V/A White Whale/Mallwalkers split 7”
White Whale side has two short ones with a rougher recording quality than the ‘No Solace’ 7” that fits the rapid-fire tunes and shows off the punker side of the Whale. The idea behind Mallwalkers sounds terrible on paper – a six-piece collision of funk/soul, New Wave and Post-Punk with a horn section and a guy singing into a telephone handset. Recipe for disaster, but I shit you not when I say it works out great. “Won’t You Dance With Me?” combines surfy guitar, bubbling bass and full-on brass attack (with a saxbleat solo that evens gives it a little No Wave flavor) into a herky New Wave whiteboy-groove that will definitely get things moving on the floor. I think the singer sounds just like the guy from The Hates, and the lyrics are certainly not going to blow minds, but danceable hits like this need that simple phrasing. “Lo-Fi Losers” exceeds expectations again with an organ grind that suddenly morphs into a guitarline that leads this punkified horn stomper. This one’s a real fist pumper, with more A-plus bass playing towing the party boat. This isn’t the cheese-funk or lame ska-style shinola your mind might be conjuring up images of. It’s not even Big Boys covering Kool & the Gang. It’s post-punk dance music, I guess…my difficulty coming up with a handy description should be seen as a good thing. That they execute these songs with good taste is quite a feat. I’m glad they’re up to the challenge, and I eagerly await more. Scum stats: 330 copies. (RK)
(Feral Kid // www.feralkidrecords.com)
(Subject // www.subjectrecords.bigcartel.com)

Human Touch s/t 7”
Newer Buffalonian quartet, playing fastpunk jammers with off-the-rails girl vox. A-Side packs in four tracks on the more hardcore side, velocity-wise. “Youth Prison” has some agile tempo-changes, “Skeletons” sounds like the young lady laid down her vocal track in the midst of a nervous breakdown (which is a good thing, at least music-wise, but I hope she’s okay though), “Cold Hands, Cold Hearts” has a touch of keyboard and a lil’ breakdown for semi-hard pitting and “Blank Page” finishes with a brief mosher. The B-Side has only the (theme?) song “Human Touch”, a more mid-tempo indie-rocker that seems a bit restrained. Recording is clean, almost too clean – the guitar sound is pretty bland and something tougher or even louder would have given this some needed bite. As it stands, it’s the vocals that save this from being pretty generic. The band can certainly play, but I wish they sounded as wild as the vox so she doesn’t have to shoulder so much of the load. Scum stats: 320 copies, silkscreened sleeves. (RK)
(Feral Kid Records // www.feralkidrecords.com)
(One Percent Press // www. onepercentpress.com)

White Whale “No Solace” 7”
Third single from White Whale, the current full-time project of the driving forces behind the now defunct Everything Falls Apart. One song per side, with “No Solace” being another of their Hot Snakes-esque guitar rockers, full of angsty riffing and having a decent hook. B-Side (“Waxing”) slows things way down for an emotive and mature indie tune. I’m never a fan of bands slowing down or maturing, but I also think White Load released two of the best records of the year, so you know my head is in the shitter. It’s recorded wonderfully, but I’d still recommend either of their earlier singles if you want to give them a shot. This one does have their best artwork though, with a clever obi-strip-like presentation that actually serves a purpose instead of just being a strip of paper that gets in the way when you want to listen to the record. Scum stats: 320 copies, silkscreened art and insert with a picture from a show I actually think I was at, which is always cool. (RK)
(Feral Kid Records // www.feralkidrecords.com)
(One Percent Press // www. onepercentpress.com)

Rational Animals “Gabrielle” 7”
Rotcore’s most popular act (outside of Monroe County at least), with their first release since their breakout LP from last year. A-Side is their song-about-a-girl, and it’s mid-tempo chug with a lackluster solo, at least for the standard Will has established on previous outings. Seems like one of those formulaic songs where a band decides they need to write a catchy A-Side, but just doesn’t execute it well. One of the few times these cats have let me down. “Eating My Words” makes up for it on the flip, with a slowed down thrash riff and the type of guitar chug I expect from this guy, full-on whammy bar action, dropped/cracked note soling and a tripped out overall feel. It starts off slow and then they slow it down more for a real queasy finale. Creeping and crawling. Now that’s a song. If you’ve been dying for a new record by these kids, this is still a winning situation for you – even if the A-Side’s a bit of clunker, it ain’t terrible, and the flip is a choice cut. This record looks fucking great too, with the front being Nic’s version of the Sub Pop singles club aesthetic and the back cover designed by Rotcore overlord Brett “Bad Taste” Kucharski himself. Scum stats: part of Cowabunga’s Sick Club (full details here), which means a single press of 500 (which will surely sell out), with 100 on color for subscribers only. (RK)
(Cowabunga Records // www.cowabungarecords.com)

The Narcs “Long Hot Summer” 7”
Second EP from Rotchester sketch-lords The Narcs. I never really thought their first single did them justice (and they’ll forever be one of those bands whose live presence will never be rightfully captured on wax), but this six-song outing does them much better. Title cut is all riffs and snot, “High Robot” is hilariously dumb “concept” punk (a retarded A-Frames take from a band that I’m 99% sure have never heard the A-Frames) that could even pass for a younger and dumber Spits, and the epic “Rat Bone” is a live set favorite with a bouncy guitar/bass thump rev-up that turns to total level 11 punkitude (“I don’t grow up, I throw up!”) and then devolves into a sleaze jam breakdown. One of their best songs, lyrically and musically. Shwag Side kicks off with the retardo-blues-punker “Mobile Jail” which has terrible harmonica playing and a slip-n-slide solo. “R.O.T. Blood” is another live set shit-kicker and “Slime” is guitar punkola ala Livefastdie, but these kids aren’t joking. A far better sampling of The Narcs’ wares this time around, if you were let down by the first single this one is a far better representation of Rotcore’s most dangerous outfit. And do not ever miss them should they play within 100 miles of your town. Scum stats: first 50 on blue flavored vinyl.(RK)
(Cowabunga Records // www.cowabungarecords.com)

