RECORD REVIEWS END OF SUMMER 2010
Key: (RFA: Richard Fucking Adventure)(LB: Lance Boyle)(SB: Young Steve)(BG: Brandon Gaffney)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RK: Rich K.)(TO: Tm Onita)(RSF: Rob Vertigo) (A.: Alessandro) (ES: Eddie Schneider) (MH: Mike H.) (NG: Nick Goode)
Accident Du Travail s/t 12”
Dude…I like some fairly minimal shit now and again, but there has got to be more to it than this. I mean, you could get the same effect from letting yer cat snooze on a cheap Casio. Sounds like someone just bought a keyboard, listened to an ambient Eno LP, and then recorded his trial run. It starts to layer textures a bit as it goes on, and someone starts to bang on a box by the time the last track hits, but I’m already half past my naptime around the end of the first side. I just can’t be bothered. This record is so non-existent; I can hear my mailman unlocking the boxes downstairs. Maybe he’s delivering a better record. Whatever. For people who listen to Buddha Boxes, alone. Wake me up when something good and eerie comes along. (RSF)
(Bruit Direct Disques // www.bruit-direct.org)
Steve Adamyk "Speed It Up" and "Better Off" 7"es
This Steve fella seems pretty busy, releasing some solo shots here and also playing in Ottawa's Sedatives (and maybe or probably more), plus I get the sense he's "that guy" in Ottawa, setting up shows, doing zines and all that jazz. Each of these singles have a similar Lichtenstein-like design, and I appreciate the uniformity, and both came with a zine I reviewed in the Printed Matter section of the last Demo Zone, so he's got a decent aesthetic going. Musically, it's standard issue power-pop-punk that has me picturing him as the Canadian Matt K. Shrugg in a way, and although he doesn't do it with as much style as MKS, he does have The Knack (OMG LOLZ) for writing ye olde hooke. The P.Trash two-song single has a more Exploding Hearts-ish striped shirt vibe, and naming a song "20/20" is a little bit clever. The Red Lounge three-songer has more a desperate New Wave bent, maybe even a little bit of solo-years Jay Jay influence. And there you have it. I don't necessarily dig what he does, but at least he does it well. He's got another single and an LP coming up for all you kids out there pogoing along to this already.(RK)
(P.Trash Records // www.ptrashrecords.com)
(Red Lounge // myspace.com/redloungerecords)
Charles Albright "I'm Happy, I'm A Genius" 7"
Second release from the mystery man that is Charles Albright...seven songs sardined onto one single makes for a tight squeeze, and these are short and sharp blasts of Intelligence-like modern punking, but maybe not quite as pop sensible as Mr. Finberg. Title cut is guitar scree that sounds like Mayyors Jr., followed with a noisy instrumental interlude, "Young Woman" then brings some lunkpunk and sets it on fire with an obnoxiously loud guitar solo and "I'm Waiting" is actually a total Intelligence off-kilter weirdpop rip. He even sings and enunciates like Lars on this one. Flipping things over, the start of Side B is a guitar-whanging psych-out, "Headphones" is a really catchy garage-punker that reminds me more than a little of Ty Segall with some heavier vibes, and he saves the absolute best for last, "Hats Off To (Ron) Harper", a wicked scuzzblaster with beefy low-end that should give the Puffys a good run for their doobage. Bonus points for someone giving Harper some props besides Phil Jackson. A pretty schizo release, this guy wears a lot of hats on this which makes tough to catch a groove. It's so all over the place you end up with too little of a tangible personality to really relate to the tunes better. Side B is pretty killer though. Have this guy and Matt K. Shrugg ever been seen in the same room? Scum stats: 100 on orange, 400 on black.(RK)
(Permanent Records // www.permanentrecordschicago.com)
Alicja Pop “Shining Apple” 7”
So here’s something for the Dr. Spock parental set out there. Rumor has it Alicja Trout was set to work on a children’s album, and this is what came of it. Being a new mom, I assume she’s been pretty busy. But 2010 is the year she comes up out of the diaper trenches and starts to do some record releasing and touring again. Welcome back! As for the A-Pop recordings, it’s what they is: sweet and catchy tunes that shimmer about like rnr lullabies. I’m getting an Oly-vibe off of it for some reason. Imagine if Mouserocket or Lost Sounds had to perform for a day care back in 2002. This is possibly what would come forth. Synth and indie goodness for the wholesome youth. The B-Side is Daniel Johnston’s’ Walking The Cow…faithful? Probably better. Amped up a little bit over the A-side for maximum playpen/tire swing enjoyment. Maybe I’m getting soft & old, but this is CUTE. I said it. And I don’t even like kids. Well, most kids. A friend of mine dresses his two year old in Misfits onesies…she’s pretty rad. Same goes for Stella Hayes (Daughter of Tim: Fallout Records). She has a finger painting series based on Cramps songs. That’s so cool. And with a mom like Alicja, I bet a fiery little red head named Valentine is gonna’ be A-OK as well. Pick one up while yer shopping for Yo Gabba Gabba DVD’s. 400 pressed. (RSF)
(Certified PR // www.certifiedprrecords.com)
Bare Wires "Young Love" 7"
Billed as the Bare Wires, but the sleeve art pictures only Melton, so I'm suspecting he did the whole thing. A-Side is a fail, sounds like he was going for the Anglo-pop glam style thing that Novak pulls off with Cheap Time, but falling way short. Guitar is a bit awkward, the vox are lost in the mix, and it lacks the crisp recording that would have given the song some better dynamics. He fares much better on the B-Side, "Keep Your Cool", which is Fifties-esque rock'n'roll, almost sounding like a classy Nobunny track. The mid-fi recording works well for this approach and he sounds a lot more in his own environment here. Good vocal as well. I think Dwyer has released the second Bare Wires LP on Castle Face by now, but I have no idea what the line-up is - I think he might be better off concentrating on playing it solo at this point.(RK)
(Southpaw Records // www.southpaw-records.com)
Bass Drum of Death “High School Roaches” 7"
'High School Roaches' finds Mr. John Barrett expanding the Bass Drum of Death sound into something that sounds more deliberate and pop driven than his previous Fat Possum effort. The easiest way for me to describe this is a “young, dumb, and full of cum” pop garage record. This EP is seriously hooky Stooges-esque bubblegum garage rock, with the emphasis on the rock (heavy handed comparison, I know, I know, I’m sorry.). The A side starts off really nice with “High School Roaches” and “Get Found.” The B side follows suit with “You’re Haunting Me,” but slows it down with “Spare Room” at the end. Comparatively, “Spare Room” sounds kind of wimpy and is a little disappointing next to three burners that start this thing off, but have no fear, at around the one-minute mark that heavy ass guitar comes in, and you have a slow simmer of tune that rides this pretty fantastic EP out. Much like a lot of these “one man band” projects, it’s always fascinating to see how these guys progress from release to release, and B.D.O.D. is no exception to this. I truly look forward to see what he does in the future. I really hope he does one or two more singles before trying to conquer the LP, but if his eventual LP is as lean as 'High School Roaches', we are in for good things.(ES)
(Baby Don't Records // www.babydont.blogspot.com)
Black Mamba Beat s/t LP
Post-Black Time bands are now go, with our pal Mr. Stix ringing up his cohorts Space Rat and Rosie Skinz to lay down a Black Mamba Beat LP after a superfine tape release. Superficial comparisons to the 'Time can and should be made, as the desperate shamble is certainly there but without Caution's dark hand pulling the strings. A bit more hi-fidelic even. BMB are their own band anyway, playing with the punk/DIY hybrid that Hygiene sort of employ. Strangley I think they sound more American than that band and most other Limeys plying this sort of rough trade, due in most part to what is a decided Minutemen influence and some slight jazz tricks. Primitive but fancy, listen to that cheezy organ whine on "Sooo Broke!" or that perfectly utilized reverb on "Maskanda Synapse". They get a lot out of a little it seems. Very econo. There's plenty of moments where they sound like they should have a single on Guided Missile, a few that could have been on a Sebadoh tape, and even an unfortunate couple of Calvin Johnson-eque minutes. "Scene Song" is just simple hardcore punk when you get down to brass tacks. Sure it's lo-fi and post-punky and UKDIY and all, but at the heart of the matter it's just screamin' and yellin' and shreddin'. It's punk rock, that's all, and that's all we can ask for. And "Despondent" is so peculiarly catchy it's fantastic. Working class punk that I ride for.(RK)
(Jeetkune Records // myspace.com/jeetkunerecords)
Mac Blackout "Don't Let Your Love Die" 7"
I've never been a real fan of Mac's solo records, and I've tried them all on for size at one point or another. But really, Pink Noise and Blank Dogs just ruined this whole genre for me, as nothing that came after really measured up to those innovators of the "genre". The title cut plays the evil and keerazy counterpoint to the aforementioined acts, plying the same synth and drum machine based foundation but with a dark side, juxtapozing a fey monotone vocal with underwater effects against a ridiculous sounding troll-like squeal. Just comes off as really obvious and ridiculous. B-Side is the vague "Sometimes", a washed-out synthscape built on a heartbeat drum-machine preset and more absurd lyrics and vocal approaches. If I didn't know better I'd say Mac was sending up some of his contemporaries here, but I'm fairly sure he's serious. I know this genre is Sacred Bones' bread-n-butter, but this one seems like a caricature of their flagship acts. Am I getting the joke? Or is there no joke to be had?(RK)
(Sacred Bones // www.sacredbonesrecords.com)
Chickens "Chicken Shit" 7"
First official vinyl release from this 2/3 of FNU Ronnies band after a really mediocre cassette and a great track on that absurdly priced 10" compilation on Siltbreeze. All this did for me was make me wish they'd hurry up and finish that Ronnies LP. The best song on this ("Arting") is really just a variation on the comp cut. "Shit City" is digi-punk that uses the same trick again. It's rounded out with "Drug Life" and its reprise, just sloppy and stale abuse of delay and programmed drums and zany vocals. Meh. The artwork is shitty too. Not recommended. Scum stats: 400 copies.(RK)
(Siltbreeze Records // www.siltbreeze.com)
Caballo Tripode "Horror Vacui" LP
Unassuming garage outfit from Valencia, Spain being released domestically through the TTT foreign exchange program. Part of the whole Holy Cobra Society/Le Jonathan Reilly scene over in Espana, a couple of the tracks are reminiscent of Jay and Alicjas work with Nervous Patterns, or maybe even Alicja's solo stuff/Black Sunday without the Goth-girl aspect. At times it also sounds like a Euro band taking some Black Lipsadelic garage-aping and mixing it with some Frech dressing a la Cheveu with drum machine and synth play. B-Side even hits the country-tinged Vermillion Sands/Movie Star Junkies vibes before ending with two more interesting cuts. "Rom/Pack" is built on bongo-like tribal percussion laced with backwards guitar and keys, kind of reminds of one of those new Chilean psych bands like La Banda's. "Surfea El Tsunami" is space age flamenco-psych. Eight tracks, and there's definitely a couple good ones, but I don't think there's enough originality or personality shown to make it worth recommending. A lot of these newer Spanish bands have some good ideas, but they're never impressive overall. One of the least successful countries of all-time when it comes to making punk/garage. The artwork kinda blows too.(RK)
(Tic Tac Totally // www.tictactotally.com)
Centipede Eest “Resonator” LP
Slow to mid-paced indi-fied progressive jams that ain’t cutting my mustard. Too clean, too polished and not nearly as experimental as I think it needs to be. Some kreep-folk that comes off (sadly) like a QOTSA/Josh Homme attempt at being off kilter. People I know like this? Yeah, they like Blues Control too…fuck that. Fu-Manchu covering Tortoise? King Crimson making a Wooden Shjips lovechild? Not for me. I’ll just listen to the Monoshock LP and keep myself interested. I don’t smoke enough weed to groove like this. (RSF)
(New Ruins // www.newruinsrecordings.com)
Chemicals "Bubble City" 7"
Debut waxing from Portland's Chemicals, featuring members of Red Dons and The Triggers going for the TOTAL KBD DESTRUCTION gold medal. Three songs of inanity played with sloppy vigor and throwing plenty of "weird" touches into the mix with varying results. "Bubble City" talks about creating a city underneath Niagara Falls with some sci-fi guitar sounds and off-rhythm spoken-style vocals, but it can't shake that neo-New Wave Dirtnap sound that makes it just a bit too goofy for its own good. "Schnaapps" is about the peppermint variety, perhaps one of the most vile liqueurs known to man, done up in a goofy poppy-punk style with some zany sound effects and a bongo break or something shoe-horned in there. Yeah, keerazy. The Spits they are not. These cats finally get it right on "Brains", which manages to sound tough and not unlike a lesser Tokyo Electron-like rumbler. See dudes, when you just play it straight with a good guitar sound and don't get all wacky you can write a cool punk song. Scum stats: only 150 copies of this one-sided jobber, with stamped labels and insert.(RK)
(Sonic Jett Records // myspace.com/sonicjettrecords)
Church of My Love s/t 12" EP
Members of snot-faced Soutern synth-punkers Amber Alerts pull it together for a fried country-rock EP. I woulda never thought these kids put down the 'tussin long enough to craft something like this. Four songs that I think belong in the same genus as Wisonsin neo-Hippies like Goodnight Loving or Jailllllllll, with some Harlem/T-Function poppy parts done with a lot less sugar. "Get Yourself Connected" has an almost Brimstone Howl-ish stoicism without all the rock action and is the best cut. For all you fans of the guitar jingle-jangle and neo-roots'n'roll going around. Scum stats: 200 copies only, with paste-on sleeves in two variations.(RK)
(Tic Tac Totally // www.tictactotally.com)
The City Kill s/t LP
Roland S. Howard ain’t ever gonna’ get his overdue rest in the land down under if this keeps up. It seems the solution to The City Kill's crime has been achieved by moving to Copenhagen. That way they can cut out their own niche market far, far away. More hero worship of the aluminum slide and tin foil kinda’ chew that harkens back the sounds of These Immortal Souls, early Aussie Drones and newish percussive grunt n’ fuxx like Woman (ooh, that’d be a pretty rad team up). All that syrupy doom with a femme singer added to the acidic pot. Lot’s of druggie tension and white hot scree is released. A love of Jack Nitzsche production is also apparent in their attack. I dig on it like that Honeymoon In Red LP. Quite a surprise, actually. This is hitting a deserted highway in my veins and outing the murder ballads in my brains. Shit sneaks up and batters you real good. Also: remember when the Witch Hats released that 12” a few years back? That long improv side to platter the platter? The City Kill one ups it with an 18 minute plus filling shake. Like rolling thru all of 'Bad Moon Rising' while under the influence of a blurry-eyed Jeffrey Lee Pierce. Post-death. Damaged one pretty lil’ head. Good goin’. Like 250 copies exist. Pick one up…and order that Melted Walkmen/Chainsaw Eaters split too. (RSF)
(Red Tape // myspace.com/redtapedk)
Coco Cobra & The Killers "Not No More" 7"
I think the Coco Cobra schtick is she's an ex-stripper turned garage-punk queen and she has Kevin from Spider Babies in the band (and is maybe banging him too?) and isn't afraid to bare it all to get her sleazy brand of rock'n'roll across to the masses. The masses in this case being non-dating garage rock dorks and nerds. Coco's actually more than cute enough (although a bit lacking in the sweater-filling department), is thankfully not covered in shitty looking ink and looks pretty clean overall. Her voice isn't anything spectacular, just an undistinguished monotone yell. Musically, it's mid-tempo chug-a-lugging with uninspired guitars and nothing all that sleazy sounding. Definitely not "Killer", but fitting the Ken Rock mold more or less. Four songs, all of them generic. I was expecting something a bit more...risque? Lewd perhaps? Just sounds dull, and they don't even "rawk" that hard. Sleeve appears to have been drawn by a prison tattoo artist with a sharpie, which is actually sort of a good look. 200 copies in B&W sleeve, 100 more with color art.(RK)
(Ken Rock // myspace.com/kenrockrecords)
Coconut Coolouts "Punk House" 7"
The Coolouts have always been a mixed bag on record for me. I haven't had the pleasure of ever seeing them in person, but I can still tell that the over-the-top energy of their live show is difficult to translate to wax. And I think there's a little more to them than the pizza-punk gang they will always be associated with. If anything, they're a "party punk" band. Or is it "funny punk"? They're definitely a witty bunch, but with a bit more substance than your average pizza-themed jokesters. Considering all of this, "Punk House" is one of their better vinyl outings, certainly finding them at their punkest (even if it is in a piss-take fashion) and the least beholden to the dance-party/guy-in-a-banana-suit aesthetic. Still quite humorous in its own right however, skewering punk house culture (something I've never been a part of and have done my best to distance myself from) with lyrical caricatures like "Check out my pet rat..." and other funny-but-true jabs. "Part One" is a dark-edged dirge that certainly encapsulates the filth and dirt of living in a run-down deathtrap with unhygenic and unemployed deadbeats with dyed hair and a wardrobe consisiting of pants with holes in the crotch and crust-punk patches sewn on and whatever band shirt they managed to get for free. Great song. "Part Two" doubles the tempo for a short reprise on the B-Side, buffered by "Yeah, Right!" which is a treble-jamming little dum-dum snort with an Angry Samoans vibe and some mock teen angst. Funny punk done pretty funnily.(RK)
(Ken Rock // myspace.com/kenrockrecords)
La Corde "Back In Salem" 7"
Depressed and gothic maneuvers in the dark from the Bay. "Back In Salem" is direct drive post-punk with pronounced guitar reverbing forward through time from the Eighties to today and some walkie-talkie sounding vox. A New Wave-ish run with a drop-out chorus. Recorded sort of murky and warbly by Greg Ashley, which seems odd. You'd think they'd want some punchy production on this type of material. Not real far off from that Gestapo Khazi stuff with some death rock feel, but more UK-sounding, (Southern Death) Cult-ish even. "Urban Burqa" sinks further into the gloom with some uber-Goth moaning and a nicely built and drawn-out arrangement. Interesting enough for a couple spins but I haven't found it calling out to me for a fourth or fifth date yet. I will keep their number in my phone for now though. It did inspire me to pull out the Southern Death Cult comp LP for a spin. Did you know the guitarist from The Nosebleeds started the band with Ian Astbury? I didn't. 300 copies with download and sticker.(RK)
(self-released // myspace.com/lacordesf)
Cro Magnon s/t 7”
This is old as dirt and just now up for review? Maybe it swam here from France…who knows. CroMag is a clusterfuck of shit-on-yer-shoegaze recorded in a shack somewhere out in the backwoods of Shaggsville. "Wash" starts things off by fooling you into thinking its some SF gayrage (bad) or Eat Skull (good) related shindig, only to go haywire beautifully at the turn of the chorus. Chorus?! I think so. Cachophony, not caca-phony. "A Hole" ends the A-side double feature with pings and scrapes a plenty, along with vocals that’ll rub yer rusty kettle in the right way. Super Wild Horses may have partners in crime in this Pitchfork-puked up world. Refreshing to hear such ineptitude and horror punching its way out of this bloated and sad scene. My kinda loft pop. From the basement. The B-Side falls pretty flat for me, though. It never really lifts off past the avant experimental wankitude it is. Oh well. Those opening tracks are turd gems headed to a Messthetics CDr sometime in 2030. 500 copies, I hear. (RSF)
(Bruit Direct Disques // www.bruit-direct.org)
Cult of Youth "Filthy Plumage In An Open Sea!" mini-LP
12" EP (or mini-LP if you're European) from NYC based "dark folk" act Cult of Youth, basically a one-man operation on record with a pick-up band for live performances. I've heard some talk about this guy on the old interweb and was actually intrigued to find out what this death-folk or pagan neo-folk thing was all about. Not being a guy who is completely enamored with or an expert on the Death in June and related family of influences this strain of music has sprung from, I was approaching with some apprehension. Definitely expecting stark and depressing acoustic heaviness (if that's possible) and perhaps the stereotypical crypto-fascist aesthetic most will relate with the genre (i.e. hamfisted Viking mysticism and forcedly controversial imagery/sentiment). "Lace Up Your Boots" certainly has the militaristic theme, and started the record as expected. Pained vocals and cryptic lyrics (which could be interpreted in the aforementioned neo-fascist way, but are also open-ended enough to leave an out...), melodramatic shouts and baritone chants, tribal percussion, agressive strum...I get it, not bad for what it is. But then "And The Sky Will Open" comes on and sounds all tropical and exotic. If it weren't for the depressed lyrics, you'd think this was an advertisement for a cruise line or some shit...real clever, yeah sure. "Eihwaz" throws another log on the possibly fascist fire, and adds some beefy electric guitar for extra aggro, playing against the reeds and then spiralling into post-industrial chaos. The best cut and the first one containing some strength here. Side B continues with another nearly upbeat strummer playing against war/death lyrics, "Traitorous Blood" sounds Western (as in spaghetti), another rallying call for the Nordic barbarians to chant "Hey, Hey..." along with while they ride into battle, and "Bottomed Out" has the most personal lyrics of the bunch and brings some punk spirit into the delivery for a change of pace. Not as dark, angry or emotionally charged as one would imagine from someone who was in the midst of "severe alcoholism, drug addiction, and deep-seeded emotional problems" during it's creation. I was expecting something a bit more stark, more seriously damaged or even a bit frightening or chilling. I understand the guy's operating under some confines of genre here - but I can't take this all that seriously due to the lack of any real substance underneath the aesthetic posing. I've seen mention that this is a "brighter" record as compared to his previous work, and that makes sense to me. But I'm a guy who thinks this stuff is pretty goofy from the get-go. If you allow a certain suspension of disbelief, this could pique your interest, and if you don't, you're guaranteed lotsa laughs. 500 copies with insert.(RK)
(Avant! Records // myspace.com/avantrecords)
Deaf Wish "Reality & Visions" LP
