I am no longer doing reviews. Please do not send any material. Thank you to all of you that have over the years!!
Fuck yeah! The Dogs are back to ensure that every rock'n'roll maniac's wet dream comes true. Amazingly, they are still rockin' it big time after over 40 years of existence. They grew up in Michigan and took their Stooges/MC5 infused influences to Los Angeles in the mid-70's where I had the pleasure of seeing them play nearly 20 times.
If you are looking for ballads, this is not the album for you. This is blistering punk rock'n'roll at its finest. My three favorites are "I Got Nothing", "Punk Rock Holiday" and "You Can't Catch Me", all with Loren Dog's trademark guitar power. Mary Kay, Loren's partner in crime for their entire existence, returns on bass and Tony Mateucci rounds it out on drums.
The Dogs pay homage to their hometown heroes on "Motor City Fever" reminding us of just how much great music has come out of Detroit. You can hear the "I Wanna Be Your Dog" piano riff in the background to "In on the Out". There is a also a blistering remake of their 70's classic, "Slash Your Face".
If you know the Dogs, this will fit in nicely with their previous catalog. If you don't know the Dogs, why not? Get it now!!
All of the ordering information for the CD or digital download is available here: www.thedetroitdogs.com Get on their mailing list while you're at it.
The album can also be streamed here: www.tunecore.com/music/thedogs
I also need to throw in a plug for Doggy Days, a 2 DVD retrospective of the Dogs 40 year career. It contains entire sets from the Garage in L.A. in 2000 and two full sets from their Japan tour in 2007. The second disc contains rare photos, set lists and flyers (some of which I contributed to the project) against the musical backdrop of a set recorded at the Whisky A-Go-Go in 1978. I might also mention that there are extensive liner notes provided by Wayne Kramer of the MC5, Jeff Dahl and yours truly. This was put together by Detroit Jack and I thank him for this wonderful tribute to one of my all time favorite bands.
can get it here: http://www.pacifictionrecords.com/usa/CD/doggydaysDVD.shtml
I haven't done a review in quite some time and it wasn't my intention to start now but I got an email from False Alarm band member Brent Alden asking if I'd review their CD. He told me that it featured Cheetah Chrome of the Dead boys, Rick Wilder of the Berlin Brats and Mau Maus, and De De Troit of U.X.A. The cover art work was also done by Dee Dee Ramone. How could I say no to that? These are people and bands that I grew up on as a young punk in L.A. in the '70's.
The album was recorded in 2001 & 2002 but it just now seeing the light of day. The album is also dedicated to Dylan Maunder aka D-Rock who passed away in 2005. Dylan is the lead guitarist and vocalist for the band.
Cheetah Chrome plays lead guitar on 6 of the 14 tracks and sings lead on one. Rick Wilder provides lead vocals for the New York Doll's hit, "Vietnamese Baby" and De De Troit does lead vocals on one track, "In My Mind".
This is solid '77 style punk with a solid dose of glam punk. Fans of the New York Dolls, Jeff Dahl, Kevin K and the Dead Boys will love this. Dead Boy fans will also appreciate Cheetah Chrome's big part in it's making and the fact that "High Tension Wire" is covered. It would be impossible for me to pick a favorite song as each and every one is solid in it's own right. If you like a basic guitar driven sound with great songwriting that actually have a melody, this will be for you.
This may have been recorded several years ago but it is a sure bet for many 2006 year end top ten honors. Track it down and get it!!
--Willy Aadnoy (11/26/06)
As always, Overground finds the best of the seventies/early eighties punk and creates an anthology of a particular bands output. This time around is an outstanding collection by the Pseudo Existors. What can you say about the Pseudo Existors except that they are the very definition of punk rock? Guitar driven, snotty vocals and a fuck all attitude. The first four tracks are the classic EP released on Dead Good Records in the late seventies. This was always one of my favorite discs and I continue to treasure it among my collection. The band was short lived, only releasing the one EP and a couple of Tracks on the "East" compilation LP. This anthology includes a couple of additional studio tracks and many live tracks for a total of nineteen altogether. A must have for fans of 70's punk rock.
--Willy Aadnoy (4/30/06)
Wolfgang Bang have been reviewed favorably before by the P.I.D. They have given me no reason to review them any less favorably this time around. In fact they sound better than ever. This is punk rock as it should be played - with guitars, driving rhythms, snotty vocals and melody. There is not a dud track on the CD. This is solid all the way through and that should be enough endorsement for you all to get this great CD.
--Willy Aadnoy (4/30/06)
The Hudson Falcons are one of the greatest street punk bands ever. This collection features out of print, never released and a few original versions from their albums. If Bruce Springsteen was punk rock he would sound like the Falcons. Their selection of covers by bands like the Rolling Stones, Devil Dogs, Johnny Thunders, Chuck Berry and Bruce Springsteen is exquisite. There is the occasional slow song but for the most part this is the Falcons letting loose and doing what they do best - street punk. New Jersey's finest are one band that you do not want to miss out on and if this is your first introduction to them you certainly couldn't go wrong here. Street Anthem does a consistently great job in releasing street punk albums. Check 'em out if you haven't already.
--Willy Aadnoy (4/30/06)
This is my first introduction to Howitzer. This sounds like anthemic Oi! music that would be prevalent in the early eighties. I happen to be a big fan of the genre so I found this album to be quite a treat. The vocals are gruff, the guitars are right out there in front and they have the style down just right. Once in awhile they will throw in some lead guitar that gives the song that little extra bite. I liked this a lot. I hope to hear more from them in the future.
--Willy Aadnoy (4/30/06)
Street Anthem has collected 53(!) examples of current American Oi! and put it together on this outstanding 2 disc sampler. It starts out with a gut kick from Roger Miret and the Disasters and barely lets up from there. Many of these bands I had heard before because of Street Anthem Records but many are new. It is good to know that there are bands out there continuing to record great music and keep punk rock alive and in this case street punk, a vital piece of the punk genre. There's way too many songs to even try to pick out favorites or single out any for any reason. Suffice it to say that this is a truly solid collection that would fit fine in any street punk and Oi! enthusiast's collection.
--Willy Aadnoy (4/30/06)
I must say that It's Alive Records has become one of my favorite labels over the last few years. You can expect a quality disc with quality music and some of the best packaging you will ever see. Adam Alive, the founder of the label, does it for love of the music even though he probably loses money every release because his first concern is getting a quality product out there at a reasonable price. So, let's talk about the Popsters. They are from Italy and as their name implies, they play pop punk. Although pop punk has fallen into disfavor since the mid-nineties there are still a core group of rabid fans around the world, myself included that melt when they ehar that eprfect pop song. The Popsters do it better than most as this 3 song 7" will attest. They do a bang up version of Tom Petty's "American Girl". They recently toured the U.S. and I wasn't able to see them but my daughter did and said they were outstanding. Nobody ever comes to Arizona!! Great stuff! Get it!
--Willy Aadnoy (4/30/06)
and the Manges
First off this has the usual It's Alive quality treatment in vinyl and packaging. The Manges have been one of my favorite pop punk bands since I heard them quite a few years ago. I've heard the title song before on the great Joey Ramone tribute album put out by AMP records a few years back. The Manges are from Italy and Kitty is from the band the Kowalskis out of New York City. So it's basically Kitty acting as lead singer for the Manges in a one off performance. The songs are pure pop punk including a cover from the movie "The Goonies". More great stuff! Get it!
--Willy Aadnoy (4/30/06)
Habits and Cheap Thrills
A couple of bands from Florida, I think. They follow in the footsteps of some of the noisier bands going around right now such as the Feelers. Fans of labels like P.Trash and Big Neck will like this stuff. Although I've managed to collect quite a bit of this style of music in recent years, it isn't my favorite. These bands do it as competently as anyone but I prefer something a little less muddy in presentation.
--Willy Aadnoy (4/30/06)
The Jerkoffing Jerks are from Denmark. I have been to Denmark on several occasions and have many relatives that live there. It's a great country and this is a great CD. This is reminiscent of the heyday of pop punk in the mid-90's. It has a quirky one note guitar lead that permeates most of the songs on here and gives it a unique quality. The songs are melodic and guitar driven and you get eight of them. It has a raw feel which is a good thing because slickness would detract from the overall appeal of the songs. I like it. Get it.
--Willy Aadnoy (4/9/06)
Ten more songs from the Jerkoffing Jerks from Denmark. I have to believe that this is a more recent effort than the EP reviewed above. It is a more polished effort and has lost some of the quirkiness that made the EP so good. This is still a very good effort but they sound more and more like mid-level pop punk and sound like too many other bands. The drumming was rather muted on the EP but stands out quite a bit on this CD and that turns out to not be such a good thing. I really never got into the staccato drumming style that many bands adopted in the late nineties, preferring a more taridtional style myself. Like I said, good effort, just not in the same league with the EP.
--Willy Aadnoy (4/9/06)
With the sudden death, no pun intended, of the Swell Map's leader, Nikki Sudden, this is one CD that sees a timely release to showcase the brilliance of one of punk's earliest bands. Now I will admit right from the start that I am more of a guitar and rhythm section type of a guy more than an experimental music kind of guy. This CD has both styles with a big nod towards the experimental. What makes this release all the more remarkable is that none of the tracks have ever been released before even on bootleg. I have in my own personal collection, most of the seventies output of the Swell Maps and my recollection was not of a band that I particularly cared for. Imagine my surprise when the CD started off with a rousing rocker, Dresden Style, that I would put up there with many of my favorites of the punk rock genre. Now I know this song was released on one of their singles so I am definitely going to have to go back and give it a re-listen to see if matches any of the energy that comes across on this disc. Another highlight is "Full Moon-Blam-Full Moon" which also packs a raw intensity. Most of the rest of the CD is experimental in nature, with a few low key punk tunes thrown in, and those familiar with the Swell Maps should know what they are getting.
--Willy Aadnoy (4/9/06)
The Buff Medways are led by prolific frontman Billy Childish in one of his incarnations. When you feel a need to tone things down a bit and still gat a great aural experience, the Buff Medways fill the bill. Sixties style punk filled with harmonica and jangly guitars and simply great songwriting. "Karen With A C" is an upbeat rocker and my favorite of the 12 songs featured here. They can also get bluesy at times but everything seems to work. There's not a dud here. This is an excellent album and would be a complement to any collection.
--Willy Aadnoy (3/5/06)
The Vores put out a couple of singles in the late 70's/early 80's. I'm lucky enough to have the first, "Love Canal". It is a punk rock classic. It is D.I.Y. all the way and the rawness is one of the appealing factors in making that a KBD classic. So why would you want to tarnish your legacy by putting 13 of the most boring songs you've ever heard? Could it be that you think this is super slick and radio friendly enough to actually get you a record deal and make some money? Who knows? But they should have stopped while they had their dignity intact.
--Willy Aadnoy (3/5/06)
Two things right off the bat. I love vinyl and I rarely get any to review so send me more! Second, who would have thought they even allow punk rock in one of the reddest of states, Alabama? This is the second review of a Skeptic? release and it finds the boys in fine form. This is reminiscent of early hardcore with a dash of Discharge style Oi! vocals for good measure. They put enough melody into their aggressive style to make me happy. After re-reading my previous review, it would apply to this release fairly closely. The Anti-Heros similarity is still there. I liked it. Get it.
--Willy Aadnoy (3/5/06)
Kick ass punk rock outta Portland, OR with tough female vocals courtesy of Gen Genocide. Super driving guitar sound with a nice blend of lead guitar. There is nothing refined about this. This is some raw shit just the way punk rock is supposed to be. They throw in one ballad amongst the six tunes just to change things up a bit but they are at their best when they are rocking out. It's an interesting looking band too. Two way hot young ladies with a couple of long haired guys, one of which looks like Oliver Platt. Highly recommended.
--Willy Aadnoy (1/28/06)
This is the third in the anarcho-punk collection put out by Overground Records over the last year. As the title suggests, these are songs of disillusionment with society in general. A society that left many behind at the time and seemed obsessesed with war (sounds an awful lot like today, doesn't it?). It includes songs by such "name" bands as Oi Polloi, Icons of Filth and Icon AD as well as a wealth of underground bands. The majority of the songs are balls out rockers and raw as hell. If you're looking for raw energy, this is it. There are a few melodic tunes which nicely fit in in the midst of the fury. Punkers and those of more hardcore bent will find much to love here. Get the whole series. This is some really good stuff.
--Willy Aadnoy (1/28/06)
Merry Christmas to me! What could be better than getting a promo of one of your favorite bands? This is the third release for New Jersey's working class heroes. They have still have that devastating attack on quite a few of the songs but have interlaced more softer moments and a bit of a country twang than on their first 2 releases. That does not diminish the impact of the songs. They play with an earnestness that shines through and makes you know that these guys are no poseurs. They play a brand of political working class street punk that is unrivaled by their peers. The Hudson Falcons will be touring extensively over the next 15 months. Catch one of America's greats.
--Willy Aadnoy (12/25/05)
The U.K.'s Disco Students have released a mixed bag of seven songs ranging from straight ahead rockers to 80's style new wave to disco rhythms to some experimental tunes. It probably won't come as any surprise that I really enjoyed the two rockers and didn't particularly find the other 5 tunes much to my liking. They do have a good sense of humor as you can probably figure out from the disc title. They sing songs about "nice little busts" and "my secretary" as well as "my lesbian sister". If you're looking for punk, you'll be disappointed. If you're looking for a bit edgier, this may be a good find for you.
--Willy Aadnoy (12/25/05)
I really like this concept. Pick a city and pick the best punk songs since 1977 and play them in chronological order. There are 3 songs from the 70's including an early Skrewdriver classic. Andy Higgins has done a superb job of choosing the bands to be included here. Standouts include "Jerusalem" by One Way System, "Official Hooligan" by Antisocial, "Honey, This Ain't No Romance" by the Genocides and "Cock Suck America" by King Mob Echo. Most of the songs are clearly in the punk realm although a few tunes stray into lighter or more adventurous moments. All in all I would have to say that Blackpool ain't too bad of a place to have been raised on punk.
--Willy Aadnoy (11/27/05)
On first listen, the first third of the album sounded to me like pretty much run of the mill early 80's anarcho-punk. However, by the time the CD was done I was firmly a fan and subsequent listens have grown on me. There are several "poems" a la the "Oi! The Album" comp from about '80 or so if you're into that sort of thing. About song 8 or so ("Animal Farm"), the sound becomes fuller and the songwriting becomes a bit crisper. If you are enjoying the anarcho-punk series also released by Overground, you will definitely enjoy this. This is guitar driven, gruff vocaled and clocks in at well over an hour so you know you get your money's worth as always with Overgroun. Recommended.
--Willy Aadnoy (11/27/05)
This is a re-release of the 1997 album that Overground originally put out. The Jerks put out two singles in the seventies which are represented here minus "The Strangest Man of All" although I'm not sure why it didn't make the comp. The Jerks' first offering with the classics "Hold My Hand" and "Get Your Woofing Off Me" is included here, lyrically probably two of the most minimalist songs ever recorded. The early stuff has 50's style rocker with a punk beat written all over it. I love this stuff! "Woof, woof , woof, woof, .... Get your woofing dog off me!". Classic stuff. Somewhere along the way they must have decided to get "serious" and the lyrics become more sophisticated and synthesizers sneak their way into the music. This isn't to say that the songs all of a sudden become bad but the thing that made them so appealing early on gets a bit lost in the translation. I remember being excited when the second single came out with "Come Back Bogart" and being equally as disappointed after listening to it that it had not lived up to the first single. What I would say is that the best stuff is so good that I would buy this in a heartbeat and the lesser stuff is still pretty damn good so do yourself a favor and get this.
--Willy Aadnoy (11/27/05)
This album is made up of some really good shit and some not as good shit. The really good shit is really good and the not as good shit is really shitty. This is a 2 CD set so you get 33 songs for your money. There are a bunch of Texas bands, a few European bands and a few Japanese bands. Punk rock'n'roll is the order of the day for the most part. There's a triple shot of really shitty Austin band songs followed by a really shitty Swiss song (now notice I didn't say the bands were shitty only those songs on the comp). CD 1 ends with a double shot of really outstanding songs by Rickshaw and the Unlovables before destroying the momentum with a pretty bad Monkey Buzzness song. CD 2 starts out with a song that sounds like wailing cats from a Japanese band called Madame Cats before the Deadites bring respectability back to Austin, TX. The Japanese band, Goggle-A, does an outstanding song called "What A Way To Die". Greece sends a surf tune that is pretty forgettable before we get a nice female vocaled tune from a Japanese band called Flowermulu. Switzerland gives us Reverend Beat-Man and his deeply religious ode called "Fuck You Jesus Fuck You Oh Lord". Can you say "Uwierz" by Slowa We Krwi? Me neither, but this Polish motherfucker rocks with some screamy vocals. The highlight of the album is "Butter Me Up!" by On Parole. Just shit-kicking punk rock. Who needs more? Well, even if you don't need any more, there are still 7 songs to go and Galactic Inmate from Chicago show us that they can rock out up north too. The remaining songs are all pretty good with particular emphasis on Chupacabra Jr. and Derita Sisters. There's more than enough great music on this 2 CD comp to get your money's worth. I have no clue how much it cost since it was sent to me free to be reviewed. I hope whoever sent it got their money's worth from me.
--Willy Aadnoy (11/27/05)
I'd have to say that this is probably the best stuff I've heard by both bands. I have reviewed both before which you can search down through this page if you are so inclined. Higgins++ is Andy Higgins of JSNTGM doing his thing with his support band. He sometimes goes it solo on electric guitar and then it's just "Higgins". This song rocks! "Got A Revolution" is political. Andy Higgins is political. Punk is political. Punk was born of giving the finger to the man. Anybody that tries to tell you differently ain't punk. Sick56 gives more politics and more '77 style anthemic punk. This is one of the best 7" records of '05. Get it before it's gone. On yellow vinyl.
--Willy Aadnoy (11/27/05)
After the Fight
The band name brought images of emo or speed metal to mind. The first song didn't help matters much either because I thought I was going to get half an hour of early 80's hardcore. However, once we got past the name and the first song, this turned out to be a pretty good CD. It's pretty much straight forward melodic punk rock with driving rhythms and snotty vocals a la the Anti-Heroes. Definitely worth a listen.
--Willy Aadnoy (10/16/05)
The Copyrights hold the distinction of having last year's number 1 7" on tje P.I.D. year end list. They take up right where they left off. Another four pop punk gems from this Illinois band. Influences are bands like the Lillingtons and Riverdales. It's Alive has some of the best packaging you've ever seen, thick ass colored vinyl options and give you the choice of getting a CD-r version of the disc for a buck when you buy a 7".
