Record Reviews

BROKEN VESSELS: Self-titled EP: CS

Straightforward ’80s-style punk classics: six songs in under ten minutes but with a range of pace and tempo. This could easily be on the soundtrack to Repo Man. I think my favorite part of this band is knowing that they share a name with a Christian family rock group that’s been around for, like, eighteen years. Perhaps not a natural affinity, but they would be a good pair for a CD shelf. That is, if anybody bought CDs anymore. –Theresa W. (Lament)

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BROWER: Live and Contagious: LP

Brower play a nuanced range of vintage glam pulling influence from bands like The Sweet and Slade, the age of British disco, and a bit of boogie from the first two Kiss albums thrown in. Here they’ve put together a fun offering with a live (?) set enhanced by stadium-level applause and big time audience banter, I believe playing off a legendary rumor Kiss enhanced the audience applause on their breakthrough album Kiss Alive 1. Kiss named their album after Slade’s Alive in homage. Brower’s album cover is an homage to Thin Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous. The performances are great, pulling songs from their demos and debut full-length for a raucous mix of bovver boot-stomping sound and ’70s soft-glam interludes. The stadium experience is funny and flows without denigrating the quality of the songs. It works well as a greatest hits if you wanna check them out. –Billups Allen (DIG!)

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CHAIN WHIP: Two Step to Hell: 12” EP

In the overall history of punk rock and hardcore, Vancouver, British Columbia has played a surprisingly significant role. From the mid-to-late ’70s up to today, the medium sized metropolis on Canada’s west coast has been called home to some of the best of the best of the genre. As far as current bands go, my favorite has to be Chain Whip. This new six-song banger picks up where their 2019 14 Lashes record left off: short, caustic blasts of punk rock mustard gas. Getting your face too close to the speakers and you’re running the risk of chemical burns. Faster, anxious songs of depression and decline that perfectly sum up what is going on out there. As an added bonus, they’ve thrown in a cover of “Death Was Too Kind” by The Subhumans (my second favorite song by my all-time favorite Vancouver band). We’re living in society’s twilight years and Chain Whip is narrating the soft launch apocalypse. –Ty Stranglehold (Neon Taste)

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CHICOS, LOS: 20 Years of Shakin’ Fat & Launching Shit by Medical Prescription: CD

Woah, that’s a mouthful. Don’t think this band from Madrid skimped on the songs either because there’s twenty-three on this compilation. One song is called “War or Party.” Maybe only Ernest Hemingway had to choose between those two options. There are a few other songs with “party” in the title, so you can tell these dudes take their partying seriously. But why have a song called “Beer Ain’t Drinking” then? I’m perplexed but if you like Giuda or Rocket From The Crypt, this may be in your wheelhouse. –Sean Koepenick (Rum Bar, rumbarrecords.bandcamp.com)

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DAS DAS: Self-titled: CS

Synthpunk from Germany and done quite well; much better than most. Takes a lot for this style to grab me at this point but this project is inspired and not just mimicking Devo and Tubeway Army. Seems like it would rage live and would definitely get people moving. Comes off a bit like a less noisy, more driven A Frames at times, and we can always use more of that. –Mike Frame (Phantom, phantomrecords.bandcamp.com)

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DEBT NEGLECTOR: Dirty Water: LP

This is Debt Neglector’s follow up to its 2017 debut album Atomicland and my hopes coming into my first listen were high based on how much I like that first LP. Those hopes were not just met but easily exceeded as Dirty Water consistently hits the spot across all fourteen tracks. It’s evident that the lyrical content has been formed by a high level of discontent with the Trump era and the fallout of his disastrous political reign. That anger is backed by a punchy, dynamic delivery. Despite the lyrics in “Anti-Trust” stating “it’s a sad day for America, the bastards always seem to win” sounding downcast, I come away from this album with more of an overriding sense of positivity. It’s good to know that not everyone is a selfish piece of shit. At times the feel of the songs remind me of Dillinger Four and that’s not a comparison I bandy around without there being some clear basis for it. As far as melodic punk rock goes, this band is near the top of the whole pile. I love Debt Neglector. –Rich Cocksedge (Smartpunk, [email protected], Smartpunk.com / SBAM, [email protected], shop.sbam.rocks)

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DESPISE YOU: West Side Horizons: LP

The myth, the madness, the masterpiece! Back in print on the diligent and highly attentive Tankcrimes Records, West Side Horizons is the collection everyone needs within arm reach when a cleanse of bullshit is essential. Hose away any festering pretentiousness and get a sixty-two song reminder that not all musicians are self-gratifying narcissists putting on a façade to weasel their way into the next green room. Despise You are the real deal. The creators of a sound that corrupted a million minds around the world. Pummeling, crumbling, hurriedly thrashing at the fabric of society that has swept them to the back alleys and other assorted dimly lit locations. West Coast powerviolence of the highest order. The mid-fuckin’-’90s man! With mysterious origins that only became more entrancing when the true story was told (see Razorcake #107), Jose, Leticia, Frank, and Alex aren’t fucking around! If you’re a fan of aggressive music and you’re unfamiliar, put this at the top of your list. Mandatory. –Daryl (Tankcrimes)

