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Askew Review 15

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MAD CADDIES- Rock the Plank (Fat Wreck) This CD is jam packed with upbeat and catchy tunes. Not really ever being a Mad Caddies fan myself, I certainly have changed my opinion. Rock the Plank starts off with “Shaving Your Life”, a hard hitting and in-your-face demonstration of punk/ska’s full potential. The other tunes range and vary from thematic pirate like sing-a-longs, to standard ska rhythm songs such as “Day’s Away”. My personal favorite was “Booze Cruise”. The only area of this CD that I thought could improve was the guitar sound. Otherwise a great CD that’s full of energy and fun. I would recommend it to anyone interested in punk or ska.

MANIC HISPANIC- The Recline of the Mexican Civilization (BYO Records)  I shall begin by writing that I have no idea if this cd is meant to be taken seriously or as fun and games. For this review, I’ll treat it seriously. This damn cd cracked me up! What we have here is a bunch of Hispanics covering some classic punk tunes, but twisting in some Mexican flavor. Pure genius! The Manic ones start off with “Alberto’s,” a Mexican version of The Descendents’ “Der Weinerschnitzel.” Up next is a play on The Ramones’ “Chinese Rocks” called “Mexican Tar.” You will die when you here the Mexican trumpet in “Get Them Immigrated” instead of The Offspring’s guitar riff in “Come Out and Play (keep them separated).”  My favorite here is “Mommy’s Little Cholo” which mimics Social Distortion’s “Mommy’s Little Monster.” Other songs Mexicanized; Rancid’s “Ruby Soho,” Dead Kennedy’s “Lynch the Landlord,” two Clash tunes, one X song, and others. Twelve total songs. Definitely a different take on covering punk tunes.- Denis Sheehan

ME FIRST AND THE GIMME GIMMES- Blow In The Wind (Fat Wreck Chords) Plain and simple, I’m a sucker for this stuff.  Take an old familiar tune, turbo-charge the hell out of it, improve some words here and there, and I am hooked.  For the uninitiated, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes are a group of guys moonlighting from bands like NOFX, Swingin’ Utters and Lag Wagon.  They only play covers- mostly old AM radio standards from the ‘60s and ‘70s.  What really makes “Blow In The Wind” work are the great vocals (especially from lead singer Spike Slawson) and the little humorous twists and turns that are found throughout the disc.  They absolutely flatten Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and Cat Stevens’ “Wild World” (and I mean flatten in a good way).  They start “Sloop John B” in the manner of the Ramones’ (RIP, Joey) “Teenage Lobotomy,” then they go on to blast through the actual song beautifully.  I think this one is my favorite on the CD.  What starts off as a few bars of “London Calling” turns into a melodic version of the Turtles’ “Elenor” (and I’d love it if the next Turtles cover they did was “Let Me Be”).  “My Boyfriend’s Back” is done from the perspective of a gay man, and the closing line declares, “My boyfriend’s…black!” Another favorite here is “Who Put The Bomp.”  There are 13 songs on this disc, and while it’s top heavy (meaning the best songs are towards the front), the whole thing is really a hell of a lot of fun.  While I’m at it, I highly recommend their first full length, “Have A Ball.” –Ben Hunter

MEAT DEPRESSED– Deface the Nation (Band Site) This new fifteen track disc from Southern Massachusetts best aggressive rock/power punkers will have you whirling in a musical abyss. The conflagration of songs are fueled by Bob Kadlec’s intense guitar and John Stone’s insane drumming (sounds as if John is the Charles Manson of drummers). Throw in Peter Walsh’s cynical lyrics and Vic Leemon’s rhythmic bass thumping and you have enough energy to out power the sun. The songs mainly focus on ill fated relationships and sex. “I Can’t Here You,” and the one liners in “It’s Time To Fuck” will floor you! The disc concludes with the merry sounding sing along-drink along pub tune “Cheers (Raise A Pint).” Yes, you will be the subject of discussion if you fail to buy this cd! - Denis Sheehan

THE MILWAUKEES- The Bland Comfort of Life with Lloyd Justin (Twenty-Four Seven) I really do not know how to describe the relentless and powerful rock heard on this disc…wait…I just describe it. Excuse me while I pat myself on the back. The music is pure rock, but the speed and energy behind the music gives it an almost punky (not Brewster) feel to it. The drumming in “Connected” will beat your rhythm bone into the dirt and the searing guitar will surly have you plinking your fingers along for the ride. In fact, that’s how the entire disc is. Great aggressive rock over here. Good stuff!- Denis Sheehan

