Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Record Reviews (late summer/ fall 2011)

So late summer was a little slow in terms of record buying, at least new records. Did score a handful of great old records at Double Decker and Celebrated Summer Records. Went to a handful of shows, (including This Is Hardcore and Tsunami Fest) but didn't have enough new records for a sizeable post until now. Also I've been busy releasing/ distributing the Birth Deformites tape, which is almost gone. The next reviews post may be the Best of 2011 post, so get stoked.


Alert- Find Your Way (Six Feet Under Records)
Alert is a band from MA, who did a pretty cool demo a few years back. Their sound is very west coast straight edge hardcore sounding. The vocals are more sung than yelled, giving it a very Uniform Choice sound. The recording is very clean, as well as the layout. Not many bands are playing this approach, so it's pretty cool, but I think it could definitely be pushed further into Ignite territory. Pretty good record, definitely check it out if you're into other modern edge bands. Includes a digital download.

Picked Clean- s/t EP (Six Feet Under Records)
I had seen Picked Clean years ago, and they were ok, then about a year ago they broke up and released a final demo, which was better. I guess they got back together shortly after that, because this record just came out. Musically I get an early 2000's vibe like Knife Fight, but there are some mosh parts thrown in as well. The sound kind of bridges the gap between Tear it Up and Mental, if that makes sense. I absolutely hate the artwork though. Pretty boring front cover with the band name and some pixelated tears. The back cover is just one of those square that you're supposed to scan with a smart phone, no song titles or label info. I don't have that app, so I have no idea what it does. The inside is just a bunch of lyrics, again no song titles. The labels are blank except for a SFU stamp, so basically the songs have no names unless you download the mp3s or scan the little phone code (I guess). The music is ok, but the layout isn't exactly winning me over. Includes a digital download.

Kicked In- In Session (Thick Skin Records)
Remember when that Lockin Out shit was huge like 6 or 7 years ago? Kicked In does! They sound more like Stop And Think and Mental, who were some of the better bands on that label. Their lyrics are a lot better, which is where I think a lot of those Loc bands fell flat (Rampage/ Crunch Time). If you like shit like Outburst with plenty of mosh parts, give this a spin. If they were from Boston, they'd already be huge. I kind of wish "Crampin' My Style" from the 3 song promo was on here, that song rules.

Stick Together- No More Games (Back To Back Records)
Stick Together is a band that's gotten some hype recently,but that fype of thing usually makes me not want to.xheck our a band. I however got to see ST a few times over the summer, and they're all the real deal. They play a style of straight edge hardcore like Floorpunch or Fastbreak (when they were good obviously). When I saw them, the singer actually had some good things to say between songs, and they played real tight. Their theme song is definitely the live hit, and get the kids finger pointing and moshing. I know they recently recorded a new 7", and they played a lot of those songs live. I expect that one to be even better.

Cider- 3rd Reichord (SPHC Records)
So Cider's been a band for about 20 years, but only released 3 records. Containing members of the Inmates and Darvocets, they fit with those type of Cleveland bands. Cider's thing in the past has been singing in fake British accents, and writing kind of dumbed down punk songs. On this record, they drop the fake accents, but recorded the whole thing live with just drums, guitars and vocals. Boasting no overdubs, but it sounds thin and shitty. I kind of wish they did the redneck album like they promised, but this is kind of a step down from their last record.

Crowd Control- s/t (Disposable Culture Records)
I knew nothing about Crowd Control other than that they're from the UK. I saw the tracklist included covers of my favorite songs by Bastard and Citizens Arrset. SOLD! The music reminds me of Ringworm, in that it's heavy but fast. Not my favorite genre, but good. The covers are pretty decent too, but obviously the originals still slay. Not bad, heard they broke up though.

Death Evocation- s/t (Quality Control Records)
So remember when Metallica wasn't a joke? When metal bands played metal, and weren't rapping or had dreadlocks. Death Evocation does, and they play faithful real ass 80's style heavy metal. Very similar to Sacrilege, since they also have a female singer. But very metal punk, like early Slayer. This band is a collaboration between people from Boston and the UK, so you'll probably never see them live, but do whatever you can to get this record. If I were a betting man, I'd say that DFJ plays drums, since he seems to play in every band from Boston. Though there's only 3 songs on there, they have a lot of substance, and changes to keep you flipping the record for hours. "Bang the head that doesn't bang!"

Boilerman- Yield The Ghost (Cowabunga Records)
This is Boilerman's 2nd 7", and despite a recent member change, it sounds pretty similar. I always got a Dillinger Four vibe from these guys, mixed with a more modern No Idea/ The Fest quality. Odd that this is on Cowabunga, and is nowhere near the early 80'strain hc/powerviolence styles that the label normally does. I like that though, because I think a lot of people will pick this up, who normally wouldn't. A very good record, hopefully you caught them on their recent US tour.
*Though it's not available yet, it should be in the CBR store by the end of the year. I got mine from the band.

