Featured Record Reviews From Issue #82: The worst it gets is Christian-radio-calibre butt rock

Oct 20, 2014
IRON CHIC: The Constant One: LP
Mola Ram reaches into your chest Temple of Doom-style and pulls out your heart. But your heart has been replaced with a rusty can of Frostie brand Blue Cream Soda. Those rusty edges are painful coming out, but inside is pure syrupy goodness. Then the lyrics. Anthems of white hot light shoot from your mouth and eyes like Rene Belloq at the end of Raiders. The Chic has an ability to grab fans from all genres through emotional connection and their ability to write some of the catchiest songs around. There is a guitar pedal that adds a slightly different tone (“Spooky Action”) from the previous full length, but if you’ve kept up with the 7” releases, the progression is natural. The horns, seagulls, and video game keyboard noises for intros and between song space actually add to the anticipation between tracks, as opposed to sounding like filler. Iron Chic encapsulates your worst day as you’re swallowing the spoonful of sugar and asking for more. Every song pulls out your hurt and tosses it into the awaiting hands of friends to lift you back up. Not just recommended…essential. –Matt Seward (Bridge 9,

ALLVARET: Tänk På Döden: LP
In Scandinavia right now, as well as certain parts of the rest of the world, a subgenre of punk has been developing for a few years. No one dares name it for fear of tarnishing this special movement. Part of me wants to say fuck that, give a name to the genre, but I’ll be content with just explaining some of the recurring elements. Bands heavily utilize female vocals, write with post-punk influences in mind, but undeniably work in the tradition of the first wave of punk. Other bands that you know of in this genre would be Gorilla Angreb, Masshysteri, and Arctic Flowers. Allvaret sits comfortably within these sounds, while still producing an intimidating record in their own right. Perhaps sounding something like a sped-up X, if you took out all of John Doe’s vocals. Without even understanding the lyrics, the music has a tone of panic and anger. The songs have such a natural flow, I feel as if I’m cheating the record if I only put it on for a few songs. Great record, great band. Grade: A-. –Bryan Static (Dirt Cult,

ATTENDANTS, THE: Metropol Agencies: LP
Sometimes, when you listen to a given style of music for an exceedingly long period of time, things start to get jumbled and you lose track of the subtle shifts in style and delivery, until something comes along at a key moment that makes you say, “Wait-wait-wait the fuck up. At what point down the line did punk start sounding like really bad, boring adult-rock fodder?” This, my friends, is that moment. –Jimmy Alvarado (Can I Say?)

CHROME: Feel It like a Scientist: CD
I fuggin’ love Chrome. Their best known and most lauded period—the “Edge/Creed” era that produced the five albums, from Alien Soundtracks to 3rd from the Sun—is the kind of good that’ll leave those inclined to listen to ‘em slack-jawed in awe (for a quick, cost effective overview of this period, I recommend the one-disc Anthology 1979-1983 CD and decide if you wanna venture deeper down the rabbit hole). Theirs is a sound that manages to be all over the map influence-wise—equal parts punk, rock, metal, industrial, drone, psychedelia, space rock, soundscapes, and so on—and at the same time result in something that is both singular and cohesive, an almost perfect amalgamation of all of its parts that is heavy, playful, hypnotic, oddly funky in places, and just downright weird. Things got a bit dicey after primary progenitors Helios Creed and Damon Edge parted ways and each fronted separate subsequent incarnations of the band, and the two never managed a planned reunion before Edge died in 1995. Between this and last year’s release, a stunner of a collection of unreleased tracks recorded during the band’s most artistically prolific period entitled Half Machine from the Sun: The Lost Tracks from ‘79-’80, Creed has brought the band full circle. Feel It like a Scientist is prime Chrome—odd and oddly catchy, rife with experimentation and seasoned noise mongering, uncompromising and yet still engaging, and true to the initial lineup’s ability to play music that continues to be several decades ahead of its time. As we hit the mid-point of 2014, I’m gonna safely bet this’ll make it onto several “best of” lists come the end of the year, including any such list culled by this writer. Highly recommended. –Jimmy Alvarado (Chrome,

Blown-out, noisy hardcore punk that is all the rage this minute. Disgusti bring nothing new to the table, but I know more than a few people who will suck this stuff right up without question. Just because. But the truth is, you, dear reader, deserve better than this. Punk, overall, deserves better than this. Vocals recorded in an echo chamber, saying nothing much about nothing at all, the guitar sounds flat, the bass limp, and drums are like paper. They slaughter their cover of Void’s “Who Are You.” At least they make that their own as a result. Some bands can pull this style off with ease and add a little extra something. Disgusti is not one of them. –M.Avrg (High Fashion Industries,