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DIVINE HORSEMEN: Hot Rise of an Ice Cream Phoenix: CD

Chris D. seems to have suffered and communicated four full decades of honest torment. Everything he’s done since that first Flesh Eaters album (that I’ve heard, anyway) seems like it’s been written in the midst of some kinda fever dream where his soul is always five-eighths of the way to eternal damnation (I support this assertion by noting that if you go thru this album’s lyric booklet, you have to get six songs deep before finding a tune that doesn’t include the word “Hell,” “devil,” “inferno,” or “flames”). Whereas AC/DC wrote about a Highway to Hell that was a headbanging road trip, Chris D’s highway to a similar locale seems more like the kind of place where you’d have non-stop diarrhea in the ill-ventilated truck stop bathroom. As for the music, I’ve never liked Neil Young, but I dig this album’s lead-off track, “Mystery Writers,” because it provokes the same ill-at-ease feeling as “Mr. Soul” by Buffalo Springfield. Go figure. It also has that thick, Gun Clubby sound with which one could caulk a boat, were one so inclined. I like how Chris D’s voice works together with Julie Christensen’s throughout the album, not so much because their voices sound particularly good together (they kinda don’t), but because it reminds me of those disturbing double-tracked vocals on No Questions Asked. Eleven of this album’s thirteen (ta-da!) tracks break the four-minute mark; as a result, things wear out their welcome well before track thirteen. Then again, if you have D.J. Bonebrake as your drummer, things’ll never get truly abhorrent. Your call. BEST SONG: “Handful of Sand.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Ice Cream Phoenix.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The oud on “Stony Path” is played by Bobby Permanent. –Rev. Nørb (In The Red, intheredrecords.com)

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DIVINE HORSEMEN: Hot Rise of an Ice Cream Phoenix: 2 x LP

I’m a fan of Chris D. Whatever he has going on, I’m interested in. That includes not just his music, but all the writing he’s done over the years: his work for Slash, movie reviews in other fanzines, fiction, books on Japanese cinema, starring in independent movies, his work on the Pinky Violence collection, you name it. It’s all interesting, and it’s generally all good, and sometimes, for lack of a better term, life changing. Despite not releasing new music for a long while, this double set pretty much picks up where they left off. Of course comparisons will be made to the Flesh Eaters, but Divine Horsemen are a bit subdued and pensive instead of mind-on-fire rough and tumble. The title of this album comes from Jefferson Airplane, which they cover here. Speaking of covers, their version of Patti Smith’s “25th Floor” is worth the price of admission alone. Tales of people at the end of their ropes have never sounded as serene as it does here. –Matt Average (In The Red, intheredrecords.com)

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DON’T TOUCH MY STUFF: No One Likes Me: CDEP

Don’t Touch My Stuff is the best band name I’ve heard in a long time. Musically, DTMS are grunge nostalgics, or maybe they’re experiencing ’90s downer riff-rock for the first time. Regardless, they approach it in a literal way, especially in the lyrics, which flattens the otherwise 3D songs. They can write a hook—even the title of the opening track (“Cumma Running Back to Me”) suggests a power pop understanding. I’m interested to see the direction they take from here, especially if it’s not a straight line. –Matt Werts (Totally Brainless, totallybrainlessrecords.com)

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DON’T TOUCH MY STUFF: No One Likes Me: CDEP

The three songs here are seemingly taking influence from all over the place with a mix of heavy, almost grungy-sounding, metal-tinged guitars, some loud/quiet/loud moments, and strained-yet-cleanish vocal stylings. There’s a complete lack of any information about this release, both in the packaging and online, which makes determining where this is coming from (both figuratively and literally) largely a mystery. Overall, this definitely sits on the grungy punk side of the room without being overly derivative, but it lacks anything to make it stand out from the plethora of other—and honestly better—records out there. –Mark Twistworthy (Totally Brainless, totallybrainlessrecords.com)

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DOS COBROS: Misadventures in Dystopia: CD

I don’t know that I’m the most qualified reviewer that could be assigned to work the cyber/industrial/whatever beat—to me, everything like this always kinda sounds like Ministry, not necessarily because it actually sounds like Ministry, but just because I don’t have a particularly well-developed frame of reference for it—but if this were playing at a party where the lights were low and everybody was walking around wearing a half-dozen glow sticks, I’d imagine it’d sound as good as anything else along those lines. I don’t think it really sounds like Ministry, just because I don’t get the sense that anyone is trying to dickslap me with their ego, which is certainly a step in the right direction. Some of the songs have those sort of ’90s alterna-metal guitar licks to them, some don’t. I like the ones that don’t. I state unequivocally that this is the best cyberpunk CD I’ve heard all month. BEST SONG: “Simonsaze (Rebellion Mix).” BEST SONG TITLE: “X’s in Our Eyes (Native Mix).” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Packaged in an old school floppy disc case for purposes of resetting the Matrix. –Rev. Nørb (Self-released, doscobros.com)

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