Featured Record Reviews from Razorcake #99 – Cock Sparrer, Babe Waves, Beatniks, Nature Boys, Songs For Moms

Cock Sparrer Forever

COCK SPARRER: Forever: LP
What can be said about the mighty Sparrer? Forty years of service and still banging out classic albums. This LP is as good as any that have come before (apart from the flawless Shock Troops that can’t be beaten). Anthemic pub punk asking for nothing more than a fist and a pint glass waved in the air. Thanks to Skippy at Pirates Press reissuing all their old gear and bringing out their new records, they have had somewhat of a well-deserved second wind over the past ten years. Songs about yer mates, family, and standing up for what you believe get the blood flowing. Somehow they embody the true spirit of punk rock: fun, defiance, and a good bloody time. I went in apprehensive, like when I watch the champ going in for another title defense: something has to give sometime, right? Not this time, people. The champ still got it and Somehow they embody the true spirit of punk rock: fun, defiance, and a good bloody time. Bravo. Couldn’t wish it on better bunch of chaps. Now get this onto your record player before I give you a good slap. –Tim Brooks (Pirates Press)

COCK SPARRER: Forever: CD/LP
Even though I got the vinyl too, the CD has four bonus songs. Our readers deserve nothing less than to get the whole enchilada on this release. I’m not shocked, but this is a damn good album. They have always been on top of their game live, but their newer material was a wildcard until now. Agile rhythms, singalong choruses, and positive lyrics are the name of the game with Cock Sparrer. You get all that and more on Forever. “Every Step of the Way” is the lead-off single here, but that may not be the best of the bunch. For the bonus extras, my pick is “You Lost the War.” This is fantastic record, so don’t sleep on this one. It will look perfect next to your copy of Shock Troops. –Sean Koepenick (Pirates Press, piratespressrecords.com)

COCK SPARRER: Every Step of the Way: Flexi 7”
Never have I been so excited to get a record in my mitts for review. After seeing Cock Sparrer live in Montreal last November, something occurred to me: they might be the greatest band in whole still playing. They’re still so incredible, it’s barely fathomable. Without seeing them in the flesh, one can’t really grasp what an experience it is to catch them. It makes you ask yourself questions, like: “Shit, do I love street punk this much? Should I reassess the last twenty years of my life musically?” I’ve dug this band for a really, really long time. There’s a copy of the live album Running Riot across the USA in my collection and I recall buying it (more or less) the week in came out, back in 2000. They’re—quite simply put—a perfect band. If anything, they’re better now than ever. In case you’re wondering, the new LP won’t disappoint you. A lot of vintage bands still kicking will, but not this one. “Every Step of the Way” is as classic as you’d expect, even with the acoustic guitar. A simple taste of England’s glory. –Steve Adamyk (Pirate’s Press, piratespressrecords.com)

ABRISS: Self-titled: LP
I do not postulate lightly… is there a German Crudos? A perfect blend of thrashing punk and boiling political hardcore blood, a slice of humor, some butt-rumbling pop-mosh breakdowns, all wrapped up in sixty second songs. There are two fundamental challenges with this release: the lack of translation from German on the lyric sheet and the fact that all fourteen tracks fit on one side of the LP. Give me more! Track this down. –Matt Seward (Spastic Fantastic, spasticfantastic.de)

ALMEIDA, LÊ: Todas as Brisas: LP
This is probably the best thing I have heard in months, if not longer. These Brazilians have a really good lo-fi DIY psych pop thing happening. Starts off sounding like a lazy version of something that coulda been on Slanted and Enchanted or a Sarah Records 7”, without the sappiness but with some good headiness. That sound carries on and holds up throughout the LP. The vocals have a great ethereal airiness to them, and the lyrics are in Portuguese, which adds a little to the wraithlike quality of the vocals (at least to a monolingual like myself). The lyrics are printed in Portuguese and English on the lyric sheet, but I couldn’t be drawn away from listening to this one. –Vincent (IFB / Transfusão Noise, transfusaonoiserecords.bandcamp.com)