--Willy Aadnoy (10/16/05)
I love this CD! This is what street punk/Oi! should sound like. Both bands are excellent. The Antagonizers from North Carolina provide us with buzzsaw guitars mixed with great lead guitar, anthemic songs and loud, angry energy. They do a convincing job on the old Angelic Upstarts' tune, "2 Million Voices". "I'm OK" is an instant classic that will having you singing along. The Main Street Saints are unfortunately no more. These songs were recorded before their demise in 2001. 7 songs of driving guitar rhythms with gruff vocals. They have the great ability to sound like they are having a party while they play and at the same time sound like they are pissed at the world. This is a great CD that will get major rotation in my CD player.
--Willy Aadnoy (10/16/05)
These guys fall squarely into the mid-90’s pop punk genre made famous by the likes of the Queers and Screeching Weasel. And that’s a good thing. These 6 songs compare favorably to some of the best of the genre. Buzzsaw guitars, catchy melodies Mass Giorgini produced half the songs so you kind of know what you’re getting in advance.
--Willy Aadnoy (9/25/05)
If you didn’t know anything about this band, you would guess that this was recorded in the early 80’s. You would be right. They would fall firmly in line with bands like Anti-Pasti, GBH and the Exploited. There are several songs that have dual versions on the CD which is OK as this is intended to be a complete history of their ’80 to ’83 run. The CD includes their two singles, their contribution to the “Wargasm” compilation album and 13 demo tracks, of which 10 are previously unreleased. The songwriting is solid, the vocals are pissed off and the musical presentation is hard hitting. This is anrcho-punk at it's finest with political lyrics. You know you will always get your money's worth with Overground. There are 21 songs over this 70 minute disc.
--Willy Aadnoy (9/25/05)
Kill the Hippies
This 2 CD set, which I’m pretty sure compiles everything the band has done, contains a whopping 77 songs!! There’s nothing refined about this band. They intend to beat you over the head and do so quite effectively. Lead vocals are shared by male and female singers (PP Envy and Morte Treehorn). They even manage to add a bit of an arty edge to things with the inclusion of a synthesizer on “Sierra Madre Cinco”. Their style evolved (devolved?) over time from a thrashy lo-fi sound to a more artsy style. It's almost too much to digest in one sitting so you'll just have to digest it for yourselves.
--Willy Aadnoy (9/25/05)
--Willy Aadnoy (9/25/05)
"Live From Space City” CD (Interchange)
This album was originally recorded in the early 80's and has now been tranferred to a 5" slab of plastic, otherwise known as a CD, for your listening pleasure. The CD features 3 studio tracks not originally found on the original "Live" album. The live tracks were recorded from two shows in Houston in 1981. The songs tend towards slow to mid-tempo and have more of a post-punk artsy feel to them than punk although they do have their punk moments. The 7:05 version of "Bells & Whistles" is pretty unlistenable. It sounds like everything that punk was meant to rebel against. The 3 bonus tunes aren't half bad, but they're not really up my alley. I'd prefer something with a bit more power and/or melody.
--Willy Aadnoy (8/14/05)
"Non Fa Ridere” CD-r (Self Produced)
My first impression was that this sounded like a punk version of the band Queen. The singer sounds a bit like Freddie Mercury and there are these musical interludes just when they seem to be getting started that remind me of Queen. Once you get past that, the songs definitely have a punk backbeat to them and are quite catchy. They are from Italy and the songs are sung in Italian and this is apparently their 10th release. For those of you that can't get past not having your lyrics in English, there is an English translation of the lyrics provided with the CD. For the most part the music is too punk to be pop but too pop to be totally punk either. The song "Stai Punk" would fall into a pop punk category and is probably my favorite on the album. It has buzzsaw guitars and a singlaong chorus. I don't know where you can find this, but if you ever come across any Rancidos material, they are definitely worth checking out.
--Willy Aadnoy (7/10/05)
"Death, Honor, or Glory Bound” CD (Street Anthem)
This is the debut album by Tommy Gutless. Political street punk that will having you yelling Oi! Oi! Oi! I didn't look at their photo until I had listened to a couple songs and I thought to myself that it wouldn't surprise me if the singer looked like a skinhead. Bingo! That being said, you probably know pretty much how these guys sound. Visions of the Dropkick Murphys without the Irish influence would be pretty close. I can also say that this type of music I happen to enjoy quite a bit because I like guitar driven music with a tune you can sing along to and that is played well. These guys score on all fronts.
--Willy Aadnoy (7/10/05)
"I Told U Once” CD (Street Anthem)
This New Jersey street punk band has been around since 1991. What can I say, I love street punk music and these do it as good as any. Are you going to hear anything new here? No. So who gives a fuck? They do their thing really well and sometimes you just want to throw on some catchy hard driving street punk and you aren't going to find anybody who does it better than these guys. "Skinhead Rock 'n; Roll" has a fifties feel to it and is my favorite. Highly recommended.
--Willy Aadnoy (7/10/05)
The Weekend Warriors
S/T CD (Street Anthem)
Street Anthem Records has found a nice little niche with these East Coast street punk bands. The Weekend Warriors fit the same mold nicely. The sound is a bit more sophisticated than their label mates. They don't rely as much on a full on assault but the music is no less powerful. There's still plenty of guitar, gruff vocals and that distinctive street punk sound to please the most jaded Oi! enthusiast. And don't get me wrong, there's plenty of the full on assault tunes too, it's just that they don't rely on them to the extent that other street punk bands do, giving them a wider range. Another recommended release.
--Willy Aadnoy (7/10/05)
"Live In Los Angeles” DVD (Shout Factory)
Well, here we go with my first DVD
review. X Live in
X relies on musicianship rather than showmanship.
This DVD finds them belting out hit after hit from their super career.
Billy Zoom’s guitar is flawless with not so much as a note missed
during the entire hour long set. Despite
his virtuosity on guitar, it never comes across as overly slick or overindulgent
like the bands playing in the seventies that X saw as ruining rock.
John Doe and DJ Bonebrake provide the trademark X rhythm with singalong
anthems at every turn. The
harmonizing between John Doe and Exene Cervenka is a thing of beauty.
What makes this truly special is the fact all of the original members are
still there and having fun.
X relies on musicianship rather than showmanship. This DVD finds them belting out hit after hit from their super career. Billy Zoom’s guitar is flawless with not so much as a note missed during the entire hour long set. Despite his virtuosity on guitar, it never comes across as overly slick or overindulgent like the bands playing in the seventies that X saw as ruining rock. John Doe and DJ Bonebrake provide the trademark X rhythm with singalong anthems at every turn. The harmonizing between John Doe and Exene Cervenka is a thing of beauty. What makes this truly special is the fact all of the original members are still there and having fun.
And what can you say about the songs?
Not content to be Ramones clones, they have crafted some of the most
intricate punk songs of all time with intelligent lyrics not often found within
the genre. At the same time they pay
homage to the Ramones as Billy Zoom wears a leather jacket and Ramones t-shirt.
Anyone who knows anything about punk knows that there is no punk without
the Ramones and it is good when other important bands acknowledge it.
And what can you say about the songs? Not content to be Ramones clones, they have crafted some of the most intricate punk songs of all time with intelligent lyrics not often found within the genre. At the same time they pay homage to the Ramones as Billy Zoom wears a leather jacket and Ramones t-shirt. Anyone who knows anything about punk knows that there is no punk without the Ramones and it is good when other important bands acknowledge it.
The audience shots show a mix of young and old listening to these 50 year old
plus punkers that sound as fresh as the day they started in the 70’s.
They look pretty damn good for their age too.
It’s good that a new generation of fans get the opportunity to see one
of punk’s first and finest bands. It’s
also good that a band like X can finally receive some of the financial benefits
that eluded them when punk was considered noise.
The audience shots show a mix of young and old listening to these 50 year old plus punkers that sound as fresh as the day they started in the 70’s. They look pretty damn good for their age too. It’s good that a new generation of fans get the opportunity to see one of punk’s first and finest bands. It’s also good that a band like X can finally receive some of the financial benefits that eluded them when punk was considered noise.
Highlights include “Your Phone’s Off the Hook, But You’re Not”,
Highlights include “Your Phone’s Off the Hook, But You’re Not”,
Included are some bonus features which include John and Exene doing acoustic duets of "See How We Are" and "True Love" and Billy Zoom's Photo Gallery.
--Willy Aadnoy (6/11/05)
"Anti-State (Anarcho-Punk Compilation Vol. 2)” CD (Overground Records)
This is the second volume of this 1980's anarcho-punk series. The 21 songs here were compiled from a choice of over 1000 possibilities and 12 are previously unreleased so you know you are getting the best of the best.
Punk has always been about defying the establishment and these political tunes are a direct result of the state of affairs in the UK in the mid-80's. I had someone tell me once that they no longer read my site because it got too political during the 2004 elections. Having a forum for informing people of abuses of power that I saw in our politicians during the elections and not using that forum, would have been irresponsible. Likewise the songs on these compilations are meant to entertain but they are also meant to inform.
Once again, there are a good cross section of styles both musically and vocally within these 21 songs. There's hi-fi, there's lo-fi, there's mid-fi. There's gruff vocals, there's sweet sounding vocals. There's fast songs, there's mid-tempo songs, there's slow songs. There's no filler though. This is a solid collection
--Willy Aadnoy (6/11/05)
the review material I get in is on CD so it's nice to get a record once in
awhile. This stuff is your standard early 80's hardcore stuff complete
with the screaming vocals. I was surprised that I actually liked it as
much as I did since it's a genre that that I have never been able to get into
very much. They are very tight musically and you are able to hear the
melody in the aggression. If hardcore is your thing I'm pretty sure you'll
"Smash the States” CD (Su-i-cide Watch Records)
This is a
compilation of bands from the east coast and and SE corners of our great
nation. I have only heard of a few of these bands before so from that
standpoint, it is a good forum for giving some unknown bands a chance to be
heard. The highlights are the songs by My So-Called Band (previously
reviewed here), Hungry Ghost, Grahzny Bratchnies, New Mexican Disaster Squad,
Carrie Nations, Stations, Flamin' Anus and Semantics. There's 35 song so
it's pretty easy to find something you'll like. It's a pretty solid mix of heavy
punk and hardcore and some speed metal. The closer it came to straight
ahead punk, the more I liked it.
"Opera 21” CD (Ultima Spiaggia)
This is an Italian band. The funny thing is as I was listening to this I was thinking the singer sounded like a punk rock Pavarotti and the songs sounded like they were sung in opera style. It wasn't until later that I noticed that the album title was "Opera 21". All the songs are sung in Italian. I believe that operas are sung in Italian, right? The songs themselves weren't particularly noteworthy. The songs leaned towards hardcore and metal which aren't exactly my cup of tea. I tried to find some kind of melody in the tunes but just couldn't.
Red EP/Green EP/Demo CD-r (Demo)
Gun Fury WERE a great band. Eric Apathy from the band was kind enough to send me the 7" EP of theirs that I didn't already have plus an 11 song demo CD-r. The band called them the red EP and the green EP although I use the name of the first track in their discography. Their time was the early 90's and they were probably just a little ahead of their time. Labels like TKO and Rip Off would eat this stuff up today. Fast driving punk rock'n'roll with both energy and melody. I'm blessed to have been given the opportunity to hear their entire catalog more than 10 years after their demise.
3 & 4 (Narnack)
A two CD set, if this is 3 and 4, thank goodness I never heard 1 & 2. Slow paced, experimental crap that any 5 year old could put together with a tape recorder in hand. Narnack has a bad habit of putting out crap like this and then surprising you with something outstanding like a Guitar Wolf album. Don't waste your hard earned money.
"What A Bunch of Rodents” CD (Overground)
This is a re-release of this CD that was originally released in 1996 as a one off pressing of 1000 and sold out quickly. Satan's Rats released 3 singles in their day (1977-1978), all of which are included here. As a bonus, you get 14 additional songs that were produced as demos during their short existence. They were pretty much written off when they first came out but their 3 singles are collector items today. The songs themselves are melodic, guitar driven tunes, full of energy that should have been better received than they were. "Year of the Rats", "You Make Me Sick" and "Louise" are true punk rock anthems with sing-along melodies that I have been lucky enough to have in my own collection all these years. The remaining demo tunes find the Rats during three different periods, 1978, early 1977 and 1979. The '78 demos rock along in the same vein as the early singles and are excellent tunes. The '79 demos find them with a more mature sound that doesn't grab quite as well as the earlier stuff but thesong "Lady Is A Tramp" is an excellent rocker and the best of this period. The '77 demos find them in a much more raw mood although there are some gut wrenching guitar solos in these 4 songs and a final song that clocks in 9:22 (not very punk rock, guys). All in all, an essential collection.
Swing Ding Amigos
"The Mongolita Chronicles” CD (Rock N Roll Purgatory)
These guys are from down Tucson way. 22 songs in 23 minutes in all that range from garage to poppy punk. Most are garage punk tunes and would sound right at home on Rip Off Records. Then out of the blue comes a pop sounding song like the "0-2-80" or "Gargamel", although the speed and energy level aren't in line with your normal pop tune. Only 3 songs clock in over 1:30 and two of those are 1:32. Mostly these guys hit you over the head with some pile driving rock n roll. Many of the songs have a Spanish theme to theme but I'm not quite sure where they're coming from with that. I found the CD quite enjoyable and I would recommend it to my garage loving friends.
"Hellcats” CD (Damaged Goods)
This is damn good, pun intended. From London via Japan for the most part. This is poppy punk with female vocals from the great Mika Handa. All are hard hitting pop influenced punk tunes with hooks galore and enough power to satisfy those who like their guitars banging on the eardrums. My personal favorite is "9 to 5ers" and "Rock Out" which both pack a wallop. The final song, "Won't Go Out", features a duet with Holly Golightly. This album won't be released until April so save your money because you know want this.
"Against the Wall” CD (Self Produced)
This has a singer that reminds me a lot of the Anti-Heros singer. The sound isn't far removed from the Anti-Heros either. This would probably have been well received with the Black Flag crowd of the early eighties. The music leans towards a metal feel without ever stepping over the line so that it remains firmly within the punk genre. This is a solid effort if you are into the types of influences that I described above. I liked it a lot.
"A Lot to Live” CD (Pickup Records)
It would be easy to write these guys off as just another Green Day clone but the music is just different enough to have it's own feel and the songwriting is solid. It wouldn't be a surprise to see these guys on MTV someday. The playing is tight, the singer has a great voice and the tunes are just as radio friendly as any you hear on your modern rock radio stations these days. They also have the ability to crank out the power and turn right around and whip off a ballad. File next to Green Day and Jimmy Eats World.
"Great Plans Laid To Rest” 7" (Shut Up)
This is a career retrospective 7" covering the years 1990-2004. They self describe their work as "un-listenable muck and pure obtuse brilliance". When I first threw this on the turntable, I was wondering if this band thought of themselves as an art band or a joke band. It's for the most part "un-listenable muck". One side sounded like it was sung by my sixth grade chorus (though quite so professionally) and the other song sounded like the soundtrack to a bad movie complete with flamenco guitar. The other side had it's moments although at times I was expecting to hear "Number 9, Number 9..." and at other times felt like Sanford and Son was about to begin. If you like your stuff way out in left field, this is for you.
The Disco Students
"Live in New York” CD-EP (Yeah!Yeah!Yeah!)
As the title would imply, this is a live show recorded at Pianos in New York in September '04. There's not much more to say than I did last week when reviewing their 4 song CD EP (see below). It's poppy mid-80's style alternative rock. The songs are catchy and if you grew up on MTV in the 80's and that's your thing, you will enjoy the Disco Students. As a side note, Simon Cheetham of the band played in a band called the Haircuts prior to the Disco Students and are represented by one song on the "Aylesbury Goes Flaccid" Compilation LP released in '78, a comp well worth seeking out.
"Green Street” CD (Limekiln)
Radio friendly indie rock here. Actually pretty catchy stuff. Their one sheet use Jimmy Eat World and R.E.M. as inspiration and that's probably not very far off. Jangly guitars and restrained vocals are the name of the game here. The song "Fucked Up Job" is my favorite. It has a lot of energy, fast driving guitar sound and the singer sounds a bit more animated. This is at least as good as most of the stuff you hear on the radio so don't be surprised if these are MTV's newest darlings sometime in the future. The street date is 2/22/05.
"The Gathering Storm” CD (Street Anthem)
The early 80's must be back. Actually Blitzkrieg began in the early 80's. They put out some really good stuff on No Future and Retch Records. Today they sound like they want to sonically annihilate you. The guitar attack is ferocious, the vocals are gruff and in your face. They still retain that early 80's feel with G.B.H. and the Exploited as reference points. They also threw in a Discharge sounding tune for good measure. The songs didn't really grab me but they did hit me full force in the mug. Paradox U.K. are a band started in the 90's bu they did their homework well and come from the same school of music as their CD mates, Blitzkrieg. They too had a song that would have done Discharge proud. They weren't quite as all out forceful as Blitzkrieg but that allowed their songs to come through a little better and I liked them a bit more. Again if you enjoy early 80's Oi! bands, you will probably enjoy this. If you like your songs powerful and don't care much if it has a sing along melody, you will probably like this. It just came up a little short for me.
"Rocket Bomb” CD (Self Released)
Catchy tunes with lots of humor. With song titles like "Laura's Bush", "I'm Fuckin You", "I Punch Christ" and "Fuck Guitar Center", you know these guys don't take things too seriously. The singer reminds me of Jello Biafra at times. The songs are straight ahead melodic punk rock, with a dose of lead guitar that they use to good effect. This CD will have you singing along. Just make sure when you're singing "I wanna fuck you, Laura" that George isn't within earshot. I loved this CD and it would be worthwhile for you to track it down.
"S/T” CD-r EP Demo
I just went to look at the review I did on their first demo CD they sent me back in May. Most of what I wrote still applies to this collection of 6 songs except the influences I hear this time are early L.A. punk, and for a first generation L.A. punk such as myself, that's a really good thing. I heard Controllers and No Crisis influences. They continue to play mid-tempo, catchy punk songs with that early punk influence. It was only six songs but they had begging for more. Where's the official release, guys?
"Dumb Struck” CD EP (Tenement Toons)
Zips are a long time band out of Scotland. You can hear their early
works on some Bloodstains and Powerpearls compilations. As a lot of
bands have done in the wake of a resurgence of interest in punk bands of the
day, the Zips have reformed to write new tunes for your listening
pleasure. The four songs on this excellent EP would fall in the realm of
power pop with great melodic hooks and all of the 70's style
retained. Their magic is in the songs. Fans of bands like
Generation X and the Records will appreciate the Zips.
