleeve alone. I’d imagine if you’ve been stock piling those reissues on Cheap Rewards and were looking for a modern day equivalent, this could do the trick. I dunno’. I suck at this. They got a bandcamp, so figure it out for yourself. (RSF)
(Push My Buttons // www.pushmybuttons.se)
(Alley Cat // www.alleycatrecords.bigcartel.com)

Indian Wars "Songs From the North" LP
Second full length of very polite and well-mannered roots garage from Vancouver's Indian Wars. Ten tracks that sound like the Demon's Claws all cleaned-up and ready to bring home to meet Mom. Mid-tempo toe tappers, some with harmonica and all with a sunny disposition. "Denny" is the wildest cut, with some lively whoopin' on the vox and it sounds like they pounded a few energy drinks before laying down the guitar solo. Other than that it's a rather laid back affair. Not exactly exciting stuff, but it's well dressed and clean-shaven enough for NPR listeners who are just getting into "garage rock". (RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)

The Instigation s/t 7" EP
Shanghai punk band whose demo I said some good things about. I believe this band is half Asian and half caucasian, and not that it matters any, but the vocals are in very well pronounced English. Tempering a review to say they're really good for a band from Shanghai is unavoidable and true. Their Angry Samoans-inspired hardcore punk would quite honestly probably be considered run-of-the-mill were they from California or NYC, but their exotic locale has to put a certain spin on things while you listen. They are an energetic and tightly wound band, the guitar player can cook (and is liberal with the hot sauce usage on the soloing in "Crack Baby") and they're writing good dumb punk songs. "Brain Washed" is the hit, reprised from the demo, and reminds me of the hardest punk on the Rip Off roster (Infections maybe?). An unlisted cover of "White Minority" is snuck on the tail of the A-Side, I imagine in an effort to escape the long arm of the law, aka Greg Ginn. Decent stuff for those who dabble in the exotic and just a good punk record for those who miss Dean Dirg. There's some surprising stuff rising to the surface in China these days if you look closely (Pairs, Offset Spectacles, Carsick Cars and more...) Scum stats: 200 copies, hand numbered with double sided sleeves.(RK)
(self-released // theinstigation.bandcamp.com)

Little Seizures s/t 7”
Pounding sounds from the Makers or Drags school of scuzz, only this time captured through a real crisp recording. “Cant Take It No More” brings forth their Medway love, but instead of using the traditional blues shtick or a Headcoat collector’s worship, these kats probably grew up playing the fuck outta’ Grand Funk and Kiss records. “Got Me Scared” has full flavored swagger and a smidge of powerful pop. The Impediments channeling the Real Kids? Sure. “Can’t Seem To Make You Mind” has more of a Dead Boys booger-eater flow and a wicked Thunders lead. “No Choice To Make” ups their metallic edge yet another notch. Hey, I managed to drop a band name reference every other word! Not too shabby. In closing: this is good old fashioned punk n’ garage, complete with a giant swingin’unshaven nutsack full of rock. 500 pressed. Ben Lyon drew it. Tim Warren twiddled some knobs. There’s a Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black member in the ranks?! Who’da-Huh?? (RSF)
(Go Ape // www.fancymag.com/go-ape)

Livids "(Some of Us Have) Adrenalized Hearts" 7"
Debut single from Eric Davidson's new outfit, with Jami Wolf (Zodiac Killers, Shop Fronts) on guitar and a couple NYC jobbers rounding out the line-up. Any band with Davidson on the mic is obviously getting compared to New Bomb Turks, and "Adrenalized Hearts" is a good example of that band's post-Crypt hits with all the bells and whistles: crunchy guitar and a solid solo, 1-2-3-4 chants, handclaps and Eric's crooning vox which haven't changed a bit with some age. That's the mid-tempo stomper, "Nervewrecked" picks up the pace to punker speed. B-Side follows the same formula, with "Ms. Bluff" the heavier riffer, with more pick-slidin' and 1-2-3-4-go!-ing and "Theme from Livids" stepping on the gas. Fans of Mr. Davidson's vocal stylings will certainly be happy with this, the guy's still on top of his game. He's assembled a competent backing band to continue the "gunk punk" tradition, picking up where the last Turks LP on Gearhead left off over a decade ago. If you're going into this hoping for something that sounds like 'Drunk on Cock', you're a dummy who's going be disappointed. Scum stats: 500 on black, 100 on blood splatter, artwork by Timmy Vulgar.(RK)
(Oops Baby // www.oopsbabyrecords.com)

Lower "Someone's Got It In For Me" 7"
This new wave of Danes are all the rage in certain sects of the underground. I had heard enough chatter that I sought out the "Walk on Heads" EP and left it feeling like I just listened to a fruity emo record. I guess the Iceage relation should've had me braced for such a thing, but I was still let down a bit. It sounded fucking great though (the drums in particular), but the tunes were total wimpsville. This 7" is a far better outing, as the band does not try to "rock" in the slightest bit, and instead realizes their strengths and plays to them. Both of these tracks are reprised from their demo tape (which probably goes for a few kroner on eBay I imagine), and the title track is mournful indie-wave in a slightly romantic and gothic fashion. Production is a bit hazy and adds slightly edgy sheen to the tears. "But There Has To Be More" is more of the same, depressing guitar jangle and martial drumwork make for a rather well constructed moper. There's a little bit of The Smiths to these cuts I think, or at least some variation on depressing British grayness. I like this, better than I've liked the last few things I've heard from Iceage even, although I feel like this is the Danish equivalent of like mysterious guy goth or something. Thank god there are no synths on this record. Great packaging design, with a die cut outer sleeve porthole showing off the inner sleeve art, very simple and tastefully done.(RK)
(540 Records // chaosintejas.bigcartel.com)

Manateees "Out for Booze" 7"
New Memphis punk rock trio who slot in nicely next to the recent Orgone Toilet bands/records (Buck Biloxi and the Fucks and No Bails if you're not keeping score) both musically and aesthetically. Abe from TSOT mans the drum kit here and I'm guessing is the mastermind behind the whole operation. Itchy and scratchy KBD-inspired spew, "Neatfreak" is crawling with trebly guitar and is the best Mommie Dearest-inspired punk song I can think of right now. I dig the vox too. "Under the Gun" is about wanting to fight and has that dangerous TSOT vibe, but I feel the meatiest tune here is "Stupifier" (an Oscars cover), which was apparently recorded live at the Hi-Tone (RIP) and sounds really visceral. The vox have some extra spit and they whip through this punker-with-a-hook sounding excitingly nasty. I like this enough to be looking forward to the handful of other singles they have coming out soon on Goner (natch), TTT and Jackshack. Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Pelican Pow Wow // try Goner!)

Max Load s/t LP+CD+DVD
Very excited to have this one in my hands, as the "X-Rod" 7" is one of my all-time favorite KBD bonzers (Midwestern Division). The burning question here is do the demos match the classic punk contained on the single? Rerun gives us a lot to think about concerning that question, with a seriously stacked package: the LP, a CD with 24 songs (10 not on the LP) plus a DVD featuring a full TV performance. A good sign is the fact that there are no filler live tracks taking up space on the LP/CD, which is often the case with reissues of this sort. There are some brilliant 8-track recordings done as demos for an LP on Epic Records (!) and a bunch of other 4-track stuff they did on their own which almost sound better. After a few runs around the block, I think there's a wealth of quality material here, worthy of such a luxurious treatment. The LP demos show them going off in an artier vein (and not too much New Wave, thankfully), a bit Devo-like and even showing off some heavy-glam Sparks-ish maneuvers and Bowie/Eno-styled pomp but still done with a Dolls/Groovies-like rock attitude. Supposedly hearing "Warm Leatherette" by The Normal was a turning point for the band! "Change Your Channel/Taking Over the World" is pretty heavy stuff, an Ubu-like post-punk grab at your jugular. The B-Side is all 4-tracking, which was recorded after the studio stuff, and again shows off a weirder side. The sound quality is gritty and lo-fi in a very listenable way, not boombox crackle-n-hiss. "Hot Rods From Hell" has some MX-80 dynamics going on, "Nothing Box" sounds like VU vs. Televison, there are a couple Sixties-style garage stompers and "Wishing Machine" is art-punk excellence. The CD tacks on a couple more of the Epic demos and a handful of other 4-track takes, but the DVD really adds the bonus value. They rattle off their entire catalog (20 songs!) circa 1981 on a public access show called Street Beat that is hosted by a gross looking hippie chick, and it's a great watch, for both fans of KBD punk and Seventies public access TV weirdness in general - quality is just fine, there are two camera angles and plenty of lo-budget effects. Insert-wise, we get a nice 11X17" foldout with choice photos and fliers on one side and seriously in-depth liner notes from singer/guitarist Terry Jones on the other. One of the finer reissue packages you're gonna get, and the unreleased material from the band is worth the investment. High recommendation for all you KBD-heads.(RK)
(Rerun Records // www.rerunrecordsstl.com)

MDK "The Moonmaiden" flexi
Lo-fi doomy metal from CA recorded with maximum reverb for a wacky and nearly Japanese sounding record in its extreme vocal approach and distorted riffage. Three tracks with good use of between-song soundbites. Chunky guitar sound grinds it out on "Widowmaker's Revenge" adding a good solo, "The Moonmaiden" goes for maximum sludge-a-rama and has probably thee killer riff of the flexi and "Wrath of Satan" gets the prize for most over-the-top soloing. Sort of a Hookers aesthetic combined with a Birth Ritual record played at half speed. Not too shabby riff-wise if you're into this sort of schtick. Scum stats: 500 copies on blue with three different variants (regular, pre-order edition and Japanese version).(RK)
(Ressurection Records // www.getresurrected.com)

Meat Mist “Smut” LP
The band that has given us some of the most repugnant cassette sounds in recent times have returned with a vinyl full length platter that has something to piss off everyone at MRR and *insert blogroll here*. They also come up with the best song titles since Pussy Galore held office, or since you pulled a Brainbombs LP of the shelf. At least they’re not Nazis. Properly recorded in a Midwest fallout shelter - built of haphazardly welded school bus husks and melted Tupperware containers - 'Smut' continues the Mist’s rolling trudge through Napalm Death scum, Eyehategod slurry and Iron Lung styled bludgeon. A thick wave of distortion pins you to the ground and that belched up retching guitar repeat arrives to stomp a warm noiserock shaped sinkhole into your warm guts. Why these kids haven’t landed a lucrative deal with Rotted Tooth as of yet is surprisingly beyond me. Ugly metallic garbage with the occasional no wave noodle-n-skronk thrown in to confuse the power violence / ass-patch fanboys out there. I’ve spilled more “ink” on these dirtheads than anyone, so I’m sure the above sounds like a broken record like a broken record like a broken record a … I’ve decided to let a special guest sum this LP up. Here’s my wife with a poem:

“I’m real mad. Probably can’t shit. Cephalopod. Awk Awk Awk. Vaginal beast infection.”

