Featured Record Reviews From Issue #81: Best Tambourine Use of 2014

Aug 04, 2014

­FLESH WOUNDS: Bitter Boy: 7”
North Carolina three-piece delivering garaged-out spaz punk, reminiscent of The Oblivians. All three jams are up-tempo with spat, growled-and-grit vocals. Listening without track names, I thought that closer “Let Me Be Clear” was actually called “Let Them Eat Kale.” The cover art is just as good as the music—a skinny punk body with a horse head on top, amidst a sea of blood and chaos. Tight. –Alanna Why (Merge,

AK-47: Garden City: CD
Hardcore. Passionate, pissed off, pummeling hardcore. A few ripping metallic solos and a few catchy breakdowns keep it interesting. Good thing there’s a lyric sheet, these guys have something worthwhile to say, with songs about Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin and other victims less known but with equally fucked up stories. With apologies to my Floridian friends, the best song title and concept here is “Annihilate Florida.” Go see these Victoria, B.C. Canadians and pick this up. –Chad Williams (Self-released,

ALL THINGS END: December 5, 1933: CDEP
So you’re at one of those three-day fest thingies in a non-major city. You got to the venue too late and there is a line around the block to see the band you wanted to see so you consult your program and there’s this band All Things End playing at the other bar. Walking into the nearly-empty venue, you hear something you’ve heard before but it makes you wanna jump up and down and take off your shirt and high-five people you don’t know anyway. At least one of the band members has a beard, like you expected. All the songs are about the reasons why you sometimes drink yourself into oblivion, like you expected. One of the songs has a really nice horn section, not like you expected. You stagger over to the merch table and get this EP. By the time they come to your town on tour, you’ve learned all the words to their songs because you’ve had them on repeat for so long. –Lisa Weiss (

BAD NOIDS: Everything from Soup to Dessert: LP
Hopping and popping like cockroaches in a frying pan, these boys outta Cleveland give up new and re-recorded tracks from their debut 7”. With crone witch vocals, Noids chew through each cut like cracked out termites foaming at the mouth. Tackling misanthropy, cop killing, and street riots, they clock in at just under twenty minutes. Hardcore asylum punk is the main entrée with noise and a sprinkling of blues on the side. “Lies” and “No One” start off the course with ‘80s U.K.-flavored hardcore played so fast it seemed like a dream. On the flip side, “My Country” brings a bluesy bass line and screeching harmonica to the table, while “Sticks Around” and “Happy Endings” slow down a smidge, taking a melodic lean like Tartar Control or The Shrills. For dessert: an ink and watercolor gatefold of the boys and rabid toasters laying Cleveland to waste. Volatile. Noisy. Speeded out. Recommended. –Kristen K. (Self-released)

BETRAYERS: Let the Good Times Die: Cassette
This full album (thirteen songs and bonus fourteen on the digital download you get with the tape) of psychedelic music from a garage somewhere in Edmonton, Alberta wins the award for best tambourine use of 2014. Like many, I’m at the point where many new garage psych bands are all starting to melt into one and sound the same to me, but there’s something distinct about this tape. Maybe I’m just giving them points for incorporating a fuzzed-out harmonica and slide-guitar into the album. But you should get points for that. –Bianca (Shake!,, [email protected])

BIG BOYS: Lullabies Help the Brain Grow: LP
It’s no secret how much Austin Texas’ Big Boys mean to me. I’ve shouted it from the rooftops and in these very pages, and if I keep getting the opportunity to write reviews of killer reissues of their albums, then damn it I’m going to! Lullabies is the Big Boys’ second album and it really built on the foundation that was created with their debut LP Industry Standard/Where’s My Towel. To my knowledge, there is no band that has ever been able to straddle so many separate styles with such amazing results. From the hardcore blasts of “Brickwall” and “Assault” to the funkiness of “Jump the Fence.” From the off-kilter menace of “Baby Let’s Play God” or “Manipulation” to the pure majesty of “Sound on Sound”… It doesn’t take a super fan to know that this is one of the most important bands in punk rock history… Scratch that. Music history. The reissue has been given the usual Light In The Attic treatment, which means it’s phenomenal! A gatefold cover with an amazing, never-before-published photo of the band sweating it out on stage. You must have this. If I had the money, I’d buy everyone copies of their entire discography. –Ty Stranglehold (Light In The Attic)