Noose- The War of All Against All (React! Records)
So this record isn't out yet, but my dogg Joey Noose hooked me up with the React Showcase version of this, which was the test pressing. I liked their demo, but was a little worried that the new 7"on would be real clean sounding. No worries, everything is real distorted, even the vocals. The song writing has evolved, yet still keeping that Confront/ Brotherhood vibe, all while being the most militant XVX band this side of the 90's. Great follow up to an awesome demo.
*These will hopefully be out for real in a month or so, but you can pre-order it now.

Crisis Of Conformity- Fist Fight (Drag City Records)
So if you love the internet like I do, or for some reason still watch SNL, you may be familiar with the sketch of the punk band playing the wedding. If not, WATCH IT HERE. Someone had the genius idea to have them make an actual recording of the song, and put it on a record with another song. Unfortunately the recording doesn't sound as raw and chaotic as the live performance. I kind of wish there were the group vocals and a more raw recording quality. I'm not sure what the lineup is for this record, but Fred Armisen is definitely still singing. The b-side song is ok, nothing special. I like how the layout looks very much like an early 80's hardcore punk record. I do like novelty records, so this is up my alley even if it isn't great.


Weekend Nachos- Worthless (Deep Six Records)
I think by now if you haven't gotten past Weekend Nachos' goofy name, they you're just blowing it. Over the past couple of years, they've evolved into a minute solid power violence band with elements of grind and sludge. I think a lot of people (me included) were a little weary after the Bleed EP, but this is more a follow up to the Unforgivable LP's sound. WN can combine fast and brutal like few others can. I'd love to know who the song "Jock Powerviolence" is about.

Void- Sessions 1981-1983 (Dischord Records)
You know who Void is right? Obviously. So Dischord has been re-pressing a lot of their old releases with colored vinyl, download codes and some with updated cover art. They've also been kind of re-seizing records that only existed as bootlegs. This LP combines songs that were on the Condensed Flesh 7", Hit and Run demos and a live bootleg. There's some unheard extras too. I always thought the Hit and Run demos were awesome, compared to the Condensed Flesh stuff. Probably more for the die-hards, since some of these songs are repeated and others appear on the Faith split. I wish the cover art was more interesting, but seeing all of those of pictures inside in color is really cool. Definitely a worthy pickup. Includes a digital download.

Vacant State- Fill the Void (Deranged Records)
Imagine an alternate reality where instead of Henry Rollins, Black Flag tapped Choke to sing on My War. That's where Vacant State is coming from. I loved their 2 7"s, so naturally I was stoked to see what they'd do on an LP. They always balanced fast, mid paced and slower hardcore songs, while still sounding fierce. I was a little skeptical when the first song, "Dying World" started out real slow. Luckily it's just about a minute long, and they kick into high gear. I think a lot of people compare these guys to Cardiac Arrest (which is not a bad thing), though I think by varying their pace, it stays a lot more interesting. Definitely an awesome LP. Includes a digital download.

Teargas- The Way Of All Flesh (Hardcore Victim Records)
I loved the Teargas 7", it reminded me of Death Side, so I was stoked to check out the LP. Unfortunately it doesn't nearly live up to their previous efforts. The LP is ok, but there's definitely a lot more melodic crust and less "Jap-core" thrash. I was hoping to see these guys over the summer, but both area shows were with Tragedy (yuck). At least the cover art is really cool.

Rational Animals- Bock Rock Parade (Katorga Works)
Rational Animals are a weird band, look at the cover of the record...goats. Their name isn't even on the front cover. They play a style of hardcore similar to the un-popular era of Black Flag/B'Last...weird. Their 2 7"s prior to this were definite sleeper hits, and they're always tight as hell live. That being said, they kind of step into an even weirder territory on this LP. Fusing more stoner rock influences along with their previous stoner punk influences. It's good, but some of the songs get on the longer side, and lose the interest of this elder edgeman.

Authorites- Puppy Love (Get Hip Records)
Puppy Love is a reissue of an unreleased LP, plus their classic 7" songs. The Authorities were an early 80's punk band, similar to fast more punk CA bands like Angry Samoans. I always liked this collection, and am glad to finally be able to get it on vinyl. Mine didn't come with an insert, which is real disappointing, as I feel like something like this warrants lyrics and some sort of bio of the band. Since this is a reissue of their discography made in the early 2000's, it would maybe have been nice to include a more complete discography with those "Burbon Decay" songs and a demo or something. Great record regardless, pretty essential.

