Record Reviews

A.M. NICE: End of an Era: CD

Modern post-punk that recalls both Mission Of Burma and maybe a less atonal Middle Class. The tunes are both dissonant and infused with smart pop sensibilities; creative yet not too self-obsessed to end up diving into an emo pigeonhole. –Jimmy Alvarado (Phratry)

ALLVARET: Skam Och Skuld: LP

Dour Swedish punk is the order of the day here. I’m a little reticent to saddle it with the adjective “poppy” ’cause, catchy though it may be, the vibe is so fucking bleak at times that word seems too happy. None of this is meant as a dismissal. Quite the contrary, in fact—this is a solid album with some great goddamned songs, but the dark cloud is almost palpable. Recommended. –Jimmy Alvarado (Dirt Cult)

ANDY SMITH: Glass House: CD

When someone’s name is Andy Smith it’s impossible to find much about them on the internet. And when you don’t include any info about yourself in your CD booklet, that makes it even more difficult. Thus, I have no context by which to judge this one-man band. Glass House is a lo-fi recording of average sounding garage punk music. The second track (of nine), “Crawling,” reminded me of Gene Defcon, whose CD I once destroyed by smashing with a hammer. So that should give you an idea of how much I liked that song. The last two numbers are acoustic even though one of them has some screaming. There’s also a trumpet somewhere on here. It’s a menagerie. Not necessarily a good one, but a menagerie nonetheless. –Kurt Morris (Self-released)

ANOTHER ONE / DISTRACTIONS, THE: Split: 7”

Michigan’s Another One and Indiana’s The Distractions team up with a collection of songs each on this split 7”. Another One has a punk’n’roll vibe on their opening track “The Clinic” with some driving riffs and a sweet guitar lead. All three of their tracks were great turned up to eleven, but their opener was what really stuck with me. The Distractions, though boasting a larger discography as far as I could tell, were aptly named. They were only a distraction from the real gems on the other side of the record. –Paul J. Comeau (Smoking Cat, fowler@smoking-cat.com)

ANTI DON’TS, THE: We Reap What You Sow: CS

The Anti Don’ts new material brings to mind a conglomeration of Apocalypse Hoboken and 30 Foot Fall, which means up-tempo, scrappy pop punk with some added ska thrown in for good measure. Lyrically, there is a palpable sense of outrage at the state of the U.S.A. and the input of the current President. Although that situation sucks, the fact that it has resulted in giving punk rock its clearest enemy in some years is no bad thing. This band is definitely improving. –Rich Cocksedge (Swamp Cabbage, swampcabbagerecords@yahoo.com, swampcabbagerecords.com)

AR-KAICS, THE: In This Time: CD

This band might be time travelers. They are completely nailing that ’60s, whispery, garage rock revival. Yes, it’s another garage band. But to their credit (and my limited time listening to ’60s garage rock), they truly sound like they are of that era. Even in the recording quality nothing is overly slick or reeking of studio magic; just slightly spooky, breathy rock with bright guitars. The second track, “Some People,” reminds me a lot of “Strength to Endure” by the Ramones. They use the same hook, which makes sense since The Fast Four were snatching the coattails off of this era of music and swapping it for leather jackets. Maybe that’s the closest I ever really get to psych rock and the decade of free love. Just Ramones. And I’m fine with that. There’s nothing wrong with this record, but I can’t see myself putting it on, even in the background. But I also hate The Doors. This is probably for that King Khan & BBQ Show and Ty Segall crowd with cool haircuts. –Kayla Greet (Daptone)

ART THIEVES: Russian Rats: LP

Things start off in a sorta Rancid-punk fashion, which was neither terrible nor remarkable, then got more interesting around the midpoint with two good tunes that hint at a bit of a power pop influence lurking about, then vacillating between the two. Not bad work overall, and I can totally see ’em garnering attention, but my personal preferences lean toward when they stretch their wings a bit and get “weird.” –Jimmy Alvarado (State Line, facebook.com/statelinerecs)

ATTENTAT SONORE: Turbulences: LP/CD

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of Attentat Sonore setting out on the road of punk/hardcore in central France. That trek has seen a plethora of singles and albums being released, but Turbulences is the first new music to come out in five years and the first album in eight. Earlier material had a rough hew to it. This time out, the band has got a slightly cleaner, American-influenced sound, crossing the boundaries of punk, hardcore, and a bit of garage rock. The lyrics are a mixture of French and English, and although I have a very basic knowledge of the former, it’s the latter which confirm the political and social leanings of the quartet. This is a really strong record and reminds me a bit of La Tuya in places. It’s good to have Attentat Sonore back in the saddle again. –Rich Cocksedge (Guerilla Vinyl, asso.diy@free.fr, asso.diy.free.fr / Zone Onze, zoneonzerecords@no-log.org, zoneonzerecords.com / Keponteam, keponteam.org)

AUREOLE OF ASH: Morbid Reality: 10” EP

Kinda par for the course grindcore—hyper-speed beats, screamy vocals. Good for what it is, which isn’t meant as a backhanded compliment, but for me it’s really hard for a band mining this sound to stand out from the larger din, especially after some thirty-odd years of hearing the template. –Jimmy Alvarado (Aureole Of Ash, facebook.com/aureoleofash)

AUTOGRAMM: What R U Waiting 4?: LP

Vancouver’s Autogramm are a serious force to be reckoned with. Three major veterans of the scene (who’ve done time in The Black Haloes, The Spitfires, Destroyer, Blood Meridian, Black Mountain, and Lightweight Dust, just to scratch the surface) that somehow pull off a massive loud and diverse rock sound, merely as a power trio. While the band does wrestle with the power pop subgenre, it isn’t as nestled in the Paul Collins/Nick Lowe pocket as most have been in the last decade. Rather, they touch on the new wave records that came a few years later, hinting closer to Ric Ocasek and Elvis Costello vibes. Not an easy task, but damn, do they fit in there nicely. It’s solid since those elements combined with a straight-forward rock’n’roll format make their tunes palatable to pretty much anyone. This is a seriously impressive release, from the early smasher of “Jessica Don’t Like Rock’n’roll” all the way to “I Wanna Be Whipped” at the end of the flip. The band seems intent on touring as much as possible, so make sure to check them out when they pull through town next. Easily a year-ender for me. –Steve Adamyk (Nevado, nevadomusic.com)