"Period The End” CD EP (Pop Scar)
The Pegs made their debut this past year on Hostage Records. This is their 7 song follow up and the first release by a new label, Pop Scar. Those of you familiar with Hostage Records will know where this band comes from, both geographically and musically. They are from Southern California and play a scorching brand of street punk. Each song is short and sweet and packed with high energy. They should fit in nicely with all of the rest of the great up and coming street punk bands that L.A./Orange County seems spit out effortlessly...period the end.
"Gay Lorry Drivers" CD EP (Yeah!Yeah!Yeah!)
I was a little worried when I saw 4 songs clocking in at 18:00 minutes flat. The Disco Students managed to pull it off pretty good though. This is another band that have released recent material after being featured for their early works on the Bloodstains and Teenage Treats compilation series. This has a mid-80's new wave feel to it. The songs are catchy and pop inspired. If you appreciate a nice mid-tempo pop song with a catchy melody then you'll enjoy these songs. The singer reminded me of the lead singer for Mega City Four.
"S/T” CD-r Demo
From Chicago via L.A., this fucker rocks! Before I forget, you can get these 14 songs for $2 by going to the Drips web site linked above. It'll be the best $2 you've spent this year. This is punk rock as it was meant to be played. Hostage Records style punk rock'n'roll with a glam feel (don't confuse these guys with the Hostage Records band the Drip though 'cos these are 2 different bands). Think Iggy, New Bomb Turks and the Dead Boys. Did I say this fucker rocks? Some up-tempo, some mid-tempo songs but it's solid from top to bottom. Have you spent those $2 yet?
"Sketches From A Small Room” CD EP (Room Zero)
The first danger sign of this release was the length of the songs. The shortest is almost five minutes long and the longest is over 7 minutes. The second danger sign was their one sheet which said they have a "more mature and well-rounded sound". The third danger sign is the profound sleepiness that came over me as I listened to this the first time in my car (sleeping at the wheel is really not good for you!). The ultimate result is 5 extremely boring hard rock songs that aren't even that hard. The one sheet references their "punk rock heros" but I'm not hearing any punk here at all. Don't waste your money.
"Anti-War (Anarcho-Punk Comp Vol. 1)” CD (Overground)
I wasn't expecting to like this as much as I ultimately did. Most of the bands I hadn't really heard or even heard of. I guess the anarcho-punk scene, with the exception of Crass, was one which I kind of missed out on over the years. I really did miss out because this is some awesome stuff. I was surprised and intrigued by the number of different styles that these bands brought to this label called anarcho-punk. What they all do have going for themselves is a political bent that promotes among other things, peace and animal rights. These songs could easily have been written in protest of the political climate as it exists today with the Bush/Blair mentality. Another thing that all the songs have is a raw musicality that touches that nerve deep inside of me that says punk should be about passion and not perfect musical proficiency. There's 23 tracks on this excellent comp and it clocks in at over an hour so you get your money's worth and then some. Overgound scores again and I look forward to future volumes in the series. The official release date is February 7, 2005 so save your money and get it next month.
"Ruined It For You” CD EP (Narnack)
I've found that I either really love Narnack releases (well, OK, only when they release Guitar Wolf) or really hate it (pretty much everything else). This CD-EP, however, falls in the middle ground. Not good enough to give a second listen but not grating on your last nerve awful either. This is stuff you would hear on your favorite alternative radio station. This band has a female lead singer reminiscent of bands like No Doubt or Garbage. If that is your thing, you will probably like this.
"Rock'n'Roll Etiquette” CD (Narnack)
I'm not sure how Narnack got the rights to the Guitar Wolf catalog because it doesn't fit with most everything else released on the label. At least they have one good (make that great) band in their stable of artists. If you've heard Guitar Wolf you know that the volume has been cranked up to distortion level and the music and vocals are spat out with an intensity not found with many other bands. This CD was originally released in Japan but this version has an additional bonus track for a total of 16 tracks. If you liek pounding garage rock, you can't go wrong here. Japan's finest at their finest.
"Soundtrack of the Struggle” CD (Street Anthem)
Street Anthem have done a nice job of finding street punk bands from around the globe. American Static fit that label well. My first impression was that this tended a little to closely towards hardcore but the doubts were quickly dashed as they found their street punk roots and proceeded to win me over. This is not scheduled for release until January 4 so keep this one in mind for your post-Xmas shopping list. Much of the album follows in an east coast street punk vein made popular by bands like the Hudson Falcons and Those Unknown. File under street punk and if that's your bag, you will enjoy this CD.
"We are Masterpieces Created By God” CD (Self Produced)
I believe this is the second full length by the Saltwater Vampires. Throw the Misfits, Heartdrops and Face To Face in a blender, mix them up and you'll have a good idea of what the band sounds like. They have tons of energy, gruff vocals when they need to be and hooks in all the right places. There are sixteen songs total. This is a solid effort and worthy of your music dollars.
Arthritic Foot Soldiers
"Texas Idiot” CD-R EP Demo (Garden Gate Recordz)
Seven weeks after forming the band, they laid down this 4 song CD-EP. These guys are from England and have a pretty heavy accent so I can't make out most of the words but I know "Texas Idiot" is about "somewhere in Texas" and I'm pretty sure it's about our beloved president because his ugly mugs adorns the cover of the CD. "God Squad" is about people who knock on your door and bring the Wtachtower. I guess we all know who they are. These songs fit in very nicely in a '78-'82 timeframe. A little bit '70's punk mixed with a little bit of Oi! I'm not sure who "Anorexic Princess of Pop" is about but they're singing about "starve yourself to death". It could apply to any of favorite female popsters. Their introductory letter says they are into skating so it's not a surprise to hear "Skate to Live, Live to Skate". This demo shows promise and is something I wouldn't mind throwing a few dollars down for when they record a full length.
Sick 56/Higgins ++
"Out of a Black Pool” 7" (JSNTGM)
Andy Higgins wears his politics on his sleeve. If you don't want to hear Bush bashing and bashing of all his cronies, you probably won't appreciate this. Anyone who has followed this site will know that these sentiments are fine with me. Being from England, Andy takes dead aim at Prime Minister Tony Blair and holds no punches. Sick56 provide backing instrumentation for a reworked version of "California Uber Alles" by the Dead Kennedys, in this case called "Cool Britannia Uber Alles". One of the inserts includes the writings of Andy and his views on the politics of today. It's must-read stuff. Sick56 provide 2 street punk anthems in the vein of early 80's street punk bands like Angelic Upstarts and Exploited. Very good stuff indeed.
7" is also on super thick pink vinyl in a limited 500 copy numbered
edition. Special thanks to Andy for sending me this fine disc.
"City of Rats” 7" (Noma Beach)
Noma Beach Records was kind enough to send me the 100 copy limited edition
yellow vinyl, numbered version of this disc. Thanks, Ryan!! The
Crooks are in your face street punk band with a lean towards early 80's
hardcore units and a comparison to bands such as the Loudmouths (with male
vocals) and Anti-Heroes. There are a generous 5 songs on the disc.
If you like your music ferocious with vocals that are screamed rather than
sung, this will be right up your alley.
“Yesterday's Sweethearts” CD (Street Anthem/Bouncing Sole)
Belgian band put out a great CD-EP last year under the name Riot Squad.
A name change was probably in order since there have been a few Riot Squad's
over the years. What hasn't changed is a super punk rock'n'roll band
with melodic tunes with hooks galore and gruff vocals a la Mike Ness that give
it a gritty feel at the same time. The one female member, Kim, provides
occasional background vocals to soften things up a bit too. One of the
most under-used instruments in punk rock is the piano. I have found that
many of my all time favorite tunes use piano. Sweet Poison uses
piano to great effect as evidenced in the Irish folk song influenced
"Blue Collar". Besides the great originals they also do a
super cover of the Misfit's "Where Eagles Dare". I look forward to
hearing much more from this fabulous band.
Red Letter Day
“More Songs About Love and War” CD (Overground Records)
has raided the vaults again and come up with the 1991 second LP from
Portsmouth, England's Red Letter Day. This also includes 8 songs culled
from various compilation albums and the 1988 split LP with the Sect.
This is solid, gritty street punk reminiscent of bands like the Angelic
Upstarts in their early days. They've also been compared to the Clash, so with
those two reference points you probably get a good idea of where these guys
are coming from. They released their first single in 1986 and have
continued to put out albums ever since and have a new album scheduled for
release in early 2005 on Zip Records. This is solid stuff that gives
fans a chance to get some of their rarer stuff as well as introduce a new
generation of punk music fans to a great band. Get it!
“Loverock” CD (Narnack Records)
Narnack sends me something I can get into! Japan's Guitar
Wolf have one of the most devastating guitar attacks ever put to record
(or CD). This is garage rock at it's finest. Seiji doesn't sing so
much as he spits out the vocals and let's you know that he's the man.
Packed with attitude, packed with distortion, packed with anger, Guitar Wolf
are the kings of guitar rock and they are taking no prisoners. If you've
ever heard that punk is an attitude, then look no further than these leather
clad punk gods from the land of the rising sun. Although the sound is all
their own, I heard hints of the Ramones and GG Allin. This is essential
stuff so get it now!
“Andiamo” CD (Lava Records)
Web Site: www.authorityzero.com
say that lightning doesn't strike twice but it looks like Authority Zero from
the same high school in Mesa, Arizona that spawned Jimmy Eat World has one
foot inside the door of major success. I wasn't expecting a whole lot from
this band but it wasn't half bad. The production is slick and shows that
they have the backing of major label, Atlantic, that manufactured and
distributed the CD. You won't hear anything new here and there's a
liberal sprinkling of ska influences, which I could do without. There's
also a Bad Religion influence that pops up quite a bit. They do a
commendable remake of "Mexican Radio". They maybe try a little
too hard to be everything to everybody and throw in a thrashy hardcore number
that only tends to irritate. PCH-82 is way over the top and I assume
meant to be some kind of political statement although I haven't quite figured
out what it is they are trying to get across. This is not a CD I'd
recommend but hopefully I've given you enough of a description for you to make
your own judgment.
“The Real New Fall LP” CD (Narnack Records)
Fall have been around forever. I have some of their early records from
the 70's. Falling on the side of experimental, artsy music, the Fall have
never been one of my favorites. However, they have injected enough
traditional musical structures in the music to keep my interest.
"Sparta 2XX" is a rousing little number that has a lot of
appeal. "Janet and Johnny" would fall nicely in the Velvet
Underground catalog. Most of the rest doesn't do much for me but if you
are already a Fall fan I think you'll enjoy this.
“Confuse Yr Idols: A Tribute to Sonic Youth" CD (Narnack Records)
never been a fan of Sonic Youth and this CD does nothing to make me change my
mind. I liked one song on this by a female fronted band called New
Grenada that sang the song "Eric's Trip". Other than that it
sounds like they found some obscure bands that could create artsy versions of
Sonic Youth's songs. It falls totally flat with me. Don't waste
The Yellow Swans
“Bring the Neon War Home” CD (Narnack Records)
AWFUL!!!! Computer generated noise including two "songs" in
excess of 10 minutes. Anybody with a computer could have made this
crap. Screaming vocals buried deep in the mix on song one
otherwise "instrumental" all the way. What makes anybody want
to make this crap and why would anybody by it?
My So-Called Band
“Weapons of Mass Distortion” Mini-CD (Suicide Watch)
a very overtly political band. Good for them! If you don't speak
out against the things you see that you know aren't right, you will end up
like the mindless masses that can't get away from their escapist TV shows as
the song "WMD" explains. Songs about racial profiling, the
Patriot Act, class war and Rachel Corrie who only wanted to make the world
better in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and paid with her life. The
music is aggressive, the music is angry, the music is about bashing you in the
face and wiping the apathy away. Fans of early 80's punk will find a lot
to like on the this CD. Their previous CD was reviewed by Mario and can
be found by scrolling down a bit on this page if you want to know more about
“Orange County” CD Single (YHWH Books and Records)
band has an interesting premise. They have faith healings, expel demons
and pass around the basket for donations at their live shows. If the
songs were half as interesting as their live show sounds, they might have
something going for them. Unfortunately the two tunes here are very
boring indie rock with none of the humor that their live set would tend to
make you think would be present. Don't waste your time.
“Stukas Over Disneyland” M-CD (Overground Records)
cut my teeth in the early days of L.A. punk, the Dickies were one of those
bands that stood out amongst the pack. They played a brand of guitar
driven pop (power pop, pop punk? - use your own label) that caught the eye of
a major label (A&M) early on that was looking to cash in (ha ha) on this
new form of music and chose a non-threatening band to do it with. The
Dickies were all about fun as anybody who has ever spun their records will
know. Overground Records has re-released this 1983 gem that they put out
in 1998 to coincide with the Dickies 2004 European tour. Eight songs of
unadulterated pop which includes Led Zeppelin's "Communication
Breakdown" (you never knew that was a pop song did you?) and a rework of
the Quick's "Pretty Please Me" which is actually my preferred
version. Leonard's (lead singer) first goal as a young punk was to be a
member of the Quick. I hadn't heard these tunes in quite awhile but they
stand the test of time brilliantly. The Dickies are a band for the ages
and if you are in a city nearby, don't miss them on the European tour.
“Last Train To Nowhere” CD (Psychobubblegum)
is a few years old, released in 2001 but just arrived in the PO Box a couple
of weeks ago. Psychotic Reaction play a brand of street punk that
borders on hardcore at times but they are always in control and the songs have
melody. There are 18 songs here so you are getting your money's
worth. When "I See Red" came on, I cranked the volume.
It is as good a song as I've heard in awhile. "Out Tonight"
and "Empty Bottles" also grabbed me by the balls. There are
enough punk moments to satisfy the punkers and enough hardcore moments to
satisfy the hardcore crowd. If you like both genre's you are in great
“Streetpunk Worldwide” CD (Rebellion/Bandworm/Street Anthem)
Web site:Street Anthem Records, Rebellion Records, Bandworm Records
good folks over at Street Anthem sent this in for review. I have
reviewed several of their releases which can be read below. The tunes
that Street Anthem have submitted for this compilation are all contained on
their earlier releases. These include tracks by Dirty Water, Riot Squad,
Agitators, Maddog Surrender, Joe Coffee and the Weekend Warriors. Riot
Squad and the Agitators are a must if you have not previously heard
them. Rebellion Records contributes songs by Badlands, Hateful, Squalor,
Southern Way, Knockdown and Razorblade. Standouts amongst the Rebellion
tunes are songs by Badlands, Knockdown. Bandworm Records rounds out the
bunch with tunes by Vogelfrei, Sperrzone, Red Union, Gundog, Clockwork
Crew Hardsell, Vigilnates and Rejected Youth. Standouts here are
Vogelfrei, Gundog and Hardsell. If you like street punk anthems and Oi!,
this compilation will definitely be right up your alley. I know I'm
going to seek out a good number of the bands on this compilation. Oi!
““Working Class Zero” CD-R EP (Self Produced Demo)
web site is pretty sparse but from the pictures it looks like their some old
farts. Don't let that fool you. This 3 song CD-R EP demo packs a
1977 style wallop that immediately grabbed me as a Sham 69 influenced
band. I really enjoyed their mid-tempo guitar driven sound. Well
written catchy, songs are the order of the day. I hope to hear more form
these guys in the future.
Web site: www.overgroundrecords.co.uk
historical release by the great folks over at Overground Records. This
one is a re-release of 1981's Strange Kicks originally released by IRS
Records. This one finds Mark Perry and Alex Ferguson shedding their
experimental leanings and trying for a pop album. They seem to be ahead
of themselves in the creating the alternative sound that would dominate the
airwaves during the 80's. Included are 6 bonus tracks to round out your
Sisters” CD (Howler Records)
Web site: www.alicedonut.com
first listen I wasn't overly impressed. Second time around I came to
appreciate this a little bit more and realized that my initial impression was
almost certainly due to thje fact that that last 3 songs are some of the
weakest on the album and that was the impression I was left with.
They've been around for quite some time and only recently reunited to create
this album and tour again. When they are upbeat and energetic and
rocking out, they do an admirable job of keeping my interest. However,
when they slow it down and try to be radio friendly they lose me just as
quickly. "Helsinki" came across as some really bad metal and
"Kcick" had some of David Bowie's worst moments prominent.
However, a song like "She Tells Me Things" which starts off the
album, gets your toes tapping. If you are a fan of the band, maybe this
will be an exciting release for you. If you are just being introduced
the band, beware that the multitude of influences could leave you cold on
Revenge/DJ Shitbird and the Ultimate Party Machine
Web site: http://www.narnackrecords.com
haven't been overly kind to Narnack releases that have been sent to me in the
past and this will be no exception. Mario is much more in tune with this
kind of music and would do it more justice than I. However, he is busy
getting his label, Plastic Idol Records, up and running and that is his top
priority right now. He did tell me this is likely to make his year end
top ten, though. The artwork is very convoluted. I didn't know it
was a split CD until Mario told me. Try picking out what songs are on
the album and what order by looking at the artwork. The first 11 songs
are by Revenge and have members from the Coachwhips, Numbers, Lil Pocket Knife
and Comets On Fire. If you like synthesizers, simplistic drum lines and
incoherent lyrics, this is for you. It is experimental music that tends
to get lumped together with punk even if it isn't. I didn't really care
for the Screamers, Arthur J and the Gold Cups, Geza X and others of their ilk
when they played during the initial wave of L.A. bands and my tastes haven't
changed since. DJ Shitbird and the Ultimate Party Machine was still not
my cup of tea (synthesizers and drums again) but at least had some semblance
of song structure, understandable female lyrics and they sounded like they
were having fun. Partying was the theme of the day. I probably
could have done without a song about elephants dancing however. Visions
of Marie Merz dance through my head.
Web site: http://www.narnackrecords.com
be a little kinder to this Narnack release. This is not punk. Far
from it. It sounds like it could have been recorded on the Louisiana
Bayou in the 1930's. It is down home, rootsy, folksy songs played with
acoustic guitar and harmonica. You may be tempted to yell Yee-Haw at times
when the songs take on that bluegrass feel. "One Sunday
Morning" is gospel tinged and "Loretta lee Jones" is a foot
stomping, high energy (as much as you can be with harmonica and acoustic
guitar) song. I'm not sure too many of our readers are going to find it
to their liking but hopefully I've described it well enough for you to
Glory Of Honour” LP (Noma Beach)
Web site: http://www.nomabeach.com
Last year, Noma Beach Records introduced the world to Oil! via a 7” EP entitled “Red, White, and Boots.” The excellent “Red, White, and Boots” EP featured four no-holds-barred punkers that were delivered with conviction and well-placed humor. As the urgency of the EP’s music hit you squarely in the chest, Oil! poked fun at skinhead subculture with over-the-top lyrics and imagery. Though the package was an obvious piss-take, it was executed well enough to give most current releases in a similar musical vein a run for their money.
