Featured Record Reviews Razorcake 110–Old Firm Casuals, Black Dots, Bob Mould, Dead Bars, Pandemix, Radon, Uranium Club

Jun 20, 2019

Illustration by Abdul Vas

I’m pals with this lot, so if you think you’re getting an unbiased opinion, you’re tripping. Mercifully, I don’t gotta lie. The boys have pulled it off! Keeping the street rock’n’roll backbone they started with, they have opened up the playing field taking nods and winks from NWOBH, AC/DC, Motörhead, and even some of the dodgy later Rejects LPs. The addition of second guitar brings a thickness to the sound and the recording sounds like they are a fucking stadium band. I can see the band really coming together with all members bringing pasts and presents to the table. Don’t get me wrong—this is still punk as fuck—but they have transcended the bootboy world into something totally new and interesting. KILLLLLLLLLLLLER. –Tim Brooks (Pirates Press, piratespressrecords.com)

BLACK DOTS: Everything Has Gotta Change: LP
Technology has become accessible enough that everything can sound and look good these days. You can take a picture with your fucking phone for the cover of an LP. We’re constantly surrounded by total morons releasing records that people absolutely love; at least for a quick moment. That’s why when a record comes along with songs and lyrics that really resonate, it just feels different. It’s exhilarating! It feels like it used to feel! And I love it, and it reminds me how important these goddamn things really are. Colorado’s Black Dots are comprised of people you might recognize from The Achievement and Vena Cava. They play that introspective, heart-felt style that cities like San Diego and Tampa blew the doors off of in the 2000s, faintly blended with the musicality of post-hardcore DC. But this isn’t nostalgia. This is so current and vital, and that’s what makes it so beautiful, and inspiring, and painful. On a two hour bus ride to my uncle’s house for a family gathering, headphones on, I listened to this album on repeat. Five months later there are parts that still give me goose bumps. When you question your existence, you might not get the answers you want, but at least you get answers. –Daryl (Snappy Little Numbers / La Escalera)

BOB MOULD: Sunshine Rock: LP
The power of Bob compels me! If there has been one thing in the last thirty years that I can count on, it’s that Bob Mould is eventually going to write another batch of exquisitely crafted songs. I jumped on the Hüsker Dü train right at the last stop, but a few years later Sugar came along and kicked me into submission with more hooks than a Nova Scotian tackle box. Many great solo records followed the demise of that band, but the best ones have been since he picked up his current backing band of Jason Narducy and Jon Wurster back in 2012. Sunshine Rock is a fine addition to Mould’s discography. The press has really been leaning into the fact that this is Bob’s “positivity” trip and the songs are happy. The truth is, I never notice when he’s being negative or dark because his music always puts a smile on my face and a welcome worm in my ear. This album is no different. –Ty Stranglehold (Merge, mergerecords.com)

DEAD BARS: Regulars: CD
For a long while I’ve been saying Dead Bars are one of my favorite local Seattle bands. It’s time to drop that qualifier. They’re one of my favorite bands, period. Have I been hearing some of these songs live over the past year or so? Yes, but I have never heard them like this. The guitars are huge—a personality all their own. I suspect the vocals were slightly pushed back to bring up these arena rock riffs and fuzz effects. Fret not though; John Maiello comes through snotty and clear, albeit a little quieter in the mix. His trademarked raspy sing shouts are still carrying us through Ramones level lyrical simplicity. “Producto Toxico” starts off with a sweet, slow tempo guitar riff and an egg shaker for several measures until Maiello swoops in with a story about drinking Pacifico in Mexico. It’s way Tom Petty, but also way rock’n’roll. Then “Rain” comes charging in with these harmonies and Thin Lizzy leads and it just gets to me. How can a song about walking home in the rain make me want to dance and cry at the same time? I love Dead Bars. It’s almost not even fair to us that they are this good of a band. Do we deserve Regulars? I’m willing to find out. –Kayla Greet (A-F)

