Featured Record Reviews from Razorcake Issue 100: Bad Cop / Bad Cop, Aye Nako, Career Suicide, Crom, Crooked Bangs, Drakulas, Lost Balloons, RVIVR

Bad Cop / Bad Cop

BAD COP / BAD COP: Warriors: CD
After incessant touring, one member’s battle with substance abuse, and a garbage human being elected president, Bad Cop has returned with eleven songs that are dagger sharp. There is so much concentrated power and vitriol on this record compared to their debut full length, Not Sorry. The first track “Retrograde” kicks off with laughter before Stacey Dee’s gruff yet melodic voice screams through. Singing duties are largely left to Stacey on this record, but there are a few helmed and written by Jennie Cotterill and Lihn Le. Those tracks from the latter two ladies fit right in with the themes of not backing down, demanding equality, denouncing domestic violence, and highlighting issues of body dysmorphia. Bad Cop is not afraid of being angry and loud about it, all the while accompanied by powerful guitar riffs, breakneck speed, and heavy beats. “Amputations” slows things down quite a bit but might be my favorite track. It’s an anthem for being a badass and pushing past the bullshit parts of life. Plus it has this rad lyric coupling: “Run along, find some other prey / break a tooth on my thick skin.” Some other major standouts on this record are “Wild Me,” “I’m Done,” and “Brain Is for Lovers,” which all quickly became earworms. Everything about this record is stepped up a notch. It’s one of the first collections of songs in this terrible administration that staunchly promotes feminist values with a message and voice that I absolutely prescribe to. This record is strong as hell—slightly over polished in parts, but that’s just how you get a diamond. Well that and amassed pressure and heat, which this band clearly knows how to handle. –Kayla Greet (Fat)

AK-47: Burn the Rats Out: CD
This band has been a part of the fabric of my local scene almost as long as I have lived here (going on a quarter century now). It always puts a smile on my face to know that AK is still angrier than all of us, and have no qualms about giving you an earful. While it is a reoccurring theme with the band, it feels like police violence and oppression are taking center stage here. From the front cover photo of riot cops on fire, to the opening song “When Pigs Fly,” the message is clear. Fuck the police, fuck oppression, fuck cancer, and fuck you if you make excuses. This is as hardcore as it gets. Blasting riffs and beats to match the intensity in the vocals. Thirty-one songs in forty-one minutes! Full disclosure, this is a small city and these guys are friends of mine, but I was reviewing their bands long before I knew them, and it would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to share one of the best political hardcore punk bands I have ever heard. –Ty Stranglehold (Self-released, ak47hardcore.blogspot.ca)

ANTiSEEN: Obstinate: LP
Obstinate is the first ANTiSEEN full-length since the tragic death of the band’s cofounder, guitarist Joe Young. Mad Brother Ward does a terrific job of filling the shoes of Young by retaining Young’s signature sound, while adding twists that are all his own. To say that ANTiSEEN bounced back from heartbreak is an understatement, as this album is as vital as any in their extensive catalog. The LP version is on TKO and the CD version is on Mystery School. The vinyl ends with a lock groove that repeats the title of the album over and over, a hilarious treat for those of us who can’t get enough of one of the most unique voices in the history of punk. The packaging is fantastic, with a giant poster included with the beautiful marbled grey vinyl. The current band lineup puts on a mind-numbingly fierce live show, and these new songs fit in well with the nearly thirty-five years of ANTiSEEN’s back catalog. Stunning from start to finish, Obstinate smashes any and all notions that bands can’t sustain vivacity over extensive time periods. ANTiSEEN isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and if this record is any indicator, they’ll continue to write instant classics year after year. –Art Ettinger (TKO)

AYE NAKO: Silver Haze: CD
It’s really difficult to review an album with so many layers of intentional magic moving through each part of it. Silver Haze opens with an intro that feels like an art installation, mixing children’s voices in conversation with ambient sounds, rhythm, and the echoes of awkward laughter. Those echoes of youth and unease, mixed with brilliant forward-propelling energy, set up the tone and intention of the songs that follow. They’re brooding and blunt with verses that fall into choruses that fall into sparkling instrumentals and hard stops, making for imaginative soundscapes rather than basic knuckle dragging bullshit. It may take you a minute to digest. It also may not be for you. Imagine Sonic Youth raised a crew of queer babes who grew up and made them irrelevant. Imagine the hard boundaries between emo and punk and indie were burned down and replaced with porous, astrological space filled with potential and prisms that reflect and redirect on new planes. Highly recommend. –Candace Hansen (Don Giovanni)

