Key: (RFA: Richard Fucking Adventure)(LB: Lance Boyle)(AR: Acapulco Rodriguez)(EEK: Erick Elrick)(JG: Jeff G.)(BG: Brandon Gaffney)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RK: Rich Kroneiss)(TO: Tm Onita)(MS: Mike Sniper)(SB: Young Steve)(RSF: Rob Vertigo)

Apache "Boomtown Gems" LP/CD
After they let loose with one of the undisputed killer 7"es of last year I had unreasonably high expectations for the Apache full-length. Expectations that of course were not met in full. One of the bigger letdowns about this platter is that the two tracks from the single are the two best songs on this. But all is not lost my friends. Apache and his crew do create a space somewhere in between semi-tough 'Bloodbrothers'-era Dictators proto-punk and Dollsy rock-swagger that works more often than not, with some pompous pre-hairband Sunset Strip glam thrown in the bag as well. Perhaps even a bit of McDonald bros. snot-psych around the edges too. Certainly related to the Cuts/Time Flys/etc. string of roach-clip and fringe vest Seventies-worship, and Andy Jordan cops a songwriting credit on one track. When they get right down to business on pure rock'n'roll jammers like "White Hammer" or "Bullet Train" they fire on all the right cylinders. "Nazi Knife" gets all glam-punk, they even take a death-ride on "Chelsea Girl" and make it work. Good looking-band too, the guitar player (who does more than his share of hot-lick ripping on this) could pass for one of The Mothers of Invention, Apache himself is straight-up San Fran thrift-store tight-shirt-n-scarf glam, the bass player has a certain Mark Mendoza-esque looming stature. Not that image should be all that important, but these dudes look like they sound, in a good way. The only toe-stubbers here are when they get a little too cute ("Sugargliding" or "Russian Roulette"), but when they rock, they r-o-c-k. Definitely worth the investment, you get over the fact that "Crystal Clear" and "Boyz Life" are the true killers after a couple listens and enjoy what is at least eight keeper cuts out of eleven. The CD version of this adds a bonus track that sounds like the fucking Doobie Brothers or some Yacht Rock shit. I'm gonna forget I heard that.(RK)
(Birdman Records // www.birdmanrecords.com)

Autodramatics “Find the Gun” 7”
Oh shit. Cedar Rapids, Iowa is on the return. Andy Caffrey is here, joined by Mike Martinez, to give you a really blown-to-fuck garage tune that ain’t too far of the course of its Horror-igins. “Find the Gun” starts like an early Hunches track and then explodes in shit-spattered zero-fidelity. The drums are so ping-y they might be a machine. Junk Pile Jimmy production all around. Ill sounding solo and harmonica pepper the scuzz a bit. The same track looks like it’s gonna’ show up this fall on their LP, but this is a lot nastier (un)mix. The B side is a cover of the very un-PC “Blue Eyed Baby” by Billy Starr that’s calmed down, charmingly inept and really gets screwed as it goes along. The mescaline takes affect as it slowly beats on yer wife. Pretty great and messy acoustic slop. Stoked for the upcoming full length. (RSF)
(Goodbye Boozy Records // www.myspace.com/goodbyeboozyrecords)

A/V Murder 7" EP
I might be the only person awaiting new White Savage material, but if this is what Jimmy Hollywood and other Chicago nervous eaters like Bill from Cococoma (hey, they’re still around, right?) are gonna dish us in the meantime, I, for one, am superfuckinghappy. Maybe exactly what you’d expect; intense jittery knife-edged punk much like Tyrades, with definite Jenna-like vocals, but as good as ever and it’s nice to hear this paranoid sound again. Somehow, it’s soothing. Like walking the streets in a really evil mood and the secret joy that comes with imagining killing everyone in devious ways and smiling to yourself. Or maybe that’s just me.(EEK)
(Dusty Medical // www.dustymedicalrecords.com)

Bad Party "Coming Out Slowly" LP
What if Whitehouse were a dance band from Detroit? What if you were at a party where there were no girls, no booze, but mountains of cocaine? Heavy pondering, I know, but it would probably sound something like this duo (one guy used to be in Tamion 12-inch). The beats could hit a bit harder, but the fuzz bass keeps things grounded in rock, while the Bennett-esque vocals make you feel like you’re cornered by a cokehead at a curtains-drawn party in a bombed-out part of town. Yes, a Bad Party, indeed. Gimme the Thorazine, maan…(EEK)
(Animal Disguise // www.animaldisguise.com)

Bad Thoughts “Make Yrself Necessary” 7”
Bad Thoughts “Non-Violence” 7”
A nice pair of singles outta Detroit. I don’t know a thing about these Bad Thoughts, but they were a nice change of pace from “Gettin’ the Led Out” coming from the neighbor’s yard. The rhythm section carries the tunes with sparse guitars that drop in to make some noise, set the tone, accent things. You could see boys in argyle sweaters and glasses dancing to some of these songs in their dorms (“G.E.D. Defiance,” ironically), but I still like it anyway. And even though the style makes me think of a million bands from the UK (you know, PIL and GO4 and all those great bands), I don’t think this stuff would be out of place on, say, “Red Snerts,” so I guess they retain that Midwest sensibility. If you’re only going to go for one of these, I’d recommend the first, since “Make Yrself Necessary” is by far my favorite of these tracks. I’d be remiss to mention the all around great job by M’Lady—sharp looking records, well designed and produced, and the roster of current and upcoming releases is impressive.(DH)
(M’Lady Records // myspace.com/mladysrecords)

Beast With A Gun "Wicked Ways" 7"
UK garage compatriots of Black Time, Slim Limbs and other London-area acts, BWAG eschew any weird angles and play it close to the vest. Two songs only, "Wicked Ways" is country-inflected garage sorta-raver, similar to what Schooley was doing in the Hard Feelings maybe. "Uh Huh Honey" is a bit more honkytonk-a-billy, with Interior-like heavy-breathing-hiccup voxxing and a stab at good-ol-boy Southern throwdown grooving. The singer's name is Pigmeat. Sleeve has a chick dropping panties with the songs written on each cheek (which would've been a great idea if it was an actual picture of a chick with the songs written in sharpie on her actual ass instead of a photoshop job...go for the gusto next time, mates). These guys would kill at the House of Blues....Scum stats: 300 pressed. (RK)
(Murder Slim Records // myspace.com/murderslimrecords)

P.J. Bonneman “Jeg Kendte Dem Ikke” 7”
While this is the first time our man has released a record under his given name, Mr. Bonneman has been at it for years now, recording his songs with Amdi Petersens Arme, Gorilla Angreb, and others. In this recent effort, his songs are no-frills, classic-sounding punk. No effects, nothing weird, nothing that challenges the boundaries of the genre—just good, old-fashioned punk rock that owes a tip ‘o the hat to US and Danish favorites. In all his bands, P.J. has always had a great ear and a remarkable ability to record in a manner that best benefits the songs, and this is no exception. You’ve got nothing to lose with this one—an excellent recording of three very good songs and a great sleeve. Slot this into rotation at your next party.(DH)
(Spild Af Vinyl // www.spildafvinyl.dk)

Career Suicide "Cherry Beach" EP
Latest EP from Toronto's (and probably Canada's as well...) best punk band. "Cherry Beach" burns right from the start, utilizing a rousing chorus, Martin's genuinely passionate vocal delivery and Grade A guitar drive to make up one of their better tunes to date. An invigorating blend of hardcore rager and punk chugger. B-Side doesn't slack off, with "Double Life" dishing you an anthemic hardcore-punk fastball with some creative twists which sets you up for the change-up, which is a fun cover of Sixties Dutch beatsters Cuby & The Blizzards "Your Body, Not Your Soul", which they play with just just enough punk slop. Well worth a handful of Toonies and then some. And how about giving Mr. Jonah Falco a nod for quietly being the hardest working man in punk, not only providing CS with top shelf guitar work, but also pulling drum duty with incessantly touring prog-rockers Fucked Up, and playing on two of the better demo releases of the year (Mad Men and Deaf Mutations), plus recording most of this stuff as well. Scum stats: 300 copies pressed for the recent UK/Ireland tour. The two originals on this will resurface on an upcoming Deranged Records release.(RK)
(Sewercide Records // myspace.com/sewerciderecords)

Choyce “Won’t You Come Back” 7”
Pretty much a solo effort by the guitar slinger of CPC Gangbangs & Sexareenos fame. Weird porch blues? A side has some reverbed vocals and syrupy slide then some deranged Jack Starr-style odditude goes down for a few secs…warbley and folkways gone askew. Side B starts with a slightly muddy but pretty raucous straight forward swinger/ass shaker feat. Spaceshits/Scat Rags dudes and it feels like it. Last track is an instro in line with the A side track. A little spacey and a little rootsy. Nice harmonica thrown in to spice things up. Nothin’ fancy. Good easy to digest platter. A side is where it’s at. I love some slide. (RSF)
(Goodbye Boozy Records // www.myspace.com/goodbyeboozyrecords)

Civil Victim “Mehr Krieg” EP
I know there’s some readers who’ve descended into their well-tread genres to avoid the discomforts of challenging sub-genre noise that pervades a musical exertion like “punk” and its myriad of diametrically opposing sounds loosely tied to various prevalent dogmas: the progressive ethics that’ve pervaded and de facto-ly defined not so much the hardcore soundscape but the hardcore process, encompassing all these barfably monotonous crust and metal and power-violins bands, with the most musically retarded fuckheads doing techno-slanted noise-barrages over in your camp, maybe paying a more honest homage to the ethereal ethos of this psyche-tapping-whilst-throwing-musical-ability-to-the-wind thing we participate in… but all that punk science bullshit aside, I’d have to say that bands like Civil Victim need their due paid in the context of just what’s going on in the grand scheme of punk and hardcore subgenre douchebaggery happenin’ as we speak. There’s the American shtick whereby suburban kids try to channel the frustration of inner-city degenerates today older than their folks and end up sounding faster but infinitely less appealing for reasons of being so wrapped up in contrived puckering and their dumb Urban Waste t-shirts. That’s hardcore. And there’s crusty assholes singing about peoples’ lower halves being blown off with artillery their parents helped proliferate the use of before walking their staff infected dogs and yelling “Oi” at me. That’s…uhm… Europe. Germany’s Civil Victim do a good job telling these two irrationales to go fudge each other whilst touring the states and having very few kids come out for it because they’re all home scratching the hell out of their domes trying to understand how a band can channel the finest in Euro-aggro and traditionally American genuineness. Kids are stupid, and me thinks bands like Civil Victim will bear the brunt of this for the indefinite future. Such is life. (BG)
(Loud Blaring Punk Rock // myspace.com/loudpunks)

Cola Freaks s/t EP
Cola Freaks “Ingenting Set" 7”
Here’s two-thirds of the Cola Freaks vinyl story to date. The first, a four song EP, is actually pretty old at this point but since I was sent both for review I’ll include it regardless. Listening to these back to back actually makes for a nice little glimpse at the evolution of the band. The first release is mostly nondescript garage punk. The speedy riffs chug along, devoid of distortion, through four tracks. There’s nothing too remarkable about the songwriting, but they’ve got some cool reference points and it was fun to guess what was stuck in their head when they wrote these songs (i.e. “Now Is the Time” by the Wipers may have been in rotation on the day they wrote “Arbejd”). The band’s second EP held my interest a bit more, and was the one that I kept returning to. These songs, especially “Ingenting Set” and “Ctrl. Alt. Delete” are darker, brooding, and the mood change from the earlier recordings is marked. It’s an understated single, easy to overlook (which I very well may have had it not shown up in the mail), but it’s worth picking up and letting it sink in.(DH)
(Hjernespind // www.hjernespind.com)

Cola Freaks "Dodt Batteri" 7"
Dark Euro-hardcore/punk, much in the vein of the K-Town bands like Gorilla Angreb, Young Wasteners, NHFTK, etc...This was my first taste of the Cola Freaks, and I was expecting a more spazzed-up KBD-style attack, but they come off more sophisticated than that. "Dodt Batteri" reminds of Lokum a bit, with a stripped-down arrangement, eerily ringing guitars, sort of bare bones punk. More interesting than I imagined they would be. The flip ("Nej!", both tracks feature Danish lyrics), is a more assertive punker that retains some of the gloom but balances it with an upbeat chorus. Sharply recorded and well played, I was expecting more slop, but I'm not disappointed at all by the lack of shit-fi ethos here. Well executed, as most of the stuff from this scene tends to be. Scum stats: 600 copies.(RK)
(Local Cross // www.localcross.com)

Complications "Follow Me" 7"
Looch from Magnetix and Marco from Fatals on twin guitar assault, and pulling a damn good record out of their French asses here. I had my nonplussed "Oh great, another blooze-punque record for the pile" review written before I even listened to this, but they're not allowing me the pleasure of expressing my preconceived notions. "Follow Me" is the straight sludge, slow viscous death-punk with a strangled solo, blown-out but not overwrought. A nice side. "Money In My Back" comes off like a less lysergic Necessary Evils, sounds as if they're playing a killer metal riff backwards. Better than every Magnetix record since the "Fiend of Time" 7" (and there's been a few) and all but the first Fatals 7".(RK)
(Yakisakana Records // www.yakisakana.tk)

The Corey Orbison "Your Name Is Poison" EP
London three-piece drawing from the agit-punk, Riot Grrrl and K Records pools of scritch-scratch-scream. Tribal drumming, scratchy guitars, dancey basslines, shrill grrrl vox. Four short ones on the A-Side...at their best they sound like an even less proficient Slits and at their worst they sound like a bunch of fashion students who started a band playing in the common room at their art school. Which is probably called something like the East Middlesex School for Art and Design at Bag End Southampton or something. All the students watching are just there for the free wine while they wait for their laundry to get done. Yeah. It's mostly the latter. The B-Side is pure art-wank. "I Cut Things Up" it's called. Yeah, we get it, you're confident women. And you're angry. We're sorry. Cheers! Scum stats: 350 on white vinyl in a nicely put together package though.(RK)
(Everard Records // www.everardrecords.com)

Cutter 7" EP
Even after you peel it off the turntable, this little petard invades your nostrils with the lingering aroma of a music-school joke. Good thing I didn't play it in the car! The debut offering from Cutter starts off innocently enough with a plodding thumpus redolent of the Swans at their most oppressive and heavy-handed, only some yahoo is screamin' all over the top like it's 1995 and Tom Hazelmeyer might drop in any minute and hand 'em a "contract." Not bad, really. But then it nosedives into a cloying "hardcore" exercise with some wailing chromatic leads and you're like, "whaaaaaaaa?!"
That's more or less when you notice the Joe Pro recording job and start to wonder what's going on here, what these cats are after, rehearsing all those hours and springin' for that studio time just to come off like a shittier, stupider Homostupids. Or something like that.
"Cruises" sounds like Slip It In as performed by the early-nineties Greg Ginn band, and if that sounds glib, I bet it's not too far off from how they actually come up with these songs. Then the fourth one rolls around and you feel like you're at a kegger with those Drive Like Jehu guys. Congratulations? Fuck you, Jagermeister. And wipe that smirk off your face -- you look like the dude from fIREHOSE who wasn't in the Minutemen.
What I mean to say is, ah, this record is at cross-purposes with itself. (AR)
(self-released // www.myspace.com/skateordiet)