Dark Ages- Can America Survive? (Sorry State Records)
Dark Ages' demo and 7"on were great, so I was real stoked to hear this LP. I was a little skeptical since there was kind of a big gap between records, and a lineup change. Musically, it's similar in that it's some fast early 80's mid-west sounding HC/ punk. Drawing influences equally from Die Kreuzen as early Replacements. I feel like their demo and 7" were better, though this is pretty good too. They seem to favor a lot heavier on the slow/ mid-paced parts here. The artwork is kind of boring, despite the gigantic poster inside. The art on their previous records had business man monkeys and crazy priests, so this was kind of disappointing. Includes a digital download.

Night Birds- The Other Side of Darkness (Grave Mistake Records)
Night Birds is one of the few local bands I actually like. I wasn't really into their demo, but their 7"s had some real good songs, but this LP really knocks it out of the park. I was somewhat expecting it to have some of the more slow to mid-paced songs on their previous releases, but this LP is all fast. A lot of their lyrics are based on horror movies, similar to Angry Samoans. Musically it continues the kinda Agent Orange surfy punk vibe, but there's definitely some Dead Kennedys sound creeping in there too. This LP is great, definitely a must have for 2011.
Fun fact: the photo on the front cover was taken at the Forum Theater in beautiful downtown Metuchen, NJ. Includes a digital download.

Weekend Nachos- Two Things at Once (Cowabunga Records)
As the cover may suggest, you're getting 2 record re-pressed onto one record. First up is their first 7", Torture. Sounding good years later, and you don't have to flip sides in the middle. The lyrics were a little juvenile, but the music is on point with the Weekend Nachos sound of power violence. The B-side is the Bleed 2 song LP. I skipped this one when it came out, since a 2 song LP holds no appeal to me. The songs are way sludgy. WN always had some doom parts in songs, but 2 slow doom songs aren't my cup of tea, though the 18 songs on the A side more than make up for it. It's also kind of a neat juxtaposition to get WN's 1st and 4th records. The layout is pretty straight forward, in tribute to those "valu-pack" CDs which has 2 LPs on on CD (particularly, the Descendents one).

Timebombs- I Belong in Hell (Cowabunga Records)
One the last Timebombs record I got they were going for the more No Way Records/ early 80's sound. However when I saw them 2 summers ago, I noticed a more evolved sound. On this record they're channeling the same paths as Cult Ritual and Total Abuse. I think they avoid some of the more artsy/ indie rock trappings of those bands though. So basically it's a fast feedback drenched hardcore record. It may throw off fans of their earlier records, but this sound works a lot better for them. The version I have has a different cover than the one above, but I like mine a lot better.

Boston Strangler- 3 song promo (tape)
I was lucky enough to catch Boston Strangler in NYC a few weeks ago, and picked up this tape. I loved their demo, so naturally I was real stoked to check this out. As the named might suggest, it is a 3 song promo tape for their upcoming LP. It kicks off with "Primative" which has an intro that builds up kind of like "Get It Away" and is catchy as fuck. I feel like the new stuff is channeling a bit of a Slapshot influence, which fits in their all Boston HC influences. This LP is going to destroy, hopefully it comes out before the end of the year.

Brain Slug (pro-tape)
Brain Slug is a new band from NYC, that actually takes influence from NYHC (not shitty artsy mysterious shit or boring crust). The vocals are real harsh, sort of like a Citizens Arrest or United Mutation quality. Musically there are some fast and slow parts. When they play fast, I get a total YDI vibe, which rules. When I saw them they played a bunch of new songs, which were awesome. Stoked to get their new 7".

Living Laser- Ragged Glory (Trip Machine Labs) (pro-tape)
Living Laser is a new band from NY. Their sound is somewhat melodic, mainly due to the vocals. It has a Kid Dynamite mixed with early AFI vibe, in the best possible way. Melodic, but definitely not pop-punk. The slick cover art that's heavy on the yellow reminds me of the Bad Brains ROIR tape, which is definitely not a bad thing. Pretty cool. Includes a digital download.

V/A- Youngblood Records 2011 (Youngblood Records) (pro-tape)
At TIH Fest, Youngblood had this sampler tape of their upcoming releases. It wound up being the only piece of music I bought at the fest, mainly for the No Tolerance song. No Tolerance kicks it off by being the best current sXe band, with another raw fast hard moshy number from the new 7". Face Reality play some pretty good youth crew, similar to early Turning Point. Give I don't get. I feel like a lot of people I know like them, but they just sound like a 90's grunge band to me. Police and Thieves I didn't realize were still together, but they bring a new song off their LP that's very Dag Nasty/Swiz sounding. Sacred Love sounds like bad era Bad Brains. Mob Mentality kinda have a scrappy NYHC quality, but not terribly tight. I'm definitely ordering the No Tolerance 7" as soon as it'll be available, and will probably pick up the Face Reality 7" as well when I do. I like that in 2011 this was a cassette promo, and not a free download on some site.