Record Reviews

7 YEARS: Lifetime: CD

As a fan of melodic hardcore and punk of the ‘90s and early ‘00s, there was much about 7 Years to be stoked on, and it was easy to pick up on their influences on the title track, “Never Down,” and others. “Never Down,” is notable for a guest appearance by Joey Cape of Lagwagon. Apart from these highlights, there was a bland sameness to many of the thirteen songs on Lifetime. This repetitiveness killed the vibe for me after multiple listens. A strong five-song EP could easily have been distilled from the recordings on Lifetime, but as it stands, the rest of the songs dilute the strength of the best material. –Paul J. Comeau (Morning Wood)

A MILLION MACHINES: Self-titled: CD

Synth pop reminiscent of Depeche Mode, but updated and more polished. Musically, they’re pretty dancey, yet staid. The singer reminds me of the guy from Interpol. In a not too distant past, A Million Machines would have been in heavy rotation on stations like KROQ. This music won’t upset or challenge the listener in any way. If “People are People” is your jam, then check this out. –Matt Average (Vext / A Million Machines, amillionmachines.com)

ACID BLOOD: Dagger Eyes: 7” EP

Driving hardcore from Umeå from a band with ties to AC4, Crystal Caravan, and The Vectors. Tunes are entrenched in the gray space between ‘80s hardcore and the street-rat leather ‘n’ denim metal of Motörhead and very early Voivod. They deliver in spades tracks with bite that never take themselves too seriously. –Jimmy Alvarado (Jan ML, janml-records.de)

ADAM FRANCE! / WELL OKAY: Nothing Mattress: Split EP

Four songs on acoustic guitars that would make Tim Barry choke up while choking down a beer. It’s sweet and painful when people take songs they’ve been incubating within their own skulls and finally put them to record to share with the rest of the world. Solo work has the tendency to get incredibly intimate and these tracks about heartache and home loss do just that. On the A Side it’s Adam France! from bands like Burn Burn Burn and Arms Aloft—which already have woefully honest folks penning the lyrics to those groups—and this instance is par for the course. France sings songs about moving out and moving on with a shadow of a tambourine in the background keeping pace with his acoustic. The B Side is more of the same vein with Well Okay belting out emotional scars alongside a harmonica. All tracks feel just as if you’re in their bedroom with them, watching them craft the melodies and relive the stories behind the lyrics. Perfect for those retrospective moments in life. –Kayla Greet (Tiny Dragon)

ANTICHRIST DEMONCORE / GOOLAGOON: Split: 7”

I’ve gone on record as not being particularly impressed by Antichrist Demoncore in the past, but damn these tracks are surprisingly good. Powerviolence way past any of the waves that actually mattered but it holds its own. Goolagoon try to get a little goofier with Spongebob samples, but their side of the split is more paint-by-numbers hyperspeed thrash that not even a Scholastic Deth cover could save. The artwork and packaging (printed dust sleeve and fold-out Ouija board poster insert) is pretty fucking cool, though. –Juan Espinosa (To Live A Lie)

ARNOCORPS: Unbelievable: CD

Godfathers of adventure hardcore celebrating the cinematic oeuvre of master thespian Arnold “It’s not a tumor!” Schwarzenegger. From Batman (“Mr. Freeze”) to Twins, all movies from the 1990s, before he was sidelined with being placed into the role of governor of California from some distraught Republican businessmen. Listening to this, I get the sense that they are more of a band to be experienced live than from the stereo of your large SUV tearing up the roads of Malibu and Bel Air, or perhaps the gym. –Matt Average (Alternative Tentacles, alternativetentacles.com)

AZONIC: Prospect of the Deep Volume One: CDEP

Picked this up out of my stack and thought to myself: “Okay, three songs. This will be a breeze.” Then the total track time came up on my CD player: forty-seven minutes! “Danger, Will Robinson-Danger!” Did some more exploring and the instruments listed seal the deal: seven string and doubleneck guitar, timpani, concert bass drum, and gong. I do listen to instrumental music now and again, but these pieces gave me the creeps. Experimental without a doubt. I’m not even sure if this falls into a prog bucket, but I’m not really up for sticking my head in a wheelbarrow for a wet apple today. –Sean Koepenick (Indivisible Music, info@indivisiblemusic.com)

AYRON JONES: Audio Paint Job: CD

Seattle-born Ayron Jones and the rest of the “Boys from the Puget Sound” clearly know their music. Well-versed in rock’n’roll, hip hop, and blues, Jones is like a sound alchemist brewing his own soulful concoction that would make Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, and Prince equally proud. The multitalented musician can shred his electric guitar over 3/4 blues rhythms and croon R&B melodies over weighty rock riffs. He can sing with grit and defiance just as well as smooth heartache. The seamlessness with which the artist juxtaposes genres is truly baffling and impressive. Like an audience before a swift magician, we never see how the trick is done. This is no case of mistaken identity, but rather a skillful fusion and integration of selves. Music lovers of all types (or, for that matter, anyone with two ears and a heart) will be moved by this record. –Michelle Kirk (Sunyata, sunyatarecords.com)

BAD DADDIES: Over 30 Singles: LP

Bad Daddies are one of those bands I’ve long heard about but never actually heard (or at least not to my recollection), so I was looking forward to rectifying that situation. Based on the name alone, I pretty much figured ‘em for a swagger-punk band heavy on Dolls and hot rods, so the wall of feedback right out of the starting gate, one that rarely goes away throughout, was a bit of a surprise. Lotta short, feral hardcore stompers rule the roost here, but things get particularly interesting when they a) sneak some wicked-catchy hooks underneath the unrelenting din with a backbeat that sounds like anvils crashing through one ceiling after another; b) push at the corners and things either take on a bit of an arty sheen or just deconstruct altogether. Tons of creativity going on within some narrow parameters they’ve set for themselves, a quality that always separates the notable from the rest of the schmoes. A fan, and a hearty recommendation, they’ve gained here. Comes with a zine featuring interviews with assorted members, liner notes, pics, and so on so’s you have something to read while wrecking your hearing. –Jimmy Alvarado (Emotional Response)

BAD EXAMPLE: Tethered in Deviancy: CS

Behind the proper and courteous exterior of the Southern veil, lies generations of bigotry, sexism, racism, and fear. Try identifying/existing/being as anything other than a cis white male down here. Hell, just try not identifying with college football. Put a mic and some instruments in the hands of open-hearted forward-thinking young Alabama humyns and you’ve got a hardcore band raging, thrashing, and tearing that veil to shreds. Cavernous, dark lyricism and tunes that capture all the best bits of blast beats, breakdowns, and breakneck punk. The recording is slightly murky, but the sincerity and execution of the songs lift this release well above any loss of fidelity. November MRR live action cover models to boot! –Matt Seward (Not Normal Tapes, notnormaltapes.bandcamp)