With such a multitude of listening options for the alert Aussie-rock fan these days it seems some bands and records are already slipping through the cracks. Deaf Wish have had a few choice releases (at least three singles and an LP) slither out already plus a great CD demo that got me on the case early on. "Reality & Visions" qualifies as their second full length, and it shows a confident band who know what they are here to do and how they are going to do it. They've got a plan. To be honest, it's an unavoidable realization that this record and band play with some already well established Australian rock tropes. The works of Howard, Perkins, Turner, Salmon and others are certainly ingredients of the bread being buttered here. But it's what Deaf Wish do after launching themselves out of those starting blocks that matters. They're not one of a myriad lazy bands resting on the laurels of The Scientists or whomever. Instead of trying to sink deeper into the swampsludge, DW rise from the murk, clean themsleves up a bit and actually make some progress down the dark path. And it's certainly dark, but via a more energized agression, the eyes glowering in the shadows instead of the shadows themselves. An intelligent tension and chaos opposing the dirty and primal raucousness prevalent in the style they're playing around. Borderline psychedelic, but only in the way the songs seem to turn inside themselves, invoking the vertigo of the sleeve image with moments of nauseous repetition. But they never go overboard. The singer sings and doesn't croak or spew or howl. The guitars never sound forced, just natural. They pound but relent at just the right moments. An incredibly smart record, I have to admit. I feel like the A-Side ("Visions") is the more direct frontal assault, and "Backwards" might the flagship of this fleet, and the B ("Reality") the more savvy "thinking man's" side, where they dip into some Sonic Youth moments of guitar anxiety, give us a whole track of feedbacky sounds (which reminds me somewhat of that fantastic El Jesus De Magico LP), but make me doublethink this idea with a one-two streetcleaner punch to close it out. Regardless of how you slice it, it's more fulfilling than more than a few more recent "burly" Aussie efforts (Slug Guts and Witch Hats come to mind, who were by no means bad, but also not this advanced by any measure either) and put to bed any Brooklynites pretending to throne. There's a song called "Smash". And they swing it. A gutsy and brainy bunch here, who pulled off a powerful and evocative record. Recommended. 500 copies only.(RK)
(Idget Child/Exo Records // www.exorecords.net)
Destination Lonely "Fun Is Dead..." 10"
Ten more inches from the Nasty Product camp, with Marco from The Fatals and some co-conspirators. Dirty reverb overload, "She's Gone" is Cramps-a-billy, "Vanessa" is the introspective slow-burn and "Party's Over" is Gories 1-2 beat with some added melody. B-Side offers a bit more originality, "Loved By You" sounds convincingly damaged and hurt as it crawls across the floor and "The Sun" pits twang vs. echo for a closing beater. Par for the course for this cast of characters, they've done it before and better, but still keeping the blooze-punk torch burning until we come to re-appreciate it once again. Should you feel the need to explore the minds of these whiskey-soaked Frenchmen and their scene further, have at it...(RK)
(Nasty Product/Sentenza Records // myspace.com/sentenza1)
Dinosaur and the Missing Link s/t EP
I had this thing for so long because I almost can’t physically listen to the Half Japanese-style conscious-quirkdom transpiring herein. The ironic glasses and flamboyant/fake eccentricity of those protection-pocketed dorks applied to more direct and high octane garage. Rat-a-tat percussion and pentatonic single-string bwang-bwang-bwung-bwung type shit that I don’t know how to describe so it’s good I’m not getting paid for this. Cheesiest vocals imaginable. The end.(BG)
(Milk ‘N Herpes Records // myspace.com/milknherpes)
Dissuaders "Minutes To Go" LP
What an absolutely ridiculous record. I can't believe anyone thought this was a good idea. Hate Records, why? And they did nice silkscreened sleeves and heavy wax special editions to boot. These guys sound and look exactly like the Toilet Boyz. Junkie-punk meets garage-rawk meets pop-punk. Holy fucking shit. This is the band Satan should be booking for my arrival in hell.(RK)
(Hate Records // www.haterecords.com)
Drugs Dragons "Rat People" 7"
Second single from Tony Sagger's current outfit, and it's a self-released two-song one-sider. Pretty experimental for these Milwaukee retards when you think about it, which you really shouldn't. Primitive and deconstructed bizarro rock'n'roll that isn't that easy to describe...it's uh, druggy for sure...maybe a Night Terrors 45 played at 33rpm? Draggin'? Somebody stop me...Sluggish and echoed-out zombie-rock. I actually think there's a bit of a hook on "Rat People" there until it gets all broken down. "Cold Controls" has Satanic overtones, or I at least think it does. Sounds like it was recorded in a bottomless pit at least. This one is for hardcore Wisconsin rock nerds and Tonys fan club members only. LP coming on Dusty Medical, which I gotta hear now if only to see where this project goes next...(RK)
(Terror Trash // www.dustymedical.com)
Eat "Communist Radio" 7"
Do you seriously need me to review "Communist Radio" for you? What's left to say about thee all time KBD classic? A lot of people have their favorite KBD track but mine has always been "Communist Radio." There's something indefinably special about it. Is it the so lo-fi it sounds ethereal production quality? The Groovies' worshiping hooks? I dunno. I've never had any clue what it's supposed to be about either besides just a combining of two stock punk motifs. "Hey songs about Communism are cool and so are songs about radios. If we combined them we could write the COOLEST SONG EVER," is how I imagine the thought process going. Unfortunately the lyric sheet included herein did little to clear this matter up. Not too keen on "Catholic Love" but who fucking cares - what you have here is an affordable, high quality repro of a single that will set you back a weeks wage or so for an original. This is a no-brainer.(SB)
(Last Laugh // www.lastlaughrecords.us)
Eddy Current Suppression Ring "Wet Cement" 7"
If you're anything like me you think 99% of modern music is irredeemable bullshit. Think flaccid indie pop tracks that would have been better off going uncaptured, noisily deconstructed Stiltbreeze types, weirdo bedroom recording junk that will be remembered as the pop punk of the current era, uneasy listening sludge shoveled up by bands like the Lamps, decidedly uninspired genre dreck peddled off by sub-Nobunny funny punk buttlickers, and punk cum roots hogwash in the vein of the exceedingly bland Goodnight Loving. Look at that last sentence again. Depressing. I don't trust anyone's taste who is plugged into and excited about the current scene, which is why I never paid Eddy Current any mind despite the steamrolling hype surrounding them. I'd heard bits and pieces here and there but on first blush it sounded like nothing but repetitive drone backing an annoying singer with the emotional range of a microwave oven. In short, more disposable modern junk getting talked up in the online echo chamber. It probably would have been a long time before I gave them a second thought were it not for a particularly gushing message board paean from Scott Soriano talking them up as perhaps one of the classic bands of all time. Now when a guy who's been digging in bins since the Taft Administration praises a band in such effusive terms it's enough to make me give them a second look, so I downloaded "Primary Colours." First run though it didn't click. Second time, same thing. On the third listen I found parts of it surprisingly appealing, enough so that afterwords t I found myself coming back to it. After about a week I was converted. Eddy Current's hooks aren't of the immediately piercing variety used to catch fish or to climb pop charts in 1966. They're the kind that slowly work their way under your skin without you being aware of it until one day you wake up and find yourself drawn back for more as if compelled by some unseen hand - like slowly getting hooked on a drug perhaps. Poor metaphors aside, what I'm trying to say is that Eddy Current are a classic example of the "sleeper" band that takes a few listens to click. If you haven't given them a chance yet because you're a sensible chap who regards modern music with contempt, well I suggest making an exception here. Take it from one curmudgeon to another: this is one of those instances where a little open mindedness might yield big returns. Which brings us to the "Wet Cement" single. This isn't the best Eddy Current I've heard - that would be a tie between "Primary Colours" and "Rush to Relax" - but it's still a necessary little slab. The title cut is more apocalyptic and foreboding than their usual material but retains their signature economic songwriting and slow burn dynamics. The somewhat paranoid verse saunters along at a taught pace only to culminate in a crescendo of impending doom on the chorus. I still haven't figured out what most of the lyrics are, let alone what they mean, but it's evident the apocalypse prophesied therein is of a decidedly personal nature. Perhaps it's about all of the mini-doomsdays that workaday adulthood brings with it? Perhaps I'm talking out my ass? Either way, great tune. Things get decidedly more light-hearted on the flip with the delightful ode to mothers everywhere "Hey Mum." It's worth taking a second to recognize a lyricist having the courage to write a song like this considering how few songs break with the traditional - and by now putrefied - rock as rebellion myth and pay tribute to mothers everywhere. Good on ya Brendan Suppression. After that is a fairly lightweight if not enjoyable tune consisting almost entire of the lyrics, "we go in again, we go out again." Three guesses as to what that's about. In the hands of pretty much any other band such an obvious sexual pun would be unbearably trite but Eddy Current somehow make it work. Hell they make everything work when it normally shouldn't, which is a large part of their appeal. They're a great band.(SB)
Starts out with the mid-tempo stomper “Wet Cement.” This one kind of justifies all of the comparisons to The Troggs that some of the promo materials for “Rush to Relax” made. An extremely solid A side. The B side has a newer one called “Hey Mum.” A song that is pretty much all about how much Brendan Suppression loves his mom, and how thankful he is for her. Man, what a feel good song from a dude who miraculously makes some of the wimpiest lyrics being made today into charming testaments to the power of earnestness in song. Sing what you know Brendan!!!! “Through the Trees” sounds like it was taken from the cutting room floor from around the time of S/T or Primary Colours, which makes sense considering it was recorded in August of 2007. Believe me, this isn’t a bad thing. It is just as strong on anything from those albums. It just sounds sonically out of place with the newer tunes, but it adds nice variety to the 7” as a whole. I feel like my Eddy Current reviews are getting lazy. This band is so stubbornly consistent and good. That is why they are the most well known of all the rockers from the down under land of OZ, and that’s why they have a 7” on “boutique label” Mexican Summer. Which, by the way FUCK MEXICAN SUMMER!!!! Those guys put out pretty nice quality vinyl, but at an extremely expensive cost. Presumably, I guess, because they are “limited.” But my record is labeled “542/500.” Um, seriously guys, is that even possible? Believe me, I really don’t care about limited presses, but if you are going to make it a selling point, you had better not lie or fuck up about it. This isn’t the first Mexican Summer release I have that is mislabeled like that either. Anyways, crappy trend hopping label aside, “Wet Cement” is fucking solid, get it if you can.(ES)
(Mexican Summer // www.mexicansummer.com)
Effi Briest "Rhizomes" LP
All girl outfit from Brooklyn (natch) who work hard at establishing a Teutonic aesthetic, from cribbing their name from a German feminist novel to creating a somewhat psychedelic Krautrock drive with plenty of darkness and a stoic vocal performance from a pretty sounding young lass who has an interesting Ari Up style delivery. They temper the frigidity with post-punk dance rhythms in the style of PiL, Pop Group and other dance/dub Eighties UK adventurers. "Mirror Rim" is ostensibly the "hit" here, and I think it's a little too gimmicky, but the backwards synth/guitar drone and hooky percussion make you want to forgive the lyrical cuteness. 'Rhizomes' is most enjoyable when they really drift on longer cuts like the title track or "Nights". When they up the tempo it dances a little to far outside my sphere of interest. I always tend to judge Sacred Bones releases on whether or not I want to own the Special Edition of the LP (and as you know, their Special Editions are no joke - this one came with a letter-pressed leather sleeve - they're a pleasure to own, and I have more than a few) or can live with just the "regular" edition (which most of the time are of better quality than any other labels "specials"). I can live with a regular edition of this one. Not bad, but not a total winner either, although they have an engaging sound (which is unusual for a band of girls from Brooklyn these days). As stereotypical as I might sound here, this one will have a broader appeal to the ladies for sure. Not exactly a "feminist" record, but they're pointing in that direction.(RK)
(Sacred Bones // www.sacredbonesrecords.com)
El Vicio “Longarisse” 7”
I guess it’s been some time since I listened to these cats. I recall them being horror obsessed and on the bombastic garage tip (early Blowtops, Dwarves and such). Welp, not as much these days. This time around it’s a solid psych-trash; heavy on the fuzz and wah-wah worship. The A-sides’ title track is a mid-tempo rumpshaker that has a modern Segall drugmelt goin’ on…if he was to try Sixties French pop on for size. Nothing overly fancy or mind blowing, but I’m digging it with my morning coffee. Side B cranks it up a notch with "Death Trip 2024". This’n has more of the evil vibe I remember, but also shows traces of early Dirtbombs clatter ands the BFTG aesthetic. Oh shit...here comes that wah pedal again. Pretty swell! Acid damaged roots causing the hair to loosen. More Grave-side worship and the corpse of the Black Lips is starting to reek havoc on "Crash". A good, simple stomper. It’s kewl. Sonic Chicken 4 ties? I’m outta’ the loop. (RSF)
(Rococo Records // myspace.com/rococorecords)
Electric Bunnies "Pretty Joanna" 7"
First Electric Bunnies appearance since the LP, which I think was a bit overshadowed by the Jacuzzi Boys record that it was released in tandem with (I know that in my head I have this unfair rivalry between the two bands due to the geography and time frame they share, even though it's a meaningless comparison in reality), and the board game gimmick was clever but I don't think the tunes were all the way there, particularly when measured against the strength of their singles, all of which were fantastic. Maybe it's a case of putting my expectations too high or I was finally distracted by the children's book aesthetic they work with that I'm not fully a fan of. Yet, it's that adolescent peculiarity that gives them their character as a band. Who knows, it's something I'm still working out, and the LP was by no means a bad record in the end. Right now I'm going to go with the justification that they are a singles band which led me down this particular path of dissection. And "Pretty Joanna" certainly places them back in a more favorable place in my head. They create some enchanting drone here, feedback billowing like smoke, crackling with delayed energy, whispering and moaning in unison, the reiterated lyrics and their monotone delivery adding a chanted inner mysticism, propulsed by a steady drum current repeating upon itself. Heavy and heady stuff. "I Swear I'll Never Let You Go" plays to the eccentric poppiness they often exhibit, a jangling and childlike love song sentiment, slightly skewed by the out-of-tune backing harmony and in playful oppostiton to the weight of the A-Side composition, but subtly carried by similar repetitive elements. I'm not enamored with it, yet I also can't put away the A-Side. What it comes down to for me, once again, is the struggle I have with an aesthetic I'm not into and putting it aside when they create magic as they do with "Pretty Joanna". A band that really challenges me as a listener, and I thank them for it.(RK)
(Sacred Bones // www.sacredbonesrecords.com)
Exiles From Clowntown "#2" 7"
Second (duh) single from this post-Three Toed Sloth outfit who have been hanging around but largely unheard for a longish spell, keeping the torch aloft for those who love the thuggish times when Aberrant and Red/Black Eye ruled the land and feedtime were still together. "Around The Corner" is chiseled out of limestone with a big bottomed bass/drum throb with some minimal guitar wheezing blowing the dust off. I think I hear some vocals being shouted from the next territory over. "Whistling Assassin" is murky and shady in a mid-Eighties post-punk style but not in a trite Cave-ian goth way, but in a sturdily driven and and strongly and slowly paced style reminiscent of feedtime or a Venom P. instrumental or hornless Fungus Brains. Tribally hypnotic drum/bass with the guitar reverb shimmering like a desert mirage throughout. If you listen very closely you can actually hear the assassin. A superb little record that could only have come from Australia. I assume some people will listen to this and expect to have their hair blown back, buut it's not about the bombast. For me, it's about the tradition and simplicity of style this thing upholds and brings into the new century. It gives me hope that there are still true believers carrying the torch out there. Scum stats: 200 copies only, with sleeves that prove you can do a lot with a hole punch and some rubber stamps when you put your mind to it. The aesthetic further enforces the no-nonsense primitivity of the tunes as well. Exceptional.(RK)
(Great Dividing // www.greatdividing.com)
Everything Falls Apart "Ghost" 7"
Buffalo's EFA continue their hard-working and always improving sounds with their third single and fifth record overall. One of my favorite local acts, on this one I feel like they've crossed a line from their usual angst-filled hardcore to some genuinely angry and near hostile modern punk rock. "Ghost" is low-tempo and deliberate with a crushing rhythm, well-crafted guitar parts and some of Pat's most forceful and alienated vocals yet. "Brace Position" mellows slightly from the wall-smashing A-Side, with a beginning indie-rock guitar dynamic giving way to a destructive second half that careens dangerously to an ending rife with guitar wreckage and death-ray feedback. I think it's their best yet, equally emotive and furious and a great introduction to a band deserving your attention if you haven't heard them yet. 500 copies.(RK)
(EFA // www.evrythingfallsapart.org)
(ex-)Fag Cop 7” EP
I hear its Ex-Fag Cop at this point? Perhaps they’re suffering from post-op tranny-isms? Something chick-like is shouting on here at one point. More dick than brains. The opener "Gimme Fag Agenda" hits like a mean spirited Kraptonite platter of the Midwest 90s rawk scene. The cymbal crashes on this track alone will keep the old fogies and their tinnitus happy. A fucking sizzling blur. "Remembered Future…' has that yelping lass I mentioned above all over its metal-edged, yet hyperblown punk mayhem. Covered in shit, 4-track filth and rat pedal massacre. Over too soon, really. Flip: "Matricide" is an airline crash of shouted garage hate. A brutal nosedive. Has that Ladies Night gone Evolutions spunk crunch down. Me love it. Beware of this on headphones. "Hard on Crime" is the groover at the end that chugs just a tad clearer in this rock-n’-roll toilet bowl. A solid stool down the tube. Grab this if you actually still like punk. 100 copies pressed on white and 200 on regular black slabs. There was a ridiculously limited sleeve variation made for the release party (31 of ‘em and gone, daddy gone). 69 come with alternate bizarro-printed sleeves. (RSF)
(Bat Shit // myspace.com/flyingrodentfecalmatter)
Famines “Syllables” 7”
A little sleeper single of Canuck 2-piece punk rock fury. Not mind blowing, but still a solid charmer in my book. Has that sneak up from the unknown attack that made me like The Sess rekkid a year or so ago. "Syllables" is quick and blown with crisp production, but without a hint of reverb. That’s like a Mojito on a summer day. Ahhh. Refweshing. I think I shoulda’ saved the Rib Cages comparison from last issue for this record. "Got Lies…" is the flip and it’s where the true magic resides. Bombastic quiet/loud dynamics with some serious pounding going on underneath the muted mumbling. Like if Steve Albini was to produce (or even play) with a BFTG band…you could have this. I think I like it a lot. Simple but effective trickery, kids. Has one of them little pieces of paper that lets you load the tracks to yer fave floppy disc or cartridge. Neato! (RSF)
(Mammoth Cave Recording Co. // www.mammothcave.bigcartel.com)
Thee Fine Lines "She's Kind of Evil" 7"
Missouri three-piece who've been doing their thing for a good spell now. I remember reviewing one of their first records for Blank Generation, back when they had a cute Asian girl in the band. Now it's three dudes, I think there's a set of brothers and they're still toiling away doing the Childish-influenced lo-fi garage-punk. A-Side is more Headcoats, B-Side is more Caesars. Well put together, but unmemorable in the long run. I'm sort of surprised this band is still kicking. They must have good day jobs or something and this is just their hobby. I bet they fare well in Europe though. More Ben Lyon artwork, who is turning into a regular Dirty Donny these days. 300 copies.(RK)
(Ken Rock // myspace.com/kenrockrecords)
The Fitt "When The Fitt Hit The Shan" LP
The Fitt are a power trio from Pittsburgh who have at least three singles out so far (two of them on Big Neck) and seem to get no respect or attention for whatever reasons. Well, I can see these dudes not being really "hip" in the scene, which makes me like them all the more for it. And they're playing in a style that isn't exactly fashionable right now, which again adds interest for me. Terrible joke title aside, this LP finds them grippin and rippin for some really exceptional heavy-rock action that I think a lot of people would dig on if they gave it the chance. The biggest touchstone while listening to this is Helmet's compact riff-and-move indie-metal churn-n-burn. The drummer is an abolute crusher and could probably give Stanier a run for his money, if not take him out completely. Pretty bad ass East Coast grunge, which is remarkably being played in 2010. I give them a hell of a lot of credit, they do it with real tenacity - and live, the distortion seeps out a little more and has them sounding more straight-up AmRep style dirty. As for this record, they mix up the long and short tunes for good pacing, "Pig Factory" is fucking massive, "Dry Skin" could be a 'Bleach'-era outtake with some added heft, they even get a Tad burly on some of these, if you know what I'm saying. Unsane during the gone metal years? But really, it sounds so much like Helmet I couldn't stop thinking of the video for "Unsung" every time I listen to this...you know, where they're playing in some blown-out warehouse and shit? It should be pretty easy to determine if you need this or not. Either you like riffs....Scum Stats: 500 copies, 45rpm white vinyl, the fetching artwork makes up for the bad title a little bit...(RK)
(Deadfinger Music// myspace.com/thefitt)
Fuck Knights "Oh-Oh" 7"