Well there ya’ go. I had to tear her away from Instagraming cat photos and a champagne breakfast for this. She was also wearing a Swans shirt complete with dried sriracha stains. Quite fitting, really. (RSF)
(XO Press // www.xopress.bandcamp.com)

Nazi Gold "A Message of Love" LP
Austin rock trio with members of Fleshlights and Dead Space on strings/vox and the current Swans drummer behind the kit. Muscular tunes in the mold of Midwestern post-hardcore acts like Rifle Sport or Breaking Circus. I want to throw a Man Sized Action reference in here, but I don't even remember what they sounded like. A less rigid Shellac soundalike at times, including some Albini-styled diatribing and delivery. Smart guys who can play their instruments very well mucking with post-punk motifs and running them over a grindstone to shave off most of the art-schooling and give them a very Middle American sincerity. There's a backdoor connection to Okkervil River via the drummer playing in Shearwater (I had to look that up). The guy is a dextrous drummer and is named Thor, so if you want to just listen to him, dive in. A song like "Breaker" is heavy enough to catch the ear of the casual Pissed Jeans fan, but the rest of it is just treading in the deeper end of the American indie rock pool. There are some melodics and emo-like songwriting here that belie some of the better qualities of stoic post-punk, no matter how many Trainer/Weston precision gearshifts you throw out there. Nothing altogether special here song-wise, but it's pretty slick sounding for those with mainstream tastes. For some reason I'm a bit bothered that they're seemingly ballsy enough to call their band Nazi Gold but had to put a disclaimer on the one-sheet that they don't "support any type of hate or other Nazi-related activity" to explain themselves. I'm not saying you should be posting on the Stormfront message board to use a name like Nazi Gold, but you maybe shouldn't have picked it if you feel the need to do damage control up front. Seems a little soft to me, but I guess that's how you have to play it in these days where kneejerk PC bloggers with inflated senses of self-importance start witch hunts on a whim in order to make the scene a "safe space", as if someone was asking them to. Scum stats: 300 copies = 100 white/200 black.(RK)
(Super Secret Records // www.supersecretrecords.com)

Jeffrey Novak "I Never Knew I Knew So Much" 7"
Now this is some exciting shit. Firstly, a new solo Novak record (this is not Cheap Time) to accompany the 'Baron in the Trees'LP (now finaly available). The A-Side I could swear is from that Peoploid demo from years ago, but I can't find my copy to verify. I'm probably wrong about that, but I feel like I know this song from somewhere. Jeff is playing everything: a couple guitar tracks, drums and synth bloops and swooshes make it sound sort of Devo with his vocal drawl adding to the hook. Sounds great and bit of a stylistic departure from his other solo outings. "B-27" is also of A-Side caliber, with a simliar sonic template, but with a big echoed-out drum beat that sounds looped and slowed down with another great dragging vocal. Almost dub-like. Both sides are great and should remind us that Jeff's miles ahead of some of the other young wunderkind out there getting big hype. So the second reason this is some exciting shit is that it's the first installment of Matador's 2013 edition of the Singles Going Home Alone club, whose line-up so far trounces any other singles club out there. Upcoming singles from Bits of Shit and Royal Headache and a Dick Diver/Lower Plenty split should get you signing up immediately along with this hot piece of wax from Novak, and even a Superchunk single with them covering SSD sounds intriguing. And they still have six more to announce. Last year's club had some keepers (the Kurt Vile/Meg Baird collab, a good Wounded Lion record, and that Primitive Romance single was a real surprise...plus you had The Men, OBNIIIs and other big names) that I feel Termbros might have slept on, so I'm doing my best to get you guys on the ball for this year's action. Scum stats: all singles in the series are limited to 750 copies. Get on it.(RK)
(Matador // www.matadorrecords.com)

Jeffrey Novak "Baron in the Trees"LP
All things come together for young Mr. Novak on this LP. Any of the excess or missteps that were evident on 'After the Ball' are long gone. 'Baron in the Trees' is sharp, confident and extremely well written as it seems Jeff has honed the voice to its sharpest point here. Just enough glam, just enough pop-sike whimsy, just enough songwriting eccentricity. A great batch of songs, with the Barrett/Ayers nut-pop of "Clarabelle", the dark psychedelic pop of "So Long Mr. Crow" and glam-punk of "Backseat Driver" all highlights of the A-Side. B-Side has the weird-pop hit "Here Comes Mr. Snakeman" (which I hope is a Dreamscape reference) surrounded by quieter interludes (the title track and "Watch Yourself Go") and the garagiest rocker in "Meadow View". There's not a bad song here and it all comes together and flies by quickly - it's one of those records that is just easy to listen to. Crisp guitar sounds, vocals are perfect and the piano and organ playing adds some class. I have to think Jeff's partnership with Jay Reatard in recording and playing on this record helped to make it what it is - not that I'm assuming Jeff needed Jay's help, but I feel like maybe Jay helped show Jeff some tricks, coming up as a young rocker himself. This record and the picture of Jeff and Jay on the back cover are as a great a tribute to Jay as we've seen yet. Add in the fact that 'Baron...' was mastered by Earle Mankey, and things really appear to have come full circle here. Great record, and I hate to say things like "Jeff's better than Ty Segal, Mikal Cronin and that White Fence guy...", but I guess I just did. I'll leave you to make what you will of the Calvino reference.(RK)
(In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)

Null & Void "Possibilities" LP
It's yet another great disservice that I'm to blame for that I haven't got around to writing a bit about this record until well after it's release. This is the Null & Void's unreleased third LP, recorded by the band in '81-82 and shelved since then. I'll confess to having not heard the first two before I became wrapped up in this one (and it's better than both of them to my ears), as the synth-wave tag put on them (by myself) is something I'm generally not attracted to. It's far more than a synth record though. Chrome is one of the first references, as much like Creed/Edge created a sonic world where their songs existed outside of much else musically, so does N&V exist in a space very much their own unique domain. The record starts with a piece that puts you right into their odd world - almost incidental music, or even a narrative intro, it sounds like you're sitting in a study in a grand manor with a piano/strings quartet playing while a storm rages outside. What happens after is aptly described "experimental acid music": full songs pasted together with snippets of others, atmospheric interludes, instrumental soundscapes and art-punk experiments. There are subtle nearly minimal synth compostions, some very Eno-like stabs at pop construction (with some very similar sounds to 'Another Green World' and '..Warm Jets'), even a couple takes on almost straight New Wave which always end up getting "too weird". The guy sounds eerily like Bowie on a few songs, making for an icy vocal presence that matches up well with the cold wave elements. There's certainly a very pop sensibilty to a lot of these songs, and when weighted against the odd tangents they veer off on it makes for a great balance. Side One is actually almost normal sounding once you get into Side Two, which starts fucking around with weird effects - jarring mid-song edits, tape manipulation timewarps, pitchshifting and passages of no sound at all - you have to look and see if the side is over more than a few times until you hear some piano coming in from another room. Seemingly recorded with various techniques for changes in textural fidelity, going from canned radio sounds to full blown studio treatments, yet always sounding great in context. And of course there's an epic three-part suite to close out the record that sounds like the Thin White Duke warped and screwed. I wish I would've hopped on this sooner, as it was certainly one of the best reissues of last year, and carries even more weight considering how hard it is these days to be bowled over by a record/band you'd never heard before. Such an original sounding record, blending everything from pop to classical to punk into one great whole. I can't recommend this highly enough. The massive foldout poster contains essays from two band members (and a friend), relating their start in and around the LA punk scene through their Eighties wind-up (a tale in which the Psychedlic Furs feature in) and their story made me feel like a bigger ass for not having listened to them before this. So good that I'm actually mad I just found out about it now. Buy this immediately.(RK)
(Bunker Pop // bunkerpop.bigcartel.com)

Obnox "Smoke Woody Haze" 12" EP
Bim Thomas' latest release as Obnox, this time taking the project on a hip-hop oriented trip, with beats provided by various DJs and bolstered with some live drums and guitar. A-Side has four tracks, "Dough" sounds like the guy from Cameo going off over a Sabbath-heavy beat, "Deep in the Dusk" is straight hip hop with a trebly sample with Bim's rap sounding of West Coast origin, like a lo-fi Mack 10 track. "Cash Weed Green" has some guest emcees with Bim providing the vocal hook over a jazz-inflected beat, the other guys have an neo-old school delivery making for something that sounds like it came off a Rawkus comp. "Magnetix Attract" is a brief storm of live drums and vox that's just a bit of a jumble. B-Side is four different mixes of "Smoke Woody Haze", the original of which is a falsetto vocal from Bim over kind of a psych-rock drum-n-guitar jam which gets pretty trippy on it's own. Then there's the "Crunk Punk Funk Version" which lays the vocal over a simple Geto Boys style 808 beat. "Black Samurai Version" is the underground hip-hop take, shades of a dark Wu Tang style with a nice drum sample and eerie strings, maybe a bit 'Liquid Swordz'-like. "Nig Ray Death Metal Version" puts it over a slowed-up "Sweet Leaf" loop. Kinda saw that one coming. This guy is busy as fuck these days, it was pretty fun to listen to, I give him credit for experimenting and envelope pushing. Press release hints that this was material requested by another label that never came through, so I'm wondering if this was a possible NGL release, a Black Gladiator commission that didn't work out a la the Pink Reason remix record or a contribution to the soundtrack for the yet-to-be-made Judgement Night II.(RK)
(12XU // www.12xu.net)