Dark Meat “Universal Indians” LP
This came out two years ago and kinda’ slipped under the indie radar, but since it’s been picked up by Vice recently and now has a proper LP version available, I thought it could use a few kind words. As of yet I haven’t taken in this mammoth 17 to 30 piece rock outfit live so I can’t say if I could stomach it or not (looks like it could go either way from YouTube), but I do enjoy a bulk of its southern tinged haywire epic debut. From the stomping grounds of Athens Georgia, Dark Meat has been described (via their label) as a Crazy Horse meets Albert Ayler fuck-all with a marching band thrown in to sweeten the pot. A hippy damaged collective that looks like a ren-fair but sounds like a bad vibe mariachi troupe teaming up with 16 Horsepower AND Monkeywrench at the same time. Shit. Throw some Chris D. vocals or some later Gun Club/Starvations vibe in that bowl as well. A lot is going on here kids, and it’s not at all similar to the Polyphonic Spree other than size. There’s some free-form freedom ritual action here and there, scattered between hyper-thick productions of Divine Horseman style rock and Mark Arm sung twang. Drugged out lemonade stands playing the Black Crowes as naked children parade about in headdresses whilst playing kazoos? Yeah it’s in here. Bearded park urchins with cicada smeared grins singing the praise of The Holy Modal Rounders? Man, they’re buried in the muck too. Crazy. I’m sure the producer tried to gouge his eyes out and claw his way through the studio (or airport hanger) when producing this. Check out the hit tunes “One More Trip”, “Assholes of Eyeballs” or “There’s a Retard on Acid Holding a Hammer to Your Brain” if you wanna’ hear where I’m comin’ from. Wayne Coynes’ next favorite band. Fuck you if ya don’t like it…they’ll be opening for King Khan or Black Lips in your town soon. (RSF)
(Vice Records // www.vicerecords.com)

Defektors "No to the Nite" 7"
Brief two-songer from one of the brighter lights of the Vancouver now-sound scene. "No to the Nite" is your textbook post-punk groover executed to perfection. Rhythm sections bites down hard on the beat, guitar player fills in the gaps with no-frills strum-und-pick, straightforward vocals and some call and response refrain, with punctuation provided by a brief, yet exciting, kicking of the bass into overdrive towards the end. Fantastic. "Torn to Pieces" carries more emotional heft, lyrically and musically, but isn't quite as enervating. Sounds like a less dour Warsaw. Still, they invest some warmth into a genre that can be played too icy in lesser hands. I'd like to see these guys and White Lung on a double-bill someday. Scum stats: 526 on black vinyl, with wonderful design from the sleeves to the labels to the insert picturing what looks like the Defektors playing to a crowd of two in a deserted bar.(RK)
(Hockey Dad Records // www.hockeydadrecords.com)

Defektors "Secret Trials" 7"
Best band in Vancouver? If you ask me, a guy from across the continent who has never seen any of these bands live but has heard most of the records, I say yes. "Secret Trials" is mean punk with lock-down rhythm, bummer lyrics delivered with conviction, medium-fi recording and twangily ripped guitar solo to close. Bravo. "Doomsday Girl" is bouncy feel-bad pop romanticism with hand-claps and some great damaged-sounding bass and guitar twists. I don't mind at all that they billed this a double A-Side. An excellent release, and not as bleak as you might think, it's actually quite danceable and catchy. Scum stats: 322 on red vinyl.(RK)
(Nominal Records // www.recordsnominal.com)

El Diablos Blancos "Dancing to Contusions" EP
A-Side: digital masturbation. B-Side: one guy playing guitar/drums/bass masturbation. They're calling this "electro skum". I was thinking a lot of this sounds like something a blacked-out Al Jourgenson might've recorded whilst trying to take a shit and cook a speedball up at the same time during the winter of 1985. I imagine this guy might think that sounds like a cool description, but I assure you it's not. Scum stats: 300 landfill destined copies. There's a vinyl shortage you know!(RK)
(self-released // myspace.com/eldiablosblancos)

Dry-Rot “3 Records on 1 CD” CD
“Every morning, I’m woken up and placed on all fours. Led around by a chain, I spend the rest of the day eating sawdust…” Pretty much all you need to know about this CA outfit that allegedly garnered respectful handshakes from the infamous Anus of Out With A Bang notoriety – well respected for his vast intellect and casual sieg heils. And here’s your hearsay companion: Dry-Rot’s three 7” format releases, compiled now at their rumored defunctness or at least indefinite hiatus while they make the Hajj, smooch the Wailing Wall or plan hitching a ride on the next celestial object to scratch the atmospheric surface. The first EP is the winner: straps floaties on your pallid, chubby little pre-biceps and nudges you down to the sewer like a waterslide, whipping up a swift shitstorm likened to tortured bowel malfunctions with the oddball guitar lead sifting up and the occasional sadistic diatribe sleeping subliminally like a snake in the high-end output grass. The Deer Healer single is a mindfuck that’s better on the merit of being a brick in the wall of these guys’ weird mysticism shtick (they’re sandal-wearers on Christ’s donkey-manned bandwagon), teeming with brass and maybe influenced by grass. Two songs of wonderfully slow jazzterbation, stray FM signals, introverted noise, Gothic organs and what sounds to be bubbling tar providing aesthetic garnish, that’s not unlistenable but isn’t asking to be listened to either. I will say that the third record of the trilogy here assumes a higher level of dramatic malevolence than it should... like gamers who think their short-sleeved mesh overshirt makes them look dangerous because it has ninja stars on it. Ninja stars are real scary guys, hummuna hummuna. But I still love the subordinate scum-of-the-earth slant of these ghoulish bass-heavy compositions. Like a less frantic and riot-imminent Inmates, substituting outright audacity with psychologically haywire filth. And I mean complete filth – the sins of the community resting heavily on Dry-Rot’s shoulders. It’s no mystery the bleach Andy’s always off his rocker about is a hot item – contesting that he needs to bathe this world of sinning infidels with it – in light of him grappling just to exalt himself from the dirt he’s dragging his mouth muscle across. Stupid live cover of “Summertime Blues” tops the disc off. Recommended, bitch. (BG)
(Cold Vomit Records // www.coldvomit.com)

Dutchess & The Duke "She's The Dutchess And He's The Duke" LP
Let's talk about the most disturbing part of this record right off the bat. Grab the insert and take a look down at the bottom. Down in the thank you list, hidden towards the end: D.FERDUCCI (R.I.P). WHAT?! Ferducci passed away? How does a rock impresario such as he slip off this mortal coil with nary a whimper? Why was I not informed? Where do I send flowers? It's a loss to the budget rock community that can't be overstated. How did this happen? Who's next? JP Gutrock? Col. Brain? Ricardo Fumar? Dickie Jaws? Fuck me. I hope Melvin Dundinkle is handling it well. I worry about that guy...
So anyway, I've flip-flopped on this record. Done a lot of thinking about it. My initial reaction, after the Boom Boom single hit the shelves, was that this was a funny project. Lortz pulled another one over on us. He's playing folk music. HA! YOU GOT ME! I figured it was a good joke for a single, and on to the next idea. But then there was an LP. And another single. And tours. And a signing to a sub-major label. Waittaminute here...they're serious about this shit? I figured there was absolutely no way this was going to hold up. A whole LP of Dutchess & The Duke was bound to stink. So I remained stand-offish. I didn't want to give this thing a chance. I was kinda mad about it. I want more Fe Fi Fo Fums. I want to fuck new wave some more. I'd listen to this LP once in a while, actually trying not to like it. Which I found impossible. Let's face it, these songs are so fucking well written it's ridiculous. I've had every single song on this record except one stuck in my head for multiple days this year. Who knew? Who knew that some of the most emotionally resonant, some of the most substantial and fulfilling listening I've done all year has come from the people who also brought us some of the greatest no-fi shitfests of recent memory as well. The heartfelt depth on these cuts is remarkable. Dejection, fear, hate, heartbreak, love, loss, happiness...the emotional gamut is fucking run here, and run fucking well. Lyrically, musically, there are few flaws to be found. The guitar interplay, the vocal harmonies, the minimal percussion, the handclaps...the moments of dark melancholia, the uplifting moments of tenderness...it's remarkable in its depth. It's a record that actually means something. It's about friendship, it's about real life, it's about loving and losing and living. Songs about actual human experience. Who woulda thunk? It takes guts to write and sing these songs. I thank them for doing it. And I think it's great they close with "Armageddon Song", a near goofy campfire sing-a-long I think puts good punctuation on a record that delves deep into some sad moments. Everything's gonna be alright. No matter how tough or cool we all think we are, I think that's what we all want to hear, as fucking gay as that sounds. I said it. One of the best records any of you will buy this year. And if you're not at least slightly touched by even some of it, well, you're obviously too cool to be listening to it.(RK)
(Hardly Art // www.hardlyart.com)

Dutchess & The Duke "Never Had A Chance" 7"
D&D whip up a couple more soon-to-be standards on this platter, but I think they got the A and B sides reversed. "Never Had A Chance" is a good song, replete with their typically well-crafted lyrics and harmonies and that certainly catchy guitar part. But "Scorpio" is one of their best, summoning deep-seated emotional wreckage much like "I Am Just A Ghost" off the LP and one of the most melancholy solos you'll hear these days. There's also the ominous lyrical mentions of Scorpios and serpent's heads and vocal harmonies that will peer into your soul. Sometimes it's too much for me to listen to. That's how I know it's great fucking song. Scum stats: 150 gold editions with lo-fi interpretation of the stunning regular sleeve art.(RK)
(HozAc Records // www.horizontalaction.com)

Ean Eraser "Illegitimate Love" 7"
No idea where this one came from. It just seemed to materialize in a stack of for-review singles. No label info, no contact info, no nothing. Just a stamped sleeve and labels that, if they didn't have a 2008 date on them, look they could be from any generic private press Seventies single. If they sent a letter with this, my secretary somehow misplaced it and I can't find the mailer to check for return address. Of course this lack of info gets me excited. Because less is more these days, right? "Illegitimate Love" is pretty fucking classic sounding amateur-hour power-pop, something you could slip on a mix-tape and have people thinking it was some lost Teenage Treat. Really. Hooky as all-get-out, delivered with just the right mix of moxie and ineptitude. Killer lyrics, killer solo. It's like a less awkward Boys Club with slightly better chops. Great fucking song. The B-Side throws me. "It Does Not Matter To Me". I think it's about God. The guy's talking about his captain leading him and his light shining down...what the fuck? I think it might be more pop-punky than the A-Side, and definitely not as awesome, but I'm getting too distracted trying to decode the deadpan lyrics. Totally intrigued by this mystery band and there's no sign of these guys on the internet either. Ean Eraser, get in touch, I need to know more, and I need a couple more copies of this.(RK)
(Self-released? Let Me Know!: termibore-at-aol.com)

86 Mentality “Final Exit” CD
My understanding of “balls” in reference to music having them would be this: that music with balls doesn’t feel obligated to in any way justify or explain its actions, its behavior, or its rationale. It just does something. It doesn’t cringe in the face of potential criticism, or cater to belligerent pleas for sonic envelope-pushing, whilst not safely cowering amongst the approved little throwbacks of everyone’s favorite yesteryear. And with that moxie, it’s usually good. And even if it’s not, it’s still commendable and even subject to that silly little notion of being “appreciated.” I don’t want to wade into the nuances of my views on music and people’s dumb interaction with it though. Just saying that this band has jewels – and some big ones at that. Anyways, I had this on my Best Of list all the way back yonder in 2007, but Deranged sent this cute little compact disc with said EP on it in addition to an exceptional live set, proving to be the final, posthumous release/hurrah from some fine Moshington, DC whipper-snappers. Like I said the first time, this is one-dimensional, fist-pumping Sheer Terror tunage inclined more towards back alley punches in the gut than rude ideological confrontation. Nobody’s buying this record for the masterly lyricism of “Anti-society” though, are they? No use forcing the noggin’ to think or read whilst your big painted “X” is split open, the scalp’s ink toiling with body plasma after some good ol’ fashioned show-going romps with the Boston crew who think DC’s fair game… next week is the Cro-Mags at CB’s. Rest up. So ’84 it hurts, in the best way possible. (BG)
(Deranged Records // www.derangedrecords.com)

El Jesus de Magico s/t 7"
Man, this seven-inch takes me back, waaaay back, to a day in 2003 when I sat in the parlour listening to 'Vampire on Titus', tryin'a figure out whether it still held up ten years after or I should haul it down to Kim's, along with the first Lil' Bunnies single and a half-dozen Estrus titles, for a few bucks in credit towards that Les Rallizes Denudes boot.
I dunno what to make of the present-day nostalgia for my late teenage years, when, as I remember it, everybody and his sister was makin' tapes, rockin' the Tascam, readin' FE (or at least Your Flesh), chucklin' at Eightball, blabbin' about Tarantino, drinkin' Rolling Rock, peein' in pubilc, eatin' hummus, groovin' on Pavement, GBV, and 'Stupor Hiatus', jerkin' off, not even thinking about the Internet...That was a good time, I guess.
If you missed it the first time around, now's your chance to bask in the untutored art of the Clinton era, when affordable digital recording technology was unheard of, Maximum Rock 'N' Roll was cheaper'n toilet paper, and lazy men lived like kings on less than $10,000 a year.
I can't help but like this record, in a non-committal sorta way. I dug their first seven-inch. I even kinda dig their retardo "just add o" approach to the Spanish language. But seriously, what's it all about? Are these dudes just having fun? It sounds like it. They're obviously not shooting for the grandeur of GBV or the Scotch-tape urgency of Tyvek. So, what is it, maaaan?
I won't lie to you: This is the second installment in the Columbus Discount singles club, and it was damned sweet to find it sitting in my mailbox a couple weeks back, to tear open the manila envelope and spin the a-side three times inna row. It's got at least five or six more listens left in it, after which I'll file it in the longbox 'til 2018, when I pull it out again and wonder if it's worth the space it's taking up in the bunker or I'm better off trading it for a couple of menthols and (just in case) a cyanide pill.(AR)
(Columbus Discount // www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)

Elephant Walk 7"
Is jangle-folk the new pop-punk? If what I'm whiffin' from over Wisconsin way (long a stronghold of pop-punk), this may be what's transpirin'...it seems like Mutant Pop booogadaboogada is giving way to the lineage I like to think started with the Mystery Girls (who are still kickin' around apparently) and who were then dethroned by Goodnight Loving (who I once had the gall to refer to as the Mystery Girls Jr.) now has it's own farm system in place ready to play and get called up to the bigs. Elephant Walk are one of a gaggle of new releases from the Dusty Medical Commune, and it's pleasant enough folksy pop, something that's disarmingly simple and rough around the edges. A little silly (see the "bow-bow-bows" on the chorus of "Swim the Sea"), which is welcome in a genre that can easily be played too sincerely dry. "Siem Reap Blues" is a toe-tapper of a hoedown. Then you get to the awkward "Nadine" (which is basically the same structure as the Dutchess & The Duke's "Mary", and I know it's unintentional, but you can't help but notice), and you realize that as off-the-cuff and full of Midwestern charm these kids seem to be, they really are playing minor league ball. Cute, just like that patchwork elephant on the sleeve, but cute doesn't generally make for great records. So, great bunch of kids I'm sure, but outside of their local following, I dunno. The Toledo Mud Hens aren't that big outside of Toledo for a reason.(RK)
(Dusty Medical Records // www.dustymedical.com)

