REVIEWS DECEMBER 2002
BEATSTEAKS -- Die Wohnzimmer EP (CD EP / Epitaph)
Maybe you wonder if it makes sense to review this EP because it won't be for sale in shops but just on the Beatsteaks' Christmas show in Berlin on December 21st which is already sold out. Every one going to this show will get this 6 song EP (plus Intro) for free, so if you were lucky enough to get one of the 3.000 (!) tickets you will soon hold this EP in your hands. It features no new songs by Berlin's Beatsteaks but cover tunes of some of the band's favourite songs, namely "Hello there" (Cheap Trick), "I fought the law" (originally written by Sonny Curtis, but better known by the version by The Clash), "Hey Du" (from a movie called "Linie 1", cool idea), "Just like heaven" (The Cure), "Wish" (Nine Inch Nails!) and "True fine love" (Steve Miller). You see, quite an unuasual selection, but that's what makes this EP cool (By the way: The next Beatsteaks release will be a cooperation between Epitaph and WEA (!). I wonder when the typical "sell out" accusations from the "open minded" punk and hardcore scene will appear). It could be that this EP will become a collector's item soon, so keep your eyes open, maybe someone will try to make a bunch of money by selling it on Ebay. The better way is to go to the aforementioned show where you can have it for free. Ups, just forgot that it's sold out ;-)
CHANNEL 3 -- CH3 (CD / Dr. Strange Records
Channel 3 are back with another 13 songs of punk rock that will appeal to everyone into melodic mid tempo punk rock or street punk. The info says that "CH3" "(...) is by far their best offering since 1982's 'Fear of life'". Well, I've never heard this 1982 release, so I don't know if that is true. You may ask if I am entitled to write a review about this CD if I haven't heard their previous stuff. Well, honestly I don't care 'cause it's me running this zine and not you, hehe... Undoubtedly Channel 3 were and are still one of the most influential punk bands emerging from Southern California, so I would say this is essential for all fans of this kind of sound. Speaking of the sound (hey, that's a "Delling" I just did... Germans will know what I mean): "CH3" was engineered by Jim Monroe (Farside, Gameface etc.) and mastered by John Golden (Bad Brains, Black Flag etc.), so you can be sure that the production rocks.
THE HEROINES -- Groupie (CD / Wolverine Records)
The Heroines are fortunately different from all those boring girl bands like the totally overestimated Hole, and that’s not just because only two of the four members of the band are female (clever, clever, that’s me). Imagine a mixture of The Muffs and The Dickies and maybe you can guess what to expect from “Groupie”. I don’t know if this is their first full-length album, but their previous singles (?) are sold out by now, so go ahead and take a listen to this one instead. Songs like “Never fall in love again” or the title track are perfect beach-punk-pop’n’roll that put a smile on your face and make you want to dance around in a small hot club with this kind of sound blasting through the speakers. Thirteen songs and the video clip to the song “”A million kind of boys” can be found on this album that rocks from beginning to end. And if that shouldn’t be enough for you to check out The Heroines, let me tell you that the two girls in this band look a lot better than that awful Courtney Love or that horrible Shakira. So get out of your chair, turn off the T.V., grab your air guitar and rock along to this CD.
HOT WATER MUSIC – Caution (CD / Epitaph)
I think it’s really amazing how Hot Water Music from Gainesville, Florida, manage to release one great album after another while being almost constantly on tour. “Caution” is their latest full length, the second one for Epitaph Records, and once again it’s a fantastic record. It starts with the driving opener “Remedy” and closes with “The end”, a track that has a melody you won’t forget for a really long time I think. The ten tracks in between those two are some of the best Hot Water Music have ever written. Maybe the vocals aren’t as rough anymore as they used to be on their early releases (just compare “Caution” with “Forever and counting” or “Finding the rhythms”), but that’s ok with me, because as I said, the song writing is once again far above the rest. I think Hot Water Music can be described with just one word: Honesty. When you see them play live, when you talk to them, when you listen to their records, there’s this overall feeling of honesty combined with heartfelt song writing and lyrics. Even though their sound may have changed slightly over the years you recognize this band that hasn’t seen any line up change since their inception at once when you put in any of their records in your player. Of course the cover artwork and the layout of “Caution” was once again done by long time Hot Water Music artist and friend Sinc. All I can say about this great band as a conclusion to this review is that once again this album is a must have.
PEAKSEASON – s/t (4 Track Demo CD / DIY)
Please don’t ask me why, but when I first looked at the band pictures of Peak Season without having listened to the songs I expected some melodycore. But I was wrong, and I’m glad I was. Because Peakseason from Germany totally blew me away with their melodic and pop influenced emotional music (clever way to avoid the “e” word, right?). They sometimes remind me to Brandtson and Jimmy Eat World because they also have these great melodies and sometimes double vocals. The four songs on this Demo CD were recorded at Noiseless Studios where bands like Pale or One Man And His Droid recorded before, so the sound is great. The third song “Pave me” is probably the only one on here that can’t compete with the others I think, but those three remaining songs are really excellent. The CD also contains a professional multimedia part with lots of photos, band info and biography as well as two live clips. So if you are into this kind of sound or the aforementioned bands there’s actually no reason why you shouldn’t get this Demo. Although I’m not quite sure I think that it is available for sale, so get in touch with Peakseason through their website www.peakseason.de or write to email@example.com. Support this promising newcomer!