Now, Noma Beach Records has released the much-anticipated Oil! full-length LP, “The Glory Of Honour” (CD version available on Germany’s Ghetto Rock Records). Thankfully, none of the momentum established by their EP is lost on this release. Though two tracks from the EP, “Red, White, and Boots” and “I’ve Got Bills To Pay,” make an appearance, the bulk of the material on “The Glory Of Honour” represents the balance of the “Red, White, and Boots” session and is unreleased.
Once again, “The Glory Of Honour” finds Oil! taking charge in the spirit of early Anti-Heros records, especially the more up-tempo material on “That’s Right!” The sound of Oil! is also reminiscent of such ‘Noma luminaries as the Bodies and the Trends, which is unsurprising given the band’s roster. Unlike those early Anti-Heros records, “The Glory Of Honour” was superbly produced. Play this LP loud not because you need to crank the volume in order to hear it, but because it sounds so much better that way! Anthems such as “Clockwork Violence, Leftwing Silence,” “Proud Of My Pride,” and “Fuck You” will inspire the masses to raise their fists and voice their approval. Boots or no boots, it’s hard not to join in. There’s even a well-done Oxblood cover, “Under The Boot,” that rounds out this 12-song effort.
The packaging for “The Glory Of Honour” LP is highly effective, featuring silk-screened black-on-red LP jackets and a 16-page booklet that includes an Oil! biography, interview, and lyrics. The booklet is only included with the LP’s first pressing of 300 copies, so you should grab one of these gems quickly if you want to learn more about the legend behind the boots.
For exactly how long the knuckleheads in Oil! can keep the gimmick going is anybody’s guess (the booklet promises a second full-length installment). Though most jokesters require an ever-evolving act to keep fans coming back for more, I suspect that Oil! will continue to impress, as long as their music rings true. “The Glory Of Honour” upholds this theory.
Control” CD (self-released)
CD begins with the strike of a single guitar chord and a question:
“Is you with us, or is you against us?”
It only took me a matter of seconds to answer:
I is with you, fellas. The
Destroyed were a Killed By Death-era punk band from Massachusetts who, like
many of their peers, didn’t stick around very long.
According to the liner notes for this CD, the Destroyed’s shelf life
lasted all of two years, from 1977-1979.
Thankfully, the band had enough sense to hit “record” on the
practice room tape deck some 25+ years ago and document the noise they were
making. “Outta Control” is a
follow-up release to a Destroyed retrospective compiled by drummer Bert
Switzer entitled “Bert Switzer: 1977-2002.”
It includes ten unreleased cassette tape recordings of the Destroyed
from the 70s, and reunites Switzer with Destroyed guitarist J.D. Jackson and
one time bandmate, Henry Kaiser, for some new collaborations.
I’d never heard of the Destroyed prior to this release, and that’s
a damn shame. This material, old and
new, reeks of the proto-punk rock ‘n’ roll thunder of Iggy and the Stooges
or Rocket From the Tombs—music that was raw, real, and way ahead of its
time. The archival stuff on this
package is aces, but the big surprise is the new material, which ain’t too
shabby at all. Let the record
state that I’m “Mr. Skeptic” when it comes to band reunions, but I’ll
be damned if 7 of the 10 new songs on “Outta Control” aren’t winners.
Switzer and Jackson’s new tunes are sludgy, four-chord arrangements
peppered with mid-70s punk influences that rely on a healthy guitar buzz,
fill-oriented drumming, and nasally vocals heavy on the ‘tude to get the job
done. And they succeed.
I’m less enthusiastic, however, about the two cuts on which Switzer
reunites with guitar god Henry Kaiser, with whom Switzer played in another
outfit, Monster Island, in 1977. Unfortunately,
both Switzer/Kaiser tracks descend into the sort of self-indulgent wankery
that interested me 15 years ago, when flawlessly executing hot-shit guitar
licks meant something to my bright-eyed, guitar-totin’ pals and me.
Now, this feeling-up of the fretboard exercise bores me to tears.
The drum solo that rounds out the new tracks is ill-advised and marks a
lull in the disc’s energy level as it nears its halfway point.
While Switzer is an impressive drummer, I prefer to appreciate good
musicianship in the context of good songs.
Point me in the direction of top quality, raunchy rock ‘n’ roll the
likes of which appears on the ensuing cassette tape recordings!
Give me more primo, tape hiss-laden, gritty, mid-tempo punkers!
Fans of 70s punk take note: “Outta
Control” is worth the search.
vs. Fuckers” LP (Narnack)
Web site: http://www.narnackrecords.com
Over the course of several releases, Coachwhips have developed a clear picture of where they want to go as a band and how they’re going to get there. Whereas their debut, “Hands on the Controls,” was a raw-as-all-get-out, “wet behind the ears” affair, its successor, “Get Yer Body Next Ta Mine,” upped the ante, marrying first-rate songwriting with the production know-how of Numbers guitarist Dave Broekema to create a record that inspired people to look, listen, and, of course, dance. “Bangers vs. Fuckers” is another step forward for Coachwhips, particularly in terms of their delivery, which is looser and more relaxed than on previous releases. Though the energy level and dance-o-meter remain off the charts from start to finish, the songs on “Bangers vs. Fuckers” are constructed in such a way that they have room to breathe: nothing is forced, and every note has its place. The same harmony is true for the production supplied by Weasel Walter of Flying Luttenbachers fame, which is equal parts raw and warm, nestling somewhere between Coachwhips’ first two full-lengths. The cumulative effect yields a record that rivals the effects of savoring a hot cup of yummy soup on a cold winter day, slipping on a well-worn pair of tennis shoes, or reaching for that trusty blanket that has seen better days but with which you refuse to part. “Bangers vs. Fuckers” is a feel-good record. It’s that simple. Irresistibly catchy and dance-inducing, experiencing this record produces warm and fuzzy sensations inside and out—slip this baby onto your turntable and get ready for a sweaty mess. Coachwhips’ front man John Dwyer still knows his way around a catchy tune with the best of ‘em, melding influences from various garage punk folds with a bluesy, twangy, soulful vocal style for a sound that isn’t “new” per se, but retains the fresh and exciting appeal of something that is. Dwyer is the consummate ringleader: an affable guy with chops aplenty who knows precisely how to work a room. At Coachwhips gigs, he’s liable to set up shop in the middle of the club and rock the fuck out. Hell, even the bathroom is fair game—I’m not kidding. On this record, Dwyer’s supporting cast of drummer John Harlow and keyboard player/rhythm shaker Mary Ann McNamara successfully reprise their roles, although they are no longer in the band. Coachwhips have emerged from the lineup shuffle rather well, however; recent live showings have affirmed the band’s structural integrity. Nevertheless, the loss of drummer Harlow is rather disappointing, if only because his drumming “limitations” helped define Coachwhips’ sound and are not easily replicated. But that’s another worry for another day. Meanwhile, this LP sounds fanfuckingtastic. “Bangers vs. Fuckers” is the ideal soundtrack for your next soiree, so get this and impress your friends. Five hundred copies on sexy red vinyl going once, going twice . . .
As the Stars We're Under” CD EP (Street Anthem)
an 8 song CD EP from the great Street Anthem Records out of Seattle, WA. The
first song was a bit on the melodic hardcore side and reminded me at times of
Motorhead. The songs vary between gruff vocaled straight ahead punk and
what could well pass for a hardcore ballad in "Pretty in Pinko".
If you like your punk with balls, this should appeal to you. I would say
it leans to hardcore but there's too much melody and musical expertise to
totally pigeon hole it in that category.
7" (Street Anthem)
a fabulous split seven inch between two street punk/Oi! bands. Urban
Riot play a mid-tempo song, "Here To Stay" followed by an uptempo
song, "Shattered Glass" that leans more towards hardcore. The
songwriting is excellent and the songs have the hooks in all the right
places. Maddog Surrender made me want to jump up and wave my fist and
yell Oi! Oi! Oi! I definitely preferred the Maddog Surrender side as
both songs were Oi! anthems that stay in your head long after you hear
them. Fans of the genre will not be disappointed.
Idol” DVD (Narnack)
Few bands, if any, eclipse the energy and passion for rock ‘n’ roll music exhibited by Japan’s Guitar Wolf with every record and live show. Narnack’s first DVD release, “Red Idol,” captures beautifully the spirit of this legendary band through live footage, music videos, and interviews with the band and their peers.
Filmed in their native Japan, the quality of the live footage on this DVD is outstanding. Multiple camera angles and sharp editing capture Guitar Wolf live in all their beer-slamming, leather-wearing, Marshalls-for-miles glory. The spectacle of the live footage on this DVD is in stark contrast to Guitar Wolf gigs in the United States, which find them playing dives to hundreds of people, rather than medium-sized venues to thousands as portrayed here.
Equally impressive are the interviewees assembled for this project. Take a walk down memory lane with Eric Friedl, who reminisces about Guitar Wolf’s first show in Memphis. Learn about Greg Lowery’s plan to export a special glass case from Japan in which front man Seiji stores his guitar and leather jacket. Impress your Japanese pals by repeating the choice words Guitar Wolf imparted upon Tim Kerr. Praise Seiji for his quick thinking in dealing with a drunken fan at a San Francisco show, as told by Mike Lucas. There are more names and anecdotes, but I think you get the general idea.
interviews don’t go beyond the standard interview fare, but they do reveal
the members of Guitar Wolf to be down-to-earth and not without a sense of
humor. They’re also fascinated
by science fiction and B-movies, to which many of their music videos can
attest. Scenes from the clip for
“Murder By Rock!!” for example, would be at home on an episode of The
Twilight Zone, with its grainy shots of armed spacesuit-clad men inspiring
mass hysteria. However, the video
for “Sky Star Jet” is the most dramatic of the lot, featuring liberal
amounts of footage from the movie Wild Zero in which Guitar Wolf is
featured prominently. A
theatrical trailer for Wild Zero is among the clips included on this
DVD and it looks unbelievably entertaining.
Watch Guitar Wolf effortlessly dispose of zombies using an assortment
of weaponry—even their guitar picks double as makeshift ninja stars—as
love blooms for a young couple in the face of adversity.
And there’s a fair amount of blood involved too.
Everybody loves blood, right? Right.
Then it’s settled. Get
this DVD right away! It’s worth
and Labor/Tyondai Braxton
Rise, Rise” split CD (Narnack)
Parts and Labor kick off this split CD with an almost exclusively instrumental approach that is akin to label mates Hella, although nowhere near as video gamey. Five of the seven Parts and Labor tracks on this disc are of the instrumental variety, ranging from the bagpipe-led harmony of “Jurassic Technology” to the math rock stylings of “Voltage” to the Devo-like synth action of “Probably Feeling Better Already.” Parts and Labor’s instrumental compositions are delivered with the intricacy and spontaneity that make for complex, interesting music, but the swirling sounds and melodies championed by this trio also translate into appealing songs that embrace rather than alienate the listener. Though I am not a huge fan of instrumental music, I enjoyed what Parts and Labor laid out instrumentally on this disc to the extent that my critical listening evolved into carefree listening, which says a lot. When Parts and Labor dish out the words, like they do on “Days in Thirds,” a post-punk buzz emerges from their sonic landscape and they flirt with angularity. It’s exceptionally good. I’d normally like to hear more vocals more often, but it’s hard for me to hold that against Parts and Labor because their instrumentals are as appealing as their songs with vocals. Incidentally, at the end of the day it’s an instrumental, “Probably Feeling Better Already,” that refuses to leave my head.
Providing virtually a seamless transition from Parts and Labor to Tyondai Braxton is “Stand There,” the first and best of three Braxton offerings. This cut might easily be mistaken for a Parts and Labor song if you’re not paying attention to the track listing; it also happens to be the shortest Braxton song on this disc. What Braxton lacks in quantity he makes up for in song length—“Disintegrating Reels” and “Jackpot” clock in at 12:33 and 8:48, respectively. Whereas “Stand There” features layered instrumentation, “Disintegrating Reels” and “Jackpot” are more sparsely arranged. “Disintegrating Reels” begins with a chant over the jangle of a clean guitar, both of which gradually escalate as the song moves forward. “Jackpot” is an emotive piano-driven tune. Neither track is particularly memorable. That said, I probably won’t be playing Braxton’s portion of “Rise, Rise, Rise” as much as Parts and Labor.
--Mario Solis (1/18/04)
Me ep” 7” (Narnack)
The first time I heard X27, I got really excited. “Here’s a band that sounds similar to one of my favorite bands, the A-Frames,” I concluded. I eagerly shared X27’s debut full-length, “Your Neu Favorite Band,” with friends, billing them as “A-Framesian.” Despite my prodding, nobody with whom I shared X27’s CD affirmed my point of reference. “The Me ep” should definitely change that. This 7” includes blown-out versions of four songs from X27’s Narnack debut: “Me,” “Zoo,” “Spider,” and “Superstar.” After hearing these recordings, it’s official: If you like the A-Frames, you’d like X27. The boom, bang, and clang are in full effect on this record and, to these ears, the recording is far superior to X27’s debut CD. Then again, I’m of the opinion that a little mud in the mix never hurt anybody. Shoptalk aside, the songs on this 7” are great! Think rhythm, racket, and roll. No filler. And it’s on pink vinyl. Go vinyl!
Radio” 7” (Narnack)
On some level, there’s probably some irony in a band dubbing an infectiously catchy song “B-Side Radio” and then watching it end up as the flagship of a two-song single. Regardless, one thing is for sure: Shesus has a firm grasp of catchy, quirky pop. The two songs on this 7”, “B-Side Radio” and “Hawaiian Love Song,” may also be found on Shesus’ excellent Narnack full-length, “Loves You…Loves You Not.” The versions on this 7” differ slightly from their full-length only in terms of production, although little is lost in terms of sound quality. “B-Side Radio” and “Hawaiian Love Song” are both rather subdued pop numbers that depict the “softer” side of Shesus. They’ve got a few more tricks up their sleeve, however, and their full-length does a better job of conveying their versatility as a band. Start with “Loves You…Loves You Not” and work your way back to this 7” in order to fully appreciate what Shesus has to offer.
Austin, TX strikes again! Johnny Thunders lives on through bands like the Eastside Suicides. New York Dolls style glam rock never fails to get my juices flowing and these 10 tunes are no exception. Snotty vocals on top of the Thunders riffs in a mid tempo form and you get the idea. Pink Personality stands out for me with hooks galore as does Booker T. Projects and Bad News for the same reasons. Four of the songs clock in at 4:00 minutes or more without ever seeming overly long. This is a super solid debut on Austin's own Super Secret label. I look forward to more from this band and Austin in general.
-- Willy Aadnoy (12/28/03)
(Dead Rock Records)
It is so nice to listen to something again and just say "That's punk rock!". Forget the sub-genre labels, this one rocks with a fury that makes you remember why you got into punk in the first place. These 3 songs are rock solid blasts of guitar driveb energy that slap you in the face. "The Loudest Voice" is filled with hooks as well as energy and is the centerpiece for this brilliant single. Whatever they put in the water in the Northwest, I want some.
Willy Aadnoy (12/28/03)
The Art Attacks
CD (Overground Records)
This was originally released in 1998 on the great Overground Records out of England and is now being re-released in 2003 by Overground. The Art Attacks were one of the first punk bands to come out in England in 1977. My first exposure to them was from the super "Streets" LP released on Beggar's Banquet in 1977 with their song, Arabs in 'Arrads. They released two classic singles, "I Am A Dalek" and "The Art Attacks First" featuring my favorite song of theirs, "Punk Rock Stars". The beauty of this compilation is that you get their entire recorded works including all compilation tracks, the 2 singles, and some previously unreleased tunes. Anybody who is a fan of KBD and Bloodstains bands will want this in their collection. The Art Attacks were mostly a mid-tempo punk band but they definitely had the songwriting abilities to back it all up. There is no mistaking where they are from when you hear the snotty vocals with the heavy English accent. This is a timeless collection that you should definitely seek out.
-- Willy Aadnoy (12/21/03)
“Suburban Nightmare” CD (Dionysus Records)
It's 2003 and all is right with the world as we have a new Dogs album with the original line up which has been together since the early 70's!! Loren Molinare, Mary Kay and Ron Wood deserve recognition as one of the earliest pioneers of the punk sound. Thankfully they relocated to L.A. in the mid 70's where they became one of my favorite bands. Fast forward to 2003 and we have 10 new tunes from the Dogs which build nicely on their Bacchus Archives album called Fed Up! which was a career restrospective. This is Iggy meets MC5 meets the Sex Pistols. Having grown up in Detroit, they were heavily influenced by the Stooges and the MC5. This collection of tunes brings you the debut vocal performance by Ron Wood, the drummer. It's basically a novelty tune a la Ringo's contributions to the Beatles but the song is solid and delivers on the chuckles. You may also recognize the song "Oh Yeah" which was released by Texas Terri a few years ago and co-written by Terri and Loren. "The Class of 1970" was released on a single this year and is a homage to Iggy and the early 70's from which the is Dogs were born. You will never hear a more powerful guitar sound than that which Loren delivers on these songs. You would swear there were multiple guitars. If you are a Dogs fan you won't be disappointed. If you are not yet a Dogs fan, this album should make you one.
-- Willy Aadnoy (12/21/03)
The 'Lectric Chairs
“Sparkolounger” CDSparkolounger” CD EP (Dionysus Records)
It's not too often you can review two releases in a row and have the same song on both. This happened with "GST 483" which was co-written by Marsh Gooch of the 'Lectric Chairs and Loren Molinare of the Dogs. Loren has taken over live guitar duties for the band too since this CD EP was recorded. These six punk rock'n'roll songs have a solid guitar sound. The songs range from mid-tempo to upbeat and all feature superb songwriting, tight rhythm section and solid guitar work. My favorite song is "Theme From Filthy Bastard" which reminded me greatly of my favorite non-punk band, the Status Quo. It is a hard driving song with some Chuck Berry riffs that will get you up on your table shaking your ass. This is a super debut by a band to watch for, just what you'd expect from Dionysus.
Willy Aadnoy (12/21/03)
Andy over at JSNTGM sent me this 10 song CD by a band called Dina. Having heard much of the JSNGTM catalog, my hopes were high for another solid release. Although it is not a horrible album by any means, the leanings towards emo were just a bit too much for me to bear. The singer reminded me a bit of early Mega City 4. If you liked that band, you probably will enjoy this too. Although you want to like releases by labels and people you have a lot of respect for, it's not always possible. I'm sure I will find both appealing and not so appealing releases in the future on JSNTGM.