GIRLS!, THE: Let’s Not Be Friends: LP
Not to be confused with the early 2000s Pacific Northwest band of similar but punctuation-free nomenclature, these Girls! are a Columbus sexy-tet—four-sixths of which are guys with beards and one-third of which are actual girls ((bereft of beards to all appearances)). Their music can be lazily described as “power pop,” but not of the stripped-down, kick-up-your-heels Nikki & The Corvettes meal plan—they’ve got a little bit more of a full-figured, breathy attack, with the usual guitar/bass/drum suspects awash in a swirl of Benmont Tench-like organ and such. Adding further evidence to the fleshed-out-ness of the band’s sound, only one of the album’s eleven songs clocks in at less than three-and-a-half minutes, whilst five eclipse the psychologically important four-minute mark ((important to whom, I am uncertain)). Song topics tend to hover around ex-boyfriends and drinking, as all the great ones do. Anyway, I put this album on at the tail end of a long night of getting wasted and listening to records, and enjoyed the first ten songs to reasonable extent. Then, just about the time when I was ready to brush my teeth and call it a night, “Sophomore” comes on. HOLY FUCK. Holy fucking fuck. Holy fucking fuckity fuck. Now THAT, my friends, is a SONG. If this song isn’t in commercials and teen angst movies and on TV shows and at least as well-known as “Johnny Are You Queer?” by Josie Cotton in a few years, then there is something horribly, terribly, insanely wrong with this world ((well, either that or the band fucked up and called a song that everyone is gonna think is called “Girl Parts” “Sophomore” instead)). I played it like twenty times in a row before I actually managed to get the needle off the record and pour myself into the sack. This song has reduced my critical faculties to the equivalent of a small plate of scrambled eggs! By necessity this concludes the review. BEST SONG: What the fuck do you think? “Sophomore!” BEST SONG TITLE: “Let’s Get Weird.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Exploding Hearts song title “Sleeping Aides and Razorblades” is etched into the run-off grooves on both sides of the record, leading me to wonder if it shouldn’t have been “Aids” and not “Aides” in the first place. –Rev. Nørb (Self-released,

HCP:Pozytywny Stan Swiadomosci 1989: LP
Positive state of mentality. A system of total love. It’s hard to imagine in 2014 that there are countries that were almost inaccessible at the beginning of our lifetimes. When I was a kid, it wasn’t Cuba and North Korea; it was Russia, Poland, and Yugoslavia. The fear of the red menace was rife across the west. The punks wrote songs about it, but mostly we knew fuck all. It was very difficult to find any music from there, as most had to be smuggled out. To get music into these countries, we would dub tapes and try and smuggle them in. I’ve never heard of HCP before, but these kids had definitely got their hands on some Heresy and Ripcord demos. While this LP is clearly influenced by the straight edge of the time (‘89), the music has way more in common with either much earlier U.S. gear like Siege or the U.K. ‘core scene of the late ‘80s. This LP compiles their only 7” (released in Switzerland) and three demos. All pretty killer stuff and the huge newsprint booklet in Polish and English is the icing on the cake. Great. –Tim Brooks (Refuse,

MAN, THE: Carousel of Sound: 7” EP
If The Man formed in 1981, they’d have been in the Blade Runner soundtrack as something sad android blaster Rick Deckard could listen to in his hover car, or a song to hear buzzing out of the strip club speakers where replicant Zhora works before she gets zapped. Such is the disenchanted sci-fi hi-fi sound of tracks like “TV On,” where the chorus is a series of machine-precise down stroked rushes and halts that accent the rock holler of barely intelligible phrasings about a— member of the band? a hypothetical office anybody?—who hates his cubicle job so much he must zoom home, but only to smolder in front of the TV and get more soul poison. On tracks like “I Don’t Care” and “Pay,” The Man’s trio of office terror—guttural throat drags, merciless machine rhythms, trashy guitar solos—draw out the exhilarating and hilarious effect that has gotten The Man compared to a filthier version of Devo. Bring on the album! Until then, see the website for a vomit of misleading office buzz words and info graphs mish-mashed by the group. Fittingly, their contact address is a now closed coal factory on the city’s southwest side. –Jim Joyce (HoZac,

Masked Intruder’s execution is a no-brainer: super catchy pop punk with lyrically bittersweet subject matter and a colorful ski mask gimmick. The part I don’t get is why the first half of this record is as formulaic as a Good Charlotte / Sum 41 split when there’s some genuinely catchy shit on the latter tracks a la Television City DreamScreeching Weasel. It could also be that I’ve long since waved goodbye to my interest in this genre and am now left staring at it like a third cousin whose name I’ve only heard in passing and, in all honesty, have no interest in warming up to. In any case, Masked Intruder have already struck gold with Fat and no matter how I feel, their popularity will surely only increase, so more power to them. –Juan Espinosa (Fat)

