Featured Record Reviews From Issue #83: The perfect length to eat a giant-ass, messy burrito to

Jan 19, 2015

This might be the most satisfying record, from start to finish, that I’ve bought in a long time. It’s mastered loud as fuck (and I swear it gets louder somewhere on the second side). I could be confusing this with the feeling I had eating the best burrito I’ve had in a long time while I was listening to this album. As a matter of fact, this album is the perfect length to eat a giant-ass, messy burrito to. I was able to finish said burrito and wash my hands just in time for the last song to finish. What perfect timing! Was some kind of science or hoodoo involved? I don’t know! I do know that Golden Pelicans are as good on record as they are live. They have a song about escaping New Jersey. It must have been written for me, because I escaped New Jersey! Actually, I talked to singer King G once and he said it’s about his ex-wife. Good enough! Also, there’s a song called “Pissing in a Puddle of Puke,” which has gotta be the best song title ever, or at least since the last time I made that proclamation. If I have to complain about something, and I do, it’s that all the songs on this record aren’t called “Pissing in a Puddle of Puke.” –Sal Lucci (Total Punk)

ADVLTS: Self-titled: EP
It’s the cover art that drew me to this. It’s their logo that looks to be made up of torn bits of paper shaping the letters, running diagonally from the bottom left corner to the upper right. When you’re sifting through the review boxes here at the Razorcake bunker, you have to rely on the old ways of choosing records, which is artwork, song titles, record label, ex-band members, and gut instinct. Those modes are not failsafe, especially these days (we all know anything after 1985 is highly suspect). But one of those applied methods is at least guaranteed to work ninety-five percent of the time. I applied cover art, as described above, and song titles: “Bag for My Head,” “It Hurts,” and “Chopped in Half.” With that combo, I should be at least have some sort of expectation met. Though not snotty and slobbering, like I was expecting, Advlts kick out some catchy as hell punk rock that is pretty dern good, and has more going on, as revealed in subsequent listens. The songs are wound tight, with the bass bouncing off the drums, and the guitar jangling and scratching up next to them. The vocalist has a sort of dry sound, and you can hear the words come through nice and sort of clear. “It Hurts” brings to mind early Wire, with the bass nice and strong in the mix, while the guitar skranks rickety notes, and there’s a dual vocal interplay. “Bag for My Head” is the standout due to its strong opening, somewhat sassy vocal delivery, and the lines, “I hate your face! I need a bag for my head!” sandwiched between a driving and super catchy riff. If I was to keep some sort of “best of...” list, then this one would be in it for sure. –M.Avrg (Southpaw, [email protected], southpaw-records.com)

BASTARD CHILDREN: To Kill in Cold Blood: LP
Bastard Children were an excellent 1990s political hardcore band that reminds me of The Pist. This LP contains two of their cassette-only releases from 1996 and 1998, as well as an unreleased demo. Members of Bastard Children went on to play in better remembered acts including Religious War, Wehrmacht, and Poison Idea. National Dust keeps putting out these amazing reissues of little known or forgotten bands. Anyone who ever played in an overlooked hardcore band should know that someone, somewhere might end up rediscovering them. Something as great as these Bastard Children tapes will never die, thanks to an uncommonly enthusiastic label. It’s not just sentimentality. This potent shit is legitimately worth archiving. –Art Ettinger (National Dust)

Bands should take more risks. I understand that you’re good at one thing and you’ve spent your entire creative life revolving around this one thing, but human experience isn’t monochromatic. Fact: Pushing outside of your comfort zone makes more engaging art. Black Wine do just that. They bring a lot to the table, and what they bring to this potluck is nourishing. Each member gets behind the microphone, sharing songwriting duties. It’s energizing to hear three voices—each tuneful and distinguished—filtered through three distinct styles. On “No Reason,” Black Wine swirl like Hunchback, then rage like Hüsker Dü on “Magnet Time.” Closing the A Side, a solo Miranda Taylor mellows into a creeping melody on “Familiar,” then they shift up on “Piccoline” into a closing riff that would floor Tenement. Although the cover of The Guess Who’s “No Time” is solid, I just wish those vinyl grooves were saved for another original song. Fact: It’s satisfying to be treated to a potluck where all the guests didn’t opt for casserole and bean dip. Highly recommended. –Sean Arenas (Don Giovanni, dongiovannirecords.com)