Ooga Boogas s/t LP
With this one and that Cuntz LP Australia seems a shoo-in to grab at least two medals in the 2013 LP Olympic race. This record has it all: Straight up rock'n'rollers ("Oogie Boogie II"), another in the Australian tradition of songs about ice cream ("Mind Reader"), ECSR-like wholesome garage ("It's A Sign") and even outback C&W ("Ecstasy"), all of which are good-to-great. "Cicle of Trust" is loping and anthemic and the perfect handshake for the record to start with. "Sex in the Chillzone" opens Side B with a long and slow meander that sounds like Dire Straits circa '84-85, which is followed by the dark-wave of "Studio of My Mind" which trots out various thick and evil electronic sounds. My favorite song on this is "FYI" which seems to be based on the Bossa Nova preset beat (or is it a rhumba?) on whatever organ they were using when they recorded it. Stunningly catchy both lyrically and musically. Even at it's coldest the music stays personable due to the observational/conversational lyrics and delivery, recurring themes also keep it friendly and familiar (the return of the Oogie Boogie, the already mentioned ice cream, "Archie & Me" echoing "Rich'n'Me" from the first LP) as do the touches of other bands in the family - ECSR/TC, Sailors, Onyas - that leave at least some sort of impression on the overall sound of this record. It's not all the same old thing though, as expressed through the artwork, two paintings in pastel shades (done by the drummer's artist mother) which couldn't be more different from the insane cartoon sprawl that decorated 'Romance & Adventure'. It's still a bit goofy at times, which is more than welcome, but also dead serious as far as the playing is concerned - there's nothing sloppy here at all, a point bolstered by solid studio production from some guy in the band. It sounds like a write-off to call a record fun, but that's exactly what this is. It's entertaining to hear these guys bounce around so much stylistically and actually pull it off just about all the time. I'm still trying to decide if "Sex in the Chillzone" is sophisticated or just dumb - I might never figure it out, but I'm enjoying the deliberation. I love you Australia. (RK)
(Aarght // available at US distros via Easter Bilby)

Peach Kelli Pop s/t LP
Hate all you want on Burger Records, cute no-fi pop, Nobunny and all that. I'm not here to convert you if you're not at all interested. I understand, as it's easy to hate a lot of this stuff. There are certain bands within this subgenre that I also can't stand, but there are also a few who are good enough that their lesser genre-mates shouldn't drag them down by association. I mean, all of these bands and this entire genre are just riding in Nobunny's wake in reality. The guy created a cottage industry by himself. Burger Records should be cutting him checks if they aren't already. And it's easy to say Peach Kelli Pop is just the female Nobunny - well, without the dressing up and the sleaze and the punk. And being a Canadian lass, I guess she might owe a debt to Cub as well...but anyway, whatever it is, she's doing it better than most. AM radio hits, low key and lo-fi bubblegum and pop (I'd say power pop, but power isn't really involved), super saccharine and super cute songs about boys, kitties and clothes. Maybe I shouldn't be listening to this stuff as a grown man, but I can't say it's not good music - these songs are well done, hooky as shit, the recording is trebly and thin and perfectly fitting. Her vocals are too cute, a little bit sexy without being at all sexual, as are the backing band chicks she's got harmonizing with her. Totally G rated stuff here, which I really think is to her credit. Wholesome is something not a lot of people care to do these days, in particular in the garage arena where cheap jokes and bad puns are often the basis of entire bands. Most of the songs are "full" band style ("power" trio) and a few have digital backing, reminding me of First Base a bit. There's actually a couple tunes here that almost contain a little bit of punk edge: "Society of Enoch" is more of a sci-fi garager, "Red Leather" and "True Blue" have a bit of snap. Total monster hit of the record: ""Original Sin" (which I think directly bites a Nobunny tune) which isn't exactly original but sticks in my head like "Do the Eggroll" did on the first record. Scum stats: split release with Burger, 500 copies (100 on yellow), with insert. Burger did 1000 LPs stateside with 300 variants on blue. And a cassette version I imagine...(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)

Perrosky “Tostado” 12”
Evidently these two Chilean wildcats pulled Jon Spencer and Matt Verta Ray into the mix, having them record and fiddle with the knobs for this release. I’m sure they hoped to come out of their dwindling rainforests with an LPs worth of local folklore, played through that rootsabilly blues filter. But what I hear on Tostado sounds more like a Tom Waits knockoff. Maybe the duo is confusing Feeling of Love’s output for the Los Lobos Colossal Head record? Some neat studio trickery, some stolen Blues X-plosion riffs, some Roy Orbison vocal moments…but nothing within is gonna have the staying power needed to leave it propped up against my turntable. The blues is number one, somewhere. Just not here. Maybe Japan? (RSF)
(Algo Records // www.algorecords.com)

Powerblessings s/t 7”
A modern hardcore single that ain’t all tuff guy shouts, broken noses or self mutilating. Neat. Powerblessings are a Connecticut band that melds those early core sounds (before the jag-offs took it over) with some sorta’ pre-suck DC emo and a smidge of Rick Fork in the vocal department. Speaking of things Fork, “Stunt Whale” and “Go To Hell” are like the Hot Snakes tearing through Black Flag covers (does that make Off!?); no frills, bash-it-out punk. “In The Mens Room Of The Sixteenth Century” breaks out a Fugazi gang vocal moment that somewhat surprised me, though it fits their M.O. so it really shouldn’t have. “Wet Ones” carries on with the Hot Snakes references, but carves away any artiness to the bone. No fruit punch soloing allowed. Ben Lyon did NOT do the sleeve art. Honest. Not bad, chill’un. (RSF)
(Manhattan Chemical & Electric // www.manhattanchemicalandelectronic.bigcartel.com)

Pregnancy Scares s/t 7"
The False Preggo’s return after last years system shocking demo cassette. This is more of that HC terror they do so well – peppered with brutal moments of squelch and squalor – and some of the best I've heard since participating in the review zone. I mentioned a Chris Thompson familiarity in the last write up and though that’s still in the mix, they’ve managed to become angrier, faster and louder than before (though that old “Nightwalker” track had it all in spades). Even though there’s a half dozen songs squeezed within the walls, the tracks have room to breathe, creep and spiderwalk into the listener’s psyche. Quite a feat for minute or less pop-shots. The topside plays out as imagined with a trio of tunes yer sure to dig if you’ve clutched that demo. Catchy with burly riffitude, bone busting lows and a strong frontal assault. “Facelift” spits out some tape manipulation and disarray before chugging into a gruff Slices-style oblivion with a rattier vocal run. “Picked Apart” lets the guitars bounce all over the rubber room. It actually swings as well as bashes. “American Uncle” is more of a traumatized shit-splattered take of the Dischord history. But over on the flip’s “Cross-eyed Man” and “Point Fourty-Four”, the goods are seriously delivered like a swift kick to throat. Here that aforementioned Born Against sound cross pollinates with a near perfect example of post-Void noise. Yow. The feedback gets wrenched and rings out like a rusty windshield wiper caught on thumbtack. Then amplified. I can only imagine the guitarist’s bodily contortions needed to pull of this rhythmic squealing assault. It’s become its own instrument. And this, my friends, is what’s pulling them ahead of the pack. True band as damage and the ability to make you FEEL it. For all the Youth Attack flapjacks of meh quality, something comes along like Condominium, Dry Rot or this gem that leaves those black metal loving Bronson boys to cower in the corner, sucking their thumbs. Eat that one, mysterious guys. “Chemtrails” does a herk-n'-jerk in a tempo change that really fucks with your equilibrium. In closing: The A-side is just as good as the demo (which was better than most hardcore demos in the first place) but with better production this time around. The B-side is a much needed game-changer for what’s become a flogged to death genre. Worthy, very worthy. (RSF)
(Deranged // www.derangedrecords.com)

Ranch Ghost "Nahla" 7"
Nashville garage rockers' sophomore single on Cass Records, perhaps a tryout for a call up to the big leagues of Third Man. "Nahla" is half Jacuzzi Boys and half Black Lips. A bit pedestrian for those with punk tastes, but garage-sounding enough for the mainstream. "Ragged Mile" on the flip has a raunchier blues-slink to it. Nothing I got too excited about, but they are far better than that D.Watusi band. For people who love the Black Keys (but had never heard of them until they played Bonnaroo).(RK)
(Cass Records // www.cassrecords.com)

Räjäyttäjät “Raejaeyttaejaet!” LP
What else can be said at this point? I just psycho-babbled about the greatness of their cassette catalog and debut 7”; all of which is real good to gosh-darn stellar. By now - if you’re to believe Mitch Cardwell’s hype - these Fins are ready to take over the world. I guess I’m just here to reinforce that. They’ve gotten to a certain point of proto-dumb punk perfection. Räjä’s not reinventing the R&R wheel, but they’ve gone and put some fucking ace spinner hubcaps on it. A melding of garage blues, 50’s greaser rock, Stooges throb, glittered glam and that pickled Hubble Bubble-like madness; shoved into a sausage casing and swung heavily into the unsuspecting record snob’s temples. 478 days of darkness each year has left them with nothing better to do than drink flugelhorns of booze and listen to every classic rock 8-track and bootlegged Bloodstains comp they can get their winter mittens on. Much like their tapes, production quality and style is all over the place. If it wasn’t for the constant language barrier and those familiar shrill vocals, you’d have no problem believing this to be some sorta’ newfound KBD or worldwide punk comp. The Hurriganes get thrown around a lot as a main influence (probably due to them being from the Räjä’s homeland), but I think they sound a hell of a lot more like The Pack. Something faster, blunter and not afraid to take a piss all over the stage rug. Vocals that are too loud in the mix, paint can bashing riddims, occasional saxophone bleats and harmonica squawks, radio show clatter and a very good understanding of The Gizmos or Penetrators guitar god “mastery”. Shake it all together in a 39cent kitchen waste bag and what sticks to the side is scraped off, left to gel into a gooey slop-patty then sent off to the pressing plates. A true rock and roll mess. One of the most honest sounding blasts I’ve heard in a while. Guaranteed to clog up your turntable for moons to come. Scum stats: There were 100 on gold wax, but they’re gone. There were many more on black, but they’re gone too. Hit the usual interweb distros and hold back your tears. (RSF)
(Dead Beat Records // www.shop.dead-beat-records.com)

