Featured Record Reviews from Razorcake #102: Kenny Kenny Oh Oh, The Templars, Damn Broads, Swingin’ Utters, Los Maricas, The Lillingtons, Fire Heads

Featured Record Reviews from Razorcake #102

Featured Record Reviews from Razorcake #102: Kenny Kenny Oh Oh, The Templars, Damn Broads, Swingin’ Utters, Los Maricas, The Lillingtons, Fire Heads

 

KENNY KENNY OH OH: I Will Not Negotiate: LP
After years of friends who have toured Europe telling me how great Kenny Kenny Oh Oh is, it’s nice to finally give them a listen and confirm that they do indeed totally crush it. Soviettes meets Vånna Inget: full throttle multi-vocalist assault, backed by that Euro-svartness sound. A riot grrrl gang cruising the streets of Leipzig on Vespas and motorcycles. Does it get punker than that? –Daryl (Contraszt! / Abfall)

DAMN BROADS: Looks Do Kill: CD
Women are angry and damn right they should be. Hardcore punk rock is yet another genre that has always been dominated by men but Damn Broads are here to set the world straight. So heavy, so angry… so perfect! The songs take on topics that are distinctly female—like being looked down on for being a woman in a band and dealing with male-driven scene politics—are interspersed with songs about addiction, racism, police brutality, and corporate greed. My favorite song on the disc is “No Fucks Given,” which deals with living your life exactly how you feel you should, regardless of what anyone else might say. This is the real fucking deal! Damn Broads are the best spikes and studs punk band I have heard in years. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a mess to clean up because I just jumped through my coffee table listening to this again! –Ty Stranglehold (Vicious Mistress, viciousmistressrecords.bandcamp.com)

DIRTY & HIS FISTS: Self-titled: 7”
Blacked-out scumbag punk opening the cooler and taking your last beer. It’s primal in its execution, yet the sounds intricately weave into one another in a way that you can tell they know what they’re doing. Challenge the grimiest of the PNW synth-trash, and best of southeast garage punk to see who can stay up the longest, then put all your money on Los Angeles’s Dirty & His Fists. These boys are winners. You can smell it. –Daryl (Feel It)

FIFTEEN: Swain’s First Bike Ride: LP
It’s hard for me to fathom that anyone reading this isn’t already familiar with Fifteen, the band formed and fronted in 1989 by ex-Crimpshrine and notoriously troubled frontman Jeff Ott. This LP is a reissue of their first full-length, originally released in ’91. Fifteen, in my opinion, peaked with their second LP A Choice of a New Generation, but this first record is definitely a noteworthy piece of their legacy. Fifteen were an East Bay punk band tried and true, and while the history books have reclassified many bands of this scene and era to simply be “pop punk,” Fifteen were always different. Lyrically, Fifteen had a straightforward approach on a lot of political and social issues. They occasionally rubbed people the wrong way with their sometimes naïve deconstruction of serious issues and/or (especially on this record) the inclusion of mild spiritual-minded thoughts. But, lacking in sincerity this record was not, mixing in just the right amount of love songs amongst the social commentary. The gruffness of the vocals is what Fifteen is most known for, often so horrible but also so completely great at the same time. The vocals at times might be off key (or seemingly just completely off) while yet always working the perfect amount of magic for the epic Jeff Ott gruff sing-a-long in every song. I loved this record when it came out originally, and even though I probably haven’t really listened to it in twenty years, upon putting this on the turntable I eased right back into it, just like an endearing visit from an old friend. In addition, the fresh re-mastering job on this reissue really gives it a new brightness. While not as essential as the second LP that followed it, this is a great record that helped define ‘90s Bay Area punk. –Mark Twistworthy (Dead Broke, deadbrokerecords.com)

FILTH: Live at Gilman Feb 28 1992: LP
I think the main question here is, “Does the recording quality suck?” The answer to that is a resounding no. The second question is, “Does it have their best songs?” And the answer to that is a resounding maybe. To me, it’s missing a few of their best, most notably “You Are Shit” and “Today’s Lesson.” However, it has their best song, “Violence as a Solution.” In my opinion, which is sometimes humble and sometimes not, Filth were the best band to come out of the Gilman scene. They were raw, ferocious, and introspective with an eye towards the external world. Angry that the world wasn’t filled with peace and love, and looking to destroy in order to find solace. Nihilistic, but couldn’t help but give a shit. Paradoxical as fuck, a punk koan. This LP is a benefit for Berkeley Needle Exchange Emergency Distribution—harm reduction is still cool. If you get a chance to pick it up, do it. If you haven’t heard Filth before, you are sorely missing out. –Vincent (No address listed)