BABE WAVES: Horizon Lines: CD
This new EP from Bellingham, Wash.’s Babe Waves is everything you hope still exists in small, supportive DIY scenes that are tucked in tiny corners of the country. Playing around with genre (or not giving a shit about it in the first place), Horizon Lines blends the best parts of dissonant post-hardcore, assertive queercore, and anthem-y basement punk. It’s just very good. In the hands of three musicians who seem to be experimenting with an admirable combination of risk and care, songs like “Where Is the Line” and “Generation Gaslight” grapple with the political commitments of punk in such an earnest way that it would be silly to get defensive over it. This is a promising EP from a band that is keeping alive not just the sound but the spirit. –Theresa W. (Self-released)

BAD SLEEP: Self-tilted: EP
How could you possibly go wrong with a release from both Rumbletowne and Get Better Records? I’m a big fan of nearly the entire output of both labels and Bad Sleep is certainly no exception. This three piece out of Olympia, Wash. steadfastly carry the torch of that RVIVR brand of pop punk—the kind that pushes the agenda of inclusion, neatly packaged in melodic and raucous tunes. I hesitate to call them sloppy as it carries negative connotations, but I really mean it in more of the loose playing style of the musicians who are absolutely competent at their instruments. Comparisons in the wheelhouse of Benny The Jet Rodriguez, Lipstick Homicide, and This Is My Fist! come to mind. Songs are largely about relationships, as though plucked from an angsty composition notebook full of regrets but with enough distance and maturity to have come out on the other side of hurt. A sampling of their lyrics that really struck me are, “I’ve calculated again and again / You don’t add up ‘cus I’m subtracting” (“Subtracting”), and “I lost your number / All I know are dial tones / Now I don’t think about you when I’m alone” (“Don’t Care”). It’s beautiful, smart, dancey punk and I love everything about it. –Kayla Greet (Rumbletowne / Get Better, getbetterrecordsnh.limitedrun.com)

BEATNIKS: Self-titled: EP
Gawwwwdddd… This is fuggin’ good! This makes me believe in all that is good about punk rock. The opener, their anthem, “Beatnik Theme,” lays out their reason for existence in a mid-tempo assault. “Broken Ear” is brilliant with the clipped vocals that become more intelligible as the song progresses. When I listen to this record, I’m reminded of King Vidiot from the movie Joysticks, when he goes to Joe Don Baker’s house kicking over furniture and eating a houseplant. Go rent the movie after getting this record to see what I mean. If you like Lumpy Records, Total Punk, and the We’re Loud comp (and who doesn’t?) then seek this one out. –Matt Average (Neck Chop, neckchoprecords@gmail.com, neck-chop-records.myshopify.com)

CAYETANA: New Kind of Normal: CD
“I always seem to doubt how everyone seems to have it all figured out.” No surprise at all that it looks like Cayetana has, once again, put out the album of the year. Augusta Koch is a world-class songwriter and has gotten even better as a lyricist here. The addition of backing vocals is a welcome surprise as well. Improved musicianship will either kill a band or make it better and the chops picked up from massive touring have strengthened this band. Cayetana and New Kind of Normal are simply astonishing. Even a little “maturity” doesn’t dampen—but rather deepens—the overall result, making for a second classic album. –Mike Frame (Plum, cayetana.limitedrun.com)

CLITERATI: Self-titled: 7”
Thank you, Cliterati, both for your obscenely excellent name and your exceedingly awesome songs. These gals (‘n’ dude) straddle the lines of d-beat and hardcore, wrecking their way through five fiercely compact cuts. Though each song on my newfound favorite 7” absolutely rules, the song “Make America Hate Again” in particular perfectly encapsulates my frustration with the current administration. Really though, it doesn’t get much better than Cliterati, so buy this 7”! And if you can’t afford it, then cancel your freakin’ Netflix subscription, fool! –Simone Carter (Tankcrimes, tankcrimes.com)

DIKLOUD: II: LP
Dikloud sings mostly in German and I’m praying the lyrics are great or even good, because, heaven help me, I like this melodic hardcore LP. Mostly I like it for the ways it drifts away from hardcore—into samples of seagulls hovering around the beach, or clean guitar interludes, or gnarly Jehu-like songs—but also for the way the most straightforward songs don’t feel clichéd. When’s the last time you heard a hardcore record that had peaks and valleys? That seemed to have a natural dramatic structure? This is clearly a well thought-out, aesthetically strong statement of an album (the record includes a large sealed envelope full of lyric sheets and xeroxed photos, basically a dossier). If anyone can translate what that statement is into English, I’d very much appreciate it. –Matt Werts (Mamma Leone, mamma-leone.org / Phantom, phantom-records.blogspot.com / Kalt Am Kopf / Knebel Label)