CRIME: Murder by Guitar: LP
One of the downsides of the Internet is the loss of mythology following certain bands. San Francisco’s Crime is one of those groups written largely in lore. For a time, no one could acquire their singles and few could hear them on worn mix tapes. And nobody deserved the mystique more than Crime. The band released only three proper singles between 1976-1980 and helped define punk with loud guitars and attitude. “Hot Wire My Heart” is the classic you may have heard. All their songs are that good. You can now use the Internet to order a collection of singles we would have killed for at one point. This LP contains the three impossible to find singles that launched the legend of San Francisco’s self-proclaimed first rock’n’roll band as well as some good demos and such. It doesn’t get better than this. –Billups Allen (Superior Viaduct)

DOCTOR AND THE CRIPPENS: Fired from the Circus: 2 x LP/CD
Once again Boss Tuneage delivers another crucial reissue from the vaults. As always, I wonder how many people give a fuck apart from the couple of hundred who were actually there. This is another record that came out when I was sixteen and completely immersed in the UKHC scene. The Crippens from up North hit a middle ground between the U.K. blurrcore bands and U.S.-influenced bands like the Stupids and Intense Degree. The most notable thing about the band was they used stage props and had an almost lightweight Gwar stage show. This disc has the debut LP that is an absolute stormer as well as their first Peel session, possibly the best thing they did (I think this only because I remember lying in bed listening to the actual session the night before school). As far as I am concerned, Boss Tuneage’s entire retro catalogue is mandatory for anyone with even the slightest interest in the late ‘80s U.K. hardcore scene. For me, it’s much more than a history lesson; it’s part of what made me who I am. Class. –Tim Brooks (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)

DWARVES: Invented Rock’n’Roll: Cassette
The Dwarves!!! What I love about the Dwarves is that despite the myriad changes in lineup and sound over the years, their records are always, I mean always, good. They just fucking rock start to finish every single time. How can that be? How can a band be this consistently good and fresh not just over years, but decades?!? I mean, Christ…I got my first Dwarves record in 1990 and a quarter century later they still beat me senseless with every record. The Dwarves brand means quality rock’n’roll, goddammit, and this record lives up to expectations. Of course, these days (i.e., the last four records or so) those expectations consist of songs that alternate between bouncy, melodic, quasi-pop tunes with ultra-underbelly lyrical content and full-on punk rock ragers, along with a few forays into other genres here and there. And this record doesn’t disappoint in that regard either, but it pains me greatly to say that it seems just a wee bit formulaic this time. Oh well. Don’t care. It’s the fucking Dwarves, man! If anything, this record is a bit more heavily weighted on the rager side than the last several releases, and there’s less production value on this record than we’ve gotten used to, so the overall effect is what I imagine would be the sonic equivalent of having my skin taken off with a blowtorch and enjoying it. The Dwarves!!! –The Lord Kveldulfr (Burger / Greedy)

I’ll say it: Chore surpasses everything this band has done previously, absolutely demolishes it, and that’s coming from a guy who likes them. Lyrically, they’re tilling some rough-shod ground regarding the daily, hands-on struggles around poverty, busted relationships, abuse, fear, and forgiveness. Each song is its own little short story, but done in such a way that it all seems concurrent, one song threaded to the next. (I’d kick around the idea of calling it a concept album, but that leaves the idea leaves a bad taste in my mouth.) Musically, it’s pushing the boundaries of pop punk in a way that’s confident and measured while still being catchy and muscular; each of the three instruments bend and flex in a way that deftly avoids the pitfalls of the genre and yet each song sounds anthemic as hell. It’s a smart, compassionate punk record, and songs like “LeSabre” and “Power Dynamics” still give me the chills months after I first heard them. It’s so easy, after hearing thousands of records and writing hundreds of reviews, to feel burnt out on this stuff, on music, so when a record comes along that’s just this wonderful blend of empathy and frustration and catchiness, I take notice and grab on. Chore’s definitely that record. They’ll be hard-pressed to top this one, and I’m betting it’ll wind up being my favorite album of the year. –Keith Rosson (It’s Alive)