MORAL CRUX- The Side Effects of Thinking (Panic Button) This Pop Punk classic was originally released in 1989. This album is considered by many to be a masterpiece that helped with the huge resurgence of Pop Punk in the late 80s, early 90s. The feel of the music is definitely laden with an 80’s pop sound with the punk influence coming across through attitude and the hard-hitting guitars. “Global Scar” is a fast faced collection of cool riffs and hurriedly sung lyrics- you have to love that! “No Time” bears a striking resemblance to early Descendents songs with it’s lighten quick burst of energy. Unfortunately, the disc concludes with the drawn out, six minutes clunker “Revolution.”  These guys, and their sound, would have been a perfect fit for the soundtrack of many of John Hughes’ 80’s teenage movies. You know you liked those movies, and you’ll like this disc too!- Denis Sheehan  

 MOTIVE- I vs. The Beckoning Of Darkness(Exit/Wreck-Age, PO Box 263, New York,NY 10012)These guys take hardcore to a new level. Mixing hardcore metal with punk never sounded so good. This disc is intensely powerful while messing with you emotionally. This disc came out of  no where and completely knocked me on my buttocks. Hardcore fans cannot live without this one. - Denis Sheehan

 MR. RATBOY-A Gift From Mr. Ratboy (Fearlette, West Village PO, POB 20129, New York, NY 10014) Mr. Ratboy, former member of Motorcycle Boy and Pillbox, is back with a great classic rock-n-roll solo album. Although the songs are straight in your face rock, some of them to have a slight 70’s glam influence to them. This is a cool cd and a great effort by Mr. Ratboy, however, the last three tunes are awful and should never be listened to. - Denis Sheehan

 MOKE (Ultimatum Music, 8723 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 902030) Uhg! Run of the mill, boring, playing it safe rock. Some of the songs sound like a softer Rage Against The Machine, anothers sounds like Lenny Kravitz. Moke is supposedly a big deal in England. Good, maybe they’ll stay there! - Denis Sheehan

THE MOVIELIFE- This Time Next year (Revelation Records) These guys sound like a less cerebral Bad Religion. They follow the template - a driving aural assault with a couple of tempo changes that sonically take you on a rocket ride. The song craft is as good as any Offspring song, even if it is a bit less pop oriented. This Time Next Year starts with "I Hope You Die Soon" which I can only describe as a twenty-seven second rant. The eleven remaining songs clock in at a little more, each still fulfilling the punk requisite formula of short, loud, and fast. "Once In A Row" is a punk anthem replete with the repetition of the chorus, "Let's Go! Let's Go!" There are other clever phrases here that range from the derogatory to the apathetic. "Plenty of time to ruin my life so why start now?" is a typical example of the latter. "Self-Destruct" is a fun melee of loud crashing cymbals. I could visualize these guys at a club, deep into their song set, with beer bottles being thrown from every direction if it weren't for body surfers partially obscuring my view even in this imagination sequence. An anxious chord progression parallels the verbal assault on a girl they must know in "Single White Female." The lyrics are great, "Leave your fucking friend at the Smithtown Mall where she belongs 'cause now she's got the same tattoo as you, and she's learning all your songs." It's not all slashing chords. There are a few special effects. In the middle of "Pinky Swear" there is a nice stereo effect. Suddenly, a frenetic guitar crescendo pans to left speaker for about a millisecond before it kicks, or rather slams, back into the left. The Movielife is thundering aggressive guitar and grating vocals, but ya know what? It works! - Tony Gerardi

 MUSTARD PLUG- Pray For Mojo (Hopeless Records, POB 7495, Van Nuys, CA 91409-7495) Lets put it this way. I’m not a big ska fan, however, this disc is so great it is unbelievable. The entire disc is load with high energy ska with just a touch of punk to bring it over the edge. Great horns, great vocals, great drums, just plain great. There is no song that is more addicting than “Not Giving Up.” You need not be a ska fan to absolutely love the disc. -Denis Sheehan

 NINE POUND HAMMER- Live At The Vera (Scooch Pooch, 5850 W. 3rd St. #209, Los Angeles, CA 90036) Recorded live in Holland in the fall of 94. Seventy-one minutes of furious punk with a country twang to it. I found this disc to be just ok, but I’ve never heard of these guys so it was tough to really get into it. Twenty-four tracks, originals plus a few covers, are included. Pretty damn good production for a live recording. Fans of NPH will love this, others will be taking a chance. Also available on double LP. -Denis Sheehan

