Featured Record Reviews Razorcake 108 – Neighborhood Brats, Color TV, Radon, Tommy And The Commies, Marked Men

Feb 11, 2019

Featured Record Reviews Razorcake 108 – Neighborhood Brats, Color TV, Radon, Tommy And The Commies, Marked Men

Illustration by RoQue Torres

For a while the future looked pretty bleak for Neighborhood Brats. Not long after the release of their debut album Recovery, the band announced that they’d be taking a hiatus. Core members Jenny and George needed some time to figure out what they were doing after another rhythm section had moved on. For all intents and purposes, it was a far too premature end for one of the best bands to come out of the last decade. Then the great Night Shift single came out and murmurs of a new LP made the rounds. Well, rumors became a reality and the Brats are back with their second album. Scorching from beginning to end, Claw Marks shows us a new side of Neighborhood Brats. It is a damn near perfect blend of the early singles’ scrappy, nothing to lose attitude with the darker, more ethereal feel of Recovery. The result is an album that is incredibly cohesive. The songs move along quickly and sound really upbeat even though the lyrical content is often as serious as a heart attack. It is a cool feeling to be along for the ride with a band right from the beginning and listening to them grow into the band they’ve been destined to become. This album helps Neighborhood Brats take that next leap in my life from band I love to band that is one of my favorites of all time and completely indispensable to me. If you already know, you know. If you don’t, give your head a shake and get this record. –Ty Stranglehold (Dirt Cult)

Another shimmering release of the truest-sounding modern punk that lovers of old school bands could ever wish to have dropped into our laps. What did we do to deserve this? I guess this is what we get just for hanging on all these goddamn years. Jenny, George, & Co. make, break, and take it away, just to give it back and make you say please. What “it” is, that’s up to you. For me it’s the historical lineage of California punk. A sound divided by two major egos, but united by some of the best in the West. Claw Marks is a 383 mile laceration that rages harder and faster than any high-speed train ever could. Eleven tracks to further power the perpetual motion of the circle pit in your soul. –Daryl (Dirt Cult)

BANANAS, THE / RIVERS EDGE: The Bananas + Rivers Edge: CS
It’s been quite some time since the Bananas have graced us with any new tunes (New Animals came out a decade ago!) so I had to pinch myself when I found this tape in my review cubby. Only the Bananas can take ten years off from recording and still come through with two new songs of their patented brand of manic punk that makes you want to bounce off the walls and yell in people’s faces with excitement. The joke’s on me for initially having my doubts, but even the Bananas see the humor in all of this as their liner notes slate the year 2025 for the release of a new album. Hardy-fuckin’-har. Rivers Edge are punk rock lifers from Chattanooga with members from a plethora of great bands including Basement Benders, Sexy, ADD/C, and Future Virgins. Two songs of heartfelt punk from the South. Tough sounding, but not in a knuckle-headed way. Anyone who’s seen any of their previous bands play live know that they pour every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears into their performance and these studio songs exert that passion onto tape. Two wonderful surprises on one cassette. You can’t go wrong with this one. –Juan Espinosa (Lifers Tapes,

CARBONAS: Your Moral Superiors: Singles and Rarities: 2 x LP
The Carbonas self-titled record really deserves at least a notion of neo-classic status. It was their third and last long-player. I listened to it over and over again and never got tired of it. It’s a no brainer for the punk‘n’roll crowd. It also seems to have been the band’s swan song. The only release to come after is a 2008 Euro-Tour-only single which is included here on Your Moral Superiors, a two-LP set reaching back to compile all of the band’s singles in one place along with some scorching outtakes cut from albums or recorded for projects that never came to fruition. There’s a map inside the gatefold explaining where all the tracks fall in the band’s timeline and gives you a little insight into this purveyor of Atlanta punk. Speed, snot, attitude, and overdriven rock’n’roll riffs are prevalent. The album kicks out with the title track from their Blackout 7”. The song is a pedal-to- the-metal punk‘n’roll mover utilizing the classic Chuck Berry riff. The album continues at high speeds, slowing occasionally to the speed of a cover of “Stoned to Death” by Zero Boys. The songs stay solid, laying down destroying rock between those two speeds and taking out a few garbage cans. I’m a fan, so I failed to find a clunker. It’s as cool as being able to pull off sunglasses at night. –Billups Allen (Goner)

An explosive combination of Hickey and Steve Adamyk Band, Color TV’s ten-song LP from the get-go goes off like a firecracker. With spasmodic drums and fuzzy dual guitars, this Minnesotan/Oregonian four-piece have dialed into a head-spinning, adrenaline-fueled sound that’s lean and mean. Fortunately, the songs never overstay their welcome because the average length is an urgent ninety seconds. A Side closer “Pale and Vicious,” however, proves they can write a three-minute power pop hit. They fill the extra time with hooky, Marked Men-ish vocals and a guitar lead that’s guaranteed to bore into your head. Album closer “Too Close” proves yet again that they can deliver a chorus so punchy it bruises your eardrums and induces uncontrollable head bobbing. Color TV’s self-titled full-length might be over in a flash, but it demands repeat listens. –Sean Arenas (Deranged,, [email protected])

