RECORD REVIEWS WINTER 2013-2014
Key: (LB: Lance Boyle)(SB: Young Steve)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RK: Rich K.)(RSF: Rob Vertigo)(NG: Nick Goode) (EEK: Erick Elrick)
The #1s "Sharon Shouldn't" 7"
Firstly, lets just all agree that The #1s is a terrible band name. Secondly, the fact that these guys are actually from Dublin makes me feel that their Protex/Good Vibrations aping is acceptable since it's at least geographically correct. People that I consider power-pop "experts" seem to love this single, and since I trust their opinion on matters of such wimpery better than my own, I will make the blanket statement that if you like power-pop you will like these tunes. Personally, I think this is rather tame by-the-books stuff, but I also think the Irish bands they're referencing are overrated in general and The Undertones are probably the only one worth mentioning in the long run. So there's that. The B-Side of this record is horrendous. "Boy" sounds like mallpunk and "Girl" is just poorly conceived music in general. It feels like these tunes were hurriedly put together so they had something for a flipside. The big A-Side hit "Sharon Shouldn't" that people are praising just sounds formulaic to me, but my disdain probably stems from my not liking the formula much to begin with. I think the most remarkable thing about this release is that it is a split effort between Alien Snatch and Sorry State Records. Sorry State is one of the finest labels and distros in America today and Alien Snatch is a garage-punk label that has been at it since the Nineties (and both of the guys behind the labels are named Daniel - crazy, right?!), fostering the crossover between modern hardcore-punk scene and the garage scene of the past decade(s) that I like to bring up incessantly. It's great to see partnerships I would have never considered a possibility even a few years ago happen and bodes well for the future.(RK)
(Sorry State/Alien Snatch! // www.sorrystaterecords.com)
Abject Pax s/t 7" EP
I saw this band at Not Dead Yet in Toronto, and let me tell you they are waaaay better on record than they are live. This record has a lot going for it. Not sure how to describe it, but it has some anarcho/peace-punk-vibes that go along with the now popular death-punk/goth motif. Lots of rolling drums and crackling guitar buzz, with playing that I don't want to call semi-incompetent, as that may seem insulting, but the "loose" feel is what gives them some character. They are not the tightest unit, but I like some of the clunky guitar moves. Again, I'm not trying to run them down, and it's not even in a so-bad-it's-good way. It might sound trite to say, but it makes the record seem more honest or even raw, and they do nail it more often than not. I think we all like a bit of the rough-around-the-edges sound anyway, right? They kick off with "Abject Pax" which is just an average HC tune, but then "Mind & Body" is exceptional, with the girl guitar player doing some haunting back-ups that of course give it a gothic touch. "Selfish Hands" is another winner with a nice death-punk build via a ringing guitar sound that leads into to an agressive crush that has a surf-like lick and a rather catchy hook. I feel like they're having trouble with the tempo changes, which gives it that warts-and-all appeal. "Not Moral" is practically a straight hardcore tune that descends down a gothy alley with some church organ sounds and a post-punky ending. The only drawback here is that the guy's vocals are often an unremarkable hardcore yell, but you get the sense they're still feeling things out and he does rise to the occassion at times. The more appealling cuts are the ones that make them sound less like a typical hardcore band and the middle-to-lower fi recording captures their energy well. From Halifax, a locale whose bands I often find intriguing, and they have a good design aesthetic as well. Comes with a nice pocket sleeve and lyric/art booklet.(RK)
(Sewercide // sewerciderecords.bigcartel.com)
Charles Albright "The First Four Years" LP
Singles compilation (plus some bonus/live cuts) from Sacto madman Charles Albright, with the debut on Sacremento Records (his best), both the Permanent Recs singles, the Goodbye Boozy 7" and his track from the split with fellow Sacto lunatic Matt K Shrug (a cover of Head's "The Hate Van") spread over two sides. His "thing" makes a bit more sense all strung together like this - as singles they always seemed like fragments of a bigger idea, and you get a better grip on the garage-punk with psych-rocking overtones style here. Seems a bit more coherent, and he's best when laying down some nasty guitar work on tunes like "I'm On Drugs" or "Hats Off To (Ron) Harper". The live cuts on the tail are pretty entertaining, and the best track on this is "Louie Louie In Uganda" which I don't remember hearing before - one of the better versions of the song I've heard, a total drugged out sludgefest. Another interesting chapter in the Sacto Rock book combining a good sense of humor with some talented playing, not completely essential but worth more of a listen than the standalone singles. If you loved that Readymades record, you should hear this if you haven't already. Scum Stats: only 150 copies - at first I thought this was the thickest LP ever made, but it's really two clear one-sided LPs glued together with sparkles in between making for a pretty cool effect.(RK)
(Mapled // mapledmapled.bigcartel.com)
Angie "Turning" LP
Solo LP from Angie Bermuda, the woman responsible (or at least partially responsible) for some of the best Aussie music of the past few years, and in a widely diverse fashion. Straight Arrows, Ruined Fortune, Southern Comfort, Circle Pit - all amazing bands, all rather different, and all including Angie. Remarkable. On 'Turning' Angie is aided only by her Straight Arrows mate Owen Penglis, who records and plays drums/percussion here while Angie does the rest. A lot of this goes for the slow head-hung-low songwritery thing, and it gets a bit too weighed down with bummer vibes in some passages. But there's also some Spacemen 3-like trance ("Wandering"), some Kiwi-styled (slightly)noisy-pop ("Parallels") and I think the hit here would be "Shadow Twin" which has a weird-n-spacey pop throb and solid driving tempo. I think some people might have placed higher hopes on this considering the high quality output of the bands she's in, and while I would agree that she's definitely better when playing with others, this record takes on a lovely side-project vibe when you approach it as such. Don't expect this to be the type of spectacle that a Circle Pit record was and you'll find yourself appreciating it more and more. Angie's guitar playing is (as always) better than you might realize, the songwriting and lyrics are well thought out and her voice is in fine form as usual. (RK)
(Easter Bilby // innedinsulation.blogspot.com)
Atlantic Thrills s/t LP
The debut LP from Atlantic Thrills proves that there's more to them than the beach kegger that "Day at the Beach" was. They're a fun and slightly ragged garage-rock band that can move across the genre with ease - party anthems, darkly tinted psych-outs, rough pop gems, slow burn blackouts - and have built themselves one of the better truly garage rock records in some time. A dozen tunes, equally balanced between fun-loving stompers and raw rockers full of twang and reverb (but not reliant on such effects), somewhere between the Jacuzzi Boys and Black Lips. Hits like "Problems" and "Light Shines" should propel them into breakout territory, a band that's good enough to appeal to the masses and still maintain a following amongst those who know what garage rock really is. No West Coast bullshit here either, this is straight East Coast rocking, and along with Liqour Store they make for a formidable one-two punch in the Almost Ready stable. (RK)
(Almost Ready Records // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
Atom Mouth Gimlies “Ode to Slidewinder” 7”
Sounds to me as though AMG has cleaned up their feedtime tubscum thump and hightailed it to a more deranged garage territory. I’d use my “Yakisakana Rock” reference, but I doubt most of the new jacks round this board would get it. “33th Acetate Girl” starts the fling off with a rollicking pop bass line drowning in Oblivians cum scunge and a vocal delivery that ain’t too far from the mighty Hank Wood. The pie plate drum thwack is still present, but the guitarist has stepped up his game. “Parallel Brain” melts craniums like a really good Scat Rag Boosters tune (again, sorry to you newbies) thriving on a boogie. Just because they found a new musicality in the slop doesn’t mean the vocals aren’t still barking incoherently. Lyrics make as much sense as their song titles. “1000 Atomers Behind the Moon” brings on a fuller drum sound, ticking like a meat machine under a dumbed down fist-pumper. A perfect ride for those Accione Mutante fans out there (again, sorry…oh fuck it, turn 40 already). A haphazard guitar solo breaks away for literally a heartbeat, ruining the bed sheets with a brown streak of unclean filth. The pissed off happy funtimes sputters to a grinding halt after “Lumberjacks Dream”. I’m still unsure if this is the same song played twice (once live) or possibly just a reprise after a false ending. Dumbshits. Whatever. I still have a soft spot for these goons. (RSF)
(Jumatsuga Records // www.jumatsuga.blogspot.com)
Autodramatics "Reaction" LP
Second LP from Autodramatics which improves on the first. Andy Caffrey's crew seems to have gelled quite a bit musically, and the three woman vocal team is really finding their stride here. "You Little Man" is a tough table-setter with great screamin-n-moanin vox, "Tigerman" does the locomotive chug-a-lug with a wicked feedback tornado chasing it, "Bad Ground" brings a convincing Oblivians twist and "Valvetrain" lays down the swamp-strut. Best cut might be "Go Be A Lesbian" which is a goof-off sounding title that actually rises up and hits the mark - an upbeat yet tough rocker that uses the ladies' potential to its fullest. The rest of the flipside is a bit heavy on the blooze after that, aside from "Ben Tipton and the Sonic Smash" which is an American guitar rocker with another great performance from the women - harmonizing and sassy/tough delivery all at the same time. Autodramatics have a real unique thing going with the vocal trio at the front (which often plays off Andy's singing as well) and they use it quite effectively here, without sounding corny or gimmicky - it's what a Bellrays or Detroit Cobras could have been if they weren't faking it or pushing the suped-up soul sound too far. This band is 100% rock-and-blues (even though I'd like a little less blues) and Andy is a great guitar player who knows what to do with the static (and there's some great song-bridging feedback on this thing as well). I'd love to see how this works out live.(RK)
(Obsolete Records // theeobsolete-at-gmail.com)
Bad Daddies “Bad Year” 7”
Bad Daddies spew forth a frantic screech of punk spasm that rolls (or full on tumbles) face first off the stage. Six songs in six minutes and probably even shorter if you don’t count the blistering in & outros…but where’s the fun in that? I’m pretty certain they’ve been tooling around the Bay for as long I’ve lived here, so I feel kinda’ lame since I avoided them for so long. Blame the name, as it always made me think they were some kinda’ Cherry Poppin’/shooby-doo/retro-swank bar malarkey. Well thankfully, I was dead fucking wrong. They keep it (dare I say) FUN since these tracks are peppered with a smidge o’ pop punk, though the whole package is suffocating under a thick wall of Void-esque feedback and harsh guitar noise. Albini’s best 1986 “Cables” type-o-noise. True earbleed tones that play against their perk, deliciously. The rioting gal up front gets her vocals shoved to foreground. That’ll help to keep those Youth Attack clowns and their hands away. There’s a spoonful of amped up grrr-rage as well that might get those turkeys gripping Tyrades singles to cough up some change. So what does it all mean? They’re loud and odd and in a genre all of their own. I played a show with them last week and was impressed by the chaos, the extremely overdriven guit-fit and (I mean this in the best way possible) how unpunk they look and act. Now that’s PUNK. I love a band that doesn’t seem to fit in the “scene” or even within their own practice confines. Bands like the Penetrators, Gizmos or even The Gits. Outcasts or frustrated Joes (and Janes) that just gotta’ blow off steam; not play dress up. The fact there’s a friendly parenting couple in the mix kinda’ vibes ‘em like the hardcore version of the Nothing People. Good folks, good tunes and probably the most posi-punk force I’ll ever be hip too. Shit is pretty sick, brah. (RSF)
(Central District Records // baddaddies.bandcamp.com)
Black Black Black s/t LP
Not to be confused with Dark Dark Dark or any other multi-word repeato brooders out there, Black Black Black set themselves up well enough with a sharp looking, pseudo evil screenprinted sleeve and a creepy string scrape of an intro track. Chanting about a spider monkey ensues over this brief opening clatter and my interest is perked. Like a blackened Rebel release or the moodiest Liars tune, this fun plays for most of a minute and then comes to a sudden halt. Sadly, the rest of the LP takes on a hokey tongue-in-cheek, cock rockin’ and indie pastiche. Sometimes Black Blaugh Blech will smoke its wheels on the pavement like an Orange Goblin or Sabbath ape, but it always ends up falling flat with either flavor of the week pop metal wank or Electric Six style humor. When the false gloom and doom isn’t being spread as thick as Goober Grape, they gunk shit up with a spacey alt rock sound that might get a few (very few) Turn Me On Dead Man fans something to latch on to. Drum solo. I’m not gonna’ make it through this whole LP. Sorry. At least the song title “Lexipro Devil” makes me chortle. 300 pressed on (deep) purple wax. To those Queens of the Stone Age fans hanging out in the Bonnaroo parking lot, this buds for you! (RSF)
(self-released // www.black-black-black.com)
Mac Blackout Band "Heartbreaker" 7"
New stuff from Mac Blackout and it's thankfully different from his past solo efforts which were sort of weird-synthy Blank Doggy stuff that fell flat to my ears. And this is the Mac Blackout BAND (MBB) anyway, with co-conspirator Rob Karlic from Daily Void and some other Chicagoans making for a five piece line-up. "Heartbreaker" is hooky aggro-pop that is very reminiscent of Jay Reatard's solo work circa 'Blood Visions' and the B-Side has two more that are more punk than pop with plenty of synth. I've never really been a fan of the guy's vox but they're at least toned down a bit here and the guitar player is pretty good, but the tunes aren't much better than average. Scum stats: 400 copies.(RK)
(Pelican Pow Wow // www.pelicanpowwow.com)
Big Richard Insect "Cop Out" 7"
First I've heard from these Aussie dudes, and it's a good first impression. A-Side starts with a good Ooga Boogas-esque slo-mo rocker ("Cop Out") followed with some unhinged Bits of Shit-like thrashing about with a killer guitar sound. Side B is where they really shine though - "Weird" is sicko Psychos-esque action, all bassline and guitar squall. And I always love EPs where the best song is last - "Messed Her Up" is slopped-out pounding, full of drunk vocals, a hammering hook and vicious guitar. Quality thuggery. Produced by Mikey Young! (RK)
(Major Crimes // majorcrimes.bandcaamp.com)
The Brats "Be A Man" 7"