Ramma Lamma "Gang" 7"
Ramma Lamma gets tough...well, lets not go that far, but I will admit that "Gang" is the punkest song Sir Snacksalot has given us since the last Monitors record. A solid garage-rocker with a great solo, a stomping glam-style drumbeat and a poppy hook. Sounds a bit like an early Cheap Time song. Wendy's B-Side "We All Know" is a rock'n'roller with more slick guitar work and I like the outro/breakdown they tacked on the end. More pop-rock than power-pop. The most likeable of any Ramma Lamma record to date, I feel like this one has more personality and less retro/rehash-style than their other singles. Comes with mandatory Ben Lyon sleeve art, a cartoon portrait of the band depicting Ryan as a member of the Guardian Angels.(RK)
(Dusty Medical // www.dustymedical.com)

Dave Rata “Hallucigenia” LP
Ratas Del Vaticano player enters into the solo bedroom band sweepstakes and wins the golden pony-prize after just one complete rotation. Bad dreams club. The album begins with the vocals of an evil troll carrying on over an unreleased New Order tune called “Por Dentro”. From there things push forth in a Gary Wrong sorta nastiness that'll most likely suffocate weaker listeners face down in its pond scum. “Embryo En El Mexicano” is bordering on the Misfits sound, but the singer from Los Saicos is vomiting up all over it. A throaty cattle call kinda' jive. “Penumbra” is a bubbling sci-fi holocaust, and if you've been keeping up with label-mates like Fogna or His Electro Blue Voice, this will sacrifice your goat nicely. The side steamrollers on with “Puesta De Sol” and “Colores” - a gloomy two-fer of frayed instrumentation that sounds of a broken music box in hell. “No Es Nada” is the breakaway pop hit that actually plays pretty sunny through out. It would seem out of place if the whole LP wasn’t so outta place in the first place. Fear not sunshine, “Hablando En Lenguas” clatters along like wind up toys flailing in a Factums-esque noise. More downer, synth-powered space wave follows in “Tiempo” before “Al Chile Soy Punk” takes a hard left through the KBD territory. It could be a foriegn toungued GG King cover, but it's not. Or maybe it is? I’m bad with Spanish and not very good with English, either. Rata ties it off in the world (or just homeland) influenced “Sombra”, leaving me confuzzled, yet surprised by how much I wanna flip this shit and play it all over again. All you lonely Brooklyn loft dwellers, with a Tascam in hand, it’s time to find a new game. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.bigcartel.com)

Ratas Del Vaticano "Rafagueados" 2X7"
8 tracks over two singles, showing off a few variations on their style. I wasn't much a fan of the 12" on Siltbreeze or the Captcha record, but they're better on this record than I seem to remember them being. They start with a Jap-style blaster, segue into garagey Spits-ish dum-dum on the first side, second side leads off with what Inservibles could sound like cleaned up and slowed down and they have the girl sing on "Fango Verde" which sounds like some classic international-core, best cut here and best buzzing guitar sound. Side C adds some more reverb to the vox for two brutal pounders. Side D lead-off is the title cut and a total winner, sounds LA-influenced with a great mosh part - honestly, reminded me a bit of a gutsy and scuzzy Regulations and they close with another GISM-esque bomb. I'm a sucker for gatefold 7" packaging, and it turns out I like this band more than I thought I did. Less extreme and more tuneful than Inservibles, but also a bit more tough and raw than Silla Electrica or Sudor (who are from Spain, yes I know) or whoever else is getting the MRR rub. The best I've heard from this band thus far.(RK)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.bigcartel.com)

Ratsak "20th Century Bricolage" EP
Aussie heavies featuring members of True Radical Miracle, Circle Pit, Kromosom, Bloody Hammer and others I haven't even heard of. Ratsak is the name of the preeminent rodent poison in Australia, and when a band uses that for inspiration you know they're thankfully not playing pop-punk. Four brawlers here with enough grit to probably endear them to the Iron Lung records fanbase, tunes like "Endurance Manual" and "Vacated" actually have some semblance of hookage concealed beneath the Brannon-eque growl. Authority and chops, muscling you with finesse. Hard-pitting is encouraged at their shows I'm guessing, but they keep the thudding tempo from reaching overtly HC speeds. So testosterized that I'm shocked (and impressed) that the gal from Southern Comfort/Circle Pit (Harriet, not Angie) plays guitar on this. More for fans of Straightjacket Nation and Extortion than your UV Race/ECSR-loving Aussie-philes (hey, you're never gonna believe it, but Mikey Young recorded and mixed this), or if you're a well-rounded bloke like myself who digs 'em all, have at it. Scum stats: first 100 on red wax.(RK)
(12XU // 12XU.net)

Raw Prawn "None Left" 7"
Debut record from Sydney DIY-ers with ties to Whores and Holy Balm. They certainly nailed the sleeve art. Musically, "None Left" does the UV Race thing with a little more energy and less alcohol, making for a good A-Side. No frills recording, talky vocals with the gal chiming in on the chorus, thumpy and simple drums. B-Side has two more of the same, "Wrong Place, Wrong Time" is the catchiest hook on the record with a little extra keys and percussion tacked on. Fans of Aussie DIY of today will get some enjoyment out of this, but it's certainly not essential, unless you're a completist for all records Mikey Young gets a recording/mastering credit on.(RK)
(RIP Society // US distro through Easter Bilby)

Red Hex “Shoulda Known” 7”
A dirty, catchy little rock single from Tacoma, WA that is pleasantly ominous. The A-side sounds like they’ve been studying the early Hunches singles - mining Detroit bloodlines that manage to be both danceable and hostile. The guitarwork is much more conventional than that comparison might suggest, but it suits the band well. A nice hooky descending riff bolsters the chorus that’ll stick with you for a little while. “Down in the Dirt” is certainly phrased in Segallese, but you can tell these guys are staring at the bleak rainy coast of the Puget instead of anything as cheery as the California coastline. Bonus for really slick and attractive label design.(NG)
(Negative Fun Records // www.negativefun.com)

Red Mouth "The Old Original Saint Red Mouth Blues" LP
I'll be honest and say the only reason I even gave this a listen because the one-sheet said this guy was a former member of the Studdogs. Otherwise this would have been sent directly to the pile for a Garbage Can column. It's exactly what it looks like: whiteboy faux blues with a little bit of a cajun flavoring and some faux gospel touches as well. Exactly the type of shit you probably get at the New Orleans' House of Blues on a weeknight. Quite terrible, although this guy can say he was in the Studdogs, which is cool. By the way, I NEED A COPY OF THE STUDDOGS 7", please contact the editor if you're holding. Thanks. Scum stats: 300 copies too many.(RK)
(Red Mouth Records // www.redmouthmusic.com)

R.O.B.O. s/t 7”
Very obviously from the minds behind Silla Eléctrica and Las Señoras (note: that single totally smokes) - far less somber than the former, less barreling momentum than the latter. Wanders back and forth somewhere between Ultimo Resorte and the Freeze. “Tradición” is a dainty mid-paced jaunt into semi-surf that doesn’t do a whole lot for me, but “Sacrifícate” has great scrappy treble riffs that sound like the Formaldehyde Junkies on a negligent binge of self-improvement, enrolling in college, checking their credit reports, etc. “Tus Enemigos” brings the Eskorbuto whoas and bass runs one might hope a Spanish record would provide, and “Odio los Lunes” reminds me of a Garfield poster my childhood neighbor had. Art is real nice, with fantastic standout labels that look like the CNT/FAI propaganda director designed shock warnings. A lock for fans of the treble-pop hardcore Madrid sound, or anything on this great label. I have no idea what their name stands for. (NG)
(Solo Para Punks // www.soloparapunks.es)

The Rockers s/t 7" EP
With Last Laugh and Sing Sing hogging the reissue limelight, Cheap Rewards has been doing some fine archival work of their own over the past year or so focusing mainly on power pop sounds with LPs from The Limit (NO) and The Reactions (FL) thus far. This Rockers reissue is their first 7" foray and a companion of sort to The Finders LP it's being released alongside. For the full story you can go here , but the quick summary is that these Bay Area power-poppers were led by some older dudes who were active in the Sixties garage/rock scene (The Mood) and then found a niche in the punk scene in the late Seventies, playing the Mab frequently and releasing this EP in 1979. A couple tracks were comped on a Teenline volume and this EP was a popular item on many power pop wimp's wantlist, riding close to the $100 mark on eBay. Four tracks of Rickenbacker popping that is real slick on all levels: songwriting, playing and recording are all pro, this is no amateur hour goofing. There are some Big Star-like moves on "Understanding" , "Don't Leave Me Tonight" and "I Want To Tell You" are the uptempo Nerves-ish shakers and they close it out with a well done slow whiner in "Comeback", which is actually my personal fave of the bunch with great guitar work/sound. Like I said, a power-poppers dream here done with repro sleeves/labels. No liners included, but I guess that's for "retrospective" releases not authentic 7" reproductions. I'm no wimp (but I know a lot of you are), but I can't deny this is a whopper for the genre. Know what I am really excited about? Cheap Rewards' upcoming Texas punk onlslaught with Legionaire's Disease Band and Hugh Beaumont Experience reissues, plus a TX power pop comp which will be the first of some regional volumes the label is compiling. 2013 = reissues galore. Scum stats: 400 on black, 100 on red. (RK)
(Cheap Rewards // www.cheaprewards.net)