HIP PRIESTS, THE: Black Denim Blitz: CD
You know that protest sign—commonly seen at protests of killer cops and outdated reproductive health policies—that says, “I can’t believe I still have to protest this shit!” You know where I’m going with this. The Hip Priests describe themselves as, “The inbred, oversexed, white trash bastard sons of Iggy (Pop), Johnny (Thunders), Lemmy (no last name needed) and Handsome Dick (Manitoba).” While those godfathers are all respectable influences, this album comes off as just boring parody and “boys will be boys” nonsense. For example, “my cocaine cock” and “my girl you’re a cunt” are two lyrics from this album, and I didn’t have to look hard to find them. Really? Punk can do better. Punk has done better. Time to move on. I can’t believe we still have to listen to this shit. Good luck doing pay-to-play for the ‘80s burnouts on the Sunset Strip, Hip Priests. –John Mule (Self Destructo, selfdestructorecords.com)

There’s a line toward the beginning of The House on Mango St. where Sandra Cisneros is describing her father shaving in the morning, listening to records by dramatic singers who make “music like hiccupping.” Isaac Reyes has one of those reeling, all-in voices, which makes even the strangest Lenguas Largas songs (for instance, the ultra-catchy “Ese Culito,” which my shitty Spanish has me thinking is about wedgies) sound rooted in time-tested traditions. For their second LP, this Tucson band has streamlined their approach, taking the sprawling and flailing impulses that put their first album all over the map, and averaging them into a hit-after-hit rock’n’roll LP that maintains the cinematic scope, desert-fried weirdness, and classic melody that makes them such a fascinating band. This may be my favorite rock album of the year. PS: These guys slay live. I saw them in L.A. this summer and they had three drummers and four guitarists. I danced sexy when they played, “I Feel.” –Chris Terry (Recess)

QUAALUDES: Nothing New: 7”EP
Quaaludes are addictive. Fact. I’ve been seriously hooked since I first saw them last year. Quaaludes is a force of nature in SF. They are one of those rare all XX bands that fit on any punk bill, a loved local to the SF scene, adored by guys and grrrls alike. This is their first EP, and just like every performance I’ve seen of them, it does not disappoint. Well recorded, with crisp melodic bass and drums, even more euphonically distorted guitar, with Aimee’s straight up unapologetic, bratty riot grrrl vocals at the forefront. Best song on here is “Stiff Little Single.” This song is fucking genius with a perfect bass rift and unmistakably rad lyrics “I’m going to take you to a place where I can fuck you.” Instant classic. The only thing that’s missing on this EP is the pogoing girl-friendly pit and Aimee’s crazy stage antics. Buy it before it sells out. –Camylle Reynolds (Thrillhouse / Dollskin)

It’s interesting how it seems that if done genuinely, any genre of music can become punk music if played by punks. The genre at hand is rootsy, acoustic, country, folk stuff. When executed with this much energy and passion, Sam could be playing a goddamn slide whistle and it would still sound like distorted guitar in my brain. It should be no surprise that Mr. Barrett’s previous LP was released on Arkam Records, and he has toured with the Pine Hill Haints. Both he and they do an exceptional job of staying true to a lifetime’s worth of punk music while still playing something totally different. Having a song about touring with Kid Little doesn’t hurt either. –Daryl (YaDig?, [email protected])