This limited edition CD was released in conjunction with the Extreme Noise Records Twentieth Anniversary show, which reunited many of the bands that were rocking the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul in the mid-’90s to celebrate the longevity of my favorite record store. Bombsite was one of those bands. Two things are important: First is how not-twenty-years-old this music sounds. Second is the way this band tapped into a style that has weaved its way through the Twin Cities punk scene since the beginning. You’ve probably heard it. It’s that torn jeans, calloused hands, playing our hearts out, hopeful for sunny days sound that continues to hold sway in this region to this day. This style feels right here, where winters are so dark and crushing. These sounds feel warm, and Bombsite made these sounds so well, adding their own unique touch. I love that I can now listen to this and think about how generation after generation, the kids in Minneapolis and St. Paul climb out of their homes and slide through January winters into cinder block basements, still wearing their jackets, just excited to jump around and raise fists and have fun and survive another year. –MP Johnson (Self-released)

I wanted to hate this. The band name is not clever enough to make sense, I find the artwork lacking, and I guess I’m just PC enough to find the title Gayzilla distasteful. And who wants to review a surf band? There is not much to write about a surf band other than, “they play surf.” However, Bottlenose Koffins (ugh) deliver a debut LP that is more than tolerable. Mix traditional surf rock, the punk stupidity of Masked Intruder, and lots of shout-along choruses (“Kristy Yamaguchi…I wanna go out and skate!”) and you’ve got a band that would probably be lots of fun for dancing on tables and smashing bottles in your local watering hole. You gotta spin it to win it, so that’ll teach me to judge a book by its cover. –Matt Seward (Get Weird!,

Permit me to make a bad joke: Coping should actually be called Moping. Go ahead, roll your eyes, but lyrics like, “I’ll hold anyone just to feel at home” and, “I guess you didn’t know, but, baby, I can scream” should make the pining teenager in you cringe. This is textbook emo with shrill, belting vocals and enough flagrant hammer-on’s and pull-off’s to make one wonder if King Emo has mandated that the guitar can only be played this way. Each song is tonally similar and entirely interchangeable. The lack of aggression and creativity under-utilizes the talents of these young dudes. Ultimately, this record is a big, sappy blur. I can only recommend Nope to those still recovering from Snowing’s break up over two years ago. –Sean Arenas (Protagonist,

DAN SARTAIN: Dudesblood: CD
Dan Sartain’s records are described as influenced by blues and rockabilly, and I can feel bits of that at points herein, but, for the most part, this record is a mixed bag of musical stylings that veer all over the ludic map (in a good way) and are sewn together through techno instrumentation. The record opens with the titular rave-up, making one think that we’re in for a real raucous affair, but then Sartain yanks the rug of expectation out from under us and sends us on a meandering walking tour of the musical landscape. This is good, mind you. Highlights include Anthony Perkins’ “Moonlight Swim” and the simplistically beautiful and almost childlike “Marfa Lights,” which has a resonant and haunting quality to it—that song has stuck in my head for days, and I’m not upset about that. There is no sure way to describe this record since it doesn’t fit neatly into any one style or genre (again, a good thing). About the closest I can get is to suggest that Sartain’s musical concerns channel the spirit of Tom Waits—especially Waits’s recent work—as a means of creating coherence through a variety of styles. Good stuff. –The Lord Kveldulfr (One Little Indian)

This band should be huge. Huge. I feel like fans of labels as varied as the Dirtnap, In The Red, and Slovenly rosters (and, fuck it, all waypoints in between) should be eating this stuff for breakfast.And lunch and dinner. This band is excellent. Four songs of what could loosely be called garage rock, but tempered and restrained garage instead of unhinged and frenzied. And here’s the thing: with DWATS, that restraint pays off. It works. The end result is a group of mercilessly catchy, solid songs that still retain just enough grit as to not be cloying. It’s the little things that add facets of interest and allure here: the interlocking guitar lines in “Thirty,” that dumb-brilliant melody in “Hopelessbackandfourth,” the buried keyboard stuttering throughout all of songs. Four tracks to add to an already awesome and extensive catalog. Do yourself a favor. –Keith Rosson (Gunner)

DISCO FOR FERNS, A: Your Distant Aunt: CDEP-R
Guitar players. Who needs ‘em? Not this band. This two-piece manages to make more ruckus with just a bass and drum set than some five-pieces. Could I describe the ruckus, sir? Of course. Early Government Issue-ish and with the distortion turned up to eleven. The music sometimes plods along and sometimes it sprints. There are only four tracks here. I could listen to about forty more. –Lisa Weiss (