One of the most admirable things in regards to the Hozac Archives is their deep digging for releases instead of sticking to exact repros (but there's certainly nothing wrong with that either!), such as this Brats single, wherein they improve on the original by picking the most killer take of "Be A Man" available from the Whiplash Records archives and then putting a previously unavailable alternate version of "Quaalude Queen" on the flip. Now, not that I own an original to be some kind of sound quality stickler, but I've heard these tunes plenty before and these recordings destroy any other versions I've heard (but then again maybe it's not that hard to sound better than MP3s and a Rave Up reissue). Briefly, The Brats were the post-NY Dolls vehicle for Rick Rivets, and depending on who you ask could be called a proto-punk outfit or a glam band - by timeframe they are proto-punk by default (1974) and if this is what glam sounds like, sign me up. Honestly, I think 90% of most shit called "glam" blows, except this strain that directly relates to the Dolls. "Be A Man" is hot shit American rock'n'roll at its core and "Quaalude Queen" stomps the shit out of any of that junkshop bullshit while having better (or perhaps worse would be the proper phrasing in retrospect) haircuts and outfits on top of it all. A record that should have been on this dummy's Best 7" Reissues of 2013 list, but I'm like two months behind anyway....(RK)
(Hozac // www.hozacrecords.com)
Buck Biloxi and the Fucks s/t LP
There are so many things that make Buck Biloxi one of the most entertaining entertainers of today and so many things that are right about this LP. Firstly, lets give credit to the crazy Red Lounge guy for ponying up the Euros to release this as a gatefold LP, talk about a patron of the arts. Secondly, aside from his musical talents, BB is also perhaps the greatest writer of liner notes the world has ever known. And on top of that, the amount of pseudonymns he and his band members have is spectacular and that one is better than the next blows my mind. Michael Gay Cocks? Phillip Gay Dick? Larry Poppins? This record is more entertaining to read than most other "punk" records are to listen to. I also appreciate that many songs from the singles are re-recorded here and somehow manage to sound shittier than the orignal versions...or maybe just shitty in a different way would be the way to put it. And by shitty I mean awesome. Sixteen songs total here and every single one is a winner. Some "new" ones include "I Look Like Crap", "Night Trap/Night Court", "The Walls Have AIDS", "Rats of Trantor" and more along with maybe four or five already-classics like "Shut The Fuck Up" and "Who Gives A Fuck". Buck Biloxi will tell you himself that he's a genius, and I'm in no position to argue with the guy. It's all true. He really is no joke, even though you might be laughing. Take this seriously or don't, it doesn't matter, it's so smart it might seem dumb, but there's no denying that this guy is one of a small handful of people making music in 2014 that actually matter, that are actually doing it right. God help you if you don't realize this. And don't even get me started about Giorgio Murderer...highest possible recommendation, thumbs up, eleven stars out of ten, A+++ seller, c/u entire pressing, all killer no filler, best shit ever, etc. etc....(RK)
(Red Lounge // www.redloungerecords.com)
Burnt Skull “Sewer Birth” LP
Holy hell. This is the sound of violence. Violence like suicide by self-feeding bandsaw. Violence like locating a pair of severed legs - carved off just below the knees - in some dank alleyway dumpster. Violence like the bursting internals of some leatherdaddy who never quite achieved his auto-erotic bliss at the tip of a surplus 80mm mortar shell. Violence like Bud Dwyer, just doing his fucking thing. Shudder. The sorta’ violence I was shown at college parties, through stolen morgue slideshows and the bootleg videotapes that were making the rounds. Crime scenes that kept me up at night and the images that have taken years for me to suppress. For twenty years these things have been stored away in the deeper recesses of my mind, but thanks to Burnt Skull’s 'Sewer Birth' it all came flooding back to me. This record is like the wake up call reminding you that the world can be a truly awful place. Every goddamn song on this goddamn album is an unrelenting churn, a mechanized grind or a maggoty slab of death that rattles forth, never-ending. Imagine Tad’s “Stumbling Man” playing with an abrupt skip; a horrible mispress in the wax that never allows it to finalize. Now roll out that early Godflesh crush or something else just as unmentionable (perhaps found within the old 'Devil’s Jukebox' compilation) and let it pulverize whatever is left of your earbones into a fine powder. Vocals are apparent, but blackened to the point of mirroring Nivek Ogre’s throat polyps. Rusted Shut would be their closest kin stateside, and just knowing that they both call Texas their home is enough to keep me the fuck out of there.
You. Do. Not. Mess. With. Texas.
Harsh tokes for darkest times. Total room clearing fun to be had if there’s any sunshine loving OhSees/Segall worshipers nearby. Burnt Skull is pretty much the polar opposite of a Burger Bugaloo. Still, I find myself in disbelief that this much shit-fueled hate comes from just two guys - both of which moonlight as the electro-pop sillies, Best Fwiends. One of them was in Total Abuse, so there’s an evolutionary link that makes sense. Scum Stats: 5 copies came encased in onyx (sure, why not). 100 pressed on red vinyl. A bunch more pressed on regular, lonely and loathed blackest of black. Also, for a full length, 'Sewer Birth' plays mercilessly short at 45rpms. Thank Allah for that, because I was bordering on a crippling panic attack after just the first couple of tracks. Fuckin’A, bubba. PS: That’s a recommendation. Beastly. (RSF)
(12XU // www.12xu.net)
CCR Headcleaner “2013: Lace the Earth with Arms Wide Open” LP
The Bay Area’s most misshapen miscreants have awoken from their weed stupor and deliver one hell of an earbleed. Featuring ex-Long Legged Women and the revolving Hospitals crew, CCR’s violent shoegaze live can be challenging for all involved (the band and the crowd). Sometimes a simple power trio, sometimes a guitar arsenal over four members deep; but always so brutally loud you can feel the ping-ponging of your brainflesh as their overdriven scree bounces the truffle shuffle inside your battered skull. Opening with the neo-classical gone black metal bombast of “Bombsuite”, I can’t help but imagine it as a reinterpretation of the Clock Work Orange theme. After this initial assault, things settle into a deformed, hyper-blown pop that vibes like the Flaming Lips earliest southern fried attacks or something akin to playing three copies of ‘Hairdryer Peace’ simultaneously while letting the Beach Boys harmonize throughout. Heady stuff. The “hit” would probably be “Steal the Light”, where all the above references continue to ring true, but now add some of that Ty Segall SoCal shimmer to their drugged darkness. Tracks like “Fix the Fan”, “Beyond Death” and “Peace Full Pastures” have the DIY bedroom creep down pat, calming events for a minute or two under a layer of junkshop-fidelity and the Eat Skull loser trip. Don’t sweat the kicks yet - things get as thick as chinchilla fur all over again. “Drink Gold” and “Blood Hound” punch holes through the cotton candy skyline like an Ibiza-era Pink Floyd terror unit haunting a rickety carny darkride. Sound tones and feedback wash careen to and fro, in and out of tune, slapping against the ratty shack walls of good taste. Frayed sanity and time shift nose bleeds. Somehow “Blood” conjures up the corpse of Rozz Williams’ and builds his voice into a choir, rattling off a stream of conscious space rocker. “Do Wop” drags a retro-shtick fifties ballad through some Pink Dust; all greased up and glue huffed with a ton of squiggly-dee guitar spatter. This horror show ain’t over. Plenty of nooks & crannies left for the listener to dig around in. And if you aren’t blissfully terrified by the sounds inside, the jacket art should bring a case of the willies. It looks like a 1994 circuit rave casualty vomited a MDMA induced vision of hell as designed by Tim & Eric. Shudder. Beautifully fucked. Worthy of ownership. (RSF)
(Pizza Burglar // www.pizzaburglarrecords.com)
Cellos "Standard & Poor" 7"
A Canadian power trio that had a Dead Beat release a couple years back (that I managed to space upon), have returned with a much shorter offering. The title tune bangs along with worthy AmRep attitude if you’re not burned out to the gills by that sorta' jib (I'm not). I've played it a few times now. Hell, I’ve actually kept it! “White Swans” goes for more of a Chris Spencer fronting a later period Helmet riff-rocker sound and that isn’t as silly as this sentence makes it seem. If there’s any room left on Dope Guns & Fucking Vol. 236, perhaps The HazeXXL can slot “Exodus” into the mix? Very, very much made of the Noise Rock©. The sloshed/slowed ending is quite a burner. Not bad. I miss Grids. Where are those guys? (RSF)
(Drawing Room/Doormat Records // www.drawingroomrecords.com)
Concrete Asylum "Social Anxiety" 7"
Chaos hardcore from the hotbed of punk that is Halifax, Nova Scotia. Five tracks of blurred rage that segue together via guitar squelch, the songs themselves straddling the line between bombastic UK hardcore and Japanese noise with plenty of crust blasting. When they get focused on a riff it's pretty devastating and the song structures careen wildly creating a whirlwind of destruction. Loud and wild shit, but a little too crusty for my particular tastes in hardcore, but if you're into Concrete Sox or Electro Hippies you're a winner here. Insanely illustrated foldout sleeve is a great example of cool packaging on a budget though, there's a lot you can do with oversized paper and some creative folding if you use your head. Scum stats: limited edition is 100 on clear, I'm guessing 300 total press?(RK)
(Bad Vibrations // badvibrationsrecords-at-gmail.com)
Cosmic Psychos "Down on the Farm" 12"
Cosmic Psychos s/t LP
Cosmic Psychos "Go the Hack" LP
These records do not need me to review them. I can only hope to comment on their importance. Firstly, add this to the already pages-long list of reasons why Goner Records is one of the greatest labels/institutions of all time. Secondly, it was wonderful to see the US catch up with the rest of the world and wholly admit that the Psychos are true legends - a fact almost all of Europe acknowledged years ago and Australia lives with every day. Not to say people here don't love them, but I feel like with the documentary, tour and now these reissues that last year was their hall of fame induction/victory lap and I think a lot of people (hipsters, Pitchfork readers, bloggers, whatever you want to call them) who generally talk down on "garage rock" felt it was OK to come out of the closet and jump on the Psychos bandwagon that's already been chugging along for 20+ years. That these records have been issued/reissued numerous times already (for example, besides the Sub Pop pressing in the US, 'Go the Hack' was pressed on at least three other labels in four other countries) yet still warrant another go-round is testament to the power of the band. The only commentary I can give these records is that if you have never heard them, I both envy you that first visceral listening experience and also feel bad for the fact you haven't been enjoying this stuff for the past 20 years or so. "Down on the Farm" came out in fucking 1985! Unreal to think about, and I was fortunate enough to get hip during the AmRep Aussie resurgence of the Nineties, thank god. I still say 'Down on the Farm' is the most essential Psychos record (perhaps an obvious statement), if only because the song itself is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever recorded (plus it has one of the best album covers ever). Even after all of these years, it makes me happy to be living in the same world as these guys every single time I hear it. This 12" contains so many classic lines from so many classic tunes. "I LOVE MY TRACTOR!"..."LONG LIVE MASSEY FERGUSON!"..."I AINT NO SPIDAH!"..."GIVE US SOME WAH WAH DIRTY!"...I also feel like this record is their most Stoogey and captures them at a moment of rock perfection - there are other Psychos records that might kick more ass in general or sling more wah or sound more drunk, but this one is sheer magic. One of my favorite records of all time, a perfect five tunes. The s/t LP seems like a real punk rock affair compared to the 12", it's all rapid fire rippers aside from "Quarter to Three" (the album's best tune, by the way) and also contains the essentials "David Lee Roth" and "Lead Me Astray". 'Go the Hack' is the mid-ground between the two - "Lost Cause" is one of their best openers, the title track is a heaping bucket of wah and "Back in Town" has always been a favorite of mine, just a perfect example of the straight-up punk they seemingly created effortlessly, the type of tune that would thrill a grunge rocker as much as a crust punk. Universal appeal is what I'm saying here, the Psychos boil it down to the pure essence of rock'n'roll. Some closing hyperbole: if you don't at least own 'Down on the Farm' and love it, you're probably a dickhead. All three of these are mandatory.(RK)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)
Dancer “My Car Drives Fast” 7”
I’m no expert (by choice) on all things power pop, so giving me this single for review and expecting a spot on examination could leave those up to snuff with the genre waiting out in the cold. Now that the air’s cleared, I‘ll try my damnedest to ramble on for a few sentences. First off, I can get actually get behind this. Somewhat sloppy and slurred street pop (not street glam, for those hip to recent musical tags) that reminds me of certain Thunders messes mixed with an early Costello, Clash or even a Jam gruffness. “My Car Drives Fast” travels along a dry and gimmick-free route until the fugged out crunchy solo unhinges things a tad. Gal-pal back ups keep it classy and propped up from falling face down in the gutter. “Jodi” has a bit more going on sonically with fuller production and an added dose of saccharine catchiness. It would feel right at home nestled into the Last American Virgin soundtrack or something. “Do Ya Blame Me” is an old JD Buhl tune. Serious hand-clapper. I’ve never heard of him, but we actually met recently and he’s pretty excited about this cover. Not bad, even to a jaded hate monger like me. It’s been three days and I haven’t been able to shake the title track from my brain, so I can only imagine what’ll do to the target audience. Definitely worth the pick up if you got a sizable pile of similar party glamsters like Glitz or Apache. (RSF)
(Guitars & Bongos // www.guitarsandbongos.bigcartel.com)
Dangermen "Everybody" 7"
Australian action rawk stalwarts The Dangermen have been slogging it out for at least dozen years or so now, a throwback to the days when Motor City-influenced hard rock action was the weapon of choice for much of the Aussie underground. They've released a handful of CDs and appeared on many comps in their time, but I think is only their second single. I could also be horribly wrong about that. You might recognize Dr. Rock and Larmo from their work with Mad Macka in Ich Bin Eisel, who are a better band. To be honest, The Dangermen are still stuck in the 90s, songs built on bad jokes and heavy riffs, perhaps the Australian equivalent of Gluecifer. "Everybody" is your boilerplate "get fucked" tune and "Executive" has the better hook and riff and is actually pretty likeable for this sort of shit. Goofy and outdated, yet still good enough at what they do. They would have been huge in Scandanavia in 1998.(RK)
(Swashbuckling Hobo // swashbucklinghobo.bigcartel.com)
Darto “In Difference” LP