The Estranged “Static Thoughts” LP/CD
Good soundtrack for driving through a Portland rain shower, attempting to run over crusties who don’t like the polished and cogent tunes found herein. Channels the dark aspects of traditionally produced British macabre, somewhere in the spirit neighborhood of Siouxsie and the Banshees, maybe with some melodic Wipers and post-punk treble angularity tossed in, but dumbed down, rocked up, and introduced to American twenty-somethings ready for the airwaves. Thing has the aesthetic dynamic of a fucking cereal box, too. Bland, bland, bland. Can’t say I’m a fan of musical proficiency outweighing character, so this isn’t my bag by any means. For fans of the Observers and other drama, given they’re not hooked on hooks or frightened by frills. (BG)
(Dirtnap Records // www.dirtnaprecs.com)

Fault Lines "My Dog Is An Awesome Dog" 7"
Unassuming garage-pop from San Francisco way (Fault Lines, get it?), four tracks worth of lower-fi Brimstone Howl-ish stuff in that earnestly reverent kinda style, but in a Haight St. way instead of an Omaha cornfed way, and just a little dash of soul too, like a less personable Yolks. Real vintage sounding recording, energy levels are a little subdued though, but they have a good-natured sense of fun about them ("Born in a Bathtub", "Gee Whiz"), and sound like a real nice bunch of fellas. Nice. Nice record. Not great. But nice and all. I would like to meet their dog. (RK)
(Don't Cry Joe Records // myspace.com/faultlinez)

Friendly Neighbors "...Or Else!" 7"
Hardcore-punk, but more punk than hardcore, with oddball touches. Good recording, superloud, sounds powerful. "A Song for Bosch" has some cool flange-like effect on the guitar and "An Exquisite Corpse..." is weirdpunk stream-of-consh ranting. B-Side tacks on one Cali-punk guitar blazer. You get your money's worth in SoCal punk outta this one, would be good for shreddin' some pipe to, or perhaps just fucking some shit up in the pit. Nothing earth shaking, but a decent enough punk record. Sez it's produced by Pat Fear, not sure if they're insinuating Smear did something to it or they just have a buddy named Pat Fear. Scum stats: 100 on black with covers drawn by small children, 255 on orange with collage cover, with insert and Disney-font appropriation.(RK)
(Smokin' Barrel Records // myspace.com/smokinbarrelrecords)

Forbidden Tigers “Glimpse of a Ghost” EP
Strip the Black Lips of everything remotely appealing to the spectacled, white-belted art school crowd and substitute it with the most pure, uncontrived rock n’ roll sentiment imaginable. Like what you’ve got? Me too. Fuck, “Glimpse of a Ghost” just jumped to the highest rung of my Nebraskan-born tune ladder (yeah, I have one of those, so what). This track alone is what punk music’s about, in my opinion: taking three chords and laying a pentatonic minor scale over it, clearly exhibiting creativity overextending musical ability, throwing in an intensely emotive chorus, and somehow fashioning a song that’s so emphatically pure that you can barely listen to it in its entirety without wanting to snatch up the six-string and conceive your own melancholic garage-ballad about some girl who left quite the impression on you and hoping in her indefinite absence that you left one on her… or, uhh, whatever that song is about. “Nebraska Plains” is a neo-traditional country pleaser as warm and kind as a home-cooked meal. “Crab Nebula” commences by throwing jagged spears of angular post-punk Gang Of Four-slanted martian-announcements into your chest before curbing the disconnected notes for a satisfied head-bob of a 1-2-3 chorus whilst getting spacey in subject matter. “Civilized Man” sends us off with some hott lixx and the expected high-octane interpretation of all the Nuggets comps that say “Punk” on the sleeves, with maybe some ‘50s appeal providing the gravy to moisten the plains’ potatoes. Overall, a much milder sense of forceful garage and audacious swagger than some of their members’ other act Brimstone Howl, and while I find that band refreshing for its consistency in superb songwriting, this is a complimentary side whose forte seems the steep gradient on which the songs aced are done so with 110%’s. This is all I’ve heard from these dudes, but if it’s any reliable indication, when they’re on, they’re ON. Maybe some duds to wade through, with the sly turd-compositions not having the hokey Nebraskan flavor to compensate (‘cause I love that stuff), but that’s what the ‘Howl is for. Damn good single here. (BG)
(A Fistful of Records // www.afistfulofrecords.nl)

The Fucked Frikis 7" EP
Five songs in about five minutes from Spain's Fucked Frikis, who meld HFOS/Dean Dirg style borderline-hardcore punk with mean-spirited Dwarvesisms ("Only Wanna Fuck", "In Your Fucking Face"). "Sexy Man" has a real methed-out Spider Babies vibe and "Zombie Attack" is a sick trash-punk instro. You know what you're getting into here, but it's executed well for what it is and has a nice treble-heavy recording. Lean and mean, how it should be done. You might call this a '00s update of Los Ass-Draggers, replacing the goofiness with spite. Scumbags take heed, this one's for you. Scum stats: 500 copies with insert. (RK)
(Discos Humeantes // www.discoshumeantes.com)

Gauze “Binbou Yusuri No Rizumu Ni Notte” LP
A legend in every sense, Gauze is maybe the purest example of hardcore refined, stripped of all but the essence. There is no wasted energy, no tension; Gauze leaves only the most potent elements. With this album, their first release in a decade, the band drops in to let us know what they’ve been up to: ten songs in thirteen minutes. It is an intense listen that blows by in a disorienting frenzy. There is so much going on here in so compact a space that it takes quite a few listens to wrap your head around. There are some who make the argument that this album’s brevity could not match a decade of anticipation, but it is dense enough that by the time you can wade through it all, the band may very well be playing their 30th anniversary show and getting ready to record their sixth album.(DH)
(Prank Records // www.prankrecords.com)

The Glow “Anthem No. 1” 7"
Sounds like this Brooklyn trio (or perhaps duet?) have never heard or at least haven’t retained any punk or rock for that matter of the last 35 years. A pristine palette – juvenile without the instrumental ineptitude. Total musical naivete in its simplicity. For example, I love how half-assed the whistling on “That Kind of Feeling” is, and that they included it anyways. Fits to a tee The Glow’s bizarre brand of lo-fi soul characterized by refreshingly reduced Dictators-esque riffs and vocal arrangement cues taken from 13th Floor Elevators as in the verse of “Rock n Roll” – very “Don’t Fall Down”-ish, rolled in some R&B batter if you ask me. And you did ask me, no? I stand by those comparisons, as much as it pains me to say this slab of often annoying vocal forks-in-the-face, kind of cool but begging a simultaneous what-the-fuck-is-this head scratch, sounds by any stretch like anything that came out of Handsome Dick’s mouth, the abyss of Roky’s cerebellum or, for that matter, the bowels of Tommy Hall’s electric jug. It’s not even derivative as much as it merely hits a streak of good luck in the unintentional cherry-picking of the recognizable, and very good, aspects of said groups – all portrayed in a very childlike way. Very simple and very pure and very fucking weird. (BG)
(A Fistful of Records // www.afistfulofrecords.nl)

The Griefs “Little Dutch Maid” EP
Man, some bands just can’t pursue the palpable, honest-to-goodness ethos of another decade without turning it into a stewing caricature hell-bent on pulling from all different sides of the sonic aisle in an attempt to encompass the entire epoch. Dumb. But if they had the inclination to tolerate such things in the first place, it’s self-defeating to criticize their record for coming up short. It just took a detour in the exact wrong direction. “Little Dutch Maid” is stomping pop number with self-assuredly cool-guy vox sounding as if it was a rejected submission for an Austin Powers flick, and after some gradual lyrical segwaying it sounds like he’s saying “little lunch meat,” which is sleazy and fitting if anything. A subsequent straight-up Beach Boys masturbation session scoops you for a glide atop a lush multi-layered sound landscape, leading into “The Kind of Love You Want” – a hokey East Coast-hardened Standells-esque brag meets West Coast surf-swagger; this means a single-string go at a riff you’ve heard about sixty times. Side B: “Once You Loved,” the token vestige of ‘50s swinger-dinger rock ditty, also checking the quintessential psyche excursion off the list of recognizable ‘60s noises to ape. “Fffind You Again” ups the ante in tempo and allows the novelty antics a break, taking a step out of la-la land and into an actual garage – perhaps the least unambiguous of the four cuts. I’m sure they’re great for kicks had by drunken lady friends at some bar full of half-conscious, deaf to the world douchbaggers, but on the merits of this slab I’d have to pass. (BG)
(A Fistful of Records // www.afistfulofrecords.nl)

Here Comes A Black Cloud “Pompeii” 12” EP
Side A starts with “Death March”, a short spook house organ and thud intro. Not bad, but things really kick into gear with “I Got Mine”. A great old school ITR-style romp that topples around within a theremin squiggle. Gotta’ say I agree with the Andy (The Horrors) Caffrey production style. Totes rad. More slop blues wraps up the side with “Grave Robbin’”. Haunted trash vibe. Reminds me of TV Ghost in a way. Less angular, I suppose. Side B has more of that organ drone, early Dwarves reverb and lots of moaning and shouting…about…something. “The Fly” sequel, I presume. Drunken Munsters fun. Is this another intro? “Pompeii Vs. Link Wray”s false start leads to The Birthday Party’s rhythm section duking it out under more theremin/fx pedal hijinx of the Necessary Evils kind. More wailing about unknown subjects. The “Vs. Link Wray” part kicks in to do battle against the sci-fi fry around half time. Alien sludge. What? It’s over?
Great looking screen printed sleeve of a Teletubby reject and obligatory “bad record” review insert. Also a canvas (!?!?) screen printed poster came with mine. White hand stamped vinyl. Great package! Wish it was longer tho’…nice taste test with more to come.(RSF)
(Recorded Records // www.recordedrecords.com)

Hollow Stars s/t 7"
Two-songer from Colin Mee, who is/was also a part of Deerhunter, the as yet unreleased Black Lips-related Spooks project and Die Slaughterhaus recording artists Chopper. So he's got the ATL pedigree down. I was expecting some synth-punk based on the label and art, but there I go letting my prejudices get in front of me again. It's completely likeable (if slightly bland on first listen), indie-pop via the one-man-studio-band machination. Both tracks sound really similar, but it's at least one good song, vox have a warbly effect on them, multi-layered guitars, downer vibes with some redemptive uplifting moments...not overly reliant on synth, which I gotta admire. Decent work, but without a really defining sound though. Yet, it has some straight forward character that many one-man-banders eschew in favor of forced weirdness. I like this better the more I listen to it. Scum stats: 300 copies on clear, CD adds two demo cuts. (RK)
(Army of Bad Luck // myspace.com/armyofbadluck)

Human Eye “Fragments of the Universe Nurse” LP
Well, unless you’ve been under damp rock, you know this is the fourth (legit) release by Timmy V. & Co. The Eye could have settled down to a space age crawl or wallowed in the structure of their recent singles comfortably and everyone would have still been pleased n’ dandified. Instead, they went all future-past with heavy thud, slow burn and some well composed set pieces. Freakouts seem more restrained and tense. The dubbed out sounds of the opener (“Stop Culture”) sets the tone for a wasteland of scrap and ping. World music rhythms holding it together under a cut n’paste bombast. Like, this is the soundz the ape men heard in their heads when they touched the 2001 monolith. The Git-fits and keys pack quite a punch when their time comes. Never really noticed how great the bass n’ drums are until hearing this recording. Sparse arrangements that blow up in extreme ear damaging shards. Primordial ooze thru fried amplifier worship. All this slimed over in the weird derelict ranting of a drowning madman. A concept album about world domination thru amphibian overtake? Something like that. Only Timmy knows. “Fragments…” reeks of a long gone era of private press records (a more rockin’ Lucifer, a testosterone fueled 50 Ft. Hose) or even “Lay Down and Die”-style Alice Cooper Band. Back then, no one would take a chance to release much of this outsider fare ‘cept the bands themselves (or Straight). Good thing for us water-cephalics nowadays that labels like Hook or Crook or S-S have stronger minds to help those in search of a more challenging aural fix. Tracks like “Lightning in Her Eyes” &”Two Headed Woman” could be considered…uh, runaway pop hits on some far off planet. The flipper-tapping Dead Bators’ stylings of said tracks and the return of “Rare Little Creature” might entertain the old Clone Defects fan base. The standouts to my ears are the dynamic duo hanging out at the end of side B. “Poison Frog People” and the “Fragments” title track. Two epic blowouts in chapters…kinda’ like a 2112 for the alienated art fags. Y’kow, Rush fans had D&D, we had Gamma World. (Well…I had Car Wars). This is our battlecry. The intro to “…Frog…” alone would have left me satisfied, but then the vocals come in outta’ everywhere. Guitar squelch of an undetermined kind kicks in and I can’t breathe. The Ralph records vs. Shimmy Disc roster in a Thunderdome™ brawl. As for Fragments finale, I’ll let you hear it on yer own. Godhead.
Was it really necessary to review this record here? Didn’t it sell out in pre-order just to TermboNerds? I guess a CD will arise at some point...or maybe a newbie will come along lookin’ for what the Reatard ate for lunch and hit up this section by chance. Another satisfied, if not confused, customer. As for now, LP is fancy assed day-glo alien splat green & yellow for the first 200, then black on out. (RSF)
(Hook of Crook // www.hookorcrook.com)

Instängd “Mitt Svar På Ingenting” EP
TB, Inc. had a meeting last Wednesday in the Terminal Boredroom. We discussed pensions and the downsizing those clowns over in design management have coming to them, and finished the meeting talking about how shitty European hardcore is (we’re a bunch of meat-eating sports fan, and, you guessed it, wear our American pride on our sleeves). It sounded sort of like: Man, all of that Scandi-hardcore sounding like it’s made by a flock of blind marionettes really gets my goat. Learn how to drum. And how not to mix it so loud. No wonder we run this planet. Cheese fucking Louise. So I get this Instangd EP in the mail slot adjacent to my luxurious sunlit office, I walk in, Melanie gets me some espresso, and I toss this thing on the spindle and just start biting my nails and pissing my pants and wondering how my prior conceptions of haphazard, dispassionate European hardcore could fall to the wayside with one little assumedly by-the-numbers Swedo-bore to file away in the catacombs of its like. Somewhere between Regulations’ enthrallment with early-‘80s West Coast USA boy-sass (member sharing is afoot) and their native Sweden – some steady but not overkilled rhythm, mechanical dementia like only the Nordic know how, and tastefully thought-out vox accompanying the music like a blonde Swedish escort guuurl (what I find tends to be the Achilles tendon of proper homage to the forefathers of this strand’s locale, shitting the bed sometime between Terveet Kädet’s 3rd EP and that blasted “Horse” LP – yuck!). Genuine recall of the psychotic tension that made Kriminella Gitarrer so menacingly off-kilter and Massmedia such an interesting Scandi interpretation of bounciful punk rompery. The most effective, jarring mechanicalism of recent memory propping up possessed wide-eyed spiels echoing down dirty, frozen Umeå alleyways. I guess my narrow understanding of this stuff (which doesn’t hinder arrogance apparently, eh, eh, eh) would incline me to liken it to Amdi Petersens Armé with more complimentary enunciation and vocal placement (complete with those gnarly Scandi tongue vibratos). I don’t know what they’re singing about, but who fucking cares, it’s probably about war and things us suits shouldn’t really worry about until our assets are in jeopardy. Buy this record with the cash you’re raking in from that Termbo stock of yours. (BG)
(Sorry State Records // www.sorrystaterecords.com)