FATHER’S DAY: Goodbye 1506: CD
The 1506 Trunk Space is an all-ages venue in Phoenix that was open for twelve years before relocating from their Grand Avenue spot. Father’s Day recorded their set at the final show to happen at the original Trunk Space, and this CD is made up of their seventeen song set list (plus intro). Father’s Day is self-proclaimed “angry dad punk rock n roll.” The beginning of this album started off promising with “Disney World,” a song about how a dad was never going to take his kids to Disney World. I get it, Disney World is expensive and can be chaotic, and that is definitely something a dad could say. Parody is really hard to get right, and the album progressed into songs that made me cringe, such as “My Son’s a Gay” and “Get in the Kitchen.” After that, the song titles and lyrics kept getting worse. I understand that the band tried to be funny, but I feel like Father’s Day is going about it too literally in an offensive/conservative parent sense. The lead singer even notes that people say they need to stop, and think they are a joke band (though they claim not to be), and I agree with what the critics say. This album signifies the closing of a venue, and it should also have signified the ending of this band’s gimmick. ­–Cynthia Pinedo (Related)

FEEDERZ: “Stealing” b/w “Sabotage”: 7” 45
As opposed to the cathartic DIY slop-ünd-scream of 1984’s Ever Feel Like Killing Your Boss? album—which was a fucking classic, let there be no debate—this new stuff has get a pounding, drum-heavy, almost major label feel to it. Like, I’ve never been to Lollapalooza, do they have some kind of side stage for psychotic subversives, or is that on the main stage now? Or is that Warped Tour? I can never keep these things straight. Seriously, though—in with all the vitriol about rioting and looting and fuck the cops and the this and the that, there is a full-color picture sleeve, housing a printed inner sleeve (when’s the last time you saw a 45 with a printed inner sleeve? Like, never?), housing a colored vinyl record with a full-color center label with a booming, big-money-sounding production (courtesy of Cris Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets, good work young man)—the packaging here is so opulent and my imagined per-unit cost of manufacturing this record is so high that I’m awash in a filthy sea of cognitive dissonance trying to associate this physical artifact with some manner of grassroots rebellion. I can’t wrap my head around it yet. It kinda sounds like something for the guys who play Foetus on their college radio shows to play when they’re pissed off about the government. It’s interesting but I think it needs more sandpaper. BEST SONG: Either. BEST SONG TITLE: Or. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I met Frank Discussion’s wife in Las Vegas in 2001 and she was a very sweet person. ­–Rev. Nørb (Slope, sloperecords.com)

FIT FOR ABUSE: Psycho Ray Sessions: 7” EP
Second FFA EP of long-lost tracks by this crucial East Coast powerhouse. After Kelly left the band for the Dropkick Murphys, they got Psycho Ray to sing. This shit is almost more unhinged, sounding like Negative Approach crossed with Antidote or some shit. Fast and brutal. Seldom do people unearth forgotten recordings that are as mandatory as both of these records. Saw them blow the doors off in Boston the other week. too…. You’re a fucking poseur if you don’t own this. –Tim Brooks (Warthog Speak, warthogspeak.com / Painkiller)

GOOLAGOON: Life of Crime: CS EP
This band is… insane. Call me ignorant and/or oblivious, but I don’t get the name of the band or the sponge theme, like, at all. Appears they’re some sort of Sponge Bob-themed band, or something. Either way, it’s one of the best tapes I’ve received to review and that’s coming from a guy who rarely ventures into the powerviolence/grind side of HC. This thing is fuckin’ nuts. Intense and brutal without being too metal. The recording is perfect: gritty and clear. Eight tracks in barely over four minutes. If you’re a blastbeats person, you seriously don’t want to miss this band. –Steve Adamyk (goolagoonhc.bandcamp.com)