I gotta’ admit, I was caught off guard by this sonic wash. Darto features scree slingers of Dream Decay (on the Iron Lung roster), and that’s a sturdy point of reference for what you’re getting into here. Things are set to cook with “Deacon” a brutal shoegaze number run through some see-sawing Swans bludgeon for maximum effect. The chiming ‘Sonic Death’ guitar works weave throughout these aural landscapes, tapping the vein of any Godspeed fans out there. But in their quiet/loud dynamics, everything becomes hypersensitive. The quiet lows are but a hushed whisper, the high peaks pound much heavier and everything builds to a good old fashioned shingle shaking crescendo. It’s not all art for art sake. Tracks like “Mother Image” and High Rise” definitely lift a page from post-rock or add a grungier grind to their stew, leaning on stuff like Slint for rhythmic backbone. Vocals are somewhat lost within these wailing strings and go virtually forgotten as they desperately claw thru the air. “Oikos” bring that Constellation Records cello playing and score sounds to the foreground. Yo La Tengo captured to tape in Kraut-off? Why not. A tattered yet colorful tapestry to cloak you as these rainy months roll in. Live this stuff was monstrous, by the way. My Bloody, Bad Moon has risen. Give it some spins if you’re adventurous and trying to get unstuck from a Dwyer/Segall collecting rut. (RSF)
(self-released // www.darto.bandcamp.com)
Data Control s/t 7"
After violence and/or violent I think control is one of the top words used in hardcore band names over the past decade. Data Control are not a division of the IT department at your job but a hardcore band from Sweden with a similar membership to Negative Lifesyle. I like a couple of these tunes (there are 11 of them jammed up in here), in particular the couple that have a "darker" vibe a la Lower. The rest sound like The Regulations running through the motions of aping USHC, in this case mainly Husker Du (...emo...cough...), or even trying to do what Career Suicide did well (a good modern take on classic HC tropes), just not as well. There was a band from Buffalo called Everything Falls Apart who nailed this sound about five years ago. "We Are The Rats" is an interesting "experimental" song (and didn't Regulations use that title already?) as well - I just wish they found more original ideas like that, instead of trying really hard to sound like someone else. They're great at mimickry (as Swedes have a knack for doing), don't get me wrong, but there's nothing very interesting about it. Scum stats: 250 copies, this thing has like three covers/inserts depending on how you assemble it (which I think is a limited variant of 100).(RK)
(Signaler Fran Ovan // signalerfranovan.bandcamp.com)
Eastlink "Angel Gun" 7"
Eagerly anticipated sophomore single from Eastlink, Australia's gnarliest guitar rockers. "Angel Gun" pounds one riff into pieces while another player tries to make his heavily distorted guitar talk a la Steve Vai - at least that's what I feel like it sounds like at times. It's a crusher any way you care to think about it - plus it has a great video too. Flipside turns left for a horribly disfigured song about a regional airline, the beat is a misshapen lump of outta tune blurp, they haphazardly drop fairly sharp and pointy piles of guitar needling at key moments and the lyrics are "sung" in a nervous shout. I like all the different parts of this song, but I'm still debating liking them all together. Hey, that's what B-Sides are for, eh? Not as harrowing as their debut, but that A-Side is a sign that things are looking real good for the LP. Scum stats: limited copies on blue vinyl.(RK)
(In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
Endless Bummer "Ripper Current" 7"
LA-based trio made up of the owners of Permanent Records and an ex-Spit, recorded by Ty Segall, mastered by Cooper Crain and released on In the Red. Some Pitchfork-worthy credentials there. Four songs on this one that are delivered in the West Coast "psych/garage" rock style of today (Fuzz/Segall/Castle Face), but at least a heavier take on such things. "Your Treatment" is certainly a ripper, with a great fuzzzzzz riff that's pretty dang heavy and takes a nice downward dive. The other three tracks are decent variations on the theme, but that one riff is really the only one that will catch you listening intently. Nothing truly amazing, but actually better overall than any Fuzz record I've heard (and I've heard them all) for what it's worth. Scum stats: there's a clear vinyl variation with a much better looking sleeve (pictured) numbered out of 200, of which I got # "blow me"! Thanks!(RK)
(In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
Eunuch "Castration" 7"
Those Kansas City mad-folks are at it again with another unfriendly outfit and a fresh batch of battered tunes. At least one of the Meat Misters is in on this, so that should clue you to their vibe. “Something Wrong with My Brain” chugs along with the subtle metallic prowess of Drunks With Guns and the visceral pop punch of 'Bleach' or something else just as equally dirt-baggy. “Endless Drone” continues their sludge riddled scunge and does a pretty good job of hearkening Upsidedown Cross to my lobes - at least until they get overly peppy for the chorus. Peppy like Scraper or even the Lamps; catchy yet not wimpy. Scraper is a pretty good describer for this grotesque platter. This is like the better, angrier and southern cousin to that popular SF combo. Stuff blows apart swellfully on the flips “The Doctor” and “Pestilence”. Charlie Ondras would be proud of the traps bashing and jazzed up Action Swingers bass grooves. More please. (RSF)
(XO Press // www.storenvy.com/stores/59172-xo-press)
Gentlemen "Sex Tape" 12"
Deserving vinyl treatment for the Gentlemen cassette that came out back in 2012, coinciding with some new material just about to be released as a 7" on Jeth Row. The review I wrote of it on release still stands, and I've listened to these tracks a bunch since then, proving (to myself, if no one else) that they have some staying power. Mining the classic Aussie ground-into-dirt sound that I'm always a sucker for, Gentlemen execute things with a particulary hateful enthusiasm that I think reads more Drunks with Guns than anything. Dark and bleak pounding that often boils into uptempo thrashing about accentuated by a sneering nutter on the mic. At times sonically similar to Lamps, but without any of Monty Buckles' good nature or smarts. I think "Military Style Massage" is their hit, a bulldozer that shows off their full power potential. The gnarliest of the Homeless bunch, having none of the charm of Cuntz and more teeth than Sewers (and that's not a slight to any of these acts), get your noise-rocks off here. Glad this got to wax and I'm excited to hear some new scorch after soaking in these tunes for over a year. Scum stats: 300 copies, which seems about right considering this material has some age to it, but also means you need to act fast. Mastered for vinyl for some guy named Mikey Young.(RK)
(Homeless // www.homelessvinyl.com.au)
Gentlemen s/t 7"
All new single from Gentlemen, four tunes that are I think are more successful than the 12"/demo tracks. It sounds like they're not trying so hard, a bit more natural and loose. Keep in mind that as good as that 12" stuff is, it was still just a demo of a young band. On these tunes they seem a lot more confident and a lot more punk. "Cholera" sounds like the evil twins of A-Frames, this guy's vocals are just a wonderful unintelligible croak and the band sounds ragged yet rhythmic and the guitar "solo" is a screeching delight. Now that's an A-Side. "Eastern Hate" is speedballing scorch fueled by static and "Pink Spider" weds an eerie guitar line to some sort of corrupted pop structure for a venomous little trotter that I'll say sounds like a really seedy Intelligence tune. Scum stats: 300 only - 150 for the US and 150 for Australia - so you better get on it. Silkscreened sleeves too.(RK)
(Jeth-Row // jethrowrecords.bigcartel.com)
Gotobeds "Ipso Facto (It's All Happening)" 7"
I'm playing catch-up with Mind Cure Records' Single of the Month club, featuring all local Pittsburgh talent doing an original A-Side and B-Side cover version to commemorate the store's third year. August's entry was The Gotobeds, a band whose demo I enjoyed and who seem to be poised to breakout in 2014, with a full-length upcoming on 12XU and gaining some favorable attention after a WFMU session and some East Coast shows/touring. Their previous material had a more UK-DIY feel, leaning heavily on the Messthetics vibes and Kiwi-pop influences, but "Ipso Facto" seems to be a more streamlined approach via angular indie-pop with an energetic vocal and simple yet catchy guitar lead, perhaps what Young Eli (ex-Kim Phuc) ultimately envisioned this long-in-the-works project to ultimately become. A well-executed modernized take on the original influences. It's gotta be tough to choose a cover song when given the task, so why not just take a run through "Televison Addict" - you can't really go wrong with a worldbeater of a tune, and their straight take certainly doesn't do anything wrong. A fun and local project for all the bands involved I'm sure, just don't expect this to be more than that (i.e. this is a good teaser, but wait for the Gotobeds LP for a more representative vinyl debut). Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Mind Cure // www.mindcurerecords.com)
Gravel Samwidge "Medicinal Requirements" 12" EP
Six song 12"er at 45rpm from Aussie rockers who have apparently been at if for a decade but this is the first I've heard of them. 'Medicinal Requirements' opens with the loping "Nervepower", which has equal amounts of down-under bass-n-drum swamp thud and scrabbling guitar squeal. A very fine introduction to the band - somehwere between Jesus Lizard/Scratch Acid and Chrome Cranks. "Rock God" is shorter and stouter, the guitar squall continues to scratch along with pace picking up here and then slackening again for "Get Your Shit Together" that has a real smart-assed appeal to it - the guitar sounds like it's trying to pick a fight with you. Pretty fucking stellar A-Side. B-Side has one that does a real grooved-in type of thing ("Carpool"), a sophisticated and dark one ("Contact", which also uses some great soundbites to good effect) and ends with a fucking UFO landing ("Pronouncement") that reminds me of Satanic Rockers (and Lynton from SR did the artwork for this). I like this a lot, even six listens in it's still killing me. But this is my kinda shit, I can listen to burl like this all day. Great recording by Larmos and Dr. Rock, with a lot of help from friends on extra instrumentation (including Rock and Matt Kennedy of Kitchen's Floor among others). Well recommended for fans of Aussie Black Eye-styled rocking and the best thing I've heard on the Swashbuckling Hobo label, who really seem to be stepping it up this year.(RK)
(Swashbuckling Hobo // swashbucklinghobo.bigcartel.com)
Peter Gutteridge "Pure" 2XLP
It's shocking how alarmingly fast reissues (or first issues) of records I would never have imagined being possible not too long ago are becoming realities. And I'm just talking New Zealand here - with the Captured Tracks reissues, the steady stream of Siltbreeze compilations and other smaller labels jumping in, it's tough to keep up. You should know Gutteridge as seemingly being in every great NZ band - The Clean, The Chills, The Great Unwashed, Snapper and more - and this is his sole solo outing, originally a cassette on Xpressway. A massive collection of off-the cuff ideas and experiments he recorded at home on Fostex with just guitar, some organ/keys, drum machine and god knows what else, with friends helping on a few tracks. It's difficult to imagine how he came up with some of these sounds, some sort of sorcerous circuit/distortion alchemy. None of it's really harsh stuff though, lots of Velvets-inspired meandering, Eno-esque experiments and fractured pop sound-building, and a record that truly sounds more like a collection of ideas than complete songs. Fascinating stuff, like sneaking a peek at someone's sketchbook. You can see where he was headed with Snapper (whose debut is one of my very favorite NZ records ever) and the 50 minutes or so of music here seems like much more than that. Even though a lot of this seems like snippets or rough sketches the density of ideas makes it feel even more enveloping. It slows time down. It's called 'Pure' for a reason. As close as you'll get to peering into the man's brain. Fair warning, this is probably not the place for someone to start with this guy's massive catalog, but I doubt anyone who is reading this is that unaware anyway. This isn't something you're going to be cherry picking for mixtapes, this is something you immerse yourself in at 3:00am. A phenomenal recording that is as inspiring of a listening experience as you can ask for, and I'm equally in awe that this physically exists in the vinyl format. Anything can happen.(RK)
(540 Records // chaosintejas.bigcartel.com)
Helta Skelta "Reds" 7"
Single for the upcoming LP, "Reds" is an album track that is a catchy mid-tempo garage punker that has some drive to it and a nice solo to outro. "Devil's Triangle" is an exclusive B-Side, an instrumental with some surf guitar accents. I like this band, but this record is unessential especially if you're buying as an import. Wait for the LP. Scum stats: 210 copies, only 50 have sleeves the rest come with only a stamped white inner.(RK)
(Helta Skelta // heltaskeltarecords.blogspot.com)
His Electro Blue Voice “White Wall” 7”
HEBV continues down the crooked pathway to Eighties industrial gothic-ness. Most of their experimental improvisation has been locked down, tightened things to Killing Joke machinations as if haunted by Skinny Puppy or some other twitching, bloody electro-demon. That’s just fine by me. The two tracks herein play out similarly to their new(ish) Sub Pop LP than most of the early singles. “White Walls” is a short (for HEBV) stab at a pop tune, with breathy Bargeld vocals and an added 4AD guitar shimmer to help get those batcavers out on to the floorboards. “Abuser” hits harder with galloping Kim Deal bass roll and those layered vocal shouts that spine-tingles the dark wave fucker inside us all. OK, a few of us. Don’t deny it, this stuff is golden. The guitar lead at the end takes the whole package into a ‘Japanese Whispers’ cloudland. Have you picked up the LP yet? Get off the couch, ya jerks. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.com)
J.T. IV "Cosmic Lightning" LP
I think this is the third go-round for this JT IV comp that really knocked everone's socks off when it was first released 5-6 years ago. I think that first edition might have burned through two pressings, and rightfully so. The JT IV saga is one of the few private press weirdo stories that totally lives up to the hype musically. "Waiting for the CTA", "Death Trip", "The Monitors"...all tunes that are legit classics in this household, proving Mr. Timmis was no one-hit wonder and the "Destructo Rock" stuff is pretty killer on top of it all. So now we have a second edition of the LP, which I can fully appreciate, as this collection should never be OOP. So what's different? Music-wise, nothing. Same tracklist as before. You do get a new paste-on cover that shows a three-piece band line-up, a new insert with different pics and letters and a new DVD, different from the first edition that had some live stuff mixed in with home movies. This new DVD is the full length horror film (70 minutes) 'Cannibal Orgy!', with Timmins directing/writing/starring in this story of rock band/cannibal cult Insane Albino going all nuts or whatever...the plot is a little loose, but it's there. Is it a great film? Of course not. It's barely watchable no-budget crap, not really gory or horrific in the slightest, but of course will be appealing to gluttons for punishment who enjoy watching zero-budget trainwrecks. There's a pretty cool party scene scored with "Death Trip", a lot of bad attempts at acting and using a camera, it gets a bit more bearable when they go on location but there are some stretches where someone is just standing in front of a camera yapping. The dialogue is at least totally ridiculous. I guess this edition is severely limited, so if you don't own this record already, please go buy it immediately, as a copy of this belongs in every home. And the 'Cannibal Orgy" DVD is far more entertaining than the DVD the original version came with.(RK)
