REVIEWS FEBRUARY 2003
AND NONE OF THEM KNEW THEY WERE ROBOTS -- Victory As A Drug (CD EP / Jealous Records)
UK based four piece And None Of Them Knew They Were Robots emerged from the crypts in Leeds in late 2000 and shared the stage with bands such as Les Savy Fav, Cave In, Dismemberment Plan etc. in the following months. In 2001 The Robots released their self titled debut album on PigDog Records, while in 2002 they put out an EP on In At The Deep End Records, apparently containing more faster punk songs than before. Now it's 2003 and The Robots are back with another EP entitled "Victory as a drug", this time on Jealous Records who brought us the excellent Pylon EP a couple of time before. This latest output presents four new songs and one hidden track. The opening title track is a straight forward emotional punk anthem in the vein of bands like Hey Mercedes or Samiam while the following songs are a bit more complex yet still melodic and powerful. Maybe you could compare them to Braid or, I am repeating myself, Samiam, especially when it comes to the vocals. Friends of those bands should give this EP a try, anyone else too.
BACKWOOD CREATURES -- Living Legends (CD / Stardumb Records)
Backwood Creatures come from Cologne, Germany, and "Living legends" is their second strike on Stardumb Records after a couple of 7"s. This album is totally in the vein of bands like Screeching Weasel or The Queers and it contains a great cover of the Misfits classic "Skulls". Man, listening to this song once again reminds me how great the Misfits were back in the days. But let's go back to Backwood Creatures. I like this record, the production is cool as it should be and the layout is super cool, it shows the band members joining forces with legends such as the Beatles, James Dean, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley or even John F. Kennedy. Damn cool! This one's a winner.
THE CABLE CAR THEORY -- Fables And Fictions Of The Human Condition (CD / Defiance Records)
Six new songs by the Cable Car Theory from new York can be found on this EP that will be released at the end of February. Last year they put out their full length "The deconstruction", but to be honest, I haven't heard that one. In fact, "Fables and factions of the human condition" is the first piece of music I get to hear from this band. But I think I will check out their previous stuff, because these six songs are really strong. Imagine a mixture of Boy Sets Fire, Unbroken and Hot Water Music (the vocals), and you have a slight impression how The Cable Car Theory sounds like. Well, I think these bands are not the worst ones to be compared with, right? But The Cable Car Theory really have their own sound, combining both melodic as well as aggressive parts. The voice of John Farag fits perfectly, even though it's pretty rough you can feel both passion, despair and hope. Good stuff, indeed! Catch them on their upcoming tour, I will for sure.
DAYCARE SWINDLERS -- Heathen Radio (CD / Go-Kart Records)
This five piece band comes from Washington, D.C., but don't expect anything like Fugazi or Rites of Spring. Don't expect anything like Minor Threat or Dag Nasty as well, because the Daycare Swindlers are more into fast punk rock with lots of melodies thrown in. After returning from a tour with Leftöver Crack, they signed a deal with Go-Kart Records and here it is, the first product of this collaboration. Before the Daycare Swindlers put out three more releases. The sound of "Heathen radio" is a bit thin, could have been more powerful I think. Sometimes they remind me to Operation Ivy without the ska parts. Nothing really special, but quite okay.
ELEVENTEEN -- In The Air (CD /Sessions Records)
Never heard of Eleventeen before? Neither did I until I found this CD in the mail last week. Since then, this CD has seldom left my player, because it's so damn great. Imagine a mixture of Jimmy Eat World and Sensefield and you can vaguely imagine how this San Francisco based fieve-piece sounds like. The vocals remind me a lot to those of Tom Linton from Jimmy Eat World on "Static prevails" (Note: Those of you who only know the latest Jimmy Eat World album: Tom shared the vocals on "Static prevails" with Jim Adkins who does all the vocals nowadays), and also the music is similar to early Jimmy Eat World stuff I'd say. Produced by J Robbins (Jets to Brazil, Hey Mercedes etc.) who also did some backing vocals and played the tambourine and guitar on some songs, "In the air" is the second full length album by Eleventeen. Their debut "Everything I ever wanted to say" came out on Frenetic Records a few years ago, and with their second strike, now on Sessions Records, Eleventeen should get all of your attention, because the 10 songs on this CD are so catching and full of energy, emotion and heartfelt passion. Those of you who saw them during the 2002 Warped Tour will know how great they are, for all others this album is definitely a must have. Without a doubt the winner of this month and my personal fave for a very long time I guess.