Running "Asshole Savant" 12" EP + flexi
Noise rock outfit from Chicago that I didn't like so much before I heard this record. I thought they sounded like re-heated Clockcleaner on whatever I'm remembering, but on this EP they seem to have a bit more energy and personality. Six tracks packed on one side, and they're really pushing the tempos to good effect on all of them, taking a heavy bass sound and hard riffing and racing around instead of going in the slo-mo sludge direction. I'm not just saying this because of the W. Kiehn artwork, but these vocals have a half-J.Dwyer/half-D.Yow intonation and delivery (and echo), while the band barrels along sounding like Mayyors (or even Karate Party) with fewer effects pedals and more velocity. One song bleeds into the next making for a quickfast delivery that keeps you attentive and a little nervous, and aside from two sort-of breakdown-ish riff extenders, the panicked and speedy tunes fly by sounding good and agressive (but the whole package is a little too arty to really sound truly mean...), and not as derivative as I thought they were being previously. This stuff does move real well. Recorded loud by Cooper Crain, artwork by Keihn (including an etched B-Side), the flexi is a bit of an afterthought. Lockgrooves are dumb, especially on a flexi and the song on it is nowhere near as good as anything on the 12".(RK)
(Captcha Records // www.hbsp-2x.com)

Sector Zero "Guitar Attack" 7"
Two word review: Holy Fuck. This single is just the sort of release that the Goner empire was built on. Maximum balls low budget punk-rock from a band that barely existed, released in a no frills b&w sleeve. Just beautiful. The incredible line-up of Sector Zero: Zac Ives on guitar and Side A vox, Eric O. on guitar and Side B vox, with Jay Reatard on drums and manning the tape deck. "Guitar Attack" is an even more mongo Final Solutions, with Zac's monotone echo vox (and I must add that his vocal approach on those FS records - and live - was a big part of what made them great) announcing the attack that's coming, the guitars sounding like screaming bottle rockets when they're not churning up the riffs. Simple and stupid yet so elegant. "Hiding In My Car" is another addition to the list of Eric Oblivian punk classics, a dark and dumb punker with the sort of guitar damage being slung around in TSOT these days. A must-have for any self-respecting fan of Memphis punk history. Scum stats: available on yellow vinyl for early birds, black still available and sounding just as good I iamgine.(RK)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)

Shaved Women s/t 7”
Less noiserock and more thugpunkers when compared to their Rotted tooth LP. “Pressures” is like a gruff Circle Jerks or something else of the early ‘core velocity. Sounds are similar to the street stuff Slices has been putting down since their debut LP. “Anxiety” still brings the now famously aped Ginn breaks and 'My War' vibe, but gets burlier like a street hood with a flick knife. It ends a little more sludgified thanks to “Adulthood”; the deliberate pounder that keeps up a slow throbbing burn till the final chug. Don’t expect a solo. You’ve done nothing to deserve such a thing. Stats for the scum: 40 with alternate artwork on transparency (I like to think I started this trend. Yer welcome.) and 460 standard editions. Sounds good to me. (RSF)
(Apop Records // www.apoprecords.com)

Skimask "Cute Mutant" LP
Firstly, it is my duty as a Buffalonian, and more importantly as someone who was born and raised in Riverside in particular, to duly note (as he surely would) that there is ONLY ONE person allowed to use the name Skimask in any permutation and that is the legendary Mr. Ski Mask himself. Please go to that site and enjoy one of the best things to ever originate from WNY. Now that I've got that out of the way, Skimask are a Boston concern with ties to Fat Day, so you know there's going to be some zany art/noise rock involved. It's pretty punky, and it's interesting to note that there are no stringed instruments involved, but they manipulate keys/electronics so well you might figure there's some seriously distorted guitar/bass playing going on. Live drummer (thank god) is a real heavy hitter, and the electronics aren't used so much in the typically abrasive noise rock fashion, but actually played in the manner of strings as stated - making for a heavy rock band with thick analog tones snaking the toilet that is your ears. The singer is a gent by the name of Profit Muhammed, who emcees the whole thing sing-talking and frothing at the mouth, just wacky enough that you won't totally write it off as some forced goofball shit. They go off the deep end into ridiculousness at times (as expected), but for the most part it's more rock than noise, which I can dig. Could certainly get along fine on the Load Records roster if they dialed back the cute shit a little, but I'm sure they knock 'em dead in Providence anyway. As good as a record with a die cut cover that reveals a picture of Sponge Bob can be. (RK)
(Sophomore Lounge // sophomoreloungerecords.com)

The Sleepers “Painless Nights” LP
For those who need a little history; Sleepers frontman Ricky Williams was the original drummer of Crime, but was booted for being too fuggin’ weird and not able to keep time. Then he did a tour of duty at Flipper’s mic, until being ousted for the same reasons. In later times he moved on to the Toiling Midgets, but that’s a totally different beast. 'Painless Nights' was the follow up to the much more aggressive -yet still untraditional meander & roll - "Seventh World" EP. With this reissue, the mellower side of San Fran art-skronk is on display throughout, giving off a variety of Tuxedomoon-like textures and the free-range thoughts via Williams’ lyrical content. While most punks spent their disaffected youth shooting up drugs and trying to keep things dunder-simple (verse/chorus/verse and easily pogo-able) Sleepers shot up the drugs and made it real hard for the Ramones clones and leather jacketeers. Songs just float off into the ether, never to come back around. Structure was not an option as the band just rolled with whatever the quirky and unconditioned bandleader gave them. Challenging stuff if yer up for a challenge and the polar opposite of what was going on around the Bay, or anywhere. There’s a morose and quivering Bowie-like undertone to the record (especially in tracks like “Forever”), but I’d be hard-pressed to call it anything remotely nearing glam rock. Gloom rock, true. There’s also faux-soul/post-funk (“Walk Away”) along the way as well as apparent experimental and jazz structures featuring an array of horns and electronics. The shimmering guitar work within “Zenith” makes the B-side soar closely in tone to the better Eno records on my shelves or even the best of Bruce Lichter. This combined with “Theory” that follows makes for the standout tracks to my ears. A beautiful yet haunting ride through love longing, drug damage and relationship disrepair. Wrap it all up in a UK post-vibe that could easily make one think of "Seventeen Seconds", dreary Joy Division or Sheffield’s non-giants, pre-new romanticism. An acquired taste - much like a lot of the Superior Viaduct catalog - but bless’em for thinking of the adventurists out there. An important artifact definitely worth getting a fair shake. (RSF)
(Superior Viaduct // www.superiorviaduct.com)

Slowmotions "Operation Anagram" 7"
Slowmotions are a confusing band, which certainly isn't uncommon for Japanese punk. I remember that "Yes Future!' single sounding just like Registrators, and getting those of the garage-punk persuasion excited. But then subsequent releases sounded a bit heavier or more rawk, but I believe these guys came up in the hardcore scene, and not the Teengenistrators garage-punk crowd, which from what I (perhaps mistakenly) understand don't mix too much. So they're more appreciated by the HC crowd and never bled over much into the garage scene, who I think would appreciate them just as much. Just about their entire discography has been released on HG Fact, a definite hardcore label, so those trolling the Record Shop Base catalog for Mangrove and Time Bomb artists probably let them pass by. But genre ghettos aside, they're definitely punk and pretty fucking good at it. This one's from almost two years ago, domestically distro'd by 540 Records. "Operation Anagram" rides the bass riff from "Where Eagles Dare", slapping on some wave-y keys and sharp guitar sounds for a pretty good pounder. "Panic and Spoiler" goes for some dark punk moves, like if the Registrators weren't obsessed with being the power-pop band of the future on "Sixteen Wires..." but the post-punk band of the future instead. I love this stuff, but it's maybe a bit too dark and not poppy enough for the turkeys, as I've wondered about above. Still available from 540, I've liked everthing I've heard from these guys. (RK)
(540 Records // www.chaosintejas.com/540)

Slugz “Empty Space” 7”
The first few measures of “Empty Space” is an overdriven Legionairre’s Disease Band, then Slugz lock into semi-menacing Modern Warfare riffage. Fairly all-over-the-place songwriting, but it’s very charming alongside the vocals - what I imagine Nathan Strejcek trying to front Laughing Hyenas would sound like. Young ‘n’ angsty, possibly studded, attempting to sound terrifying. On the flip, they wander into the treble bomb-filled woods that Career Suicide has already mapped out for our generation for an enjoyable two-song recess. Despite the band name, no songs about love here… just narratives on self destruction and negligible self worth. Happy to report that it at least sounds like Richmond is still Richmond. Worth noting: amongst their ranks is America’s Volume Zine Dealer Sam R., purveyor of quality future litter and official licensed bootlegger of Distort.(NG)
(Cowabunga Records // www.cowabungarecords.com)

Soupcans "Good Feelings" LP
I'm going to hop on the bandwagon right off the bat here and agree that this band are a hell of a lot better than that Metz shit. I will also comment that I'm a bit apprehensive of calling this a noise-rock record however (although I do appreciate that a band member did run a Killdozer fansite) - it is noisy and they pull out all the stops going for maximum goop and slime on much of this record's eleven tracks, but I feel it's a bit too zany to be lumped in that genre. I hate to be a dick, but this is like the Canadian version of that stuff - and don't get me wrong, I LOVE Canada - a bit kinder and gentler than serious misanthropes and sludgemeisters that the "noise-rock" tag might summon comparisons too. A couple of these songs sound like The Intelligence if Lars was going for a Fred Schneider vocal approach. They use some good tricks - like the chopped-up guitar part on "Negative Genes", some theremin (or at least theremin-like) backgrounding, whatever that mechanical barking noise is on "Dimwits Reign" (which does sound at least a little like a Mayyors tune with about 30 less effects pedals). Bass is the lead player here, and they get a thick sound without resorting to massive amounts of fuzz or distortion - it just manages to stay forceful enough for carrying the load, and gets loose when needed. "Deadbeat" is a good zombie stomp. "The Horla" makes for good-n-thick stew with a another great broken guitar amp effect and tasteful ray gun zips. The vocal approach veers from too wacky to just wacky enough, which I suppose works either way depending on the setting. They get a ton of mileage out of the same rubber bass/1-2 tub thump tempo (and a Flipper swipe or two) which makes for some too-much-of-the-same lapses of attention over the duration of a full LP, but at least every second or third track pulls you back in. "Altered States" is their nastiest gash with the sickest vox, and they saved it for last (and I do dig the movie references peppered throughout). I really hope you understand that calling this Canadian-style noise-rock is not a bad thing. A nice LP with some good twists that is far more weird than angry, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's a bit of a shame their art looks like a Mean Jeans record though.(RK)
(Telephone Explosion // www.telephoneexplosion.com)