SONNY VINCENT: Cyanide Consommé: CD
I listened to this latest dose of black leather trad-sleaze/straight-up nihilism at work, over the tiny speakers on our crappy, non-internet-enabled computer, dutifully noting how the lead guitar would poke its head out of the rock’n’roll Sarlacc Pit during vocal pauses, spit a little venom, and duck back down when the vocals came back in, just like the Dead Boys. I also noted how key phrases would be forcefully re-bludgeoned again and again, like the Action Swingers. I even noticed the occasional X-Ray Spexish sax solo, and the squawky distorto-effect on the vocals that was popular twenty years ago when the Dummies were at their prime. Then “Suck My Snot” hit, and it’s like “SUCK IT UP! FUCK IT UP!” or something like that, and I’m all like “HOLY SHIT!!!”, and I stopped taking notes —but, right on cue, the plant manager started coming over by me because he wanted a pair of latex gloves, so I immediately and instinctively killed the volume. It’s got to be complete rock instinct, when you’re listening to something as fucking great as “Suck My Snot,” and some grownup starts coming over to where you’re at, you kill the volume. THIS ISN’T FOR YOU TO HEAR, SQUARE! YOU GO ON ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS! It’s like, not only do I not want a grownup to HEAR my music, I don’t even want them to observe ME hearing it. THEY CANNOT COMPREHEND THE GOINGS-ON! It’s best to keep it shrouded in mystery, let their feeble imaginations attempt to fill in the blanks as best they can. Real rock’n’roll engenders a sense of territorial possession: THIS IS MINE, YOU CAN’T HAVE THIS, AND, IN POINT OF FACT, YOU CAN’T EVEN WATCH ME HAVING IT! Such was, indeed, the case here. So, yeah, eventually he walked back into the din of the pressroom and the six boomboxes trying to blast Styx or whatever over the noise, and I went back to blasting “Suck My Snot” on these tiny little speakers, alone and unwitnessed. I can not and need not provide further testimony to this record’s worth. BEST SONG: “Suck My Snot.” BEST SONG TITLE: I do like “Suck My Snot” just fine, but I’m going to go with “Part 2 Screw You” just to break it up. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Spine is printed upside down. ­–Rev. Nørb (Big Neck, bigneckrecords.com)

TEE PEES, THEE: Self-titled: LP
Wait-wait-wait a second—I can hear all the instruments! Can it be Los Angeles’s finest purveyors of shit-fi have—GASP!—sold their souls and gone mainstream? What’s next—duets with Nicki Minaj in plastic see-through hot pants? Guest appearances on Ellen? Hipsters wearing Thee Tee Pees half-shirts bought at Urban Outfitters for thrice the price? Oh, the fuggin’ humanity! Sure, their habit of plundering the depths of the nether-area where hardcore and trashy garage intersect is largely intact and no less potent, and they still come on with the subtlety of a rhino dancing ballet, but for chrissakes, aren’t there some sorta rules about avoiding sonic coherence? Next thing you know, the Mummies will be releasing CDs or something.... –Jimmy Alvarado (Manglor)

TESTORS: Complete Recordings 1976-1979: 2 x LP
Do you want to be cool? Badass? Totally irresistible? Of course you do, Poindexter! I confess that before I held this held this double LP in my hands, I was a drooling, slack-jawed Cro-Magnon incapable of anything remotely hip. Now I preach the gospel of Sonny Vincent atop a soap box and swing a tuna can from my neck like the miscreant that I am. If this sounds rad (which I know it does) just follow these four easy rules. Rule one: Give zero fucks. Rule two: A fuck-all attitude will take you to most any place. Rule three: Your fashion accessories can never—I repeat—never be too ridiculous. Rule four: If you’re actually following these rules, then you’re doing it all wrong, ding-dong. In all seriousness, Todd Killings, from his introduction, puts it best: “For a band that was left out of almost all of the history books on New York Punk in the 1970s, these guys really recorded a lot of material...” No kidding. Testors don’t slack off. I suspect that Sonny Vincent is a vampire as each song hasn’t aged a day, much like his jet-black, razor straight hair. Every tune is a garage punk, power pop behemoth of confident rock’n’roll melodies and gleeful degeneration. I would be shocked if after listening to all thirty-seven songs you are unwilling to convert to The Cult of Sonny Vincent. –Sean Arenas (Alien Snatch, aliensnatch.com)

THINGZ, THE: Red Future: LP
A screen printed cover sleeve, good or bad, is always a way to grab attention. One depicting a crab with cryptic militaristic flourishes and a vague communist feel will definitely beckon a listener to ponder its insides. So you show up at the bar they’re playing this weekend, order two fists of tall boys, and start to have a great evening since you don’t really get to go out very much anymore. The Thingz take the stage, looking not quite rockabilly, but projecting a definite sense of style. They plug in and proceed to sweat out catchy, over-driven Chuck Berry guitar trash rock. You move to the front of the stage, excitedly raising your beers in the air and proceed to have the best Cramps, B-52’s, Southern Culture On The Skids-influenced bar rock night of your life. You wake up the next morning wearing the wrong sized Thingz T-shirt, late night BBQ burrito breath, and this LP on your turntable. Your hangover wants the listening to validate last night’s grandiosity, but instead leaves you with the fuzziness of questionable decisions. Fun, if not a necessity. –Matt Seward (C.A.R., thethingz.bandcamp.com)

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