This recording is super lo-fi, but I almost wonder what will happen to me once this band records something with more slick production. I honestly think it might turn me into dust. The drumming on this record is mind-melting and when I casually put this on in a room with a few people, I watched them all stop what they were doing and freeze like deer in the headlights, trying to listen to what was happening. Every song hovers around a minute and the only thing that gives away that this isn’t a Charles Bronson record played at lower speed is how fucking tight it all is. Even as the vocals shred, you can tell that by “constantly terrified” these folks don’t mean that they live in a state of horror but, rather, just the regular persistent anxiety of living in the world. We can all relate. –Theresa W. (Self-released)

Completely wild and bonkers punk out of Boston. The vocals are over the top and I love it; imagine Alice Bag in a shouting match with Joy De Vivre! Musically, they’ve hit that sweet spot smack dab in the middle of classic L.A. punk like Angry Samoans and the substance-fueled rage of the Orphans; someone’s gonna get a black eye in the pit. I can guarantee that you’re not going to hear a better demo released in 2018. Absolutely essential. –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, [email protected])

Guilty confession time: this is the first F.O.D. album I’ve ever owned. Sure, I’ve heard plenty by ’em over the last thirty-four years or so, and I’ve always meant to pick up their newest release at given points over the decades, but no, dumbass me never followed through. Glad this situation has now been rectified and this is a doozy of a record to start off with. Things jump off with them mining the crazed thrash that’s long been their stomping grounds, and that is largely the order of the day aside from the odd moment they slow things down. They’re tight and wild, with the “melody” manifesting in the chord changes and the lyrics as pointed as ever. Spot-on, devastating in delivery and aces all ’round. –Jimmy Alvarado (Boss Tuneage,

GINO AND THE GOONS: “I Won’t Fall In Love” b/w “Parasite”: 45
My favorite Tom & Jerry cartoon when I was a kid involved a sight gag where some cowboy singer on their TV kept breaking strings on his guitar, then reaching through the screen and yanking a whisker off of Tom’s startled puss to use as a replacement. I thought that was just the wildest thing, reaching through the TV screen! That episode and the vast trans-dimensional potentiality at which it hinted must’ve damaged me more than I realized, because as soon as I threw this platter on, I started dancing, lest Gino pop his head out of my stereo speakers and start berating me for my lack of getting down, and being part of the problem and not part of the solution, and having my parents be unreasonably proud of me due to my good behavior. I mean, I literally started dancing without even thinking about it. That’s what they call “enlightened self-preservation.” Anyway, I realize it is counterproductive to critique the audio fidelity of a Gino And The Goons record —not to mention being the kind of thing that would surely invite a beration from a Gino-head magically erupting from my speakers—but side A is kinda getting there. Side B fares better, just because it’s cool to observe how majestically GATG are able to synthesize ersatz Thunders/Lure-ism on demand. With god as my witness, I am shaking it down, brother, and demand to be part of the solution! BEST SONG & SONG TITLE: “Parasite.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: It is customary to sing “Call Me Animal” at Gino when he enters a public swimming area.Rev. Nørb (Certified PR,

LONE WOLF: Self-titled: CD
Pencils down please. Best of 2018 list making is over. And at the top of the heap for AOTY is Lone Wolf. Every single track is a complete ear worm. They sound like a three car pile up with vehicles helmed by Big Eyes, Marked Men, and Sugar Stems. I purchased the CD from the band themselves, but don’t always have a CD player around (and I’ve been cut off on Bandcamp because I’ve played it too many times!). This band is from The Netherlands and features a member from The Accelerators. Most of the lead vocals are covered by guitarist Merel with backups done by Ox. I can not believe how incredible every single song is, “Side of the Road” in particular. If that was the last song I ever heard, I still don’t think I’d get sick of replaying it in my head. So many bands I’ve listened to that are after that power pop sound tend to fall just shy of the mark. Lone Wolf moves the goal posts. Every guitar hook is a love song to a rock’n’roll heart. The bass never overpowers; just bridges the gap between rhythm and melody. And that drummer knows just when to throw in eighth notes on the hi hat, quarters on the ride, and double taps on the snare. I try not to be hyperbolic ever, but this is one of the best records I’ve ever heard and I hope the whole world listens. It’s the closest thing to perfect. This is the reason I tread through mediocre and terrible music. –Kayla Greet (Stardumb / Bearded Punk)