(Galacic Zoo Disk // www.dragcity.com)
The Jolts “Hammer Every Nail” 7"
Holy shit, RAWK is back. Junk Records, pick up the call. Does this band feature members of The Black Halos or what? These Vancouver based Jolts are maximum punk & rollers for those who still religiously thumb through old issues of Hit List. Gearhead worship and a Glucifer-type “thunder” go head to head against ‘77 Ramones-core and schticky Wayne Kramer leads. Way too much of everything that’s not my bag. Did I mention this comes with a temporary tattoo? If you’re still reading this review, sport Sailor Jerry bluebirds on your neck and make it out for the occasional MCD reunion (or feel like the Hives are still relevant) - here ya’ go, pal. For the money, I’ll take The Plain Dealers to task on this sorta’ thing. I can dig on them a helluva lot more. (RSF)
(Shake! Records // www.experienceshake.com)
Ross Johnson & Jeffrey Evans "Vanity Session" LP
A slice of Memphis history on wax. You really shouldn't need any introduction here, and if you do, you've got a lot of homework to do. Jeff Evans (68 Comeback, Gibson Bros, CC Riders, etc...) and Ross Johnson (OG Panther Burns drummer, Alex Chilton's 'Like Flies on Sherbert', etc..) held a year long residency at the Buccaneer club in 2008 and this LP documents their set live in the studio, backed by members of Reigning Sound, Preacher's Kids and more, recorded by Jim Dickinson. How's that for a star-studded lineup? They loosely run through a collection of classics (everything from Cordell Jackson to "Teenage Head") and a Ross Johnson original ("Three Beer Queer"!) packed with plenty of ramblin', honky-tonkin', and goofin' around (yes, they do work blue) that you would expect from two of Memphis' most legendary characters. There is some serious playing here too, but it of course comes off sounding as easy and natural as two guys of their legendary status might make it seem. This is one of those records that really makes you think about Memphis, of course - just imagine being able to go out and see this on a weekly basis. Shit. Anyway, there's not much you can say about this except it makes you want to get really drunk. God bless America. (RK)
(Spacecase Records // www.spacecaserecords.com)
Ketamines "So Hot!" 7"
A wacky garage act from Canada way, Ketamines have been releasing records for some time now, with at least two LPs and a bunch of singles. This is installment #3 in their four part singles series that apparently involves four different Canadian labels with sleeves that join together to form a larger piece from well regarded Canadian collage artist Felix Morel. Ketamines have been associated with the Alberta scene (Edmonton/Calgary), which hasn't exactly been my favorite locale for exciting new music. I say wacky because that's exactly what this is - goofy vocals and other silly shit, this is the definition of "quirky". "So Hot!" is an okay tune, it has some cool effects and a pretty direct garage structure and is just goofy enough that it doesn't sound ridiculous. If Fat Albert and the Gang were Canadian indie-rockers, they might have come up with this one. Both songs on the B-Side are just ridiculous crap. (RK)
(Hosehead Records // hoseheadrecords.ca)
Killer of Sheep "Pawns" 7"
Aside from being the birthplace of Rot Shit, Pittsburgh is also notable as being a hot locale for heavy metal for the past few years. Killer of Sheep are some older scene dudes playing ye olde thrash metal. They of course do it tightly, as old dudes are known to do, and "Pawns" is pretty shreddy with a blazing solo. I dig the cover tune more than the original on this one - their version of Half Life's "Never Give In" is a straight shot of crossover thrash that has me remembering my glory days as a teenaged dirt-stached hesher with a DRI backpatch fondly. Scum stats: 300 copies in Mind Cure sleeves.(RK)
(Mind Cure // www.mindcurerecords.com)
The Kurws “Hole in the Ghetto” LP
Bat Shit continues to unleash world punk oddities on the scum of the earth…for the few who care. What’s this, you ask? Polish punkiod instros with saxamaphone that frolics in the prog pond filled with Druid Perfume/Zappa skronk. A dangerous turf to kick about in. Most bands would end up sounding like Primus or Mr. Bungle if they didn’t watch their butts, but these goons pull out ahead. Does this outfit share members with Dead Neanderthals? You’d think so, but the distance between home turfs is apparent. Still; scrub away the Neanderthals blast beats and grind tendencies, it comes off a tad like these shenanigans. Part of the time I’m waiting for Jello Biafra to chime in, spewing tired 80’s politico-jargon all over the place. Thank Christ he don’t. No fucking idea who is gonna’ buy this ‘round here…but I’m old and outta’ touch. Those wacky Euros have probably swallowed this pressing hole, for all I know. They’re like that. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.com)
Lögnhalsmottagningen "Billigtförpackadstandardpunk" 7”
Man, now I feel bad about giving Rajayttajat a bad time about their name…these fucking dolts take the cake. Having a tough time finding much info on line about these guys. I’ve already forgotten how to spell their name and it’s on the computer screen, just two lines of text away. Sigh. Seems there’s been a smattering of releases by Lognhalwhatever over the past few years; all really thin and stuttering Swede-core. Well more str8 punk than hardcore. These recordings seem cleaner (separated better?) and more mid-tempo than the batch released on uh-Slumberland (what the fuck?!) I don’t know what to say about it all, since my worldly HC knowledge is pretty moot. But if you dig DIY Bloodstains comp tracks played by insects, dry psychobabble, the wet thump of a cardboard box and the static crunch of a 90’s dial up modem replacing sick rock leads, this buds for you. I dig it. I don’t know why. Yeah I do. It’s dumb. Oh right. Bonus points for the Damned cover. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.com)
Love Triangle "Clever Clever" LP
UK power-pop from ex-Shitty Limits dudes. Reminds me of a Brit version of the Marked Men, a garage-punk influenced take on classic power-pop with some pop-punk moments as well. Caffeinated hooks, some frantic guitar playing, nothing completely wimpy (although there are some semi-wimpy tunes), firm Brit-accented vocals. If this was a Japanese band I know some dudes who would be nutty for it, as it's all very well done. I was never impressed by Shitty Limits, and I'm not blown away by Love Triangle either, but if power-pop is your genre of choice this is a solid mid-card platter for your collection.(RK)
(Sorry State/Static Shock // www.sorrystaterecords.com)
Lovely Legs "Broad Daylight" 7"
Not the usual overblown Aussie rawk from the Swashbuckling Hobo label this time around, as Lovely Legs are more in the garage-poppin' vein and don't have Dr. Rock or Macka slinging wah all over the place. Four mid-fi garage twangers with a real nasally singer, like a less gooey Ghastly Spats or a trebled-out Chinese Burns. "Broad Daylight" has some cool tempo changes with slashy guitar and "I Hunt Chicks" has a real loose and loping bounce to it. Not a bad record at all but nothing sticks out about it either, very middle-of-the-road, especially considering the high quality of material still coming out of Australia these days at a rapid-fire clip. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Swashbuckling Hobo // swashbucklinghobo.bigcartel.com)
Manateees “Destruktor” 7”
This is the "Cat Food" band from Memphis, correct? Well, I’m happy to report something inside these dweebs broke and broke in a good way. They must’ve baked their brains on bad drugs and black metal over the past few months, as the sleeve art is a dead giveaway. “Beast” is a plodding solid bass groover, thick of creep vibes and gurgled vocals. A pleasant fuckin’ head bopper with plenty of that Slicing Grandpa or Satanic Rockers odditude (only with an actual recording budget). “Witch” on the flip sounds more like the Man-titties I recall, but better than before. Their rattling, threadbare mid-tempo punk gunk is more than serviceable for drunken night at home, but the blackened doom breakdown is what lifts this puppy to the party platter status. Remember that Midnight single where they covered The Spits? Now imagine a Goner band pulling a third generation run at that experiment. Only the Manatees hold their own, coming out stellar instead of like some rehashed clone. They do this mutant metallic scunge well and I hope they continue to do so. I’d be game for a LP of this ilk. (RSF)
(Tic Tac Totally // www.tictactotally.com)
Manual Scan "All Night Scan" LP
Manual Scan were a moderately successful Eighties pop-rock band from San Diego, whose LP I was familiar with going into this, along with their appearance on the Cutting Edge compilation. There's a lot more to their discography though, including at least 4 EPs on various labels and they were actually reissued once before on Get Hip back in the Nineties, which I did not know. They are not punk enough to merit a mention in the Int'l Discography but did get their hit ("Nothing You Can Do") on the 'Idealistic Youth' compilation that mysteriously appeared a few years ago (still waiting for Vol. 2....). Anyway, I like these guys. This is not your typical power-pop wimp outfit, Manual Scan are more fittingly described as a mod-pop band, who would have easily fit under the New Wave catch-all banner at the time (not punk, I know) and not surprisingly went over pretty well in Europe. The whole A-Side of this is packed with mod/beat inflected pop tunes with well played and well written hooks that have a lot of Jam/Weller nods, a few Kinksy moves and they have a tendency to slip in some Zombies-aping moody numbers as well, which are more than welcome. There's only one super wimpy tune out of ten on this side, all of which are culled from the LP and singles. Quality stuff. The B-Side starts stretching the quality a bit, with a few cover songs (Kinks and Zombies included!), a live track and the remaining stuff from the singles/sessions. Nothing awful, but the A-Side is where all the action is. At their best, Manual Scan won me (a non-power-pop fan) over, which means for those you even slightly pop-inclined this should be a real winner. Liner notes are brief but informative enough for a band of this stature, and the Cheap Rewards design aesthetic actually fits in with the original pop-art style these guys had rather well. That one of the guys in band is shown reading Alpha Flight #6 on the back cover makes me like them even more. Scum stats: 500 copies total, 100 on blue.(RK)
(Cheap Rewards // www.cheaprewards.net)
The Memories "American Summer" 7" EP
This is going to sound like the kiss of death, but The Memories are what an Oh Sees record would sound like if done super lo-fi and without the mountains of fuzz/effects ("American Summer"). Or maybe a variation on the very early First Base recordings ("Creamsicle"). Seriously, "High You Can't Buy" is like Dwyer writing songs for Eric & The Happy Thoughts or something. Super thin recording makes it sound extra wimpy, and the B-Side gets deep into hippie-love-weed territory. "Wake & Bake..." is really testing my patience, but if you like ultra-wimpy pop a la Burger Records, have at it. The thank you list on this record includes just about every band I would put on the Top Ten Popular Bands I Think Suck list, so tread with caution. Scum stats: 300 copies only, with 100 having the always appreciated hand drawn labels Randy often treats us to. (RK)
(Randy Records // www.randyrecords.blogspot.com)
Modra "The Line for the Men's Room" LP
Free rock deconstruction from a group of Australian expatriates (or least 3/4) hanging out in the nether-reaches of the Big Apple. This is the type of cling clang "music" that I generally abhor, but I find myself intrigued by the grimily eerie approach here - there seems to be at least a skeleton of a song underneath the guitar drippings and phantom percussion. Some sort of final destination instead of aimless meandering. Sounds more like a bad dream than an art project. Am I projecting some sort of Australian grunt onto this? Muffled vocals pick through the wreckage of these compositions, like a man wandering through the aftermath of a hazy crash site, twisted metal shrouded in smoke. Why I can sit through this yet can't take more than a few minutes of a Mad Nanna record is something I'm considering in these wee hours. There's some ghost of rock'n'roll here - at the root these are songs about a girl(s) - lots of she and her - that at the least makes me want to pick up the pieces and examine them. There's some sort of surreal sexiness to this that overrides my pretension alarm, some vaguely punk street level aesthetic that eases the affected artiness maybe. If I'm spending time with "free rock", this is the group I'd pick.(RK)
(Savage Quality // www.savagequalityrecordings.com)
The Monoliths "Kevin" 7"
A pretty weird record from Denmark that has some sort of association with Angkor Wrack. These dudes look like total dirtbags on the cover. The drummer is named Colonel Dickhead. Okay, you guys got me interested. The A-side is two songs called "Kevin" and "Pay Your Rent", which I originally thought was just one song called "Kevin, Pay Your Rent", which would have seemed even more strange. The lyrics make no sense either way. "Kevin" has an oddly crunchy static-guitar tone that I like more than the song itself and "Pay Your Rent" is a depressed AmReppy sounding thing - not the greatest tunes but they at least sound weird. The B-Side is spectacular though. Guitarist James Deen Dragon (these names are great!) plays one long wah-wah solo for the duration of the tune while the rhythm section lays down a loopy cruise control backing track, giving the whole affair a swirling vortex effect that is ultra-hypnotic. Then the guitar turns into a giant mosquito that is buzzbombing your head and then there's a layer of explosion sound effects, whilst a fellow named P. Lizzard wails stream-of-consciousness lyrics in accented English, and it's all just very psychedelic and reminds of something the Anal Babes might have done. High marks there, I know, but I like this song a lot. That the insert has a picture of two dogs fucking says a lot about where these creeps heads are at. Pretty dumb. I think Ken Rock will like these guys. If they have more songs like the B-Side I will like them more as well, but for now it could just be an anomaly. (RK)
(Webmaster Records // webmasterrecords-at-gmail.com)
Mud City Manglers "Hangover Hurricane" 7"
Yet another "I can't believe I'm listening to _________ in 2014" moment, this time with the blank being Mud City Manglers, creators of one of the seminal Cheap Rewards. They've been somewhat active all this time (they've actually played a couple of Buffalo shows over the past few years), just laying low apparently. Being a Pittsburgh lifer, Mikey Mindcure tapped them for his singles club, and their original is a chugger in the fine MCM tradition titled "Hangover Hurricane" with a potent riff and shoutalong chorus that comes off like a pre-metal Hookers with a clean recording job. I think I might actually like their cover of "Yeah Yeah" even better though, as it's not every day you hear someone do a Pagans cover justice. Scum stats: 300 copies in Mind Cure sleeves.(RK)
(Mind Cure // www.mindcurerecords.com)
Multiple Man "Body Double" 7"
Just when you think you've heard everything Australia has to offer, along comes a label and a bunch of bands to prove you wrong, in this case Major Crimes and this batch of 7"es of Big Richard Insect, Old Mates and this debut release from Adelaide synth-punk duo Multiple Man. These brothers (killer band name once you realize they are twins) unleash two synth monsters here that will mop up some of the drool coming from Total Control fans' mouths while they wait for a new LP. "Body Double" is the dancefloor number, gigantic hook, monotone vox, eerie echoed-out keys, very dark New Wave/Romantic channeling. I like the B-Side even more - "Surface Roads" is a deep motorik-esque instrumental with a needly guitar bit lodged into a massive multi-synth rhythm that's deeeeeeep shit, like a modernized Tangerine Dream soundtrack (wait, that would be the soundtrack to Drive then...) theme. Very very killer tracks here, and the twins/multiples/double theme is actually a bit creepy in a Cronenberg way after repeat spins. Bonus points for reminding me of Jamie Madrox.(RK)