Willy Aadnoy (12/21/03)
Sounds For a Now Generation” CD-R (self-released)
judge a book by its cover” is a cliché that we’ve all encountered on
countless occasions in our lives. And
the odds are better than average that we’ve all had our share of
experiences where this popular phrase rang true and showed signs of merit.
Nevertheless, it was difficult for me not to develop preconceived
notions about the Transfusions’ sound based on the artwork for their
niftily titled “New Sounds For a Now Generation” CD-R, which prominently
features a handful of superb punk and power pop records, old and new, from
the likes of Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers and the Boys to the Rip
Offs and the Exploding Hearts. Musically,
the Transfusions’ sound leans more towards the “old” than the
“new,” borrowing liberally from ’77-era punk and its offshoots to
create a modern-slanted, retro sound that is well done, though not perfectly
recalling the husky-voiced snarl and punchy melodicism of Germany’s Killed
By Death-era punkers, PVC, the Transfusions excel at writing simple,
hook-filled punk tunes that warrant repeated listening, such as “Vacant
Radio” and “With You.” Several
of the six originals on this CD-R, including the aforementioned “With
You,” walk the line between ’77 punk and the more tuneful end of labels
such as Headache Records or TKO Records, minus the occasional tough-guy
posturing and questionable lyrical content.
I imagine that the Transfusions’ music would appeal equally to fans
of these labels and the like, in addition to devotees of more retro punk
sounds. Though the
Transfusions’ songs are generally well-written, there is an amateurish
feel to both the songwriting and musicianship, bearing the mark of a band
that is still “learning how to play their instruments.”
The same is true for the quality of the recording, which is rather
flat and does little to enhance the urgency of the material.
But these issues have a way of disappearing as a band evolves.
Most importantly, the energy and enthusiasm inherent in a quality
punk band are present on this disc, and often times those qualities are
enough to hold people’s interest.
Day Urban Barbarians
Endless Retreat” CD (Public Eyesore/South 6th Productions)
Web site: http://www.mdub.com
I usually don’t pay too much attention to the one-sheets that often supplement the music I receive for review. The short explanation is that I prefer to write my own material rather than look to standard promotional fare do my writing for me. Don’t be naïve: when it comes to reviewing records, convenience trumps objectivity in the eyes of many. So it was with an unflinching eye that I skimmed the Modern Day Urban Barbarians’ one-sheet before getting down to the business of listening, but instead of completely ignoring the text, I found myself entertained. The Modern Day Urban Barbarians (henceforth referred to as “the Barbarians”) are a curious bunch who live up to their “odd men, strange sounds” billing. The nine songs that comprise “The Endless Retreat” may not go a long way towards the Barbarians’ objective to “lay siege to Modern Music as it is seen today,” but their music isn’t easy to peg, and that’s a very good start. Although this drums and bass combo from New York is hardly inaccessible, I wasn’t immediately compelled to say that “they sound like so-and-so” after running through their songs. In fact, I initially mislabled the bass tone on this disc as being the work of a guitar in response to the disc’s first track, “TV.” This song kicks off with a dirgelike riff over clunky rhythms, resembling the drone of an early Black Sabbath record. The instrument’s true identity was revealed when the band shifted gears halfway through the song, and the sound thinned out considerably. Thankfully not all songs on this disc suffer from a lack of bottom end given the bass/drums emphasis. “New Elvis” recalls the bass-driven noise of a band like Cop Shoot Cop, with its fuzzy bass line and danceable backbeat, and is one of the disc’s best songs. Other songs on “The Endless Retreat” come across in a similar fashion, flirting with indie, punk, and noise-like sounds, but paying careful attention to work the room and avoid hanging out exclusively in any one camp. While this is a respectable skill for a band to master, and the quality of the songwriting isn’t bad, this disc didn’t command the attention it should have through 25 or so listening sessions. What is particularly noteworthy about this CD, however, is the lyrical content, which touches on such diverse subjects as post 9/11 reflections, media influence on public perception, working shitty jobs to make ends meet, and searching for a purpose in life. That the Barbarians’ take on these themes and the simple yet effective manner with which the messages are conveyed has little in common with their peers in the art-punk community is refreshing. Essential or not, you might enjoy coming to terms with your inner barbarian using “The Endless Retreat” as a soundtrack.
7” (Noma Beach)
Web site: http://www.nomabeach.com
Every band has live showings where their performance leaves a bit to be desired. Some bands have more “off” nights than others, of course, but for the most part a poor set is an anomaly, and it happens to the best of them. That said, it’s a good idea to keep an open mind after taking in a subpar set by a band with which you are not too familiar; you’re just as likely to be floored as you are to be bored the next time you see and/or hear them. I caught the Showoffs on a shaky night several months ago during a showcase for Noma Beach Records. The show was my first exposure to the band, and unfortunately it didn’t heighten my expectations for their debut 7”. Despite a few bright spots during the Showoffs’ set that night, such as their humorous stage presence and scrappy energy, they were out-of-tune, sloppy, and tipsy. Not good. While I may have been skeptical about this record based on an isolated live showing, I didn’t write-off completely these kids from “Hayward Beach,” California, and in hindsight it was a smart move. The Showoffs’ debut EP on Noma Beach Records rivals the rest of the label’s output in terms of quality, which means that I will play this record quite a bit. On record the Showoffs expound upon the raw energy that is part of their live show, with a mid-to-fast paced, snotty punk approach that cops a “fuck you” attitude and inspires you to sing along and follow suit. Two of the EP’s tracks, “Can’t Run” and “Psycho Girl,” pay homage to their kindred spirits, the Bodies, especially in terms of the guitar and bass lines. The remaining two songs on this platter, “Pyromaniac” and “Fuckin’ Gone,” lean more towards Angry Samoans-style snot punk, and are chock full of hooks, punch, and swagger. Overall, the four tunes are solid and memorable, and sonically the “Bodies meets Rip Off Records” tag offered on the EP’s insert holds true throughout the record, with a mid-fi recording that keeps the slick factor in check. Like all great vinyl, the visual appeal of this 7” is as impressive as its aural appeal. Fifty of the 300 copies pressed include an alternate sleeve design, an attractive pink-on-white print of a bare-breasted female; the other 250 copies feature a Showoffs guitar shot. Both sleeve designs look fantastic, but if you want boobs, you need to hurry. Cool record. Now I want to be impressed live.
Bugs Bunny on Wild Bass” CD-EP (Narnack)
Web site: http://www.narnackrecords.com
Hella is a name that I’ve seen around Sacramento for several years, usually while perusing the local alternative weekly paper in search of weekend show plans. Despite my insatiable desire for new music, I’ve somehow missed hearing this local guitar/drums duo until now. Like many bands that emphasize a “less is more” philosophy regarding band structure, Hella dismisses the notion that the playing field isn’t level in terms of sound. I’m always impressed when bands comprised of one or two people are capable of making enough noise to hold their own against their more populated counterparts. Hella is no exception. Musically, Hella doesn’t follow any rules, adopting an almost free-form, improvisational-like approach to instrumental songwriting. Vocals are absent, and in their place we are treated to a fusion of technical percussion, wailing guitar, and various electronics. It’s an effective combination that hangs together better than it probably should. The material on “Total Bugs Bunny on Wild Bass” comes across as one part video game soundtrack, one part concept album, and one part instrumental mindfuck. This may be an ambitious description, but it is more spot-on than you can imagine. That said, be sure to check your baggage at the door and hang on tight; there’s a lot going on here. Although the interplay between various instruments on this CD-EP produces engaging music, I’m convinced that the results would be much better if someone screamed like a deranged lunatic over the top of it all. I suppose I was aiming for art-damaged, and ended up with just plain arty. Regardless, through repeated listening I’ve observed that Hella’s intricate arrangements (which occasionally remind me of a more controlled version of the Locust—sans the screamy vocals, of course) take on a different identity when heard consecutively as one piece, rather than in partial sittings. This is where the idea of a “concept album” originated for me. While I doubt that Hella intended for this CD-EP to be a concept album, instrumental music allows for a creative listening experience in that there are no words to point you in the “right” direction. Like a greeting card that’s blank inside, instrumental music gives the purchaser an opportunity to supply the narrative, and in my case, the narrative I chose for this CD-EP consisted of an “adventure” with a distinct beginning, middle, and end. The liner notes for this disc indicate that these seven songs were “recorded and mixed at home,” and the recording quality is good. However, I have one minor gripe: despite the prominent nature of the drumming, the snare drum and kick drum sounds could be better. As an added selling point for the perennially uncool CD-EP format, “Total Bugs Bunny on Wild Bass” includes a video clip for the song “Brown Metal,” consisting of a live performance in front of a packed house at what is arguably the best all-ages venue in town, the Capitol Garage. After hearing this CD-EP and enjoying the video, I’m sure I would enjoy Hella live. Listening tips: Dust off your now-vintage 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System console, insert a game along the lines of The Legend of Zelda or Metroid, and slip a copy of “Total Bugs Bunny on Wild Bass” into your stereo. Hit “repeat,” turn down the volume on your television, and geek out.
Since I was also sent a copy of this CD, I though I'd add my 2 cents worth. Why anyone would invest their money to release this shit is beyond me. That we are even reviewing this garbage on a punk rock site I find kind of appalling. Don't waste your money.
-- Willy Aadnoy (9/28/03)
It is great to see the Wasps get the Overground treatment. I first was introduced to the music of the Wasps through their track on the Vortex Live album and the Teenage Treats single. They are even immortalized as the band whose song is used for the title of the 10 disc bootleg series "Teenage Treats". The Wasps are most closely aligned with bands such as Generation X and Boys that put 60's pop influences into their punk. Their singles gave us legendary tunes such as Teenage Treats, She Made Magic, This Time and Rubber Cars. Best of all this historical compilation includes 10 previously unreleased songs led by "He's Back" which is very reminiscent of the Modern Lovers tune "She Cracked". This is an exceptional release from an exceptional band. Overground scores again!
-- Willy Aadnoy (9/28/03)
(Demos & Outtakes '77 - '79)” CD (Overground
-- Willy Aadnoy (9/28/03)
Saturday Night Kids
Girl b/w Don't Do It To Yourself” 7" (Route 13)
Birthday Girl starts right up where the Saturday Night Kid's debut CD, Total Knockout, left off. For any devotees of the site, you will know that the aforementioned debut CD was my number one album of 2002. Mid tempo, hooks galore, just perfect pop punk on swirly pink vinyl. The flip side is a Devil Dogs cover and the first to deviate from the SNK formula. The speed is faster, the vocals are rougher but the guitar work is superb. The song is great and does the original justice. I really like their version a lot but hope that they continue to knock out (pun intended) more gems like they did on the first album.
-- Willy Aadnoy (8/31/03)
Exploding Fuck Dolls
To Your Fuck” CD (DHD)
-- Willy Aadnoy (8/31/03)
The Agitators are a street punk band from Belgium. The vocals are snotty and remind me a lot of the Anti-Heroes. The songwriting is great, the pace of the songs is mid-tempo and the rhythm section keeps things moving along nicely. I especially liked F.U.C.B. and Self Pity. They throw in the good ol' "Whoa Oh's" for good measure. This is a whole album's worth of singalong anthems. If you can't get into these tunes, you probably have one foot in the grave. Check these guys out, you won;t be disappointed. Street Anthem Records does it again!
-- Willy Aadnoy (8/17/03)
Broken Heroes and Weekend Warriors
Street punk/Oi! from New Jersey and Pittsburgh. The Broken Heroes supply the first 8 songs full of gruff vocals, driving rhythms, searing leads and singalong anthems. Media Blowout is especially appealing. Any band that can effectively throw in some "Whoa Oh's" usually will grab my attention. They throw in a great rendition of the classic song by Blitz, "Someone's Gonna Die". The Broken Heroes half is a sure winner. Rounding out the CD with an additional 8 songs are the Weekend Warriors. The Warriors were a little more hit and miss with me. Athough all the songs are competent street punk, some of the songs just didn't really grab me. The one song that did grab me by the balls, however, was Let's Drink. I headed straight to the fridge for a bottle of beer when it came on. Street Anthem has become one of my favorite labels in it's short existence and this split is a worthy addition to the catalog.
-- Willy Aadnoy (8/17/03)
Some, Win Some…” CD-R (self-released)
One of the reasons why the hardcore scene has experienced phenomenal growth over the past several years is due to a discernible shift in the genre’s style and sound to a more “old school” aesthetic. Fist of Fury, a four-piece hardcore band from Belgium, manage to incorporate some of that old school charm into their contemporary melodic hardcore sound and the results are impressive. If Fist of Fury were to be evaluated by a jury of their peers, bands such as Good Riddance, Lifetime, and Kid Dynamite would dominate the panel. Fist of Fury are working a sound that is similar to the preceding bands: fast-paced hardcore that is powerful but not moronic; maintains a safe distance from emo-land; and resounds with a thick-sounding production. Most importantly, although Fist of Fury’s songs have that sing-along, fist-pumping quality, including breakdowns with huge backing vocals, the material is devoid of the machismo that occasionally rears its head in today’s largely male-dominated hardcore scene. I didn’t have the luxury of perusing a lyric sheet, but the general tone of the words and music is positive, and not the least bit pretentious. While on par with many of today’s hardcore heavyweights, Fist of Fury’s music also reflects an affinity for mid-to-late 80s posi-core in the spirit of Gorilla Biscuits or 7 Seconds, to whom they pay tribute with a blistering cover of “We’re Gonna Fight.” Overall, this is an exceptionally strong release, and although I don’t listen to a lot of hardcore these days, I found Fist of Fury to be quite refreshing. If you’re looking for a solid up-and-coming hardcore band, look no further than Fist of Fury.
Good friends, the Ladykillers, have released their long anticipated debut CD on Gale-Force Records. The Ladykillers have captured the power and energy of their live shows and translated it to the studio. They have put the rock in punk rock'n'roll. The result is a remarkably good debut that speaks volumes for the future of this band. The album starts off with two scorchers, Lock It Up and Dead End Streets before toning it down a bit on Be My Prey. A 50's style rocker kicks you in the gut with their 4th tune, Smoke Your Ass. The rest of the album continues the solid rockers that show off their songwriting talents mixed with a couple more slower, bluesy numbers that show their range. Their tune, I Want My Rock N' Roll, pretty much sums up my feelings perfectly. Geoff's guitar playing is stellar. If you've ever seen them live you'll know how he jumps around the stage without ever missing a beat. Levine has the perfect voice for this style of music. Rounding out the ensemble is the incredible drumming of Bryan Howard. Impressive debut, guys. I look forward to seeing you next month in Tempe.
--Willy Aadnoy (8/3/03)
Operation Latte Thunder/Are You Fucking Serious
Kitchen Split” 7" (Mis En Place)
Somehow along the way I totally missed the point of hardcore. This split of two hardcore bands from Richmond, VA does nothing to alleviate my confusion. Play songs as fast you possibly can with no melody and scream unintelligibly and you have a good idea of the entire 11 minutes and 9 seconds of this 7". Luckily they include the lyrics for both bands because they actually have some really good stuff to say. Unfortunately you may be able to decipher a word or two along the way but will need the lyric sheet to make sense of the whole thing. Musically, probably the worst thing I've heard in the last 10 years.
--Willy Aadnoy (8/3/03)
and Burn With the Blastoffs” CD-EP (Self Produced)
From the frozen wastelands of Rochester, New York come the Blastoffs with a a five song CD EP of straight ahead punk rock. They incorporate a nice dose of lead guitar to go along with their buzzsaw rhythm guitar assault. Any band that can throw in a few "whoa oh's" can usually also manage to grab my attention too. This is really catchy stufff with the hooks in all the right places. Impressive debut.
The Door and the Window
Twang” CD (Overground)
1976 rolled around and the world was saved form the horrid crap that was being played on the radio and passing as popular music. At least for the few of us who got it, that is. As time went by, others felt that the punk formula was too constricting and sought to make it dangerous again, a little less mainstream. The Door and the Window are one of those bands. Consisting of Bendle and Nag, they took their cheap guitar and synth and proceeded to make what they self describe as "sound and noise". I find that to be a fitting description. It has a very austere sound with most of the tracks consisting of snotty vocals accompanied by synth, horn, keyboards and drums and one song is even a capella. This is true experimental music by two chaps that decided to pick up instruments and just see what happened. The guy running the rehearsal studio where they played proclaimed them "the worst band he had ever heard". You be the judge.
Years of Being Childish” CD (Damaged Goods)
A 2 CD set from the folks at Damaged Goods Records, this is a 25 year retrospective of the musical career of Billy Childish. I must admit that I didn't know much about Mr. Childish before receiving this CD and reading the liner notes. After listening, I realize I have missed out on one of punk's musical geniuses. By design, Billy and his assortment of musical sidekicks have been more interested in remaining a small time act and doing what they want and connecting with their audience. This retrospective covers his time with the Pop Rivits, Milkshakes, Thee Mighty Caesers, Thee Headcoats, Blackhands, Buff Medways and many additional configurations. The early stuff is very raw and sounds punk some of the time, like pre-'64 Beatles at other times and very definitely covers 60's style punk. Thee Headcoatees, a female band singing Billy Childish tunes is also featured here. Damaged Goods has a broad selection of Billy Childish titles available but this would be a good starting point if you aren't already familiar. It will be well worth your investment
Dirty” advance CD-R (Noma Beach)
You may remember the Spites’ lone 45, “Stayin’ Out” b/w “Cheap Beer, Fast Cars, and Girls,” on Rip Off Records. Although the record is not one of the label’s shining moments, it is a sharp burst (like the Arizona heat from which it came) of intense garage punk. The Spites have been gone for years, with guitarist and front man Adam Caine moving on to greater success in bands like the Trust Fund Babies and Radio Reelers. The Spites have “resurfaced,” so to speak, with a “lost” recording session that recently fell into the laps of the folks at Noma Beach Records, who jumped at the opportunity to give the songs a proper release. This nine-song session is set for release later this fall as an LP entitled “Fight Dirty,” with a pressing of 300-500 copies per the label’s web site. Noma Beach was kind enough to send me a CD-R of the forthcoming LP, as well as Xeroxed copies of the artwork for the project, and it rocks. If you were lukewarm about the Spites’ 45, you will be pleased to know that “Fight Dirty” features stronger songwriting and snottier hooks. One listen to these songs will have you scratching your head, wondering if the name of the label on the sleeve is correct. When the Spites hit their stride, as they do on tracks such as “Electric Girl,” “Can’t Think Straight,” and the title track, they are reminiscent of the Zodiac Killers or the Trust Fund Babies (who arguably would have been at home on Rip Off). Adam’s voice is reminiscent of a raspier Greg Lowery and the Spites’ songs are simple, speedy, and snotty in the spirit of Mr. Lowery’s current full-time band (the nine songs here clock in at around 15 minutes). Less impressive, however, is the Spites’ passable cover of “Good Lovin’.” In my estimation, this song works better as a trashy frat rocker, as opposed to a punky garage number. The remaining eight cuts on “Fight Dirty” are sure to please diehard Rip Off Records fans and other trashy rock ‘n’ roll aficionados. Bands that adhere to the Rip Off “sound” are a dime a dozen, and the Spites were no exception. When it comes to this particular style of music, you might as well check your originality meter at the door since you won’t find any here. What you will find, however, is a good LP—not a great LP—and that’s enough to get the job done right.