I actually had a feeling this one was gonna be good, despite it being on Munster. I thought the ridiculous band name was actually funny and the hideous Big Daddy Roth-esque art signified a band perhaps taking the piss on the trappings of cliched garage-rock. I was hoping, at least. Well, for once, I was wrong. It's just average hot dogging garage vomit that lives up to the aforementioned stereotypes. Four tracks of big beat stomp, one track with frat-sax, the mandatory girl's name song title ("Kristina!") and plenty of wailing guitar and "OW YEAH BABY!"-esque voxing. Well played but not at all interesting. The best part is that the guitar player is named Sir Fuxalot. The Outdoorsmen would eat these guy's lunches.(RK)
(Munster Records // www.munster-records.com)
Fuckin' Flyin' A-Heads "Swiss Cheese Back" 7"
Authorized and exact 30th anniversary repro of THEE Hawaiian punk record, which is barely punk (in the best way) when you get down the logistics of it. I always thought of it as one of those accidental KBD-type things, sounding less like a straight rock record as it does a New Wave noise experiment or something, but also having that bizarro what-the-fuck-is-going-on quality in both the playing and recording that elevates records like Tapeworm or Tampax to genius levels. If you've never heard it before, you certainly need to. The mix is ridiculous, there's a plodding two-note backbeat that flirts with industrial strength power and then fades in and out seemingly at random, with some free-form guitar noodling surrounding it that you might think was recorded at a totally different time in a totally different place than the rest of the band. They break it down and jam it out at the end, totally schizo. Oh, I forgot to mention the vox, didn't I? Savage crazy-man barking that wanders in and out of the song at will. The whole affair is pretty much fucked. "Watching TV" essentially repeats the formula, with the vocals turning to mush and the rhythm section actually churning out something akin to a Hawkwind-like space rocker and the guitar is less al dente and more sopped in gravy. An incredibly strange classic and a Kugelburg fave, you know you need it. And it's for sale at the Nice Price too.(RK)
(De Stijl Records // destijlrecs.com)
The Get Offs “Airplane Fight!” 7"
It’s 4:02pm and I’m feeling like a chump trying to inflate with personality a review of a record that’s got none to begin with. Nervous percussion under hookless, thought-out riffs on an all night formula-binge, “Drunk” of which conveys very well their ignorance of the very music they’re making to be on the Brutal Knights level – the speech-of-a-spiel about falling down in a bar being on par with that song about wacky summer antics for which I’d buy some bearded man’s per-zine if I was remotely interested in what other mid-20 year-olds do on the weekend. I live in Buffalo, NY. You don’t think I know about getting drunk? Booooring. Leave me alone. Straight up training wheels garage rock, imbued with the deluded notion that this genre is capable of popular acceptance in 2010. All rights reserved.(BG)
(self-released maybe // myspace.com/thegetoffs)
Girls of the Gravitron "Magnetic Mountain" LP
Full length LP from this post-Kazalok/Barbaras and pre-Magic Kids group of next gen Memphis kids that follows a 7" released on Boom Chick what seems like a decade ago. I'm a big fan of the Kazalok 12", the Magic Kids notsomuchso. 'Magnetic Mountain' progresses further into indie-pop territory than the 7", and wouldn't be out of place on Slumberland (or whatever other label os slinging garage-pop and calling it indie-rock these days) or being reviewed on Pitchfork. Sixteen tracks of hip echo-jangle that has a decent sound when taken as a whole, but there aren't really any tracks that stand out. Very middle-of-the-road stuff that makes for a lot of soundalike tunes with borderline "psych" touches. The bulk of the record is made up of mid-tempo indie-rockers that cruise by with little fanfare, a lot of lilting keys and guitars and they fulfill their quota for reverbed out vox. "Kali Yuga" might be the hit as it sounds a little bit like 'Green Mind'-era Mascis and has an identifiable hook. There's a good uptempo garage-rocker on the flip ("Wetsnow"?) that sounds pretty clean and has a good blown-up conclusion. Has a lockgroove thing at the end which reveals a "hidden track" or two with extra echo-effects and they're actually a couple of the better moments. Nothing as good as "CIA" though. Now that was a great song. I guess a lot of people were waiting for this to come out, so if you're one of them, congrats. Sounds pretty run of the mill to me. I'd rather listen to the new Ponys record. Or The Mantles. Scum stats: 500 copies, Goner has some limited versions with alternate sleeves covering up the teenage nudity, which wasn't the band's idea apparently.(RK)
(Miss Lonelyhearts Records // myspace.com/misslonelyheartsrecords)
GLAM s/t 7”
Unabashedly brutal, cold, and distant songs from another Barcelona hardcorepunk group - guys from Über, Atentado, Horrör, etc. (I think Dani is in all of those bands). Entirely unlike their related bands, this all sounds like a very Spanish and more dissonant recreation of FUs “My America”, or a less tuneful Jerry's Kids. It's got the mean streak in the wall of sound that the best Boston records had for a bit. Relentless, relentless, relentless. Great lyrics. Roughly: “So many books and lessons, teachers and sermons, and I have learned nothing. So much time sitting there bored and disgusted, and I have learned nothing.” Vicious and pretty damn short... you will flip this record many a time before you take it off the table. A really great debut.(NG)
(La Vida es un Mus // www.lavidaesunmus.com)
Grids “Suits” EP
Heavy music of that pound-it-into-the-dirt styling that’s grown popular again. Smell this sweat soaked behemoth; it emanates a foul stench with traces of Dope Guns & Fuggin and a strong noise rock bouquet. Kinda’ Landlords-ish, kinda' Clockcleaner-y…hell, it even gives off a more art-fucked Helmet feel. Meaty rhythmic beats and lurching bass lines that stick together in a tribal stew. Choked and squelched axe work takes it all up (then dumbs it down) a notch over what coulda’ tragically been some sad Nu-Metal garbage, if put in lesser hands. Good thing these hands have their bloody roots in Caspar Brotzman, Noxagt and the like. Phew. My kind of record…great stuff! I reviewed the demo cassette this issue too. This is a great year for hate! Grey marbled vinyl & a download card. 500 exist? I think so… (RSF)
(Lunchbox Records // www.lunchboxrecords.com)
Grown-Ups "Not Friends" EP
More sounds from the Calgary scene, which surprisingly has a real lot going on out there on the prairie. This trio sent in a charming cassette a ways back that I remember a bit or two from, sort of a semi-tough garage punk power trio thing. It's a husband and wife tandem with another dude making for the menage a trois. All four tracks stomp along at the same tempo, title cut reminds me a lot of Sudden Walks and Estrogen Highs without as much of the fun, vocals (lead and back-up) are just the guys shouting at the top of their lungs which gets the point across well enough. The girl makes a peep here and there on a chorus too. "Get Rich Quick" has a real melancholic rock appeal to it. After a few spins you recognize a DC-scene post-hardcore rock vibe to it all, an agressive sort of dramatic (I don't want to say emo...) and deliberate desperation to them which the bottom heavy recording style enhances. Drums sound a little weird and fluttery at times though. It really is grown-up garage-punk, that band name is no joke. No kids stuff or goofing around here, for better or worse. A little bit dry, but pretty tough for some Canadians I reckon. Scum stats: 400 on clear, 100 on red.(RK)
(self-released // myspace.com/wearegrownups)
Gun Outfit “Possession Sound” LP
One of the Northwest’s worst-kept secrets, vigorously hyped by the Sex Vid internet propaganda machine, torn apart by the lure of the Turkish lifestyle... Gun Outfit. "Possession Sound" (the body of water pictured, I believe) is a vastly enjoyable dip into the same waters treaded in late-80s SST classics, but with a far less pretentious approach and execution. Truly lush and beguiling sounds… The lazy comparison is to el Juventud de Sónico - while there’s certainly a degree of accuracy to that, they’re clearly more interested in ominous architecture, songs as moods in a moment in time, in working in a controlled environment. Far, far, far less self-indulgence than any of the bands they are often compared to - it's clear that efficient, streamlined and organic design is what they value. Very reminiscent of the innocent/not innocent dynamic fiddling from VU’s third, with the same unadulterated beauty that makes that record so appealing. Interlocking male and female vocals, guitars that trade focus just as often, and a drummer that has improved threefold from the first outing knock this one into a much more memorable place than I'd kept "Dim Light". There are 5-7 songs on here that will stick in your head for entire days. They’ve really nailed the powerful craftsmanship that they exude when they play - Olympia’s go-to recording pseudonym-lover Captain Trips Ballsington is building quite a name for his/herself. A wonderful record for more subdued activities, to spur introspection, for smoky inspiration. And yet again, excellent cover artwork. This band only gets more and more promising... bring on the third. (NG)
(Post Present Medium // www.postpresentmedium.com)
Hallux Valgus “GALE = Paranoia + Frustration + Psychose” 12”
A band named after a bunion. Well, all righty then! Three labels have again joined forces, yet only able to scrounge up enough scratch to press another dreaded one-sided EP. Doesn’t anyone wanna’ finish a record these days? Oil spills people…gawd damn. The press release says they sound like early Sonic Youth meets Teenage Jesus. Athletic Automaton too. Yup. I can hear all of that. Sure. Kinda’ cool. A power drill and drums French duo that might appeal to the Load Records collector, circa 2000. Sounds a bit like Black Time's Lemmy Caution going to an art-rock camp for the summer. Ain’t bad, but its shrill sound seems to hurt my teeth by the mid-mark. And again, it’s only one-sided. Oh well. The artwork almost fooled me into thinking it was a Vinyl on Demand release. Ha. (RSF)
(Gaffer/Downboy/Maquillage et Crustaces // www.gafferrecords.com)
His Electro Blue Voice "Wolf" 12" EP
A welcome return from HEBV whose agressive and innovative take on the darker and more experimental corners of the punk rock landscape exhibited on two previous singles (on cutting edge labels S-S and Sacred Bones) are some of the more under-ratedly great records of the recent past. I think some people wrongly imagine them as a common synth-punk band because of the name possibly, but HEBV are nowhere near that. The 12" maxi-single format really allows some stretching out, and they take full advantage. "Wolf" pounds and traverses space not unlike an alternate universe Greg Sage - the sort of driving and dramatically charged musical excursions that actually take you places mentally for extended duration, music that lifts you from doldrum perhaps, music that offers that vicarious escape we're often looking for. Live-sounding drums and submarining bass line provide the vehicle for this adventure, the first few minutes which are straight punk with guitar shred and cymbal crash ripping through the present, giving way to the extended journey to the future, with the sounds of space winds and a fucking flute solo that brings to mind a Hawkwind-esque trip through the space-time continuum which gets kicked into hyperdrive with the return of an enervating guitar line that builds for a huge wind-up which ceases to exist in a perfectly abrupt fashion, leaving us with the desolate landing on a barren planet. What are we to do now? We've been stranded. Amazing fantasy. "Worm" bursts forth from the negative zone on Side B, a drone monster with a dangerous sounding elastic bass frequency propelling things forth, industrial drill guitar plunging into the earth and heading for the molten core of the universe, snake-like synth sounds and slimy effects emerging from wormholes, distress calls are sent out to the multiverse, instrument panel ceases functioning, sonar pulses go awry, photon torpedoes are engaged and the evil mastermind appears at the end to screamingly reveal his demented plan and then it STOPS. Another lonely epilogue appears from the land that time forgot. Science Fiction novella of the year. Buy this you geek.(RK)
(Holidays Records // www.holidaysrecords.it)
Hollywood “Baltimore Queens” EP
Very glad this bit dated EP by Baltimore’s scum-peddlers bears the name it does. A testament to the jutting chin of the white trash diva and all commoditized garbage, slithering outta the sort of shit-belt, Mid-Atlantic, forgot-about-that-city-city that it should. The sounds of that big fleshy chunk of sub-middle class America, summed up with these charlatans’ continued affinity for photoshopping their dopey mugs upon the torsos of pretty girls, which looks like it’ll be hopping back to the sausage tent on the front of their soon-cumming LP “Stunts,” sure to be another piece of groovy wax my friends question my character for. Well BU-LOW me, chumps, this band’s still as penetrating a gutter-funk band as ever. Their previous singles and whatever other shits were on “Hits! An All Time Low” had a sheet of fungi not as apparent on this, with a certain blown-to-bits mind-milkshake quality, while this one’s a tad more hopped up. Maybe they went into the studio while on the drugs instead of afterwards this time. More in common with Tractor Sex Fatality and that sorta wopping sledgehammer-of-a-villanelle structure. This one barks and bites. (BG)
(Ken rock records // myspace.com/kenrockrecords)
Holy Cobras "Feed Yr Head" 7"
Ottawa's finest blow right out of the gates here with "Feed Yr Head", which is a spectacular and bombastic assemblage of heavy-motored beat, psych(ic) guitar trip and synth/drone decoration. The only current comparision I can muster is a heavier and more determined Cheveu. The vocals somehow give the electronics a human rock'n'roll breath of life and the multiple guitar lines further distance this from synthetic ground. Definitely rock music, and somewhat innovative at that. The B-Side turns the speed way down for a cough syrup drawl-n-crawl into outer Spacemen dimesions of reverb and walls of narcotic sound. Easy to lose yourself in this one.(RK)
(Telephone Explosion // www.telephoneexplosion.com)
Human Skab "Thunder Hips and Saddle Bags" LP
"Human Skab is a 10 year old boy. He plays African music with buckets and spoons." So said the text on the Human Skab cassette, originally released in 1986. It really is a 10 year old kid, recorded and abetted by his older cousin and his siblings and friends (and I don't really know where the African music thing came from). There's a great story behind it all, one that I'm not going to retell in it's entirety for this review, but that can be browsed here and in the liner notes of this record when you buy it. Because you should buy it. Obviously there is an undeniable novelty aspect here. But there's also something beautiful and rewarding to be gleaned from listening to this (and the other LP "Stay Thirsty"), which for myself at least, is its help in my constant struggle to recapture and recollect the purity of my youth and the personal remembrances it brings to mind. I think we all banged on pots, used the microphone from the Skull Mountain playset and wrote and played "songs" at some point. Maybe we didn't all roll tape on them (I know I did a few times), but we all tried. Maybe we started a "band" with some friends, maybe we played shows for captive audiences of parents and sisters and family pets, maybe we made fake album covers. But I think we all did it in some shape or form, because no one told us we couldn't. I think what's attractive here is seeing our young selves reflected in Human Skab. This is also obviously a special case as well - Skab is no doubt an exceptionally creative kid and is innocently and accidentally poignant at times. The assistance he received certainly helped, but doesn't at all interfere in his vision, and the Skab definitely had a vision. We all want to remember and relive the days when our biggest concerns were waiting for Twisted Sister videos to air on MTV, who was challenging Hulk Hogan for the belt that week and what time we were playing baseball or GI Joe with the other kids on the block that afternoon. The only things we knew of the "real" world were filtered through our parents and snippets of the TV news - Russia was the enemy, Ronald Reagan ate jellybeans, people died and were buried. These Human Skab records give us all that nostalgia. Plus, they're actually a fun listen. It's by no means "great" music in the lamest sense, but great music in the way a kid banging on whatever he could sneak out of the kitchen, a guitar with three strings, a badly tuned piano, some toys guns and yelling ad-libbed lyrics based around pre-imagined song titles can be. These tapes circulated on the college radio circuit back then, and even got some local press and even national ink in Spin. I'd bet good money Byron Coley owns a complete set. There's no reason you shouldn't at least have the reissue LP(s). You won't listen to a more honest record all year. Not something you're going to listen to daily, but a record you do need to experience and something you're going to want to have in the archives when the urge arises.(RK)
(Family Vineyard // www.family-vineyard.com)
Idi Amin & The Amputees “Disco Bitch” 7”
Two quick and piercing potty mouthed stabs at the KBD sweepstakes by members that roll in the Francis Harold/Harpoon-tang posse. "Disco Bitch" has an early Reatards skidmark in its britches that adds a bit to the usual Freestone crap-tacular stew. Not a stretch at all, actually. Oh well, you catch my stink. "Nasty Nazi" tweaks the Ramones’ "Happy Family" into a gross little gem with an inept solo that’d make the Final Solutions proud. Classy it ain’t. But it can be fun to reminisce. Fits in nicely along with the Going Underground/Fashionable Idiots rosters. 500 copies: 100 on white and 50 on pulpy swirled red. Why yes, I do believe that the cloudy blood red edition actually sounds better than the others. Screw you. (RSF)
(Going Underground // www.goingundergroundrex.com)
Impediments s/t LP/CD
‘Tis been quite a while since I dropped this name around here. Greasy pile of post-pube nut bust with varying degrees of glammed up trash n’ swagger that rollicks along in the Dolls/Rendezvous turf. For the moderne ears: Think late-era Carbonas or Clone-y D’s territory. Take notice of Leann or 2012 for future reference. These kids have grown up a tad, playing it less scrappy than the prior single but just as hot…shit, they even tickle the ivory up in this joint. Not as budget or as shtick-fueled as there regional home would lead you to believe. Think of a Time Flys only with less fashionable posturing. Most of the tracks are full of what you’d expect from Cali-teens gorging on hot dogs, jerk off mags and paint fumes…songs of chicks, weed, and violence. Speaking of Violence, that tune’s a serious barn burner of teenage hate. Herky-jerking back in forth thru 70’s NY to 80’s Midwest and back in a flash. Hostin’ a local all-night skate? Hoping for a knife-fight riot fueled on liquor ladened Slurpees and pimple-deep hormonal howl? Invite these lads. The Impediments will fit in just fine.(RSF)
(Happy Parts // www.happypartsrecordings.com)
Insubordinates s/t LP
Debut LP from Rochester, NY's Insubordinates, one of Rotcore's flagship acts and the first to get an LP into circulation, on a non-local label to boot. Living in such close proximity I've had the good fortune to see the Rotcore scene in action, and I can honestly state that it's one of the best pockets of pure-punk bands in the country today. They've created this outsider gang mentality, with Insubs guitar/vox guy Brett as it's Marlon Brando/Darby Crash ringleader. And while Rotcore has shown flashes of recorded brilliance to date (singles by Rational Animals, Bad Taste and Brain Car), I think this LP is the "one", the record to finally get these kids some attention outside of WNY, whether they want it or not. Recorded and produced entirely in the analog domain, it's a crisp yet still slightly and charmingly unpolished perfect ten song blast that clocks in at the punk-preffered sub-30 minute length. Punk through and through, Insubordinates have created a Rustbelt bastardization of the surf-punk genre, influenced as equally by the Adolescents and Germs as The Ventures and Troggs imbued with a desperation and snot-nosed angst that could only be manufactured by a bunch of Popper-addicted kids from a burnt out husk of a city left to rot by the crash of its industry and economy. Tracks like "River City R'N'R" and a cover of local Fifties non-hit "Rockin' Rochester" show how proud they are living through it and in it and creating their own empire out of the ashes. Non-stop energy, frantic and clean guitar lines, constant tempo-pushing drum-n-bass - it's a gushing release of adrenaline and hormones. "Pier Pressure" and "Nagasaki" are the instrumental standards with added saxophone for extra swing, "Disillusioned" is the youth loser anthem, "Hipster County" rages against everyone, "So Tragic" and "My Side" are sixty-second adderral-punk chargers. The real piece de resistance here is "Cuckoo Cass E", a Frankenstein's monster of a song built with an ominous bassline, needle-sharp guitar sneer and the vocals of a pissed off young man screaming at the fucking wall - their "Shutdown", if you will. A perfect punk rock LP that I can't endorse heartily enough. Get in on it, hodads.(RK)
(Cowabunga Records // www.cowabungarecords.com)
Ivy St. "Oh Their Faces" 7"
Three-piece indie outfit from Tasmania offering up two tracks of belabored slo-mo rock. Your standard angst-ridden post-punk mechanics, trying very hard to summon up an Albini reference or two from some hip blogs and coming off sounding a bit forced. The singer sounds like one of those "crazy" types trying hard to keep himself under control, guitar does the typically minimal slash-n-strum poking around the "tight" rhythm section. Apparently even the sonic wonderland that is Australia has boring bands.(RK)
(Wireless Records // www.wirelessrecords.com)
JJ & The Real Jerks "The Future is Now" 7"
Sleeve art looks like it was done by the guy who draws the covers for The Goon. Space-age vampire hot-rodding. The tunes...well, your rawk doesn't get much more straight forward than this. "The future is now...and IT STINKS!" AWLRIGHT! Mid-tempo slugging Electric Frankenstein stylee, they even bring in a sax on the B-Side ("Hooky") for added spice. "I'm playin' hooky!". OW YEAH! This record seems to have been made exclusively for Eric Cecil. 100 copies only on glow-in-the-dark wax! AW YEAH, AWLRIGHT!(RK)
(self-released // jjandtherealjerks.blogspot.com)
Junior Makhno "The Theatre of The Macabre" EP
Is this a fucking hip-hop record? What the fuck? You Frenchmen and your wacky labels! That said, it's pretty good horror-core with a death metal slant. Musty beats deep from the tomb, pretty aggro, you can't really say anything bad about the guy's flow as he doesn't spit any verses so much as just drop a couple phrases over some DJ cutting his wrists. The Street Side is actually your straight hip-hop joint, then on the Cave Side you get some noisy cut-ups with metal guitar sampling for some nasty instrumental bangers. I'm thinking Junior is the DJ/producer with a guest MC on the A-Side. "Metal-rap crossover" says the hype sheet. Sure. Dank shit that most of you could probably give two shits about, and I can't believe I just reviewed a hip-hop record for the 'bo, and it wasn't bad at all. What the fuck is going on? I think you might be able to order this from S-S, as he caters to these offbeat French labels. Crazy times, indeed. 300 pieces of hot wax dropped.(RK)
(Bruit Direct Disques // bruit-direct.org)
King Lee "Tire Shop" 7"