Okay, so there’s a lot to talk about here. First off, this is a collection of primarily tape-only released songs recorded between 2008–2018, collected here for the first time… and they’re great lo-fi synthesizer jams with tons of hooks! For real, the songs on here are the upper echelon of great, bouncy synthpop and more distant-sounding coldwave tunes. Sometimes punky or garagey, other times not, but nearly always with the synths being the main attraction. Other Digital Leather that I’ve heard didn’t necessarily stick with me but these songs are different, as they seem catchier than I remember. This entire release is super solid, and this doesn’t seem like a collection of newer and older tunes. Instead, it feels like a super cohesive release, and I’m super into it. Secondly, the packing on this record is fucking insane. Hand numbered LP covers with beveled corners and a hinge glued onto the cover as part of the artwork, including a sixteen page booklet and other goodies. The entire package is well thought out, front and back. Overall, I can’t recommend this enough. –Mark Twistworthy (Stencil Trash, [email protected], stenciltrash.de)

LOST SOUNDS: Memphis Is Dead: LP
Another repress of this venerated band’s second album, originally released in 2001. Eighteen years hasn’t diminished its impact a whit—simple instrumentation pushed to its sonic limits in a heady mix of new wave, synth punk, lo-fi punk, ’60s psych pop, synthpunk, and death rock that roars, snarls, whispers, and rocks in wild abandon. The band is still spoken of in respectful tones and with good reason: they were one of those rare bands that was able to transcend punk’s increasingly polarizing pigeonholes, generate a strong buzz around them, and actually deliver the goods. Essential to any collection. –Jimmy Alvarado (Big Neck)

PANDEMIX: In Condemnation: LP
This record is so good, I worry that I am not going to do it do it justice. It’s politically charged monologue-punk, with equal parts hardcore, skate punk, and Red Dons-style post-punk. The record comes at you like a sonic blast, unrelenting until the final note. It, at times, made me wonder if the entire thing was done in one take since the songs move into each other at such a breakneck pace. This record is intimidating as hell! The rose on the cover, being stomped by a high-heeled shoe, is representative of your brain which is about to get its ass kicked. The closest band I could think to compare Pandemix to is PEARS, and I wouldn’t say that really nails it. The wildness is there, though, the unpredictability. You never know when the song is going to make a sudden breakneck turn into something else entirely, and that’s amazing. It’s been a while since a record so viscerally grabbed me by the opening notes and refused to let go. It’s been a few days since my first go and I’m still thinking about this record when I’m not listening to it. My highest recommendation, we could all use a moment to check this one out. –Gwen Static (Dirt Cult, dirtcultrecords.wordpress.com / Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.bigcartel.com)

: Ghost Dance: LP
Ten years after its initial release on K Records, Ghost Dance has been re-issued on the Haints’ home base label Arkam. As far as the punk people playing acoustic instruments game goes, this band and this album in particular are the shining-fucking-star in the infinite universe of lesser acts. There’s just so much atmosphere on this record. You can’t avoid being transported into their world with welcoming arms for another raucous night of “smash skull blues.” Damn near perfect. Long live the Haints! –Daryl (Arkam)

RADON: More of Their Lies: LP
I mean, fuck. Nobody told me that this new Radon record easily holds up with anything that they put out in the ’90s, and I don’t take that shit lightly because those records used to be some holy grail shit for me. But yeah, this is really, really good. The same humorous songwriting is present, along with all the hooks—all of them. A lot of bands can write a catchy-as-fuck melodic punk song, but nobody does it quite like Radon, a band who has mastered the craft of writing about hilariously typical things with a cynical slant. This is chock full of the kind of songs that get stuck in your head hours after listening to them and you can’t get them out. I needed this record, and you probably need it too. –Mark Twistworthy (Dead Broke, deadbrokerecords.com / Creep)