Neu Favorite Band” CD (Narnack)
The release of X27’s debut full-length follows the release of the Sonic Youth/Erase Errata split single on Narnack Records. In this case, the preceding record proves to be a suitable framework from which to examine X27’s blueprints, as this noisy, rhythmically dense trio sounds like they have amassed a healthy collection of recordings from both bands and their ilk. Unlike some of their peers, X27 sidesteps self-indulgence and relies on a more direct approach to songwriting that is emphasized by a carefully scripted minimalism. Rather than concentrating on producing noise for noise’s sake, X27’s songs are well-crafted, angular pop gems. It’s the sort of addictive, toe tapping dissonance that inspires dance floor debauchery, where the common denominators are convulsive body movements and ear-to-ear grins. As their biography casually states, “X27 put the FUCK back in Rock.” How did they do that? Well, I suppose it has a lot do with X27’s throbbing, machine-like rhythms, which are perfect for exercising the pelvic region. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that no song on this disc tops the 2:38 mark, as X27 prefers to keep things simple, quick, and dirty, with no strings attached. Maybe it’s their familiarity with their instruments, as “Your Neu Favorite Band” demonstrates a fondness for razor sharp guitar, rumbling bass, and cacophonous cymbal crashing. Surely there is something to be said for the lyrics to the song “Ride Me,” as bassist Carmen repeatedly asks the question, “Do You Wanna Ride Me Now?” You do the math. Although there is a sexy quality to X27’s music, the lyrics focus primarily on themes of angst, bitterness, and frustration. Nowhere is this contrast more apparent than in the highly effective tag team vocals of Carmen and guitarist Rikkeh. Carmen’s smooth, sultry purr is seductively alluring; Rikkeh’s gravelly grunt gradually escalates into a full-blown wail. Both vocal styles enhance X27’s repertoire immensely, which shifts effortlessly between the bump and grind groove of the Carmen-fronted “Fast Getaway” to the thundering clang of the Rikkeh-fronted “Spyder.” Other highlights include “Asthmatic,” which kicks off with a pulsating drum/bass intro before giving way to Rikkeh’s shrieking vocals and disjointed guitar, only to do an about-face and regain composure for the chorus; “Zoo” and “Die Young,” both of which bounce with a sexy, infectious groove and feature Carmen’s playful vocals; and the fuzzed-out, trashy garage rocker “Superstar” that could easily hold its own on any of the “name” retro garage band comps that exist. Truthfully, there isn’t a dull moment on this CD, and it moves along at a brisk pace, which is always a good sign. After enjoying “Your Neu Favorite Band” repeatedly and seeing X27 live this past week, I’m convinced that this band is poised to actually live up to their album title, which is no small feat. They’ve got it. They flaunt it. I’m completely fucking sold. Pick up a copy of this record and X27 is liable to become a new favorite of yours, too.
--Willy Aadnoy (6/8/03)
--Willy Aadnoy (6/8/03)
-- Willy Aadnoy (5/26/03)
-- Willy Aadnoy (5/26/03)
Web site: http://www.s-srecords.com
The A-Frames’ “S/T” LP was the best full-length release of 2002. I don’t expect you to agree with me, especially since the odds are better than average that you don’t own a copy—there were only 500 LPs pressed and they disappeared quickly (a CD version of the LP is now available for your consumption from the kind folks at S-S Records). Melding art-punk angularity with unabashed pop sensibilities, the A-Frames are card-carrying members of a select group of bands who don’t lend themselves easily to categorization. Comparisons to bands such as Wire and Gang of Four have appeared ad nauseam in reviews, although it’s debatable whether any comparison could do the A-Frames justice. The highly anticipated follow-up to the A-Frames’ debut LP, the logically titled “2,” exceeded all of my expectations and is unquestionably their best work to date. All of the qualities that made their singles and LP so impressive—songwriting, delivery, production, and packaging—are here in profusion. The A-Frames are crafty songwriters, penning material that is as accessible as it is inaccessible, with hooks that systematically penetrate your cerebral cortex and slowly but surely affect every part of your body. Examples: “Modula,” “Abstract,” “Archaeology,” and “Togetherness” hit you square in the chest with a pulsating groove; “Ionic,” “Futureworld,” “Skeletons,” and “Sensation” are brimming with hooks and could be legitimate hit singles in a perfect world; and “Search and Destroy” is arguably the poppiest song they’ve ever done (and another sure-fire hit). Singer/guitarist Erin’s cold, distant, monotone vocal delivery is the perfect accompaniment to the science fiction-leaning lyrics of the A-Frames, and his guitar work is tastefully edgy. Min and Lars, on bass and drums respectively, comprise one of the strongest rhythm sections in recent memory, with an unflappable sense of style and precision. Masterfully produced by Chris Woodhouse (FM Knives) and Scott Soriano (one-half of the S-S Records team), the production on “2” puts other do-it-yourself production efforts to shame and is a shining example of a band and producer(s) on the same page. Like their debut LP, “2” is available on 180-gram vinyl and limited—1000 copies were pressed. Instead of the hand-screened, silver-on-black sleeves of their debut LP, “2” features professionally printed, black-on-white jackets, but the result is the same: The simplicity of the packaging is beautiful. There’s only so much that I can say about how great this LP is and how badly you need a copy in your collection—the rest is up to you. If you buy only one LP this year, make it this one. Highest recommendation.
of Dean Martinez
The Shore” 2xCD (Narnack)
Web site: http://www.narnackrecords.com
The last thing I expected to hear from a label that released Guitar Wolf and the Coachwhips is a double CD of decidedly unpunk, instrumental music, but that’s exactly what this is. Maybe it all makes sense in the greater scheme of things, as Narnack Records strives to establish itself as a label whose “sound” is not easily defined. In all fairness, the Friends of Dean Martinez have the distinction of being the first release for Narnack, which means that my reaction to the releases that followed is one of similar surprise. The only difference is that listening to the Friends of Dean Martinez made me yawn repeatedly. Let’s cut right to the chase: The Friends of Dean Martinez aren’t a punk band. In fact, there is little doubt in my mind that this ten-piece ensemble wouldn’t have a good laugh knowing that somebody actually pointed that out. “On The Shore” is aptly titled, as the Friends of Dean Martinez’ music is a fitting score for life in a sleepy beach town, where days are spent soaking up the sun and taking nice, long naps, and evenings consist of gatherings at the local watering hole, downing drink after drink in a dimly-lit room while a band drones on in a dingy corner. Now, when I equate music with going to the beach, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is surf music. Fair enough, but the shores about which I am thinking are hardly a surfing mecca. While there are surf-like moments on this double CD, the bulk of this set consists of subdued, atmospheric, twang-y dirges that are more appropriate for the shores of the Salton Sea—where a combination of brutal heat, sparse scenery, dilapidated homes and hotels/resorts, and struggling-to-survive marine life give off a strange vibe—rather than the shores of the Pacific Ocean. If the Friends of Dean Martinez tapped into that slightly twisted, ghost town-like aura and turned it into something more exciting in the spirit of bands such as Throw Rag, the Starvations, or the Country Teasers, I would definitely stand up and take notice. However, the Friends of Dean Martinez play it safe for the most part and are somewhat hindered by their vehicle of choice—the instrumental. In the end, the songs just don’t move me like I wish they would and “On The Shore” is destined to be filed away until I get an urge to revisit the Salton Sea.
The Northwest is a breeding ground for great new music. Whereas bands like the Briefs and Epoxies have taken new wave sound and dress as their signature, Seattle's Earaches have one goal -- cram some good time rock'n'roll down your throats! Throw in a healthy dose of garage rockers, blues, a trace of psychedlia and balls out punk rock and you have an idea of where the Earache are coming from. Highlights include the screaming 23/Screwtop Wine, the rock your ass off Prednisone, the psyche-induced All My Fault which use keyboards to perfection and the aptly named Just Wanna Rock'n'Roll. The Earaches are veterans of punk and formerly went under the name the Reckless Bastards. Their experience comes through in the songwriting and musical prowess of this super release. Get it now!
Willy Aadnoy (5/11/03)
Street Anthem's third release and another winner! Mid tempo punk rock and roll anthems abound on this seven track CD-EP. Members have played in the Ducky Boys, River City Rebels and Sinners and Saints. Relying on solid songwriting and musicianship, this is friendly enough to actually get some radio play. It would blow away most of what passes as music today.
Willy Aadnoy (5/11/03)
This is so unabashedly '77 brit punk that it is hard to believe that this band is from Massachusetts. 18 punk scorchers on this one including the eerie God Save Robert Blake. This was released in 1999 so do the math! They take a swipe at my birth country too in Fuck You, Norway. I won't hold it against them however. If you like your punk with a heavy dose of '77 british punk, you will absolutely love this release. From the disrepair of their web site, I am presuming that they are no longer an active band which is really unfortunate because this is one of the best releases I have heard in a long time. The good news is that it looks like they have been reincarnated as the Spitzz. Thanks to Ian at Damaged Goods Records, I have been introduced to the many fabulous releases that come from his label since the late 80's. It would be well worth your while to do the same.
Willy Aadnoy (5/11/03)
of You/(I'm) In Love With Today” 7" (Damaged
Damaged Goods have been re-releasing some of the Raw Records catalog over the last several years. Those of us lucky enough to have participated in the first wave of punk, already have these discs in our collections. For the younger generation, Damaged Goods is providing a great service in making these available to a new generation at reasonable prices. The Users first 7" release which was released in '77 on Raw Records was always one of my favorites from that era. This truly is raw music, as was much of what Raw Records put out in their day. No slick production or musical prowess needed. This is punk rock as it was meant to be. Raw and full of power.
-- Willy Aadnoy (5/3/03)
It's great to know that after more than 25 years since the Buzzcocks first hit the scene and put pop into punk, that they are still around and haven't missed a beat. The Buzzcocks still know how to craft an appealing pop song with punk energy as witnessed by the two new tunes here. Thrown in for good measure is a live performance of their classic, "Oh Shit". If you haven't jumped on the Buzzcocks bandwagon after all these years, what are you waiting for? You can't go wrong with this release.
-- Willy Aadnoy (5/3/03)
CD EP (Tuna Forsushi)
This is the debut release for both the Terrornauts and their label Tuna Forsushi. There are 4 fabulous punk rock'n'roll tunes with a 50's feel to it and an instrumental surf tune. The song writing is excellent, the vocals and instrumentation are fabulous. They defy easy comparisons to other bands and have a unique sound that grows on you with every listen. It's great stuff, just get it.
-- Willy Aadnoy (5/3/03)
You...Loves You Not” CD (Narnack)
Web site: http://www.shesus.com
I’m not well versed in the dynamics of the Dayton, Ohio scene from which Shesus emerged, but their debut long player is proof positive that I need to investigate further. Although Shesus’ feet are planted firmly in “pop” territory, their sound is versatile and resists easy categorization. It is a sound that owes as much to their Ohio indie roots as it does to the Pacific Northwest’s indie/pop scene (with a dollop of Riot Grrrl thrown in for good measure), with flashes of 80s new wave in the spirit of the Go-Gos or B-52s. “Loves You...Loves You Not” is addictively catchy. Possible side effects include using the shampoo bottle as a microphone in the shower, incessantly tapping on the steering wheel while driving, and humming melodies out loud in the elevator at work (or so I’m told, of course). As its playful title hints, Shesus keeps you on the edge of your seat with a batch of sonically diverse yet cohesive songs. The constant throughout the disc’s 15 tracks is the quality of the songwriting, which is excellent from start to finish. “Holidazed,” “Narcolepsy,” and “Torture” swing with a punky jangle. Shesus simmers with a Sleater-Kinney-like tension on “Take It.” The quirky pop approach of “Letter S,” “Confrontation,” and “Hawaiian Love Song” isn’t far removed from the likes of Throwing Muses or the Breeders. “B-Side Radio,” a cleverly named, harmony-laden cut with a huge chorus and loopy bass line, takes the “hit single” award and is anything but a b-side candidate. One of the most charming aspects of Shesus is the sweet voice of lead singer Heather Newkirk, whose delivery runs the gamut from dreamy croon to sultry purr to brash roar, conveying a range of emotions. Former members of Ohio notables Guided By Voices and Braniac, among others, join her on this release, and I think it is fair to say that Shesus’ musical direction is a logical extension of various members’ previous projects. Shesus’ punky approach shuns aggression in favor of songwriting depth, which is likely to earn the band the “alternative” stamp of approval in some circles. Don’t be put off by that descriptor. “Alternative” is a term that has been co-opted by the music industry and it is used to create the illusion of credibility. In this context the term carries little weight. If, by classifying Shesus as “alternative” the intent is to create the perception that their music is inherently superior to the garbage that dominates the airwaves these days, the shoe fits perfectly. Otherwise, “alternative” is just another label that’s tossed around like dirty laundry and doesn’t apply here. Shesus is good; labels are not. Don’t flunk tomorrow’s quiz.
In Machineland” 7” (S-S)
Web site: http://www.s-srecords.com
Every so often a record catches me off guard and goes straight for the jugular. Although few and far between, the gems of which I speak remain glued to my turntable for days, bumping all of the other records on my pile waiting patiently for a spin. What ensues is nothing short of chaos, as I frantically search for everything band-related to appease my senses. The Geeks’ “Dreamland In Machineland” 7” is one of those records that fits the preceding description nicely. After taking up residency alongside countless first-wave punk bands in the annals of punk obscurity, The Geeks get another opportunity to shine with the release of this two-song 7” of unreleased material originally recorded in 1979. The Geeks were likely the antithesis of what many people considered “punk” in the late 70s, with roots dating back to the early 60s, a penchant for covering jazz legends, and rehearsals characterized by extended, improvisational jam sessions. Clearly, not much has changed in 20+ years since The Geeks still aren’t poised to earn punk points with purists. While arguably more “punk” in spirit than in execution (depending on how far-reaching your definition of punk is), The Geeks assimilated diverse musical influences and made great noise that was challenging, explosive, and best of all, original. Both tracks here are genius in their own warped way. “Dreamland In Machineland,” with its tribal-like rhythms and eerie, otherworldly aura, is a head trip with mesmerizing sung/spoken vocals; the flipside, “Hey Wreck,” earns my top spot honors and plods along at a Flipper-esque pace, accented by slap bass, saxophone squeals, and repeated yelps of “Hey you, hey wreck!” The Geeks’ ride is full of bumps, twists, and turns--not for the squeamish or faint of heart--but it’s a ride from which I walked away with a huge smile in anticipation of future escapades. If you don’t buy one of the 300 copies pressed, somebody else will be there to take your spot. So saddle up.
Romantics” CD (Narnack)
Web site: http://www.narnackrecords.com
I think I blew it. It was day two of the Los Angeles Breakdown, er, Shakedown and I had a choice to make: Guitar Wolf vs. The Epoxies. It was a simple case of too many worthy bands and too few stages. I hemmed and hawed as both bands geared up for their sets. I suppose the choice was obvious in hindsight, but for whatever reason, I chose the latter. I ended up a happy camper--The Epoxies were terrific as usual--but after listening to this CD repeatedly I find myself second-guessing my decision. What was I thinking? And the week after the Shakedown I spaced-out and missed two more chances to see Guitar Wolf when they destroyed San Francisco. Doh! Guitar Wolf is in a class all by themselves as one of Japan’s longest-running garage punk bands. Their leather-clad fashion aesthetic is as recognizable as their furious, guitar-driven, wall of sound and their volume of work speaks for itself. “UFO Romantics” is the domestic follow-up to “Jet Generation,” which was pegged by many garage punkers as Guitar Wolf’s strongest record. If you were one of those people this message is for you: The crown now belongs to “UFO Romantics.” The most striking aspect of “UFO Romantics” is the production value, which has been promoted from cardboard box to trashcan. Much of the noise from previous efforts has been scaled back and the result is Guitar Wolf’s most sonically accessible record by far. There is no need to cry “wolf,” however; the only time the description “slick” applies to Guitar Wolf is when referring to the amount of goop used to style the perfectly coiffed hairdos of bassist Billy and drummer Toru. The new and improved production on “UFO Romantics” gives Guitar Wolf less of a “garage” feel and more of a primal, ‘77-ish punk sound. “After School Thunder,” with its mid-tempo rumble and ripping chorus, brings to mind seminal German punks, The Pack; “Sparkle Baby” exudes a sleazy, Dead Boys’ vibe; “Jett Beer” wanders into Clash territory; and “Alcohol Ace” is a spirited, Ramones-like blast. More song highlights (there’s not a dud in the bunch) include the danceable “Gion Midnite,” the title track (for which there is a terrific video clip on the CD), and “Orange Juice,” an up-tempo, garagey number that wouldn’t think twice about visiting Rip Off Records’ CEO Greg Lowery in his sleep. Seiji’s gutteral screech and flailing guitar work remain intact, the latter of which is driven home by a near-perfect tone--a piercing combination of clear tone and distortion that threatens to emerge from the speakers and slice you into two pieces. Not to be outdone, Guitar Wolf’s rhythm section doesn’t have much to hide behind as a trio and they more than hold their own without overplaying. Finally, Narnack Records deserves credit for the spectacular, 20-page, full-color booklet, which includes text primarily in Japanese (I suppose this is one of the few times where you won’t burn bridges with your mate for coming clean and admitting that you bought it for the pictures). Guitar Wolf’s “UFO Romantics” is nothing short of pure rock ‘n’ roll bliss that is sure to please longtime fans and expand the legions of Guitar Wolf faithful.