NOFX- The Decline (Fat Wreck Chords) Eighteen minutes of politically charged power punk that will crack your skull. The songs are very melodic, but are aggressively meaty enough to sink your teeth into. Look, you have either heard NOFX or you haven’t. If you have, you know what these guys are all about. They’ve been at it for almost ten years. If you haven’t heard NOFX, what are you waiting for? I love NOFX and I loved this disc. – Denis Sheehan  

NOFX- 45 or 46 Songs That Weren’t Good Enough To Go On Our Other Records (Fat Wreck) The title of this two cd set explains it all. However, the title is a bit misleading as it implies that the songs aren’t all that good. Liars. I think the music on these two cds is pretty damn good and is better than most of past NOFX releases. Disc one has 21 tunes, while disc two has 25. The songs on disc two are generally under one minute long. The music is what you’d expect to hear from NOFX; fast, punk, funny, smart. If you already like NOFX, you’ll certainly want this release. If you’re not familiar with these guys, don’t be afraid to give this one a shot. A nice fat insert booklet accompanies the cds. Good stuff I hereby write.- Denis Sheehan

 NO MOTIV- And The Sadness Prevails (Vagrant, 2118 Wilshire Blvd #361, Santa Monica, CA 90403) Eleven very cool aggressive rock tunes. All the songs are fast, intense, and very melodic. The guitar work is great. I liked every song on the disc, but "So What" is my favorite here. This is a great disc if you’re looking for a new band to get into. - Denis Sheehan

THE NO WTO COMBO- Live From the Battle In Seattle (Alternative Tentacles) This cd was recorded live on December 1st, 1999 during the protests against the WTO meetings in Seattle,  WA. The band features Jello Biafra (ex- Dead Kennedys), Krist Novoselic (ex-Nirvana), and Kim Thayil (ex-Soundgarden).  The disc is 44 minutes longs, contains four songs and one spoken word cut. There are also spoken word segments between the songs and within the songs. If you know Jello, you know what he often speaks about. Everything here anti government, anti WTO, and anti corporations. Jello talks about the decline of human rights, other social injustices, and the importance of more awareness by the public. If you’re a bleeding heart liberal, you’ll love this. If you are a religious conservative, you’ll hate it. The songs include; a cover of The Dead Kennedys “Let’s Lynch the Landlord,” “New Feudalism” (about NAFTA), “Electronic Plantation” (how badly major corps treat their employees), and a cover of DOA’s “Full Metal Jackoff.” The disc starts with an approx 15-minute rant about the WTO and it’s atrocities. The music is along the lines of The Dead Kennedys. Fans of Jello will dig this. Music with a message. I like this stuff. – Denis Sheehan

 NOBODYS- Generation XXX (Hopeless, POB 7495, Van Nuys, CA 91409) Great old fashioned shut the hell up and in your face punk rock. Like your punk with attitude? Look no further. Intense punk music laced with funny as hell, and at times crude, lyrics. Although I loved all twenty-five songs, "Ain’t Too Cool" blew ma away. Reminds me of older DOA. Great disc. - Denis Sheehan

 NOTHINGFACE-Everyday Atroscity(Mayhem, 285 W. Broadway, Suite 300, New York, NY 10013) Welcome to the new world of “aggro rock.” What we have here is some great hard, melodic rock with vocals that beautifully flip flop from the Korn sound to Quicksand. This balance makes for some great music. One second lead singer Matt Holt lures you into a false sense of security with his soothing voice and then he tears your head off with angry, forceful screaming. Although the second cut “Grinning” is my favorite, the entire disc will wake your tired ass up. If this disc was an animal, It would be a pitbull! - Denis Sheehan

ONE TIME ANGELS- Sound of a Restless City (Adeline Records) Like many of their East Bay counterparts, such as American Steel, One Time Angels tries to couple hard-rock with punk aesthetics. For One Time Angels this seems to be a case of a square peg being hammered into a round hole. At their best, the band creates moods which are dark and unnervingly reserved. "Chase the Sun," which is a solo acoustic song, utilizes this minimalist approach well, and "Gravity" marries their inherently disinterested performance with themes of denial and inevitable descent. Unfortunately, "Sound of a Restless City" finds One Time Angels rarely tapping into their creative powers. The "punk" aspects seem farcical-- particularly the gruff vocals--which are incongruous with the sparse soundscape which backs them. The more relaxed singing featured occasionally sounds far more natural. The majority of the songs have a fatigue about them, creating a distance between the music and the musicians. It almost seems as if they have other things on their minds while they are playing; rather than establish a powerful tension, this distance is simply distracting. The more adventurous or assertive moments (such as extra melodic touches or atmospheric embellishments) are stymied, bogged down so low in the mix that they sound like they are emanating from a stereo someone accidentally left on in the background during the recording. The only time these effects surface enough to drive the song is with the restrained use of synthesized sound in "Fall From Grace," and the brass featured in the best and closing track, "Decorated Memory." What would be powerful components of One Time Angel's sound, instead detract from the album's appeal even further—making the bad parts sound just that much worse. For instance, what could be a ghostly transparency between the performers just sounds like a gap in the instrumentation. Overall, the problem isn't so much the sluggishness of the band (after all, groups such as Helium have successfully transformed this into their signature trait), but their decision to make a kind of music which masks their abilities and highlights their weaknesses.- Ryan McKay