BROMURE: A La Roquette: 7”
Before Rixe were a band, and before Lion’s Law took off, there was a mostly under-the-radar Parisian band called Maraboots that played with the styles of early French oi and punk in a way that was catchy and exciting. Members went on to form the aforementioned bands and a few others and have gone to receive considerable praise for their efforts. Maraboots always held a special place in my heart that was never quite filled by their later projects (as much as I enjoy them), and this is as close to that Maraboots style which that group of people has come to in the last several years. The songs are catchy but not anthemic; they’re cold without sounding sparse. The saxophone on the songs rounds out the sound in that distinctly French way (though many have tried, no one outside the originating country of the oi sax has ever really nailed it like they have). Highly recommended. –Ian Wise (UVPR, uvpr.fr)

CAREER SUICIDE: Machine Response: CD
Thanks to the fanatical alt-right declaring war on America, there now exists an ineluctable eventually: Demented Donny’s Internment Camps for Dissidents. Which likely means I’m going to be calling Canada “home” soon. And that’s fine by me; I’m hyperborean and Canada has great pike fishing and good beer. They also have a long history of punk bands that, with one power chord, can ignite a case of spontaneous human combustion under every “Make America Great Again” clown hat out there. Imagine that glorious fire of dumb blubber. Anyway, when I settle in to my new Canadian digs, I’ll want to know: has Career Suicide crept under the radar in their home country the way they seem to have in “great again” America? Is it possible that a band so gut-punchingly awesome is something of a red-headed step-sibling to Fucked Up—a Canuck band very much on radars in the lower forty-eight and, rightfully, a band very much adored? Less arty than modern day FU, Career Suicide has the anxious feel of a pier six brawl getting wildly out of hand. They do early ‘80s-flavored hardcore in a viciously unsentimental way that kicks your knee caps off before choking you with the panty hose of your own punk pretensions. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m going with it. Fans of ‘80s hardcore bands like BGK and Articles Of Faith, as well as newer bands like Regulations and OFF!, take note. In this era of the Kali Yuga where Dumb is King and piss-simple tweety thoughts resonate, I’ll say this: punk rock was made for times like this and Career Suicide is as good a soundtrack for anarchy as anything. Long live the Demented Child King! Death to Fanatics! Hail Eris! –Aphid Peewit (Deranged, derangedrecords.com)

CAT PARTY: Rest in Post: LP
This is not your typical Hostage Records release. Nowhere to be found are the shredding odes to getting fucked up on the beach. Is it post-punk? It’s post-punk. Cat Party are a post-punk band (I think). Intensely driving songs with shimmering guitar and ethereal vocals about loneliness and internal turmoil (I think). The more I listen to this, the more I hear the Hostage Records shining through. I think about some of the So-Cal hardcore bands that embraced a band like Joy Division as much as Black Flag. T.S.O.L., and Rikk Agnew’s solo stuff come to mind instantly. Cat Party don’t sound like those bands, but they have a distinct vibe, and I can’t get enough. When I was a dumb punk kid (as opposed to an alleged punk adult?) I remember the joke was that we listened to The Cure, Bauhaus, and Joy Division as a way to get with girls. The truth is, I ended up loving each of those bands, but I think I like Cat Party more than all of them. This has become one of my favorite Hostage Records releases, and I am a bit of a super fan. I cannot recommend this enough! –Ty Stranglehold (Hostage)

CROM: The Cocaine Wars 1974–1989: CS
Los Angeles’s Crom has been kicking around for decades now in several incarnations. The earlier years saw them as a shermed-out Anal Cunt drinking Steel Reserve for sustenance with blissful ignorance to the words “song” and “structure.” Singles, splits, and compilations were released left and right and then for quite some time: nothing. That is until the year 2001 when their creative dam blew its wad and out gushed The Cocaine Wars: a full length of monolithic proportions which I can only describe as the result of group sex between the genres of metal, doom, thrash, and powerviolence. This masterpiece of an album originally released in 2001 on Pessimiser and pressed only on the now deader than dead CD format. Cocaine Wars was the band’s figurative debutante ball where they emerged as beautiful, sophisticated “artists” displaying their newfound maturity in writing memorable riffs, discernable lyrics, and stringing the album together with a smorgasbord of Easter eggs and samples from Conan films all while donning Slayer, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Black Sabbath, and even Doobie Brothers T-shirts and patches because their hessian, metal, and classic rock roots will always show. A total of thirty songs and “sorta” songs that spread their cheeks at the underground music world and anyone else who takes themselves seriously. I do realize that the cassette, too, is a dead format but just listen to this and tell me if you’d rather party with someone blaring these tunes from a rusted old Cadillac’s tape deck or from a cell phone synched to a Prius. Take a bow, Crom. –Juan Espinosa (To Live A Lie / Snow Goat)

