Record Reviews

BAD SHADOWS: Voices in the Dark: LP

Little bit o’ surf, little bit of power pop, a hint of punk, and a whole lotta ’60s garage make for some tasty tuneage that sticks to the eardrums. Derivative? Duh, but the songs are well crafted and executed, and they have the sense to eschew the whole “shit-fi” aesthetic that has been beaten into the fucking ground. Thumbs up. –Jimmy Alvarado (Resurrection)

BAD SPORTS: Constant Stimulation: LP

Bad Sports are a deceptively unique band. Sure, on the surface, they’re a trio of Texan punk rockers with a laundry list of former and other current bands that you should already have in your record collection, but there is a magic about the music these guys create together. They have a knack for being able to seamlessly switch up sounds—from garage punk to straight-up classic rock, from Ramones-influenced pop to the goddamn British Invasion—from song to song and no matter what it is, they nail it perfectly. Of course, everything is filtered through their patented take-no-bullshit attitude. Constant Stimulation is the band’s fourth LP (I consider 2016’s amazing Living with Secrets to be more of a mini-album) and without a word of exaggeration, it is my favorite. I play it over and over hearing new cool parts all over the place. Most of the songs here are mid-tempo burners with impeccable songwriting. Bad Sports are the modern definition of rock’n’roll. As much as I can see a punk rock guy getting way into this (especially if I were to look in a mirror), I could see normal people latching on as well. If it were to happen, maybe there would still be a tiny piece of me that would be pissed about it but, in reality, the adult in me would say, “No shit. They’re really that fucking good!” Everyone needs this record in their collection. –Ty Stranglehold (Dirtnap)

BAR STOOL PREACHERS, THE: “Grazie Governo” / “Warchief” / “Choose My Friends” : Flexidiscs

A set of three picture disc flexi records from this band, courtesy of Pirates Press Records. The sound is not quite punk and not quite ska on the “Grazie Governo” flexi; a nice mid-tempo sound that is quite appealing. “Warchief” is a little faster but stays reigned in, showing restraint and songwriting ability. There’s more of a melodic street punk type of sound on this one and is likely to appeal to fans of the overall Pirates Press back catalog. “Choose My Friends” has a more poppy sound, finally brings in the ska vibe fully, and is probably my favorite of the three. Interesting to release these all together, as they give a good overview of the sound of the band and the different things they bring together. –Mike Frame (Pirates Press)

BAR STOOL PREACHERS, THE: Grazie Governo: CD

Playing poppy ska punk with strong working class political lyrics, I was a big fan of The Barstool Preachers’ message. The band is clearly talented, with strong musicianship and songwriting evident on Grazie Governo. Not only do the band know how to write songs, the recordings themselves sounded great from start to finish, capturing what I imagine is how the band sounds live. As much as I was a fan of their politics, and as evident as their talent is, I was not necessarily the right audience for their music. –Paul J. Comeau (Pirates Press, piratespressrecords.com)

BAR STOOL PREACHERS: Gracie Governo: LP

I don’t think anyone needs to live up to what their family has done, but when you are the son of the singer from Cock Sparrer (one of my all-time favorite bands) I am going to be paying attention. This band has been able to take influences from the past forty years of punk and make it their own. You can tell these kids have grown up with this shit: there’s the pub rock of Cock Sparrer, the reggae influences of the Ruts, the politics of Crass, the big sound of Rancid, and the mentality of small pubs and basements and the “Englishness” of The ‘Tone and Hard Skin. Somehow they managed to throw all of these influences into a pot and make something totally unique, arresting, and fun. I am old as fuck, but the youthful energy of this band has given me a new lease on life. This is a fantastic record that has one foot in “then” and one foot in “now.” Get. In. –Tim Brooks (Pirates Press, piratespressrecords.com)

BELLICOSE MINDS: The Creature: LP

This LP came out two years ago, but I guess it’s just turning up here. Portland is dark and rainy. I guess that rainy darkness somehow created some of the best dark hardcore and punk of the past few decades: Tragedy, Wipers, Dead Moon, and Bellicose Minds. Other Portland natives Sceptres and Estranged took the goth elements of Joy Division et al. and wove it into driving punk. Bellicose Minds have dug deeper into the goth sounds of Southern Death Cult and The Mission and have made a true goth record. There is a driving punk feel, but they have delved deep into punk/goth bands like Lack Of Knowledge/A Touch Of Hysteria. It’s dark as fuck and good as fuck. –Tim Brooks (Black Water)

BETA BOYS: Late Nite Acts: LP

Wild, sloppy hardcore of the finest order. There’s an almost unhinged quality when they speed things up, and when they slow down there are hints at darker, psychedelic influences at work amongst the pummeling, flanged guitars and general raucousness. Their singles hinted at the possibility of an interesting full-length and this delivers in spades. –Jimmy Alvarado (Feel It)

BIALA GORACZKA: Spokoj: 2 x LP

Reissue of this Polish band’s 2003 LP, spanning three sides of a double LP. Biała Gorączka play bouncy and anthemic crust punk with clear vocals, spoken word breakdowns, and the occasional ska part. It’s a rousing stew of music that makes me want to have a circle pit around some ruins. –Chris Terry (pasazer.pl)

BIRDCLOUD: Dode: 7”

What to think of this 7” with two women simulating some kind of oral copulation thing while wearing diapers on the cover? Initially, “Man, I’m getting too old for this,” and then “holy fucking hell yes” once the needle hit the groove! I am still on the fence on this Birdcloud business. Either they are the most kick-ass women I have ever seen or a shrewd marketing move. Whatever the case, the A side “Wild Turkey 101” deserves the most attention here, with its obvious subject matter placing the song in the vast pantheon of kick ass songs about whisky. B side “Fiasco” fares only slightly worse off—something about diarrhea or something or another—if I am not mistaken. Oh, and upon closer inspection that oral copulation gag seems to be a Neil Young-style harmonica thingy worn way down low. –Garrett Barnwell (Bachelor)

BLACK PAW: Self-titled: 7” EP

Ex-Rumspringer dude(s) involved and, right as rain, you get pop punk complexly structured ‘n’ textured, thoughtful, intelligent, and blessed with the uncanny ability to earworm and not let up until the next song comes on to do the same. Excellence from start to finish. Hope more is in the works from ‘em. –Jimmy Alvarado (Night Animal)