FIRE HEADS: Self-titled: LP
Reviewing records for Razorcake is not always something that commands my full attention. I get a stack of records, half of which usually look stupid, and then I put ‘em on and kinda go about my business. So I popped this one on the turntable without looking at it, and started gazing through a basketball card set I had bought from 1969 instead, figuring it would make nice background music. So I’m looking at my basketball cards, do-de-do-de-do, Wilt Chamberlain, fuck yeah, and about half a song into it I’m like fuck, this guy is totally raging. I try to go back to my cards, but I’m like, fuck, this is GOOD! Is there a lyric sheet? I gotta find the lyric sheet! So now I’m all YEAH YEAH YEAH RIGHT THE FUCK ON, trying to squint my way through the squished-up hand-written lyrics, the band is roaring like a tornado of highly adrenalized despair, sounding kinda like a revved-up, de-Victorianized version of Stiffs, Inc. (or maybe a doubly-revved-up, un-poetry-slammed Flesh Eaters?), and I’m reading along, and my basketball cards are tossed to the side, and, when all is said and done, I’m like fuck yeah, that was cool —and, only at that point, do I flip the lyric sheet over and realize that it’s a Bobby Hussy project, and I know him. So, yes, good work, Bobby: In a blind taste test, you proved more compelling than the 1969-‘70 Topps basketball set. Truth! BEST SONG: “Wait to Speak.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Yuuu.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Bobby Hussy has stated publicly that the greatest compliment anyone has ever paid him was when I called him “Madison’s stonedest genius” in Razorcake, and I am always happy to repeat the favor. ­–Rev. Nørb (Big Neck)

GASP: Sore for Days Demo 96: CS
Largely overlooked during their original lifespan, Los Angeles’s recently reformed powerviolence stalwarts Gasp’s demo tape is reissued a mere twenty-one years later, much to the surprise of the uninformed. Those in the know back then knew that Gasp was L.A.’s not-to-be-missed band. Despite affinity and praise from their scene peers, the band sadly experienced only limited range to spread their message of delusion, fear, and hopelessness in the form of some of the most punishing underground music at the time. Acid-throated vocals, guitars heavier than Pig Champion (both literally and figuratively), and a tightly intertwined rhythm section are mere mortal descriptions of the juggernaut wall of sound which tests the limits of cobalt tape, not to mention your stereo speakers’ wiring. Most of their releases (with perhaps the exception of their stunning full length masterpiece Drome Triler of Puzzle Zoo People) are fairly easy to track down. So once you’re done with this morsel, put down whatever it is you think is a heavy band’s record and make sure you get acquainted with the smorgasbord that is their discography. Then act like you fucking know for once in your life. –Juan Espinosa (To Live A Lie, tolivealie.com / Nero One)

HEAVY POCKETS: Mopeless: LP
Three-pieces have the most fun. They’re able to whip up delectable pop morsels without being hampered by too many cooks in the kitchen. Heavy Pockets, from New Hampshire, consists of Shayla, Nate, and Zac, who form an unshakeable sonic triangle. Equal parts familiar and refreshingly heartfelt, Heavy Pockets provides fourteen songs of introspective, loud-quiet-loud indie punk (think Swearin’ or Martha). Every distorted power chord is followed by vulnerable, often relatable, lyrics: “I don’t feel like a girl much, but I don’t want to be one of the boys.” It’s difficult to pinpoint what Heavy Pockets does differently from other bands who worship at the altar of ‘90s indie punk, but who cares? Throw on a flannel and bask in the warm vibes. –Sean Arenas (Dead Broke, deadbrokerecords.com / Cat Dead Details Later)

LAST GIANT: Memory of the World: CD
Do you have an everlasting love of the worst of post-Nirvana ‘90s alt-rock radio? No, you don’t long for the days of Collective Soul? Well, are you in the market for something that you can barely tolerate that your mother can groove to? No, you’d rather sit in silence, you say? So be it. If you change your mind, Last Giant has something for you. –Vincent (Little One Ate The Big One, lastgiantband.com)

LILLINGTONS, THE: Stella Sapiente: CD
Oftentimes when bands write a new record after a lengthy hiatus (ten years in this case), it’s either a flat-out mistake or a flailing attempt at recreating earlier moments of glory. With Stella Sapiente, the band not only doesn’t bomb, but they gracefully, powerfully expand on a previous template, and almost always do it successfully. They stepped out of the box a bit for this one, and it worked. It’s still an album rife with that propulsive pop punk stuff they’ve always done so well, but there’s an undercurrent of solemnity and foreboding that I can’t help but associate with groups like Crusades. There’s breathing room here, quiet sections that let the songs settle. It’s all still stupidly catchy, but there’s a newfound darkness as well, and that darkness has a surprising depth to it. –Keith Rosson (Fat, fatwreck.com)