CROOKED BANGS: II: LP
Heavy, shadowy, possessed-sounding post-punk; you just gotta look at the cover to know exactly what you’re getting into. It’s deep red and black and seemingly stolen from some kind of forgotten ritual—the cover photo, that is, but if you can imagine the aural equivalent to that description, that’s what this record sounds like. I know it seems like “dark post-punk” could describe half the DIY bands starting in hip urban centers these days, but this has something more to it, something almost industrial in its forcefulness. There’s some sort of seething, brooding, melodic power in this. Also, a lot of the lyrics are in French. This is the coolest fucking thing I’ve heard in a while. –Indiana Laub (Nervous Intent, nervousintent.com)

DRAKULAS: VHS: 12” EP
I love the Drakulas. You love the Drakulas. If you don’t already love the Drakulas, stop reading, insert a bookmark here, dash down to the record store, and come back once you have decided to love the Drakulas. Seriously, we need certain ground rules here, and chief among them is that EVERYONE MUST LOVE THE DRAKULAS. What’s not to love? You get fresh slabs of that taut Texan surgical punk that has been lacerating the world’s foreheads for the last twenty years or so, coupled with a freshly ancient viewpoint of metropolitan fantasy degeneracy; fuck you, it’s what’s for dinner. Now that you love the Drakulas (or have stopped reading, possibly to take more opioids and march into the sea to your overdue doom), let us discuss the exact artifact up for review. Whilst the conceptualist in me would have loved to see a “VHS”/”Betamax” 45 (both being songs off the spectacular Raw Wave album, which you either love by now or left behind unopened as you marched into the sea earlier in this paragraph), I must admit that “VHS” + three non-LP tunes was likely a more productive way to go. All three of the new tunes—”Masculine Odor,” “Inside Honey” and “D.R.A.X.”—are as good as anything but the very best Raw Wave tracks, and the platter’s silent underside features a silkscreen of the band’s logo, and how can you not own a record where one whole side of it is your new favorite band’s logo? You’re not pulling your weight, dick. Limited to 350 copies to ensure obedience. BEST SONG AND SONG TITLE: “Masculine Odor.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The Drakulas logo kind of looks like the logo of that band Dirty Looks who were on Stiff around 1980, but more droplet-o-centric. ­–Rev. Nørb (Stiff Hombre, stiffhombre.bandcamp.com)

DREAM PROBE: Demo 2017: CS
Full of rage, smarts, and tasteful riffage, Champaign, Ill. trio Dream Probe are holding it down for fast hardcore in a suburb known for sweaty emo boys. I love that Dream Probe’s songs are heavy and short. Vocalist Olguie sings totally in Spanish about political and personal subjects—such as Puerto Rican colonization and queer experience—and a lyric sheet is included. The tape flows together well and the songs are interesting and frenetic rather than static or formulaic. For fans of Poison Idea or Die Kreuzen or the current Get Better Records catalog. –Candace Hansen (Prescience Tapes)

F.C.D.N. TORMENTOR: Dungeon Days 1982-1985: LP + CD
Sometime in 1984 I attended a garage party in a condo behind Cal State L.A.’s campus. What was odd was the crowd—long-haired “metal” kids wearing Discharge shirts. Still, I braced for serious Maiden worship from the band, Tormentor, and, right as rain, the first tune’s intro had all the “metal” ear markings one had come to expect. After a minute or so of that, however, the tune devolved into this ROOOOOAAAAAAARRRRRR of chaos and blinding speed, flying fingers, flailing arms, and guttural howls. Subsequent songs followed the same pattern, played at velocities that would make D.R.I. piss their pants. It was insane. When drummer Ralo later moved on to hyper-thrash pioneers No Comment, Tormentor’s wild tempos finally made sense, but at the time no one played that goddamned fast, especially a bunch of metal kids. Despite markedly influencing many of their peers, they remained in the underground until they finally disbanded in the ‘90s. Collected here are recent recordings of vintage tunes from their oeuvre, performed by the band’s core members. The tempos are dialed down a wee bit from their glory days, which means they’re working at early D.R.I. tempos when they get a good head of steam going. The deluge of bands that have followed in their wake may temper much of what made them so singular, but it’s clear here they remain a fuckin’ behemoth of a band and still one of the best at this genre. Add some kickass packaging and a bonus CD of additional tuneage and you have yourself a party, kids. Dunno if this is a one-off, but, if you’re a fan of the genre, this is prime-pickin’s here. Much love to these local pioneers, who are long overdue some propers. –Jimmy Alvarado (F.O.A.D., foadrecords.it)

GAY KISS: Rounded Down: 7”
Arizona’s Gay Kiss called it quits at the record release show for Rounded Down. It’s a shame, but, fortunately, these four songs capture the band’s stampeding energy. Right out of the gate, “Conceit” sets the tone and prepares the listener for more relentlessly savage hardcore, with a dollop of noise. Alongside Chest Pain, Nasa Space Universe, and Impalers, Gay Kiss should be lauded for crafting hardcore that spits in the face of boring, and at about eight minutes, Rounded Down left me gobsmacked for the entire duration. Pick this one up before it disappears. –Sean Arenas (Sorry State, sorrystaterecords.com / Blast House)