Jacuzzi Boys “Island Avenue” EP
Part of the fun of music fandom and record collecting is when you become enamored with a band or record from the other side of the country (or world) that you know little to nothing about, so your mind is coerced to create these little semi-fictional bios scraped together with whatever nuggets of info can be gleaned from record sleeves/art and any off-hand and most likely untrue word-of-mouth you gather from other like-minded sorts. Jacuzzi Boys fascinate me. They're from Miami. But in my head, they don't seem like Miami...but maybe that's what makes them Miami. My brain conjures up this image of three raggedly haired and dressed locals, who spend the thickly sunned and humid days tending to Southern Florida-style bumpkin tasks: breeding skunks, giving tourists airboat rides on gator farms, perhaps tending to a marijuana crop on the outskirts of the Everglades. That sort of stuff. And then the sun sets and the moon casts a blue pallor across the beaches and a cool breeze blows the tourists off the streets and they turn into the Jacuzzi Boys, conjuring up haunting tunes of driving post-psychedelica that are simply gorgeous. I loved the subterranean magic of their debut platter and this one feels a little less musty and a little more airy. Like, that first record, I pictured them playing in some weirdly lit grotto with watery shadows mottling the walls...this one feels more like they're playing on a dark beach lit by a bonfire while palm trees secretly dance in the shadows. "Island Ave" is all A-Side, a persistent beat carries a restrained performance, musically and vocally, but it's not like they're holding back, they're just that cool, that mellow, that confident in what they're doing. Even when he lets out with a "Woooo!" to punctuate the chorus, it's like fuck, he doesn't have to get all dramatic and belt it out...it's just "wooooo" with barely an exclamation point there, and it's just as enervating, if not more, as any hammy voxxer screaming his guts out. The B-Side is a thing of wonders, two songs that sort of act as one, or at least segue perfectly. "Dream Lion Pt. 1" (and I have no idea where Pt. 2 is) sort of recedes the "Island Ave" tempo back a notch or two, and is, well, dreamy...a quick few lines of lyrics (and I love the little things here, like the way he drags the s out in "ssssssssand") and he lets go with a deadpan "Ohh, get down.." and where any other band hears that phrase, you get a funky breakdown or some bombastic wail...but not the fucking Jacuzzi Boys man, they just let things feedback quietly and drop a few sublimal guitar licks and then the song vanishes. Perfect. Get the fuck down. "You Should Know" kicks in after a brief silence, jangle-fried and as uptempo as these cats go, it's a dancer with strong guitar presence (solo included!) and a rhythm your foot will love. A real classy record that is subtle yet enervating and more than I could ask for in this day and age. A little weird, but a friendly, inviting weird, not an obtuse, you'll-never-get-it weird. After the semi-letdown that split with King Khan was, my hopes are set on stun for the upcoming Florida's Dying LP. One night I listened to this record exclusively for about an hour and a half, and I still love it. Damn. Scum stats: 150 gold editions with different artwork, though I kinda prefer the painting on the regular sleeve. (RK)
All love affairs must end, but I wouldn’t write off The Black Lips quite yet. They still got mad tricks and a couple handfuls of great songs up their sleevelesses, but if you are yearning and burning for some of that olde tyme flower-punk sound then you can do no better than Florida’s Jacuzzi Boys. Get past the icky name (brings up semen-laden hot tubs in this perv’s mind) and surrender to what sound like third eye/bardo garage jams of a decidedly mystic quality. And what do we owe this too? Multiple viewings of ‘Holy Mountain’ sippin on sizzurp? Crowley by way of Crypt? I’m babbling. Here’s the dope: “Island Ave” has a guitar line that seems to directly reference that Shadowy Men/Planet ‘Kids in the Hall’ theme and will burrow under your skin in one listen flat. “Dream Lion” is astral punk par excellance (a new genre everyday!). It sticks a lucid thumb in Carlos Castaneda’s eye and sounds like a long strange trip through a painted desert. “You Oughta Know” is the party jam and it rounds out one of the best 7”s of the year. (EEK)
(Hozac Records // www.horizontalaction.com)

Kim Phuc "Wormwood Star" 7"
Pittsburgh heavy-style muck-rockers put the creep on real nice with this seven-inch. Their first single didn't really thrill me, it was lacking in something. Something they have on this release. I love that they included a march-to-the-cliff "Intro" into "Freak Out the Squares", which tosses you off that precipice into some serious metal-intoned hardcore-rock, fusing a mid-period AmRep sound with way more dirt and velocity. A commanding vocal performance helps a lot too. Lyrics salute crime model Dawn Davenport in a nice and unexpected touch, proving they're not taking themselves too seriously. Nice girls don't wear cha-cha heels, and neither do these guys. On "Wormwood Star" the guy waxes about witches and Babylon and shit, while the band provides muscle via imposing riff building suitable to worship the devil to and then breaking into a Stooge-like death trip part with a little piano twinkle even. A really solid record without a weak moment that bends genres to create their own shadows to skulk about in. Enthralling and full of a confidence in sound I think that first 7" lacked. I didn't "get" what they were doing on that record, but with this one it's grimly clear. Creative sideways use of the 3/4 sleeve design with lyrics on the back.(RK)
(Criminal IQ // www.criminaliq.com)

Las Nurses "Remora" 7"
Spastic art-punk maneuvering from Spain of all places. Reminds me of Neon King Kong when they get really jerkily rhythmic ("Remora"), super elastic bass sounds, guitar player is a slasher. "One Eyed Girl" is really maniacal go-for-the-jugular shit, with feedback solo and the drum/bass undercurrent just carrying the thing to the brink. B-Side has only one track, "I Am Yellin'", two minutes of post-punk beating. Pretty exciting stuff from a country not known for exciting stuff, I'd be really interested to hear more. Scum stats: 500 copies with super-thick silk screened sleeves. (RK)
(Discos Humeantes // www.discoshumeantes.com)

The Leaders "Candy Pants" 7"
Don't know the full bio on The Leaders, but I do believe it's at least one member of Meercaz, sometime Spit and Silver King #1 Joe Pestilence, and most likely some other people from some other PDX bands we've heard of. "Candy Pants" is hard-edged synth-pop, serious hip-shaking/head-nodding hooks with a plethora of synth-noises backing things up, bass is fuzzy and throbbily good and they keep the synths back behind the guitar, which I appreciate. Kind of has a dark New Wave romantic twist to it. B-Side is even darker, a cold-wave brooder from the negative zone. Claustrophobic walls-closing-in first half which breaks up and reforms into a frantic run-for-cover ending with ominous sci-fi overtones. Well done synth-punk, not really my favorite genre, but if it takes this to get Regal Select back in the game, so be it. Scum stats: not officially released quite yet, these promo/band copies come in an edition of 100 with blank labels. (RK)
(Regal Select // PO Box 25646, Seattle, Wa 98165)

Legit! “Shit Happens” EP
I remember seeing these cats in Albany when I lived in the culturally rich capital region and being so enthralled by their encore of “Fuck You John Mayer” and the general audience’s reaction of stepping back and putting their palms up as makeshift shields in a display of “whoooaaaaa, holy shit, holy shit, this band is nuts,” I knew I’d be reviewing them some day despite my utter ignorance to their cited sources of inspiration. Namely, the whole crushing ‘90s hardcore ilk that I may have blindly fell into hadn’t I been a mere pup at the time. Saved myself some unnecessary retroactive embarrassment, maybe. Born Against, Econochrist, and all that jazz that I don’t know shit about, with uncontrived vox that are gurgley yet barked like if 9 Shocks were more focused as a stereotypical ‘90s ‘core band instead of the soundtrack for lunar genocide. But I stand by placing as much importance on the process as the product, and as said, the process is an explosive shitstorm of pent-up sexual frustration that I’m in no way surprised was birthed in good ol’ Albany, NY. Everyone has something to say about something there, ya know? Hehehehe… That’s what we do up on stage, right? …Try to impress girls? …That’s what I’m doing when I throw beer cans at them, I reckon. …Is this kosher or what? Where am I? Good record. (BG)
(Loud Blaring Punk Rock // myspace.com/loudpunks)

Little Claw "Race to the Bottom" 7”
“Race to the Bottom” is a strum hard - ask questions later ditty with the urgent vocals driving it towards its conclusion. “Feeding You (Your New Home)” is the real winner here, creeping around in that junkyard rock thing they do with Kilynn’s vox sounding distinctly like Lydia Lunch’s circa “Honeymoon in Red" and it makes me wanna do some smack (with my hand!).(EEK)
(Siltbreeze // www.siltbreeze.com)

Livefastdie “Shit Amplified/By the Time These Flowers Die” LP
Livefastdie is the type of band that wears many hats and can slide pretty seamlessly from one-man home recordings to full-band, full-on live sets (too-drunk-to-play-guitar live antics possibly excluded…or maybe not). If you didn’t know any better you might expect the band to be a one-note, but the songs are durable and seem like they were written to be performed however it is that you’re hearing them. On their second album, the band does a good job of capturing that duality—and adding another dimension. The first side of the album, “Shit Amplified,” was recorded live in Milwaukee and is loud’n’rowdy right out of the gate. The band tears through a dozen songs (“Alcoholic Aids” is halted—“Nonononono, twice as fast!”—a couple of times before the band gets it right); it’s not quite “Land Speed Record” ferocity, but the energy is high-level. The dozen songs are reprised from earlier releases, so if those are starting to get tough to find, this is one way to catch up (and since the live take on these has a different feel to the previously released versions, this should satisfy if you’ve already got the back catalog). Those who express trepidation over live recordings shouldn’t be scared off; this one is pleasantly raw without being a muddy mess. The flipside, “By the Time These Flowers Die,” shows off a surprising side to the band—country! Hey, if GG could do it, why can’t Camero? And he pulls it off. Actually, it’s not that huge a leap. The recordings sound similar to earlier recordings; the guitar is plugged in and hits red levels. But the spirit of Hank Williams runs wild, and there are country references galore (or, perhaps, references to GG’s country period—either way, it works). A Termbo approved release.(DH)
(Dusty Medical Records // www.dustymedical.com)

Logic Problem “s/t” EP
Tenacious, meaty, potatoey, tomatoey, whatevery hardcore that flies kites of the classic NYHC stalwarts into a later period of the same locale’s thunderstorm, electrocuted with god’s thunderous groin, frying general motor skills and ability to provide a legible lyric sheet in the process. Buncha’ crossed out prose and the farting out of a yawnish, closed-eyes Special Ed. vocal delivery atop bare bones ‘80s Bostonian-inclined tardcore is what results. Great garbage plate of golden age hawdcoar’s essential vitamins, including archetypal amelodic chord progressions, frill-less (nearly fill-less) straightforward drumming, and the aforementioned helmet-clad drool-spewing caveman roars. Side A’s pair of tracks were mastered by a member of North Carolinian compatriots Double Negative, and the interjection of a strange whirlwind of overpowering, magnetic feedback that bleeds up the walls and lays like a blanket over all musical happenings transpiring in the studio, it would seem, is the result. Side B’s tunes lean more in the direction of trite paths beaten by most contemporary ‘80s rehash (Danny Glovernment Warning, Direct Pest Control, Wasted Tyme), with full treble domination of the mix, drowning all the sonic nuances that are generally key to exalting this type of stuff from mediocre fanfare to a finely studied but equally well-pursued rendition of the only eon of da ‘core that matters. So Side A’s alternately mixed cuts win by a nose hair if only for being a refreshing knifing of the revival trend’s inner tube (Drown muthafucker, drown…). (BG)
(Sorry State Records // www.sorrystaterecords.com)

Lot Lizards "Nightmare Creep" 7"
UK-garage allies of Black Time recorded by Lemmy Caution himself and with Red Exposure on guest organ. Two-piece guy/gal duo who sound a lot like....uh, Black Time on this one. Crazy, no? Maybe first LP Black Time, but without the punk vitriol. Two off-key garage chops on the A-Side, B-Side has one more of the same. Wait, is this Black Time? Am I getting my pseudonyms crossed here? Who knows. Not bad, but it's not 'Double Negative' either. (RK)
(Yakisakana Records // I can't find where Ronan is hiding his webstie anymore...)

Lover! "I'm Not A Gnome" 7"
I like this one. I've been trying to grab the handle on Lover lately...what is it that should make me take notice and keep buying all these fucking records? I know there's something there, but I wasn't quite grasping it totally. Is it Rich's playful sense of dark humor? It's like Southern Gothic pop-sike. Dark, all graveyards and fog and spooky lighting...but also lightheartedly strange, songs that tell stories about weird people and oddball Southern eccentricity. I think that's it. Sometimes I need to get hit over the head with shit. "Ronny" is just what I was talking about, Rich spinnin' a yarn with some great guitar behind him. "I'm Not A Gnome"? Yeah, weird, like I was sayin'...crazy supernatural waxin' over top of some wah-wah-ing and acoustic tinkle. Very subtle. I think I get it now. "Left Behind" is B-Side Confederate power-pop, Rich's voice seems to have more good 'ol boy twang on it...hooky, but not too hooky, and it has a nice hollowed-little organ solo that gives it a graveyard swing of a sort. Creepy. I think this is the one to keep. Scum stats: 100 on gold vinyl, with a nice Rich-smoking-doobage overlay that looks sweet. Insert on gold paper.(RK)
(Tic Tac Totally // www.tictactotally.com)

Lover! "Man in the Woods" 7"
The Rich Crook vinyl offensive continues. The guy can't stop. Won't stop. "Man in the Woods" reminds me of a Beatles song for some reason. Like some march-tempo Sgt. Pepper's shit or something. A little bit 'o background organ gives the chorus a little extra cheeze. Par for the course if you've been into Lover so far. "Foxhole Madness" is the flip and better of the two. Acoustic guitar, bongos, some fireworks-streaking-in-the-air background breeze, a little storytellin' lyric. I enjoyed this one more for the change of pace/style than anything. Killer fucking artwork. This makes what, two LPs and like seven singles in under two years? Holy fuck. This one is cool and all, but the constant barrage of records doesn't allow these things a chance to stick to the turntable like I want thm to. So many releases makes things seem a little disposable...(RK)
(Rob's House // www.robshouserecords.com)

The Mahonies 7”
Two guys in a total coke binge freak out. Eight sloppy as hell, seat of yer muddy pants, garage punk plops that give Linda Blair a run for its money in the hold-it-together zone. Hey, remember Double Fudge? So do I! Those guys ruled, and so does this ‘cause it reminds me of ‘em. Rapid fire and trippin’ down the stairs. When the dust settles, they’ll give it to ya a cappella style and tear into it again. Various recording takes just add to the chaos. A Fucking party on 45. More love for food than the Coconut Coolouts, probably. Craig (of Terrible Twos fame) sounds like a zonked out Jack White remembering how to have fun (seriously) as he keeps knocking his snare to the ground. Guitar outbursts in the Happy Flowers vein. Damn...I’ve name dropped them twice in a year. Pudge indeed. Highly enjoyable junkfood served up by X! Records. Damn fine sleeve art as well. (RSF)
(X! Records // www.x-recs.com)