LILLINGTONS, THE: Stella Sapiente: CD
You could’ve fooled me, Kody. The Project 313 EP that was released as a pre-curser to this new LP was stellar, but it doesn’t have the almost-goth vibe they hint at on Stella Sapiente. But with that in mind, while the new record does have a unique feel to it compared to their other records, it’s still very much a Lillingtons album. And that’s a good thing. This needs to be addressed, as I’ve read a lot of comments and reviews alluding to post-punk, even making reference to bands like Crusades. I get where people are going with that, but it’s misleading (and bullshit). Yes, the album is chock full of elongated intros that sound somewhat reminiscent of Echo & The Bunnymen, there are lyrical themes that are clearly dark and touch on religion, et cetera, but aside from that, the crux of each song is what you’d expect from the band who gave you Death by Television. In short, no major surprises in Kody’s voice, song structures, or guitar leads, except for the fact that the band is clearly at the peak of their musicianship. Kody’s voice has never sounded so good. How many singers can say that after twenty years? Some might disagree, but some of these songs even remind me of a few of them lesser-known hits on later Ramones records, like Mondo Bizzaro or Brain Drain (albeit this release is much slicker). “Perfect Pleasure” is likely my track of choice on this sucker. –Steve Adamyk (Fat Wreck, fatwreck.com)

MARICAS, LOS: Escupiendo Tulipanes: CD
Ms. Yvonne Drazan hepped me to these cats, who hail from Bogota. Well ensconced within the “punk” pigeonhole, they nonetheless run riot from one of its corners to the next—hardcore one second, straight punk the next, a quick veer towards the horizon where alt-rock once bordered, then back for a full-bore hyper-thrash session. This musical hodge-podge works well for them here—surely keeping you on yer toes and ever-wondering what’s gonna come at you next—all of it delivered with creativity and quality. I’ve learned over the years to listen when Yvonne says to pay attention, and she’s right on the nose here again: these kids are badass. –Jimmy Alvarado (Los Maricas, facebook.com/LosMaricas666)

NO WARNING: Torture Culture: LP
After traversing the worlds of power pop, glam, bedroom projects, commercially successful punk, and god knows what else, Ben Cook returns full circle to the mosh royalty of No Warning. Torture Culture is as relentless as they come, a brutal onslaught of slam-worthy, tinnitus-inducing anthems that tackle maintaining one’s own mental health in this maddening society, while sounding like the aural accompaniment to a street brawl. It’s not all bludgeoning though; a heavy Type O Negative / Faith No More influence flows through out the album. While the early ‘90s vibe might not be for everyone, when that groove hits you, it just feels so right. Who made the most belligerent, knuckle-dragging masterpiece of 2017? I’m going with No Warning. Luv the Guv. –Daryl (Bad Actors, info@badactorsinc.com)

NOISE ADDICT: 10,000 Kids with Guitars: 2 x LP
In the clip from Squirt TV—comedian Jake Fogelnest’s short-lived MTV talk show—where I first learned about Noise Addict, Fogelnest and the band shop for CDs in New York. Bassist Romy Hoffman and guitarist Dan Mapp rave about Smog and Cibo Matto respectively. Singer and guitarist Ben Lee sings Devo’s “Mongoloid” while tapping on drummer Saul Smith’s shoulders. They are all sixteen years old, maybe even younger. They’re babies. This is in 1996, and I’m in a small town in upstate New York, and I’m also sixteen. The world is suddenly filled with savants, on TV and on tour. The world is suddenly filled with possibilities. Or rather, it’s no longer out of the realm of possibility for a high school band to: have records out on the Ecstatic Peace and Grand Royal labels; open for Fugazi; be smart/savvy enough to know that if you’re going to model yourself after anyone, it should be Jonathan Richman (it took me years to figure this out). This is a long way of saying I have a personal and nostalgic stake in Noise Addict’s collection, more than I thought I did, and the effect of hearing these songs again has been weirdly exhilarating. I recognize not everyone had my very important teenage experience, and maybe what you want is something not ‘90s, not vaguely K Records-ish or hip NY alt rock, not the range of truly adolescent feelings as they can be presented through guitars. But if there is some part of you that still thinks you could get out of this place if you start a band, that cool things are around the corner, that your dumb anguish has some legitimacy, that a “Let’s Lynch the Landlord” cover makes possibly more sense when you still live at home, this is very much also for you. –Matt Werts (Numero Group, numerogroup.com)