FINAL DRAFT: West World Order: LP
You’ve got to be doing something extremely fucking well to get the thumbs up from a powerviolence guru such as Chris Dodge, who may not be as involved in the scene as he once was but let’s face it: the man still knows what the fuck is up. The “cave dweller” has gone on record proclaiming that Final Draft’s West World Order is up to par with the later period Spazz records and after finally coming around to giving this platter a spin, I’m inclined to agree with him. A clone or re-hash band, you might say? Nah, man. This shit is straight up west-side, not west-bay. Crush, Kill, Destroy intensity with a wrong-turn-off-the-405-freeway exit thrash / grind malevolence. Seventeen counts of powerviolence in the first degree. If you’re looking for hype, then keep looking, goober: you looking to get straight musically ig’nant? Look no further.–Juan Espinosa (RSR, no address listed)
DISCIPLES OF CHRIST: Decomposition Fantasy: 12”
Grind/sludge/blast-beat wall of white noise tornado. Play it at 33 so your head doesn’t burst before the Wire cover. –Chris Terry (Rorschach)

I know that I am a broken record when it comes to spouting off about the rich history of punk rock in Canada. I can’t help it. I obsess over it. From the well-known to the obscure, I love to learn about it all and records like this are a perfect way to fill my needs. The Dishrags were the first punk rock band from Victoria, BC (where I live). Three girls formed a band at the end of 1976, heard the Ramones, were changed forever, and by mid-1977 were in Vancouver to open for The Furies at that city’s very first punk show. By the end of 1979, the original group had disbanded with only their track on the Vancouver Complication compilation and a 7” single on Modern Records. They would continue as a quartet for one more 7”, but that is another story. Another original punk rock band lost to the sands of time… Almost. This record is made up of various unreleased studio recordings as well as some good quality live recordings (including their opening slot for The Clash in 1979). It’s raw, primal punk that sounds amazing! Often these “unearthed tracks” kind of records end up sounding exactly like that, but not this. So good! The record also comes with a nice booklet full of photos, gig posters, and quotes from The Dishrags and those close to them. There were two parts of this record that really made me smile. The first one is the live song intro “This song is called ‘Bullshit,’ and it’s dedicated to our hometown of Victoria.” Classic! The second, I have to ask: How tough do you have to be to finish your set with a ripping version of “London’s Burning” when you are opening for The Clash? Tougher than you and me! –Ty Stranglehold (Supreme Echo)

DIS-TANK: D-Beat Machine: Cassette
I loved this, but the mix is kinda crummy. I’m hoping that’s merely a result of the cassette format and the included download code will yield a better-sounding version. Dis-Tank sound like a cross of the U.K. Subs and early Discharge—eminently satisfying hardcore that grabs you by the throat and squeezes, hard, but it’s got a few catchy hooks along the way. After each listen, I feel like I’ve been in a brutal fistfight during which I laughed the whole time I was getting my ass kicked. That’s the mark of quality hardcore! The artwork for the tape may be a bit clichéd in its photographs of WWII-era tanks, devastated cities, and heaps of bones, but I’ll let it go since I liked the music so much. Great work, guys! –The Lord Kveldulfr (Kibou)

EX FRIENDS: Animal Needs: EPEx Friends are “punk” lite, and as dull as watching paint dry. I keep wondering when this kind of stuff will die out, and it doesn’t seem any time soon. Alas... –M.Avrg (Coolidge,

FRANTIX: My Dad’s a Fuckin’ Alcoholic: CD
As many of the Killed by Death cabal of punk aficionados would be happy to attest, the title track to this retrospective honoring an obscure Colorado punk group is a superb slab of fucked-upness—sloppy playing, earworm-inducing riff, howling vocals, a mound of grime just falling off and stinkin’ up the entire place, and a chorus that just begs to be shouted full-lungs by everyone on the planet who’s pissed off at their perpetually inebriated parental figure. The rest of the disc is no less swell: making appearances are both of their über-rare EPs, a demo that sounds just as blissfully chaotic as their official releases, and an off-the-board live recording that starts off with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive,” (real punks know the only true “punk” thing a band can do is bum other punks out by playing “hippie” proto-prog shit and this, with its free-form noise fest sandwiched between Barrett’s memorable descending scale riff, has long been a prime pick on the “songs with which to bait a punk crowd” list), then descends into several tunes that flail and wail their way into your hearts before the whole shindig draws to a close with a live version of the aforementioned titular track. Throw in some great pics and liner notes and you have yourself a party, kids. –Jimmy Alvarado (Alternative Tentacles,

