Tuesday, November 8, 2011

REVIEWS: BIG CRUX 12", NIGHT BIRDS LP, "Noise Ordinance" comp LP, C.R.A.S.H. EP, REVILERS EP, NO BABIES LP, etc etc

Here's the latest batch of reviews. As always, more in a couple weeks. Thanks to everyone who has sent records for review. I greatly appreciate it.

Also, the first print issue is out and about. Check later posts for ordering information. I started work on issue #2, which I hope to have out in late January.

As I type this I'm listening to the INFINITE BODY Carve Out The Face Of My God LP on PPM. Excellent ambient music. I guess that was a micro review. Anyway, check it out. The contact information can be found at the end of the C.R.A.S.H. review.

BIG CRUX - Nature Cruising 12" EP
The influence of the Minutemen is definitely prominent on this outing. However, as the songs play out Big Crux are allowing more of their own personality to come through, which has me anxiously anticipating the next record, and all subsequent. But since I'm living in the present, or at the very least, trying, let's focus on this record that is presently on the turntable. The first two tracks, "Don't Drink The Tea" and "Warship" definitely invoke Pedro and flannel. It's on the title track that more of their own style starts to shine through. While the first two songs are pretty damn good, it's here on the third where things get really interesting. Amid the jumpy rhythm and quick tempo there's a strong tuneful side that I would imagine will become more prominent over time. This carries over to the remaining songs on this one-sider. "Protocore" is definitely my favorite on here, and the chorus "Young hearts and minds vying for some time, another lesson learned, and other book burned..." has permanently worked itself into my mind. Something I find myself singing as I sit in LA traffic. Another great record from this band that's just getting started, really. ((SD)F Records, bigcrux[at]gmail.com / ironlungrecords/bigcartel.com)

BRAIN F ≠ - Sleep Rough LP
Brain F≠ are definitely one of the more original sounding bands happening. Their sound, while certainly punk, is not too easy to describe. There's the noisy edge that is hard to nail down. The songs are quick without being blinding thrash, and there's a tunefulness despite the chaotic side they posses. Sometimes it sounds like there are two different songs going on ( such as "Fou Raide", "Connerie", at the same time, yet it's cohesive. This is the type of music that requires you to pay close attention. This is not meant to be background noise, or passively consumed. Even with the design of the cover and the lyric sheet, everything is buried in layers that you have to take the time to decipher with your eyes and ears. In the music I hear bits of rocknroll, cowpunk, and some dirty experimentation mashed up and crammed into the rambling shambling punk body. Elise Anderson's vocals are at the top of it all, which I like, and is one of my favorite aspects of this band. There's a confidence and playfulness in the delivery that is undeniable. The guitar has a snarling bite that doesn't rely on being a wall of distortion. Check out "Sleep Rough", the guitars open up with a hard strum that almost rings, then it builds and everything else falls in behind. I'm reminded of the early 80s California sound, but these guys are not a neo-retro punk band. They have the brains to be their own band and are creating their own style. (Grave Mistake, gravemistakerecords.com)

BUFFALO BANGERS - Blockader 7"
Interesting. Verrry interesting. I get the sense this band has shut out all contemporary influences and have aimed at attaining their own sound. There's the definite punk crossed with Goth sound. I do hear traces of Christian Death and Bauhaus, with some surf-esque guitars. There is also a rough and unpolished quality to this. Which is part of the appeal for me. The drums are rudimentary, keeping the time, but no frills, giving the music a slight minimal vibe. Of the two tracks, "Granite Grandma" is the standout. The guitar is more prominent, with more low end from the bass right there, and the vocals have a bit more range. There's a slight melancholy in the music that is effective in putting you in the mood. (Private Leisure Industries, privateliesureindustries[a]gmail.com)

C.R.A.S.H. - A War On All Fronts EP
Soon to set the world ablaze. Instantly likeable. This new super group from the LA area is here and ready to lay it the fuck down. C.R.A.S.H. consists of members from Nazti Skinz, Born Against, No Age, Mika Miko, Wrangler Brutes, and Fast Forward. Raw no-frills hardcore punk that has a early 80s feel in the basic approach to the song writing and delivery. There's a looseness about this that retains the energy and is not so polished and tightened up that any air is sucked out of the room. Listening to this I sort of envision the band in their practice space hammering the songs out with urgency and making sure they keep that urgency when it's recorded. "Life To Live" is my favorite of the five. The tempo is slower than the rest (they never stray over into thrash territory, choosing to keep it mainly mid paced), with some time changes, and the vocal delivery sounds stronger. But, the best lyrics are found/heard in "Cult Merch", with "You think you worry about creating culture / But you really worry about tooth decay / You think you worry about creating culture / But you're worried about your weight". Hoping there is more from these folks. (Post Present Medium, PO Box 291301, Los Angeles, CA 90029, postpresentmedium.com)

Talk about noisy!! Sounds like this was recorded in a air plane hangar. The guitar sounds like it was played with a shard of tin, the vocals sound like "bleararrgghhhh", and the drums are a complete mess. In short, this is awesome. The kind of record that grabs your attention, whether you want it to or not. You'll either love it, or leave the room. I'm sticking around for a few more listens. Amid the chaos you will hear a song structure that actually has some catchy elements you can hang on to as you go careening through the melee. "Free Chapel" sounds like the gates of Hell flung wide open and all the misery and rot unleashed. But the tracks that really stick with me the most are "The Law" with it's repetitive structure, and "Communion" which shifts tempos and gives the bass some room to come to the top. A few more spins of this are in order for today. (videodiseaserecords.com)