Masshysteri 7”
I’ve been listening to this single for a while, flipping and repeating, trying to get a feel for it, trying to figure out what I think about it, and in the end all I can think about is X. That’s John and Exene, not Rilen and Lucas. From the interplay of male & female vocals to the lettering on the lyric insert (which exactly matches Exene’s on her layouts), it is a reference point that stands out unmistakably. But you’d never hear this and think you were listening to an X record—Masshysteri are far more aggressive, more modern sounding, informed by another couple of decades worth of influences (hardcore, for one). It is a fine debut, but in the end nothing here really grabs me and stands out. I’d see them live and probably pick up their next record, but ultimately this is one that will probably get filed away and lost in the stacks without too many more listens.(DH)
(Hjernespind // www.hjernespind.com)

Mayyors "Megans LOLZ" EP
The thing about Mayyors is they have this tremendous momentum, yet they also indulge in these time warp meltdowns that sound like an aural simulation of some hideous biochemical event. A perfect example is Side A, segueing from the get-ready head-churn of “Intro” into the propulsive punk of “Airplanes.” That bass sound KILLS and then it drops into a part that literally sounds like a plane taking off (almost like Silver Apples “You and I”) and then dive-bombs around some other in-flight emergencies. Time to join the Mile High Club. B-side “White Jeep” totally confirms my hunch that Mayyors sound a lot like prime Slug, ‘The Out Sound’-era, a fucking great record that needs to be sought out again and probably reissued on a lavish 2xLP set. I mean, I can practically hear Mayyors covering “Aurora f” and would not be surprised if they soon ventured into a noisy sort of dub, like a few cuts on that Slug rec and latter-day Terminal Cheesecake.(EEK)
(Gomerdome // www.mtstmtn.com )

Meanwhile “Reality or Nothing” LP
Is it irresponsible for a reviewer to pen a definitive statement two songs into a full length album? Eh, fuck it. “Reality or Nothing” is the best hardcore album released this year, last year, and I’d bet a buck that it won’t be topped next year. If you are even remotely interested in hardcore from the Swedish limb of the Discharged family tree you need this record. A huge guitar sound—really, this album is like 90% guitar—with raw, distorted riffs, as vicious as anything the band has ever recorded. Meanwhile has been around forever, and their members were in other bands for years before that, but instead of merely going through the motions, they have refined and perfected their sound as they’ve gown older. Sorry if this is more of an advertisement than a review; this is the band’s first album in eight years and as I’m listening to it (onto my second spin now) I’m finding it hard to stop jumping around and strumming my invisible guitar for long enough to translate the smile on my face into words.(DH)
(Feral Ward // www.feralward.com)

The Midwest Beat s/t 2x7"
Let's face it, if "good songwriting" amounted to anything, the Expedit would be packed full of bourgie apartment-warmers by Aimee Mann, Michael Penn, Marshall Crenshaw, Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, The Outfield, XTC, Kelley Stoltz, the New Pornographers, etc. Not Crime, Debris' or The Hospitals, not the Keggs, Cold Sun, Stone Harbour, or half the shit bought and sold under the "KBD" banner. I mean, most of one's favorite bands practice the exact opposite of "good songwriting," and isn't that half the appeal?
Still, despite its earnest respect for "songcraft," The Midwest Beat has enough going for it in terms of texture and harmonic filigree to capture the interest of somebody like I, who don't give a shitty titty about the Move or Alex Chilton, or pining, whiny vocals in general.
The six songs on here seduce the inner ear with sonorous Rickenbachin' guitars, massage the melon with teenage-lustin' harmonies, and tickle the boogie-bone* with hillbilly yuks and nods to pre-Beatles rocanrol. The record reaches into the pop-rock toolbox for a Mersey twist here, a West Coast pluck there, a ribbon of Beale St. melancholia to tie the whole thing together. In other words, it's a polite amalgam of a bunch of shit that everyone alrady likes, executed with anonymous grace and even a touch of verve... So, why not? You might as well. And take a look at that beautiful cover art while you're at it.(AR)
(Dusty Medical // www.dustymedicalrecords.com)

Mutators "Secret Life" LP
Angular post-punk racket from one of the bigger players in the new Vancouver scene. Dark vibes, no fun, serious fucking business, choppy broken rhythms, minimal guitar scrape and jagged jangle. Vocal performance is a doozy. She alternates between tuneless top-of-the-lung screeching, making pterodactyl noises, disinterested mumbling, and drill sergeant barking. Fucking shrill. Her voice is the most identifiable part of the Mutators sound, and you're gonna love it or hate it. The A-Side is fairly dry, the aural equivalent of sitting through some bad performance art. Practically emotionless, and I know it's supposed to be full of anger and venom, but the sounds don't convey that emotion. Mildy annoying. The B-Side fares much better, when the music approaches levels of aggro to match her wailing, they create a powerful din and the first few cuts have a nice No Wave swing. It's enjoyable when they let things breathe a bit instead of chopping everything up into shards. The type of band whose music isn't meant for partying or rocking, it seems more about the dramatic statement and overall artistic presentation. What some like to refer to as Art School Rock, which more often than not means the presence of hippies disguised as punks. Take that however you want. Their tin-foil and vinyl costumes on the insert reminded me of Mummenschanz. Take that however you want as well. Scum stats: 408 copies on blue, 412 copies on red. With insert printed on recycled paper!(RK)
(Nominal Records // www.recordsnominal.com)

The Nodzzz “s/t” LP
Since this is the pre-release “tour” edition (legit LP not available til’ November, I hear), I guess I should give a review of the only real difference: The Cover Art.
Egon Schiele sketch meets Louapre/Sweetman’s Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children comics. What seems to be 2 blotto dudes shackled to a record store rack of nothing but Nodzzz Lp’s. A lot of Nodzzz Lp’s. Like a Sun Ra truckload of Nodzzz Lp’s. A chained cat-dog-thing looks up at one of them like he could possibly be lunchmeat as a shiny new Nodzzz 12” screams “BUY MEEE!!” in the foreground. Cryptic. What does it mean? Fucked if I know. From what I can tell, these poor souls are either being forced to spend eternity upstocking Nodzzz records (Is this Amoeba? Ant?), or maybe their some sort of jaded punx/garage/hell, even nu-metalers (we get our share) hybrid being forced into Clockwork Orange methods of mind erasing bliss. Listen to the Boones wine infected sugarbuzz of slightly skewed pop songs until yer hateful “whatevah” mind cracks into a billion daisies. Like drugs that once you puke them up you get all warm, fuzzy, and lost in happy hippy haze. I don’t know where any of this is going…just filler probably. Now here’s the rekkid:
“Is She There” leads things off nicely with a whole bunch of the aforementioned jangle and fizz that comes across in between VU gone pop-thing choruses. Nodzzz are still riding the 80’s NZ wave into shore. Gotta’ say there’s a Vaseline’s vibe in here as well. Guess the coasts aren’t so far apart (Scotland?!). Wood block solos? Aching knerd out for love. True ‘dat. “Highway Memorial Shrine” is a blown dump punk variation of My Sherona played shittily. Scratch that…played better. My girlfriend REALLY hates The Knack, so I don’t get to listen to this one often. Sorry. I did like it the first time though. “In the City(Contact High)” has their ‘Milkmen love rollin’ out again. The band knew I’d get lazy and refer to my old review. Hey, is this pro or against pot use? Terry-cloth rock.
“Simple Song” is the hit inside my ears. Cheater Slicks riffage under that Kiwi glaze. Goofy lil’ squeals from Anthony and catchy as shit. “Controlled Karaoke” is herky-jerky but soft around the edges. A warm blanket to wrap yer Home Blitz records in. Flip it over for “Bad News”. As close to the Pavement sound as they can get. A clean tune but slight off putting. Whistling! “Losing My Accent” is the dumb one everyone will love. Yeah, I used to hate it…but the bastard is growing on me. The La’s may sue, but let them go free because of the off kilter structure. Still occasionally dropping a note and not caring. That’s a good thing.
“I Can’t Wait” has a wood block reprise. That track followed by “I Was My Parents Vision” let’s loose with enough indie schmaltz n’ croon that they might get on a soundtrack for the next Michael Cera outing. Kick Kimya Dawson in the balls. “City Has No Eyes” is short as shit, but still my other jam. Aggressive? Well, not really…but it does punch. How come a guy like me, who lives for the “I raped yr. baby and ate it” style tunnage, all buried in feedback and shotgun blasts, has come to enjoy this lil pop confection? Well, looking back at that cover art, I think I might have been the shackled dudes forced into mind erasing bliss. Cult worshiping happy fun rock for 2009! (RSF)
(What’s Your Rupture // www.whatsyourrupture.com)

Jack Oblivian and The Cigarillos "Drinking Women's Milk" 7"
Jack O. with his 'new' outfit the Cigarillos (the only member of which is Compulsive Gamblers drummer Rob Thomas) doing two-tracks of backyard-fi Southern songsmithery. "Drinkin Women's Milk" is a classic Jack O. number, sort of 'blivs-sleazy, great lyrics, just Jack on greasy acoustic and Rob soft-shuffling some drums. Damn cool. "15 Beers" doesn't cut however, with Jack mumbling a lazy lullaby-like snoozer. Recorded in Memphis "behind Huey's Restaurant", all the way back in 2003. Has a nice homegrown feel though, and a few flubs add to the impromtu nature. A-Side is honestly great, but the lack of a sturdy B-Side and the import pricing make this for completists only. Scum stats: first press was 205 copies on split between black and red vinyl, with different Jack O. and Rob T. sleeves. Second press is 155 on purple with same sleeves on different colors.(RK)
(Ghost Highway Recordings // myspace.com/ghosthighwayrecordings)

Odd Clouds “Slow Breath and Red’s Heart Beat” 7”
After a couple of LPs (on Ypsilanti and Qbico) and a slew of tape releases, this is the first single released by Odd Clouds. The band has been around for a while, formed after the breakup of the Piranhas, and if that group ended because of a difference in stylistic vision (and I don’t know that it did, but let’s pretend for the sake of this description), then the Odd Clouds were the avant-garde side of the split (Redredred were the punks). Both tracks on this single are loose, mellow, free-form jazz. Hypnotic percussion, some spoken, manipulated vocals, and a saxophone all play their part in the odd menagerie of sounds on this one. The more adventurous TB readers might want to consider this as an accompaniment to their next installation piece; however, I suspect the strict rockers that frequent the site will find plenty to complain about. If you know where you stood on the Piranhas split then you’ll have a pretty good idea about how you’ll feel about this one.(DH)
(M’Lady Records // myspace.com/mladysrecords)

Outdoorsmen "Ain't Got No Chains" 7"
Really surprised by this one. Cover art is ridiculously great cartooning that has you thinking this is gonna be some scum-punk shenanigans. Yet, it's actually a couple tunes worth of lo-fi garage rock, pretty traditional at first glance, they recycle some riffs you've heard a zillion times but invest them with some real charm and tough strut. "You Ain't Got No Chains" is about getting done wrong by some broad and really sneaks up on you in the catchiness dept. Great chorus, great semi-inept take on Sixties-ish garage jangle, singer works it out real good...not super wild, but just crazed enough. Flipside "When They Bury You Down" is a dark brooder, nailing the hook again, nice howling AND harmony parts. Quite pleased with this one, total BFTG/Teenage Shutdown vibes, but skipping any Nineties revival cliches. They're from SF, and of the million bands I've heard people pimping from the Bay Area, I've never heard anyone mention these guys or their record. I guess you gotta get Darrin Rafflehead or one of The Cuts in your band to get any play out there...There's no reason garage turkeys everywhere shouldn't be all up on this.(RK)
(Wild American Records // www.wildamericanrecords.com)

Parsley Flakes "Dead Living" 7"
Get the fuck outta here with this disco bullshit.(RK)
(He Who Corrupts Inc. // www.hewhocorruptsinc.com)

Party Fowl "El Toro" 7"
Four-pack of neo-garage from Party Fowl, part of the Charlie & The Moonhearts/Traditional Fools/Ty Segall axis of action. "El Toro" is trophy-winning snotty surf-punk twang, investing the style with some needed youthful spirit. They follow with a filler garage-punk cut. "We're Gonna Eat Your Brains" kicks off Side B with more reverby surf-inflected punk, sounds a little like Hot Rod Todd fronting the Drags. Cool enough. They close with a cover of "Bloodstains" which the only distinguishing moment of is an unexpected sax part during the solo run. A fun enough record, but one that will get filed after you listen to "El Toro" a few times. Scum stats: 100 on yellow, 400 on black, screened paper sleeves. (RK)
(Post present Medium // www.postpresentmedium.com)

Pink Reason "3:16" 7"
For better or worse, public reception of Pink Reason is wrapped up in the details of Kevin DeBroux's bio. That kinda dirty-laundry voyeurism is old as chickens, but for our purposes you need only reach back as far as Kevin's immediate forebears in the 4-track autobio field -- remember Lou Barlow?
It's a dynamic that Kevin doesn't discourage, and for whatever reason, it enhances people's enjoyment of his records. Fair enough. My personal favorite is the old chestnut about how Cleaning the Mirror was recorded during a single protracted crystal meth binge, Kevin believing the whole time that he had recorded twice or three times as much material as he actually had. I don't know or care if that particular story is true -- the point is, it's as much a part of the package as the grainy black and white snapshots that illustrate each of his records.
It's useful to think of Pink Reason's singles as snapshots, in fact, as episodes in an ongoing narrative that serves to frame a discography marked by instability and change. This new one, commissioned by Columbus Discount to inaugurate their new singles club, makes this dynamic even more explicit by including some liner notes by the artist that offer a back story for the two songs within.
D-Bro's a good writer, a compulsive memoirist with a canny grasp of how these narratives color the way his music is heard. By seizing his story and making it a part of the listening experience (assuming you're holding one of the 350 copies pressed) he goes a long way towards wiping away the patina of mystery that lazy critics consistently slather onto his music -- cleaning the mirror, as it were.
Truth is, "Sweet Sinister" is made more poignant by the knowledge that the song's coordinates are fixed in this episode in Kevin's personal history. It turns this vibrato-drunk blues in the vein of Don Howland or Jeff Evans into a late-night creeper, a lonely and abject ode to staying up all night on meth. It's nothing like the rest of his work, but it feels of a piece with everything that's come before it. It's a part of the story, in other words.
Conversely, I think the songs would suffer without this framework. In a blindfold test, with no knowledge of the particulars, I'm not convinced that "Sinister" or its a-side, "3:16," would have the same impact as they do here. "3:16" is a weird one. It reminds me of a more punked-out Grifters or something, harkening, again, to the mid-nineties and feeling about ten years older than it actually is.
Like much of the Pink Reason catalog, this single is an archival release culled from tapes several years old, so even hot off the press the record shows a bit of yellowing around the edges. If it were on Siltbreeze, maybe it'd come with some readymade ringwear -- you get the picture?
Oh, yeah, the picture: a snapshot of Kevin with his posse of young redneck degenerates in rural Wisconsin, on the run from the cops after a raid on their dope farm. It's pretty damn compelling, and I recommend looking at it as you listen to the record.
Yeah, it's pretty good; and yeah, if you didn't sign up for the club, I'm afraid you done fucked up, son.(AR)
(Columbus Discount // www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)