GROSS POLLUTER: EP #1: 7”
Right off the top, I must mention that Smogtown rule. Now and forever. I am a card-carrying Smog City Waver and if you figure that means bias when it comes to this review, then so be it. Gross Polluter rose from the ashes of Smogtown like some kind of phoenix out of a beach fire. Guitardo is in the wind and Chavez dialed it back to backup vocals. Darrin from Ciril took over lead vocal duties. The result is some tough-as-fuck beach punk of the finest order. While you get a bit of the old Smog vibe, the vocals definitely live more in the sonic neighborhood as Smut Peddlers or The Junk. Did I just hear some little blasts of Rikk Agnew style keyboard in there? Hell yeah, I did! There is a second 7” out now (also on No Front Teeth) from the same recording session that I have yet to get my hands on, but if it is anything like this, I am all over it. #114 signing off. –Ty Stranglehold (No Front Teeth)

LONG KNIFE: Sewers of Babylon: 7”
Long Knife is one of the best hardcore punk bands today, and I’d guess that their relative inactivity on the touring front is the only reason that this is the first time you’re reading about them. Let’s fix that. Their second and most recent album, Meditations on Self Destruction, was an easy Top 10 of 2014 pick. The “Negative Mental Attitude” video (from the EP, Possession) is a rare, good reason to log on to youtube. Long Knife is a leading example of what a hardcore band can do to keep things interesting in a genre where sameness and monotony abound. Without losing a fucking ounce of the hardcore aggression they established on their first album, Wilderness, they’ve managed to continually inject new ideas and variety into their sound, showing real songwriting prowess. Sewers of Babylon contains five powerful songs, each one individually memorable. Channeling the raw brutality of hometown kings of punk, Poison Idea, and venturing into early Fucked Up territory with an explosive mid-tempo attack, Long Knife is the hardcore band we need in 2017. Get this now. –Chad Williams (Beach Impediment, beachimpedimentrecords.blogspot.com)

NATTERERS: Toxic Care: 7”EP
Out of all the bands that have sprung up in the past year or so, Natterers is the one that excites me the most. Its demo cassette and flexi highlighted a band hugely influenced by the SoCal sound of the ‘80s, plus, at times, they really reminded me of one of my favorite bands, Night Birds. This six-track EP continues in exactly the same vein, and in doing so ticks all the right boxes for me. It has great cover art courtesy of Hal Mundane, a wicked guitar sound, and Emma’s vocals are the icing on the cake, especially on “Numb,” as a torrent of words spew from her mouth, barely allowing her to take a breath. I saw Natterers live recently and it was such a damn fine set that I’ve planned a road trip to see them in a couple of months. A band definitely worth checking out. –Rich Cocksedge (Boss Tuneage, aston@bosstuneage.com, bosstuneage.com / Serial Bowl, serialbowlrecords.bandcamp.com)

NATURE BOYS: Self-titled: LP
With a serrated glow, Nature Boys cut through the decay we all find ourselves currently existing in. Immune to hype and pretension they are a band fully focused on being a band. I can’t tell if they exist in the pre- or post-internet era, but goddamn, I want to go there with them. Hailing from Kansas City, Kansas (a city so nice they named it one and a half times), Nature Boys take the classic Dead Moon/region rock sound and approach, and fuck it up to utter perfection. Let the multi-vocal harmonies and guitar leads take you away. Let them take you to a place you remember hearing of: the punk utopia we were all promised. When Nature Boys hit you up (and they will!): set up their show, tell your friends, tell everyone, and don’t miss the boat to the promise land. –Daryl (Mandible)

PRESSING ON: Future: 7”
Truly crushing sounds here. Pressing On bring d-beat into the present day, and the kicking and screaming is all part of the ride. Motorcycle-accident-to-the-face kinda music. With members having done time in bands such as Talk Is Poison and From Ashes Rise, you wouldn’t expect less than the most menacing, blunt attack. You also get the longest pick slide ever recorded. Throw this record on, grab a sledgehammer, and put some new windows in your walls. –Daryl (Deranged)