Infectious two-side long groove from King Lee, apparently a NOLA legend and associate of the Spellcaster Lounge posse. Quintron lays down the slinky organ-n-echo beat over which the King waxes stories and shit-talk about his fellow employees at the actual tire shop he was famous for working at. Sounds like something Too $hort might have used in the early days with a little more cough syrup added. You get some actual tire shop sound effect samples to give things a bit more "flavor", as the kids call it. This isn't a novelty record, it's a legit banger and this beat is the real deal. A good summer evening jammer for crusing real slow and low. RIP King Lee. Comes in both black tire and limited whitewall editions.(RK)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)
Kitchen’s Floor s/t 7”
The jagged A-side tracks ("Orbit and Regrets") are recorded with just enough shittiness in the mix that it fools you into thinking it’s only an overpowered guitar & vocal kind of set up.…but the drums & bass hang back there far from the beat down SM57. Superbly snotty in the instrumental attack and vocals that are just grating enough to compete as thee Aussie entry for the Eels damaged contest, if there ever is one (or more aptly, Icky Boyfriends). This is pretty great in a craptacular way. Catchy yet thoroughly broken. The B-side has one long(er) player ("Still Night"). Mess Folk could learn a thing or two from this…shit, they might be related. You can make out the drums and bottom end this time around, but the vocalist is dangerously close to nodding out. Kinda’ plodding, in a Pink Reason drone cum Feelies pound sorta’ way. I dig the dirge of it, though it tends to drag on a bit. The A-side packs just enough venom for me to wanna’ file it in with the keepers. Pressed on that URP trash colored vinyl we’ve come to love. (RSF)
(RIP Society // www.ripsociety.blogspot.com)
Ladies "Six More Reasons to Hate..." EP
I didn't pay much attention to these inbreds after I saw them play (or at least attempt to play) one of the worst sets I've ever seen in the basement of Now That's Class a few years ago. Singer was absolutely obnoxious in the worst way and I just figured fuck 'em, I heard and saw May, Odietus, Sgt. Stash and co. do this shit right years ago. Another retread scum-punk band. But now that I've put some distance between that "gig" and spun a couple of singles in the comfort of the TB bullpen, I realize that's exactly what I should have expected from The Ladies in the first place. An easy realization to make, but sometimes a band just rubs you the wrong way, ya know? And again, exactly the point these guys are trying to make. These boners are holding down the Mid-Atlantic trash punk title once held by those Candy Snatchers (and they have a release on Black Lung to prove it), even though they sound a lot more like vintage Sub Pop-era Dwarves. A bit drunker and less fuelled by cheap speed, and the guy sounds more than a bit like Blag. This is their fifth single if I'm reading the scorecard properly, their second on Grave Mistake, and I must admit all of them have wonderful artwork - nazis, broads, monsters, cocks, Ilsa. Sure, it's all been done before, but I enjoy their tenacious dedication to the aesthetic. Obviously this EP has six cuts, boilerplate trash-punk themes given the workout, they're a tight rock'n'roll band and not all that sloppy. Recorded loud with a good clean-cutting guitar sound (and the guy has some licks), "She's A Cutter" is the hit, "Dismemberabilia" is the swinger, "Too Bad About Dad" is Spider Babies-ish creepy and mean-spirited raunch. These tards are a much more fitting heir to the throne than Dirty Fingers ever were. If you want to hear a bunch of songs that will have you thinking if they stole that part from "Backseat of My Car" or "Drugstore" you should jump right in. To come full circle, yes they are a retread trash-punk band, absolutely enjoyable but not exactly innovative. But that's a hell of a lot better than being The Sandwitches. Kudos to you Ladies, keep on fighting the good fight. This comes on some great looking clear violet wax, with double-sided sleeve (the inner part of which shows various fliers, which proves a good point about this band and their "versatility" = one of the few outfits who make sense on bills with both Annihilation Time and Nobunny) and download code. Recommended for men of all ages.(RK)
(Grave Mistake Records // www.gravemistakerecords.com)
Last Stand "Just a Number" 7"
Been a fan of "Just a Number" since first hearing it on a Shake Some Action CD some seven or so years ago. I like the incongruity between the wimpy vocals and the sleazeball misogynist lyrics about using girls for sex. It's almost reminiscent of something the Rousers would have spurted out in that regard; a cute and innocent sounding song about fornication and the pursuit thereof. Like all those British Invasion bands covering "I"m a Man" but totally missing the blatant sexuality of the lyrics and vocal delivery, thereby serving up lily white tales of primal poon-lust to virgin ears. Never heard "Caviare" on the b-side before picking this single up but it's a lot more overtly punk than the a-side. The vocals are still fey, but the lyrics seem almost high minded which was quite a surprise. It's a typical tale of class injustice as viewed from the bottom rungs of the economic totem pole, only ironically told from the perspective of the indolent rich with nothing better to do than play golf on a Sunday and eat caviar. It's a real rib sticking treat. Recommended for poor boys, horny sods, and anyone with a fancy for UK punk/powerpop. Me? At various times I've been all three so this really hits the spot.(SB)
(1977 // www.1977records.com)
Le Face s/t 12" EP
Perfectly decent mid-card punkarama from SoCal. These guys aren't going to challenge for the Heavyweight Championship any time soon, but they certainly have some entertaining moments on record to their credit. Along the same lines as Francis Harold and that crew, it's KBD-indebted punk with heaps of reverb on the vox. Instead of going for the nasty and sludgy aesthetic, they have a more angular beach-punk sound with some death punk darkside (including artwork from a member of Christian Death for added endorsement). Moody stuff with jangled and ringing guitar lines, recording has this weird compressed thing going on which gives the songs a sort trapped or claustrophobic vibe. I think their efforts are better the slower the are - "Cellophane" and "Plastic Factory" are the standouts. A little more unique than any of the Bakersfield crew, they have a good eye for artwork and a liekable modern update of the Orange County sound and there are certainly a few good cuts/ideas here. They sound real comfortable in their slightly Goth-rock skins and do well at creating a shadowy yet still agressively punk feel and they don't seem to be trying hard to be cool or wacky like many of their contemporaries. Definite contenders for the Intercontinental Belt.(RK)
(Tic Tac Totally // www.tictactotally.com)
Legendary Wings "Questions" 7"
Legendary Wings are a three-piece hailing from Kalamazoo, and I'm pretty sure that's Billy Fucking Crystal on the sleeve of their record. Stuttering John vs. Crystal is one of my favorite Stern bits of the guerilla-interview variety, as Billy turns out to be such a huge cocksucker. Hilarious. Two songs here, pretty lightweight jangly pop - nothing exceptional as far as I'm concerned. Played well enough, but just not at all remarkable. I'm sure fans of Jailllll and those who miss the Marked Men and are all over the new Goodnight Loving LP will find this a suitable diversion, though even they may be unamused by the 'Mats-lite action here.(RK)
(Tic Tac Totally // www.tictactotally.com)
Lemon Dots "Girl In Motion" 7"
Ultra-lo-fi guitar pop, AM radio style, one gal, her guitar and a tinny drum machine. Title cut goes in a Eric & The Happy Thoughts direction, "Not Old Enough For You" is rife with damaged feedbacking and punk tempo strung together with some sweet songstress-ing. Did I mention she's in Home Blitz now? Well, this cut is the closest in style to DD's outfit. B-Side has a couple more in the same vein as the first song, "Surprise Surprise" has some intriguing doubled vox/harmonies and an extra guitar "kick" on the chorus. Swell stuff. Scum stats: 300 copies on sensible yellow vinyl.(RK)
(Labor of Love // laboroflove.tumblr.com)
Louder "Idiot Mind" 7"
Do you remember how great Japanese punk was in the nineties? Louder does. They might have been in elementary school when Teengenerate and the Registrators were going strong, but you'd never know by listening to this single. Take this out of the spray painted canvas sleeve and throw a Wallabies logo on the label and I bet nobody could tell the difference. Louder are a bit more overtly Damned influenced than any of those bands were, but the spirit and execution is remarkably similar. Both tunes are aces if this kinda of stuff is your bag. Incredible live band too. Great to see young Japanese kids still playing punk rock without a trace of powerpop influence. There's hope yet for another Japanese punk resurgence.(SB)
(self-released // ??? - maybe try Record Shop Base?)
Marvelous Darlings "The Only One For Miles" 7"
Power-pop project from the ever-prolific Ben Cook, extraneous Fucked Up guitar player, the Young Governor, one-half of The Bitters and much much more. Title cut has him doing his best Cheap Trick impersonation. B-Side finds him feeling a little bit more precious, with some girl cooing alongside him. Not to be insulting or anything, but this is MTV ready for kids who got into pop-punk via Green Day and had "Time of Your Life" as the theme song for their prom. It is what it is, right?(RK)
(P.Trash Records // www.ptrashrecords.com)
Matt Melton "Still Misunderstood" LP
Matty, Matty, Matty. You can't throw a rock in the Termbo reviews bullpen these days without hitting a record he plays on or recorded. I know you gotta grab all you can while you can, but we also know absence makes the ears grow fonder in these oversaturated times as well. I think Melton has outpaced Melchior at this point, and I don't exactly think he's of the level of DM's craft just yet. But he sure throws a ton of shit at the wall, I will give him that. He is showing a developing knack for penning ultra-hooky garage, and his leanings towards the rock end of the spectrum are appreciated. He's also honed his skill for looking exactly like the guy in every vintage Seventies Polaroid picture of a party that you've ever seen. I respect his aesthetic even if it's one you can only pull of in SF or NYC without looking like a goon. Musically, I've been interested in Snakeflower 2 and Bare Wires, but I don't feel either outfit ever fully delivered the goods. They looked good and had a good "sound" and each had a track or two, but overall it just blended into a indistiguishable mass of sameness. Lots of middle-ground but nothing really poked it's head above the median. These recordings are from 2006, with Melton playing everything, pre-dating a lot of the band work he's done since. I think he re-worked a couple of these tunes for other albums, and "Talk About It" appears here again, which is definitely one of the best songs this guy has (it was the "hit" on the Snakeflower 2 LP, but buy the 7" because the version on there smokes) and there are at least five more that can keep pace with it. "Running From The Night" is nothing but MM and a guitar and it works wonders, "Microbe In A Kiss" is top rate mid-fi garage-pop with a great guitar squeal, the title cut goes for a sleazy Stones-ish thing and pulls it off. "She's So Out" is redundant punk, but it's redundant punk done well at least. "Lorraine" has a great stuttering drum pattern and sound and is an evocative love song, even with its Beatles-esque digressions. To point, this is the strongest LP this guy has made so far and the one that has really kept my interest. He writes in a variety of styles all rather well and the shortcomings here are bareley noticeable and easily forgivable (maybe he gets a little too "emo" at times, the slow folky numbers are forgettable), and when he's playing to his strengths (throwback Seventies rock'n'roll inflected garage) and not trying to keep pace with his peers I think he has a unique sound to give to the world. I hope this guy lays low for a bit (which I doubt is going to happen) and hones his craft a bit more. Maybe get a little tougher, add some of the edge the loser life imagery implies. Lift some weights or something. He's got a great start here and I expect him to build an even more exceptional LP at some point, as long he doesn't whittle away all the good ideas with various random bands. Maybe he should stick to recording it all himself and forego the whole "band" thing anyway. Everybody's doin' it. So yeah, if you want to know what this guy's all about, this record is a great starter. Scum stats: 100 mailorder-only copies on red vinyl, the rest on ebony.(RK)
(Southpaw Records // www.southpaw-records.com)
Mickey s/t 12"
Hey, great packaging on this one here folks. Die cut rose-shaped sleeve a la the Raspberries 'Side Three'. I do suggest you trim the inner sleeve so it doesn't show around the edges though. It just makes it that much more aesthetically pleasing. Pretty remarkable (to me at least) that this is Mac Blackout on vox here. I didn't think he could sing in this glammed-up and somewhat sleazily fey style. He hams it up plenty and seems to be having some fun with the whole thing. Six tunes that pull influences from some decent record collections. Obscure power-pop 7" moves, straight UK-punk stylings (some Stiff product fans for sure), the aforementioned dusting of glam glitter from the litter bin, rock'n'roll Americano guitar playing. It's a whole lot of stuff making for some hard-edged pop-rock sleaze, six songs worth going for the gusto in the hooks department. "Space Case" sounds like it has some Fifties rock steps to it, while "The Night Is Alive" sounds desperately Midwestern and punk. I really don't know how to categorize this mash-up of genres they've created here. A real cornucopia of styles if you will. Very Seventies, sort of a trashy cocaine vibe with a slight bit of tongue-in-cheek cheese and plenty of audacity to it. They really try to hit the longball on each cut hook-wise (but who doesn't, I guess...), and some of them drop on the warning track, but a couple clear the fence. I get the impression they're still finding their footing, as they've tossed a lot of shit in the blender here. Once they perfect the recipe a bit more it should get exciting. I feel like Long Gone John would have loved this for some reason though. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(FDH Records // www.fdhmusic.com)
The Mojomatics "Love Wild Fever" 7"
I feel like I've penned a dozen Mojomatics 7" reviews, and looking back at their discography that number may not be an exaggeration. I don't dislike writing them at all though, as they always seem to have at least one good cut per record, which says a lot for a Euro garage band. "Love Wild Fever" finds them at their rockingest, with wicked harmonica and an undercurrent of laser-guitar effect happening in the background. It's upbeat power-pop sentiment married to garage-rock burn, and not too much of a stretch from the Reigning Sound. Flip. "Tears Fall Down" (not "Heavy Dose of Sympathy" as listed on the label and sleeve in error) is yet another red-sauce-on-the-saddle epic, sounding quite grand and reminding us all again why the Italians love the Western genre so much. Another serviceable workman-like outing from this duo who have seemingly been at it forever and are as dialed-in to this genre as one can be. They've become damn good at this stuff if you're a fan. Scum stats: 100 on red wax, which were exclusive to the Big Neck Swag club (yes, Bart has started a singles club, who knew? See the site for more info...), and 400 on black.(RK)
(Big Neck Records // www.bigneckrecords.com)
The Moonhearts s/t LP
I've been anticipating this full length for some time now, I knew they were ready after the 'Drop In, Drop Out' 7" just totally slayed and showed the maturation needed to pull off the long-player with success. They showed development from a brash and scratchy Budget Rock surf-punk act to a brash and better produced garage-surf act with some psych and punk flourishes. Charlie no longer gets top billing, though I'm assuming he remains a style tycoon and he's definitely still one of the best drummers in the game right now. The kid is fucking lightning behind that kit. Roland Casio on guitar brings a half-tonna reverb that never sounds like too much. You just get soaked in it, and it feels refreshing, never too heavy. You might know bass player/singer Mikal Cronin from his Ty Segall collabs or Okie Dokie or his numerous other projects. If not, just know that he has the perfect amount of beach-punk attitude and aw-shucks-ness in his vox to compliment the tunes perfectly. And speaking of Ty Segall, you knew he had to horn (the unicorn) in on this somehow, and he recorded most of this and adds some noise and backing vox on a couple of tracks. So, to make lazy Segall comparisons, I think The Moonhearts have made a better long-player than either of Ty's first two records (jury's still out on 'Melted'). It's simply a great surf-inluenced rock'n'roll record. "I Hate Myself" is a ripper of a can-opener, a sleek and charged garage-punk dart with a killer hook, drum break and ripping solo. They keep the pedal on the floor for most of the duration, fluctuating just a little for some catchy garage twangers like "I Said", braking a little to belt out some psychedelic-style beach-rock on "Shine" and then going back to standing on the gas pedal with a ripper like "Never Lost Control". The dark-side intrumental of "Deathstar" (Parts I and II) bridges the sides cleverly with some noise/tape breakdown and build-up, turning into a tough-vocalled anthem on the B-Side. They throw some more looks out on the flip, including hard-edged garage ("Love Is Gone"), they do a silly Simpsons-inspired "cover" (that may be the lone mis-step here, but it also shows off some youthful exuberance and innocence) and they close with a stunning version of The Riots' "I Can Go On" that has you imagining the sun setting on the horizon as the day closes and life moves on, and showing off some maturity and emotional depth for a band that was covering El Barto and the Krusty-Os two songs ago. An impressive long-playing debut, one that breathes new life into the surf-rock genre that was floating like a dead rat in the pool, and not stricly adhering to its aesthetics, but simply using them as a starting point to create some original sounding and catchy rock'n'rolling. Well produced, you can practically feel the reverb spraying you like foam off a white-cap, the vox sit perfectly in the mix and they keep up the energy level throughout, only toning it down once or twice for a good contrast and a killer closing track. The rockingest of the Wizard Mountain gang, not as "wimpy" as Segall and not as trashy as the Traditional Fools. Great record from a great young band, and I look forward to even more.(RK)
(Tic Tac Totally // www.tictactotally.com)
Native Cats "Always On" LP
Tasmanian twosome producing stark and minimal post-punk built upon a bass and drum machine framework which provide the delivery mechanism for Peter Escott's narrative tales. It's the lyrics and their clear delivery that give the cold and sparse instrumentation some warmth, or at least some emotional depths to plumb via their chilling and often calmly spiteful sounding delivery. The drum beats and various keyboard sounds they utilize have the feel of Casio presets sped-up or slowed, or perhaps it's just some clever cribbing from Eighties source material lending that familiarity. It doesn't work 100% of the time, but they at least bat .500 or better with the concept. Young Marble Giants are the popular comparison and you can certainly find some pop-aspiring moments hiding amongst the downtrodden and tense post-punk mechanics. The lack of effects and fuzz/reverb obscuration is refreshing and shows how a band can achieve a rich sound without relying on so much trickery. I like it best when the basslines get "heavy" and ominous on tracks like "Survival House" or "1000ad" and they instill a creeping feeling of dread. One of the few records of recent memory where you'll actually pay attention to the singer as Escott has the capability to grip you with his confident delivery of the often unsettlingly poetic lyrics. Reminds me of Depeche Mode or New Order dark romanticism mated to the Rough Trade post-punk "sound". When they up the BPMs it gets to be a bit too much and I think they lose some of the tautness that I find appealing about their better cuts, and there are certain contrived melodramatic steps inherent to this sort of genre, but it's well-crafted art and should appeal to those looking for something to bum out to. The polar opposite of what I love most about Australian music (earthy guitar-based thug-rock), and that's not a detriment, just a statement.(RK)
(Ride The Snake // www.ridethesnakerecords.com)
Negative Lifestyle “In A Crowd” EP
No bullshit, no reverb and no trend-hop. Just a three piece playing Eighties styled hardcore aiming straight for the sac. Five tracks of punchy slop-tight and gang violent punk for the bloodstained and beer drunk. Ain’t no bedroom to hide in, here. No room for mystery in less than 5 minutes. Personal faves would be the grinding Boston (and some LA) styled tailslider "No System" and the gruff meltdown "Brainwashed" that bookend this wax. Circle Jerks' first LP has a not so distant cousin in that’n. This rules. I wanna Thrasher hat and I don’t even skate. Fuck. The usual Bat Shit variation overkill: There’s the mail-order version of 69 copies (2 diff covers and inserts available) and 294 regular editions…a hundred of them on rust (more like purple hazed) vinyl. Figure it out yourself, monkeys. UK center holes are a sweet touch! Buy this instead of most of the Youth Attack drivel. (RSF)
(Bat Shit // myspace.com/flyingrodentfecalmatter)
Nerveskade “Insanity” 7"
Pitch-perfect tuneless thrash — Nerveskade nailed it on this single. White-noise guitar distortion laid atop a bass line that’s catchy enough to pull you in and stick with you. Punctuate that soundtrack with a couple of "Aargh"s and you’re set, elegant in its simplicity and beautiful in its dissonance. Oh, but I need to mention the drill at the end of “Forced to Live” snuck into the feedback, subtle but frightening, followed by some frightened screams (just like my last trip to the dentist). Well played. (DH)
(Iron Lung Records // lifeironlungdeath.blogspot.com)
Nice Smile "Building" 7"
Seattle should-be celebrity Rob Vazquez steps back in the ring with a new record for the first time since the Right On 7" if I'm remembering things right. "Building" doesn't sound too far off from Nights & Days brand of direct garage rock with RV's trademark guitar scrape and vocal yelp. Surprisingly catchy and having that slightly too-stoned downer vibe much of Rob's work contains. Not 100% sure on the line-up, but sounds like just Rob and a (good) drummer here. "Mans To Short"(?) on the flip makes me see how people were comparing this stuff to Tyvek a bit, it shows RV taking a deconstructionist sort of approach, stilted and jaggedly put together (or taken apart perhaps) with an out-of-step rhythm that actually reminds me a little bit of Sagger without the heaviness and drool. Glad to see this available as I'm definitely a believer in the Vazquez legend. The A-Side's a direct hit and the B shows him keeping pace with the modern game. Nice to see this was "produced and mixed" at Vinyl Manor, home to another unheralded Pac-NW treasure in Jonny Vinyl, engineer to the stars...of the Rat City and Regal Select labels. Scum stats: 500 copies, black vinyl, hand stamped sleeves, and available via the good work of our pal over at Raw Deluxe Inc.(RK)