(Major Crimes // majorcrimes.bandcaamp.com)
Nobunny "Motorhead Mit Mir" 7"
I usually hate bullshit gimmick records, but when you get the formula just right they can turn out really well. Lets just say Nobunny + gimmick = win. The premise of this series is bands singing their songs in German, and Nobunz does the only version worth hearing in the series thus far (even slipping a schizer shout in at the end). BUT (capital B-U-T), the real treat here is the B-Side, a loose cover of Weird Al's "Eat It" he gives a little GG edge ("EAT IT YOU SCUM!") that is a must-have. Maybe I'm easily amused, but I think this is a great and hilarious idea and one the most fun moments Justin has put on record to date - and that's saying a lot. I imagine he has the Bad Sports guys backing him on this one. Well done. Scum stats: there are like four or five different versions of this that were released for the Nobunny Euro Tour, most on red wax. Just get one of them, don't be picky...(RK)
(Red Lounge // www.redloungerecords.com)
Obnox "Three Times Dope" 7" EP
The latest from Obnox, the only guy who would think to name an EP after an obscure Eighties hip-hop act and kick it off with a Tony Erba soundbite. "Raindrops" is what I love to hear from this guy - heavy-duty garage-punk moderne, with Bim doing everything (he's still one of the best drummers out there, don't forget). Mulitple vocal tracks add some deeper layers. "My Girl is the Bomb" continues in the same vein, a crushing punker with some blazing lead guitar squall laid down by Ron Kretsch (Murderedman, Proletarin Art Threat) and closes with another choice cover in "Don't Blow Your Mind" from Alice Cooper's early group The Spiders. This is a particularly good EP from a guy with a rapidly growing discography - I like it when he's less heavy-handed with the hip-hop stylings and just rocks out. We've all known Bim's been around the block a few times, but that point was especially driven home when I overheard someone (much younger than myself) see the cover of the Bassholes "Secret Strength of Depression" LP and note that it was the "Obnox guy"...(RK)
(Southpaw Records // www.southpaw=records.com)
Octagrape "Red UFO" LP
I still find it weird that this band is members of Truman's Water (and Olivelawn, Soul-Junk, etc...) playing in the style of West Coast garage popular today - and not doing an entirely bad job of it either. I'm also going to just stop acknowledging the # they use in their name sometimes (it actually doesn't appear on the sleeve of the record) which makes a bad name 100% worse. The A-Side of 'Red UFO' shows promise - "Real Light" sounds like a more rocking Flight (although I swear they swiped this hook from somewhere), much like their 7" did, but they move on from that style quickly. "Prepare to Qualify" is a great song, very weirdly built, with paranoiac and trebly guitar interludes, a deadpan vocal and hooky yet sluggish tempo that reminds me of The Intelligence circa 'Fake Surfers'. "Kelpo Kreeps" is another winner, with the whole tune encased in some sort of backwards-feedback forcefield (and the tune itself is a less robotic A-Frames jammer). "Sarcophagus" ends the side badly however, with a rather dull Nineties indie-rock plodder that at least has a good little guitar break. You should not even listen to the B-Side of this record though, all the weird touches that made up the best parts of the A Side disappear and all four songs sound like rejects from a 1995 recording session from one of their other bands. "Eyes" is so bad it becomes embarrassing to hear - borderline emo/ska slow jam with crooning vox. Any positives you take away fromthe A-Side get wiped out by the flip. This could have made a good EP with the three quality A-Side tunes....I just sat through Side B again, and it is indeed totally fucking terrible.(RK)
(self-released // octagrape.bandcamp.com)
Oily Boys s/t 7"
Deavastating debut single from Sydney's Oily Boys (with members of Lowlife and some relation to Housewives) which is six tracks of pummelling d-beat influenced hardcore-punk. Total savagery with a lot more style than your average dis-band though, these guys throw in some bad-vibed sludgery, a bit of the Clevo ultraviolence and just general depravity to make some uniquely heavy music. Something like "Artic Ibis" is borderline metal with possibly post-punk-like angularity and bleakness - however they get there, it just crushes. You know a song called "Suffer Beach" is gonna be a whopper. "Rabbits Foot" takes Motorhead-via-Discharge to new heights (or lows) of chugging punksmash. Some of the best and burliest of modern Aussie hardcore-punk, these guys will pair well with Gutter Gods, Dribble and the like. No wimps allowed.(RK)
(Disinfect // www.disinfectrecords.com)
Old Mate "I Think of You" 7"
Second release from Old Mate, the solo project of Pat Telfert from Bitch Prefect which goes off in a seemingly loner-rock direction on these two tunes. "I Think of You" is a real grower, he doubles his vox for extra moodiness and the sax jaunts give it a bit of a sleazy Eighties feel that I really enjoy. Almost tricks me into thinking it has a Roxy/solo Ferry vibe at brief moments which is definitely a good thing. "Throwin' Down" is depressed folk-rock but still aggro in some vague way - the vocals have a bit of a MC-styled delivery and sullen bravado over what sounds like one of the tunes from the Twin Peaks soundtrack with a haunting keyboard echo and another fantastic sax solo that falls apart at the end. This record is far better than you're thinking it is - it's tough to put a tag on it that won't make it seem generic (loner-folk-rock?),but whatever it is Telfert has a massive amount of style that elevates this above the pack. I'm even surprised at how much I like this - but I'm also a sucker for sax.(RK)
(Major Crimes // majorcrimes.bandcaamp.com)
The Onions s/t LP
Reverend Norb and The Onions “EP 707077” 7”
Officer Brad is at it again. What we have here is exactly what you think it is and the world is better place for it; mid-paced, blown-throat, stomp-stomp garage punk n’ roll. The kind that thrived in the Midwest throughout the 90’s and reaches all the way back to the late 70’s when some lucky sap got a grip on The Gizmos or maybe even a Chosen Few single at a yardsale. Start a band, brotherman…with feet firmly planted in The Dictators beerswill swagger and that KBD/DIY loser chic that led most of us here in the first place. Brads Daugs has spent many o’ Wisconsin winter honing his guitar chops and it shows through creative leads and rampant wah peddling. 'Tis been a long time since the days of Krypton. If this dropped in the era of printed Horizontal Action or the Rustbelt Revolt showcases, it would be hitting folks a lot harder. Nowadays, with so much music gone pussy, I can assume the blogroll taste-makers wouldn’t even lift a finger to their keyboard to make mention of it. Where’s the washed out vocal cooing? Where’s the trend setting psych-lite or West coast reverbed everything? Where's the ironic sideways ball cap and floppy bangs? Boo fucking hoo. This isn't pretty or wrapped up in a candy colored sheen. The older I get the more I want this stuff. Stuff like the Saggers and the Mistreaters. Stuff like the Menthols, which The Onions remind me of quite a bit, only with less space jam. They’ve also managed to snag regional weirdo Rev Norb. (Boris The Sprinkler) as a guest vocalist, though I believe (from the tracks on the '707077 EP') that he’s now a full-timer. Personally, I don’t feel like they need to be lumped into the costume freak rock scatagory, but the Rev’s got a more than serviceable mouth and persona for this kinda’ thing. It also seems like he’s speeding them up a smidge, so the PUNX can have a good time too. It’s not just for the Old Milwaukee bloated, denim jacketed dudes wearing their bootleg Groovies shirts and spray on patch- hair anymore (demographic: TermBro). Hey man, whatever it takes to get more goons to listen up outside of their comfort zone. Let's help Officer Brad shift some units! The LP comes in three different sleeve designs and seems to have cum splat mixed into the black vinyl. The 7" EP is sleeveless. Some were pressed. How many? I’m not sure, though it’s a safe bet there's a stack waiting to be shipped off in used pizza boxes as I type. Buy a few for the youth of America. This sorta' thing is the building blocks (hell, a cornerstone) to our dear website. It might not get you laid, but at least it'll keep the elder forum users from punching you in the neck. Deal with, dixiecups. (RSF)
The People Electric "Detroit Hooker Fight" 7"
Portland action rock with at least three or four guitar players if I'm reading this insert correctly. "Detroit Hooker Fight" has some Motor City Rock vibes, believe it or not, with gruff rawky vocals, a couple of gals on back-ups and a fuzz guitar/space echo interlude with said hooker fight being acted out in the background. For some reason I'm enjoying this tune, it's like early Hookers mixed with Zeke and a little bit of stoner action, could have been a hit on the latter day Estrus roster when Crider decided to "get weird" (and this is ex-Gimmicks members) or Man's Ruin. B-Side is "Sister Cybele" that regrettably has some boogie in it and an extended wah-pedal jam out doesn't make the save. It has weird lo-fi stoner rock sound, but that's more accidentally interesting to me I suppose. This was one of those records that was a welcome respite after listening to a half dozen garage-pop turds straight, but in all reality this is Nineties rawk that's just bad in a different way, although I'm being honest in saying that A-Side ain't so bad for what it is. This does have a killer screenprinted cardboard fold-up sleeve going for it, another reason it grabbed my attention for a few minutes at least.(RK)
(Tyrannical Volts // peopleelectric503-at-gmail.com)
Pete and Royce "Suffering of Tomorrow" LP
Prog rock is not something I'm generally a fan of, a prejudice born of having to spend way too many hours being forced to listen to Yes and ELP records while buying weed from my best friends older brother as a teenager. Dumb, yes, I know, but that's my story, and isn't any self-respecting punk rocker supposed to hate this genre anyway? I'm just living up to stereotypes here. So why do I like this record? Well, the disclaimer on the back cover that "All musicians are amateurs except *" (there are only two guys out of like a dozen that get the asterisk) might have something to do with it. The high school metal artwork probably helps. It's certainly not slick (or at least as slick as you think a prog record will be) and not as wanky as I suspected (although there's certainly wank present to varying degrees). The best parts sound like cosmic rock freak outs, lots of synth/organ driven wandering, some wacky jazz-work that I think is more funny than serious (but that's probably just me), some Floyd-y interstellar drive that reminds of the actual good times I had buying weed as a youngster. I probably own less than a dozen records people would call "prog" - and I'm reminded of the fact that I probably own ten times as many "psych" reissues that got me to the point where I don't even bother thinking about buying another because in reality most of them aren't even as good as any Doors record. So the point I'm taking a long to make here is that for a non-expert in the genre I have no idea where this sits in the scheme of the prog rock hierarchy (and the John Olson blurb certainly doesn't make it any more clear), but to a dummy like me this thing is pretty entertaining - seems like a almost half-baked stab at making a British sounding prog record by a bunch of Greek dudes who might be in over their heads and throw everything they have at it, coming off unintentionally goofy at times and at other moments succeeding in creating some real weirded-out stoned-out passages. Is this "raw" prog? I have no idea, but I really hope so. This certainly isn't going to set me off on some misguided prog-rock jag, but I'm cool with having this as the token obscure progger on my shelf.(RK)
(Little Big Chief // littlebigchief.bigcartel.com)
Pierre & Bastien “Cancer” 7”
A French duo that cuts the sort of cold-punk, post-ish sounds that usually end up over in the S-S Records trenches. I’d be surprised if any Frustration fans listening to this didn’t come away from their turntable with raging hard-ons on that first needle drop. “Le Son De Ma Voix” runs along simple chord progressions and a jagged seesaw repeat. The bounce of the track continues for a minute or two, jarring just long enough to get their point across. “Cancer” has a moodier swagger to it - causing a subconscious gnashing that leaves its banged up notes stranded to spin lil’ donuts around your pattern bald spot. (Fuck. I just wrote that. I need a vacation.) I think I just heard a solo. Is this the Batman theme in Bizarro World? Kinda’ like a half speed Ivy Green or brie fueled ECSR. My head keeps bopping along no matter what. Bat Shit - being the artisans they are - took the time to hand paint little xXx’s on all 300 of the record sleeves. Buy one, won’t you? (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.bigcartel.com)
The Pink Noise "Greedy Heart" LP
I always felt The Pink Noise were one of the better "groups" that sprung up amongst the explosion of bedroom/loner artistes circa 2008-09 - the guy at least had a very identifiable concept/sound and the weirdo sci-fi vibes always gave things an interestingly futuristic yet still lo-fi approach. Since his last LP on Almost Ready ('Alpha') nearly five years ago, Mark Sauner has moved between Toronto and Montreal, releasing a few cassettes and has now assembled himself an actual band for this full length on Skrot Up. Perhaps the one problem with PN was "too much too soon" - there were five or six LPs worth of material released in two years or less on various labels between 2007-2009 - and I think he might've overstayed his welcome a bit for some people's liking. 'Dream Code' was certainly the best of the bunch and the 4 or 5 that came after weren't bad, but certainly didn't add much. So the break was probably a very needed one. While I won't say 'Greedy Heart' is his best record, it just might be his second best. The four-piece line up supposedly has him on vocals only with guitars/drums/synth backing him (and some sax!) on his poppiest offerings to date. There's still plenty of future-wave flourishes and something always seemed somehwat Chrome-esque about his songs. The jerky pacing, needly guitars and odd vocal style make it more than your typical post-punk/synth-wave effort. The recording is loud and just clean enough, giving these tunes more dimension than his loner days, but still retaining the outsider aesthetic he always had. There are even some strange jazzy/tropical rhythms and lots of jagged edges that make this better than most bands doing this "thing" and I think this guy has gotten better with the more band members he adds. If you got tired of his records, but really liked the 'Dream Code'/'Birdland' stuff (as I did), you should probably reintroduce yourself with this one. Scum stats: 300 copies only, great artwork too.(RK)
(Skrot Up // www.skrotup.com)
Pusrad "Modern Anatomi" 7" EP