Yer Body Next Ta Mine” CD (Narnack)
One of the most interesting records I picked up last year was The Sightings’ debut LP on the New York avant-punk label, Load Records. It’s an acquired taste--a veritable funnel cloud of noise with songs huddled together in the corner of a deserted building, clinging desperately to one another to avoid being whisked away into oblivion. To be frank, I really can’t listen to that record for extended periods of time without inviting a major headache. Chances are if you’re familiar with The Sightings and/or Load Records you’re already acquainted with John Dwyer, one-half of the hardcore-tinged noise outfit Pink and Brown. I salute labels like Load Records and bands such as Pink and Brown for their artistic vision, but when I want to let loose and blast primitive, trashy, eardrum-blowing, garage punk racket of the finest order I want to be blown away by the likes of Mr. Dwyer’s latest project, The Coachwhips, who are nothing short of fucking brilliant. Imagine the cream of the crop from the murky waters of the Estrus, Sympathy, and Crypt catalogs engaged in a tug-of-war with the raunchier alter-ego of Rip Off Records. Picture an amalgam of “Pinball Junkie” era Statics, the neo-60s attack of early Makers, the scuzzy blues-punk of the Oblivians, the songwriting prowess of Mick Collins’ Gories, and the trashy rock ‘n’ roll of the Cryin’ Out Louds. Think “Back From The Grave” era garage punk workouts gone awry. Are you with me? Good. The Coachwhips’ “Get Yer Body Next Ta Mine” is one hell of a record. It’s loud. It’s raw. It’s hook-filled. It’s sure to be a hit on the dance floor, capable of coaxing the inner John Travolta out of even the most timid soul. The Coachwhips’ instrumentation is pretty bare bones, but as with other bands of their ilk they manage to sound fuller than most “complete” bands. The guitar is loud and fuzzy; vocals are slurred, megaphone style; drums are bashed with a rudimentary precision (drummer John Harlow’s “modest drum kit” can’t consist of more than three or four pieces yet the guy beats the hell out of the skins and outshines more technically proficient drummers with more elaborate kits); and well-placed tambourine and synths round out the package. It’s near impossible to sit still while playing this CD; the songs are just too good! You are far better than me if you succeed in remaining motionless while scorchers like “1000 Years,” “UFO, Please Take Her Home,” Hey Stiffie,” and “Couldn’t Find Love” clear the dust from your speakers. The Coachwhips’ formula for success is so simple it’s stupid--write great songs, play them like you mean it, nail the production, extract the pretentiousness, and let the buzz begin to take shape. Mission accomplished.
--Mario Solis (4/20/03)
““Popular Music” CD (Overground)
Web site: http://www.overgroundrecords.co.uk
Overground Records has been putting out some great 70's and early 80's reissues for quite some time now. This particular release is the reissue of the Neon Hearts one and only LP along with their 2 singles. I've owned the LP since it came out in 1979 and it has been collecting dust ever since. After giving the CD a spin, I know why I haven't been compelled to pull it out again. With so much good stuff coming out at the time, you choose the type of music that grabs your attention and seek out more of the same. The Neon Hearts fall in the art school, new wavey, saxophone driven school of punk. My understanding is that their label, Satril, over influenced their sound and lyrics and the result was one that led to the band's demise. If you want to hear what could have been, give a listen to "Regulations" which featured the guitar more prominently and made the sax a secondary instrument while also having vocals that were more earnest and less slick than later works. Essential only if you are a 1970's completist.
-- Willy Aadnoy (4/13/03)
Released in 1997, Overground has repackaged this with additional photos and a detailed history of the band. The Carpettes were one of the earliest of the UK punk bands, forming in the spring of 1977. My first introduction to the Carpettes was with their debut 4 track EP in 1977. It made me an instant fan. This collection predates the release of that EP and also includes two Peel Sessions shows from 1978. All of the 19 tracks are unreleased previously and seven of the tracks are featured for the first time ever here. The earlier songs have a much harder edge than those from their singles and LP's. This has a much more "punk" feel to it whereas the released studio versions had a "poppier" sound to them. The Carpettes are gifted songwriters and musicians and this is a great chance to hear them as they formed their signature sound. This is essential listening.
-- Willy Aadnoy (4/13/03)
Web site: http://www.the-quickies.com
File this one under "Q" for Quee..., ummm, I mean Quickies. With 15 songs logging in at 13 minutes, you see why they call themselves The Quickies. This is early 90's to "Love Songs For the Retarded" era Queers worship. They have Joe Queer's vocal stylings down pat. Though not as technically proficient as the Queers, they still manage to lay down some pretty tasty pop punk tunes. I really enjoyed it and if this is your cup of tea, I am sure you will too.
-- Willy Aadnoy (4/13/03)
““Another Heartbreak EP” CD EP (Street Anthem)
This has year end top ten written all over it. This Belgian band (not to be confused with the UK and South African Riot Squads) belts out 6 fantastic punk rock'n'roll tunes. Fans of TKO Records and Hostage Records cannot go wrong here. Solid songwriting, great lead guitar and gruff vocals that add up to a fabulous whole. Kim, one of the gutarist, adds female vocals to the mix on occasion just to shake things up and they play well up against Bruno's vocals. This is powerful stuff that manages to maintain the melody. This is the second release of Seattle's, Street Anthem Records, and based on this release, they are aptly named. You need this, so go get it.
-- Willy Aadnoy (4/13/03)
Something There To Destroy Me” CD (Suicide Watch)
Most people agree that it is important to make a good first impression when meeting somebody for the first time. This CD served as my introduction to My So-Called Band, a band whose name I’d seen around for several years, but never actually heard until now. My first impression of My So-Called Band consisted of the insert included with this CD, an intelligent, albeit brief, rant by singer/bass player, Chris Piegler. Chris writes passionately about elitism in the punk scene, where bands are often judged on the basis of labels (i.e., “drunk punk,” “pop punk” or “screamo”) or other superficial criteria rather than merit. Using several anecdotes to illustrate his points, Chris opines that the divisive nature of pigeonholing bands precludes people from fostering a sense of community within the scene, and that the “elitism we see in the punk scene is no different than the elitism we see in mainstream society.” After digesting Chris’ comments, my expectations for the music heightened. “If My So-Called Band writes songs with the intelligence and maturity of their liner notes, I may be in for a treat,” I theorized. As it turned out, I wasn’t disappointed, but I wasn’t knocked out of my seat either. The southern California punk scene of the early 80s has clearly influenced My So-Called Band, as their sound falls somewhere between “Someone Got Their Head Kicked In” and “Beach Boulevard.” Aided by solid musicianship, lyrical substance, and good production, My So-Called Band does a respectable job of channeling a decidedly “old school” punk sound while retaining their own identity. Most of the disc’s 16 tracks are winners including the Youth Brigade-like punch of “Punk Rock Elitists,” and the poppy, beach punk feel of cuts like “To Live and Die In South Carolina,” “The Fundamentalist Next Door,” “End The World Now,” and “No Better,” which features an infectiously catchy (and timely, for that matter) chorus that appears to be inspired by the United States’ response to the September 11 tragedy. Unfortunately, the latter part of this CD finds My So-Called Band indulging themselves with two instrumentals and acoustic guitar flourishes, which seem out of place. Nevertheless, this is an impressive release and I won’t pass on other My So-Called Band titles when I see them.
Web site: http://www.solea.org
Solea’s five-song CD-EP is the product of a band that includes former members of Samiam, Texas Is The Reason, and Knapsack. Given the band members’ resumes, it is not hard to pinpoint the sound for which Solea is aiming, which is not to say that Solea is relying solely on past successes to get the job done. Although Sergie Loobkoff’s guitar roar makes an appearance at times and Garrett Klahn’s voice occasionally wanders into Jason Beebout territory, you won’t find the galloping rhythms of Samiam or the bristling, hardcore energy of Texas Is The Reason here. You will find, however, a more pronounced sense of melody, varied arrangements, and a greater emphasis on songwriting. The result is an emo-pop-meets-indie-rock sound in the spirit of bands such as the Promise Ring and Superchunk, a sound Solea does quite well. Stellar production, courtesy of a “big league” producer, enhances the material and allows the performances to shine. The time is right for a “flavor of the week” of the Solea variety, but don’t hold that against them. Recommended for Texas Is The Reason, Samiam, and Knapsack completists, as well as casual fans that don’t mind having their emo tickled every now and then.
--Mario Solis (3/30/03)
“You’re Killing Me” (Three Mileage)
I first heard Sidecar years ago on a split 7” with Buglite released by Matthau Records. Sidecar’s half of the record is quite good and features two chunky, poppy punk songs that would have been right at home in the early 90s East Bay/Gilman Street scene. Of the three entities involved in the making of the Buglite/Sidecar record, only Sidecar remains. Quite frankly, I didn’t realize these guys were still around. On this release, their third full-length, Sidecar elected to have the Owned & Operated production team of Jason Livermore, Bill Stevenson, and Stephen Egerton produce their record. While the Owned & Operated production is good per usual, for the most part Sidecar’s songs failed to grab me like their early material. The sound Sidecar is coveting today is not far removed from All (a logical comparison to make in light of the producers), but without the quirky hooks or instrumental flair. My indifference to this record might be attributed to the notion that “less is more,” and that an EP with a couple of good songs is easier to sit through than an album’s worth of mediocre songs. Sidecar is not a bad band and “You’re Killing Me” is not necessarily a bad release, but the mediocre moments outshine the CD’s bright spots.
--Mario Solis (3/30/03)
For Disaster” CD
Willy Aadnoy (March 30, 2003)
Nana's Revenge “Scales
Are For Fish” CD EP
Willy Aadnoy (March 23, 2003)
Prizefight “Prizefight” CD
Willy Aadnoy (March 23, 2003)
Zero Tolerance Task Force “Punk
Willy Aadnoy (March 2, 2003)
Are Changing” CD EP
Willy Aadnoy (March 2, 2003)
Erase T0day “Colour
Sound & Vibration” CD
Willy Aadnoy (March 2, 2003)
Willy Aadnoy (February 9, 2003)
Demo” CD EP
Willy Aadnoy (February 9, 2003)
From the Highway” CD
Willy Aadnoy (February 9, 2003)
Blue Collar Special "S/T" CD
the Girls Go Bi”
Web site: http://www.broomfiller.com
I saw this described as "indie" prior to receiving the review copy of this CD. So being someone who enjoys a harder edged and/or Ramones influenced style, my expectations weren't too high as I popped it into my car CD player. It took about 10 seconds to become an instant fan as I was assaulted by this hard driving rhythm guitar.
"Watching the Girls Go Bi" is Canada's Broomfiller's latest release and my first major exposure to the band. They provide mostly heavy guitar driven, hook laden, pop tinged punk (I dismiss the indie label) with hooks galore, vocals that go perfectly with the sound and great production.
The only negative I found was on tracks "Lost" and "It Is Said" which both have about 30 seconds of dead air before the song starts and you are wondering what the hell happened to your CD player. The songs are both experimental in nature and I'm sure satisfy some artistic notion on the part of the band, but they detract from overall superb album.
- Willy Aadnoy
“CUTS, VOLUME 1”
Web site: http://www.hostagerecords.net
The liner notes for this CD sum up exactly how I feel about the state of the compilation: the vast majority of today’s comps are essentially marketing gimmicks -- slick, label samplers with limp, recycled material -- and they are worthless pieces of shit. “Cuts, Volume 1,” the second-to-last CD release ever for Hostage Records (according to their web site), avoids the traps described in the liner notes and features 18 previously unreleased tracks by 18 punk bands as a “celebration of the Orange County punk/garage sound.” It comes as little surprise that this comp is the best I’ve heard in a long time; I expect nothing less from Hostage Records, one of the most vital punk record labels in existence today.
Since the mid-90s, Hostage Records has done an exemplary job of giving a face and voice to the punk sounds of Orange County, California. That this objective has been achieved primarily through a medium that is near and dear to the hearts of many punk fans -- the 7” vinyl single -- speaks volumes about the motivation behind the label. “The difference (between seven inches and CDs) is seven inches are about making music, and CDs are about making money,” charged Rick Bain, co-owner of Hostage Records, in the second issue of Razorcake. Hostage Records isn’t about making money or selling millions of records or landing a 4-page spread in Spin. The spirit of Hostage Records involves capturing the essence of a point in time and channeling the intensity and excitement of a vibrant local music scene. The folks behind the label are fans of punk music, first and foremost, and their passion is evident by the way every Hostage Records release looks, feels, and sounds. This is a label run by fans, for fans.
“Cuts, Volume 1” is a monster of a comp and one of the year’s best releases period. As per usual, the packaging is exceptional: track-by-track liner notes, band photos, and hand-numbered tray cards, which give the disc the “feel” of a 7”. As for the music, you won’t find yourself reaching for the “Next” button on your CD player because every song is a winner. And if you order the comp directly from the label it will only set you back $5. A few highlights include: Broken Bottles flying the Social Distortion flag with what is possibly the best song I’ve heard all year, “Gothic Chicks”; The Main, fronted by Spencer Bartsch (ex-Shattered Faith/Pushers), lamenting the loss of punk-friendly venues in “Scene Killer”; The Negatives and their anthem, “Whiskey and Women”; the snotty-as-hell Ricky Barnes (ex-Pushers) fronting Dodge Dart on “Down On The Man” and doing a damn fine job of it; The Distraction punching away with a Stitches’ flair on “Portrait”; the poppy punk sounds of The Switch-Ups, whose “Stuck On You” really stands out here; The Fuse! and “FFF,” which reminds me of a more straightforward Le Shok; and a fantastic track by the only band not from southern California on the comp, The Cadavers (pre-Bodies) with “1-2-F-U.” Other outstanding cuts are provided by the Smut Peddlers, Thunder Pistols, The Fakes, Cell Block 5 (I don’t remember this band being as good as they are here when they were based out of northern California), D-Cup, Beer City Rockers, Extortions, The Spooky, The Put-Ons, and The Stand. At only $5 postage paid, “Cuts, Volume 1” is a steal. It’s also limited to 1000 copies so you should order a copy for yourself immediately. On your marks…
SANBOX “Rocks” CD
Web site: www.sanbox.cjb.net
On first listen I thought this sounded like just another Green Day rip off. If you like Green Day, you'll like the first seven songs of this 15 song CD. But with song 8, "So Long", this CD cranks up the energy, cranks up the hooks and this becomes a very nice pop punk album. There is nothing on this CD that is not at least pretty good, but the latter half of the CD is catchier for the reasons stated. If you are a fan of Mutant Pop style pop punk and Green Day, you can't go wrong here.
SALTWATER VAMPIRES “S/T” CD
Web site: www.saltwatervampires.com
The Saltwater Vampires are a three-piece punk band from Lerna, Illinois. Although their name may leave a bit to be desired, their music, most definitely, does not. On first listen, the Saltwater Vampires sound as though they’ve been weaned on the poppy punk sounds of the Prairie State such as Screeching Weasel, The Bollweevils, and The Mushuganas – they’re full of snot, pep, and pop. Be that as it may, to dismiss the Saltwater Vampires as “just another pop-punk band” would be foolish. The band does a very good job of writing songs that would appeal to most pop-punk fans, but with a grittier, gutsier feel that is reminiscent of early Swingin’ Utters and bands like The Hudson Falcons and The GC5. Indeed, the vocals have a “weathered,” pub rock quality to them, which reinforce excellent lyrics that read like a diary of disappointment, desperation, and disillusionment. Nearly all of the disc’s 10 tracks rate high on the head bop-o-meter, and you’ll reach for the repeat button after hearing “Devour You,” “Burning Bright,” “Requiem,” and “Quicksand Years.” The “woah ohs” wear a little thin here and there (the disc’s opening track, “Dishwater,” is a prime example) and the bass is pretty much obscured in the mix, but these are minor complaints. The band sounds great, and the mid-fi production and raw guitar sound win points with me. Tired of by-the-numbers poppy punk and/or street punk bands that come across like a watered-down version of The Clash? If you pushed and shoved your way to the front of the line, you may want to order a copy of this CD.
THE RECKLESS BASTARDS "S/T"
CD EP Demo
THE HEXTALLS "Call It A Career"
The Band From Planet X is a garage punk band with fuzzy guitars and fuzzy production. They borrow a bit from the Sonics and the Cramps, but have a 90s garage-pop sound similar to the Hi-Fives. Add a synth or two, a singer that croons/slurs/screams, some guitar licks that would make Dick Dale proud, and you’re in the ballpark. Following a spooky intro that sounds like the background noise on a haunted house ride, the band launches into a Phantom Surfers-like instrumental and a song that vaguely resembles the Dead Kennedys’ “Let’s Lynch The Landlord.” Name-dropping aside, the ensuing tracks fare much better than the first three. “Your Eyes,” “Wild,” and “Just Looking” are good, up-tempo garagey numbers. “I Walk With Zombies” tones it down with a great melody, and "Yummy" has a nifty chorus. There’s even a Ramones-influenced, pop-punk tune: the appropriately named “I Wanna Gabba Gabba Gabba.” Although there are some good songs on this CD, the Band From Planet X tends to shift gears stylistically from one song to the next and, as a result, the energy level fluctuates throughout the disc's 25 (!) tracks. Less is more -- I definitely heard two or three very good EPs worth of material with the right production. The lo-fi to mid-fi range suits this band fine, but I’d like to hear things trashier and not as tame. There is enough here to get your toe tappin’ and inspire you to make a fool of yourself on the dance floor, but this CD is average at best.
A-FRAMES “S/T” LP
Dragnet Records/SS Records, 2002
The A-Frames are one of Seattle’s finest bands. Their first two singles, “Neutron Bomb” and “Plastica,” respectively, were outstanding. Both were limited to 300 copies and sold out relatively fast. Their debut LP features one song from each of the aforementioned singles along with nine new tracks and it is a winner from start to finish. The A-Frames remind me of a cross between Wire, Gang of Four, the Jesus Lizard, Devo, and melodic post-punk in the vein of Jawbox circa “For Your Own Special Sweetheart.” Exceptional songwriting, an impressive rhythm section, and lyrics that read like a chemistry textbook one minute and the inner-workings of a computer the next are highlights of this record. Stellar choruses drive “Hostage Crisis” and “Chemical.” Songs like “Calculator,” with its loopy bass line and wailing guitar, and “Electric Eye,” with its marching band-like drums, inspire you to move your ass. A soaring vocal melody and acoustic guitar on “Surveillance” scream, “hit.” Re-recorded versions of songs that appeared on their earlier singles, “Plastica” and “Test Tube Baby,” do the originals justice and then some. Recorded by Chris Woodhouse, who could probably record your shitty band in the middle of a tropical storm and make everything sound incredible, the production is loud and great. The sleeves look hot and the LP is pressed on beautiful, 180-gram black vinyl and limited to 500 copies. Get yours now before you have to make a mad dash.