SIDE EYES, THE: So Sick: CD
Right away there’s piercing guitar feedback and a slow build that culminates with sludgy riffs over pounding drums and shrieking vocals about shitty dates. Next is a fuzzed-out track about cat calls. Then a fast paced jam that is equal parts droney, head banger, and revved-up mosh pit. Any of these songs could easily fit right at home on a Hunx And His Punks or L7 record. Halfway through the album I’m already really into this L.A. four piece, so I look them up and all the members are in their early twenties. The level of songwriting and simple, catchy lyrics seems so advanced for a band this young. But not only are the bass and guitar players brothers, but the singer Astrid is the daughter of Jeff McDonald (Redd Kross) and Charlotte Caffey (The Go-Go’s). I mean, that’s some pretty serious punk pedigree right there, but there are plenty of bands that have killer credentials and not even half of the talent these guys do. I definitely hate to make comparisons to bands that are from the same geographic area and are female-fronted, but I’ll be god damned if there’s not remnants of X and Red Aunts in the mix here. Standout track for me is “Guy/Chick” where Astrid sings about being into dudes who feel just as good in a leather jacket as they do in a skirt. Both at the same time is even better! The chorus affirms this with the coupling: “I want a man who can rock my world / I want a man who can be a girl.” And I want a band who can be just like this one. –Kayla Greet (In The Red)

SIDETRACKED: Impediment: CS
Okay, look man, I’ve been listening to powerviolence for a lot of my life but I can’t think of another recording where the longest song is literally ten seconds long. I thought my tape player was broken. Honestly, most modern powerviolence should be like this—fifteen songs in like four minutes. All we’re doing at this point is trying to be Crossed Out, so we might as well just cut out any attempts to add our own flourishes onto something already perfect. This tape is over before you knew it started, and that’s what it’s all about. 10/10. Will listen to eight hundred times. –Ian Wise (To Live A Lie)

SWINGIN’ UTTERS: Drowning in the Sea, Rising with the Sun: 2 X LP
A thirty-three song retrospective double album from one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s longest running acts, the Swingin’ Utters. I initially bought the first Give ‘Em the Boot disc all those years ago for Rancid, Union 13, and others having not been familiar with the Utters at the time. “15th and T” was the song on that particular comp and that’s all it took to get me hooked on their brand of Sham 69 and Cock Sparrer-influenced street punk. These two LPs compile some of the best songs from their career, including cuts from classic albums (A Juvenile Product of the Working Class, Streets of San Francisco, Five Lessons Learned) as well as their more current releases (Hat Full of Hollow, Poorly Formed). I couldn’t help but get a little nostalgic while listening to this disc as I’ve been an Utters fan for quite some time now. I spent many a night listening to their albums with friends, most of the time whilst drinking. The first-ever trek I took to San Francisco I got the song “London Drunk” stuck in my head the entire time. I’ve always been a fan but have also inevitably ignored some of their releases, naively thinking I’d heard enough. Cue the record scratch: songs like “End of the Weak” have convinced me that I have gaps to fill in my Utters collection. The band recently turned thirty (a seven year hiatus and several lineup changes would kill a lesser band) and we’re lucky enough to still have them, so let this retrospective serve as a constant reminder of their ongoing legacy. –Juan Espinosa (Fat)

TEMPLARS, THE: Deus Vult: LP
The Templars gradually became the most popular oi band on the planet, forming in the early 1990s, releasing a ton of records over the years, and playing shows all over the world. Oi detractors think that oi is a monotonous musical form, but The Templars have a distinct, lo-fi sound that is all their own. Further defying skinhead stereotypes, the core members are a physician and an academic. Despite usually being a three-piece or four-piece band at shows, they’ve traditionally been a two-piece when recording. On Deus Vult, though, they’re a four-piece, which distinguishes this new record from much of their recorded catalog. “Middle Road” is my favorite track, with a catchy chorus that can’t be beat. I also appreciate the fact that there’s a non-metal band obsessed with horror iconography. Not surprisingly, they’re especially into the Amando de Ossorio Knights Templar-themed films. Awesomely packaged on color vinyl with a version with a faux leather cover available for collectors, this LP isn’t all gloss. It sounds fantastic, too. While there have been 7”s and splits in between, Deus Vult is the first full-length from The Templars in over a decade. Highly recommended, and not only to fans of oi, The Templars are one of the best live bands in the history of punk. Their recordings are also essential. Deus Vult is easily one of my favorite records of 2017. It’s not to be missed. –Art Ettinger (Pirates Press)

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