POLE* -- Rebirth (3 Track Promo CD 2002 / DIY)
After 1½ years of silence the mighty Pole* from Germany are back with another piece of fuckin’ great new school hardcore. This three-track promo is distributed directly through the band, and I guess it’s not available for the public. But you should visit website of these guys because there you can find mp3s to those songs (URL is www.polemusic.net). Pole* were founded in the mid 90s and released two EPs and one full length on Lifeforce, Pateline and We Bite that brought them lots of attention. During this time they also played shows with Earth Crisis, Chokehold or Snapcase to name a few, and even did a Scandinavian tour supporting Refused and Damnation A.D. Unfortunately they split up in the late 90s, but after some line up changes they’re back again and as strong as ever, if not stronger. Their former bass player Thorsten (who also ran Pateline if I’m right) was responsible for the straight edge attitude Pole* had during the early years, but as he’s no longer in the band I don’t know if the rest of the founding members is still sXe. But I don’t think that really matters, because the three songs on this EP are totally in the new school vein Pole* played so well in the past. With all those bands playing metal influenced hardcore (or hardcore influenced metal) it’s so cool to hear some “old fashioned” new school again. When I saw Pole* on stage some months ago at their reunion show I was amazed how tight and aggressive they were. And that’s exactly how this EP sounds: Tight and aggressive. Keep your eyes wide open for new stuff by this great band. By the way: The layout if this promo is really innovative and original, so if you should ever get the chance to get a copy, make sure to grab one!
PYLON -- 2400 Volts (CD EP / Jealous Records)
After the British band Chopper split up in 1999, two members of that pop punk outfit started a new band called Pylon. After playing lots of shows with bands like Fugazi, The Appleseed Cast or Hot Water Music Pylon recorded their self-titled debut full-length album in 2001 on Subjugation Records. After a tour opening for the great Gameface Pylon signed to Jealous Records and who released the EP “2400 Volts”. On it you can find four song of melodic indie guitar pop that show lots of melodies and compassion. In the past Pylon were compared to bands like The Get Up Kids or Jimmy Eat World, but I think you can relate them to those acts just partly. I mean a song like “Waking light” could be found on The Get Up Kids’ masterpiece “Something to write home about”, but there are moments on this EP that are a little bit more complex than those two acts. But of course everyone into this sound will dig Pylon as well. I would almost go as far saying that a song like the aforementioned “Waking light” makes this EP worth buying, because it rules. But that wouldn’t be the whole truth, because there’s this last track on the EP called “Unstoppable” which is a killer song as well, so there are two overwhelming reasons for buying this CD. You won’t regret it. P.S.: The EP is available through Flight 13 and Strange Fruit.
RUNNING LIKE THIEVES -- The Approval Of The Crowd (CD EP / Livewire Records)
Running Like Thieves were formed in early 2000 and released another EP on Livewire Records in early 2002 entitled “Same time next year”. I was very eager to hear their music because this four piece from the US consists of no other than Matt Warnke from the legendary sXe icons Bold on vocals as well as former members from the also well-known Supertouch. Of course I didn’t expect Running Like Thieves to sound like Bold, because so many years have passed since then. But after having listened to it a couple of times I still don’t know what to make of this four song EP. Apart from the last track that is a fast smasher, the rest of the songs are all midtempo ones, rocking and driving, but unable to make me go crazy. The hardcore influences on this EP are pretty hard to find, I’d rather say this is a pure rock record. Well that’s not bad or anything, it’s just not my kind of music. Of course the songs are well played, so decide for yourself if you’re into Running Like Thieves. I guess I have to catch them on their next European tour in spring 2003; maybe I will be a total fan after a show by these guys. But until then I would say this EP is ok but not outstanding.
Seed'n'Feed / 7 Years -- Split (CD / Wain Records)
If you ever wondered if there are some emo bands coming from Italy, here's the answer. I first was a bit sceptical when I checked out the cover and layout of this Split CD, because they should have chosen a different or better looking cover. But anyway, that really doesn't count that much because when it comes to the music it's unquestionably worth your attexntion. Seed'n'Feed and 7 Years both come from Italy and each contribute four tracks to this CD. Seed'n'Feed start it off and I think they're pretty cool. Their sound is very melodic and can be compared to bands like Brandtson (hey, I was just wondering how often I compare bands to Brandtson this time, but that's really not my fault). Especially "Still sorry" is a damn great tune. Then it's up to 7 Years who sometimes remind me to the mighty Dag Nasty. Just take a listen to "Forget" and you know what I mean. They're faster than Seed'n'Feed but also pretty cool with lots of melodies all over the place. So all in all you find two cool bands on one album, which is a good thing I'd say. Get in touch with their label through www.inconsapevolerecords.com.