Elder Rob Vasquez comes out of hibernation to deliver a two song slice of pie for the “Now Generation”. Total Vasquez style, btw. Jittery and jangled garage leanings with his trademarked strained and hazy vocals. If ya liked the loose and clattered sounds of his Chintz Devils offerings, but wish they had more power to ‘em (ala’ Nights & Days), this is yer lucky break. The guitar careens throughout both tracks, with wall-rattling riffage that gets lost in a practice space pot haze; then sputters and stalls out…until the uncluttered drumming thwacks it back to consciousness. So. Much. Weed was probably ingested prior to recording, you’ll wonder if they have nodded off. But they come back at ya strong with another frantic and trashy crunch to wrap up the tune. There’s almost a free-jazz jizz lean to it. Music so pure and haphazardly written; so half assed yet fully baked, it just comes off…cool. Daddy-o. Over before I know it, yet feeling compelled to drop the needle off at the front curb again and again. It’s like the northwest finally got their Electric Eels by the way of Dead Moon. Or something. This fucking guy should be in the “real” Rock n’ Roll Hall Of Fame by now. Not as long running as Fred and Toody, but giving definitely giving the Fastbacks members a run for the gold, that’s for goddamn sure. Hark, this scribe! A fucking winner for the year, we have here. Find it somehow. Harass Mitch Cardwell, or trade Vasquez a juice recipe for it. (RSF)
(South Director Street Records // letsgethurt-at-yahoo.com)
Ooga Boogas "Sentimental Stranger" 7"
The octopus is back! And weirder than ever. Well, not really weird, but altogether different than what most will expect. "Sentimental Stranger" is a real heart-tugger, bringing to mind the tender love songs Stacky sometimes attempted during The Sailors gentler moments. And it's no piss-take. Capturing the emotion of personal interaction betwixt two humans in a touching and not at all maudlin way with a simple arrangement personified by heartfelt guitar pluck and an emotional synth crescendo towards the end. An exceptionally direct and low-key conversational vocal lends warmth, and he even rhymes Dostoyevsky with something. On the flip they cover Grauzone's "Eisbaer" ("Polar Bear"), and I can come up with no better description than it sounds like some rugged and clever Australians interpreting Eighties European New Wave as best they can. Meaty industrial strength drum beat giving it a motorik feel, ominous synth propulsion and some weird squiggling between the lines. I like what they did here and you should as well, it gives me high hopes for the terrain they'll cover on their next journey of an LP. (RK)
(Aarght! Records // aarghtrecords.com)
Outdoorsmen "Decapitated" 7"
The mighty Outdoorsmen return to our record players and they've upped the ante with their third seven-inch. Their always eye-catching artwork gets taken to the next level here, with three different sleeve variations giving us a loose narrative concerning decapitation, necrophilia, man-eating plants and caricatures of the band doing their usual dick-swinging. Lots of detail and some of the best nekkid lady drawings I've seen since the contest we had in tenth grade to draw what we thought the hottest chicks in class looked like au naturel. First class. The two songs on this one-sided platter give us a rawer and more vulgar look at the trio. Not as Sixties-garage as their first two slabs, "Decapitated" still has a good hook ("Gotta gotta gotta get - decapitated!") and more of Spider Babies-ish punk rumble. "Beat Around The Bush" has another killer dum-dum chorus with an almost Gizmos-like simplicity. One of my favorite true-punk garage bands show some progression here, and I like where they're going. Singles are upcoming on classy labels like Daggerman and Clown College, they're playing Gonerfest and are doing an Eastern swing surrounding that date, which is all great news. Scum stats: 300 hand-numbered copies, 100 of each sleeve variation which are all equally ridiculous.(RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // myspace.com/goodbyeboozyrecords)
Outer Spacist “CDRY2!” 7”
This here’s a record offered up by the CDR Singles Club. So, chances are you have it…or you won’t. Spacists come off a lot less space-y and in hi-fi this time around, but its all the more challenging. The A-side has some scathing up front Wayne County yelp and slur vocal ‘tude going on. Uncomfortable in a Doc Dart kinda’ way. You’ll know if yer in or out within seconds. Those strong enough to survive will be treated to a health dosage of proto-guitar wonk and a key attack that kicks in to stifle the gonzoid frustration. Quite a doozy! These two songs meld into one heady concoction of marbled mouthed drug punk. Good messed up mid-tempo stuff that aughta’ find a nice home near yer Timmy V. platters and other outsider-style Debris. The other side rolls around in some funk that actually makes you believe (for about three minutes) that a Make-Up and Twinkeyz team up could’ve be a good Idea. Man, how’d that happen? Full of fey-glam & dumpster-diving. It ends in a short simple tribute to 'Tusk', I believe. You want a challenge that’ll pay off for years to come? Save this from the neighbors refuse bin. (RSF)
(Columbus Discount Records // www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)
People's Temple "Make You Understand" 7"
People's Temple have been sounding a bit more confident with each release, this being their third and they're starting to sound like big boys now...title cut is an assured rocker, standing tall with vocal gusto and sick guitar tone. Thanks for this one, totally hits the spot. "Machine" is a cone-full of psychedelic swirl worth taking the time to watch melt. My big question was if they would be able to create a solid all-around record this time, not just a good side. I think they've done it. "Jim Jones" is a straight VU-rip, from the recording style, to guitar sound to Reed-y vox. But it works, musically and lyrically. I don't know how much more mileage we can get out of the Guyana schtick, but I'm willing to find out. A band I'm really interested in hearing an LP from at this point, I think they have things figured out enough pull off a total Sixties bad-vibe psych-rip long player and not come off sounding like total dorks. I'm anxiously awaiting...Scum stats: 200 HozAc gold with a pretty lame alt cover.(RK)
(HozAc Records // www.hozacrecords.com)
Perculators “White Trash” EP
Five songs at 45-speed from a band that hail from Sweden or something like that. Fast and unrelenting. A garage-take on the Krunchies formula? First few whip by so fast I barely get a chance to even form an opinion. Gal fronted punk that wants to rock for you. Roofie & the Nightstalkers/Orphans make shit stains in their britches like this stateside. "Drunk Punx" sticks out as the good simple pounder on the top-side. The flip comes off stronger (this is happening a lot in this review pile). It’s got the jagged punch of Functional Blackouts/Daily Void but with Jenna from the Tyrades or that aforementioned Orphans mess singing out front. Man this fucker is all Chicago 2002, ain’ it? Like a compact HoZac Blackout taste-tester. Broken records mighta’ put this out at one time. I dig this’n a lot. It wraps up with a crunchy yet pretty almost instrumental (hang with it) called "Constant Worry". I’m game for the slower numbers…Wipers punk, no scratch that: Agent Orange? Fuggah, I don’t know. I like it though’. It’d be good to hear them sprawl out some more…not get so caught up in the speeeeeeddddd. (RSF)
(Ken Rock Records // myspace.com/kenrockrecords)
Personal & The Pizzas "Tearjerker" 7"
Personal pinches from the Bruddas song-bag more heavily than usual this time around, with "Tearjerker" downstroking through a riff on "I Don't Care" and more from the canon, creating a whole song's worth of lyrics out of just four words. This guy's smarter than he looks. "Never Find Me" swings from the same (subterranean) jungle gym. I shouldn't have to justify liking this band or not to you anymore. It's a pretty flawless concept, on some records the joke's a little funnier than on others and in the grand scheme of things it's not that much different than the idea driving The Spits or Livefastdie. "Never Find Me" actually sounds more than a bit like LFD come to think of it...and hey, isn't that the Geege on the back cover? Someone get Camero's lawyer on the phone. Or at least send Viking Thrust a text message or something. I know Personal is starting to break out of the underground snack-rock ghetto though, because people in Buffalo that I don't know personally are starting to talk about the LP, and it's a fact that Buffalo is at least a few months late to the trend, so congrats buddy. You've made it. Keep 'em coming and keep 'em funny. Scum stats: I believe the initial run was 600 copies which sold like hot slices, then I think there was (or will be) a repress on white vinyl of 100 or 400 copies depending on which internet source you trust more. It's sold out from the label either way, and is really a moot point because both of these tracks are on the singles comp LP.(RK)
(Windian Records // windianrecords.blogspot.com)
pollution “® SMUT” LP
New York City. Brooklyn. Vice magazine. Cheddar pizza, Macbook DJs, the smell of falafel and tar mating in the air, congregations brushing past each other, with disinterest the only common character trait. A vapid punk wasteland. Somehow, the brooding genius of Pollution has been able to survive. Genuine, visceral hardcorepunk tinged with the most tasteful hints of Scandinavian forest music, Pollution’s finest effort yet is just… pummeling. The band with the best aesthetic in the business keeps mining the bizarre sketchbook of G. Keul with excellent results. They’re bizarre pen drawings holding a certain pubescent vulgarity that really puts an appropriate face to the desolate, venomous sounds. Drumming that borrows all the right parts from metal, in a Chuck Biscuits way, that’s made to fit perfectly with the brutal, sideways songwriting approach and paranoid, distrusting vocals. The lyrics read like Cal Morris writing song outlines while tripping - poignant but unrefined, scary and left untouched. The stop-start structure of “fee$” - sort of like “Gimme Gimme Gimme” on dirty amphetamines - is instantly memorable in a way that much of this album is, a real sign that they’re hitting their stride in spades. They’re brilliantly bridging the gap between Eye for an Eye and Technocracy, taking some scenic backroad meth-country shortcut instead of Animosity (and appropriately, the guitarist’s got Raleigh punk in his blood). Pollution is nearly unparalleled in what they’re doing these days and they’ve given us a truly supreme effort. And given their surroundings, you know they mean it.(NG)
(c6 recordings // c6recordings.bigcartel.com)
Procedure Club "Vermont II" 7"
A self-professed "bedroom pop" project from this New Haven, CT duo consisting of a man (the polish immigrant) and a woman (the Massachusetts native) making digital dream-pop. Mechanical beats and synth rhythm given the dreamy girl-vox treatment. Nothing that wouldn't be out of place on Captured Tracks or perhaps coming from some current San Diego outfits operating in this musical vicinity. "Vermont II" is straight synth-pop, "Slut Fossil" incorporates some multi-tracked harmonies and a bit of guitar making for an almost Ye-Ye influenced go-round. "Nautical Song" might show the most personality, starting with an industrial locomotive strength before drifting into the Land of Nod. Dream-pop with some teeth grinding at least. Nothing I'm too impressed with, but Slumberland liked it enough to release an LP and the label that did this 7" is apparently Japanese, so there ya go. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Sixteen Tambourines // sixteentambourines.bigcartel.com)
Radians "Iran" 7"
Debut from a new crew (basically a renamed and repurposed Endangered Ape) from the quickly growing Alberta scene. Two songs of anthemic feel-good garage-pop jingle-jangle, striking the middle ground between Goodnight Loving retro-roots and Harlem's upbeat pop-quirk perhaps. "Iran" is the more favorable side, with a solid hook and strong bass playing adding that little something extra. "Bad People" has a similar sound, with more prominent guitar action but far less clever thematically/lyrically. Not a real barn-burner or anything, but at least they stray away from the post-punk angle a lot of bands from this area seem to be confining themselves to. Have you heard my "post-punk is the new pop-punk" theory? Maybe next time...Scum Stats: 200 copies, great artwork by CM Ruiz, download code included.(RK)
(Mammoth Cave Recording Co. // mammothcave.bigcartel.com)
Ranger Sound/I Ragazzi Dai Capelli Verde s/t mini-LP
Reissue of the finest in Italian beat/garage from Hate Records. They did one single as Ranger Sound, with the ripping "Ricordarmi" which you'll remember from the first volume of Transworld Punk. A legit fuzz-killer. The other side of that single is a decent slow-jam. After that they morphed into I Ragazzi..., with the gimmick of dying their hair green, which always made me think of War of the Gargantuas for some reason. They released two singles under this name, "Ragazza Notte" is gypsy-beat Italiano, "Un Tipo Per Te" offers some more desperate garage sounds from their first single, and the second single is a bit mellower and drifting in a hippie-er direction. "Ma Saprei" actually kind of sounds like the Dead. A cool artifact with a couple of great cuts. 500 copies on green vinyl, with various posters and inserts.(RK)
(Hate Records // www.haterecords.com)
Rayos X “Mi Desorden” EP
There’s been a wave of young hardcore bands from LA metro starting to trickle out releases over the last year or so and, considering the region’s diversity, it is a given that this is not a scene of bands cloning a single sound. Rayos X’ approach is timeless but also, perhaps, out of style; at least, it is refreshing and rare to hear a hardcore band embrace melody without relinquishing their impact. All three songs here are built for foot-stomping, fist in the air sing-a-longs. Give this a few spins, throw back a couple of Tecates and slide this into rotation alongside Asta Kask and R.I.P. It’ll feel like you’ve been doing so for ages. Great stuff.(DH)
(Lengua Armada Records // try any discerning HC distro - Feral Ward or Havoc perhaps?)
Real Numbers s/t 12"
Man-sized EP from the Real Numbers, bringing yesterday's sounds of the UK to the Minnesota of today. It's a formula that works wonders via its simplicity. You can't escape an aw-shucks Boys Club comparison, as this thing does have some of the awkward charm of that band, but Real Numbers are a step ahead of their brethren in both the confidence and technical proficiency categories. They're working with a real clean template here, upbeat and peppy post-punk DIY-isms, bass driven, plucky guitar, a real everyman-boy vocal approach that grounds the songs in reality. Plenty of Anglo-pop ambition that really gets in your head, "Might I See You Tonight" is the hit, "Boats & Cars" and "No Exceptions" cleverly deliver something far more elaborate than you think they can pull off. They really make the most out of the format as well, all eight songs are worth the vinyl, whereas a less smart outfit might have just thrown everything they had on the wax and called it a mediocre LP instead of an exceptional EP. Very wise. I guess people are putting some TVPs reference on this, and I guess I see it spiritually and in the general uncorrupted purity of the aesthetic for sure, and I find nods to Carpettes-esque punk-pop or Pooh Stick-ish pop-rock as well. I swear he slips a little British accent in there once in a while, but maybe it's just the admirable attention they paid to the aesthtic playing tricks with my ears. Well written, well designed, played and recorded with just enough skill, keeping it loose but not sloppy at all. Honestly, a legitimately fun record to listen to. Only 300 copies with an excellent silkscreen and design sense that enhances the retro-current sounds.(RK)
(Three Dimensional // www.threedimensionalrecords.com)
Rollerball "Savage Eyes" 7"
"Savage Eyes" is a driving glam/punk monster from Alan Ward (Elton Motello) and Mike Butcher (Jet Staxx) that lives up to what you'd imagine from those two. Slightly more violent and punk than the subsequent Motello single and LP, but retaining the same glam-infused beat. Almost reminds me of what would have happened if "Victim of Time" and FU2's eponymous LP were being recorded at the same studio and late one amphetamine and Bass fueled night both groups ended up recording a one off single together. Killer. The world needs more tossed off fake punk of this quality to be unearthed. In the meantime buy this and spin it at your next house party. It'll sound perfect when the shirts come off.(SB)
(Sing Sing Records // www.singsingrecords.com)
The Romantic Robots “Blues By…” 7”
Ain’t nothing romantic (or subtle) about this platter. There may be some blues permeating these grooves…but this is gawd-damn wrestle rock of the highest power. Simpleton simple Beat Man anti-riff pummel and punch with a dude who seems to have a hard-on for Tony Saggers’ vocal delivery. Seriously. If the Tonys ever cut a Voodoo Rhythm single, they might wretch up something like this. Lower than low I.Q. puke-punk that’s the garage turkey equivalent to that Folded Shirts KBD stupidity. Kinda’ awesome and unexpected. If you love puerile destructo-blues and gruff blasts of bad words shouted in yer face by foreigners, by all means pick this up. Six songs. Dirt Cheap. Self-released in an edition of 210 copies?! Silly Italians. (RSF)
(Romantic Records // myspace.com/romanticrobots)
Sandwitches "Makes Me Sick" 7"
Ugh. I've cut these chicks some slack on previous reviews, but this is where I draw a line in the sand. Witch. Gack. A-Side is total earth mother Golden Gate Park grrl-folk. Gross. B-Side is a lullaby/nursery rhyme that probably should have put me to sleep, but it really just pissed me off. God fucking dammit, I want to flip this fucking desk over right now. Fuck this shit.(RK)
(Southpaw Records // www.southpaw-records.com)
Schatzi and Hazeltine "Happy Birthday Baby" 7"
More ultra-cute pop from the Burgers of California. If a bunch of vintage stuffed animals started a band, they might sound like this. A-Side's got a bit of character absent from a lot of lady bands operating in this genre, going for a real vintage sound instead of just blatantly trying to meld girl group sounds to modern garage. Thye get a good budget Ronettes sound, throwing in some glockenspeil, sleigh bells and toy piano sounds, strong lead gal vox with some helping harmonies. Well arranged for this sort of schtick. B-Side makes the mistake of trying to rock, the vox get too weirdly high-pitched (it sounds like there may have been some helium involved, and the enunciation is more than a little bizarre...and annoying), stripping them of any of the uniquely retro charm of the A-Side and just coming off like any run-of-the-mill garage-grrls. One of the Makeout Party kids plays on this and the two gals are from LA also-rans the Lipstick Pickups and Starvations. Strictly West Coast, this kinda stuff don't fly east of the Rockies.(RK)
(Burger Records // burgerrecords.webs.com)
Schwarz of Galiorka "Horror! Horror! Schwarz Helluva!" LP
Unreleased 1983 album made by two members of The Gags after that unit disbanded in 1982. Heavy on the Grand Guignol imagery and the liners tell of a strong influence taken from films and TV (Vincent Price, Tati, Jean Renoir and more), and this is played out in the theatricality of the vocals and arrangements, but surprisingly they never go too far overboard into the realm of cheese and there really isn't an overly Gothic sound either, opting instead for a lighter tragi-comic expression of the macabre. I'm actually shocked by the restraint shown here as this could have easily become overwrought and silly if they had taken a few steps further. It's a really good New Wave record, believe it or not, sounding more than a little like a European Devo at it's most basic - robot-step rhythm with a good mix of guitars/drums and inocuous synth. The vocals alter between a narrative Mothersbaughian verse delivery and assuming various characters for choruses and show no signs of an accent at all. Tracks like "Trio Lescano" sound a lot like Eno at his most playful and "Grand Guignol" could be placed amongst those early Adam & The Ants demos and you'd never know the difference. "Dining With The Cannibals" has a Wall of Voodoo-like noir-weirdness even. Lots of storytelling and nods to artists from Edgar Allen Poe and Cocteau to Sparks and Roxy Music. Fifteen tracks deep and only a couple are duffers, as an LP it holds strong throughout. Both artists are adept players at everything from viola to piano and the songs show a real care for construction and theatrics without sounding overly affected. Again, I have to express my surprise at how tasteful the whole aesthetic is here, it really makes for an enjoyable listening experience. An excellent and wonderfully creative document of early-Eighties Euro-wave and material that is truly derserving of the reissue/rediscovery treatment. Well done, with brief yet enlightening liner notes that tell just enough of the story and give some track-by-track information as well. Recommended if you're into the 'Wave of yore and the fact it was made by the guys from The Gags (who also have a great LP on Hate) made it an even more compelling listen.(RK)
(Hate Records // www.haterecords.com)
Scorpion Violente s/t 12" EP
More synth-destruction from members of France's La Grande Triple Alliance - meaning it's some permutation of the people behind Anals, AH Kraken, Feeling of Love, Dictaphone and pretty much whatever other recent French band you can think of. These guys get around. "Rome Violente" fills the A-Side and it's some sort of neo-disco hybrid with digital cowbell and prickly synth. B-Side deals in some more industrial-style wattage, one track of opressive drone and a real minimally Krauty track to close. For people who are really into synth "sounds" and electronic kling-klang. I gotta hand it to these bands though, they always come up with some pretty badass album art.(RK)
(Bruit Direct // bruit-direct.org)
The Scraps "A Salty Sea" 7"
Seattle pick-up band that seem to be really fond of alliteration. Ex- and current members of Popular Shapes, Pulses and Intelligence, but who in Seattle hasn't been in one of these bands? And you mean to tell me none of these people have been in Unnatural Helpers? I don't believe it. Not that it matters a lick anyway. A-Side cut has that odd exotic flair that a lot of Lars' latter day Intelligence stuff has...almost tropical sounding (it's the keys I think), with the usual lost-at-sea vocals and a quite triumphant sounding build/release chorus. B-Side is "Shepherd To Sheep" and it's a more brooding style of songwriting without the hyperactive pop momentum. Brings to mind the desolation of the A-Frames slightly, with a lonely guitar poking out a bit, a near mechanical rhythm and a melancholic rise and fall. I'm not sure if these guys are a permanent outfit or just a side dish, but if you're a fan of the recent "Seattle sound" of the groups mentioned, this won't do you wrong. If it was released on Dragnet in 2003, you'd be licking it up. Scum stats: 500 copies, hand-stamped labels. (RK)
(Dirty Knobby // www.dirtyknobby.com)
Ty Segall “Melted” LP/CD
Yet again, another release by Ty Segal. Like everyone else in the world, I wonder how this guy does it. I am in awe of the staggering quality of his work despite the fact that releases records so frequently. Sure there are tons of dudes putting out records non-stop these days, but I have yet to be truly disappointed in anything Ty Segal has done, and 'Melted' is really no exception. From what I know about Mr. Segal, this is his first attempt at legitimately writing an LP. He wisely enlists Mike Donovan of (THE ALMIGHTY) Sic Alps for a little bit of help throughout.