I've heard people saying great things about Pusrad, and I give them (the band, not the pople talking about them) credit for being a Euro outfit whose name I can actually spell. The beef I have with these guys is that most of their songs sound like pop-punk, just played really really fast. I feel like like I'm listening to a Queers LP at 45rpm instead of 33. I could be totally wrong about this band, as they are ex-Raped Teenagers. I remember someone once saying that Henry Fiat's Open Sore were a pop-punk band at their core, and I thought that was an insane statement at the time. Who knows. There are a dozen or so thirty-second long songs on this thing, not a style I'm a fan of, but it flys fast and a few of these tunes are at least too weird to sound totally poppy underneath. Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Signaler Fran Ovan // signalerfranovan.bandcamp.com)
Radioactivity "Back to Me" 7"
The first Marked Men LP is one of the most important records in my life for a lot of personal/nostalgic reasons, but also because it is a truly great LP musically. But for some reason, I do not give two shits about any other Marked Men records, could care less about High Tension Wires or Mind Spiders and whatever else Mark and Jeff have done since. I'll even be sacreligious here and say that The Reds records haven't held up as well as I hoped either. This is all preface to say that I have absolutley no idea why I like these Radioactivity songs (and I like the stuff I've heard from the LP way more than this particluar single). Maybe by not giving a shit for so long and hearing some new stuff with Jeff singing (Mark only plays bass here) finally got me back into their sound? Maybe pairing these guys up with TV's Daniel was the mystery ingredient needed? I dunno. "Back to Me" is a little bit on the wimpy side for me pop-wise, the refrain is just too sweet, but otherwise it's a stunning popper with good back-ups and a sentimental hook. "That Other Life" is tougher (and better in my world), with a great Jeff vocal and emotive (but not "emo") vibe. "Silent" is the best song on this, a hard-edged and slightly dark rocker that still has incredible pop-like craftsmanship and again, some real "feeling" to it. I always liked Jeff's singing better. This material is not as good as some of the songs on the LP, but "Silent" is not on said LP and needs your attention, in particular if you are fanatical about these guys, which a lot of people are. Nice to see the Alien Snatch logo back on the turntable as well.(RK)
(Alien Snatch! // www.aliensnatch.de)
Red Red Krovvy s/t 7"EP
If you're a smart person, you first heard the name Red Red Krovvy from DX via an interview in Distort #41 and then wondered if and when you'd ever actually hear them. RIP Society answers the call with this debut 7" full of teenaged ritalin-inspired KBD punk (or Murder Punk, since we're talking Australia here), eight songs that fly by in a blur of screeching guitar and screechier vocals. Redd Kross have to be mentioned, but these kids are far less kindhearted than the brothers McDonald, as these tunes seethe with pisspot ranting. At first I thought this was pretty sloppy, but closer listening proves these kids can play pretty damn good, the drummer in particular, they just focus their energy into short and sharp punkers that remind me a lot of Loli and the Chones when you get down to it. Hard to pick a favorite here ("EZ Video" seems to be the one for me) but all these will rip their way into your heart. Mid-fi recording adds plenty of character to these punk tunes that thankfully have no semblance of pop sensibilty - just piss and vinegar. Not sure how old these recordings are (band formed in 2007?) but I'm imagining they're at least a few years old. Members of this outfit went on to Bed Wettin Bad Boys and Pop Singles, and of course I'll go on record saying this single is better than the entire output of both of those bands. Primo teenage scorch-punk from middle-of-nowhere Australia that sounds convincingly KBD-like because these kids probably had no idea what the hell KBD even was. Scum stats: 300 copies. (RK)
(RIP Society // ripsocietyrecords.tumblr.com)
Sacred Product "Wastex" 2X7"
Now that Satanic Rockers have been put to bed once and for all (goodnight, sweet princes...), head Rocker Lynton Donovan carries on under the Sacred Product banner. Sonic similarities exist between the two, but Sacred Product is a sleeker and perhaps more devilishly clever means of delivery. "Wastex" is a spectacular song to start with, conveying a deep Swell Maps-like subterranean space (think of instrumentals like "Big Maz..." or "...Frogman") populated with prickly guitar parts that spring up and tangle themselves into the rhythm before phasing off. Lynton's vocals still have that strange and slightly off double-tracked effect that gives them a slurred/slowed echo that enhances the song's trance-inducing capabilities. "Sonic Country" is an oldie from 2001 (the other tunes all come from 2012), a great marching instrumental with a wobbly bassline and guitar scraping creating a tidy little mess. "Tram and Train" is the closet to Satanic Rockers (without being coated in glue) with extra vocal trickery and UK-DIY-influenced motion sickness. "Ride Back" continues the travelling with a stop-start riff and unnervingly catchy beat. The whole second disc is a train ride to gloom town and back. A superb and creative EP that makes good use of the double 7" format (whodathunk that was possible?) that I highly recommend. I don't like to make Swell Maps references but this one certainly makes me think about their moodier 'Sweep the Desert' type stuff. Aussie-DIY via NZ, with everything recorded and played by Lynton making it even more impressive.(RK)
(Quemada Records // quemadarecords.blogspot.com)
Saralee s/t LP
Debut full length from Boston's Saralee, a co-ed duo (Sara on vox/guitar, Lee on drums!) who already had some demos under their belt. It's rare to hear this kind of nearly twee lo-fi indie rock done well, but Saralee succeed with plenty ofcharisma and a ramshackle quality that reminds me of the Dawn Johnson/Rob Vazquez bands like Man Tee Mans or Gorls. Things never get too punky, but could be called quite garagey and there's a great sense of humor evident on tunes like "Children of the Night" or "Jackolantern House". Of course this stuff has to be a bit cute to work as well, and Sara's vocals convey the necessary girlish charm but never sound weak either. A bit reminscent of Barbara Manning even. Great recording sound, the guitar rings brightly while the drums ride shotgun and don't overpower. I challenge you to listen to "Lead the Fire" and not become charmed. A surprisingly well executed and personable record in a style that's difficult to pull off - I like this quite a bit. You never know what you're gonna get from Ride the Snake, and that's a good thing. Scum stats: 200 copies, sold out already?!(RK)
(Ride the Snake // www.ridethesnakerecords.com)
Scraper s/t LP
I've heard good things about Scraper from some West Coast comrades who are particularly tough on local bands. This is the first real record I've had a chance to listen to (not counting the flexi, and I didn't even know they had a 7" out on some Drag City offshoot I also didn't know existed) and I'm going to agree and say more good things about this band. Lazy comparison is to say they sound like Lamps, but that's only a little bit true anyway. Scraper are doing some cool shit here to get a powerful sound - the bass sound is huge and packs a massive wallop, not in a gnarly/distorted fuzz way, but via a booming low end frequency. The guitars are raw but fairly clean and the vocals are actually out front and discernible - risky moves in today's fuzzed-up/reverbed-out world. The lyrics are simple and punk, delivered with a slightly sleazy and mean sounding voice, which joins with the rest of the instruments for an appealing unified cadence. These tunes have a forceful mid-tempo momentum that keeps you engaged and carries you along - occassionally female back-ups and slight solos add some color. "Hippies" has the best lyrics and mocking singalongish vocals and a giant-sized hook. "Razor" takes the guitar part from "Black Sabbath" and turns it into a wonderful mongo-punker. "Landslide" is a massive churner that best utilizes the femme harmonizing with the most savage performance from the front-dude as well. A really good LP that doesn't overstay its welcome - it's modern garage without being wimpy/psych and wouldn't look weird with an In the Red logo on it. Think of a West Coast Pampers even. I'll even forgive them for covering "Kill From the Heart" - it's the most inspired version I've heard of it at least (but I still say no one should ever cover The Dicks). Recommended.(RK)
(Cut-Rate Records // www.cutraterecords.com)
Sex Crime "Night Vision" 7" EP
I think I missed something here, but apparently Cecilia (of No-Talents and Wild Wild Records fame) is now (or was?) living in Portland and has a band called Sex Crime. Picking up where she left off with Operation S (a band who I thought never lived up to the potential of their first 7"), blending New Wavey synth moves with the KBD-punkola reverence of No-Talents. Four tracks that show she still has one the best female punk shouts, the songs have both synth and organ making for the keyboard double whammy at times and they do pretty good job of making what I used to refer to as the "Dirtnap Records sound" seem palatable in 2013. She's teamed up with an ex-Epoxies member (or two?) but that band's shitty cornball synth-wave sound seems to have been eliminated from the equation. For the most part...let's just say this still sounds sort of like Portland circa 2003, but it's better than that most of the time. Not too shabby, but it does sort of make me wish Volt would make a new record someday (are you out there Jacko and Lili?) and even though I know it will never happen, a compilation of the Cecilia Et Ses Ennuis singles (with some bonus material) would be on my list of reissues I'd like to press if I had a shit ton of money to burn.(RK)
(Danger Records // sexcrime.bandcamp.com)
Simple Circuit s/t LP
I bust a lot of balls when it comes to Austin bands - there's so many of them a good portion are bound to suck though, right? Let's just say right off the bat that Simple Circuit are from Austin and certainly do not suck. I enjoyed their 7"es very much and their track on the Casual Victim Pile II comp was a standout, and I love to mention that Lisa from The Inhalants is in this band, but I'm starting to think no one remembers the Inhalants as fondly as I do. Thirteen tracks here, all of a peppy yet angular variety of post-punk pop-ism that reminds me very much of The Intelligence, but a bit less weird than Finberg's style. They take a more directly poppy approach to the hooks and are even more "rock" in an American Death Ray style (which is a difficult comparion though, because ADR change styles so frequently, but you get the idea). Nasally male vocals are often smooothed by Lisa's back-ups, one song adds a synth, recording is clean and crisp as is the playing. They open up strong with a couple of hard-chargers with twanged-out neo-surf guitar runs/riffs, change tempos a bit, throw some evocative indie-rockers in the mix ("Brothers", "Pulse"), a good slow number that reminds me of The Ponys ("Teenage Ghost"), "Hey Young Minds" is the killer groover with a terrific bassline and they end with a punk tune ("Disconnect")! A very solid LP for those of the weird-pop oriented sense who still like some edge (no power pop wimps need apply) and it's a shame the band had to pony up their own cash to release this, as it's better than most other bands in their own town who do an inferior version of what Simple Circuit excel at here. It's admirable they had the guts to put this out themselves and I hope it's sold out already. Scum stats: 250 copies only!(RK)
(self-released // simplecircuit.bandcamp.com)
Jimmy Smack "Death Rocks" 7"
2014 is off to an incredible start on the reissue front, and this 7" from Jimmy Smack is a big part of it. I'll confess to not being familiar with the work of Mr. Smack aside from skipping over his track on KBD #14 most of the time, which was apparently a big mistake. "Hating Life" is absolutely perfect, one of the best "death rock" or electro-punk or whatever-genre-you-wanna-call-it tracks you're ever gonna hear. It's legitimately scary, which is the most amazing part of it - this could easily become a cartoon, but the combination of Smack's death-rattle vox, the pulsating rhythm box and the dark synth sound (which is actually not a synth at all, but an electric bagpipe?!) are all simple components that add up to an honestly sick sounding whole. A grim tale about a runaway whose life goes bad, it's one of the doomiest and gloomiest punk tracks I've ever heard. At least until you get to the flipside, as "Depression" is even creepier and slower, with the beat emulating a heart about to expire and that electro-pipe wheezing some last breaths. I can't say enough good things about this reissue, it sounds top notch (straight from the original master) and the packaging is exceptional (classy pocket sleeves with two inserts and great design overall). An absolute must-have. Jimmy Smack apparently self-released two more records, which I would now love to hear...Scum stats: 500 copies total, with 100 on clear, the rest on black. There was also a live DVR available that now seems to be OOP. (RK)
(Death Vault // deathvaultrecords-at-hotmail.com)
Smooth Brain "One of Them" 7" EP
Cleveland's Smooth Brain (not to be confused with Cleveland's Wet Brain, who should not be confused with Baltimore's Wet Brain) is members of Cruelster, Kevin from 9ST/Sun God/Pleasure Leftists and some otherswhose band history I do not know. They pack six songs on this EP and it's all tightly wound mid-fi garage-punk with some agressive hardcore tendencies. Reminds me of a meaner and more direct Estrogen Highs. "Pointing at Me" is my pick of the bunch, and a great example of their deal - riffy, choppy, mid-to-upper-tempo velocities with shouty vox. Actually, the whole B-Side seems to be where the meat is, "Freaker Party" has the ripping solo I was waiting for, and I enjoy that most of this is pretty clean sounding in a time where reverb/fuzz abuse is running rampant. That a "collective" put this record out makes me want to call them hippies, but this should not dissuade you from purchasing, as it is a fine example of Clev-O rock-o-today. (RK)
(Root of Evil // www.rootofevilcollective.com)
Spasma “Mediocrazia” 7”
More gross out Euro-core to tickle your gag reflex. Sloppy (and I do mean sloppy) Italio stuff featuring Fogna folks that would meld nicely into the old 'Senza Tregua' compilation tracklisting. Golden age Eighties shitpunk throwbacks that are just scraping by, both sonically and in brevity, Spasma goes for the throat flesh like one of them stupid, dung encrusted zombies out of a Bruno Mattei flick. You know the ones - they could just as easily bare hand throttle you or tear at the exposed skin, but fuck it - there’s a garden hoe handy. An A for effort and an incomplete grade on their skill level, which is where the magic lies. Violent outbursts of guitar, spasmodic off kilter drums and a screaming dictator upfront. Sandwich this mess between some gore obsessed, Peni style regurgitations and you’ve got a winner for both the Termboners and the MRR sect. If only more bands learned from playing Cheetah Chrome Motherfuckers records backwards, we would be in a special and better universe by now. Quick scum stats: 300 were pressed up in varying degrees of black and yellow vinyl. Thanks Spasma, go wipe the puke of your jeans. You smell. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.bigcartel.com)
The Stickmen s/t LP
The Stickmen "Man Made Stars"LP