GIUDA: Let’s Do It Again: LP
Put this Giuda record on in between Thin Lizzy and Slade and Milk ‘N’ Cookies and Elton John and Queen and feel the jean jackets and see the soft focus starlight effect on everything and pump your fist and go skating and grab a six-pack and get high and hang out and make out because it’s the ‘70s and the world is incredible and stupid and it truly isn’t gonna get any better. –Matt Werts (TKO,

INFERNO: Pioneering Work - Discography: 2 x CD
As in life, the annals of hardcore are filled with bands that were good, fewer bands that were great, and maybe a handful that just went above and beyond the rest and ended up with a singular sound that one can say, “that’s ____,” when a tune comes on. Germany’s Inferno handily falls within the latter. From their introduction to U.S. punkers via their tracks on MRR’s Welcome to 1984 and Pushead’s Cleanse the Bacteria comps, it was clear these cats were working on a whole different level from the pack of generic thrashers then glutting the market. Like legendary DC band Void, Inferno’s brand of revved-up hardcore contained copious amounts of metal and sly hooks buried under all the Sturm und Drang. Inferno delivered their tunes at velocities that made ‘em sound like they were always on the verge of completely falling apart, yet somehow never quite doing so and, in some cases, oddly enough sounded tight in their borderline chaos. This American pressing of their collected works pulls together fifty-six tracks from assorted albums, splits, EPs and comps spanning the years 1984-92 spread over two discs, and throws in a thirty-two page booklet with the band’s history, flyers, and English translations of their lyrics for good measure. There are some strange differences in the re-mastering from the originals (the intro to “Steinkopf,” has been inexplicably excised, for example), but that shouldn’t dissuade fans of the genre from reveling in the fast ‘n’ spastic thrash these cats unleashed. To paraphrase something Pushead once wrote in a review of one of the band’s releases, plop this into the player and explode. –Jimmy Alvarado (BeerCity,

MEATMEN, THE: Savage Sagas from the Meatmen: CD
The bad news is that I am not worthy to review this disc. The good news is that you’re not worthy to listen to it either, so I guess it’s a horse a piece. As is likely a matter of public record, I have been a fart-huffing devotee of this band’s sonic smut since the halcyon days of 1981, when Barry Henssler of the Necros dubbed me a copy of their first basement demo, sending my mind down into a blackened abyss of Beatle-snuffings and masturbation monologues whence it never returned. And, whilst their classic ‘80s sludge is always the penile-measuring yardstick by which all other MeatPlatters will be judged—particularly their primal Blud Sausage EP and their two higher-budget cock rock LPs later in the decade, War of the Superbikes and Rock ‘n’ Roll Juggernaut—this new zinger is clearly another choice entrant to the inner circles of Tesco’s Vee’s Parthenon of Filth. The lead-off track, “Men O’ Meat,” is a worthy 21st Century successor to “Meatmen Stomp,” and “The Dwarves are the 2nd Greatest Band in the World,” underscores the fact that Tesco seems to have taken rap lessons from Vadge Moore in “Pissed Hot for Weed,” ((“The Ballad of Stinky Penis,” however, clearly indicates Tesco’s been co-writing with Lorne Greene, and “12 Soft,” might as well be an Alberto Y Los Trios Paranoias song, if they even sang about penises, which maybe they didn’t)). Epileptic classmates, talking John Brannon dolls, and the return of Shecky Spilkers—arts and culture is here for you, folks. Now get out of my way before I feel the urge to use “weenbag” in a sentence. BEST SONG: “The Ballad of Stinky Penis.” BEST SONG TITLE: “The Dwarves are the 2nd Greatest Band in the World.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Album looks a lot like Weird Tales of the Ramones, which itself looks a lot like some other stuff. ­–Rev. Nørb (Self Destructo,

MEATMEN, THE: Savage Sagas from the Meatmen: CD
Just when you think Tesco Vee’s bag of tricks has surely run dry, he jerks off in it and fills it anew with songs that would make your parents really angry. Hell, they might even make you feel uncomfortable. Speaking of bags, check out this line from “Big Bloody Booger on the Bathroom Wall”: “Sprayed va-jj juice in my bag of Taco Bell. Loves me some fish tacos, so what the hell?” The Dutch Hercules’s voice is just as growly and greasy as ever, and the tunes rock just fine. The band even veers away from their standard punk rock’n’roll into country territory for “The Ballad of Stinky Penis”: “He crept across the desert sand, a fetid wiener in his hand.” Everyone needs at least one Meatmen record in the collection to make parties strange, and this is just as good as any. –MP Johnson (Self Destructo)

