Featured Record Reviews Razorcake 115: Worriers, Partial Traces, The Muffs, Exmaid, La Rabbia, Eerie Family, Bauwaves, Choked Up, Cheap Perfume, 999

Lauren Denitzio of Worriers by Danny Rust broken heart locket

WORRIERS: You or Someone You Know: CD/LP
Full disclosure: Lauren Denitzo, the vocalist/guitarist for Worriers, volunteers with Razorcake. That said, the ten songs on You or Someone You Know are big. Big with sound, and production, and intent. I hear the makings of an ambitious rock and roll album, with indie rock influence and a foundation set securely in punk rock. ­The sound and production are superb, which shouldn’t be surprising given that the band recorded with John Agnello, the legendary producer who has worked with Turbonegro, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr. Denitzo’s vocals are full and strong, reminiscent of a cross between Caithlin De Marrais from Rainer Maria and the late Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries. The thing that resonated most with me, though, are the lyrics. You or Someone You Know is a break-up album in many ways, but it’s also a look at relationships in general: how are they defined and why. The thirty-five minutes of music question relationship norms, which is something I’ve been doing the past year, too. In the end, the album is a good mix of poppy and heartfelt, ending with an epic, slow-dance (appropriately titled “Grand Closing”). I’ve sometimes wondered why Worriers aren’t more well-known in the independent music scene. Listening to You or Someone You Know causes me to think this might be the album that gets them the notoriety they deserve. –Kurt Morris (6131)

I’ve sometimes wondered why Worriers aren’t more well-known in the independent music scene. Listening to You or Someone You Know causes me to think this might be the album that gets them the notoriety they deserve.

999: The Sharpest Cuts: LP
Truth be told, I stopped paying attention to 999 by Concrete. Sure, I dug their first couple of albums but, like most of my young teenaged punker peers of the time, I’d fully embraced local hardcore and had little time for anything that wasn’t fast, angry, and witching walking distance to see. In short, there’s a big gap in my knowledge of anything they did past the point I—in my infinite teenage-dumbshit wisdom—dismissed them as going the “crap pop” route. Enter this, with its selection of songs culled from assorted European CD-only releases circa 1993-2007, to make me lament such youthful self-righteous folly. Each of its eleven tunes—every goddamned one—rivals the band’s best work during its “glory days”: potent Molotov draughts of snotty punk, disguised musical aptitude, and, yes, pop served flaming and essential. Tacked on for good measure are choice live renditions of “Boys in the Gang” and “Nasty Nasty” to lure in those still not convinced it’s worth the trip. Kudos to Joey Mad Parade for pulling together probably the best “best of” album I’ve heard in decades and schoolin’ my ignorant ass, once again, that one should never simply dismiss the originators out of hand. –Jimmy Alvarado (Gutterwail, madparade.biz)

BAUWAVES:U R Everything: LP
Bauwaves is the new thing fronted by Lew Houston, who has formerly spent time in the bands Party Garbage, Wild America, and Lesser Beings. U R Everything is Lew at his seemingly most raw and vulnerable, with nine songs of the utmost honest and direct display of unrestrained feelings of a person seemingly going through the worst of times. The thing about this record is the fact that the bass and drums are very much understated, leaving Lew’s often wavering voice and his distorted guitar up front to paint these vivid pictures of great despair. Because of this, the sounds here are hard to pigeonhole, giving this more of an untraditional indie rock record feeling, timeless and fresh. This record is absolutely great—I cannot recommend it enough. –Mark Twistworthy (Salinas, salinasrecords.com, bauwaves.bandcamp.com)

CHEAP PERFUME: Burn It Down: LP
Wow. The first song on this record is enough. “Put the Devil to Bed” is a scorcher. It’s one of those songs you hear for the first time and can feel is steeped in pure anger. The rest of the album continues in that vein: punk blasters with a unique voice that’s also comfortingly familiar. Vocals and backups are full-on yelling warbles, reaching the point of competing with each other at various points. The choruses are comprised of those simple lines you wish you’d thought of. “Times up/ times up motherfucker / times up” screams the chorus of the third song. And I believe it. The guitars are distorted just enough to leave in the ratchet chug of furious strumming in play. Even their somewhat unnecessary cover of Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” chugs with a punk’n’roll swing, bringing something new to a song you’ve heard a million times. Plus they yell “fuck” a lot and it all sounds like it could come crashing down at any turn. I don’t even know who to recommend this to. You should just like this. Eight songs on 45 speed and they really won me over with one play. This is a rejuvenate-my-interest-in-punk level slab. These guys sound like they’re really coming at you and I wish them the best. –Billups Allen (Snappy Little Numbers)

CHOKED UP:Dichoso Corazon: CS
A debut full-length featuring eleven songs of scrappy, lovesick pop punk. Not exactly sloppy, but definitely not clean and polished either. Songs like “Home” and “Last Night at Hey Queen!” have a familiar ’90s East Bay pop punk feeling with some solid rounds of whoa-ohs. The lyrics are mostly in English, with a handful of songs in Spanish—I wish I knew what more of them were, but the words are printed at about a .5-point font size and it’s just not going to happen for me. The lines I can make out are mainly about crushing on cute queers against a backdrop of fascist dystopia. Cristy Road’s signature melodic snarl brings it all together; this is a fun and fierce first album. –Indiana Laub (Self-released, chokedup.bandcamp.com)