The Stickmen were a mid-to-late Nineties "alternative rock" band (for lack of a better work right now) from Tasmania who released a couple of CDs at the end of the century and then broke up, seemingly forgotten to the dust of history. As stories go, it turns out they had a cult following and some fans in influential places - in this instance members of The Drones and Nation Blue - who reissued the Stickmen's music in the late '00s and had them reunite to play ATP. Which is where Homeless comes in with these first-time-on-vinyl reissues of band's two albums. Firstly, this isn't exactly your typical Homeless Aussie-grunt affair. The Stickmen sound like a Nineties alternative band, which is driven home by the fact they had a guy on turntables - not a DJ scratching, thank god, but he "plays" some static/noise in the background and I guess is pitch-shifting or looping sounds/records to create distortion. You might not even realize he's there, but it does add an interesting layer to the tunes almost subliminally. The s/t LP is the one to get, as they sound like a vital bunch of young rockers in a post-grunge world - certainly Chokebore-esque, something reminds me of Girls Against Boys and there's some DC post-hardcore styles too - maybe Jawbox. Shit, I'm racking my brain trying to remember these bands. Anyway, there's some solid guitar playing here, they're a little bit jazzy at times, the drummer can go, singer is your typical Ninenties deadpan guy who gets a little whiny at times (but there's no emo here thank god). There's a couple of fast and heavy numbers I like a bunch and the turntable thing really does work out pretty well for the most part. Something changed when they made "Man Made Stars", which leaves out a lot of the rock and goes down a more soundscaping Sonic Youth or Truman's Water-like wandering path. The vibe gets a bit deeper for sure, but they turn the whine up on his vox which starts sounding a bit wimpy. Still, the turntabling is fun to follow and adds a dimension that supports the direction they take. Interesting stuff, not exactly essential unless you're a die-hard Tasmanian rock historian or miss the Nineties and want to hear what this turntable guy gets up to. Scum stats: only 350 copies of each, and I have to say these sleeves are absolutely fucking gorgeous (and I'm just talking about the regular sleeves, there are also some screen printed limited versions), a phenomenal job on the printing/design and they might be the thickest tip-on jackets I've seen in my life. If you're on the fence about buying, this should push you over the edge.(RK)
(Homeless // www.homelessvinyl.com.au)
Stink Bugs "Supernatural" 7"
You should know that I'm a big fan (in many ways) of all things incompetent, sloppy and amateurish, so you'd think a band as seemingly incompetent as Stink Bugs would be right up my alley, but it's just not happening. "Supernatural" might just be something that's so bad that it's just bad. I can sort of dig the playing, but I think it's the terrible vocals that just kill any chance it might have had at appealing to my bad-is-good sensibility. A terrible stab at Spacemen 3 covering the Elevators, but maybe so intentional it ruins the gag. Sounds like they might be trying too hard to not try hard, although the vocals do have a certain Boogie Nights studio session thing going on. "The Mountain" might actually have that special something "Supernatural" was missing, as it may be one of the worst stabs at Sixties psych-exploitation I can remember. The bass playing is so painful it has some appeal and the oh so annoying vocals here take on a quality that at least makes it sound like he's trying...a decent fuzztone is ruined to a good degree by completely unimaginitve playing and his "Ahhhhhh!" rave-up scream is so listless and energy-free I actually laughed. Good on ya there mate. The lyrics are absolutely horrid as well and it fades out to add insult to injury. Pretty bad in many ways, but not quite bad enough to recommend either...I'm on the fence here but don't have the endurance left for a sixth listen...(RK)
(Swashbuckling Hobo // swashbucklinghobo.bigcartel.com)
Straight Crimes "Marchign Forward" 7" EP
Sometimes you get a record in the mail from some band you've never heard of and it looks super cool and you're excited for a chance to discover some awesome new band/scene. It might have a massive screen printed fold out poster sleeve with slogans like "Take Acid" and "Punk Is Not A Virtue" on it. Then you start to listen to it and look at things closer and notice that this might be related to the Uzi Rash/Trashies scene of bands somehow, and it sounds like wacky pop-punk that still sucks even though it's recorded pretty poorly and you realize you should just listen to the Lumpy & The Dumpers 7" again and fold this thing back up.(RK)
(Smart Brains Records // smartbrainsrecords.blogspot.com)
Tax "Bent Spear" 7"
Debut single from Australia's Tax, with Sean Bailey of Lakes on drums/vox and Simon Taylor (Lakes, Whitehorse) and one of the guys from Zond on guitars/bass. "Bent Spear" is one of the most crushing tunes of recent memory. Totally devastating. Killing Joke-informed doom-punk with all the tribal rhythm of some Anarcho-band but without sounding like crusty hippies. Futuristic nihilism, the guitar effects are exceptional, you'd swear there was a synth at play here but it's just bent and screwed guitar distortion harnessed for maximum damage, laser sharp and cutting. Whoever is playing this thing, it sounds like they probably lost a hand. Bailey's vox are suitably ominous and dramatic, yet still sound pissy. One of the very best sides of vinyl of the year. Did I mention how fucking crucial the guitar sounds are on this yet? "Arms" is of similar weapons-grade caliber, after that A-Side anything but an h-bomb was going to be a let down, but that says more about how good this band is than anything. There's a little bit more pretense going on here, the guitar sounds just a little bit less gnarly, the vibe just a little less aggro. Still a very good song and cultivates their sound a bit further (perhaps treading a bit into gothier ground as well), but it feels like the shadow of the A-Side. Nothing wrong here though. "Bent Spear" is worth whatever import price you pay for this alone so the B-Side is all gravy. They have a nice and clean B&W visual aesthetic going that of course pairs with the music perfectly. One of the top singles from 2013. Scum stats: exceptional packaging - thick pocketsleeves and printed inners make this a good value, plus there's a limited blue vinyl variant.(RK)
(No Patience // www.nopatience.org)
Timmy Tumbler & the Tumblers “Head Honey” 7”
How can I say this with out sounding like a total cock; the opener “Wave of Her Own” seems eerily similar to The Greatest American Hero theme (“Believe it or not, I’m walking on air…”). If 80’s sitcom schmaltz lovers were the core audience you’re hoping to grab - congrats. I personally come around these parts for punk and or rock. Sometimes noise. Hell, even all of those at the same time. So I’m at a loss for the words here to describe this. Indie pop shoved through the usual jangling crap-fi filters; well played with just a hint of slop to contrast Mr. Tumbler’s high end croon. The guitar player has some ready chops, but damned if they’re the chops I’m looking for. This is a strange trip and not the one I expected to take from the dude belly flopping about, pictured on the sleeve. That guy looks like a drunk and down Ben Lyon ready to party. This is more like a garage Har Mar Superstar. The title track “Head Honey” has a bit more mood going for it, fuzz buzzin’ and synthin’ about, but it’s still very arena ready. Good game, Tumblers. You’ve constructed this with skill. I’d drink a beer with you and see if we could work out our differences. Maybe I’d even watch these antics live. All said and done, I’m sure someone over in the Burger Records representative camp will massage your balls for a few hundred cassette copies in the near future. Congrats to that. (RSF)
(Gypsy Farm Records // www.gypsyfarm.net)
Transfix s/t LP
Debut LP of gothic-punk from Olympia's Transfix who have members of Gag and Family Stoned in the line-up. Referring to themselves as a "collective" always screams hippie, but these guys are from Olympia so that's par for the course. I can't say that I dislike this new wave of neo-goth bands, especially when it's done as decently as Transfix do it. I feel like Olympia breeds weirdos, and weirdos make good goth, lending this thing a bit more credibility than some of the bands coming from more densely populated scenes. Transfix are certainly fans of The Cure, which always helps, and many of their songs are painted with a similar pancake makeup brush. Emotive and poppy yet still having some creeping rock edginess. "Bad Trip" and "Slip Away" are total hits and would've done well in 1986. Transfix also ditch the pop at times and do some nearly industrial electronics/synth laden tunes that change the pace up nicely, and add a further sense of danger. "Burning Heart" is a near perfect distillation of their style - depressed, wounded, yet still having a hooky chorus and extremely catchy keyboard line, all done in a consice three minutes or so. The end of the B Side gets even more interesting - the last four or five tunes are all heavily effects laden, adding a very classical goth spookiness at times with drum machine, keys, some looping/tape manipulation on the instrumental "Ruined", the most tortured cut via "Modern World" which has some creative percussion and thick analog synth. I like this one a lot, and moreso with each listen. The balance of the pop/wave with the heavier stuff really keeps it interesting - I feel like a lot of these neo-goths write in one "style" and just keep repeating variants of the same song which gets real tiresome. Like I said, leave it to Olympia to get some real weirdos on the case. Recorded by Captain Tripps Ballsington. Transfix have another release upcoming on Ascetic House, which makes sense, since those AZ dudes are on the same "hippie collective" trip. (RK)
(Dutch Tilt // www.dutchtilt.net)
True Believers "Accept It!" 7" EP
It's a given that immediately after posting a Best of 2013 (or whatever year) I'll remember something I should have included. In this case, I need to give Hozac a lot of credit for their Archives series, which has been exceptional to date. Their Sonny Vincent back catalog work alone (the Fury single from 2012 is still in frequent rotation and I'm expecting equal dividends from the upcoming Liquid Diamonds release) is enough, and now that they've added an Electric Eels campaign as well as an association with the Rep/Harrisburg family they're certainly "killing it". This True Believers single was an unexpected treat. Recorded in '79 and released in 1980 it makes a great companion piece to the Columbus Discount reissues of the Jay/Rep/Squidfish material. Out-of-time tunes that could only come from Ohio, proto-punk or post-hippie residue that seems a few years too late or maybe even too early, informed by Zappa, The Coop and whatver punk fallout rained down from Cleveland. Bizarro lyrics and concepts ("Gusto Hungry"?) with an "air organ" solo (I'm imagining this is what we'd refer to as the recorder, as played in many a grammar school music class), the alarming absence of heavy electric guitars, lyrics about being being trapped in a meat freezer, the B-Side is just a big bag of weirdness and "Accept It!" itself is a punk chugger that challenges being called punk, but what else are you gonna call it, especially with that closing guitar solo? Essential US-DIY from one of the most fruitful beds of privately pressed strangeness in the country. (RK)
(Hozac // www.hozacrecords.com)
Dwight Twilley Band "Shark" 7"
Honestly, I never thought we'd see they day where any sort of Dwight Twilley reissue seemed at all necessary. I'm still not sure we're there yet, but Hozac says we are. "Shark" was originally slated as Twilley's second single but was ridiculously shelved at the time for fear of seeming like a Jaws (the movie!) cash-in, and it's a passable yet kinda corny A-Side I suppose. Hozac have frankensteined a single out of "Shark", pairing it with the very Big Star-lite sounding "Burnin' Sand" from the 'Great Lost Twilley Album' CD. I think every Twilley album I own I pulled out of a dollar bin at some point in my life, and while I have admit the guy has a coupla tracks, I'm not such a fan. I might even prefer Phil Seymour. Maybe. Although I'm impressed by the resourcefulness of this release, I'm not sure the world really needs it.(RK)
(Hozac // www.hozacrecords.com)
V-3 "Live at Bernie's '97" LP
Hot off the presses fanclub release of this live document from the Jim Shepard archives, originally released as a CDR on Mike Rep's Old Age/No Age imprint and available via the Forever Lowman blog more recently. This is post-'Photograph Burns' V-3, live from a Columbus dive and the recording quality is absolutely fantastic. Shepard's vox are out front (and this was supposedly "mixed" by Rep and Tommy Jay) and he sounds very energetic and agressive and just slightly haggard around the edges. The trio sounds tight, and "Queen of the Underground", "Negotiate Nothing" and "Son of Sam Donaldson" are my favorite versions here amongst the many highlights (and if you listen closely you might hear a drunk Ron House in the audience) and everything on here makes me wish I had seen this band even more. It's a rather concise nine song set that closes with a spectacular run through "Girl in A Room" - Shepard thanks the crowd (which from the sound of the applause I'd guess is in the 20-30 range) and that's it. Let me just say that I'm thrilled this record exists particularly because I wasn't expecting it in the slightest and, like many, I'm not such a fan of live records but this is one that makes you forget that. It sounds incredible and some of these takes might be preferable (or at least on par with) to studio versions. The one thing that sticks on my head when listening is that Shepard was dead a year later - I have no idea how many shows they played after this one, or what Jim's head was like at this point, but these are things you can't help but think about now. The performance is top notch, and Shepard sounds absolutely engaged, but when he mutters "That's it thanks a lot" at the end you get some sense of weariness in his voice perhaps. Shepard is an important enough artist to me that I think about shit like this. As I mentioned, this was not a release I was expecting. With the "announcement" by Shepard's son that the Iron Press imprint will be revived to reissue the back catalog and the subsequent lack of any sort of movement on that front, along with the past and current difficulty experienced by respectable labels in dealing with the family to make some of the OOP/unreleased material available in any sensible way/format, I think we've all become resigned to the fact that the only way we're going to get more Shepard records in print is through fanclub releases such as this. I like the idea that the community/cult of Shepard fans out there is dedicated enough that we might see a different V-3, Vertical Slit or Jim Shepard solo fan club release from a different source every year or so. That's a tradition I could get behind. I think we'd all love to see the 'Negotiate Nothing' or 'Motorcycle Movie' or a dozen other recordings on vinyl...(RK)
(fanclub // try www.fusetronsound.com)
V/A Bad Daddies/Lögnhalsmottagningen split 7”
More Daddies in the pile, this time teamed up with some phonetically challenged Swedes. “Dessert” sets the pace yet fools me into believing their sound’s been cleaned up a tad. The bratty attack is still upfront and full throttle, just not as much guitar freakishness in the mix. Aha! There it is…everything collapses in the end. Fry. “The Flood” gets a little post punkish, sputtering and tweaking throughout the verses. Or just a verse. These cats don’t fuck around for too long. An interesting mix of feedback and Ginn destructo damage weaves about behind “Spare Change”. Hard to tell if it was planned out or if the guitar came unstrapped and fell to the floor. Either way, it works. Continuing the trend of putting one record’s title track on a different record, “Bad Year” scrapes by as their side comes to a halt. Blown to bits and vocal strained from the get-go, it then settles into a catchy lil’ ditty for all of the last twenty seconds. Coffee break!