As I listen to the first song, “Finger,” something is already very different. It starts off with a slowly strummed guitar song with a pretty sounding vocal melody. After a minute or so, it kicks into the slowest and sludgiest thing he has done to date. It contains more of the same psyched out electronics that were featured so prominently in 'Reverse Shark Attack'. 'Melted' already seems like an apt title for this one. Next up is “Caesar,” a pretty straight forward acoustic guitar pop/rock affair. This song bounces along pleasantly enough until it barrels through the finishing line with a rollicking piano ending. By the end, it sounds like Ty is punching his guitar. Whoa. Next up is “Girlfriend.” This one has a head nodding groove, but is just as heavy as “Finger.” “Sad Fuzz,” sounds exactly like its title implies. Things start to drag a little around the song “Melted” and continue with “Mike D’s Coke.” The aforementioned track is the only one to clearly feature Mike Donovan. It’s a bit of a bummer, because it feels like the most half-baked track on the album. However, with that said, it is also the most promising of this batch of songs, because it could possibly hint at a new a sound for both parties involved. The album picks up with “Imaginary Person” and doesn’t really let up until the end. “Mrs.” Is the real highlight of the latter half of the record. It is so slow, heavy, and pleasant.
“Melted” isn’t without its shortcomings, and it is not perfect by any means, and there are some things on here that just don’t work. To pin point these would be nitpicky, and in the end, when you stack these songs up together, they are probably the best and most rockin’ collection of songs he has written thus far. Ty Segal has managed to do a pretty impressive thing here. After listening to “Melted”, I have to wonder, what is LP number four going to look like? ('Horn the Unicorn' and 'Reverse Shark Attack' don’t count.) Should we be scared? Is this man-child going to take over the world? Can he please call it 'IV'? Wait, no, that is stupid.(ES)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)
Las Senoras "Digitacion" EP
The Spanish scene is in the midst of a genuine resurgence right now, with great hardcore from La Vida es un Mus, the more garage-punk sounds of the Blondes Must Die roster and the whole Le Jonathan Reilly-related weird-punk group and much more. I haven't seen this much wax emanating from the Iberian peninsula at any time in my record reviewing "career". When the Las Senoras 7" arrived on the review desk, I immediately thought those crazy Spaniards had finally decided to tap into the Vivian Girls-esque fuzz-pop vein running from NYC direct to Slumberland HQ. If you put these girls in front of anyone and asked them where they were from based on looks alone (which is how all girl bands should be judged anyway, right?) anyone with half a clue would say Brooklyn. But on closer inspection, you would realize they're far too cute to hail from the 'burg, despite the proliferation of bangs, glasses and hip outfits. All five of them are genuinely stunning, which is a rarity. So I put this thing on expecting to hear the reverb to start flying, but lo and behold these senoritas are punk-rockers! And it's not bad! Who woulda thunk. Pretty straight rocking, not too far off from the style Silla Electrica are playing (and getting mounds of praise for) but a bit lighter and with some keyboard lines running through it all. I'm not usually a fan of the synth (and I think this would be even better without) but it's non-obtrusive and actually blends well enough to not sound like an afterthought. The vocals pass the test as well, not screechy or shrill at all and really a bit tough sounding. Four songs of energetic rock with a solid guitar tone and plenty of pep, gang vox (all in Espanol) on the hooks/chorus, "Desolacion" veers into danger-punk territory and overall it might have a slight latter day Rip Off vibe or an early Dirtnap feel. Shit, even the drummer is good. Damn catchy and not as New Wavey as the artwork might have you thinking.(RK)
(Solo Para Punks // www.radioruido.com/soloparapunks)
The Shanks "Backstabber" 7"
You might remember these cats from the glory days of Boom Chick Records (Brooks Hitt, where art thou?) and although I recall them being on the nastier side of the garage spectrum to begin with, The Shanks try to go full-scuzz on this one. They douse everything with a healthy coat of delay utilized by many "mysterious guy" acts, and it actually helps, since they're applying this sheen of shit to some actual songs instead of just using it to disguise talentless pap attempting to summon the ghosts of Flipper/Fang and costuming it in controversial imagery. The cover drawing on this is actually a real cool idea and "Backstabber" is an inspired slice of Reatards-inspired rock. Two cuts on the flipside bring to mind The Feelers style of dark Midwest weird-punk, short and jagged with some Spread Eagles-esque garage burn. This thing ain't gonna change your life, but it's a solid $4 worth of cheap thrills in this day and age of countless 7" options. 500 copies.(RK)
(Tic Tac Totally // www.tictactotally.com)
Shannon & the Clams “Paddy’s Birthday” 7”
Looks like the Clams beefed up their sound and tightened their chops this time out. Well sir, me likey. "Paddy" is a slow jammer that apes the sound of 60’s AM radio to a T, but they give this girl group revamp a more indie rock angle, all sloshed up on a morphine drip. It’s slurred and slow-danceable. Kewl. Keeps the same tempo throughout, but heads off to some pretty bombastic and trashy turf towards the end. Imagine if the Detroit Cobras didn’t suck so bad these days and hadn’t managed to nod off into those bar-rock trappings. Get back to the basics. The B-Side's "Diary" sounds a tad like Blondie going hardcore outta’ the gate, but then trips itself up on the lovely ode to some dead "Jimmy". Thisn’ is a shamble-ballad that harkens back to the long player. A crash & burn Shangri-Las, drunken Crystals or something, buried in a collapsing syrupy haze that leads you out by the hand through the last cryin’ groove. Enjoyable. Not gonna’ send my mom a copy, but still…good stuff. No pizza or mustaches on the cover…a plus! (RSF)
The Shirks "Disease" 7"
Third swinger of a single from this ex-Problematics DC outfit. "Disease" has a blazing NYC guitar-rock style, sort of Heartbreakers via Devil Dogs with some hot lixx and nice and dirty Bowery hook. "Negative Reaction" goes in a more Infections-like nasty punk direction (with better guitar playing) slathered with a sleazy vocal, with that almost fake-UK intonation. "No Way Street" is the flip, it's got a fairly blazing solo and more of the same East Coast tough-as-shit leather jacket punk bad ass-ness. If the Carbonas had been from Jersey, they might have sounded like this. Scum stats: 300 copies, and I have to say, this band just does not give a shit about artwork for their records, which is sort of admirably dumb I guess.(RK)
(Windian Records // windianrecords.blogspot.com)
Shit & Shine “Basspuppy” 12”
This is sumthin’ right here. The aural equivalent to being trapped in an old Forced Exposure review column. There’s this electronic bass sample beating at the words therein and I’m left trying to cut a way out with a circular saw made of the leftover static glitch.?!? Shitty sentence structure, I know. The first thing I heard from this band was a clear 12” that had a lawnmower listed as an instrument. I gave it to John Slicing. His kinda’ noise. They went off in a Butthole Surfers freakfest direction for quite some time after that; I found it to be quite enjoyable. This here is a concept record, methinks. Two long playing numbers, bordering on being dance and dub tracks (both are based on the same rhythm. I guess the B-side is a remix?). This would nestle up nicely between Terminal Cheesecake and Big Stick tracks on one of those old Devils Jukebox/Mesomorph compilations. Old school industrio-vox sampling and what sounds like a banjo noodling about to keep you from thinking it’s a locked groove. But groove it does. Weird and entertaining, I’m not sure how much of a necessity it is, or how often I’d pull it out, but if yer a fan of the band it won’t hurt yer head any less. (RSF)
(Badmaster/Suicide Tax // www.badmasterrecords.com)
Matt K. Shrugg "Gone Ashtray" LP
Of the one-man-banders operating within the traditional "rock idiom" at this point (I'm thinking of your Ty Sgealls, Matt Meltons and such, not yer Blank Dogger synth/bedroom cats) I like to think of Shrugg as the most...genuine is a word I'm going to use. And by that I mean that he seems to be more of a traditionalist when it comes to his music, a real nuts-n-bolts approach to making what is just invigorating rock'n'roll without any scene influence (other than his Sacramento ties, a city which I think propagates its own outsider view anyhow) or trend-hopping bandwagoneering. The guy has a body of work behind him (both musically and via his zine The Creeper) that speaks to a love of trad garage-punk and it's history, from The Kinks to The Monks to Rip Off Records (he did a stint in the Zodiac Killers) to Budget Rock to the underappreciated Losin' Streaks and on. And that's not say this is a record full of garage-turkeynecking either. He's done the power pop stuff and the rippier punk stuff, and there are certainly some weird touches here instrumentally and structurally, but even when he does that he comes off sounding more worldly than his peers, and also more insular somehow. All of this pretext aside, "Gone Ashtray" sounds more punk to me than anything. Shrugg's a world class drummer, and that elevates many of his songs from what could be entry-level mid-tempo bores to hyper-kinetic garage blasters. And when he does slow down, it's often in a more baroque Sixties-relevant style than bringing the neo-psych reverb pile-on many of his peers utilize. He's an incredibly talented young musician and songwriter able to write tough pop with classic hooks that sound very casual. It's my opinion that his work under The Pizzas moniker has been his high-point on record to now, and a good chunk of this serves up charged garage-punk on par with that single. There are very few, if any, misses on this LP. "(We Aren't Here For) Yesterday", "Show Down", "Wedding Ring" and a good half-dozen others would be A-Sides on singles. And he thankfully avoids some of the goofier punk-pop derivative stuff of a few of his earlier solo singles (like the underwhelming pair he had released on Plastic Idol) which I think were a weak link in his chain. This material was recorded from 2007-2009, showing a mature artist comfortbale in his own skin. He certainly has developed his own "sound" at this point, and if it's one you've liked at all in any of his past incarnations this record provides ample rewards. An upbeat and truly enervating record that's a pleasure to grant repeat spins to. His care for the "artform" shows through and it's that genuine quality I was speaking to at the beginning of this paragraph that makes it worthwhile. Scum stats: 300 copies on black vinyl with some wonderful silkscreened sleeve variants: 100 yellow, 50 gold, 50 blue, 50 gray and 50 orange.(RK)
(Tic Tac Totally // www.tictactotally.com)
Signals s/t 7”
The B side is pretty good. I’ll give ‘em that. "Diagnosis" is moody and slow building. Some interesting shit going on with metallic guitar doom layered upon what feels like a spacey-er SIDS or more gothic downer Static Static…y’no, something similarly huffing on the Lost Sounds tailpipe. Stick with it. Tragically, the A-sides’ 2-fer ("To Modern World" and "Invocation") kinda’ loses me within its Spock Rock™ stylings. Lot’s a repeated herk-n-jerk and dancable punk that owes more to the land of GSL than it does the above mentioned bands. I’m also hearing a smattering of old Six Finger Satellite (good) and solo Jaytard (meh) underlying pop up in here. I don’t know where it’s truly losing me. I guess I just wanted more dynamics from it. Not a bad run thru the hip & well cycled tunnel, but I’ve already got an ass-ton of Bipolar Bear records cloggin’ my shelving unit. Half a good single…more than most can muster up these days. At least that B-side is really long. (RSF)
( self-released(?) // myspace.com/signalsphiladelphia)
The Sips "Never Let You Go" 7"
The Sips are a fun-loving garage gang from Brisbane who the Chinese Burns fellas name-dropped a couple of times in their interview, so getting this in the mail rushed it directly to the top of the "To Review" pile. Because it's Australian. And Australia rules. These cats are tenuously linked to the Swashbuckling Hobos label/scene (which includes Feelin' Lucky, Boondall Boys, and various pre-Chinese Burns rock outfits) and they give the legndary Mad Macka himself a production credit, so they have some decent credentials. They open with an instro called "848" (not a Menthols cover, but what the hell?) that has them going in a mid-90s heavy guitar rock direction I wasn't expecting, but they change up real quick with the title track which is straight goofball Rip Offery. Might even sound a little like The Stallions. Poppy and all, with a good guitar tone. B-Side continues with an even more direct sounding Budget Rock influence, "Baby Back Down" sounds like Supoercharger if they could actually play their instruments, which sort of defeats the purpose doesn't it? They close with a toss-off punk blast. Sleeve art reminds me of something a band from Denton would use and it does look cool for a cartoon sleeve. Good band name, good art, but the tunes are pedestrian garage punk. I think these recordings are like four years old anyway, but I can't see them sounding any better in 2006. Oh well. (RK)
(self-released // myspace.com/thesips)
The Snakes "Billy Jack" 7"
Another steaming pile of shit from NYC. Why bother hitting the record button if you're not even going to try? This honestly just sounds like a bunch of spoiled and jaded fucks sitting around in a loft high on shitty weed and expensive beer and putting zero effort into making a record. Total garbage. I guess they're trying to do some sort of lo-fi art-punk thing, and come off sounding like a bunch of morons. Insultingly bad.(RK)
(Slow Gold Zebra Records // www.slowgoldzebrarecords.com)
Spider "Back to the Wall" 7"
Ah, the high concept picture sleeve photo; truly a lost art. Just check this out: four decidedly English looking mutants posing in front of a brick wall making an exaggerated display of empty pockets to show their back is both literally and figuratively against the wall. The awkward smiles, double pronged Hitler 'stache on one dude, and most of all the satin jackets opened to reveal pasty bare chests matched with oh-so-fashionable flares only add to the charm. Seriously, what were these guys thinking? Probably about riding the new wave to financial success if their lyrics are any indication. Both tunes are working class English punk/powerpop of the highest order about the frustration of life "down and out" and on the Dole. An awesomely suspect sense of fashion wasn't the only problem facing these yobs - they were dead broke and up to here with it! Even if you've never experienced the anxiety induced by an overdrawn checking account most everyone's had a situation at one time or another when they felt their back was to the wall, and the simple driving chorus of the title cut really drives that feeling home both sonically and emotionally. It's got that seemingly tossed off pop perfection thing going on so much of the best UK powerpop has (I'm thinking Kidda Band here for instance). The flip is more of a rocker and also a flawless tune. Further proof, as if any was needed, that the UK circa the late seventies was a more exciting hotbed of powerpop than the US. Fuck the Yanks.(SB)
(Sing Sing Records // www.singsingrecords.com)
The Splinters "Blood On My Hands" 7"
Four piece lady-band from Berkeley/Oaktown, floating some of that dreamy tambourine folk-pop that's so popular with the kids these days. Not as heavy on the reverb as many of their sisters from the Captured Tracks East Coast chapter of the grrl-garage club, and not as retro-gal-group cutesy as those Sandwitches hippie broads and more beholden to the K Records roster than Slumberland, as if there's that much of a difference. Title cut is mid-tempo pondering, crisp and clean guitar, layered group vox, layered haircuts. They take turns posing in Helen Slater's jacket from the Legend of Billie Jean on the cover. A real acid-washed kitsch riot. B-Side kicks it up a notch to slightly up-tempo with a little you-kay post-punk guitar line and chirpy chorus. Kill me now. Recorded by Matt Melton in his spare time between releasing Bare Wires records and grooming his moustache. Scum stats: 500 press with 100 on color for mailorder.(RK)
(Southpaw Records // www.southpaw-records.com)
Stairs "Rock Tonight" 7"
Last summer my old band went on a two weekend Japanese tour. We played with a lot of bands during those six shows but none made as lasting an impression as Stairs. Yokohama was the last show of our tour and also our final night together as a band before a planned breakup. We were on eighth out of nine bands and Stairs were headlining. During our set not only did I mangle chords but I also managed to inadvertently unplug my guitar from my amp at least seven times while jumping around like a dying fish. To cap it all off we couldn't finish playing an off the cuff rendition of "Louie Louie" because I wasn't sure how to change the rhythm on the verse part. Think about that for a second. We were too shitty to pull off "Louie Louie." In America I'd just laugh it off, but this was Japan, where everyone is so serious about "giving it their best" that they wait years before they think they're good enough to record a single. Four years of playing together culminating in perhaps our sloppiest performance ever took awhile for me to wrap my brain around. I was nervous as to what everyone thought. This had me lurking around the back of the club, nursing a beer, alone with my thoughts and paying little attention to Stairs as they took to the stage. I felt embarrassed. I wanted to crawl in a hole in hide, but since there wasn't a suitable hole in sight I opted to sulk and drink alone in the shadows.. As I was sitting back there I started to notice more and more people crowding towards the front. They seemed excited. Eventually the songs started peeking out like rays of sunshine through the clouds over my head. I liked what I heard enough to get closer. Approaching the front of the stage I noticed that Stairs were not your average Japanese band. The bass player and drummer were both nondescript dudes in their late thirties/early forties, but the two guitar players were something else. The lead guitar player looked at least fifty years old and had a slight hunchback. He was clad in a plain short sleeve oxford shit tucked into slacks pulled up way too high. A decidedly un-rock 'n' roll fedora tied the whole outfit together. His guitar was pulled all the way up to his chest and he stood stone still the entire time. The effect was not altogether unlike John Lee Hooker or some old bluesman reborn as a Japanese zombie. Next to him was the lead singer; a slightly pudgy cheeked dude in well weathered black jeans and a ripped up black t-shirt that looked like it was probably older than some members of the audience. He was sporting a chain around his neck and a button with a picture of Darby Crash on it. These were not cool dudes. However, their songs sounded so great and were delivered with such straightforward honesty that despite my foul mood I couldn't help but get wrapped up in them. It seemed I wasn't the only one. Stairs fed off of this energy and John Lee even snapped out of his coma for a second and busted into the world's shortest pogo; it was more of a light bunny hop a couple inches off the ground than anything else. I was in awe. After that they played their hit, the song all the Japanese knew they were saving for last, "Rock Tonight." Before the singer could get to the first chorus there were already a few fans who had jumped on stage to sing along. I was one of them. By the second chorus there were at least ten people on stage and more piled up to sing along. It was one of those all too rare transcendent rock moments. Just minutes before I was down in a solitary funk and now here I was on stage with a couple of my heroes, some new friends, some regular dudes who weren't in bands, and a great band giving it their all. At that moment all those distinctions blurred to the point of imperceptibility. We were all just rock 'n' roll fans celebrating together. Celebrating what? Well, rock 'n' roll itself and the sense of camaraderie it's given us. It may sounds impossibly cheesy, but I feel sorry for you if you've never experienced it. Most of you will probably never get a chance to see Stairs live but this single gives you an idea of what they're like. The songs are all heartfelt and wonderful. Some might be scared of yet another Japanese powerpop record considering the nation's low batting average in that arena over the past few years, but make no mistake about it, Stairs are a punk band. They're a bunch of oddly matched older guys who wouldn't have the first idea how to try and pull off anything fashionable or trendy. What they can do though is write uncannily inviting and honest tunes. Here's hoping this is just the first of many records to come.(SB)
(Needle/Target Earth // myspace.com/targetearthrecords)
Steel Pole Bathtub "Unlistenable" LP