Source of Yellow s/t LP
A Brooklyn free jazz trio is something that my nightmares are made of. Source of Yellow are not totally nightmarish though, as their jazz and krautrock blend sounds nearly pedestrian in the grand scheme of things. I'm no free jazz authority but I've listened to enough records on ESP-Disk to know what's what. I wouldn't say these cats are blazing trails anywhere, and even though I'm at a point in my life where sax exploration over electronic motorik beats at least sounds intriguing, this is about as wild as a Golden Girls episode. I'm sure they're gunning for a roster spot on Ecstatic Peace, but I imagine even Thurston wouldn't fall for this. Or at least I hope he wouldn't. The only reason I'm even writing this review is because I want to mention that one of the guys in this band has a side project called Snake Eats Electric Blanket, which is hilarious, but not even as hilarious as the fact that the other guy is also in a glam band called Hair Rocket. I couldn't make this shit up if I tried.(RK)
(Twin Lakes Records // www.twinlakesrecords.com)

Spray Paint s/t LP
I'll admit to not being that keen on the Spray Paint 7"es. Not that I didn't like them, I just thought they were good when a lot of other people were calling them great. The Spray Paint sound is a good one - twin guitar and drums, but going the treble-heavy route instead of getting all low-n-bloozy, as most bands with this instrumental line-up tend to go. It's easy to peg them as Soriano's "new A-Frames", as they have a similar mongo approach to the art-punk style. Lots of repetition, simple lyrics/concepts, less-is-more instrumentation and hidden hooks. I like this more than the singles, but it might be more of a presentation/format thing in my mind - I just think they get over better with a larger serving than in smaller blasts. "Canadian Trash" and "Nose Whiskey" are noisy and punky and a couple of tunes I'd play at someone if they asked. "Down to Party" is one for the weird-punk cassette you're dubbing for your mixtape club. Both sides end with a few shorter and more blasted punk tunes which seem to have a gnarlier recording style that sounds like they're jamming inside a tin can, which I'm on board with. I disapprove of comparing bands to the Urinals, but here's a band that does reference them, even if it's just the staccato insectoid sounds. Scum stats: 500 pieces with unique spray-painted covers. (RK)
(S-S Records // www.s-srecords.com)

Sprot "Summer of Sprot" 7" EP
Sprot are two Aussie fellas with ties to various bands on the Breakdance the Dawn label, which should tell you right there that they're not yer average rock'n'roll ham-n-eggers. No song titles for these compositions, in true cling-clang fashion. The A-Side is a bit of mix-n-match noise/looping with some primitve guitar/drums providing a rhythmic drive and structure that keeps all the goop inside some sort of pre-set parameters. Arty collage action that's at least a bit reminiscent of the Shadow Ring at their wildest or The Dead C at their very nicest. It's actually quite interesting, even to a goof like me, and having some sort of architectual support keeps their focus and my attention. The B-Side sounds like they miked up an electrified Slinky, which you are encouraged to play at 33 or 45, whichever suits you. I'm all for the A-Side, the B-Side is just too smart for me. Various hand-made collage sleeve variations.(RK)
(Wormwood Grasshopper // wormwoodgrasshopper.blogspot.com)

Stoic Violence s/t 12" EP
Southern CA hardcores go straight to LP after releasing a demo tape, and it was a good move. A fairly clean recording enhances the sheer ripping-ness of these tunes tenfold. Eight tracks of good ol' USHC with a variant of the buzzsaw guitar sound, racing tempos 75% of the time with a quarter left over for beefy breakdowns. Hate-filled misanthropic lyrics are par for the course, but "Fake Scum" sums up their "message" pretty well. Don't pose is the lesson I'm taking away from this one. Vox are bloody-throated in a Clevo-like Chris Erba/Lean Steve style, "Fight Them All" is a real fist pumper, and this is a completely serviceable HC record for these times. Breaking no new ground, but still breaking some shit. Also, hardcore records are always better when they come with a poster, and the fold out band shot on this one features more leather than a No Talk record. Heavy duty tip-on sleeves and an almost equally heavy printed inner add even more value. A split release with Katorga Works. (RK)
(Video Disease Records // www.videodiseaserecords.com)

The Stops s/t 7" EP
Full-on five piece all-girl punk group from Portland. Four songs here, and these ladies can certainly play. Super tight dark and melodic punk, recorded clean and not relying on the sloppy-garage crutch, I'm sure these girls are cute but their music is not. Serious stuff, exceptional songwriting, simple and introspective lyrics, effective use of the twin guitar attack. Very confidently sung vocals with backing harmonies included free of charge, and it's always great to hear girls actually sing (and sing well) in punk bands instead of just going for the scream/screech. I feel like there's a definite Euro-punk influence from the Masshysteri/Vicious lineage of bands, but with tougher American edge coming from the land of The Wipers. Good stuff all around. Scum stats: 600 copies, with 100 of them on clear with black-n-blue splatter.(RK)
(Residue Records // www.residue-records.com)

Sulphur Lights "Little Pills" 7"
Brisbane garage trio who come off the blocks sounding quite killer with "Little Pills" which has a recording so thin and scratchy it took me back to the glory days of the Nineties shit-fi boom. Shitty enough that it sounds tough, a bit like an early Bassholes record, and it's a catchy tune to boot. "Sulphur Stomp" reminds me of a goofy Demoliton Doll Rods tune, and is basically a jungle-vibe instro with some hootin-n-hollerin. "Hat and Beard" on the flip is a very good replication of the KK&BBQ doo-doo-wop sound, with some really obnoxious (not in a good way) "backing" whoops. They come out firing with that first tune, but it falls off fairly quickly after that. (RK)
(self-released // distro through Easter Bilby)

Thee Cormans "Mingo" 7"
Saying Thee Cormans are thee best surf-garage band in the world right now might seem like a dubious distinction, but it's 100% true regardless. "Mingo", a tribute to Native Americans (complete with war cries!), sounds a hell of a lot like those remarkable shit-fi instros the Drags used to peel off like "Shovel Fight" or "Tarantula" - recorded in a closet full of reverb. Tasty. "Tiger Lilly" is of course a bit slinkier in the tempo and twang. Burlesque without so much of the class. Another double-sided victory for Total Punk, who might have already pulled the coup of the year by having the balls to release an Action Swingers 7"!? Man, I thought Ned Hayden was dead. Can't wait for that one! (RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)

This Moment In Black History "Higher ≥ Deffer" LP
It's remarkable to think TMIBH have been slugging it out since 2003 (or earlier), and I think this might be their fourth or even fifth full length. I'm gonna be that guy and say the early stuff is so killer ('The Cleveland Finger" EP and 'Hung Up" 7" and maybe even the split with Fatal Flying Guillotines) but that 'Midwesterncutlasssupreme' LP on Version City was bad enough that it put me off the band for a few years. I was also having a hard time dealing with the fact that they were not really going to be Neon King Kong Pt. II, but that's my fault. Anyway, Bim, Buddy Akita and CK1 are still at it with a new bass player (who plays with Bim in Obnox as well), and I admit I liked what I heard on the split with Sun God enough that I was feeling good about this one. I like the name, and so does LL I bet. It's pretty good, brimming with garagey post-punk , Akita's sharp guitar work and obviously aided from having a killer rhythm section. "Family Day At Euclid Beach" is the kind of Clevo-centric rocking that they excel at. There's some epic punkers, groover breakdowns, some cornball rawk moves and maybe the worst thing you could say is that there's a little too much happening here. "Take Your Shirt Off At Music Emporium" is another oddball rocker and they of course close with a six minute blow-off jam called "Ephemeral" that does its job. A good record by a good band, nothing more. I feel like they maybe stretched out a really good EP into an only decent album. Printing the lyrics backwards on the insert was a dick move though.(RK)
(Snax Records // snaxrecordsandtapes.bandcamp.com)

Trench Rot “Tyrant” 7”
Burly, slightly reverbed hardcore from Southern California. Semblances of some strong songs, but it’s always just one part. Pummeling Kings of Punk-ish brash riffing (including guitar meows) with some throatier NYHC-style vocal stylings. Not bad, but nothing really stands out. There are skeletons on both sides of the sleeve, if that helps your purchasing decisions. Though if someone told me these were Strung Up demos, I’d believe em and I’d like it a fair bit more. A little bit more time in the cooker and these guys oughtta have something both mean and catchy. (NG)
(Video Disease Records // www.videodiseaserecords.com)

Bobb Trimble & The Kidds "Take Me Home Vienna" 7"
Reproduction of a promo-only single that was produced to drum up sales/attention for 'Harvest of Dreams', with different versions of the tunes from the LP. For some reason Trimble thought it would be a good idea to have a band of pre-teens accompany him on these songs, but the kids' contributions were left off the LP for logical and/or legal reasons. The songs aren't so different aside from the children doing some backing vox and talking/playground noise and a few added strings/keys parts from what I can tell. Trimble was (and still is, I imagine) a weird fucking dude, and these versions are slightly weirder than the LP takes for sure. Kind of a perfect release for Mighty Mouth. It always bugs me that Acid Archives says the reissues of Trimble's LPs were remastered to sound like dogshit, and you must hear the original versions to appreciate the complexity of the recordings. Yeah, let me go and drop $800 on an OG 'Iron Curtain Innocence' you fuckers...argh. (RK)
(Mighty Mouth // www.almostreadyrecords.com/mmm.htm)