Pleasure Kills "Mission Boy" 7"
Second single from Bay Area power-poppers. Sounds slicker than I remember the first 7" being. Corvettey femme vocals over Blondie-bouncy poppings with synth. New Wave stylings. A little too "nice" perhaps. Lacking an edge. My synth allergy is kicking in...sort of faceless. There's hooks, but not sharp ones. Not really into this one. I'd rather listen to any of the albums the chick is leaning on in the photo on the sleeve, Elvis Costello included. I'm really starting to believe the only powerpop worth listening to was made before 1985.(RK)
(Polypore Records // www.thepleasurekills.com)

The Prambath "I Will Walk My Way" 7"
The color version of this looks really good...it's clear with pink splatter, so it looks as if there are milky drops of dish soap or Pepto suspended in the vinyl. Cool effect. Prambath are Japanese power-pop technicians, musically it sounds a little like the complex pop stylings of the last First Alert record, with the chick from Banana Erectors singing. Really busy arrangements that go for that British latter-day Jammish kinda fancy-pop. Well played, but I think the hooks get buried when they try and guss shit up too much like this. And I don't really go for Japanese chick-munk vox either. One of the guys takes over lead vox on the last cut, but I wouldn't call it an improvement. But if you can get by either of those things, this is very well excecuted for the style. Scum stats: 500 copies, 200 on the color. (RK)
(Sonic Jett Records // myspace.com/sonicjettrecords)

Preacher's Kids "Is This Love?" 7"
New Preacher's Kids? Who knew. I didn't think they were even around anymore. I always did enjoy Tyler Keith via The Neckbones and what I'd heard from the Preacher's Kids records. A true Southern rock gent all the way, great voice. "Is It Love?" is a flaming arrow of bottom heavy rock'n'roll anyone could appreciate and I bet it destroys the bar when played live. Nice cut. Sadly, the B-Side is your run-of-the-mill GG cover. "Don't Talk To Me". I wish no one would ever cover a GG song again. Never. Unless it's his country stuff. Really strong A-Side backed with crappy flip makes this for Oxford, MS scene completists only. Scum stats: 300 copies. And this record really looks like shit. I still think titty pictures make for great sleeves, but not when they're pixelated to hell. I can't believe someone paid to print these.(RK)
(Wrecked'Em Records // www.wrecked-em.com)

Rodent Plague "Blue Wave" 7"
More mystery action of sorts, in the vein of Blank Dogs and such, just to give you a general location from where this is coming from. "Blue Wave" is eerily pretty, sort of Eastern-influenced perhaps, a trotting rhythm that could propel caravans across dunes with layers of strings plucked and stretched sitar-like. Quite beautiful and trance inducing and providing a counterpoint to the grim sleeve. Only one song per side, "Return to Zero" rides a gentle rhythm, a subtle analog digi-beat, with some other vintage synth sounds intertwining and twisting into each other creating what can only be described as weird hooks. Pleasant and very subtle instrumental work that lacks the overbearing-ness (and heavy Casio synth-cheeze) many solo works can fall into. Tasteful and creative, a definite high point of the many recent entries in this category. PS: This is one of the A-Frames. Go buy it.(RK)
(Kill Shaman Records // www.killshaman.com)

Romance Novels “Hoosier Hits!” 7”
The third installment from Indiana’s Romance Novels, and in this one they really show you that hometown Hoosier pride. Both tracks here have the Novels reinterpreting some Indiana classics (The Gizmos’ “Heartbeat” and “Hang on Sloopy”) in their Radio X style. The thin, tinny recording looms large and affects the feel of the record as much as any other factor. I don’t think that there’s enough going on with these covers to rank this record alongside the band’s other singles. I guess it’s alright for a quick, fun listen, but I’d so much prefer to hear a couple of new tracks since I’m beginning to wear out those first couple of singles.(DH)
(Milk N Herpes // myspace.com/milknherpes)

Romantic Robots 7" EP
Five-song EP of weirded-out rock, with a base in the blues-trash genre. Side A is the 'Romantic Side', with two heartfelt pieces of lo-fi garbage. The singer's rough and tuneless delivery adds some charisma, but this just comes off sounding like a sloppier and Italian Demon's Claws. The 'Robotic Side' is much better, as they dispense with the hokey-tonk bullshit, and replace it with some punk junk. "Kill the H.R." (HR = human race, not the Bad Brains rastaman) is great boom-boom shitkicking, a less bombastic Lamps-style with a cool stutter-step refrain. "Fun" is more boom-chop-boom mutant blues and the guy bellows like an Eyetye Gary Floyd. "Black Hole" slinks with a Necessary Evils-ish slither. The bad fucking thing about this? I think they packed a little too much on these sides, as the needle is constantly skipping out the grooves. That sucks, the A-Side sucks, but when you can get the B-Side playing right it's good unclean fun, and certainly way above par for an Italian band. Scum stats: 320 copies. (RK)
(RR Records // myspace.com/romanticrobots)

The Runs "Piss and Shit" EP
Firstly, these aren't The Runs from San Jose who play "funny" pop-punk. These Runs are better than that, but just barely. Two punk kids from Canada's capital city playing six low-fi dumbpunk plodders. But they were smart enough to program a drum machine and write a cool song about it ("Beatcraft Rulez"). Other than that, this is pretty much the punk EP any of us might have made in like eighth grade or something, the difference being these guys actually recorded it. Poop joke song, screw you song, fuck jobs song, fuck society song, and end with a song about the end of the world. There you have it. I hope these two are like fourteen or fifteen at the max. I really hope so. Pretty shitty sleeve too, but I guess that fits the theme, eh? (RK)
(Criminal IQ // www.criminaliq.com)

Scaphists "Clean Latrines" 7"
Portland three-piece taking their name from a repellant form of ancient torture, with some power electronics-looking sleeve art (minimal black-and-white sleeve with serious typeface and S&M fetish pic), and I kinda get some crossover vibes here, like some arty dudes dumbing-it-down to play punk. Three songs, blabbering vocals, insectoid guitar buzz, shitty sounding drums, I think there might be two guitars, there's some pukey sounding feedback gurgling in the background too...I like the drum sound, crappy in a good way...songs are basically bash-n-smash jibber-jabber explosions, everyone goes off and then slows it up for the chorus. "I Hate Abstract Thought" best exemplifies their smart-but-we-don't-give-a-shit fuckyou approach. B-Side tries to get all epic and shit. This thing'll probably appeal more to the Not Not Fun or noise-weirdo crowds than garage-gazers or whatever. Purposefully abrasive and annoying, but with little as far as character to make it worth the time. If that's your game, you're all set. Scum stats: 200 copies.(RK)
(self-released // myspace.com/scaphists)

Sex Vid “Voyeur” EP
When I’ve got a bunch of shit to review, I tend to throw it all on a cassette, go out and walk around the lake a couple of times to let it sink in. Right now the leaves are changing and dropping, as we’re having a picture perfect autumn up here in Brewster, and every turn of my walk there’s someone running a leave blower, lawn mower, or chainsaw. That’s my daily background noise and sometimes it can be distracting against the recordings that I’m listening to. Not the case for this Sex Vid EP, which sounds itself very much like the distorted buzz of the power tools blazing around me. A release for noise freaks every bit as much as for the hardcore, these four tracks were recorded live in Olympia with obliterated fidelity. You get all of the energy and enough detail that you know what song you’re listening to (but not enough that you could teach yourself the bass lines). Don’t forget your ear plugs when you spin this one.(DH)
(Dom America // www.steampunk.com)

Short Rabbits "Dying By Inches" LP
Dark CLE punk like they used to do back in the bleak Reagan Eighties and all that fear and paranoia has come back around again as markets collapse and we’re scared of the skeletons next door. Makes sense as Short Rabbits are based and sung by Charlie Ditteuax, former 3-string bottom-dweller in seminal Clevo band, Easter Monkeys (still time to track down their lone LP, chump!). Easter Monkeys, along with bands like The Guns and Spike in Vain, embodied a drugged-out hero in the urban wasteland kind of ideal and Short Rabbits reconnect to that sound/idea. Nice to hear Buddy (former Neon King Kong/current This Moment in Black History) rip off some choice rock n’ roll licks on opener “Beat Seeker” while his wife pounds the skins like Ed Gein at a drum circle. You’ve got spacey alienation cuts (“Out of This World”) and sinister mood-Monkeys (“The Murder Room”) mixed up with classic hardcore punk (“R U Receiving Me?”). And that’s just side one. Side two features more desperation, but it ain’t all gloom and doom. “Little Insects” comes along just in time and will get you shaking some ass. Twenty-five years too late to be on ‘The New Hope’ comp, but just in time for Christmas. (EEK)
(My Mind’s Eye // www.mymindseyerecords.com)

Matt K. Shrugg 7" EP
Looking back, that Pizzas 7" really kicked some ass. "Bad Ass Youth" and "Too Popular" still pop in my head all the time. I didn't think it was that mind-blowing at the moment, but shit, it was really solid. MKS is the man behind that killer record who is being given the ol' hype up as a solo guy now after stints in every band from the Zodiac Killers to the Groovie Ghoulies. He's got some talent for sure, as a musician, artist, zinester, a real renaissance dude. To be frank, none of the bands he was in before really got to me (Th' Losin Streaks, Troublemakers, Black Dahlias...I did kinda dig that Sacramento 7" a little bit...damn, he was in that band too?), but that Pizzas 7", shit. I hope this thing crawls in my head like that did, because it was just a really fun and well executed record. "Anymore", the last song on this, seems to have the most potential as a breakout candidate (he's a great drummer on top of everything..), a supercatchy riff on Rip Off style punk, but "I Know People in the FBI" burns pretty hot too. He has a strange knack for writing songs that seem pedestrian at first glance, but reveal so much more with repeat listens. I'm really stuck on the B-Side of this. I'm not feeling the A-Side so much, not so catchy, seems a little less wild and a little more odd as far as structure, but I don't think odd is this guy's forte. Straight garage-punk, this guy kills it. Anyway, I'm endorsing the B-Side of this heavily for fans of the Pizzas 7" and I'm gonna have to check out the upcoming records on Plastic Idol. Scum stats: 100 on clear with "special" sleeves. Great sleeve art from MKS himself and a lovely little zine insert.(RK)
(Tic Tac Totally // www.tictactotally.com)

Sic Alps "United" 7"
For real? A single-sided seven inch? Shee-it, doggie, fifteen years ago this would've ended up on the b-side of a Mantis single. But wait a minute -- it's a Throbbing Gristle cover, you say? Well, that changes everything, you big genius.
This is the second cover of "United" to come out since July. The first, for those keeping track, is by some fruitcake who used to be in the June Brides, doin' it up cabaret style. How clever! How knowing! How actuel!
Say, I've got an idea: why not dedicate an entire tribute LP to this song? Lets call up Titmachine, Cult of Youth, that dude from Comets on Fire, a couple of Blank Dogs imitators (but not actually Blank Dogs)? Everyone can do their very own, one-of-a-kind cover of this modern-day perennial. We'll call it 'Red, Hot and Weird' -- guaranteed to give everyone AIDS!(AR)
(Important Records // www.importantrecords.com)

Sleepwalkers "Baby Baby" 7"
Alternative-rock from Oxford, MS. Both songs are about baby: "VC Baby" and "Down With Baby". Sounds like the Mono-Men doing some Southern boogie at times or something like that. Or maybe Watts. Something with Dave Crider in it...Scum stats: 300 copies. Terrible looking sleeves. Someone in Oxford needs to help this guy with this shit.(RK)
(Wrecked'Em Records // www.wrecked-em.com)

Sleepwall “Come In From The Cold” EP
Sounds like an attempt at mapping the uncharted territory between Husker Du and… uh… the modern “rock” boy bands that litter MTV2 with the pudgy nerd-turned-fag smiles denoting a decade of sitting in front of the tube missing out on character development that exalts people from pulp-minded ugly Americans to spiritual winners. Cut your overextended bangs and flush that septum piercing down the toilet you inane cocksmokers. All tangents aside, this isn’t nearly as off the deep end as those “emo” bands I’m picturing. It’s almost as if Lowng Oisland’s Sleepwalk looked towards the seeds of melodic hardcore and then towards the anticlimactic bloom resonating in the form of this cultural castration that’s redirected mainstream perceptions of our coveted p-u-n-k music to the cesspools of cyclically whiney heavyset dudes with awful haircuts. That said, I think they pulled some good factors from the Du and bands like them: a strange hyper-chorus type guitar tone that compliments the ability to hear every sonic aspect unlike the airbrushed concoction that modern radio rock passes for. That may be the only tolerable part here though, bogging down the whole and not even begging an assessment of the sum. Shit doesn’t add up. (BG)
(Toxic Pop Records // www.firestarterrecords.com/toxicpoprecords/index.htm)

Sonic Chicken 4 “Midnight Girl” 7”
This is a no-brainer. Sonic Chicken 4 put out a mighty fine longplayer on In The Red last year, impressed everyone with their live show, and if that’s not enough, it’s on Rob’s House which is a sure-as-shit sign of quality. “Midnight Girl” has an almost Deadly Snakes-esque feel with a great rave-up in the middle. “Toe Man” could be a minute or so longer, but whatever, I’m actually more of a Neck Man.(EEK)
(Rob’s House // www.robshouserecords.com)

Staags! "Adult Brigade" EP
Staags are some elderly Memphis gents kicking some real shit to show the fucking kids what the fuck is up. I really liked the tape they sent in earleir in the year, but I really don't remember it being this fucking fast. You know what this fucking sounds more than a little like? When the Beastie Boys recorded that hardcore record, 'Aglio y Olio', remember that? It was a great little record. This has that same semi-sloppy and blown-out hardcore-punk vibe, with real prominent kinda fuzzy basslines, I swear they even steal part of the breakdown from "Nervous Assistant", but I'm totally okay with it. The one-two opening salvo ("Forfeited My Youth" and "Get Off My Lawn") on this thing is impossible to follow, but the "solo" on "batshit Crazy" does a really great job of trying. Retardedly good! When you listen to this with other people for the first time they look at you like "Are they really doing that?". Ballsy and hilarious. The B-Side isn't quite as good, but maintains the humorous yet deadly attack. This thing starts off so blazing though, I love it...fucking punk as hell. I play the shit out of the A-Side, it'll have garagers and hardcores both nodding their heads in unity...Scum stats: 100 on red vinyl with a button, maybe 500 total, with a bunch of neat inserts.(RK)
(Don't Hit Record Records // myspace.com/dhrrecords)

Statues “Terminal Bedroom” CD
Anagrams = fun. Am I missing something? Whatever the case, Statues have four years under their belts, and this collection sporting their dialectic of thick and minimal pop-punk details the cute little journey of tunes that aren’t quite overdriven enough for the “powerpop” moniker, but still thumb their collective shnoz at petulant butthole-fingery that I’d say defines this genre. But when push comes to shove, it remains pop-punk, and that means there’s that requisite of contrived glee and overly sentimental rambunctiousness. Lame. But comparatively (key word, that), it’s tolerable. Almost sounds like it’s done with a knowing nod and a tongue in cheek instead of a belligerent bob and a tongue in some dude’s asshole… Almost. Hearty drumming props up some good, cheaply catchy riffs, with an unexpected GG cover (“Dead or Alive,” pretty lackluster without any MC5ers helping out – go figure!) and the snarling, legitimately attitude-riddled “Where Are You” being their finest on this little comp of theirs. Not too many of those intentionally emotive, careening vocal melodies and desperate guitar angularity that come off to me as really fucking queer, but I’m still not on the bandwagon of humble, bearded lameness apologists. I don’t know… I usually just write this stuff off as girl music. A wiener-lickin’ good time, just as you’d imagine. (BG)
(Deranged Records // www.derangedrecords.com)

