Capsule Reviews from the Deep Past

LATEST REVIEWS: August, 2001

The World Around Me
DCS Records 
Take a handful of run-of-the mill ska. Add a pinch of the Grabbers. Stir vigorously in a hair metal bowl for no more than three minutes per song. Open your musical refrigerator and find some leftover Suicidal Tendencies LPs. Crumble and sprinkle the LPs over mixture. Bake in a Lookout! Records brand oven.
Um...I suspect that Spitball would be pretty cool live. They sound fun, but not terribly original. At times, the recording obscures the vocals, but for the most part, it is a pretty well recorded CD. Pop-punk, bits of pseudo-hardcore, and lots of standard ska mix to make a very average record. By no stretch of the imagination is this a memorable record, but it is good enough to put on from time to time without cringing. That sounded cruel; basically this is a pedestrian recording by a band that sounds as if they're a good live act. 
Spitball/ PO Box 1401/ Provo, UT 84603/ Web page

Sick on the Bus 
Set Fire to Someone in Authority
Go-Kart Records 
A talented bunch o' fellas here. If you are a fan of hardcore, this will certainly fit nicely into your collection, but it probably won't be the CD your friends pull out and ask to borrow either. But I like this. This is one of the records that seem to hint at a high-energy live show, which is to say the confines of a CD give one the impression that there is so much more and the sound recorded is, unfortunately, incomplete. 
Go-kart Records/ PO Box 20/ Prince Street Station/ New York, NY 10012

Two Man Advantage 
Don't Label Us
Go-Kart Records 
Don't Label Us is a very solid, well-produced record by one of punk's more melodic hardcore-ish (one must be careful not to label the band after all...) outfits. This is one of those records where it is difficult to point to any standout tracks: not because there aren't any, but rather owing to the fact that the whole record is consistently at the same high level of quality. You will want to invest in quality speakers before listening to this. 
Go-kart Records/ PO Box 20/ Prince Street Station/ New York, NY 10012

Moron Envy 
Temporary Escape From Sanity
There's a horn in here, so I guess I'll have to pull out the old "ska-core" stamp. Normally, I'd rip on a middle-of-the-road outfit like this, but the vapid lyrics and generic riffs don't bug me like they should. In fact, they remind me of a number of Swedish punk bands I haven't listened to in a while and now I want to blow the dust off those old albums. To put it into one statement: "Unoriginal and trite political lyrics wrapped in music you've heard before, but like". Close your eyes, play loud, and remember what it was like to be the only punk at your high school. 

REVIEWS June 15, 2001

At the Drive-In 
Fearless Records 
Emo? Hardcore? Post-punk? Noise? At the Drive In is a talented band, and I'm sure their music goes over quite well with their fans, but I'm not really very into this record. It's one of those is this emo or what? records that you spend more time trying to classify than grooving to. Some really cool parts, though. I've just noticed that my world is no more rocked now than it was before I played this record. 
At the Drive-In/POB13393/El Paso, TX 79913 

Double Down Records 
Holy shit...XIIIPFP jump right at the jugular with this one. Hardcore ska. Imagine Against All Authority playing a particularly aggressive set. Now imagine getting your ass kicked in while they're playing an encore with a bunch of their biggest, meanest hardcore friends helping out. 
XIII PFP/POB 458/Kulpsville, PA 19443 

A Secret History of the C*nts 
Disturbing Records and Filmworks 
Um...the Doors meet a Cramps cover band and head to the garage to record alongside of some skater kid with a Black Flag tattoo and a Blitz t-shirt, but stop to wrestle Primus on the way. One of the most interesting records I've heard. There's straight-up punk, elements of psychedelia, a pinch of surf, a bit of Flipper, and a lot of random retro. At first I wasn't too sure about this record, but I suspect that this is what fun would sound like if one could take an abstract concept and turn it into a sound. 
Disturbing Records/3238South Racine Avenue/Chicago, Illinois 60608

Hollywood Teasze 
No Flakes
Ok, now this is good stuff. Yeah, I am biased towards British-sounding old-school punk, but this is damn good for an album with a photo-copied sleeve. Bits of metal occasionally surface to irk the punk purist, but this is what would happen if a poppier Johnny Rotten hooked up with a band consisting of members of Husker Du and some mediocre Fat Wreck Chords outfit. There's nothing mind-blowing here, but a very good CD nonetheless. Definitely worth more than one listen.

Lower East Side Stitches 
Ng Records 
Records like this show that flogging the supposedly dead horse of 77-style punk really can be worthwhile. This record is just awesome. There really isn't a bad song on the disk. It's as if some British transplants in New York watched Social Distortion, the Sex Pistols, Sham-69, and the Ramones and decided to start a band. L.E.S Stitches write great snotty punk songs while tossing in bits of DC hardcore, So. Cal. Punk, Scared of Chaka, and a hell of a lot of phlegm. There are as many musical nods in here as there are footnotes in T.S. Eliott's "Wasteland." Easily one of the best records I have ever been asked to review. Instead of stressing over locating some hard-to-find vinyl LP, buy this. It is exactly what a punk record should aspire to. Essential. 
L.E.S. Stitches/POB 1272/New York, NY 10010 
Home Page

Third Harmonic Distortion 
Self-titled LP 
Emo-y. Very emo-y. Is emo defined by bands that have 40-second instrumental introductions to every song? Good for what it is, but I'm clearly not the emo-type, so I wouldn't listen to this that frequently. I mean, this is a good record. Solid. Consistent. Probably what emo kids would love. Just unoriginal and not very memorable in my opinion.

Various Artists 
East Timor Benefit Album
A very diverse collection of indie rockers coming together to help raise money to improve the conditions of East Timor where a quarter million people died due to a lack of medical attention and food. Good music, even better cause.

Frills and Flashy Finery 
Snackbag Records 
It's hard to review a friend's band. You never want to say anything bad. Luckily I don't have to. Wicketran is one of the best live bands I have ever seen and no record could ever capture the energy of a great live show, but if anything comes close, this has got to be it. For a band consisting of only drums and bass and whose every song is sans vocals, Wicketran kicks more ass than most traditional 4-piece rock outfits. And they're funny. Wicketran is the kind of band that aspiring musicians hear and think, "shit I could never do THAT." Play this loud. 
Snackbag Records/POB 14993/Minneapolis, MN 5514-0993 

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