True Sons of Thunder "Black Astrologers" 7"
TSOT might be the most frightening band on the planet right now. "Black Astrologers" is some sort of ode to Dionne Warwick and the Psychic Friends Network, which sounds like a live recording of the band officiating a black mass being celebrated in some blown-out warehouse on the outskirts of Memphis. Real seventh circle of hell shit. Unbelievably fucked. On the flip they prove how nuts they are even further by covering the Equals' "I Can See" that is as dumb as the A-Side is evil. Fucking loose cannons, these guys. I'm kinda scared to see them live. I've heard they beat up people who don't like their music...Scum stats: three variations - a limited edition silk screened sleeve (with unique messages inside them all I think - mine has some variation of the lyrics to "Dazed and Confused" scribbled in it) with clear vinyl, regular b&w sleeve with clear vinyl and standard black. Spring for the limited cover if you can, well worth it, but probably long gone slowpoke...(RK)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)

TV Freaks s/t 7" EP
Four-song EP from these young punks straigh outta Hamilton (former home to one of my favorite OHL team names, the Dukes of Hamilton - I'm rooting for you guys to get a franchise back there!), with members of Rocket Reducers in the fold. Both of these bands have had some good teen punk moves on their demos and records thus far, nothing 100% killer, but the type of shit where you know they're good kids on the right path. The songs here really remind of Buffalo's White Whale, a good blend of hardcore and garagier style punk rock. At times a bit Career Suicide-esque even. Hard guitar sounds, with some melodic choruses and such. "Freelancer" is the best cut here, having some great guitar work and an interesting structure, where they break the song down and build it back up. Good hook. "Upper Hand" ends it with a solid buzzsaw charge as well. Again, a decent record, they're not ready for the NHL just yet, but they're definitely on my list of hot OHL prospects. Scum stats: 100 mailorder copies on colored wax with alternate sleeve, plus regular edition on black. I'd also like to mention Schizophrenic paying tribute to one of the true heroes of punk, the late Imants Krumins, with the logo "INSPIRATION KRUMINS" on their recent releases. Very classy.(RK)
(Schizophrenic Records // schizophrenicrex.com)

TV Freaks s/t LP
Full length that I listened after the above 7". The first couple of tracks are some of the better Rip Off Records derived punkers I've heard lately, particularly "I Can't Win". "Only Child" actually reminds me of a waaay more sober Narcs with the overblown garage breakdown. Although "Spilt Milk" is a ridiculous song concept, it's pretty tough and along with "Never Finish..." is reminiscent of the tougher Denton bands like Pumpers or Video. B-Side sounds more like the 7" stuff - hardcore-ish punk with melodic hooks but a tough edge, the one real exception being a swaggering garage stomper in "Real Pain". The A-Side is a great listen, the B-Side gets to be a little repetitive, but for neo-garage fans of stuff like Bad Sports or OBNIII's, these guys would fit in great alongside them. I have a soft spot for Southern Ontario punk bands, in particular bands who record in barns (and I'm not talking about a hockey arena when I say that). I'm also into the poster-sized insert and the fact that instead of a lyric sheet they just talked about why they wrote each song or what inspired it. Nice touch.(RK)
(Schizophrenic Records // schizophrenicrex.com)

Uh Bones "Only You" 7"
Randy Records returns with the debut wax outing from Chicago's Uh Bones who also have a cassette out that I wish I could hear now. This is pretty killer, a garage-n-beat kinda thing that reminds me of Les Sexareenos in good ways. Four tracks, all of which are the good shit. Some really smooth organ playing that doesn't get at all overbearing, a harmonica solo on "Only You", great vox and harmonies, a real classy sounding recording job. "Only You" and "Amess" are both hits in a testifying garage style with lots of soul, and they're backed up on each side by a couple of VU-styled dreamy pop songs. Just a bit o' fuzz on everything, but not so much where they start sounding like Thee Oh Sees or anything, just a kind of clean yet lo-fi vibe. Well written songs that sound vintage but not at all corny, I like this one a lot. Reminds me of the glory days of Montreal garage past, how those guys (Sultan, Choyce, Skid Marks, etc...) could pull off really convincing retro-moves without sounding at all lame. Well worth a look, I'm hoping this is ex-members of The Yolks for some reason. I also like how Randy Recs has circumvented the blank label issue by pressing these records with no labels at all and just hand-drawing their logo on the A-Side. I'm sure that was a huge pain in the ass, but I appreciate the effort.(RK)
(Randy Records // randyrecords.blogspot.com)

Vaginors "Total Nonsense" EP
Rob V. loves these guys a lot, so I figured I should chime in on this one so you know he's not alone. Absolutely ridiculous hardcore punk from Australia (and ex-Bloodclot Faggots to boot) that's sooo over-the-top it's hard not to like. Rat Boy's vocals are so obnoxiously high-pitched that you want to punch him in the face. I mean that as a compliment. The music is shit-beat pounding with a Japanese guitar sound, sounding like the Aussie version of one of the Toxic State bands. To steal some great comparisons from Mr. V: Doc Dart fronting the Japanese version of The Sleaze. These idiots might even be one of the only bands in the world who even get in the same neighborhood of dumbness as Folded Shirt. I mean, they're not as monumentally important of a band as F/S, but they're certainly retarded enough to get on a bill with them. Fantastic stuff, and just to repeat myself for the umpteenth time, how the fuck does Australia keep pumping winning shit like this out in just about all genres? It's baffling. Scum stats: a split release with No Patience records, VD has a US only green vinyl edition limited to 185 copies, with the rest on brown. Packaging is exceptional as well, with two of those Sweet Rot-styled textured pocket sleeves that fit together as inner/outer. Very nice.(RK)
(Video Disease // vdrecords.bigcartel.com)

V/A Bad Taste/Braincar split 7"
Bad Taste are perhaps the perfect example of a Rotcore band - you'll never understand them unless you experience it live and multiple times at that. I've seen them stink the joint up multiple times (both in costume and plainclothes) and also had my mind blown on a couple occassions. The kind of band that shows up to gigs late, drunk and in drag, then throws raw meat at the crowd while stumbling through a couple of songs before getting kicked out of the venue. Then the next time you see them they're so good you feel like you just lived through a riot. A Rotcore supergroup if there ever was one - members of Rational Animals, Insubordinates, Braincar and just about any other Rochester that has mattered at one time or another. "Warzone High" is as close to greatness as they've come on record. Brett's vocals are...something...on this. An insane falsetto or an approximation of a feral cat in heat. Watery wah guitar flows by like the Gennesse River in the background, then they prop up the corpse of Ron Asheton for a "facemelter" solo. Almost as good as the worst Stooges song, and I mean that as a big compliment. I can't decide if this would be the perfect into or outro to the LP that I wish they would record. The Braincar side is their last recorded gasp, a cover of "Be True to Your School" via the Devil Dogs version. A cheesy cover to pull out (with a real cheesy organ line as well), but when you consider that for the loveable mutants of Rochester this song isn't just some Beach Boys tune, it's an anthem for their way of life, this makes a lot more sense. Anyway, you really need to hear "Warzone High", and I couldn't be more serious when I say that. Scum stats: 300 copies, 100 of which come in a picture sleeve.(RK)
(Reel Time Records // reeltimerecordss.bigcartel.com)

V/A Cogs and Sprockets/God Harvest split 7"
This is a split at 33rpm with t-e-n songs. God Harvest is blasty metal with brief interludes of capital Hardcore-hardcore parts - guitars ring out behind brutal shouts as shirtless young men mosh. Somewhat interesting guitar lines are buried under a (requisite, I imagine) drop tuning. Their side of the sleeve has what appears to be a white power Cylon, which I will now always imagine dying at the hands of. Cogs and Sprockets is very bizarrely recorded grindcore that sounds like what said Cylons would listen to after huffing gas. The recording sounds like the tape deck was left in a washing machine, which is actually pretty endearing. Fans of the style may find something else to latch onto, but this side kept me interested throughout to hear the increasingly bizarre mix - it’s like they went to a nursing home and found the dude that recorded the Tapeworm 7”. The usual guttural death knell vocals you would probably expect are exactly as billed and stomp out any further interest. The American flag on their side of the sleeve is inverted and surrounded by what could be César Romero, which I choose to assume is some type of subversive farm-based political statement referencing that episode of the Simpsons where Homer doesn’t know what César Chávez looks like. High concept. This record comes from Clearwater, Florida, perhaps this is what Dianetics feels like? (NG)
(Tack Head Records // www.tack-head.com)

V/A Fake Surfers / Eroders split 7"
Fake Surfers?! The first Intelligence-inspired band name? It's actually a pretty good name when you think about it. And these Fake Surfers, from Hamtramck, MI (home of one of my least favorite GM Assembly plants) sound pretty fucking cool. "Small Talk" is tough punk, with a killer guitar presence and drum-pound (could be a two-piece?), but it's a shit-stomper that reminds me of the glory days of Nineties garage-punk. "Cigarette Girls" is also a rocker, like The Hussy but better. Eroders are not named as well, but they are a bit more trebly and Estrus-y in style. A little bit surf, and the vox are burly - reminds me some of Ape City R&B, but weirder. Those out-of-tune Drags-style surf licks are cool on "Use Your Eyes". "Little Girl" reminds me of second LP Horrors' sounds, with a 13th Floor Elevators nod. Pretty cool little single, I don't know if either band are ready for prime time yet, but I like what's going on here. (RK)
(self-released // adamhunter222-at-gmail.com)