THE PATTERN- Immediately (Lookout) Over the last year or two, the music press have been going ga-ga over the resurgence of snotty defiant rock music.  Nevermind that bands like Urge Overkill, the John Spencer Blues Explosion, the Cramps, et. al have been making this kind of music and generally doing a better job of it for years...  The Strokes, the White Stripes, and now the Pattern are some of the supposed "flag bearers of the new breed," which seems to have its biggest foothold on the East Bay.  Have you noticed how many thrasy recalcitrant bands are coming out of Oakland?  This can be attributed to dissatisfaction with the quiescent headiness of music and codified pacification of audience involvement (or even physical movement for that matter) that had become the defining qualities of the U.S. indie rock scene, as well as the rising cost/declining quality of life in San Francisco and Berkeley throughout the late 90s.  The Pattern have made their mark by calling something old by a new name and there by creating something everyone perceives as revolutionary.  In this case, they have combined something of the sensibility of a mod band with the raw vitality of early 70s Detroit punk-precursors.  They then add some of the most obnoxious vocals conceivable, tweak the lyrics a little to avoid clichés, and call the whole thing "punk soul boogie."  Immediately is an ep compiling their Wet Circuit City, and Feverish singles plus two more sides.  Because the order of the songs has been rearranged it appears that at least some thought was given to the overall flow of the record, but the resequencing can't hide the fact that Immediately is not a cohesive work.  "Finger Us" is a forgettable opener that leads into one of the most blues-based of their works, the 12 bar workout "Breakfast."  The lyrics to this song are some of the best at presenting the Pattern's particular attitude problem, with Applegren telling someone to fix him breakfast and then get the hell out.  "Sunned Things Speak" is another somewhat disposable track that leads into "Worse All The Time" which has a decidedly 70s feel, due in part to the hooted backup vocals. "Mary's Sister" and "Untold" round out the album with a couple more stomping tunes reliant on a beat rather than a melody.  More fashion than passion, more hype than sensation, the Pattern rely on sex appeal and volume to make their point more than anything else.  Their emotional detachment and hip clumsiness have made them a name in the U.K.--and while their live performances are charismatic, intense, and fun--on record their music becomes declawed and a little mundane.  If you were a fan of the Peechees this record will still probably appeal to you, but personally, I liked it more when Christopher Applegren was releasing OTHER people's records.- Ryan McKay       

 PAWNSHOP-Three Brass Balls(Home Office Records, 173 Clinton St, Brooklyn, NY 11201) Basic alternative pop rock that dares not to have it’s own sound and fails to peak ones interest. - Denis Sheehan 

PENIS FLYTRAP split w/ KERMIT’S FINGER (Fan Attic Records, POB 391494, Cambridge, MA 02139-0015) Penis Flytrap: Fifteen very cool punk tunes. The songs are not the fastest, but they are driven into your head. Great guitars with attitude laced lyrics will leave you musically fulfilled. Every song is great, however “Photo Of A Dead Man” and “ Punk Rock Is Dead” are my favs here. I love this band. Kermit’s Finger: Twenty-two fast and furious songs that scream punk rock. None of the songs are over two minutes long. I love that! I love “Punk Rock Bus Driver.” Hell, I loved every song. Hey, this is one very cool disc. Buy it. - Denis Sheehan

 THE PILLS- Wide Awake With The Pills (Monolyth Record group, POB 990980, Boston, MA 02199-0980)The Pills are definitely Boston’s best power pop band! The songs are fast, catchy, and have a great rhythm to them. “The Devil’s Song” is a great pop tune with a hint of ska and should be getting airplay all over the place. These guys could be the next “big thing” out of Boston. Look, this disc is very cool. Just get out there and buy it! -Denis Sheehan