Straightjacket Nation “Cheap Kicks” LP
Australia’s SJN subscribe to a few notable philosophies in their rendering of hardcore: hit hard, don’t stop hitting, scream until your larynx has calluses the fiberglass in your mashed potatoes can’t hold a candle to, and push every possible physical capability’s needle to the red of the dial. Create bombastic war cries to punish your throat like the internalized psychological follies of youth punishes your every waking moment in the present, like singer Dan contends in his refusal to accept this music as an exclusively adolescent affair. Sound like hyperbole more appropriate for a more mechanically astute sonic attack? I don’t buy that shit. Hardcore of this caliber, substituting guitar toodelooing and lyrical dilly-dallying with sheer physical power, is the only pursuit that sends rupturing waves through the oceans of psychic catatonia. It’s the only performance that can counter any sort of internalized grief. Fancy fingerwork conveys pretension and a mysteriously willed focus. Elaborate lyrics with honed content longer than a few repeated lines of hateful prose convey cerebral dancy dance. Sloganeering shits all over the subjective, multi-faceted nature of good music. Just sustained, crushing, full contact rock n’ roll can offer a glimmer of short-lived hope on the horizon of a future of total fucking garbage, not bowing out from the occasional hook that’ll drag you through any gene cesspool these guys and gal took their sonic cues from like a three-pronged lure, and Straightjacket Nation tap into that little fact that’s stood the test of decades. Here’s to the bands of yore that played harder, screamed louder, and stuck their proverbial member out there for the lopping. Homage: paid in full. (BG)
(Shortfuse Records // www.culthardcore.org/straightjacketnation)

Strange Boys “Woe Is You and Me" 7”
For some reason, I’d thought I’d hate this band, but this ain’t half-bad. The front sounds like a decent combo of Deadly Snakes/Black Lips, which isn’t the most ground-breaking thing right now, but they do it OK. I’d take the Midwestern grit of Goodnight Lovin’ over this, but you may prefer differently. You may also think you could never hear another version of “Baby Please Don’t Go,” and you may be onto something, but Strange Boys don’t embarrass themselves with it, unlike The Go doing “Gloria” at this show in Cleveland years ago. You may have thought it was impossible to fuck that song up, but, hey, you’d be wrong.(EEK)
(In the Red Records // www.intheredrecords.com)

Sun City Girls "Live at the Sit and Spin" LP
As a recording project, the Sun City Girls enterprise ran its course long before the death of drummer Charlie Gocher in 2007.
As much as I love and admire this band, I can't think of a crucial SCG record after their righteous Apna Desh / Rookoo Bay 78 on Perfect, from 1996. In the ensuing decade, the Girls seemed content to bask in the acclaim heaped upon 'em by a generation of eager new listeners and revisionist critics, mostly on the basis of their brilliant run of albums for Placebo, Majora, etc. Not that the band showed any signs of slowing down: in that time, the Girls issued twice as many records as they did in their first decade, it's just that none of them matched the visionary perfection of their debut, or 'Torch of the Mystics', or 'Kaliflower'.
Still, there's a surprising dearth of "concert" records in the SCG discography, so it's nice to see this document of a late-period concert in Seattle.
Although Sun City Girls' live sets sometimes consisted of slow-burning, long-form improvisations, they more often practiced a sort of esoteric cabaret-revue format that pulled in "hits" from their vast repertoire, unexpected pop covers, bizarre set pieces and spoken-word routines. That's more or less what we have here, a variety show of sorts with a strong emphasis on percussion, chosen, evidently in homage to the late Gocher.
Aptly enough, songs from the 1996 Perfect 78 open each of the sides. Whereas side B's "Apna Desh" is a straight reading of the song (an obscure, probably sarcastic Bollywood cover that merges mambo rhythms with Hindi lyrics), the acoustic ballad "Rookoo Bay" is transformed into a long, gamelan-speckled percussion workout with Gocher on lead vocal. The rest of side a is similarly stretched out and percussion-oriented, whereas side b consists of a nice spread of songs from across their catalog, ending in their reading of (yep) "Radar Love."
By the time this set was recorded in 2002, SCG were more or less an institution, a legendary band with a familiar repertoire -- a known, reliable quantity. And yet, the performances are riveting as ever, provided you're already familiar with the source material.
The sound? Meh. I've heard better. This might have been a board tape, or maybe a stereo recording from somewhere on stage where the bass was unusually loud. If you missed 'em in their day, this LP is a good indicator of what you might have witnessed on an average SCG night. Proceed accordingly.(AR)
(Abduction // www.suncitygirls.com/abduction)

Sweet Faces "On Top of That Girl" EP
I never thought the Fevers were that great. Shocker. This is Fever B with a pick-up band of Dutchies spitting out some songs he wrote while on vacation there or something. It's serious pop. Not serious in tone, you dope, but serious in this is how it's done if you're gonna do it. Like if I had to like some pop, I suppose it could be this. Title cut is about as good as most tunes on the Gentleman Jesse LP. "Here Come The Nice Boys" has some nice tough edges to it. I'm hoping it's some kind of diss-track about the band, but it's probably not. I like the sentiment of "Leslie is a Noise Band" and the bizarre sort of concept/title more than I do the actual song. It's pretty meticulously crafted though. "Cool Kids (Don't Wanna Listen)" is the kind of song this guy writes in his sleep. Fevers fans will leave this record more than satisfied. I say, if you gotta do this stuff, you can't do much better than this guy. Good lyrics, hooks, clever songwriting. Even I can notice that this is well done, and I'm no power-pop wimp. Scums stats: first 100 on blue vinyl.(RK)
(Douchemaster Records // www.douchemasterrecords.com)

That Ghost "I Crossed Out the Options" 7"
A-Side = drum-machine driven supposed-to-sound-like singer/songwriter loner stuff but is really Eighties New Wave nostalgia from a kid who wasn't even born when the 'Breakfast Club' came out. In reality, not that far off from select cuts from the 'Pretty in Pink' soundtrack. Lyrics are pretty bad, yet I kinda like it for reasons I can't fathom, but I imagine they're the wrong ones. B-Side = just painful to sit though. Expressions of melancholy set to acoustic guitar. And whistling..............(RK)
(Twosyllable Records // www.twosyllablerecords.com)

Titmachine “We Build a New City” 7”
Not for lack of trying, but I can’t write a decent review of this thing today. The record is cold—with a stern and robotic delivery—but despite the bleak, distant tone, I’m drawn to it. Of the two songs, I prefer “1989”, which bounces between the mechanical and desperate in its spastically played chorus. The other track, “We Build a New City,” feels like we’re being scolded by a distant German relative* —I’m not sure what’s going on, but the tone is chilling.(DH)
*I imagine her as a lunch lady, waving her wooden spoon threateningly as she barks her lyrics...what horrid childhood memories I am repressing that this is the image that comes to mind? Your guess is as good as mine.
(Siltbreeze // www.siltbreeze.com)

Tyvek “Sidewalk” 7”
Tyvek’s newest, a three song single on M’Lady Records, cleans the closet of the last otherwise unreleased tracks from an old CD-R release. There’s nothing too flashy here, just smart, understated punk rock that adds to the band’s reputation as one of the best around. In the context of other Tyvek releases, there’s nothing as good as “Air Conditioner” on this one, but all three songs are good enough that I’m glad they put out these older recordings before moving on to the new stuff, which just can’t come soon enough.(DH)
I think this EP completes the slow process of getting all of Tyvek’s hit CDR ‘Fast Metabolism’ on wax. Which is great. But, honestly, a song like “Future Junk” has so much power, velocity, and presence live at this point that these versions are nice to have for documentations’ sakes, but makes ‘em almost disappointing to listen to. “Sidewalk” doesn’t suffer as much for this, sounding like a lost Desperate Bicycles track. Worth it, but it’s time for an LP already, gentlemen. (EEK)
(M’Lady Records // myspace.com/mladysrecords)

U.S. Girls s/t LP
The first waxing by U.S. Girls sounds to me like an afternoon's work at best, a casual, tossed-off affair from start to finish. That name, on the other hand, seems calculated in the extreme, conjuring echoes of No Wave, new wave, and early '90s crypto-indie-core in equal measure, none of which the record actually delivers unless you count the cover art, which explicitly appeals to a vintage Siltbreeze sensibility: arcanely typewritten titles, non sequitur black & white collages, minimal info, a studied disdain for clarity and polish.
I'm sure Megan Remy is a cool, interesting person, and that's nice. She ultimately isn't to blame for this record, even though she did technically sit down and play a few tapes, sing a little bit, run the whole thing through an analogue delay, and send it off to the record label.
No: this record is your fault, hypocrite lecteur, for not knowing the difference between an honest, idiosyncratic vision and shiftless, amateur self-indulgence.
Reasonable minds can disagree on the merits of stuff like Shadow Ring, Jandek, or Harry Pussy, but there's no denying that each of those artists had a destination in mind and made considered decisions on how to get there. U.S Girls sounds rudderless.
The record's not even sequenced in an interesting way. It's a series of rudimentary loops -- a tom-tom here, a piano phrase there, a couple nondescript guitar licks -- supporting some pleasant but undistinguished female vocals. Remy's voice is charming enough, but she mostly kinda sleepwalks through her own record. Simply put, there's very little music in these grooves, and few ideas. Believe me, man, I looked!
Okay, there's two pieces here that I like. One of 'em is "Don't Understand That Man," a neat little song-kernel that always lingers in my mind after I play it. It feels like something off an old Xpressway comp, remote and oddly heartfelt, as hard to pin down as an early Alistair Galbraith mothball. The other is a noisy little workout toward the end of side two that sounds like Ms. Remy slipped Wolf Eyes a roofie and took 'em up to her apartment to make a Sebadoh tape. On a different record it might have made a nice climax, sitting as it does right before a tinkly little xylophone coda. But there's nothing leading up to it here except a soem iceberg lettuce, some beefsteak tomatoes, and a tumbler of watered-down iced tea, an anorexic's feast that leaves one feeling hungry and dissatisfied and craving an earful of... oh, I dunno, the Stiv Bators Band or some shit.
It's phony and not much fun. Who needs this?(AR)
(Siltbreeze Records // www.siltbreeze.com)

V/A Adolf Butler/The Roccos split LP
Raunch-o-rama split from the Netherlands. Adolf Butler go for the sludge-o demi-metal attack, things get pretty gelatinous at times, they do a Vile song (they get a 10 for cover choice, but only a 6 for cover execution), but really don't do anything too exciting overall. For newcomers, think Pissed Jeans without the panache. For old dudes, think B-Team (or even C-Team) AmRep stuff, some moments reminded me of latter day Brutal Juice or Unsane after they got all icky and metallic. Awesome band name and sleeve art made me want to like this more than I actually did. The Roccos open their side of the split with what I'm guessing are supposed to be masturbation fap-fapping sounds. Who knows. Their GG tribute begins with a "Cock on the Loose" that is actually not the Geege tune, but their own jam that sounds a hell of a lot like "Metal Militia". Vintage Bay Area thrash sounds? What gives? They segue into a shitty cover of "Clitlicker" that loses any of the riffy goodness they had percolating after the first cut. "All I Want" gets punker, solo wails a bit.....then they close with a schlocky version of "Gimme Some Head". I love GG more than most, so I can feel where these guys are coming from, but the best thing they threw at me was that metal tune they opened with. Any goofball Italians can do lousy Jabbers covers fellas. You guys are from the Netherlands, you're better than that. PS: this was still ten times better than that US Girls LP. Scum stats: 300 copies, red vinyl, nice screenprinted sleeves.(RK)
(Motorwolf Records // www.adolfbutler.com)

V/A The Anomalys/Garbage Whores split 7”
Hey, don’t judge a book by its cover. I did, so I assumed the tasteful choo-choo cover art of the Garbage Whores’ side would translate to a somewhat cultured, cleaned up sound, with perhaps some polished powerpop mannerisms bleeding through, while the god awful infrared mushroom cloud on the Anomalys’ would designate them the meathead drunken delinquents picking their noses on your stoop. Whoops. The Garbage Whores’ hyper-cerebral tunes “Blow My Whistle” and “Pizza Prostitution” are accompanied by nearly unlistenable production. A billowing, unrecognizable mess of past-the-red mixing that rumbles along, sometimes promising a hook that’s suffocated under the pillow of bassful fuzz like an unwanted spouse. The Anomalys actually deal the goods: a swift, blisteringly full, gerkin jerkin’ Tractor Sex Fatality-esque garage assault minus the throwback vocals. The second song of theirs fumbles a bit, but the first has some great hangtime. (BG)
(A Fistful of Records // www.afistfulofrecords.nl)

V/A Creteens/Straight Arrows split 7"
I have never been suitably impressed by a Creteens record in the past, and this one is no exception. They (he?) ditch(es) the French Reatards blown-fi attack of previous records for a bouncy Wax Museums-like punk approach on this one. Generic. Australia's Straight Arrows fare slightly better on the B-Side, their "Jeepster" actually sounds quite a bit like one of Teengenerate's more poorly recorded singles, and "Close That Door" is a BFTG swipe with slurred vox and a little bit more fidelity. Nothing you really need to hear. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Resistance A Go Go // myspace.com/resistanceagogo)

V/A Emergency Room Vol. 1 LP
Lovingly created and curated compilation documenting the now burgeoning Vancouver scene, in particular the DIY venue the comp is named after and the neo-post-punk scene populating it. As with most Art School Rock, there's good and bad. Things start out on the right foot with Defektors, who scramble up a couple choice cuts, one a bleak and rhythmic mover with hook included free of charge and the other a throbby punker. Great start. Petroleum By-Products serve next, they do a couple of danceable and goofily playful bouncers. Sound like fun girls who are into The Slits and Gang of Four quite a bit. Vapid do a couple of straightforward punk tunes. Kinda drab. White Lung end the side, and I think they've been the most interesting of this bunch that I've heard previous to this. Their "Therapy" is a really crisp and somewhat minimal but well executed and sustained post-punk rager. They're pissed, but their gonna convey their displeasure via a really catchy bassline and classy Brit-inflected compostion. Cool. Mutators open Side B with an album cut ("Instinct") that was one of the better cuts off the LP...if I gotta listen to this girl scream, at least give her some accompanying squall. Their second cut is jack-off experimentation that will make you hate her voice. Twin Crystals are next and sound like they should've been on Troubleman Unlimited. About three or four years ago. Nu Sensae are a two-piece, a dude on drums and a chick on distorto-bass and screams. Good bass sound and they create some hypnotic motion via rudimentary structures. Vox/lyrics aren't the best, but they add a sort of no-fi charm. Sick Buildings close and it's a one-man noise/static thing. Meh. I'd of rather heard another Nu Sensae song. Overall, this is a really lovely package, with a huge 20 page booklet and interesting art. Music-wise, there's more to love (White Lung, Defektors, Petroleum By-Products) than there is to hate. A really incredible package, it would be wonderful if everyone was this passionate about their local scene. Scum stats: 924 copies, booklets printed on recycled paper. (RK)
(Nominal Records // www.recordsnominal.com)
(Grotesque Modern // www.grotesquemodern.com)