Steel Pole Bathtub were the perfect mid-card band of the noise-filled Nineties and one I certainly held in some regard. Nasty enough to be on the Dope, Guns & Fucking series, drugged-out enough to carve out a career on Boner Records, experimental enough to get Jello's ear and possibly grungey enough to get a deal with Slash during the post-Nirvana feeding frenzy. They were a band that did a lot that you probably never realized, always on the periphery, and always rewarding when given your undivided attention. So, the story with this one, it's an unreleased record from 1996 that Slash turned down, deeming it "Unlistenable", which Permanent has rescued it from obscurity (and a 2002 CD-only release) in a crazy but very admirable move. The record is built upon a batch of Cars covers given the torn-up and blown-out treatment to the point they're identifiable only from lyrical snippets and reconstituted song titles ("The Good Time", My Best Friend's A Girl",...) and although they're gooey fun, it's the outer-spacey moments of suburban angst and Subterranean sprawl that come falling out their maw on the rest that make this a visceral experience. Toilet-flush rhythms are swirled and swizzle-sticked with mountains of tape-effects making for a real stew of sound. Beefy and meaty and such. Sometimes it's a vibe not unlike Hammerhead achieved on "...Vortex", deep and almost distressing, but in less of a punk rock and sounding more...gelatinous perhaps. You can practically hear "Black Eye Fixer" bubble and squirm around like a cauldron full of slime. Sickening. "Teenage Middle Finger" is Chrome playing hardcore. Or maybe Gibby and the Buttholes imitating Chrome playing hardcore. "Cherry Tomato" is the sort of song that some A&R rep probably listened to thirty seconds of, heard it had a riff and grunged-up vox and decided SPB could be a major label act, without listening to the rest of the tape or even the rest of the song. All you kids should buy this and hear what real weird-punks listened to before there was weird-punk. This is what we had. And we liked it. Die. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Permanent Records // www.permanentrecordschicago.com)
Straightshooter "Straightshooter" 7"
The title cut didn't do much for me - and let me use this space to state for posterity that unless you're Bob Dylan I always cringe when I hear the worlds "rolling" and "stone" used together in the chorus of a song - but the b-side here is great. It's packed full of neat ideas and melodic punch. Everything fits together perfectly from the startlingly well-sung intro, the taught verse, the anticipatory prechourus, the rousing chorus, the rolling drums on the bridge - and the sing along coda at the end. Chalk another winner up to Sing Sing. Too bad my copy came with three annoying pops at the beginning. What's up with new vinyl with pops in it? (SB)
(Sing Sing Records // www.singsingrecords.com)
Strange Attractor "Just Looking" EP
Four song EP from these Canadian garage-punkers. I thought their LP was unexpectedly good and they don't do too bad with this little one, but it's non-essential stuff. Title cut is the pick-to-click here, a dark and hook-laced punker with an evil psychedelic organ twist. "Nite Stick Stomp" is an effective side-filling backwards-guitar instrumental. B-Side quality fades a bit, "Alex Is A Night Banger" is a variation on one of the cuts from the LP that is forgettable as is their Nipple Erectors cover. One choice cut here, get the LP if you want to hear this band do something more than ordinary. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(FDH Records // www.fdhmusic.com)
Superior Units "Take Her In The Classroom" 7"
2010: The year punk drooled. The stupid are getting stupider. Snot caked sleeves and head gear are slowly replacing the skinny ties and ironic belt buckles. I’m ok with this. The Impediments/Buzzer folks throw around some mid-tempo slop that makes me feel like I’m 14 again. Mrs. Giardini is asking me for the homework I can never seem to finish. Hearing her call on me always led to a trip to the front of the class. Dead center. And I would become fearful due to the pop-tent effect she caused in my jeans. Damn. She was hot. In her mid 30’s. Spoke French and Italian. Ah, the days of young…tiny soiled spots on yer dungarees…throb-throb...Where was I? Oh yeah…
So this is of the shamble punk vein, peppered with the pre-spunk rock that keeps ya’ interested and tapping along. I’ve already described the opening ballad ("Take Her In The Classroom") and what it brings to my cranium, but the flipside tracks ("2 Many Dipshits" and "2 Much 4 Skin") rollick along in a faster track that gathers a 70’s proto-bubble scum to their already youthful MacDonald-land damage. Filthy fuckers who spend their time dry humping to the Penetrators (or Gizmos, the label says…) while wearing the Nobunny skull mask might wanna’ try finger-banging this’n. Hard. (RSF)
(Plastic Idol // www.plasticidolrecords.com)
Sweet Sixteens "Submarine" 7"
Second single (or is it their third? I fucking forget, how's that for fact-checking?) from these Indiana no-fi goofballs. "Submarine" is a keytar and drumbox zero-fi digi-punk zapper. Morono-tone vocals make for a catchy little sub(!)-two minute cartoon of a ditty. "Loverboy" takes the standard Indiana budget-pop template and adds some synth-tones for a "twist" on the style. Multiple vocal treatments mate some "weird" to the garage-pop approach they've utilized in the past, which shows they aren't just aping Eric & The Happy Novels or whatever. There's about five minutes or less of music here, both tunes do have a dumb yet effective enough hook to them though. At the least, it's more memorable than the other seven-inch or two I forgot about. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Windian Records // windianrecords.blogspot.com)
Testors "Two Sides of Death" 7"
Two live tracks unearthed from the vaults that do not appear on the Swami compilation (or the Incognito ones either). "It's Only Death" does appear on those comps, but just not this live version. "Drac" is unheard until now and is a moody little vampiric metaphor with dark farfisa. Both cuts are from the four piece line-up recorded in 1978. I give the recording quality a 6.5 on a 10 point scale. Not the best but you can hear well enough. You should be more than happy to put some cash in Sonny Vincent's pocket and buy this, but in all honesty it isn't going to enhance your appreciation of The Testors legend any more or less. 1000 copies.(RK)
(Windian Records // windianrecords.blogspot.com)
Timebombs “I Belong In Hell” LP
Opening ceremonies is a brooding wailing wall of feedback. The sound of front lawn sprinklers fecundating the suburban munchkins with razor blades. From then it turns into a festering wound of noisy, indecipherable jolts and turns of vitriol-brimmed mayhem, similar to their brothers-in-arms Video Disease, i.e. looking in Void’s direction but going for it in a deliberate sorta way. None of these hardcore tunes really lop that hook into your bottom lip and drag ya back for repeated listens, save “Hive Mind,” but I suppose it’s psychically appropriate when the band’s theme is suicide-via-faithlessness in ever ringing themselves of the life experience they’re oversaturated with. Numbness put to wax. A very violent production and sandpaper-masturbatorial compositions say just about everything there is to be said. Not quite blown to smithereens, but the red is definitely up there, smacking the mix’s glass ceiling like the doctor did when he wrestled these type A personalities from the murk. Who’d – at the time of their bald little mush-melon craniums and Cupid cheeks – have known they’d be walking in the 21st century’s designated snakerun of dissociative disorder? Not their parents, I’d imagine. Know who probably knew? Henry Miller. You guys ever read Henry Miller’s “Universe of Death”? Having a pulse doesn’t mean you’re alive, we know… join the club. (BG)
(Cowabunga Records // www.cowabungarecords.com)
Trust "Mythic Maps" 7"
Sprawling, chanted prog-punkers that channel Cave-like (minus the Deep Purple) overtones or perhaps a more jazz-bo Lightning Bolt missing those aggressive apeshit qualities. Maybe if’n yer stoked by Triclops you’d get off on this…They smoke a lot o’doob and eat a ton o’shrooms in Copenhagen, and I assume they listen to a ton o’early Yes (close ear ringer in the vocals dept.) from this testimonial. Even reminds me of the recent Big Business at points (yeah – I do know what that sounds like) only less metal. It resembles a full band working double-time, but its just two dudes on a swing shift. Impressive, I’ll give ‘em that. There’s some interesting shit going on here, but I’m not sure if it’s interesting to me. You go, captains…slay a dragon for me. Day-Glo red wax with a sweet fold-out poster and liners. Noooice. 500 made. (RSF)
(Red Tape // myspace.com/redtapedk)
The Tundra Fucks s/t 7"
Its funny thinking that mid-90’s/early 00’s garage is up for influence and worship on the youth of today. Tragically, it seems most bands wearing The Black Lips on their sleeve are too puss-puss to get my attention. Snooze. Anyone got balls? Anyone still drunk out there and just being dudes? Or is the whole scene just turned into an excuse for picking up Williamsburg chicks? Welp, now and again something sprouts up that gives me hope…and it’s not usually from the US. I like that Sworn Liars LP. Fuck You. And The Fatals flag continues to fly in stuff like Complications. Not bad. These days “not bad” shows more promise than most of the fluffy-bunny bullshit that sprouts up. Keep yr Strange Boys, I’d rather listen to Grave Blankets. Tim Warren would punch you all in the nards. So, here’s this Tundra Fucks single: pleasant unsolicited surprise. These guys gotta’ be in their thirtys. "Hanging Around Here" is a bottom heavy rump-shaker that has some tasty vocals. Shit, this sounds a little like Gravel. !?!? That doesn’t get thrown around too often. No sir. It’s got a Headcoats crunch I can’t deny, but more raw-k and thick in a Pacific Northwest gloomy way. "Pretty Pretty Mean" oughta get you off if you dug the riffage on that Rib Cages single. Not as great as the lead off track, but it ain’t hurting my head none. Fidelity drops down to budget–fi for the last journey into 60’s punk revival: "Mean". Another solid jam. These guys may be into the Rob Vasquez discography…I don’t blame ‘em. Actual garage rock in the times of denim pantsuits and Bay City Rollers worship. Welcome back, now move me outta’ here… (RSF)
(Ken Rock Records // myspace.com/kenrockrecords)
Tits "Daddy is My Pusher" 7"
A-game obnoxious, highly offensive punk retardation here. You can't go wrong with a driving piano riff so basic it sounds like a mongoloid wrote it between nose picks and a freak singing shit like "I'm only ten years old...and daddy is my pusher, daddy is my pimp" in an atonal bark reminiscent of Mike Meyer's Dieter character from those old "Sprockets" skits; in other words cold, European, and gay. Throw in the then-topical and mildly controversial "We're So Glad Elvis is Dead" and it's obvious you're dealing with disposable, lowest common denominator punk by numbers. Utterly irredeemable trash. Perfect.(SB)
(1977 // www.1977records.com)
Tonstartssbandht “Midnite Cobras” 7”
Midnite Cobras is a warbly blown out mess of Oh Sees-style psych worship (warship?). Totally toe tappin' at least, if anything but original. "I’m A Welsh Souper" giver’ another go with some busy finger fretwork before it gets serious and settles in on frantic loft-pop. The B-Sides "Electric Dragon Sword" heads skyward into some acid-damaged boogie. Long, warped and sunblistered. Definitely the highlight of the slab here…and the band prolly knows it. It could have gone on longer, really. Just saying. For fans of the fellow Maples, Sex Church, and the like minded Jap-Elders of times past. Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space. Not bad…more of the flipside could win me over. Man, I can barely read this sleeve. Ha. (RSF)
(Psychic Handshake Recordings // www.myspace.com/psychichandshake)
Tunnelrunners "Plastic Land" 7"
For me the most important compilation will forever be Teenage Treats vol. 4. You can keep your KBDs, Back From the Graves, Powerpearls, Bloodstains, and all the other sundry rare punk comps out there. The import of this one compilation on the unfolding of my musical taste can't be overstated. The time was the late nineties - '98 perhaps? - and my interest in contemporary music was waning for the first time. Enter powerpop. It was a revelation of Biblical proportions to me: a heretofore undreamed of galaxy of catchy pop tunes infused with punk energy. Thanks to a favorable in mention TB/Blank Generation alum Mark Murrman's MRR column "Teenage Treats vol. 4" became my burning bush and a powerpop buyers guide column by then influential MRR columnist Rev. Norb was like the voice of Yahweh on Mt. Sinai dictating to me, if not the all encompassing Ten Commandments of powerpop, and least the records I most needed to hear and could then attain for a few bucks relatively hassle free. While the slick production on a lot of Norb's picks was a roadblock for me at first, the "Teenage Treats" comp turned my world upside down on first listen.There was an exuberance and innocence permeating all those tunes that was redolent of all that is great about pop music; the sound of being young and excited about life. Particularly charming amidst all these tunes was the Tunnelrunners' "Plastic Land." Kicking off with as inspired an intro as you'll ever hear the entire tune had an undefinable otherworldly sound to it, like the fabric of space time opened up and out of the breach dropped this gem of a tune from another dimension. I would like to say it's somewhere in that bizarre yet warm guitar tone and the naivete of the vocal performance, but that would be missing the mark. The entire tune is just magic from top to bottom. If you can't appreciate that you don't even deserve to hear it because you've got nothing but a clinical numbness where your heart should be. In a world as perfectly imperfect as ours it's rare to come across music with both the fragile beauty and effusive excitement of "Plastic Land," Owing to the scarcity of the original single I figured it would be many years before I could afford to hear for myself whether or not any of the other songs on the eponymous EP could live up to "Plastic Land." However one late night turned early morning last summer - over ten years after first hearing "Plastic Land" - my uber collector buddy Atsushi pulled a copy out of his haphazardly arranged stacks and I went into dumbfounded shock. I sat there for a good minute or two unable to say anything but, "Sugoi, Tunnelruners no originaru wo jissai ni te ni motteiru. Arienai, arienai," which translates roughly to "Holy shit, I'm holding an original Tunnelrunners in my hands. No fucking way, no fucking way." Naturally it was dead mint and had the insert. Atsushi must have thought I lost it, but eventually I was able to stammer out that I wanted to hear it. He played me a track on the b-side that sounded just as incredible as "Plastic Land." While I had always wanted a copy of the Tunnelrunners single it now became one of those things I had to obtain at all costs. Of course needing a record and actually having a thousand dollars in disposable income sitting around to blow on it are two different things, especially when one is trying to get established in as expensive a place as Tokyo (that I eventually failed in that is another story for another day) . Enter Sing Sing Records and their tireless release schedule that seems to be using my fantasy "someday when I'm rich" wantlist as crib notes. It doesn't matter to me if I'll never own an original when as much care goes into the packaging and sound quality of a reissue as obviously went into this: exact repro of the sleeve, hand stamped labels, and mastered at 33rpms for maximum fidelity. But what's really important are the songs. Everything on here is imbued with the same magic as "Plastic Land." In this case it's pointless to talk about songwriting, performance, the recording quality or any of that nonsense because what it all boils down to is that the Tunnelrunners are magic. In a world filled to the brim with cold and all too hard facts that's a rare commodity. A treasure in fact, and it should be regarded as such. Sing Sing has done the world a favor and made the magic of the Tunnelrunners easily available to all those with ears to hear.(SB)
(Sing Sing Records // www.singsingrecords.com)
The Unfuckable "Complicated Meditation Class" 7"
Aarght delivers some of that down home Aussie goodness yet again. The Unfuckable come from a lineage that includes The Onyas, Up Syndrome, Ooga Boogas and more Dropkick Records recording artists by association and have apparently been kicking dirt since 2004. Both A-Side tunes are uncomplicated straight to (and from) the gut punk rock, vocals are delivered in an Outback hayseed accent that sounds very much like Ross Knight, typically deep bass plumbing, clean guitar shred, title cut throws down some handclaps and a hot solo for extra yob rock flavor. The result of being bored and pissed (on and off),looking forward to quitting time and heading to the pub for some action. B-Side is a down-tempo swamp-n-country stumble about what it's like to actually be unfuckable. The sounds of drunk Australia.(RK)
(Aarght! Records // aarghtrecords.com)
Unwed Teenage Mothers "If That's Love" 7"
Oxford, MS four-piece containing Johnny Valiant from Lover and John Barrett (he of the Bass Drum of Death) and a couple other pals. Garage-pop of the mid-fi flavor, existing at the nexus of where Marked Men and Romance Novels cross streams. "(I'm Gonna) Blackout Tonight" is a punky good time that actually sounds a bit like Teengenerate without all the fire-breathing. "If That's love" and "Stick Around" are both bread-n-butter low key poppers. "Teenage Brain" sounds like Denton, Texas - Bad Sports and such. Garagetastic. Even though they try, they don't really muster up too much energy or originality to make them as enjoyable as any of the bands I've name-dropped in reference. 500 copies.(RK)
(Tic Tac Totally // www.tictactotally.com)
Unwed Teenage Mothers "Blonde Girls" LP
I reviwed a 7" by these Ole Miss cats when I started this section, and now that I'm drawing this edition to a close, their LP drops into the batter's box rather fittingly. I find them far more agreeable on this long player by a wide margin. They start it off with an early Lips-ian acoustic strummer, hit you with a boxy Marked Men vs. the Spits punker next, then fluctuate between some Moonhearts-flavored garage (without the surf guitar), Southern rock-n-pop a la Rich Crook or Mr. Cartwright and even flirt with a little First Base/Happy Thoughts-style sockhop-n-pop. This thing is heavily laced with hooks, handclaps, tight guitar playing and a truly commendable drum sound. Really, this thing is recorded great - drums are perfect, guitar has the right amount of tin/treble, vox settle in nicely and there's just a slight bit of bottom end. Whoever ran the tape on this should get a medal. Mr. John Barrett takes time off from the Bass Drum of Death to beat the traps and further his rep as the Southern Ty Segall here, the Boogie Woogie Man Johnny Valiant (of Lover!) is on bass and some Colin dude makes with the hot lixx. Sort of a Deep South garage supergroup of up-and-comers, this LP should find a good home with Wisconsin hippies, Midwest garage turkeys and young Texas poppees with equal success. These Mothers mix a good variety of styles in to keep things engaging and with that diversity have created a pretty successful one-sided LP. Good songwriting and a great mix kept me listening to this, even though it's a genre I'm not normally interested in. Take that as an endorsement. Scum stats: 300 black, 100 black/yeller, 20 blue = 420 copies, haw! Plus this test press I'm listening to...(RK)
(Play Pinball! // playpinballrecords.bigcartel.com)
V/A Aids Wolf/Satanized split 7”
The Wolf pulls together a couple of tracks that resemble the aural equivalent of being birthed out of an unholy Lightning Bolt/Teenage Jesus mouth-fuck. Japanese sputter and spurt delivery that grates nerves in a grande way. A shock-horror value meal. The Satanized side brings a gross conglomeration of spat up n’ slowed down Burmese vomit, Sun Ra excerpts and drunken black metal driving into squelched walls of jazz-bo feedback. If they knew where this was going, I applaud them. Weasel Walter had his hands in this…well there ya go. Wretched like you want it. A good ear-rape for this round of reviews. 500 pressed on pinky-trash-violence colored vinyl. (RSF)
(Badmaster Records // www.badmasterrecords.com)
V/A Audacity/Darker My Love "Under The Covers Vol.1" split 7"
Blah, blah, I hate splits, blah, blah, especially when the bands cover each other, blah, blah, broken record I sound like, blah, blah, Agent Caution loves Audacity and they do rock a bit in a West Coast garage-kids way, but I don't dig em as much as ol' Lemmy does, blah, blah, Darker My Love bloooooooooooooowwwwwwww and like The Beatles and Beach Boys a lot I bet (which isn't a sin...well, maybe a venial one), blah, blah, blahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhrgggggggggggh, totally forgettable even for Burger super-friends and wonder twins. Gleek. (RK)
(Burger Records // burgerrecords.webs.com)
V/A “Brutality in Seconds” LP
Music for the faster shorter louder set, this LP crams in 40 songs by 30 bands. Full of powerviolence and grind, the LP is an onslaught of one quick, angry blast after another. A lot of this is outside of my interests and blends together to me but I’d imagine this should satiate connoisseurs of the genre.(DH)
(Sick Thought Records // myspace.com/16908066)
V/A "Denton Denton USA!" LP
Sampler platter from fifteen of Denton Texas' rockers and rollers, a college town with an amazingly productive little scene first put on the map way back when by The Reds and Marked Men. Side A gives us poppy-punk from Uptown Bums and Teenage Cool Kids, a great Killed By Denton-punk cut from the Pumpers, a visit from Wax Museums ("Billy's Room") and TV's Daniel with Secret Bangs, hybrid heavy metal from Chief Death Rage, Cali-punk style from The Influence and the high-water mark being The Wiccans and their gonzo trash-punk sound. Flipside has catchy garage from the already well-eastablished Bad Sports and Fergus & Geronimo, guitar drive from the up and coming Fungi Girls, TV's Daniel once again with his weird-punk outfit Video, ray-gun guitar instro from Bleach Boys, Teenage Bees bring some good downer-punk to the party with great guitar tone and this thing wraps up with the "Denton Denton USA" theme song from the whole cast of characters. A feel-good comp from the Denton family, which reminds me a bit of what was going on the Milawaukee/Green Bay Wisconsin scene a few years ago. A bunch of creative kids who love punk rock'n'roll and have done their best to make their town's scene a great one that they should be proud of. A good mix of known and unknown acts and it was nice to hear the Wiccans and Video for the first time.(RK)
(Play Pinball! Records // playpinballrecords.bigcartel.com)
V/A Georgiana Starlington/Wild Choir split 7"