The Lögs (that’s as far as I’m going) drop a weird mix of herky-jerk rhythm section and a hyperventilating babble that jibes of Wire, Bloodstains artier combos and maybe even some of The Fall’s least droning scunge-scapes. Not as pace ripping as their earlier efforts (or recent Bat Shit platter) but still whiffs of Euro-core punkers whose names were just as hard to pronounce back in the 80’s. I’ve got a shit-fi cassette mix in a shoebox somewhere that comes to mind while this spins. Pepper it all with handclaps, bouncing choruses and the occasional group grunt. You’ve got three songs worthy of repeats; just don’t ask me to decipher their titles. Please. (RSF)
(Emotional Response // www.jenandstew.com)
V/A Bloodshot Bill/Richard Catwrangleur split 7"
Halloween themed split 7" from the fine Canadian folks over at Mongrel Zine. Bloodshot Bill is like the third member of the King Khan & BBQ show these days (see Tandoori Knights and Ding Dongs) and it makes sense as he's cut from the same cloth as those two nutjobs, a fine re-creator of the sounds of the rockin' Fifties. "In the Graveyard" sounds like a vintage Hank Sr. track with spookhouse sound effects - very likeable and sounds just perfect. The guy is good at what he does, and every bit as good as his two more famous buddies at this point. Richard Catwrangleur I've never heard of, and that is one weird fucking name, but he's a Vancouver dude here playing with a member of Dead Ghosts. "Little Witch" is a medium-fi garage-pop number that sounds like a subdued Nobunny tune without the raunch. It's not bad at all for the style. Pretty successful for a gimmick Halloween record, and the orange vinyl looks delicious, but I don't know how much mileage anyone is going to get out of this thing. Fits in well with the Mongrel aesthetic though...Scum stats: 300 copies with awesome art by Bob Scott. (RK)
(Mongrel Zone // www.mongrelzine.ca)
V/A Drugs Dragons/Static Eyes split 7"
Wisconsin splitter with some decent topside action from The Tonys and Drugs Dragons who don't necessarily chug it out ala The Sag's usual stomp, but more of a Gary Wrong inspired can o' beans this time - lots of layering and sound trickery, but still rockers at heart under the gunk. I like their tunes here quite a bit - none of the records they've made so far have really been home runs but they've hit a couple warning track shots, and "Fester/Breed/Scatter" is one of them. Static Eyes is some of the dudes from Gut Reactions and it's mid-grade garage-punk ala Problematics or Metros, just not as good. The only thing more annoying that split singles? Split singles that play at different speeds on each side and don't have the labels marked and have confusing track listings. The silk screened art aids in that confusion, I actually found a variant sleeve for sale on Etsy (wtf?!) that I like better and used to clear up the track listing. Scum stats: I'm guessing three hundo or less.(RK)
(Terror Trash // )
V/A Piss Test/Fist City split 7”
Piss Test brings more of their Samoans stripped back budget punk, like they do so well. “Mussolini” and “No Money” get caught in Supercharger grooves and bare knuckles it raw for three minutes or less. You want a solo? Tuff shit. Sandwiched in betwixt is a reprise from the debut single (“Necrophilia Halal”) for some reason. Maybe those folks overseas didn’t wanna’ pay the exorbitant shipping to get the original “hit” sent over? Either way, it’s quick and painless and worthy of spins. Fist City on the flip brings a thicker sound akin to the modern wall o’ Dwyer shenanigans. “Endless Bummer” leads the side off somewhat surfy, somewhat post-punkish and that beloved yodeled vox. It happens and when it ends I don’t feel the urge to chuck it against the wall. BUT they follow it up with a Devo cover, and that doesn’t have to happen again. Ever. It may be a passable homage; I couldn’t make it through the first chorus. Oh well. Side A was a fun corker. Am I the only one that thinks the cover looks like a Grateful Dead LP? (RSF)
(Drunken Sailor Records // www.drunkensailorrecords.limitedrun.com)
V/A “Tarantisimo Summit Vol. 3: Solitary Mutants Series Part 2” LP
Where the second volume let a bunch of solo freaks fly their flag high, this one is seems more of a collaborative effort. Everyone involved works together to bring a unified tone, engulfing the listener in a totally grim landscape. Johnny LZR (of Human Eye) warms things up with “Brain Perversion Techniques” as glitching sampler kinks run thru repetitive dialog delay and synthesizer blips. Transmissions from a black box, perhaps? Stuff slowly morphs from there into “Polarized Fields of Shit”; a dark Chrome damaged drone and chant, pinging along like a broken heart monitor under the magical/maniacal hands of Gary Wrong. Xunholm (of Ga’an & E.T. Habit) throws down a hefty chunk o’ wax called “Nameless Mountain Pt.1” that brings to mind everything from the phenomenal Fabio Frizzi gutbuster horror themes to mid-period Tangerine Dream sci-fi pulp. With “Chromosomal Aberrations”, LZR returns to shake some space debris out of his rusty sputnik. Alex Nova (E.T. Habit) twiddles knobs, sets the Eno ambient gloom setting on high and lets his bass gallop around the apocalyptic wasteland known as “Novara Prison”. Xunholm brings the side back from the dead with “Nameless Mountain Pt.2”. This sequel is another glorious Italio-themed zombie march that hints of an early Moroder pulse. Strong stuff. On the flipside, LZR again takes the controls with “UVB-76” and continues his quest for perfecting the sound of a lost Russian science fiction film. “Abandoning the Horses” & “Ciccio” teams up bandmates Xunholm & Alex Nova and lets them do what they do best; prog themes and Beausoleil mysticism. Gary Wrong provides the most positive sounding piece on the platter, with a repetitive but somewhat perky and off putting “Cold Factory”. Still, you can’t shake the creeps altogether. Weirdness is tucked in the long passages, just an earshot away. LZR lets his deteriorating synths soar high as the side / journey comes to an end. Batshit outdid itself with this one. I feel if this got into the right hands of the right tastemakers, this shit would be blowing up. But for now I’m glad it’s slumming it here in the garagepunk ghetto I call home. Android love. Great looking sleeve art by Chris Ilth. Liner notes by a Homostupid. Mine is purple colored. Order one. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.com)
V/A Vaaska/Impalers split 7"
Impalers are so fucking good at what they do. "Fight'em All" is total metalpunk devastation that does not let up for one second, just a hammerdown beat and riff, bellowed vox and a sick solo laid on top. It's formulaic, sure, but when done this well it's effective. Anthemic even. "Anyone" is more of a pounder and might actually have the better solo. You should know what you're getting into here. This is the first I've heard of Vaaska (who are actually from Austin) and they do the raw hardcore thing with buzzsaw guitar and some good soloing, but I'm really just here for the Impalers. I'm sure this was a devastating live show though, as this was released for the bands tag team East Coast tour. For serious hardcores only, not recommended for those dabbling. Scum stats: there was a limited tour edition, and this regualr pressing as well, which had 150 copies on green vinyl for mailorder. (RK)
(Beach Impediment // beachimpedimentrecords.bigcartel.com)
Vermaio “M.M.D.F.” 7”
See my above Spasma review and add another Fogna foe to the mix. Intensify the whole fucking lot. Take the already teetering on the toilet seat production and muddle it some more. Let the forefront shouter achieve violent orgasm as he chews most of your face away. This bedroom band plays tighter, shorter and faster than their cohorts, but lets things still rattle closely to the edge of derailment. Hard to tell if these Italian stallions hate my guts or if my turntable is setting up for a revolt. This is the sound of my needle cartridge getting dragged down to hell. Another grim and worthy hardcore throwback from the Bat Shit brigade. Scum stats: You get an LPs worth of frantic damage wrapped up in a class act, Crass-like poster sleeve. 300 pressed in either black or cloudy soot vinyl. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.bigcartel.com)
Video "(Join the) Hate Wave" 7"
Total Punk marches into 2014 without looking back at the great year they had in 2013, just blazing forward with more of the best punk the world has to offer. Video are one of the upper echelon Denton/Austin bands these days (and there are a fucking lot of bands down there) and they have just the right combo of dudes from Wax Museums and Wiccans who were in another dozen bands as well - just the same bunch of guys who have been responsible for just about every good band down there over the past 7 or 8 years. Anyway, the title cut lives up to its fantastic name, a mid-tempo KBD-punker with Daniel giving some good vox with extra electronics on the refrain and a hot and dum-dum solo. "Captivity" on the flip is more rubbery and post-punkish even, kinda reminds me of a latter day Tyrades track but with a bit more weird in the mix. What more can be said about this one...another winner from Total Punk. I feel like the cat's outta the bag on the finest label in the land (meaning I think Pitchfork types are glomming onto this stuff now) so those 500 press singles are going pretty fucking fast these days. Keep your head in the game and don't miss out.(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
The Yolks "$2 Out the Door" 7"
If I ever had some doubts about The Yolks (and I hate to admit I did), they were erased by that "Songs the Yolks Taught Themselves" cassette, which was some of the most exceptional party rock I'd heard in a long while. This is their first record since the LP and it's their best vinyl appearance next to their debut 7" based on the A-Side. "$2 Out the Door" sounds like a timeless early-Sixties (or late Fifties?) garage roller, lovably mid-fi recording quality with some classy guitar jingle, great almost non-existent drum sound and awesome harmonies (including what I'll refer to as a "bowser" baritone part) that sounds like it was recorded exactly where these guys belong, playing a frat party or pizza parlor (and I mean that as a compliment!). Super catchy and nice in the bestway. They cover Bo on the flip via the WIllie Dixon penned "Pretty Thing" that gets over via some hot harmonica playing, I would have liked another original (or even one of the tunes from the tape) on the flip, but it's okay. Scum stats: 300 copies only, with 100 having hand drawn labels. (RK)
(Randy Records // www.randyrecords.blogspot.com)
The Zingers s/t LP
An audacious music project recorded in 2011 by the now defunct Zingers, an Australian "anti-punk" unit aiming to give the listener a challenging experience. The Geza X comparison is pretty spot-on - their mission to provoke the listener is certainly successful, whether via far-left-field musical ideas running amok or just their talent for being absolutely annoying. It wouldn't be a stretch to call some of the sounds on this just awful, but when that's the point I suppose it takes on some different meanings, but that still doesn't mean it sounds any less awful either. The most extremely irritating vocal presence you can imagine, lots of breakneck pacing that keeps you off balance, unpleasantly squealing guitar treble, offensively oddball instrumentation... Think of Howie Mandel fronting a jazz-punk band. Or a far less appealing Folded Shirt without any of the humor. The cover of this should be a big hint as to what they are trying to do - take every possible "un-punk" thing they can think of and throw it all together to make a record the premise of which is to get punks to think outside the box. Or someting like that. They declare their agenda and stick to it 100% - I'll give them that credit. This wacky experiment pays some dividends, there are 2 or 3 songs (or 2.5 is more like it) where all the ideas coalesce into something great, a racket that is not unlike the most extreme weirdos of the KBD genre. That leaves 7-8 songs of absolute nonsense, which amounts to being beaten over the head with their concept. The first 3-4 tunes really get their point across and are the most listenable parts, maybe by default because you haven't heard enough to be annoyed yet, because by side two you REALLY get the point. A record with serious ideas they attempt to deliver via sounds you're going to have trouble taking seriously. I very much appreciate the effort, and yes, I agree turning punk on its ear is something that needs to be done every so often. This thing took a lot of thought and it shows. The type of record you might be glad you heard a few times (or even just once), and will then probably never feel the need to pull off the shelf again.(RK)
(Million Dollar Records // milliondollarrecs.blogspot.com.au)
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