I had no idea Insult were playing music again. Still wished I was able to catch them when they played Los Angeles in 1997. Anyway, this is some pretty good stuff here. Short sharp blasts of hardcore thrash. Some liken them to Infest, and I hear a smidge of that here, but not enough to be a clone band like many others.  Six ragers and not a stinker in the bunch. After having a laugh at the title of the final track "Diddler On Parole" I found this to be the best song of the collection. The tempo slows down a bit, which allows them to give their sound a more twisted feel in the guitar part, and hearkens back to a more early 80s sound. 
Rampant Decay are a little more thrashy. Growly death metal style vocals, a wall of guitar, and the approach of "Go! Go! Go!". A nice record to throw in the middle of a bunch of more tuneful melodic stuff when you're sitting around the house playing records. (Patac, patacrecords.com)

NIGHT BIRDS - The Other Side Of Darkness LP
Better than you can imagine!! This is completely fuggin' awesome!! F'n flawless!! Night Birds get better and better with every new release. I have been listening to their "Fresh Kills" CD for a better part of the year now, and have made a point to spread the gospel to others. Even at Sunday night skate sessions of the middle-aged, where suddenly everyone was transported back to their youth and skated like it. Perhaps because this band is so damn good, and also it could be because they do a pretty damn good job of getting the early hardcore punk sound down, and making it sound as fresh and vibrant as it did one hundred years ago. The surf instrumental "Day After Trinity" is a burner, sounding like something Dick Dale would write. In fact, one of the strongest facets of the Night Birds is the guitar player can play quite well. Makes some of the OC bands sound amateur. No joke. The guitar has the classic surf sound, plays fast and clean (check out the song "Paranoid Times", and notice your jaw has hit the floor at the beginning), and the drums and bass hold it all together and it sounds effortless, despite the precision of the craft. 
A couple old tracks, "Can't Get Clean", and "Paranoid Times" are re-recorded, and have more fire than before. The eleven new tracks are killer; "Sex Tape", "Born Of Man And Woman", the title track, "Neon Gray", and "One Eye" to name a few. You could waste your time with reunited Adolescents and the Dickies, or you could spend your remaining time on this planet wisely and listen to the Night Birds instead. (Grave Mistake, gravemistakerecords.com)

Caught this outfit live at the Smell the other night. In a stroke of pure luck I walked into the space as soon as they were setting up. Their live show is one of those 'must see' events. Nothing but non-stop explosive energy. Everyone in the band is spazzing out and throwing themselves around the room with abandon. I took photos, and we'll see how they come out in a few weeks (I shoot on film when I can, and it's what I prefer...). Made sure to pick this record up and their split tape with Shearing Pinx. The cover art here is interesting. A photo of hand made dolls with a bank made of cardboard bricks going up in paper flames. The music is pressed on gorgeous red with glitter vinyl. The music is total no wave skronk meets the hyper tempo of Melt Banana. Guitars scrape, blurp, and go 'wromph' here and there, while the vocals are delivered with often rapid fire cadence. The saxophone mimics a tea kettle on boil with high pitched and long drawn blasts. It may sound like complete chaos, but listen closer and you will hear that this stuff is planned out and measured. Maybe not exact in the math, but it sounds good. It's complex, and you know they knew what they're doing. Sometimes the rhythms lurch, and everything sounds crammed in, then the music will suddenly open up for a few moments, then it's back at it with the jammed in guitars, blasting saxophone, crashing and rolling drums that sometimes pull off some free jazz bits, and I'm of the opinion hold the songs together. If you were to take them out, then perhaps everything else would implode, or explode outward and make a glorious mess. I think I love this band... (Upet! The Rhythm, upsettherhythm.co.uk)

REVILERS - Stand or Fall EP
Decent street punk in the vein of Workin' Stiffs, and Swingin' Utters (fortunately Revilers are much less polished). Favorite song on here is "Tried And True" with the lines "I get the feeling I'm being marginalized / And downsized". The song "Road Rage" sounds like it has a little bit of Motorhead in it. Hmmm... (Patac, patacrecords.com)

Whoa!! This is some pretty damn good punk from Sweden. Definitely European in style. How to back that statement up... Hmmm... Well, you know it when you hear it. There's qualities that regions have over other regions. For one, this is pretty damn tuneful, but raw and driving as well. Not to mention passion in the vocals with a hint of desperation in the delivery. At times the music sounds busy with the guitars playing different parts that almost sound like their off time. I hear some early Hüsker Dü in their sound. Mainly in the melody. The most tuneful of the five is "Sälj Ut Din Själ", and so happens to be the song that stayed in my mind most long after the record was finished. But, just so you know, the whole damn record is worth repeated listens. (Gaphals, www.gaphals.se

V/A- "Noise Ordinance" LP
Considering the pull and influence of Maximum Rocknroll, I have high expectations for any record they put out. For all their resources they have no excuse to put out some half-baked compilation, and though they may have released some clunkers in the past (the split double EPs of the 90s, the "They Don't Get Paid..." comp), this one is pretty damn good. Worthy of sharing shelf space next to the first two comps, for sure. I'm really surprised at how good this to be honest. Mostly because there seems to be a lot of really good bands in the Bay Area at the moment. Something their well-known neighbor six hours south can not boast of. 
This collection covers a good range of bands that fall under the punk umbrella. You have the the rough and nasty style, the crust and metallic stuff, thrash, post punk, etc. The bands that really stood out for me are: Airfix Kits, Rank/Xerox, NN, Year One, Shotwell, Hunx and His Punx, Fleshies, and Face The Rail. (Maximum Rocknroll, PO Box 460760, San Francisco, CA 94146 / maximumrocknroll.com)

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