Nosecone Prophets: Hmm. Rather forgettable, awkward skatepunk with confusing atonal breakdowns and weak vocals. Shatterhand: see the Nosecone Prophets description, add “unoriginal leads” and you’d be on the right track. Blah. –Dave Williams (Unsane Asylum)

PAGANS: What’s This Shit? 1977/1979: LP
Now this is a Record Store Day release I can really get into! Time for commentary: I love the concept of record stores country-wide getting some respect (in the form of life supporting sales) but RSD ain’t nothing but big biz malarkey. Maybe some of you share my opinion, maybe not. The faux-cool “limited” releases, the overpriced reissuing of “classic” rock albums… isn’t this what the cool kids-only club of underground rock is supposed to be against? Time for record review: side one is a fiery live performance from 1979 with surprisingly decent fidelity, especially considering the sounds on some of their official releases. Side two has a few versions of “Six and Change” recorded on the same random October 1977 afternoon. These recordings get better as they progress, and according to notes on the back cover, the third version is what made it to record. My only complaint is that I wish there were more pics/liners, but I think everything that can be said about The Pagans is in the liner notes on all their Crypt Records releases. I won’t pretend to have all the Pagans ephemera out there, nor do I necessarily want it all, but I’m really amazed that these recordings have gone this long unreleased. What’s this shit, indeed! –Sal Lucci (Thermionic)

RAD PAYOFF: The Good, the Rad and the Ugly: Cassette
Goddamn! This is what reviewing is about: getting a package in the mail containing a new band that absolutely blows me away. Depending on the song, Rad Payoff could be mistaken for arena rock-era Rye Coalition, a mathy Dischord band, and/or Swiz. Insane stop-on-a-dime musicianship which is never pretentious or precious, serious grooves, and humor (witness “The Bong Remains The Same”), all with shouted vox from a guy whose vocals chords are obviously the strongest muscles in his body. This is the best music I’ve gotten for review in the past year. Seriously. Featuring a member of Sass Dragons, if you need more ammo. –Michael T. Fournier (Let’s Pretend)

RAPEGOAT: Self-titled: CD
From its inception, punk has had a strain of bands running through it that have pissed off as many people as possible for the sheer hell of it as their primary raison d’être—Sniveling Shits, Nip Drivers, Fearless Iranians From Hell, The Bix Bigler Band, Mentors, you get the picture. Judging solely by the group’s name and song titles like “Brown Star,” and “Cunthair Mustache II,” one can easily drop ‘em into that pile as another band trying to push the “shock” envelope, and you’d be right. Thing is, like many of the aforementioned bands, the songs are pretty danged catchy—punk/hardcore delivered with a bit more precision than one would expect from a “joke” band and capped with a singer with a warble that comes off like a (slightly) less annoying version of the Crucifucks’ Doc Dart. I’m impressed, I gotta say. Worth it alone just for the chance to “accidentally” leave a copy laying around at mom’s house and watch the fun unfold when she picks it up and gets a gander at the cover. –Jimmy Alvarado (MysterySchool,

RAD PAYOFF: The Good, the Rad and the Ugly: Cassette
Goddamn! This is what reviewing is about: getting a package in the mail containing a new band that absolutely blows me away. Depending on the song, Rad Payoff could be mistaken for arena rock-era Rye Coalition, a mathy Dischord band, and/or Swiz. Insane stop-on-a-dime musicianship which is never pretentious or precious, serious grooves, and humor (witness “The Bong Remains The Same”), all with shouted vox from a guy whose vocals chords are obviously the strongest muscles in his body. This is the best music I’ve gotten for review in the past year. Seriously. Featuring a member of Sass Dragons, if you need more ammo. –Michael T. Fournier (Let’s Pretend)

