Record Reviews

BRAVE HANDS: To End All Worth: LP

I haven’t been excited by a new (to me) band all winter, so Portland’s Brave Hands shook the stale, static, crisp air and brought in some great energy for the new year with their debut album. This trio plays unapologetic, heartfelt, fast-paced melodic punk at its finest, and every song had me excited for the next. This album is something that will make for the perfect summer late night drives home, screaming along at the top of your lungs with utmost sincerity and deep feelings for the lyrics. You know what I am talking about, and this album has it. Go get it. ¬–Cynthia Pinedo (Salinas)

BRENDAN KELLY AND THE WANDERING BIRDS: Keep Walkin’ Pal: CD

All I can really say is… wow. I was a Lawrence Arms fan, but being unfamiliar with Brendan Kelly’s solo output so far, this isn’t exactly what I’d expected. Sure, it’s him alright, but this is a full-blown pop record. In an Americana, country, rock, electronic… way. Have I lost you yet? Good. Seriously, it’s all over the map, but somehow it works, in that I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard it on traditional mainstream radio. If you paired Lawrence Arms with more acoustic/country elements, electro pop add-ins, with even more humour than Lawrence Arms records, this would be the result. It honestly sounds a lot like the Supersuckers at times, at least lyrically/vocally. I’m not sure if he’s touring on this (I imagine so), but it’d be interesting to see how he’d pull this off live. If you’re a Larry Arms fan, you need to hear this. –Steve Adamyk (Red Scare, redscare.com)

BRUTAL BIRTHDAY: Commotion: 7”

These Italians know how to thrash with the best of them. Listening to Commotion conjured up a weird mental image for me: a saliva-drenched lollipop laying in a gigantic, active ant pile. Don’t know why, exactly. Maybe it’s the filthy production mixed with the punchy two-minute-and-under hate songs. This trash punk may be devoid of nutrients, but it’s sure to satisfy your junk craving. I highly suggest you throw down some coin for this sweet 7”. Simone Carter (Total Punk, floridasdyingrecords@gmail.com, floridasdying.com)

BUD BRONSON & THE GOOD TIMERS / BENCHMARKS: Split: CS

This is Motorcycle Potluck’s third release, a split cassette single in collaboration with the label Snappy Little Numbers, featuring Denver’s Bud Bronson & The Good Timers, and Nashville’s Benchmarks. I dug the epic guitar work on the Bud Bronson track “Back to the Womb,” but was not totally enamored with the vocals. The Benchmarks track “The Good Fight,” didn’t do anything for me, but I can see it appealing to the crowd who loved this year’s Super Bowl halftime show. –Paul J. Comeau (Motorcycle Potluck, jerks@motorcyclepotluck.com)

BUZZCOCKS: Another Music in a Different Kitchen: CD

As I write this, it has only been a month since the untimely passing of the Buzzcocks’ lead vocalist and co-founder Pete Shelley. A reissue of this seminal debut album was announced for a January 2019 release which now also serves as a tribute since the beloved Shelley died before the release date. While there’s nothing new to report on about the album’s physical contents (artwork and track listing are all the same as previous issues) the impact and legacy of this record is as significant today as it was forty years ago. It is still the blueprint for what would later be known as “pop punk” and I dare anyone from Sum 41 to Radioactivity to say that this album or band has not in some way influenced their sound. Hell, even hardcore bands like Gorilla Biscuits and SSD have paid tribute to the Buzzcocks. The tracks on Another Music… include several of their best known hits such as “I Don’t Mind,” “Autonomy,” and “Fast Cars,” some of which were previously released as singles, which I’m sure helped assert the record buyer a surefire bet that the album was well worth the cost. The palate cleansing “Moving away from the Pulse Beat” is a great way to wrap up an album that had us pogo-ing all over the place from the start. Perhaps the closing lyrics to “Sixteen Again” best summarize where music was at the time and Shelley and co.’s frustration with not really fitting in anywhere: “I hate modern music, disco, boogie, and pop. They go on and on, how I wish they would stop!” I’ll never stop spinning Buzzcocks records. Thanks for the music, Pete. –Juan Espinosa (Domino, dominorecordco.com)

BUZZCOCKS: Love Bites: CD

This is my favorite Buzzcocks record—a masterpiece from start to finish. With the new fortieth anniversary re-issue of this, their amazing second LP from 1978, there’s a nice new remastering job and some fresh new liner notes to look at alongside this absolute monster of a record. Buzzcocks paired their trademarked buzzsaw punk guitar sound with devastatingly smart and masterfully crafted pop melodies to create an absolutely essential album that anyone worth their weight in safety pins should own and be intimately familiar with. I wish I didn’t love this record already so I could hear it again for the first time and fall in love with it all over again. Essential. –Mark Twistworthy (Domino)

CARVELS NYC, THE: Life Is Not a Waiting Room: 7”

Fun, sax-laden rock’n’roll. I love how seamlessly the sax work is integrated into these songs. All too often, a band will throw some sax into the mix but it’s just frosting haphazardly smeared on top. Here, it’s baked into the cake, an essential ingredient. This band is led by singer/guitarist Lynne Von Pang, who led a band called Trick Babys back in the Go-Kart Records days a couple decades ago. I thought they were pretty rad so it’s nice to hear her again. Her voice is absolutely perfect for this type of rock’n’roll—powerful and wild. I’m looking forward to a full length. –Emma Alice Johnson (Tarbeach, tarbeachmusic.com)

CASSUS: Separation Anxiety: LP

I’ve held a strict no-screamo stance since I got over my teenage scene phase, but this band fucking shreds. Cassus has restored my faith in the genre with their latest release, Separation Anxiety. A slick booklet pairs each song’s lyrics with a colorful abstract painting, turning listening to this album into an all-encompassing experience. This LP reminds me more of Converge or Botch than Underoath, which for me is a positive. I just wish these guys had been around when I was in high school so I could have been spared the shame of being a From First To Last fangirl. Major props to Cassus for making me a born-again believer. Simone Carter (IFB, ifbrecords@gmail.com, ifbrecords.com)

CELEBRITY HANDSHAKE: Political Future: 7”

This Celebrity Handshake 7” can’t be described as easy listening. There’s not much tethering Political Future to a type of organized sound called “music,” but random crashing symbols, a smattering of guitar serrations, and deranged vocal barks à la Screamin’ Jay Hawkins could be construed as a kind of free-form, garage-steeped jazz. Even though I won’t be going back for a (sober) second listen, I bet this out-there 7” would make Captain Beefheart proud. Simone Carter (Eastern Prawn, easternprawn@gmail.com, easternprawn.com)

CHANDRA: Transportation: 2 x LP

Praise be to Telephone Explosion for not only making the collected Chandra EPs available again, but including two unreleased demos that only add to the feeling of total awe at the sounds of the tween genius and true punk, Chandra Oppenheim. These moments of post-punk and mutant disco—by way of a twelve-year-old raised in an intellectual free space and fascinated with mind control and inner fire, and two grown New York artists with an EP on John Cale’s label—are somehow direct and psychedelic, the realest and surrealest, inviting comparisons to Yoko Ono and Lizzy Mercier-Descloux but standing as a singular expression. Sharp, strange, visionary, and completely essential. –Matt Werts (Telephone Explosion, telephoneexplosion.com)