MULLTUTE: Dritte: 7” EP
Mülltüte, how I love thee... It’s your filthy guitar that sounds like it’s being played through a AM radio, and I mean that in the most complimentary way. It’s the first thing that drew me to you. Then you have that punchy and crazy drumming that’s fast and catchy. I like to think that the drummer is playing with such fury that the kit is coming apart and spreading out all over the floor. Oh, Mülltüte, let me tell you how much I love your vocals, too. They have that dry rasp, as though your vocal chords are blown out, and yet you have so much heart, you’re still digging deep and spitting them out with that little extra to give them more weight despite any probable health side effects. Not to mention the backing vocals on “Exzess,” and how they give your music a youthful glow. Plus that whistling at the end! Yes, indeed! I love how you go from song to song without much pause, too. Makes me feel like it’s live, and as close as we’ll ever get to really meeting due to the geographical distance between us. There’s the hectic energy of “1000 Sei Ten Hass” and then there’s the rock’n’roll base of “Reibung” that captures the spirit of classic punk. And I must mention the guitar tones that sound all strangled and crazy on “Keine Angst” really get to me. Absolutely love it. Not to mention the way everything comes together at the end of “Neue Kreise.” Such a great record. Mülltüte, you really know how to make my heart go pitter pat. You, more than many others, really know how to play hardcore punk. Take care of yourself, and let’s get together again soon. –M.Avrg (Heartfirst, [email protected],
NEEDLES//PINS: Shamebirds: LP
I want to get this one right because I really liked this record. But it’s tough: I’ve listened to Shamebirds many times now and have struggled with that particular brain-tickle where something seems really familiarbut you can’t quite put your finger on it. Know what I mean? So what’s the deal with this band? I mean, it’s undoubtedly a great album, but what’s the reference point I’ve been looking for? How to Make Enemies-era Screeching Weasel? Joey Vindictive fronting a garage band that loved treble and veered a bit away from distortion? Then, after about the bajillionth listen, it came to me. Hear me out. This is what Sloppy Seconds would sound like if they were a three-piece that hasn’t based their entire identity around quasi-offensive juvenilia. Sure, it’s kind of a weird reference, but the melody’s there, the dude’s voice is practically a dead ringer, the songwriting chops are evident. Does that make sense? Sloppy Seconds if they sang about more interesting things? I hope so, because holy shit, you guys, Shamebirds works to great effect. Smart, catchy, buoyant, fun, and unceasingly snotty. Even if the reference doesn’t work for you, how about this: Check it out. I bet you’ll like it.–Keith Rosson (Dirt Cult)

PITY: The Struggle: 7”
This fucking rules. Confession: I am prejudiced. Every time I pick up a 7” and it contains six songs, and especially if it’s at 45 RPM, I think—no—I know I’m gonna be disappointed. Too many times have I gambled and been burned on a record with a killer cover, rad band name and badass song titles, only to be bored to death by hyper-fast, unintelligible “songs” of noise. This, my friends, is not that. This is punk fucking rock, equal parts The Spits and early X. Raw, aggressive, catchy punk tunes. You’d never guess what “L.J.S.A.” stands for—Leather Jacket Separation Anxiety—but the singer tells me that, and I think I might suffer from that very condition. “Six Pack Breakfast?” Okay! –Chad Williams (Self-released, [email protected])

REIGNING SOUND: Live at Goner Records: LP
Greg Cartwright is a practitioner of a rare form of musical telepathy. He got into my head as early as the count off to “Time Bomb High School” and never left. From the beginning to the end of each song, I was able to foresee what was around each corner, not because Reigning Sound is predictable, rather they emit a distinct clarity of vision. They somehow strike every resounding chord, sing every soulful note, and charge through a catalog of memorable tunes without a misstep. As a live recording from nearly a decade ago, the production is crisp and Cartwright’s journeyman croon is in full force. Most importantly, all sixteen songs are remarkably prescient. The necessity for unfiltered, sweltering rock’n’roll (“Bad Man” is a prime example) is more dire than ever, given the latest trend of reverb-saturated punk that is afraid to be exposed. Instead of indulging in self-gratifying blues riffs, Reigning Sound exercises power in brevity, truncating songs into their purest, most refined elements. Now, I’m in the enviable position where I must dig through their entire discography. –Sean Arenas (Goner,, [email protected])

SAVE THE RADIO: Calculating the Sum of Your Life: CD
Nope. Slick douche-rock runoff from some sleazy label that stops just short of sending glossy headshots. The artwork consists of context-free physics equations scattered all over the gatefold; the band is called Save The fucking Radio. The best it gets is this occasional Tom-Petty-fronting-the-Foo-Fighters vibe (not as good as it sounds). The worst it gets is Christian-radio-calibre butt rock. This is clearly a band that took a severely wrong turn in the process of trying to make it. Good luck to you. Go forth. Go save the radio. Whatever. –Indiana Laub (Tazbull,

TOTALLY SLOW: Self-titled: LP
Around age thirty, I decided that perfection is when nothing is wrong. I no longer needed to get that heart-in-a-vise feeling to recognize the greatness of a record, a book, a moment, a meal. It made the world far more satisfying. The guys in Totally Slow have been playing in North Carolina bands like Eagle Bravo and Rights Reserved for around twenty years, and I bet they feel the same way. There’s a touch of angst to their melodies, like remembering being a teenager half your life ago. These ten songs are so well planned and masterful that you might miss their genius. This debut goes off without a hitch. It’s perfect. –Chris Terry (Self Aware)

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