MARKED MEN, THE: On the Other Side: LP
It’s kind of weird reviewing a Marked Men record in 2018. I mean, it’s been a solid decade since their last full-length record but if anything, the love for Denton’s finest has only grown in that time. Being the completist nerd I am when it comes to my favorite bands, I already have all the singles that this compilation pulls from, but it’s a Marked Men release so here we are (not to mention the unreleased tracks, but more on them later). Let’s face facts here. You’re reading Razorcake so it is safe to say that you are familiar with The Marked Men. Garage punk via power pop. Often unintelligible lyrics that somehow still manage to stick in your head for days, weeks, months on end. It is beyond me how any one band has a right to have written so many perfect songs. The singles span their entire recorded existence, from the debut single on Mortville Records in 2003 up to their final single “On” b/w “The Other Side” on 540 Records in 2010. There is not a throw away track in the bunch, including the two unreleased numbers “Disappear” and “Don’t Cry.” There are no dates given for those ones, but to me they sound on the earlier side, and do not disappoint. On one hand, it is upsetting to me that there will most likely never be another new Marked Men album, but on the other hand when you have a damn near perfect discography, perhaps it’s best to leave well enough alone… Nah, I’d give almost anything for a new Marked Men album. You know damn well it would be perfect, too. –Ty Stranglehold (Dirtnap)

I dug Negative Scanner’s debut of a few years back, which combined jagged songwriting with chilly effected sounds. Their sophomore release Nose Picker is a step in a different, interesting direction: the group relies more on immediacy and percussive songwriting than on their last rec, to dazzling results. Singer Rebecca Valeriano-Flores’s pained yowl sounds like some unholy melding of Johnny Rotten and Marissa Paternoster. Her vox often sound like another instrument in the mix, but don’t sleep on her lyrics, which pack precise wallops in each song. One of my favorites of 2018. –Michael T. Fournier (Trouble In Mind,

RADON: More of Their Lies: CS
Guys, Radon is back! It’s only been, what, twelve years since their last release? This record finds them one guitar player richer as Jen Vito from War On Women recently started pulling double duty. On this release, however, she only contributes vocals on three tracks, but it sure makes a hell of a difference. I can not get enough of “Go Forth and Hate One Another.” Such an incredible earworm. They start the record off with a cover from an old Gainesville musician Jeff London who was in King Friday who has a song called “I Wish I Was in Radon.” That Florida scene is a bit cyclical, I’d say. Singer/guitarist Dave Rohm has this robustness to his voice that makes me think of Greg Antonito (Bouncing Souls) tinged with more grit and life experience. The last track is another cover from the band Jellyfish, which I’m not familiar with. The Radon version starts out with a buzzsaw pick scrape, then a couple chords on an unplugged guitar before they launch into that trademark melodic punk. Even after I’ve listened to this release several times over, I keep coming back to “Go Forth and Hate One Another.” It’s easily one of the best songs written this year. If you’re a Radon fan, you already have this. If you’re not, let’s get started shall we? –Kayla Greet (Tiger Force Ultra / Dirt Cult)

RADON: More of Their Lies: CS
In the ’90s, Gainesville’s Radon added some melancholy southern humor to the chug of East Bay punk and voila the underdog pop punk that Florida is known for was born. Now, Radon’s a couple albums deep into a reunion, and they haven’t missed a step. Here are twelve catchy songs by folks who are tired but keep going, laughing to keep from crying, and probably cracking jokes with the bartender. –Chris Terry (Tiger Force Ultra / Dirt Cult)

Stella is Super Unison’s follow-up to their strong debut, Auto. That album struck hard, sounding like a cross between vocalist Meghan O’Neil’s former band, Punch, and the band from which Super Unison takes their name, Drive Like Jehu. Stella shows a big leap forward for this Bay Area three-piece. There are still remnants of that former sound, especially with O’Neil’s screams coming through on many occasions. They give the music an intensity that contrasts well with the post-punk sound. However, compared to their debut, the new material bears a resemblance to Unwound and Dischord Records bands (especially Hoover). The ten songs were recorded by Steve Albini and produced by Don Devore (The Icarus Line, Ink & Dagger), so you can believe the sound is crisp and strong. The album clocks in at around thirty minutes and provides a perfect mix of intensity, anger, and brooding. Definitely in the top five of the year for me. –Kurt Morris (Deathwish,

Tommy And The Commies came out of nowhere just to give me my favorite album of 2018. Think late ’70s and early ’80s punk/new wave, and also those early ’00s bands that paid sonic homage to said eras (Exploding Hearts, Girls—the ones on Dirtnap, not one of the zillion other Girls.) Heavy Buzzcocks feel, in the best way (RIP to The Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley, who passed away in between drafts of this here review.) The songs are all so good they repeat on side two! It’s hard to pick just one for a mix, but if pressed, I’d say “Sucking in Your 20s.” Take that, kids of today! Partners well with driving rock’n’roll punk like Marked Men, Carbonas, and Biznaga. –Sal Lucci (Slovenly,


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