V/A Johnny & The Limelites/Slippery Slopes split 7"
Slippery Slopes do two budget rock party anthems super-lofi style. These derelicts don't want any nerds at their party and "Bikini Binge" is like some warped Jan & Dean shit, or the band playing at the snack shack in some Frankie & Annette Beach-Blanket-Bongout flick. Except in Florida instead of California. And brain-damagingly drunk. Really sunny and fun for sure, it makes me feel bad to be listening to this past the month of August. Chicago's premier pizza-rock band Johnny & The Limelites crib a "Land of A Thousand Dances" intro and proceed to stumble their way through "Summer of Fun", with the Coz hamming it up on the mic and the band dumbing it down for maximum good times. Wicked guitar solo comes free with your order of a large pie. Scum stats: 300 copies on blue vinyl, with incredible double layered party bus sleeves by Ben Lyon that must've been a bitch to sit there and hand cut. (RK)
(Florida's Dying Records // www.floridasdying.com)

V/A Livefastdie/Lover! split 7”
I’m a little dumber for listening to this one, or at least my girlfriend probably thinks so. There’s really no decent way to defend my singing “I’ve got a booger in my asshole” all day long. But, I’ll hand it to Lover!, it wouldn’t be my refrain this afternoon if it wasn’t a really good, really catchy song. Full of fuzz-toned guitar, an impeccable melody, and first grade bathroom lyrics, this fires on all cylinders. On the flipside, Livefastdie compliment nicely with a good punker that keeps the theme alive.(DH)
“Sick of Shit as Shit” is yet another in a solid line of LFD songs with killer riffs that are just this side of ass-shaking. The sound is maybe a little less grimy, which makes the Garageband beats sound a lil’ too fake. Time for a full-band record? Lover! Is Rich Crook’s prolific one-man (in the studio at least) pop-psych-punk band, perhaps not uninspired by Camero Werewolf. Rich goes for a real groovy new wave sound on this one. If it wasn’t called “Booger in My Asshole,” I could actually picture this playing in a pivotal scene in ‘Valley Girl’ or at least ‘Mannequin’ or something. (EEK)
(Douchemaster Records // www.douchemasterrecords.com)

V/A Lover!/Livefastdie split 7”
...phone rings.....
Camero Werewolf: Hello?
Rich Crook: Yeah, is Camero home?
Camero: Whaddya need?
Rich: Listen man, I have this concept. Let's each write the dumbest song we can think of and see if we can get some label to put it out as a split 7".
Camero: Yeah. Let's write some real stupid shit.
Rich: Deal. I bet my shit will be more stupid.
Camero: No way dude, I write stupid shit in my sleep.
Rich: OK bro, I'll bet ya a c-note my shit is the most retarded.
Camero: Yer on.
....phone goes dead...
Conclusion: Camero owes Rich a hundred bucks. Douchemaster releases split 7" with "Booger in My Asshole" on it, sets the split single as a format back at least 10 years, erasing any progress LFD had made for the split single over the past couple of years. Business as usual for Livefastdie, although I'm a bit disappointed their tune wasn't called "Sick as Shit of Splits". Scum stats: 100 on white.(RK)
(Douchemaster Records // www.douchemasterrecords.com)

V/A Mutators/Shearing Pinx split LP
Simply put, Shearing Pinx are just a perfect noise-punk band. Taking their cues from early Sonic Youth (‘Confusion is Sex’-style), but upping the brutality factor along with a mingly/mangly mix of chaos and precision, they contribute a side-long piece of ravaged guitars that plays like No Wave jazz. Smack! Mutators are fellow agitators from new-ish (?) punk hotbed Vancouver BC, and their Scratch Acid/Jaks attack is a beautiful beast to behold. Coming off a bit more hardcore, yet also dirtier, than those bands, Mutators have a singer that sounds like she wants to claw your eyes out. Scratch that itch, baby. (EEK)
(Ugly Pop // myspace.com/catcall)

V/A "Puget Power 5" 7"
Holy shit...never imagined I'd ever be holding this record in my hands. Regal Select is back in the game with a brand-new installment of Puget Power, which is by far the best of the five volumes. Kicking of with The Intelligence, a band at the very top of their game right now, things get moving quickly. No song titles, but Lars says "Conference Call" a lot, so I'm going with that, and it's a smashy drum/guit/bass surger with a sort of warbly lyrical cadence. A hit right on target. Spider's second vinyl appearance is next, and this one sounds more like a Spits outtake than Spider methinks. Dual lead vox, apocalyptic synth drones, budget-drum machine beat...goofily moody and hypnotic. B-Side has The Pyramids (aka Love Tan) doing a stripped-down art-punk beater, led by a boomy drum beat that keeps doubling back on itself, the odd handclap and minimal guitar swiping build up a base for a noisy little finish. A worthy comp cut. Vol. 5 ends with the first vinyl appearance of AFCGT, and for anyone who hasn't heard their CDR(s) or myspace yet, the sounds are far more on the skronky Climax Golden Twins side of things than the rhythmic A-Frames side. It's really just a noise track of sorts. Skrank-pause-skittle-pause-skronk-yell-skribble-end. The only disappointing cut on this record. Otherwise, this is the best 7" compilation since...well, World's Lousy with Ideas Vol. 5. Scum stats: another 'unofficial' release, in an edition of 100 promo/band copies with blank labels. (RK)
(Regal Select // PO Box 25646, Seattle, Wa 98165)

V/A "Shiftless Decay" LP
Maybe you thought the recent Detroit rock scene peaked years ago, when White Stripes were a genuinely exciting phenomenon and Dirtbombs were still new and laying down sick dance-floor jams between Tom Potter’s snarky remarks. Or maybe you veered more towards the damaged, genuinely dangerous sounds of Clone Defects and The Piranhas, easily two of the best punk bands in the country at the time. Well, I hope you never stopped paying attention, or at least started again. You’ve heard of Tyvek, right? This label called X! Records helped you out with that, and they’ve also released some great records by Frustrations, Fontana, and Terrible Twos among others. Now they’ve got a nice scene comp, the way they used to make ‘em. And shit is quality. Tentacle Lizardo kick it off. They were sort of like Piranhas' brother band and they show up here sounding mighty fish-bitey. Human Eye follow with “Fix Me Universe Nurse” and if you’ve glommed that LP, then you know what kind of epic astral-punk you’re in for. Frustrations are biker-psych-punk for a new generation and so they appropriately approximate a “Psychedelic Motorcrash.” Terrible Twos drop off “Negative Drip,” which kinda sounds like Catholic Boys w/ a synth. Heroes & Villains and Johnny Ill Band close out the first side with a couple of poppier numbers that sound like 80s college rock, H&V sounding particularly Clean-ish.
Flip leads off with a 2004 demo version of Tyvek doing “Flashing Lights,” which is nice to hear, followed by the ridiculous scum punk of The Mahonies, featuring some dudes from Terrible Twos. Hunt down their single, it’s good, and funny. The Fontana song isn’t quite as killer as their 7” from last year, but this is a band to watch. Anxiously awaiting their LP. Little Claw do a very different take on their “Feeding You Your New Home” than on their recent Siltbreeze 7”. This one is a noisy blues that I’m gonna call “the Gories version.” THTX is new to me, but their “Monorails to Nowhere” is cool psych inna George Brigman vein. Odd Clouds are an ESP-Disk-inspired semi-super group of noteworthy Detroit dudes and they get weird and communal and, shit, maybe you should spark that joint now. (EEK)
(X! Records // www.x-recs.com)

V/A Tickley Feather/Bermuda Triangles split 7"
Quite possibly the biggest waste of time I've endured all year, including waiting in line at the DMV. Total fucking waste. Tickley Feather (girl takes break from writing in journal to record two songs with Casio she picked up at thrift store) is slightly less embarrassing than the Bermuda Triangles side (white guy techno rap with "funny" song about Bill Cosby sweaters). Rick Ta Life gets jumped and beaten down mercilessly after a Negative Approach show, and yet these people are walking around unscathed? Where's the justice?(RK)
(CNP Records // www.cnprecords.com)

V/A Tractor Sex Fatality/Fear of Dolls split 7"
One song each, cover-each-other themed split. TSF do an FOD (not that FOD) track called "Bless This Broken Body" which they turn into death-dirge of drumsmash and guitarsquelch. Sounds kinda Human Jukebox-y. Fear of Dolls (who have ties to the Jarboe/Swans camp) do TSF's "Dark Water" (off the 'Black Magic...' LP) and spin it into an eerie torch song with sultry femme vocals (with faint back-ups from what sounds like a doll and some slight horns in the distance), a swampy lament evoking funeral shrouds and scary depths. Get your goth on. Scum stats: 300 copies on gray marble.(RK)
(Bunnicorn Records // myspace.com/fearofdolls)

V/A "Violent Climax Vol.3" 7"
Weirdo three-way action from an odd little label/blog out of France, heavy on the dark side of the trash. No song titles or anything, just a record, a one-sided sleeve with band names and a bondage pic. Crazy Europeans! The A-Side, who I'm pretty sure is Captain Dynamite & The Loaded Hoods do two horror-garage numbers, real close to Beguiled territory, Haunted George-like vocals, maybe a little early-days Blowtops action too. Twangy, trebly, and not too shabby at all. I think the first is called "That's Good Eatin'" and the second is about going to the beach. A scary beach. Blood Beach? Now that's a good forgotten Eighties horror schlock classic. B-Side opens with Thee Garage Kid doing a Headcoats/Shanksy pissed garage slammer. Tractor Sex Fatality close with a rabid rocker going by the name of "Slob", that builds mustily majestic rushes of noise on top of some Hyenas-like subdued parts. A critically under-appreciated band, from Rob's wails, to the bulldozing rhythm section to the free-for-all guitar scree. When all the parts clicked, as they do on this, they made some magnificent fucking music. A pretty good comp all-around. Scum stats: 300 copies. (RK)
(SM Girrrls Records // myspace.com/thearseplot)

Vera Fang "Conscumption" 7"+CD
I really planned on hating this based on sleeve and band name alone. Photoshopped Guns'n'Roses pic with flowers and meat and shitty band logo. I was expecting shitty noise or some garbage fashion disco Glass Candy trip or something Deathbomb Arc would put out on cassette with a hand-knit potholder encasing it. But it's straight art-punky, big basslines punctuated with sharp guitar, the girl singing has a real nonchalant delivery that isn't too screamy or overwrought. She's good. She should talk to the chick in the Mutators about how to emote without being absolutely fucking annoying. Not my genre of choice here, but the bass sounds better and better the deeper it gets and they do a more rhythmic sort of Tyrades thing at times (but without a singer that sounds like Wendy O. Williams). Pretty good record, wild at the right moments, laden with throbbing beats and a lot of chicks on the mic out there could take a few lessons from this girl. Plus, she plays mean castanets. Wait, I know why I like this! No synth! Thanks! CD contains all of the EP plus a couple remixes that I didn't listen to because I didn't want to ruin the good memories I have of this record. (RK)
(Army of Bad Luck // myspace.com/armyofbadluck)

Vivian Girls “I Can’t Stay” 7”
I’m not here to debate Vivian Girls with you, I am merely here to tell you that if you like the LP, you will also enjoy this 45. “I Can’t Stay” is as good as anything on there and has a dark undercurrent, which is beginning to bubble to the surface on their newer songs. The songwriting seems slightly more sophisticated, but not in any sort of forced way. The B-side is an apparently mis-titled cover (supposed to be “Run Spot Run,” by Daisy Chain), but regardless it’s a lovely vision of the Girls’ way with reverb-spectral voicings. (EEK)
(In The Red // www.intheredrecords.com)

War of Destruction “Normalisering” EP
War of Destruction was part of the first wave of Danish hardcore and released a semi-legendary EP of UK-influenced hardcore way back in ‘83. They followed with a 12” a few years later (not as good), and I guess hung in there until ‘88 before calling it quits. So when I got this in the mail I was thinking that it was a reissue of some old WOD material (there are a few early demos that I don’t believe have been reissued on vinyl) and was a bit surprised when I realized that this was actually new material. It’s nice to see the old-timers give it a go again, staying true to their style without much deviation. There are four tracks here, all cut from the same mold—distorted, Discharged riff-punk, nothing over the top, but well executed nonetheless. This won’t replace your copy of the band’s EP from 1983, but it’s a welcome follow-up.(DH)
(Hjernespind // www.hjernespind.com)

Wild Zeros "Homesick" EP
Garage rock straight outta Bordeaux, France. "Homesick" borrows heavily from the Fun Things, "She Knows" has a Real Kids-meet-the-French-Dogs vibe, they do a DMZ cover, and Looch from the Magnetix plays organ on "Something To Do". Four songs, no surprises, Rip Off Records stylee sleeve art. Not awful, and a nice departure from having to listen to another blooze-punk offering from the same region, but really they just sound like mid-tempo Nineties garage revisionism a few years too late. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Frantic City // franticcity.free.fr)

Youth of the Beast "Lantern" 7"
As far as cute-cute, stupid-ass names go, it's hard to beat Youth of the Beast for sheer numbnuts efficicacy. Take that, Sunburned Hand of the Man! Eat a dick, Rac-ooo-ooo-n! Wait -- this actually is the dude from Racoooon. Way to raise the bar, guy. His name is Spore and he lives in Portland, OR. Note to self: write letter to "Spore" c/o General Delivery, Portland, OR, congratulate him on his onomastic prowess and wish him well on his vision quest; perhaps send him the Cutter 7" for good measure.
I did a little online research on YOTB and turned up the following description, from the Rac-o-oooooo-o-n website: "Something intense, unknown; an ever evolving sonic creature as bleak as it is restless." Great stuff, Spore, great stuff, but leave some of that for us reviewers, buddy!
Whatever advanced dungeons and dragons Spore channeled into this little record, the end-product is a pretty straightforward march of interesting sound-events: layered horns suggestive of an ESP after-party, french-fried electronics, spooky vocals whispered and gurgled, a colorful clatter of percussion. Unlike most of his colleagues in the world of free-folk, drone, and collective improv, where judicious editing is rare as fuck and instrumental articulacy is even scarcer, this dude is adept at negotiating the strictures of the 7" and maximizing the rewards of its brevity. The record feels whole, it feels cohesive, and it makes sense.
If, in fact, the 7 or 8 minutes of music here are a document of some elaborate Kenneth Anger-inspired masturbation ritual, that's Spore's problem, not mine, and hopefully not yours, either.
Needless to say, "Lantern" won't invade your consciousness in any but the most inoccuous fashion, but it will briefly transform the living room into a sweetly exotic environment, like the best Martin Denny or Les Baxter, which is measurably better than whatever magickal mystery turds its author would have you swallow in the name of, ah, "art."(AR)
(Arbor Records // www.arborcdr.com )

Zola Jesus s/t 7”
I can see why people wouldn’t dig this. I can see their little thought-bubbles with silent cries of “Tori Amos!” “Fiona Apple!” “Lilith Fair!”. Fair enough, I say, but I’m also thinking “Marianne Nowottny!” “Azalia Snail.” “Suicide?” Hell, in some ways, Zola Jesus sounds like a lo-fi Portishead. I kinda dig it. (EEK)
(Die Stasi // myspace.com/diestasi)

To read past reviews go here.