GOIN’ PLACES, and DIE CHEEERLEADER DIE short-run CDs
Pop Records, 2002
If you call yourself a fan of pop-punk and you’ve never heard of Mutant Pop Records, please do the following immediately: stop reading the latest issue of Spin, turn off MTV, grab hold of your lower lip, pull it over your head, and swallow. Mutant Pop Records was the epitome of pop-punk music circa 1995. In fact, I would go so far as to say the latter half of the 90s pop-punk explosion belonged to Mutant Pop Records. The label flourished throughout the mid-to-late 90s, releasing records by the likes of the Automatics, the Connie Dungs, and Dirt Bike Annie. The brainchild of Tim Davenport (also known as Tim Chandler; Timbo; the jaded, middle-aged fucker who lives in Corvallis, Oregon; reader of many books; collector of communist pamphlets; the guy you don’t want to face in Final Jeopardy if the category is Russian history; etc., etc., etc.), Mutant Pop Records is still around today, albeit on a far less conspicuous scale. The house that Tim built now focuses on short-run compact discs (SRCDs), professionally printed CD-Rs each containing about a CD-EP’s worth of material, rather than 7” vinyl or full-length CDs. Tim has remained true to his vision over the years and pop-punk is still the order of the day. The latest wave of Mutant Pop SRCDs features discs by the Somethingtons, Goin’ Places, and Die Cheerleader Die.
The Somethingtons worship the Ramones and make no bones about it. You know the drill: four chords, chants of “1-2-3-4,” leather jackets, a guitar player named Jay Jay, a bassist named Maxie, and a drummer named Mikey, all with the “Somethington” surname. I usually don’t get too excited about bands like this. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but imitation alone will only get you so far in my book. Why should you listen to Ramones wannabes when you can listen to the Ramones? Answer: BECAUSE THE SOMETHINGTONS FUCKING ROCK!!! The Somethingtons’ SRCD is nothing short of a pop-punk gem and one of the best discs in the series. The songs are well written, well played, and well produced. The vocal duties are split between Jay Jay and Maxie; Jay Jay’s smooth, suave croon is a nice contrast to Maxie’s snotty, nasally whine. Songs like “High School Lobotomy” and “Lucy Is A Neanderthal” will have you bopping your head in no time. Yes, you’ve heard it all before, but you need to hear it again. Ramones-core fans take note. Bonus video included.
The Goin’ Places’ SRCD is my favorite of the current wave. The performances and recording have that fresh, out-of-the-garage quality, similar to early Automatics records or maybe even Crimpshrine. “The Only Way” borrows liberally from Screeching Weasel’s “Cool Kids.” Their theme song, “Goin’ Places,” easily could have been an MTX outtake. “Gum Would Be Perfection” is essentially an ode to sound bites, with samples from American Pie, Dumb and Dumber, Back to the Future, and the TV show, Friends, among others. A disposable medley of Beatles covers closes the SRCD. You may scoff at this disc because of the mid-fi recording or because it isn’t four star, flat-out fucking brilliant the first time you hear it. Mark my words though: like flies around shit, you’ll be all over this before long. The band oozes personality and charm and I like that. Two video clips are included for your viewing pleasure, both of which are unbelievably amusing.
Die Cheerleader Die’s SRCD has been compared to Bikini Kill, a logical comparison to make given the name of the band and some of the sentiments expressed in the lyrics. However, the similarities end there. Vocals are sung rather than screamed over mid-tempo, melodic poppy punk that bears little resemblance to Bikini Kill at all. These songs are easy on the ears and catchy as hell, not to mention a lot of fun. The lyrics include references to “lesbian action,” “being a slut,” and guys who are “pussy-whipped.” Not your average pop-punk lyrics, but Die Cheerleader Die is not your average pop-punk band. I like bands like this because they push buttons and challenge social mores without being condescending or preachy. Don't let the preceding sentence scare you. I liked this a lot. Will you?
The above discs are a bargain at $4 each (plus $2 postage for any size order – that’s a flat rate of $2 whether you order 1 record or 10 records). Send an e-mail to Tim at Mutant Pop Records and ask him to hook you up with a free catalog.
Web site: http://sl.net/~ttbooks/moolala/
Records like this are usually ignored by the masses while they are available; this is an obscure recording by an obscure band released on an obscure label. However, records like this are also sought after because they serve a purpose: they document a sound and scene with which most people are not familiar. What we have here are four tracks from a 1984, cassette-only recording by a Swiss synth-punk band called The Decay. Although Crass is cited as a point of reference in the liner notes, The Decay’s sound is not easily defined. The vocal delivery on tracks like “Dead Brain” and “Hitler Fuck Off” is confrontational and reminiscent of Crass, but the first track on the record, “Tonight,” is subdued and almost poppy. The instrumentation is minimal: drum machine, guitars, and keyboards. Sound quality is good considering these songs were recorded on a cassette tape nearly 20 years ago. I don’t own too many records that sound even remotely like this, and that’s what I like about this record. Different? Yes. Is it punk, you ask? I’ll leave that one up to you. This record may not change your life, but it is a neat historical document. Where else are ya gonna here this stuff?!?! Limited to 300 copies -- you snooze, you lose.
CADAVERS “Never Mind The Bodies, Here’s The Cadavers” 7"
Beach Records, 2002
Tired of waiting for a new Bodies record? If you raised your hand, you’re in luck. This is a pre-Bodies recording from 1993 featuring Abe (vocals), Scott (bass), and Harley (drums) that sounds pretty much exactly like The Bodies. In other words, this rules. You’ve got Abe’s unmistakable croon, Scott’s bubbly bass lines, Harley’s steady backbeat, and female backing vocals. Yes, female backing vocals. The three tracks on this record are catchy-as-hell and would be at home on any of The Bodies’ records to date. As best as I can tell (no lyric sheet), there are no “mindless” lyrics here. Whatever. The Bod…er…Cadavers play melodic, hook-filled punk with plenty of energy. Limited to 500 copies and word is they are going fast.
Records/Therapeutic Records, 2002
Broken relationships. Fucked up living situations. Bad times. Battling various personal demons, Jay Reatard, Eric Oblivian, and King Louie got together for one practice, one recording session, and one show – “the ultimate one-off,” as stated in the liner notes. The result is 14 songs of abrasive, lo-fi snot punk that owes a healthy debt to each of the respective band members’ full time gigs. Fuzzy guitars and harsh vocals with a hint of reverb permeate the muddy, four-track recording. Each of the band members contributed several songs to the LP and I am hard-pressed to find a dud in the bunch. “Streets of Iron” gets things off to a blistering start with a great chorus. “Glitter Boys” is a warped take on basketball’s anthem of choice, Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll (Part 2).” “You’re So Lewd” is a terrific song regardless of whether it is done by the Reatards or the Bad Times. I haven’t even mentioned a song on side two yet, but you get the picture. This is great stuff. Two live tracks are also included from what I presume to be the Bad Times one and only show. If you like the Reatards, the Oblivians, the Persuaders, or King Louie One Man Band, this will be on your turntable for a while. Play this loud and scare your neighbors.
REJECTS “Teenage Trash Volume 2”
Alien Snatch Records, 2002
The Teenage Rejects called it quits shortly after their debut 7” was released on Rip Off Records (two of the three members are in now in the Catholic Boys). I am not sure if this is a posthumous release or if they were still together when this came out. “Teenage Trash Volume 2” sounds exactly like their Rip Off Records 7”, which is a good thing. Unlike their Rip Off Records 7”, this record boasts six songs of fast and furious garage punk and a full-color, hand-numbered sleeve. More bang for your buck, if you will. Sonically, the Teenage Rejects remind me of several Rip Off Records bands including the Zodiac Killers, the Infections, and Loli & the Chones. Sure, this is a tad predictable in terms of sound, but it is awfully good. The Teenage Rejects play reckless rock n’ roll with youthful exuberance and they do it well. I never tire of hearing that.
FROM MARS/FOREHEADS split 7”
I really like the Nazis From Mars. They are from the Netherlands and have released two 7”s and an LP on their own Astral Anarchy label. If you have never heard of them (and chances are you haven’t), they play poppy punk fueled by electronic beats. No drummer here. I guess this is what some folks would call “techno punk,” but that doesn’t quite capture the Nazis From Mars’ sound. While there are flourishes of sound effects and synths, the material is not hindered by electronic wizardry. This may very well be pop punk for the new millennium. The production is nice and clean with a huge, processed guitar buzz; sexed-up female vocals are sung in accented English; and the band writes ultra-catchy songs that veer into Ramones territory on occasion. No joke. If you aren’t sold yet, click on the link below this review to sample several of their songs. The two Nazis From Mars songs that appear on this record are as good as anything I have heard by them thus far. The Foreheads don’t fare as well and offer up three tracks of female-fronted indie rock featuring a tuba (!). Stylistically, you might expect to hear something like this on Kill Rock Stars, but that is being generous. While they earn originality points for having a tuba in the mix, their songwriting could use a little work. Not bad, but not good either. Go, Nazis From Mars, go!!!
QUEERS “PLEASANT SCREAMS” CD
Lookout Records, 2002
Web site: http://www.thequeers.net
Joe King ought to seriously consider changing the name of his band. With the revolving cast of characters playing on each Queers record and subsequent tours, I can never keep track of who is in the band at any given time. At this point, I think “Joe King and The Queers” or “Joe King’s Army” might be a better moniker for these guys. This time around, The Queers are a trio and welcome Matt from the Teen Idols on drums while Dave from Jon Cougar Concentration Camp returns on bass. After several releases on Hopeless Records, The Queers returned to Lookout Records with the release of the “Today” CD-EP last year. “Pleasant Screams” marks the band’s first proper full-length on the label since “Don’t Back Down,” and it is a pretty darn good record overall. Joe King is still capable of penning quality pop punk tuneage, albeit with a little help from Ben Weasel and Metal Mike Saunders (of Angry Samoans fame), respectively, on several tracks. Highlights include the ridiculously catchy “See Ya Later Fuckface”; “I Wanna Be Happy” (a Joe King/Ben Weasel collaboration via an unfinished Joey Ramone demo); and “Tic Tic Toc.” Recorded at Sonic Iguana and produced by Mass Giorgini, “Pleasant Screams” is arguably the band’s best sounding recording to date. Yeah, it’s safe to pick this one up.
NUMBERS “LETTERS” 7”
Stereo Drive Records, 2002
Web site: www.greenhell.de
After two 7”s on Hostage Records and a 10” on Dead Beat Records, The Numbers are back with three more tracks of mid-tempo, hook-filled punk that brings to mind The Stitches. In fact, the title track sounds a helluva lot like “Second Chance” to these ears. The Numbers exert more of a rock n’ roll influence on this record; hand claps and wah-wah guitar are featured on the title track and one of the cuts on the b-side, “Brie Dog,” would be at home on Junk Records. The band delivers the material in convincing fashion, and the production is great. Although this may not be the strongest material I have heard by The Numbers, this is a good, if not great record that deserves your attention. Track down their earlier records first and then get up to speed.
The name of this band may be misleading. What we have here is a Los Angeles-based quartet blasting out three tracks of smokin’ garage punk similar to The Motards. The band rips through two very good originals and an excellent cover of Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ "Crack of Dawn." The title track even features a trumpet break that actually works! Tim Kerr does a nice job of producing the band. You can hear all of the instruments well, but without sacrificing any rawness. This is apparently One Man Show Live’s swan song as they have called it a day. They only pressed 300 of these so you better hurry if you need it.
Every time I read about this band they are being hyped as Adam of the Trust Fund Babies’ new band, featuring Jeff from The Fells on guitar. There is nothing wrong with that, of course. Both the Trust Fund Babies and The Fells were great, but those guys are only half of the band. When I first got this record, I was surprised to learn (via the photo and captions on the sleeve) that this band also features the rhythm section of the Weird Lovemakers. What an underrated band! The five people reading this who are familiar with that band now have the extra incentive to pick this up. As for this record, the Radio Reelers pound out three punkers along the lines of the Trust Fund Babies, The Shrinks, The Bodies, or The Trends. I really like all of those bands and I like this too. Nice looking sleeve design and red vinyl. What are you waiting for? Check out other fine Zaxxon Virile Action 7"s by The Kamikazes and Smash Up Derby while you are at it. And what ever happened to the Weird Lovemakers?!?!
On their fourth full-length release, "Ism," the Smut Peddlers continue to crank out well-played, catchy, mid-tempo punk. The songwriting on "Ism" may not be as consistently great as "Tarball 2000," which I regard to be the band’s best work, but there are some standout cuts including "Playstation Generation"; "Inglewood Heroin Morning"; "Riot At The Pier" (featuring guest vocals by Jim Decker of The Crowd); and "Let’s Get Fucked Up," which also appeared on the "Bipolar Girl" 7" on Hostage Records. The lyrics are brilliant, as usual, and range from laugh-out-loud funny ("Mortality Blues") to lamenting the loss of a close friend ("Surely Missed"). Production-wise, the band sounds a little thinner this time around. This may have as much to do with the guitar/bass tone as it does with the absence of a second guitar player. Regardless, the material is delivered with enthusiasm and sincerity that more than makes up for it. I can’t wait to hear these songs in a live setting. If you are already a fan of the Smut Peddlers or a fan of the sound and scene Hostage Records is documenting, get this. If you are on the fence, start with "Tarball 2000" or their 7"s on Hostage Records.
T.V. IDOLS "17, Desperate and All Messed Up"
This is awesome. The T.V. Idols are from Japan and play first-rate garage punk in the vein of Teengenerate or The Registrators, but not as lo-fi as the former and not as power pop as the latter. This record should appeal to fans of pop punk and garage alike as the T.V. Idols combine pop punk sensibilities with Rip Off Records-style punk to great success. The band writes hook-filled songs that make me want to hear them over and over again. In a just world, "She’s So Cute" would be a radio hit. Twelve songs, all winners; includes covers of The Dead Boys and Rich Kids. The production is not too slick, but not too trashy either. Screaming Apple Records has a great track record of releasing quality material and this is no exception. This is the vinyl version of a CD that was originally issued on 1+2 Records from Japan. Would fit nicely next to your Briefs records.
Scott Soriano is from Sacramento, California, and he is a really smart guy. His columns for MRR are full of intelligent, informative, and witty sentiments. Scott Soriano knows his music. He buys and sells records for a local bookstore, Time Tested Books, and has a weekly radio show on local college station, KDVS (streaming audio available online at http://www.kdvs.org), where you’ll hear everything from blues to KBD punk. In his "spare" time, Scott Soriano releases records. He runs two Sacramento-based labels: Moo-La-La Records, which chronicles the Sacramento punk scene exclusively; and SS Records, which is home to "raw and real, off-kilter rock 'n roll and other absurdities." His first foray into the world of CDs brings us the debut full length by the F.M. Knives. This brand spankin’ new CD was released only two weeks ago. The F.M. Knives are comprised of former members of Sacramento punk bands such as Los Huevos, Nar, Karate Party, and the Pretty Girls. The F.M. Knives play a brand of ’77-ish punk that has a definite Buzzcocks and/or Boys feel at times. The songs are well crafted, the musicianship is superb, and F.M. Knives guitarist and recording whiz, Chris Woodhouse, has done it again. This sounds fantastic. You get 13 songs in 36 minutes. You will be humming the chorus of "16 d.o.a" for days after hearing this. These guys have been in bands forever and it really shows. My only complaint is that the packaging sucks. Although clearly a low budget affair, it would have been nice to have lyrics or even names of the band members. Fortunately, I don’t buy records for the packaging and neither should you. Fans of ’77 punk are encouraged to track this down. Ordering information is available at the web site listed above. I am pretty sure this will make several top ten lists in MRR. Maybe you should find out why.
If you like pop punk in the style of the Ramones, Screeching Weasel and the Queers, Italy is the place to be. First there was the Manges, Stinking Polecats and the Retarded among others from Italy and now we have the debut release by the Kling-Ons! Bad Man Records head honcho and Kling-Ons drummer, Greg the Head, has released this EP on his own label.
Four high velocity scorchers that manage to maintain the melody and hooks even with the speed. Definitely Screeching Weasel influenced vocals and sound with Tell Me More as the highlight of the four songs. Well worth a few bucks. Also check out the Kling-Ons on the European Pop Punk Virus from Stardumb Records. I look forward to hearing more.
OK, here it is - my first review. I selected this particular recording because it is my favorite of the year to this point. Click on the "13 Weeks" link above to sample a song from the CD. What can I say about this except that it is 8 slices of pop punk perfection. 8 songs which run the gamut from teens experiencing their first strip bar in "We Saw Boobs" to the aptly titled "Two Chords" to the more serious "Lymphoma" chronicling lead singer/guitarist Scott's battle with the dreaded disease. Let's hope this is the first of many recordings by this first tier pop punk band.
This is part of Mutant Pop's SRCD series which as of this writing totals 25 recordings. They can only be purchased through the Mutant Pop website. For $4 and $1 for shipping this recording could be yours. That's a deal that can't hardly be beat.
BETTER THAN SEVENS - Compilation
I actually got a request to review something! Dave from Reinforcement Records asked to me to review Better Than Sevens and I must say that I am more than happy to do so. The concept behind this compilation is that eight 7 inch records could have been made of the material and at $3-4 a pop, you'd be out $20-30 bucks. As it is, this disc can be had for the price of a pair of 7 inchers! Eight bands, 30 songs, great deal!
The disc starts with the Commercials that crank out 3 speedsters in a SoCal punk vein followed by a fairly appealing ballad. Tinkle throw out four tunes of early Green Day inspired pop punk. The Young Hasselhoffs add their three pop punk tunes with hooks galore. Heft can best be described as a ska/punk band that is heavy on the ska. Since ska does not appeal to me, it would be unfair for me to attempt to review something from that genre. Heft does mix in one highly appealing punk song amongst their four songs. The pick of the litter is the Abducted who give us four full throttle '77 influenced punk songs. Check out "I Don't Know About You Anymore" RealAudio clip included above. These mothers rock like a bat out of hell. The Goons blast out some early 80's style speed punk. Not hardcore, but the Black Flag influence can be felt. The Vapids provide us with four Ramones influenced tunes by way of Canada. They have become one of my favorite bands over the last year. Last but certainly not least is Santa's Dead featuring Reinforcement Record's own Dave. This fabulous compilation concludes with four hugely appealing hook laden fast paced punk songs.
Click the Reinforcement link above to purchase this and other fine discs.
Psychotic Reaction were one of the early contributors to my site. Staunch supporters of the Connecticut punk rock scene from which they hail, this is their self titled debut release. Their style appears to be a combination of 70's influences, early 80's hardcore and Oi! Johnny Domino leads off the album and hits you like a ton of bricks (take a listen by clicking the link above). At other times I wanted to yell out Oi! Oi! Oi! while listening to Exploited inspired slices of 80's Oi! This is a solid debut effort that gives hope for more great things to come. Click on their web site link above to purchase this and other Psychotic Reaction merchandise.