I really enjoyed the previous Starlington 7" and definitely wanted to hear more, but was of course sort of bummed it had to come in the form of a split, because we all know how we feel about the format....but this is really sort of a deceiving split release, as I'm fairly sure Wild Choir are the same people under another pseudonym for whatever reason. The GS cut is good as expected, they do what Vermillion Sands do but come off sounding more authentically American obviously. Duh. A dark country-n-reverb interloper with poignant guitar and laconic vocal back-n-forthing from the husband and wife team of Jack and Julie Hines. The Wild Choir track is a weepy slow-dance rocker with soul that will sound super familiar even though it's an original (is it "Heart of Stone" they borrow from? I'm having trouble placing it...). Not overly remarkable although they do play the hell out of it. Splits suck, Mike Sniper said it, I believe it. A non-essential placeholder until Starlington do something longer. Band features a member of Deerhunter on drums and Rob's House Records CEO on bass this time around. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Rob's House Records // www.robshouserecords.com)
V/A Tommy Jay & Mike Rep “The Grim-O Comix Sequence” LP
The synthesis of the most striking death-folk compositions from Tommy Jay and Mike Rep’s pre-Mike Rep & the Quotas 200-reel chronicle of what must’ve felt an ephemeral treading in misty pools of red wine and little white pills, as the somber haze of the reaper hangs over this Simon & Garfunkel-meet-teenage-depression tunage quite palpably. Beautiful (mostly) acoustic 4-chord compositions with opiate-dream vocal oscillation losing you to time, assisted by the lack of percussion. You just drift off into drug-induced high school blooze purgatory. The cover being graced with a notebook-sketch tombstone is as fitting as can be for 1974’s great lost “folk rock opera” of obtuse abuse and bare bones reel-to-reel production (just the right amount of non-production difficulty for the hardening of Termbro dork). The exact morbid awkwardness that a musically sub-genius Peter Laughner displayed with his folk stuff, which makes sense considering both parties were heavily petted pedants of the gospel according to the King of Dope, as can be heard with the vapid expanses of gray melancholia tainted with humor chem-trails the hue of the bags under Lou Reed’s eyes. Drugs and depression, lust and loss: the pinnacles of those mystic non-alpha-males that we in the rock crit echelon will always be starry-eyed to and wonder if we’re next in line. The same poetic nihilism and hurt that Reed conjured with “Caroline Says” I & II – 'Berlin' being their admitted jump-off – and Laughner’s recalling of Plath sticking her head in the oven, is here in abundance. And while Laughner’s penchant of dusting off his bookshelves for lyrical matter, to the extent of writing songs for Baudelaire and said wyld chyld of a Nazi Dad, the delves into literature aren’t a concern here. Just death. It’s their fricken motif. Straight up. The only ray of sunshine poking through this overcast is the concluding track “Learn to Ride,” with its J. Richman-like honesty and faded Mirrors-like character. Great shit. (BG)
(Columbus Discount Records // www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)
V/A Pheromoans/Dan Melchior "A Celebration of Middlesex" split 7"
I split I just can't hate. Sometimes they get me. The Pheromoans side is a welcome return, as I thought the last single on Yakisakana was a step down in quality after their first two (and their cut on the Clan Destine comp was a real duffer), but they get down to business on their three tracks, making the competition between them and Hygiene for top UK band of recent vintage a bit stiffer. "Slime Days" is one of their best, a wonderful serving of garage-art post-punk that bubbles over with eccentric catchiness and quirk. They follow with a jerky cut-up and collage piece, a bit of a discordant mess on first listen but making sense of the spare parts they're seemingly using when you pay attention. They end with a teaser (country?) of slapdash rock'n'roll interpretation that those witty Brits are so adept at pulling off. "God's Gone Mad" and he's comin' to getcha, I just wish it was a bit longer. A nice time-tider while we await the LP on Convulsive (and a possible single on Sweet Rot?). I've been on Melchior sabbatical for a while now, so I was actually looking forward to hearing something from old Dan. I'll tell you what, just when I start getting down on the guy he tosses off a cool tune. "Counting Calories at the Last Supper" sounds a bit pretentious, and he starts off by lulling me into hate-mode with a slightly psych-folk pastoral melody, and I'm thinking this side is gonna be a bummer, but then he slips in a chorus ripped to the gills with fantastically loud guitar bombing and a heavy organ step. Repeat that twice more and you have an alright track here. He's a tricky fellow for sure. Pheromoans side is the main attraction, Melchior side is good enough to make it okay to buy a split single. Scum stats: 250 copies with cryptic insert and a foldover outer sleeve on top of a blank cardstock inner that might look snazzier if they were glued, but it's just ever so slightly oversized just to be difficult. Charming. And the labels are completely blank just to raise the ire of Dave Martin. I'm not complaining though, it just adds to the oddity.(RK)
(Savoury Days // www.savourydays.blogspot.com)
V/A Splinter Cake/Foot Ox split 7”
Splinter Cake brings the pop-lite with slight garage leanings for the Olympian K Reck fans. Comes off like a haphazard mash of John Dwyer riffage, twee powered hooks and some indie-fried rap (?!) Well, not gangsta’. Rap like the NoFi Soul Rebellion might do it. Unusual for these parts. As for Foot Ox: a clank & burn approach to lo-fi pop that might appeal to GBV fans or the home recording folky-folks. The Built To Spill whine to the vox will make or break it for the casual listener. Cello gives some class to its precious Muppet styled delivery. There’s some weird toygasms and looped tomfoolery, ending it off on a “huh?” note. Not really my thing, but inoffensive and somewhat charming. Can’t pigeon hole this label. Hit the website and figure it out for yourself. Another nifty screen printed sleeve from Stank HQ wraps it up, along with a download coupon. (RSF)
(Stankhouse Records // www.stankhouserecords.com)
V/A Sudor/Crimen de Estado split 12”
…And we have yet another brilliant release in the new wave of Spanish hardcorepunk. Sudor (Sweat) is from Toledo and is one of the most promising bands around. An absolutely excellent tape debut, raw and catchy 45, a website that defies qualitative description and is a great example as to how all bands should aspire to represent themselves… Young punks that have an incredible ear for songwriting, the vocal delivery is raw, disgusting, perfect. The rest of the band is operating somewhere between the paced-restrained-blunt melodies of Varaus and the noisy Spanish beat of Attak or RIP, there’s the genius of early Eskorbuto in here too. They’re mixing ALL the right things and it comes out incredibly unique and great. The winner of the split. Crimen de Estado hails from the same prolific, incredibly productive crowd in Barcelona as Firmeza 10, Otan, SIDA, Atentado, Destino Final, GLAM, the list goes on and on… They’ve developed quite a bit from their self-titled release but still sound much like a modern IV REICH. Ripping stuff, all the procedural grit and repetition of the past Spanish Bands Influenced by Discharge with perfect little nuances stuck in to feed the symptoms of 21st century ADHD. Great raw Spanish vocals with sentiments that easily break through the language barrier. “Joder! Como odio a esos ricos de mierda.” Yeah, I fucking do too. Easily as good as the rest of their output, and “Intocables en el Gobierno” and Niegalo Todo” are their best songs yet - “aseguran su futuro /mientras destruyen el tuyo”. It’s difficult to comprehend how much incredible music has come out of this one crowd as of late, and how many different ways they’re able to mine this territory. Are you into loud punk? Raw punk? Actual punk? You are blowing it pretty hard if you aren’t paying attention. Tengo que ir a España.(NG)
(Mal Sonido Records // malsonido-at-hotmail.com)
Vermin Poets s/t EP
Billy Childish project with Neil Palmer of Fire Department, bringing Wolf Howard and Nurse Julie along for the ride. Billy actually takes a backseat on this one, not doing vocals at all and just playing bass and dressing up like one of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders. Sounds far more Fire Dept than anything Childish, having that intelligently quirky post-punk drive. "The Doors of Perception" is a glum TVPs styled number about Jimbo Morrison himself. "Vermin Poets" - the song - is rife with clever lyrical snippets and off-key vocals and sums up the band's aesthetic tidily. Not as good as the best Fire Dept songs and not as charged as any Childish record, it's very clever and very British, but ultimately just water-treading post-garage for some older gents who you have to at least pay respect to.(RK)
(Smart Guy Records // www.smartguyrecords.com)
Victims "Television Addict" 7"
Legit reissue of one of the absolute titans of Aussie punk. I'll put these guys up there with anyone except for the Saints and maybe the early Scientists. "Television Addict" is just one of those songs. Every time it comes on I go a little mental. Put a beer or six in me and I'll start pumping my fist, shouting along with the chorus, and jerking my head around like an epileptic having a fit. I'm pleased as a pre-teen drinking spiked punch to finally have this at 45 rpms instead of just on the Murder Punk LP. It's also great to have "I'm Flipped Out Over You" as well. It might not loom as large as "Television Addict" in my mind but it would be great enough to stand as a crowning achievement worthy of justifying the existence of any lesser band. In the case of the Victims its just one more great song. Even if you have the boot you should buy this because it sounds and looks fantastic plus the band is probably getting some money from it. The Victims deserve everything they can get for giving the world two singles like these.(SB)
(1977 // www.1977records.com)
Victims "No Thanks to the Human Turd" 7"
As great as the first Victims single is, I think I prefer this one overall. "I Understand" is prime post-Velvets sensitivity that shows Uncle Lou and the gang's pervasive influence to have spread all the way down to the land down under by 1978. Unabashedly romantic and awkward, heart on the sleeve adolescent stuff here as lyrics like, "I don't really know why I fell for you, but now I feel so sad I'm not with you" attest to. I wasn't going to use this comparison because, well it shouldn't have to be made, but this EP - especially "Open Your Eyes" - is at least 70% of the blueprint Eddy Current is currently employing so successfully. If by some chance you're a young Eddy Current fan who hasn't heard the Victims yet obtain this record at all costs. Anyway, "High School Girls" has a fantastic, albeit brief noise breakdown in lieu of a boring 'ol solo, but what makes it so great is the catchy riff and risque lyrics about banging high school girls delivered with such unabashed charm. I'm a big fan of the paranoid ranting on "Disco Junkies" and the exquisite noise breakdown in the middle, but the songs I always come back to are "I Understand" and "High School Girls" because I'm a pop wuss at heart. Anyway, I should get the point of this review: do you have this record in some tangible form? If not, well now you've got no excuse. (SB)
(1977 // www.1977records.com)
Walls “Tour” 7”
I absolutely love these guys live. A totally rulin’it unhinged force with a vocalist that has the ‘Nam vet 30 yard stare down. Consisting of Cold Sweat, Iron Lung & Lords Of Light members…and sounds like you’d hope it would. Full-tilt HC mashed up with interesting dead stop & starts, primal thuds, raging grind blasts, abrasive feedback and occasional chunk of noise rock wizardry. If you were looking to find the common ground between Slices and Sex/Vid, I’d say it lies somewhere near Walls’ feet. Quite a monster they are. This is a three song tour single that is prolly all used up by the time you read this. Two original gut-punchers and a Die Kreuzen cover that gets a feral, throaty reworking. It suits both parties just fine.
My most MRR sounding review as of yet. Sorry about that. (RSF)
(Iron Lung Records // www.lifeironlungdeath.blogspot.com)
Wet Illustrated "Born Stoked" 7"
"Born Stoked" sounds like one of the Wavves parody song titles a bunch of goofs made up. Musically, it's twanged-the-fuck-up guitar and some West Coast feel-good sunshine pop-garage. I'm thinking it's like an upbeat Nodddzzz maybe, but I forget what they sounded like at this point. Recorded by Tom Cohen of Fresh & Onlys which is a good enough touchstone, I think Shayde has something to do with it as well, and apparently one of the Photobooth guys is involved, but I don't want to know which one. Not awful or anything, but it just seems interchangable with a dozen other Bay Area folk-garage type things these days. Do we have a name for this genre yet? Do I have to make one up? Sungaze? Beachgaze? Bayrage? Pitchfolk? I have fond memories of my early flirtations with F&Os. Our affair started hot and heavy, but after the chicks scooted and like four records in a row I couldn't tell the difference between I gave up the trail. I wish them well though, they were surprisingly rocking in the live setting and are super nice fellas to boot. Yeah, nice guys. You know what I'm saying here. Wet Illustrated sounds like the name of a noise band, maybe like a To Live and Shave In LA side project or something. None of this makes any sense. What just happened here? 300 copies.(RK)
(Corvette City // corvettecity.tumblr.com/)
White Load "My Wall" EP
The finest White Load outing I've heard so far. Total garbage hardcore. All treble, zero bottom end, guitar grating is outta control and non-stop and the singer pops a couple blood vessels for sure. "My Wall" is like bizarro-world Black Flag. Everything is backwards, and it's shittily great. B-Side packs on two more heaters full of disaffection, sort of skummy in a Clevo style, "Endless Bummer" has a great riff they execute with sloppy gusto and the vox are straight nasty. I think they finally have things nailed down here as far as their "sound", I thought the previous records lacked an overall personality or some remarkable x-factor, which they seem to have stumbled upon here. This is the one to get if you want some quality New England no-fi 'core. Ken Rock has been batting .500 with this latest batch, and this one is definitley in the "W" column. Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Ken Rock Records // myspace.com/kenrockrecords)
White Lung "It's the Evil" LP
Burly, searing, wonderfully atypical punk from the Venusian punk hotbed that is 2000s Vancouver. It can't be mentioned enough; the quality per capita coming out of that place right now is incredible. White Lung had built up quite a repertoire pre-2010 with two great EPs and the A-side closer to the seminal (and Vancouver-centric) Emergency Room comp, a blissfully vicious edge to their performances, then the original (and highly highly highly inventive) guitarist left, replaced by a guy with a very similar approach - like Andy Gill playing chainsaws, Bernard Sumner joining Koro, et cetera. The approach the band has mined so successfully in the past is picked right back up without a hitch, and they've given us an LP's worth of songs fitting in perfectly with their previous efforts (and just as interesting). There's so much going on that's just… pleasingly raw. The harmonic cacophony that the wandering bass finds with the completely unpredictable guitarwork is always given just enough room to explore, and it's great that they are able to keep it up for 11 songs. There's maybe one track that drags, but even then you've got a good 23 minutes of the Bags going to a dystopian future that is more interesting than what most bands are doing these days… Great. (NG)
(Deranged Records // www.derangedrecords.com)
Wild Thing "Age Difference" 7"
Second single from these Bay Area shitheels who figured hardcore wasn't cool anymore once they were old enough to get into bars and decided to start playing rock'n'roll. "(Now I Wanna Die In A) Nuclear War" borrows the riff from "Raw Power", dumbs it down tenfold, adds some KBD-style vocal slop and drops in a deadpan chorus for some token wackiness. Entertaining enough but comes off a little forced. "Age Difference" actually sounds like a Pets tune, playing mid-tempo hooky with some actual singing and a real solo. An about face from the first cut, and I think I like this angle a little better. B-Side takes the prize here though. "(I'm Smoking) Leave Me Alone" continues with the solid garage-punk aesthetic, but this one is more of an anthemic rocker with an extended guitar freak-out section, some surprisingly proficient bass playing and a sneaky little return. A pounder and a fist pumper that I can get behind. Aside from the slight miscue on the first track, I think they nailed the other two songs and they do have a subtle humor to them as well. What is not subtle at all is the sleeve, sure to draw the ire of the MRR PC-punk militia and the cops on BCO, although I imagine that's exactly what they want it to do. Rattle some cages kids, just don't forget it's all about the tunes at the end of the day. Attitude will only get you so far. I think they took a step forward musically here, I hope they don't get too sidetracked making a spectacle of themsleves and being all punk and shit. Glad to see they hooked up with Daggerman though, the home of real rock'n'roll in these frightening times.(RK)
(Daggerman Records // www.daggermanrecords.com)
Woman s/t LP
Brutal pigfuck thugishness. The lower east side rears its ugly head in a way not heard in almost 2 decades. This here is magic, boys. Beat down junkie punk that has the Blacksnakes at heart and that Scientists styled filth caking up its yellowed fingernails. More Aussie than most Aussies in the dime. Slug Guts prolly dig them. Think 'Dangling Man'-era Simon Bonney or Tex Perkins frontin’ a much noisier rust-n-scrape of a band. The charred remains of R.S. Howard lie in the trunk of this steel beast…and they seem perfectly at ease having Jack Natz riding high (on the lows) in the passenger seat. Tuck n’ roll interior stuffed with shit, mud and even more drugs. Evil. Death. Dirge. Squeal piggies. Hard as all get out to find stateside, but fairly priced if ordered thru Munster. Do it if you hate humankind. (RSF)
(Bang! Records // www.bang-records.net)
Women "No Reasons" LP
Firstly, please do not get this band confused with those mucksters Woman from NYC who have an LP out on Bang. Or The Men from NYC for that matter. Different beasts altogether. These here Women, hailing from Philly, put out a pretty drab 7" on FDH a few whiffins past, and this 45rpm LP doesn't really make me doubt my initial reaction. They're going for a mash-up of hardcore and garage-punk in a way that is reminding me of the Regulations in approach. Well, we all know The Regulations were poseurs, but what got them over is that they were foreign and could at least write some awesome songs and play the fuck out of them. Women just don't have any of the above...they're American, these songs are all mid-tempo drudgery or generic fast-punk and there's nothing special going on in the playing. It sort of sounds like a bad post-hardcore DC band who like the Dead Kennedys too much or something. Just really run-of-the-mill rock that seems like it would be at home with the Carbon 13 bar-rock crowd and not on a weirder label like FDH. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(FDH Records // www.fdhmusic.com)
The Young "Voyagers of Legend" LP
Just let me come right out an say it's a shame this record is on Mexican Summer, a label whose prices (both wholesale and retail) are absolutely offensive. Sure, maybe the jackets are a little thicker, the vinyl a little heavier, the art/packaging "special" or whatever, that's still no excuse for a new LP to the racks for $23. Fucking criminal. The bigger shame is that they're actually getting some good artists to give them releases. I'd love to hear that American Death-Ray 12", but I'll be damned if I'm paying $20 for it, "Folkways-style packaging" or not. Get fucked. Ranting out of the way, I thought The Young sounded great on their seven-inches (and on the demo tape Dave Hyde sent me years ago to boot) and this LP is a real treat. Miles beyond the garage-punk of those singles. They've become a jarringly confident and strong sounding band that combine, mix and match everything under the pop/punk/garage/hardcore/indie-rock/etc... umbrella into a unique whole. Heavily emotive guitar sounds, from the strong table-setting riffs to the uncomplicated yet passionate solos. I can't really genrify this - it's definitely rock'n'roll, that's all I'm sure of. Profound rock, taking punk as a leaping-off point, that makes you think of the emotional depth of The Wipers (without sounding too much like them) or the thought-provoking guitar capabilites of Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh, GBV or other guitar-rock indie legends. It's almost as if you can hear the band progress as the LP spins - they start with the blazing wah and psych-punk of "Captive Chains" and "Quintana the Killer" and trail off and get deeper and thicker from there. Subtly jagged and almost depressing yet triumphant near-ballads and smoldering slowburns with flares of six-stringed heat and humidity. By the end of the record they're crawling, trudging through the modern rock landscape they've created, sounding defeated yet ultimately giving you hope through that despondency. Emotional yet still tough enough. One of the better guitar-rock records I've heard in some time, and while I'm a guy who likes it fast and raw, even an ape like me has to be taken aback by the fantastic variety of textures and sounds and the deep resonance they've created. Very earnest and unaffected sounding, especially for a record released in 2010. I'm also impressed that they got this to sound so rich for a "home" recording done by themselves. I hate to have to recommend a record on such a cunt of a label. Maybe try buying direct from the band, because a lot people should hear this, and it should have a really broad appeal for those even outside of our little underground ghetto. Good luck fellas.(RK)
(Mexican Summer // www.mexicansummer.com)
To read past reviews go here.