FROM US -- The Hard World (CD / Fat Sound Records)
From the Eastern part of Germany From Us come up with their first long player on Fatsound Records, a cooperation between punk/hardcore bands located in the same area. Formed in 1997 From Us describe themselves as melodic pop punk. Fortunately they don't play this high speed melodycore like thousands of bands before them, because apart from some of the original acts in this genre I don't give too much about that kind of music anymore. Right, there are some faster parts on "The hard world", but the majority of songs is played in mid tempo. Sometimes they remind me to the mid tempo songs of No Use For A Name. Well, it's not the kind of stuff I listen to regularly, but it's an okay release I think. Catch them on their tour this March. By the way, pretty cool booklet.
ICONS OF FILTH -- Nostradamnedus (CD / Go-Kart Records)
There's not much I can say about this record, but it's definitely not my cup of tea. I was never into British punk, so I'm probably the wrong guy to review the latest record by Icons Of Filth. Apparently these guys have been around for almost 20 years, but honestly spoken I've never heard of them until I found their latest record in my mail, so I don't know if they have been on the map for this whole time or not. Call it crusty punk rock in the vein of Crass or the Varukers, Icons of Filth deliver 13 tracks dealing with politics, animal rights etc. I like some crust bands as Extreme Noise Terror, but Icons of Filth are not as fast as E.N.T. or Discharge but more mid tempo. The sound is also not the best, quite thin and blurred for this kind of sound. All in all I can't say this record makes me go crazy, but maybe you will like it more than I do.
JETT BRANDO -- Jagged Junction (CD / Go-Kart Records)
After the first seconds of the opening track of this six song EP I was thinking to myself: "What the hell is that?" It sounded very strange and lo-fi, in the vein of singers / songwriters like Beck. And as I don't care much about Beck and similar acts, this first song got on my nerves pretty soon. Next one then: "Be so kind" is a nice indie song and can be compared to Elliott Smith. The remaining four songs are a mixture of the sounds of these artists, which means strange indie-pop with some electronic moments that is just boring to me. Jeremy Winter's a.k.a. Jett Brando previous band was called All Natural Lemon and Lime Flavors and supposedly comparable to My Bloody Valentine and The Velvet Underground. Back to Jett: Maybe fans of Beck will be enthusiastic about this EP, I definitely don't belong to this category.
MANDA AND THE MARBLES -- More Seduction (CD / Go-Kart Records)
Melodic three chord punk rock in the tradition of the Ramones with female vocals anyone? If so, check out Manda and the Marbles, a three piece from Columbus, Ohio, fronted by Manda Marble on vocals, bass and some keys. "More seduction" is the band's second album after the debut that came out on a local indie label called Break Up Records. This label also put out the album "Seduction" which got remastered and re-released on Go-Kart Records under the name - you're right - "More seduction". Four new songs have been added as well as a cover from Holly and the Italians. Nice record. Nothing totally new, but solid work.
MONDO FUMATORE -- s/t (CD / Rewika Records)
Huh, what's this? As Mondo Fumatore from Berlin, Germany, are on Rewika Records I expected something indie-rock like, and in a way their self titled third album - the previous two also came out on Rewika - is a piece of indie music, but different from what you would expect. The two main guys behind this band (featuring lots of guest musicians) throw in lots of electronic parts, keyboards, samples and programming which is pretty cool, but also leave me quite confused I have to admit. I think this CD is interesting because it's not the stuff you're used to, but it's also not an album I'd throw in my player each day. Maybe fans of Beck and open minded indie fans should take listen, they might like what they hear.
PERMANENT STYLE / PUNCHLINE -- Songs For The Unclean (Split CD / Burnside Records)
This split features two Austrian bands and starts off with a cool intro from the TV series "The Simpson's" (hope I'm right on this one). Both bands present five songs of - in their words - old school hardcore. Now don't expect any youth crew sound in the vein of bands like Hands Tied or Ten Yard Fight, but rather New York tough guy Hardcore. Usually this is not my cup of tea, except for bands like Hatebreed (well, I don't know if they can be described as tough guy but anyway...) who blew me away with their latest release "Perseverance". Permanent Style can't change my mind, because their songs are not as brutal yet at the same time catchy as the ones of the aforementioned Hatebreed. The first thing that is noticeable about the following Punchline tracks is that the sound is weaker than the one of Permanent Solution. And so is their music in my eyes: Bulldozer-style-tough-guy-hardcore. For anyone who likes moshing and slamdancing with his/her shirt taken off this is probably the right stuff, but I have to admit that it can't blow me away. But anyway you should check this Split out because it's released on some kind of a DIY basis, and I think this is always worth being mentioned.