Rubella Ballet’s one of those bands that, although quite influential on the U.K. anarcho-punk and early goth sub-subcultures, are a bit obscure these days to the average punter that wasn’t actively immersed in punk during the ‘80s or is a bit of an archivist. Their dayglo-splattered take on peace punk stood in stark contrast to the “black is fab” fashion etiquette normally associated with that set and their music similarly added a hint of, oh, bounce while addressing much of the same subject matter of their peers. Their first full-length of wholly new material since 1990, PlanetPunk doesn’t stray too far sonically from the band’s previous efforts, meaning they still tweak the ‘80s peace punk template by adding bits of influences from outside sources and slather on a bounty of relevant media sound bites while the lyrics remain firmly rooted in addressing topical issues: the consolidation of power by moneyed interests, the global “Big Brother” surveillance state, the dark side of biomedical research, Hacktivism, the overreliance on pharmaceutical prescriptions, Mexico’s drug wars, police corruption, conspiracy theories, widespread political corruption, and the belief in punk as a viable form of resistance to all the above. I’ve honestly been feeling a bit cynical and fatalistic about the state of both punk and the planet in recent weeks—feelings that are inevitable to come up at various points when one has been around long enough to see both change for the worse in a lot of ways on more than one occasion—but while listening to this, I felt that glimmer of hope that, no matter how bleak shit gets, folks will continue to resist and address that which the rest of the population prefers to pretend isn’t happening. –Jimmy Alvarado (Overground,
As soon as I pushed play on this CD and the beefy, Italian horror rock blasted out of my stereo, I became a fan of The Sade. It’s tough being a fan of horror in music. The majority of it is unoriginal Misfits rip-offs by people who haven’t bothered to scratch the surface of the horror genre. The next CD in my review pile has an Army of Darkness tribute cover and I’m just dreading it. Yes, I love Army of Darkness and the Evil Dead movies, but you can’t imagine the number of dreadful songs I’ve listened to about those flicks. There’s so much more to the horror genre than Ash and Misfits style “whoa-ohhh”s, and The Sade proves it. The second song on this CD is a howling tribute to a short story called “The Werewolf” by Angela Carter. It’s rare for a band to tip me off to a horror story I don’t know, so I’m impressed. But it takes more than a solid understanding of the genre to make a good record. The shit still has to rock. The Sade does, without getting sucked into any of the clichés. This is full-on rock, with deep, driving vocals and machete-swinging guitar solos. Oh, but check this out: By the third song, they’ve introduced an eerie string section that adds a perfectly gruesome touch without detracting from the direction of the track. Halfway into the record, they also throw in some insane tenor and soprano sax solos. It’s fucking wild. But they don’t abandon all the traditional tools either. In the second-to-last song, they whip out some of the most effective “whoa-ohhh”s I’ve heard in a while, and then they close out the record with an acoustic country stomper that puts the best of the psychobillies to shame. I’m going to listen to this CD a lot. –MP Johnson (Self-released,

SENIOR DISCOUNT: This Is Not the End: CD-R + DVD
Lukewarm pop punk of the Riverfenix/MXPX variety. Apparently these doods do meathead pranks, Internet videos, and podcasts of which an included DVD contains. Sorry guys, I would have a hard time recommending this to anyone. In fact, I think I will leave my copy in someone’s car intentionally. –Garrett Barnwell (Self-released,

This is the Stiletto Boys third full-length release, but first release in well over a decade. Why the wait? Originally recorded in 2008, the band scrapped the entire album in pursuit of perfection. Finally released in 2013, Liberator is a powerpop masterpiece featuring a spot-on cover of Stiv Bator’s “Not That Way.” But it’s not just fluff; there is some real substance here. Impeccable production, warm fuzzy guitar, and the harmonies... oh the harmonies! This album is the first spring day after a long, shitty winter. –Jackie Rusted (Zodiac Killer,, [email protected])

There’s something empowering about bands self-releasing their records. Like an employee owned and operated brewery, it just puts a smile on my face. Record labels are as important as ever, it’s just different. Street Eaters kill it on their second proper full-length. The drums stampede in frantic unison while the bass sounds like a meteor shower, but the meteors aren’t burning up in the atmosphere. Hubs of civilization aflame. Chaos reigns. Process that and then add two of the most dynamic and powerful vocalists in punk today. If something gets described as crusty or art-punk, it can be met with reservations, but Street Eaters relentlessly bring those elements (and more!) together in true, devastatingly beautiful harmony. –Daryl (Nervous Intent [US], [email protected]/ Contraszt! [Europe], [email protected])