Flip Shit “Outgoing Rockers” EP
Debut vinyl from young shavers Flip Shit and the first record released by the Reel Time empire in a bit, and I’m glad to see the label back on track. Brett must have spent the downtime saving up money for the packaging on this thing: brown paper company sleeves that must have been a pain in the ass to get printed (including a clever “hooks” graphic and ‘The Quality Cut’ logo), inserts that were printed on loose leaf paper to look like they were scribbled with a pencil during study hall (complete with individual lipstick kisses on each copy) and the outer sleeves themselves have three-color screening on the absolute thickest pocket sleeves I’ve ever seen. Musically, Flip Shit are Rotcore incarnate. Young, loud and sloppy. Six songs spread thick over both sides, full of rat-a-tat drumming and guitar shred, some of which carry the mandatory Rotcore surf-twang inflection, jabber jawing vocals and bucketloads of piss and drool. From “Stoop Rock” into “Watch Your Mouth” they remind me of the modern WNY version of Suicidal Tendencies, barfing out anti-authoritarian hate-anthems perfect for dropping into either the pit or the pool. B-Side opener “America” has the hottest licks as they try to play fast enough to spontaneously combust. “End It All” is Living In Darkenss-era Agent Orange on poppers and “Shit Out of Luck” is DK-influenced punk without any of the smarts. Hailing from the outlying Rochester burg of Hilton, where the “real punks” apparently live, and which is home to two more of my favorite current Rotcore acts (sharing members with Flip Shit), Beastman and Crue Pie, who I hope have records out soon (or just someday at all). Scum stats: 300 copies only, with aforementioned bonkers packaging which is worth the price of admission alone. (RK)
(Reel Time Records // reeltimerecordss.bigcartel.com)

Gas Chamber “Modern Vision of the Erect Nightmare” EP
I’ve never been a fan of much power-violence, and even though Gas Chamber’s lineage comes from some of Buffalo’s most legendary acts in that particular frame of reference (They Live, Slavestate, Running for Cover), they’ve gone beyond whatever genre confines that nametag might apply to music. Their last EP was a stunning example of what can (and should) simply be called brute force hardcore. Truly heavy music, with an attention to aesthetic that I admire and wish more bands possessed. Deep thought taken with thetotal package is evident here. Painstakingly detailed art and design that is relevant and part and parcel to the music. The cover image, taken from a 1970s suicide at Buffalo’s city hall where a jumper impaled himself on a flag pole, is immediately striking. The insert is a panoramic photo, shot from the observation deck where the dead man probably sat before hurling himself into the wind. The music, well it’s all atmosphere and concept. Wrapped around both sides is one long “song”, beginning with some circuit-bending noise, nearly industrial, which cuts off into a metallic dirge with violently barked vocals (one thing I’ve never understood is taking the time to write some profound words, and then bark them out nearly unintelligibly, but I guess that’s what lyric sheets are for) about uh…violence and suffering and the futility of life and architecture. Common themes for a band operating in this arena, sure, but done with more gravitas than just pulling images of war atrocities from some history book and rendering them in black and white. The piece segues back into the noisy echo which bridges the sides, becomes a bit less industrial and more of a haunting electric hum, with more bloody gargling of lyrics over this moody subliminal electric pulse and an ominous sound that begins to make its presence felt, like girders bending or the creaking of a submarine’s steel hull that you’d hear when all is quiet twenty thousand leagues under. The record then bleeds out into a delicate acoustic guitar coda. It’s quite ambitious, and more of high concept art project than the hardcore of their previous efforts. I admire the tenacity with which they brought their ideas to fruition, and the last time I saw them live my jaw and mind were totally dropped by what I can only refer to as prog-power-violence. This is not a record I will be spinning when I’m in need of some tunes, but it is a work of art I’m glad to own and can see myself re-visiting. If more bands had the attention to detail and depth of vision that Gas Chamber have I’d have a lot less to bitch about in most of the reviews I write these days. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Nerve Altar // nervealtar.blogspot.com)

Utah Jazz s/t 7”
Long-anticipated (‘round these parts at least) debut waxing from Buffalo’s wyldest three-piece unit. For non-locals, you’ve got one part Brown Sugar, one part Mayday and one part gal drummer who played in some heavier-style outfits the names of which will just go over yer head if you don’t live in the 716. If you were hip enough to grab their demo, you get some tunes from that re-done and a couple more winners, five knockouts all told. Twin-guitar twang instrumental “Lookin’ Like Howwywood” hits a lead-off single which they drive home with “Florida”, here given the deluxe treatment with some flute soloing that’ll have people thinking the Jazz have listened to an Ohsees record or two, and I can assure they have, but this is more rock than psych – guitars run lines in and around each other while, get this, the girl actually sings(!). Stellar stuff. B-Side gets all punk and shit, “Media Schlitz” has some real shitkicking drum action under the guitar dueling, “Contact Low” keeps the pace manic, “Seeing the Eye Doctor” is garage-jam-punk-tastic. These kids have a ton of tunes in the can, expect more action soon. There are times when I think the Jazz are better than any of the participant’s “main” bands. Which is a tall order, and certainly makes the record one of the best Buffalo has to offer for export these days. Scum stats: 500 copies, 25 copy special edition record release sleeve. (RK)
(Media Schlitz // mediaschlitz-at-gmail.com)