TRAPPED IN LIFE -- 12 Icons (CD / Good Life Recordings)
"No bar code and no hint to the band's record label on the booklet", that's the very first thing that came to my mind when I held this CD by Paris, France, based Trapped In Life in my hands. After two MCDs, "12 icons" is their debut full length and it comes out on Good Life. The music you get to hear is metal influenced hardcore (or hardcore influenced metal?), brutal and very well played. One point of criticism is the production that could have been more powerful when it comes to the guitars. They could have been more crunching and powerful I think. The lyrics might be a bit hard and controversial to some people, but I guess that's just what Trapped In Life intend to do. I could imagine that seeing these guys on stage might be pretty impressive, but this studio recording could have been a little more powerful production wise. The music itself is brutal as I said, so if you're into this kind of music, go check them out.
WHAT LIES WITHIN / DEATH BEFORE DISCO -- Split (CD / Good Life Recordings)
Together with Eleventeen What Lies Within are my personal faves this month. What Lies Within from the US start this split release off with four songs that are quite different from Eleventeen, even though words like "emotion, compassion" or "energy" can be used with What Lies Within, too. But in contrast to their American buddies What Lies Within's sound is more aggressive and reminds me to Shai Hulud at times, because they present a great mixture of beautiful melodies, screaming vocals and fast parts. Songs like "Hold true" or "My hell" are real masterpieces, and if you can't wait until the new Shai Hulud comes out (which has been pushed back once again by the way), check out What Lies Within. You'll like them for sure.
Partners in crime and contributing three songs are Death Before Disco from Belgium. Their music is more into the new school vein, inspired by bands such as Poison the Well or Converge. Sometimes I think I hear some Disembodied influences, because the second guitar plays these sick and dissonant high parts at times (pretty cool by the way). The vocals vary between screaming and a clean voice, because at the time of the recording Death Before Disco's line up featured two vocalists: One for the screaming parts, the other one for the clean voice. In the meantime only Jean-Pierre (the clean voice) is left, so I'm curious how Death Before Disco will sound like in the future. In direct comparison to What Lies Within I like the American boys a bit better, but you should check out these two promising young bands in any case.
WISEGUY -- Burning The Tracks (CD / Stardumb Records)
Formed in 1995 Wiseguy from the Netherlands released their first 7" EP "Pull the cup" in 2001 on Stardum Records. The same label now puts out their first full length album entitled "Burning the tracks" which contains 11 tracks of high energy rock'n'roll that should appeal to all fans of (old) Hellacopters, AC/DC or Gluecifer. Having played with bands like the Turbo AC's, The Dickies or the Cellophane Suckers in the past, I csould imagine that Wiseguy won the heart of the audience pretty soon. The layout of this CD is also quite cool, something in the vein of old western movies. For all fans of vigorous punk'n'roll, Wiseguy are the band to be checked out.
VENEREA -- Out In The Red (CD / People Like You Records)
The latest output by Venerea from Sweden, "Out in the red", will once again find many friends, because the band sticks to their version of high speed melodic skatecore in the vein of NOFX, No Use For A Name (during the "Leche con carne" era) etc. I saw them in 2001 on the Vans off the Wall tour together with Ignite, and I liked their show pretty much. But listening to this CD doesn't have the same effect on me. In the early and mid 90s this was exactly the sound I liked a lot. NOFX came up with "White trash, two heebs and a bean", Pennywise released some cool records and so on. Venerea must have liked these sounds a lot, too, because they were founded in 1991 and released their first EP in 1994. After being constantly on the road for the last years (you can can catch them pretty soon again opening for Ten Foot Pole on their European tour), the Swedish four piece found the time to do another album. And as I said, friends of melodic skatecore will like the 11 new songs for sure. I can't say that I don't like them, it's just not my sound anymore.
V/A -- Go-Kart Vs. The Corporate Giant 3 (CD / Go-Kart Records)
Over 70 minutes of music can be found on this compilation from Go-Kart bands like Capture the Flag, The Control, Toxic Narcotic, G.B.H., the Varukers, Anti-Flag, the Lunachicks, Leftöver Crack etc. A good overview of acts on Go-Kart. This compilation is also interesting because many of the songs are previously unreleased. Comes with cool tray and layout. Short review you might think? Well, yeah, probably you're right, but there's really nothing more to say about this compilation, maybe except for the fact that an interesting statement by Greg Ross from Go-Kart is included.