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Influence: A Tribute to Big Boys: LP
A long-overdue tribute record to one of the most prolific punk bands of our time. The Big Boys mean a whole lot to a whole lot of people and reading the introductions submitted from nearly every band gives you even more insight into just how powerful their music is even after all these years since their inactivity and the untimely passing of vocalist Randy “Biscuit” Turner. I’d like to start off by complimenting the astonishingly beautiful album artwork courtesy of Big Boys guitarist Tim Kerr. This particular copy is one of the limited versions with spray paint stenciled art and on coke bottle-colored vinyl. The album as a whole is completely listenable from start to finish without a single disappointing / mangling moment to be heard. Toys That Kill lead off the festivities and give “Nervous” a shot in the arm with their off-kilter San Pedro style stomp. Night Birds swoop down from Jersey and super-charge their version of “Wise Up.” Mind Spiders update the television viewing audiences’ favorites while adding some weirdo synth into their rendition of “TV.” Other personal favorites include, but are not limited to, Spokenest, Drunk Injuns, Tight Lips, The Nervous, Low Culture, and Riverboat Gamblers with their superb take on perhaps the most beautifully melancholy Big Boys song “Sound on Sound.” Gary Floyd (The Dicks frontman, longtime friend, and co-performer) provides some touching and heartfelt words for Biscuit and for the Big Boys, in general as a band, whose time and place happenstance simply cannot and will not be replicated. Their existence as a live act is something that very few fortunate souls can vividly recall. For the rest of us, there’s stories and online video footage to keep us happy and now there’s also this record to remind us that we’re all in this together and in great company as fans, admirers, and artists. Fun, fun, and more fucking fun! Biscuit would be proud. –Juan Espinosa (Stiff Hombre,

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Welcome to 2013: LP
A lot of hardcore comps are failures from the get-go. It seems like all reviews of compilation records mention how the format lends itself to being a dumping ground of throwaway tracks and unfocused additions to get a band or label’s name out there. Compilations succeed when they are focused around a singular idea and, typically, those that focus on a time and a place are the ones that are the most interesting and stable. This compilation focuses on a time—right now. The place, however, is a little tricky. The bands are from all over the U.S. and parts of Europe, but while their geography may make them distant in a literal sense, their goals and affinity for one another keep them close. These are DIY hardcore bands. Their sounds vary and their ideas are different, but their expression of those ideas within their community is what makes them important because that’s what draws them together. Not Normal is a label that has been putting out and distributing some of the most eager and confrontational punk records over the course of the last five years, and this record is less a culmination of their focus than it is a step in their move towards being one of the most important current hardcore labels. They are a not a hype fest, and the bands presented on this record show the label’s insouciance towards the status quo. Yes, well-known punks like Tenement make an appearance on this comp, but they follow the relatively unknown Inservibles. Cülo are followed by a very young, very un-hip band from the Pacific Northwest called Adjustment To Society, and Broken Prayer are sandwiched between Bored Straight and Thee Nodes. This album is not an attempt to move you to buy a record; this album is an attempt to move you to think for your god damn self. –Ian Wise (Not Normal,

VARIOUS ARTISTS:Without Kibou There Is Nothing Vol. 2:7”
Kibou Records has been pumping vinyl and tapes out of England since 2011. Along the way, they’ve been using the Without Kibou There Is Nothing series as a twelve-minute showcase for groups from across the land. In part two of the series, the A-Side features heavier acts like grind group Social Rut’s 40-second pummel, “Wreck / Logic,” and hardcore band Albion’s “Black Charcoal Lungs,” which has an evil guitar hook pulsing out some lovely, dirty melody: a little Gallows, a little Pixies—looks bad on paper but tastes great. The satisfyingly bizarre Autopsy Boys make Side-B appreciably weirder, blending post-punk with synth effects, holding the cheese, and featuring a frontman who sounds like a sort of Zero Boys’ Paul Mahern if he were singing in 2079 instead of 1979. Or, you know, Robocop punk. The steady pop beat of Second In Line close out the EP with a list song recalling dead celebrities—”Walt Disney is Dead…/lots of Lassies are dead”— human and otherwise. All side, a nice tour of an EP. Now get on your baby brother’s computer and do the Google math— £4 is only $6.72, you can afford that. Optional white vinyl and included digital download. –Jim Joyce (Kibou,

