Record Reviews

BASK: Cask: CS

Six tracks of fuzzed-up indie rock with a really cute little lyrics insert. Distinctly droll vocal delivery, and the melodies are heavy with almost-dissonant pop gloom; serious Jawbreaker vibes on the first couple songs in particular. The songs get noticeably weirder and noisier toward the end of the tape—I’m definitely a bigger fan of the earlier tracks, but that’s just me. This reminds me of a lot of the ’90s-inspired indie rock coming out on Reflective Tapes right now… like, so much that I had to double-check that that wasn’t the label. –Indiana Laub (Grey Ghost / Poison Moon, poisonmoonrecords.com)

BELLICOSE MINDS: Incision: 7”

This reminds me of the first time I heard this band; it was their first 7” and I was completely hooked. Their direction hasn’t changed much. It’s still straight forward post-punk, but they do it well. If you’re into post-punk and haven’t caught on to this band yet, I honestly don’t know what to tell you, other than, “You’re welcome,” or “Duh.” –Ryan Nichols (Black Water)

BIT LIP: Self-titled: CS

I’m deeply taken in by the super-DIY look of this cassette—the name of the band is printed on paper and legit glued to the cassette by hand. If I had to guess, I’d say the Bit Lip’s collective favorite band is Dillinger Four. It’s got that Minneapolis sound, with the grit-pop sensibilities of Off With Their Heads. There is something that doesn’t quite work though, and after a few listens, I think that there aren’t enough words. For a while, I thought that the band needed to up the tempo, but after listening again it seems like there just needs to be more lyrics to keep up. –Theresa W. (Self-released)

BLACK PANTIES: “Dirt from the Mop” b/w “Dreams of My Teeth”: 7”

Good thing one-man band Mr. Panties here kinda fucking rips, cuz every other part of his gimmick blows. Dude is called “Black Panties” and looks like he wears a mask à la Masked Intruder. But you know what? As I said earlier, this kinda fucking rips. Both tracks are totally lo-fi affairs that I doubt got more than a four-track treatment and it doesn’t matter. Deranged vocals that would make John Weiffenbach proud. Me likes it a lot. A lot. –Garrett Barnwell (Total Punk, floridasdying.com)

BLANKS, THE: Yellow Fading Glimmer: LP

Perfectly pleasant indie garage pop that almost looks like Kevin Morby or Jonathan Richman if you squint. Smart lyrics throughout, but The Blanks’ personal songs don’t seem to reveal a distinct personality. The result is an album that’s inoffensive in a way that can feel insulting, or dishonest. There’s nothing technically wrong, which may be the problem. –Matt Werts (The Blanks, wearetheblanks.com)

BLANKZ, THE: White Baby: CDEP

The CD version of the debut 7” from Phoenix’s The Blankz mildly incorporates a new wave synth touch into a classic 1977 sound, reminiscent of what other current millennium bands like The Briefs attempt to emulate. Allegedly the first Blankz single in a series of nine, it’s one of my favorite records of the year so far. The title track tells the true story of the band’s singer, a white baby adopted by Mexican parents. The other song, “Sissy Glue,” carries on the punk tradition of singing about the joys of inhalants. Poppers aren’t needed to enjoy The Blankz, though. –Art Ettinger (Slope)

BLEAKNESS: Frozen Refuge: 12”EP

As picture discs go, this one-sided piece of vinyl is one of my favorites of all time. It’s basically the cover of the record printed onto clear vinyl and it looks stunning. Musically, Bleakness might lead one to believe that it would be quite a dour outfit, but I certainly don’t find it to be anything like that. It’s certainly not a barrel of laughs and it reminds me of Crusades, especially due to the driving guitars which kick off the lead (and title) track and a dark ambience to the sound. I actually find the four tracks uplifting in the way they are delivered and the power inherent in them. It’s a quality release worth tracking down. –Rich Cocksedge (Sabotage, info@sabotagerecords.com, sabotagerecords.net / Destructure, destructure.org / Kink, ralf@kink-records.de, kink-records.de / La Agonia De Vivr, laagoniadevivr.com)

BLOSSOM HILL: Under the North Star: CD

This Finnish melodic pop punk band has been at it for twelve years and seem to have a nice formula. They utilize some pleasantly distorted punk instrumentation with sugary vocals without sounding like they’re trying to be something other than pop punk. The vocal harmonies on some of the tracks are really emotive and add a lot to the performances throughout the record. The drumming is pretty subtle and unambitious, but occasionally comes through very nicely with brief introductions to some of the songs, and stands out in faster paced tracks like “Burken.” The guitars manage to balance emotive prettiness with aggressive riffing very well. This release did seem a bit long winded, though. Several cuts on this album seem to be predicated on very similar ideas, and could probably be trimmed for conciseness. This is a good pop punk record. –Anna Farr (Self-released)

BOMBFLOWER: Bleed Me Out: LP

It’s hard to know where to start with a prog ska hardcore album that deals partly with environmental collapse. Bombflower is doing a lot. The ambition is there, the messaging is there. I don’t know that I want the extreme whiplash of mellow pop into heavy speed riffs into ska horn breakdown (e.g. “Got Shot Down” into “Parasite”). But for anyone still following political ska punk, there may be something here for you. –Matt Werts (Don’t Panic, dontpanicitsadistro.bandcamp.com)

BONEFIRE: Murderapolis: CD

Minneapolis hoodlums Bonefire bum rush the venue doors, chug beers, and skip the sound check to immediately plug in and crank out severe hardcore punk damage à la Discharge, Victims (Sweden), and Poison Idea. Calling all posers, scene climbers, and internet dwellers: not welcome. –Juan Espinosa (FTWNU2, ftwnu2.com)