SONGS FOR MOMS: Rivers: 12” EP
Songs For Moms’ dual vocalists belt with the exuberance of Good Luck and RVIVR, but this isn’t a gang vocal-laden pop punk album; the trio’s songs twist and turn and writhe vulnerably on the floor. For a five-track 12”, there’s a lot to unpack: the jaw dropping inventiveness of their unwinding arrangements (somebody please teach me the bassline to “Leap Now”); the confident, gripping melodies; the thought-provoking lyrics (“Nobody teaches you to use words like rape / that is one way that they always escape”). When they sing, “These scars are all mine / They grow bigger and more beautiful with time,” I’m always gobsmacked by the sincerity and the willingness to be exposed and empowered at once. Although the record is over too soon, Songs For Moms has crafted five tunes with an ocean’s depth. Dive in. –Sean Arenas (Rumbletowne, rumbletowne.com)

SPAZZ: Deported Live Gorilla: CD
The second in a trilogy of Spazz CD reissues, Deported Live Gorilla is a collection of songs from their splits with Subversion (released in Australia on Deported Records) and Romantic Gorilla (released by Sound Pollution USA) as well as a live-on-the-radio set from 1996 in its entirety, including songs that would wind up on Slap A Ham’s “celebrity split 7” series” with Jimmie Walker (yes, JJ Evans from Good Times). The songs from both splits are Spazz in their mid-period glory where Max’s drum fills were getting tighter, Chris’s bass slinkier, and Dan’s atonal guitar riffs were what I can only describe as muddy (not a diss, by the way: it just sounds so earth-moving and I can’t describe it any other way!). Between the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it powerviolence blasts, the kung fu movie samples, and the sludgy opuses “Donut Hole Gremlins” and “Total Meathead Fuck,” I find myself banging along on my car’s steering wheel and laughing my ass off at the dialogue from the restaurant scene in the film A Better Tomorrow 2 (“if you have any dignity, apologize to the rice right now!”) The radio show tracks are the cherry on top showcasing the band at peak performance. Even Chris has to remark “That was incredible! We should just break up now. We’re not going to get any better!” As if. Make sure and send boxes of chocolates to Scotty from Tankcrimes for keeping the memory of Spazz alive to thrill new fans and to reacquaint us old heads. –Juan Espinosa (Tankcrimes)

STYMIE: Condescending World: LP
Fuck yes! Stymie has been one of the best pop punk bands in Texas for over a decade, and this recording has been around for something like eight or nine years now without a proper vinyl release… until now. Imagine if Screeching Weasel weren’t completely ignorant assholes (I know, that’s a stretch). Then, sprinkle a layer of lo-fi garage rock-esque snotty attitude over it all. Now, put this band in a packed house show in Denton, Texas where the temperature is 110 degrees and everyone is jumping around, shoulder to shoulder, having the best times of their lives. That’s exactly what Stymie sounds like to me. I’m so glad that this was finally released on vinyl, because it’s a goddamned classic. –Mark Twistworthy (Rabid Dog, claynewell@yahoo.com)

US WEEKLY: Self-titled: LP
Hotchie motchie, I’ve been waiting on this here record for some time and it delivers in spades! US Weekly are cream of the crop of contemporary Austin, Texas punk bands (and there are a lot of good bands down this way these days). Seeing them live is always a treat. Their debut full length manages to cram the anxious explosion of power that is their live set into twelve inches. Every band tries this but not many succeed. You’d be surprised how much slash-burn they bring for a single guitar outfit. Snaky bass lines are revealed between said guitar slashes and strategic synth flourishes add to the jagged, angular presentation. Vocals have an almost hardcore sing-shout at times, but there’s plenty of melody underlying. Pink Flag-era Wire is your departure point. Songs about the world going down the toilet (“New Obsessions,” “AC”) and poor human relations (“Women”). Sounds about like these days, don’t it? –Sal Lucci (Night Moves, nightmoveslabel.bandcamp.com)

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Typical Girls Volume 2: LP
I’ve been obsessed with this compilation for a couple of months now. The concept is simple—current female-fronted bands. Whenever someone asks me for new recommendations, I always point them to Typical Girls Vol 2. There is literally one song on it that I always skip. Everything else is great and I can usually find something that fits my mood. It’s all punk-oriented but it goes through just about every subgenre except for the heavier/crustier side. I would be surprised if there’s not something for everyone (with good taste) in here. –Nicole X (Emotional Response)

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