EERIE FAMILY: Self-titled: LP
I have said it before, and I will say it again. Alex Cuervo is a damn musical genius. I love absolutely everything I have heard from him (Hex Dispensers, Espectrostatic, This Damn Town) and Eerie Family is no exception. The project is a duo featuring Alex and his partner Alyse (who also played in HD and TDT). The music is haunting, not unlike Espectrostatic, but with more of a dream pop quality. Listening to this record is the auditory equivalent of being completely enveloped in a dark, warm mist. It is spooky and a little off putting but somehow comforting at the same time. While this was released some time ago digitally, the fine folks at Alien Snatch took on the task of putting it on vinyl with two additional unreleased tracks. I am sure glad they did as it is the perfect soundtrack to the unending rainy season. I love this and I bet most of you will too. –Ty Stranglehold (Alien Snatch)

EXMAID: Sorcery: LP
I’ve been a fan of Miranda Taylor since I did a reading with her band Black Wine in 2012. Since then, I backtracked and found her old group Full Of Fancy, and I dig her current concern Exmaid. Seeing these cats play this summer, though, convinced me that they’d jumped to another level. Exmaid is Miranda playing with the dudes from Philly band Psychic Teens—and in the past, their stuff was good but sometimes sounded like I just billed ’em: Miranda with another band. But in a packed, sweaty room in August—and here, on wax—Exmaid has made the leap. Cohesion is at the band’s fore, and the effect is staggering. On Sorcery, Exmaid effortlessly blend punk, shoegaze, and the sludgy best of grunge (think Mudhoney and Tad) into a relentless and dazzlingly inventive long-player. It’s barely February and I’m convinced that this one will be on my best-of list for 2020. What are you waiting for? –Michael T. Fournier (Bangs And Burns, exmaid.bandcamp.com)

MUFFS, THE: No Holiday: 2 x LP
I fell in love with the Muffs from their very first show. Their brash, battering mix of punk heft and garage pop was instantly intoxicating. I spent their first year catching as many shows as I could, and their releases enjoy permanent spots in my regular rotation. I bought No Holiday within forty-eight hours of its release, but put off listening to it until nearly three months later. I’m far from the average “fanboy,” but the sudden stilling of Kim Shattuck’s inimitable howl hit home hard. It put a period at the end of an era in L.A.’s punk underground when bands again revolted against what became a new set of rules foisted upon the “alternative nation” by Big Rock, Inc., but it’s also an end-point for a massive part of my life’s soundtrack. Ya estuvo. No more. Done. Couldn’t process that finality. This swan song perfectly encapsulates all of the dualities that made them so special—feral yet sophisticated, public yet personal, raucous yet disarming, bratty but sweet. Kim’s voice is a bit raspier, her howl used more sparingly, and the songs are less lively than their initial albums, but her Kinks-meets-Saints songwriting is not diminished a whit. Some songs sound like Ronnie, Roy, and assorted friends have retrofitted rhythm sections to Kim’s acoustic demos, but those moments fit well as testament of a band playing together just one last time. All sentiment aside, this is easily one of the best, most consistent albums the band released. By the time the gentle, acoustic “Sky” closes out side three (the fourth has a laser etch of the band), the loss again hits home and this goodbye hurts all over again. Much love and gratitude, Kim, Ronnie, Roy, Melanie, and Chris, for so many amazing songs that made life that much brighter in two-plus-minute increments. –Jimmy Alvarado (Omnivore)

PARTIAL TRACES: Low Definitions: LP
Let’s do a lil’ crash course just to make sure we’re all on the same page. In the mid-’00s members of The Soviettes, Salteens, and Rivethead congealed into The Gateway District. They released several incredibly catchy records with their final one coming out in 2014 called Partial Traces. Life does what life does and the lineup wasn’t as flexible as it once was. Three-fourths of GWD re-assembled with some extra help and became Partial Traces. To me, Low Definition is just as catchy and listenable as any previous projects’ material. The main difference is its sauntering, contemplative tempo, forlorn guitar tone, and the addition of tasteful, droney synth, low in the mix, adding enough body to the song so it’s as if they are almost standing erect in the room with you. This is definitely not pop punk, but hauntingly melodic and captivatingly constructed for fans of spirit, rather than subgenres. As the years add up and youth is less of a memory as it is an idea I’m just going to have to take your word on, more and more I appreciate musicians who give you the chance to grow with them. Partial Traces have once again created a moment. It’s music that you’ll be able to use as a touchstone to your own timeline. A signifier. A memory. And all those times you used to spend late at night watching old INXS videos, Partial Traces are blazing that trail in the here and now. Absorb, exhale, grow. –Daryl (Salinas)

RABBIA, LA: Shock Tactics: LP
Desperate, tense angular punk, from the dirty depths of London. Outlandish off-kilter Crass vibes, but with more of a Crisis drive or the first couple of Gang Of Four albums. Treble turned to ten, lyrics mixed between English and Spanish—or is Italian? I can’t fucking tell. Sounds to make you crack. I want music to unsettle; stab myself in the eyes or burn your house down shit. Glad to hear there’s folks still making ugly scary music. I know it’s only Feb., but this disc is top ten businesses. Track this shit down ASAP. –Tim Brooks (No Front Teeth)

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