LES THUGS: Tout Doit Disparaître: LP
I only received this LP two weeks ago, but it’s already become my most heavily rotated album of 2019. And hey, even though it’s a reissue, it totally counts. Les Thugs’ 1999 opus, Tout Doit Disparaître, was rereleased by French record label Nineteen Something, and I’m super happy it was. This album makes me feel all the feels. Right out the gate I was hit with a romantic wave of nostalgia reminiscent of when I first discovered My Bloody Valentine. Sung in both English and French, Les Thugs take their listener on a journey through the melody-steeped sounds of the ’90s—a little Heatmiser here, a little Tripping Daisy there, yet somehow still wholly ahead of its time. For me, it’s a pretty perfect album. Dig it. -Simone Carter (Nineteen Something, nineteensomething.fr)

URANIUM CLUB: The Cosmo Cleaners: LP
A couple of years ago I had the good fortune to be sitting in the kitchen at Razorcake HQ sipping a Tecate when Todd put on a record. “I think your really going to like this” was all he said. That was my introduction to The (Minneapolis) Uranium Club. It’s safe to say that Todd has edited enough of my reviews over the last fifteen (?!) years to be an authority on what I am going to like, and he was correct. I was hooked instantly. I am a huge fan of the weird. When I first got into punk rock, as much as I loved Dead Kennedys, Misfits, and Sex Pistols, I was also drawn to Butthole Surfers, Scratch Acid, and Nomeansno. Uranium Club is straight up weirdo shit and they’re glorious. The Cosmo Cleaners is out there. Disjointed chaos yet laser focused. For a moment I found myself wishing I still got high because this album would be a blast while blasted. As a whole, I don’t think this album is as good as All Them Naturals but that is a pretty tough album to beat. That said, tracks like “Flashback Arrestor,” “Man Is the Loneliest Animal,” and “Geodesic Son” are absolute rippers and the twelve minutes-plus “Interview with the Cosmo Cleaners” is a journey, to say the least. Another winner for the bastard sons of Devo, Minutemen, and XTC. –Ty Stranglehold (Fashionable Idiots, fashionableidiotsrecords.bandcamp.com)

: Trash On!!!: 6 x LP
P Trash records was one of the few international labels that I can think of that during most of the 2000s released a steady stream of solid punk and garage records by bands from all over the world. In January of 2018, P Trash records founder Peter Eichhorn was tragically killed in an automobile accident. The news came as a shock to his immediate family. Word quickly spread amongst his friends and the punk community. Peter’s wife Susanne released a statement on the label’s website asking for some time to tie up any loose ends the label had but also regretted to announce the label would be no more. Later, it was announced that with help from friends No Front Teeth and FDH Records, a compilation—the final P Trash release—would be a tribute to Peter. Trash On!!! is a set of six LPs with a total of 104 bands, with nearly half of those songs previously unreleased. The six albums are housed in two album jackets and sit inside a specially made screen-printed tote bag. The track listing is a veritable who’s who of punk and garage bands including recognizable favorites such as Mean Jeans, the Spits, Statues, Jay Reatard, Steve Adamyk Band, Digital Leather, Dean Dirg, M.O.T.O., Poppets, Nervosas, Hatepinks, and tons of other great bands. The bigger names who lent their talents to this collection serve as a reminder of how someone who would otherwise go unrecognized in a crowd meant so much to the artists we all know and love. On a more personal level, as someone who has lost a dear family member to an automobile accident, I can attest to the strength of love and friendship during a very difficult time when your life is forever changed in the blink of an eye. Peter touched so many lives and the reciprocity of their love shines through in this compilation. Hug your friends and family. Tell them you love them. Buy your friend’s band’s records. Make new friends and keep in touch as often as possible. Because without love, what the fuck are we all even doing here? Cheers, Peter. –Juan Espinosa (P Trash, FDH, No Front Teeth, ptrashrecords.com, fdhmusic.com, nofrontteeth.co.uk)

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