V/A "Land of Nod" compilation LP
An Atlanta Punk and Hardcore Omnibus. There are a few locales deserving of the regional comp treatment these days, and ATL is certainly one of them, a city that has given us some of the brightest lights of modern times (Black Lips, Carbonas, Gentleman Jesse, and hey, remember The Lids? I do!) and one that certainly has an identifiable "sound" in the the frantic and hook-laden punk and hardcore that emerged both pre-and-post Carbonas. To track the member overlap between bands would take up too many words, but let's just say there's quite a few common players throughout this 13 band (19 songs) comp, documenting bands that are already dead and gone, some that are current, two from Athens and some side projects and quite a few different genres as well. Bukkake Boys lead off, and for some reason I never gave them too much play (I think it was the name), but both tracks here are top notch violent punkers (one exclusive to this comp and one reprised from their demo/first 7"). You also get two apiece from Predator (both of which are incredible and serve as a great tease for their upcoming long-in-making second LP), Manic (who really steal this one, and will make you realize how awesome their 7" really was) and GG King, most of them exclusive and all of them top notch. Two new tracks from Cops (Jesse, GG and Ryan Dino), both of which are surprisingly ballsy (one even sounds like The Cramps), and as bonus balls you get a super tough Gentleman Jesse cut as well ("Fence Yourself In"). The Vincas track is quite heavy in a Comets on Fire style. I'm glad to see a Ralph track on this (and it's another highlight, just perfect sounding 80s core with incredible guitar tone), and Wymyns Prysyn's "Booze Void" is one of the best cuts on this (total Dwarves-ism). Into the unknown: Shaved Christ are haphazard hardcore with a dark streak, Acid Freaks sound a bit Japcore inspired to me and are pretty hot shit (and have most of Predator in their line-up), GHB come off like a dumber Predator (in a real good way, and they share members as well) and God's Balls are not a Tad cover band, but a grindcore band (and the only thing on this that really isn't gold). A perfect example of the regional comp done extremely well: a good cross-section of bands, documentation of some tracks that would've probably never appeared if not for this chance, and comes with the mandatory zine accompanying it where each band gets a page for art/lyrics/credits. I shouldn't need to tell you to buy this, one of the first absolutely necessary purchases of the year.(RK)
(Scavenger of Death // scavengerofdeathrecords.blogspot.com)

V/A Jacob Milstein/Thomas Macfie split 12"
Mystery record from Missoula, MT...partially recorded at the University of Montana...hmmmm. From the sounds of it, I have to think that our "Montana Agent" was not affiliated with this one so much. And Mordecai do not have to worry about being out-rocked here. Milstein's side is titled 'Graduation Music', which is broken into five tracks of acoustic folk, some with a digital rhythm track. Pretty lo-fi, but it's also pretty quiet which sort of cancels things out there. He's not a particulary commanding singer or songwriter, although I'm sure he's feeling it even if I'm not. A person doesn't write, record and then actually release this stuff on vinyl if they're not feeling strongly about it. I think he's trying out a Lou Reed thing on some parts. Macfie's side is a sidelong composition called 'Circle Country', which I sort of get the purpose of more than Milstein's side. Meaning I'm not sure why someone would press a bunch of mediocre folk tunes, but I sort of understand the art project aspect of this guy recording fifteen minutes of himself spouting free verse in monotone with various incidental noises in the background, as pretentious as the concept is. It sounds like people are having conversations around him, there's some wind and a plane flying overhead at one point - I sort of hope this guy was just walking around campus muttering this stuff into a tape recorder while people looked at him like he was a loon. That's the only way I can think of this even making sense or being somewhat interesting. I was thinking this might have been some kind of art major thesis project. I was also trying to understand why they glued a piece of velour to the spine of this, and I'm supposing it's to make it stand out when sitting in the midst of a shelf full of records - a pretty smart idea, and if true, the best idea of the project as a whole. There are a mind-boggling 200 copies of this thing in existence.(RK)
( self-released // bandcamp.jacobmilstein.com)

V/A Night Beats/TRMRS split 7"
Night Beats track is a rather decent riff on post-Black Lips garage-rock - cavernous reverb, a haunted organ, sloppy guitar solo, gang-vox echo - and I don't mean that as a slight. It's a great slow burn and I love the overkill on the reverb when it gets so heavy it sounds like the amp is breaking. I like what these guys do, one of the few of the style that I feel are coming from the right place. TRMRS I've never heard before, they're of a certain West Coast style that lends to bands sounding a lot alike. There's a bit of surf here, vox are a weak point, they're more soft fuzz than obnoxious reverb. Like a lesser Moonhearts, a bit too fancy/indie to win me over. Night Beats cut is aces though. This is part of some sort of Volcom singles club, who are in the record business now, with obvious Urban Outfitter-friendly choices like Turbonegro, Jeff the Brotherhood and Torche, but I also see they have a Kurt Vile/Wino/Jennifer Herrrema collaboration 7"(!) that sounds like a such a ridiculous idea I need to hear it. Scum stats: 1000 copies.(RK)
(Ressurection Records/Volcom // www.getresurrected.com)

V/A "Rough End of the Stick" compilation LP
19 band compilation from the diverse Vacant Valley roster of artists. Not a lot of well known bands here, unless you live in Victoria or are REALLY into Aussie DIY. Mad Nanna are the "big name" here, contributing a different live version of "My Two Kids" from their LP, which actually sounds quite together for them. Ratsak you might know from their 7" on 12XU, and their track is exclusive to this comp and pretty good'n'aggro (members of True Radical Miracle, Circle Pit/Southern Comfort, Bloody Hammer and others). Pop Singles have a few records out and play a sharp post-punk style. Go Genre Everything have a 7" on VV and they sound like the implication of their name - a noisy mash of multiple styles. That covers all of the bands I've actually heard of. The unknown highlights for me were White Walls (not to be confused with the American White Walls on Video Disease) who peddle SY/DinoJr fuzz-rock that should please fans of Milk Music, The Clits (bouncy B-52s/Ween-like quirk), Jouissance (who reminded me of a female-fronted Ministry), Full Ugly (very Babs Manning-esque) and the label's resident MES-inspired chap Dane Certificate. Sadly, Sir Gooch Grobble were not as good as their name. Diverse, as I said, and I can't mention every band but there's New Romantic, dancefloor indie, more Nineties-inspired guitar rocking, even a vaguely hip-hop inspired track, with only a scant few that I felt the need to skip on the second and third go-round. I remember a time in my youth when I was obsessed with buying label comps, since they were the best way to sample wares in the pre-internet age without shelling out for full albums by artists you might not know. Maybe that model doesn't work as well these days, but as a label sampler this does the job, with all except one track being exclusive. Big fan of the transparent insert as well. And hey, it was mastered by Mikey Young in a shocking turn of events! (RK)
(vacant Valley // vacantvalley.blogspot.com)

Village Pistols "Big Money" 7"
"Big Money" is such a KBD punk monster that they had to use it for the cover art on KBD #7. There's not much more I can say about it, you can get the full bio at Break My Face, but let's just acknowldege that it's one of the finest punk tunes to come out of North Carolina (pre-hardcore/COC years) and very deserving of the lead off slot on said KBD volume. Frantic pacing, ridiculously gruff vox, hot solo, it's all there. Brutal. The flip is a demoliton of a Beatles tune that Justin documented here. Yet another record you and I will never own an OG copy of made available for the masses, in an authentic repro edition that sounds loud as fuck.(RK)
(Last Laugh // www.almostreadyrecords.com/llr.htm)

White Walls "Kevin 'The Magnum Opus'" 12" EP
When a band calls something their magnum opus you feel obligated to pay attention. Cincinnati's White Walls didn't impress me so much on their debut 7" from almost two years ago - it was a bit gnarly musically, sure, but also tried way too hard to be edgy or offensive lyrically. Some of this material was apparently released on cassette almost as long ago (and reworked for this record), and thanfully the lyrics aren't as hamfisted this time. "Prick" has the singer doing his best David Yow over stock Jesus Lizard moves, with some heavy guitar riffing instead of Denison-like prickle. They change it up for their cover of "Bone Machine" to sound a little more like Scratch Acid. "Crying at the Rodeo" sounds like it could be a 'Liar' outtake, again, with riffs and a bit of feedback this time to alter the homage ever so slightly. So, their magnum opus "Kevin"...well it moves on from direct JL aping to sounding nearly exactly like a Pissed Jeans dirge that gets fast at the end, including some self-loathing lyrics delivered in less of a Yow-style and more of a guy-trying-to-sound-like-a-guy-who's-trying-to-sound-like-Yow style. All this being said, this is recorded great and even if there's a real lack of original ideas here, they make it sound heavy. I can get behind hating on dudes with beards who stare sadly at their copy of 'Moondance', I'll agree with them on that. Scum stats: 600 on pink, 200 on green.(RK)
(Video Disease // www.videodiseaserecords.com)

Ray Woolf and The Avengers "Little Things That Happen" 7"
Unreleased '67 New Zealand garage/psych brought to life by Cass Records. Supposedly "Little Things..." was rejected by RCA at the time for being too "out there", and while it might not sound too wild today, the fuzz is pretty nasty for 1967 and it has a dark vibe that probably would've freaked out the squares. It actually reminds me a little of the Macabre cuts on the Pebbles box with some hard freakbeat overtones instead of the proto-doom riffing of the future Pentagram. Ray Woolf apparently went on to much fame and fortune in NZ pop culture, appearing in soap operas and films and having a long recording career doing everything from jazz and pop standards to soccer team theme songs. The flip is a cover of "La La Lies" where Ray mimics Daltrey to perfection that actually charted in New Zealand at the time. "Little Things That Happen" is an exceptional song, one that would easily be the stand out on a period comp and anyone who even thinks they like garage music should get a thrill out of it. Comes with a nice looking pocket sleeve and liner notes/interview insert. (RK)
(Cass Records // www.cassrecords.com)

Zath “Shit Pig” 7”
Chicago three piece featuring members of Cave and Cacaw, and Ga’An. Zero kraut, shock-noise or major prog tendencies. Real deal metal that’s none too busy or smart…just evil. Kinda’ hitting an early Venom or Slayer stride (sans the wailing noodle-fuck soloing). Pretty fucking great, really. “Shit Pig” is a vicious barnstormer that gallops for a bit up the NWOBHM mountainsides once it settles from the opening thrash attack. “Unborn Oppressor” gets a little artier in the chord flavors, but never steers from its main objective, to brutally shred like its 1984. Like how Tirefire and the late great Evil Army surprised me, this wins me over too. If yer crates contain a hefty batch of early Megaforce or Combat LPs (Richie?) or yer sitting on a moldy shoebox full of dog-eared Metal Forces, this should get you metal thrashin’ mad. Unleashed by the ever so puzzling Catchpa Records. (RSF)
(Catchpa Records // www.hbsp-2x.com)




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