VERBAL ABUSE: Just an American Band: LPDon’t have this yet? You gotta get it. I guarantee this will be a permanent part of your collection. One you will put on the turntable in another forty years and get the same rush you did as the first time you listened to it. This is hardcore punk from San Francisco 1983, featuring Nicki Sicki (from one of my all time favorite bands, Sick Pleasure) on vocals. This is the sound that had Okies like me dreaming of “the good life” in California. Pure hardcore that is dirty and dangerous-sounding, and it makes you feel alive and invincible. Back when bands lived it and breathed it. The songs are fast and yet catchy and tuneful without being corny or wimpy. The crashing tempo of “I Don’t Need It” is great, as well as the way Nicki Sicki delivers the lyric, “You’re Shit!” in “Verbal Abuse.” Such a great album. –M.Avrg (BeerCity,

Dirty, ugly, hardcore, Poison Idea by way of Cleveland. A less hardcore Gordon Solie or Inmates maybe? Tougher than Hoax, but having that same blown-out weirdo vibe as those fellow East Coasters. Hard as fuck. Feeling it. When you think it’s all been done, it comes back again, uglier, and harder. Bet this shit annihilates live. –Tim Brooks (Iron Lung,

WORRIERS: Sinead O’ Rebellion: 7”
Infectious melodies and clear, catchy lyrics merge together with a sound rhythm section, led by a powerful voice and crisp lead guitar parts. Worriers remind me a lot of The Measure [sa]. Undulating vocals that come at you full force but never loose tone or inflection. Songs are about growing up in a state of rebellion and keeping sight of your values, even if they’re alternative ones. In the title track of the release, singer Lauren Denitzio proclaims: “I align myself with the likes of those who rip up photos on broadcast TV / speaking truthfully isn’t quite as easy as making your family happy.” Worriers seem to be driven mostly by Denitzio, who wrote all the tracks on the release and plays lead guitar, though the other three musicians are not lacking any relevance in the band. Beautiful guitar solos wail throughout the record on the wings of the steady and melodic rhythm section with great talent. “Get Bored” is one of the best break up songs I’ve heard in a long time. “When I’m working my way up, you’re hanging with a scum punk / it’s all a turn off / it doesn’t matter anyway / you’ve got the good times, I’ve got my Chinese take-away.” I love that it’s an open-ended song about relationships in general; friend fall outs are just as harsh as break ups. There is a gorgeous lyrical cadence that travels the length of this release which got me singing along on the first listen. They won me over with this 7” and I’m eagerly looking forward to what they do in the future. –Kayla Greet (Yo Yo,

WOVENHAND: Refractory Obdurate: CD/LP
Wovenhand is the vehicle by which Denver’s David Eugene Edwards shares his spiritual message of both god’s love and his judgment. It’s dark American gothic music with heavy doses of punk, world, native, and Americana influences. While those sounds are there on his latest album, Refractory Obdurate, this is by far the heaviest and most aggressive album he’s ever released. This is appropriate since he’s now releasing music on the metal label Deathwish. It’s also appropriate because his four-piece band now includes two members of Planes Mistaken For Stars: Chuck French and Neil Keener. But it’s Ordy Garrison’s drumming that drives many of the heavier songs. It isn’t complex, but it’s compelling, and gives the songs backbone unlike anything else heard before in Wovenhand’s music. Imagine NickCave fronting a stomping, balls-out rocking punk band. While I would normally cringe at lyrics about god, Edwards’ words are never fake—he’s sincere about his beliefs but is just telling his tale. He isn’t out to win an argument or convert anyone. Edwards is the musical version of nineteenth-century abolitionist John Brown. His sound and music are dark, heavy, and laden with a message about god’s glory and judgment, and he really doesn’t care who likes it. Thankfully for all of us, it’s excellent. I can only imagine how good this is live. –Kurt Morris (Deathwish,

ZATOPEKS: About Bloody Time: CD
Zatopeks has always been one of those bands that have been on the fringes of my knowledge of pop punk. I wouldn’t say that they’re bland, but their songs never sounded like anything I couldn’t find on other records. So, I don’t know if I’m just in a less angry place or if Zatopeks have changed their strategy, but About Bloody Time might be their defining statement as a band. The songwriting is clever and incredibly catchy, the vocals ride that line of being clear and blending in with the fuzz, and the songs have a range that doesn’t make me feel like I’ve heard all of them eight times before the record ends. They still play in the same vein of Copyrights without the continual feeling that the entire song is just one long chorus. Over a decade in and three albums down, Zatopeks have released a damn good record. I guess what I’m saying is, about bloody time! No? Yeah, I’ll just hide myself over here until you leave, then. Grade: B+. –Bryan Static (Monster Zero / It’s Alive)

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