LILLINGTONS, THE: Project 313: 7”EP
It’s been a long time coming, but the Lillingtons are back with new material. So long, in fact, it feels weird to even write it. So, let’s go back a bit, shall we? It’s 1998 and I’m in a local record store in Ottawa. I end up leaving with a copy of their Shit out of Luck LP, never having heard the band, simply because of the B-Face artwork on the cover and description on the label. Putting the needle on the record when I got home, I instantly knew it was going to be a game-changer. And it was; that album was huge for me, no question: the perfect high school record. I was getting pretty knee-deep in garage and hardcore at the time, but I loved my Lookout! Records bands. The Lillingtons never made it big by any means, but they were highly influential. In their next phase of “spy” punk, if you will, there was band after band trying to copy what they did (with Death by Television and The Backchannel Broadcast, specifically). But those were weird times, too. Pop punk all but went into hiding in the early-to-mid-2000s. Either way, after a few reunion appearances (including a Montreal gig I had to miss due to my own band playing Japan), they’ve given us some new work, and it’s far from a letdown. It’s quite impressively solid. The production is a bit on the beefy side for me, but I’m a weirdo that likes guitars that sound like they were recorded in a trashcan, so what do I know? People will love it. –Steve Adamyk (Red Scare)

LOST BALLOONS: “Liquor Store” b/w “Dirty Sandy”: 7”
There is seemingly no end to the magic of Jeff Burke’s music. Lost Balloons is his partnership with Yusuke Okada and they unleashed their slice of pop heaven on the world with 2015’s self-titled debut album. Here we are a couple of years later with a brand new LP and this two song 7”. “Liquor Store” is a Burke song that could fit in with any of his outfits. It’s raw and beautiful. The flip is “Dirty Sandy,” an Okada song that first appeared on their debut album but in a completely different form. I’ve listened to them back to back, and they barely resemble the same song. Good thing both versions are great! I love this band, and you probably will too! –Ty Stranglehold (Wild Honey, wildhoneyrecords.bandcamp.com)

OBNOX: Niggative Approach: LP
Genre bending at its finest. Lamont Thomas, the one-man band that is Obnox, creates a deep, heady stew of noise, punk, funk, hip-hop, and R&B that is somehow polished as much as it is complete chaos. The album opens with a sample from Negative Approach’s John Brannon—hence the play on the album title and song title—and slowly, song by song, steeps into a deep trance of thick bass, a spattering of horns, keyboard synth, and Parliament-esque funk. It’s punk yet also completely not punk, and it’s dumbfounding how seamlessly lines get blurred. This particular album continues Thomas’s evolution into broad, spacey territory that is undeniably diverse. It can speak to many different audiences, and it’s totally enthralling. –Camylle Reynolds (12XU)

RVIVR: “The Tide” b/w “Shaggy”: 7”
Name a more dynamic songwriting duo than Erica Freas and Mattie Jo Canino? This single is a fucking banger, aesthetically somewhere between the intentional poetics of Beauty Between and the punk rawness of The Joester Sessions. Fans of Erica Freas’s work may recognize some overlap between her solo record and this 7”, but in ways that touch not leap. The songs breathe; they’re driving and personal, with that complex energy that RVIVR brings like no one else. It feels like you got a page ripped out of a shared notebook filled with memories and new moon intentions, drenched in raindrops, coffee stains, and the will to go on. The only mystery here is what the hell is that street sign on the cover? –Candace Hansen (One Brick Today)

SNAILS: Demos: EP
I’m a straight sucker for the new wave of weirdo lo-fi punk peddled by labels like Total Punk and Neck Chop. The cover looks like it was drawn by a three year old, no info apart from six tracks of out-there lo-fi punk. Think early Angry Samoans, Spits, and any number of no-mark Killed By Death bands from Nasty Facts to the Red Squares. Twenty years from now, speccy nerds are going to be paying big bank for this absolute smoker of a single. Trust me. –Tim Brooks (Neck Chop, neck-chop-records.myshopify.com)

THISCLOSE: What Glory?: 7”
Seriously, this band drives me crazy. Reasonably convincing d-beat stuff, well recorded, got the whole Discharge layout thing down solid. Nice guitar tone, all that—it’s good. And then the vocalist, Rodney, comes in and ruins the entire thing with his craaaazy, absolutely painful Twisted Sister falsettos. It alters what is an arguably good record into an unlistenable one. I generally try not to bag on a band for purely sonic reasons—that shit’s all relative, and being in a band is hard, and putting out records costs a lot of money. But for the love of all that is holy, Rodney, please consider a different singing style, buddy. Please. –Keith Rosson (SPHC)

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