PROPAGANDHI- Today’s Empire, Tomorrow’s Ashes (Fat Wreck) Political punk rock at it’s finest. The music is fast, intense, and delivers a non-stop barrage of messages concerning, and bitching about, many points of society. These guys have been force-feeding political punkers for years and time has not slowed them down at all. Averaging approx. two minutes long, the songs are the perfect length and come jam packed with lyrics that grab your attention, whether or not you agree with them. The beauty about Propagandhi is even if you are not into the political scene; the music is cool enough to stand you on your head. Not only do you get fourteen great tunes, this enhanced cd includes a few quick time videos and other special features that offer more detailed knowledge concerning issues the band finds important. – Denis Sheehan

THE QUEERS- Beyond the Valley.. (Hopeless) The Queers have been pumping out some of the world’s finest Pop Punk since 1982, and this new release only solidifies their position atop the “Coolest Pop Punk Bands in the World” list. The music is an intense blend of three-chord, Ramones like punk rock with the addictive melodies and harmonies of 1950’s rock. Along with the music, are Joe Queer’s truly hilarious and crude lyrics. With songs titles such as “Stupid Fucking Vegan,” “I Hate Your Fucking Guts,” “Just Say Cunt,” and “I Just Called To Say Fuck You,” it’s no wonder the cd starts off with a track called “Uncouth!” I honestly laughed my arse off at the song titles and I couldn’t wait to listen to this disc. The lyrical content in “My Cunt’s a Cunt” is sure to land The Queers on NOW’s most hated and least venerated list of men. The Queers produce a musical bag of tricks. The music itself is fast, yet melodically catchy, and fools you into thinking everything is simply grand. However, the closer you listen the more you realize that Joe Queer and his boys are just as pissed off as they were 15 years ago. In this case, the “Pop” in Pop Punk is the sound of The Queers popping you in the mouth with their music. Great disc, you’ll enjoy the beating.- Denis Sheehan

REGGIE AND THE FULL EFFECT- Promotional Copy (Vagrant) Somewhere in time, Trent Reznor and Terry Nunn of Berlin did the dirty and produced children who were born solely for the reason of incorporating their very two different musical flavors. The songs are driven by a hard hitting guitar, but are also guided by a synthesizer/keyboard that roam between the lines of 80’s pop flair and edge jumping industrial mayhem. “Something I’m Not” is a perfect example of this bands tendency to blend various types of music together. The song starts sounding like a gutter punk riot, then after the first verse is over, it slips into a more pop sounding surrounding. Truly perplexing. If “Boot to the Moon” ever gets national attention, it is sure to start a dance craze similar to The Macarena because it is downright catchy and just plain “fun.” “Gloves” even steals a little British pop from EMF. You could honestly play this disc to an unsuspecting soul and fool them into believing that it is a compilation disc. That’s how diverse sounding it is. To say that this disc is experimental is an understatement. To say that it’s a great listen, is also an understatement.- Denis Sheehan

 THE REPORTS- Run Into The Night (Satellite Transmissions, POB 4432, Boulder, CO 80306) Remember all those late 80’s post modern punk rock bands who hogged all the airplay on MTV’s 120 minutes? Those bands were top heavy with synthesizers and neglected guitar work. Well, The Reports are a near clone with those bands, but they have replaced the synthesizer (there is still a small hint of synthesizers) with some catchy and cutting guitars. The Reports use this aggressive guitar sound, in the words of Emeril the chef, to kick post modern punk up a notch. The songs are very melodic and well constructed, but there is a sense of disarray to the music giving it a garage sound to it. As far as I’m concerned, this is one cool disc. –Denis Sheehan

RU486- One Shy of Lucky Thirteen (Band Site) This young band out of Massachusetts’ South Shore is carving a pretty nice niche for themselves in the local hardcore metal/punk scene. The music sounds like a raw version of Pantera with, at times, Henry Rollins’ like vocals. Although the music is basically hardcore, the band injects some melodic sounds and interesting rhythm (lack of a better word) changes to keep everything grooving. These guys are a great sounding localkore band to keep your eyes, and ears, on. – Denis Sheehan

QUALM-Preventing Explosion (Not Bad Records) Some words that strike me as I listen to this record are fast, angry, typical and skateboarding just to name a few. It, like most punk/hardcore albums, contains that raw energy which has been swished around the creative palate so many times it loses all of its flavor and becomes like water. So what would be my main adjective in describing this four piece band of skater punks? Normal. Some songs that I feel warrant applause on their 6 song CD would be "Just Fine" and "Take Care". These guys remind me a lot of early grunge and also sound a little like The Alkaline Trio. In all honesty, this record is not tasteful to me but, if this is what you like, go out and check it out.


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