THE SKULLS -- Therapy For The Shy (CD / Dr. Strange Records)
"I want your skulls, I need your skulls." No wait, that's a Misfits tune. Except for their guitarist, the members of The Skulls are all veterans of the punk rock scene, having played in bands like The Gears or The Adicts. Now their debut CD is out on Dr. Strange records and it features 11 songs of that typical Southern California punk rock. Although I have to admit that I personally prefer bands like the Descendents, The Skulls will surely appeal to all those people into straight forward punk rock. They will like them, I can live without them.
SPRINGTIME -- ...Of Coming And Falling (CD Demo / DIY)
A couple of days ago I found this four song demo by the German band Springtime in my mailbox. I haven't heard of them before and apart from a lyric sheet there's no further information about them (of course the demo has a cover and a sleeve, and a pretty nice one, too). So I don't know if this is their debut demo or if they appeared on compilations etc. But what I can give you is a description of their music. Because of the rough vocals I feel reminded to (old) Hot Water Music (just listen to "Angel"), but Springtime are slightly more melodic than the Gainesville four in their early days. Imagine a mixture of Grade, Hot Water Music and some melodies thrown in and you can imagine what I mean. I you want to check them out, better be quick because this demo is limited to 500 copies. get in touch with them through firstname.lastname@example.org or www.springtime-music.com.
THAT VERY TIME I SAW… -- The Grand Theft (CD / Redfield Records)
Finally it’s here, the debut album from Germany’s very own That Very Time I Saw… after a pretty cool EP that was released in 2001 on their own label Redfield Records who also gave us cool stuff by bands like Summer’s Last Regret in the past. And what can I say about it other than it’s just terrific. Thirteen songs full of emotions and pop influenced indie or emo or whatever in the vein of bands like Texas is the Reason that I like so much. I mean That Very Time I Saw… is doing it right all the way. Just listen to songs like “Risking the mission” or the opening track “Tables turning” and you know what I mean. These are simply wonderful pieces of heartfelt and emotional music that you can sing along to. Mastered by Kai Blankenberg who already worked for bands like the infamous Donots or Pale, “The grand theft” offers a tight, clean and powerful sound that fits the songs perfectly. The promo copy that lies before me contains a multimedia part with band info, info about the album, photos, an e-card and two videos. Hopefully this section will be available on the regular version of the album as well because the video for “Tables turning” is pretty cool. If you still feel bad about the fact that Texas is the Reason called it a day a couple of years ago, be assured that your sadness is over now. That Very Time I Saw is here to take over the throne. I guess I am repeating myself this time in this review section, but “The grand theft” is highly recommended.
V/A -- Barricaded Suspects (CD / Dr. Strange Records)
This is a special compilation as it features the re-release of the "Barricaded suspects" sampler from 1982 that originally came out on legendary Toxic Shock Records. Celebrating the 20th birthday of this release, the CD gives you for the first time the chance to listen to the songs on CD as the original release was available only on vinyl. All the original bands are featured as well as some rare bonus tracks. Hey, there's a song by a band called Massacre Guys on here that features Karl Alvarez and Stephen Egerton from ALL/Descendents and guess what, this song exactly sounds like old Descendents ("All" era) or early ALL. Apart from this band you can find acts like Peace Corpse, Killroy, Roach Motel, Mad Parade and Septic Death among others on this CD. Speaking of Septic Death: This was not only Pushead's band, he also did the cover art for this compilation that is again featured on the re-release. If this is still not enough for you, there are some liner notes by Dr. Strange and Bill Sassenberger (from Toxic Shock Records) included. So if you want to check out some early and rare punk rock, get this one.
V/A -- Four Old Toxic Shock 7" EPs '83 - '84 (CD / Dr. Strange Records)
The title says it all. Four old 7"s including the "Noise from Nowhere" compilation 7" (featuring Kent State, Modern Industry, Moslem Birth and Manson Youth and a really sick Pushead cover), the "Quincy" 7" by Peace Corpse (also with Pushead artwork), the "Kelp and Salal" 7" by Red Tide and the "Behind the 8 ball" 7" by Massace Guys. Nothing more to say about it, if you're into the really old stuff then check this one out.
V/A -- Know Your Neighbours # 1 (CD / RP-Punkrock)
Hey, this is a pretty cool compilation! In association with four other European labels (from Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium) German based RP-Punkrock presents this fine CD with no less than 23 bands/tracks on it. Most bands are from the involved labels, but there are also some special guests featured just like Venerea or Undeclinable. The music that's shown here is melodycore that surely doesn't have to hide behind the "almighty" American idols. In some cases I'd go as far saying that the bands on "Know your neighbours" are even better than many of the more known acts around, so it's definitely a compilation you should support if you're into this kind of sound. But not only melodycore freaks should take a listen, I also think that fans of melodic emo in the vein of bands like Brandtson might like this compilation. I am too lazy at the moment to list all the 23 bands, so please don't send any hate mails but rather go to RP-Punkrock's website instead and check out the bands for yourself (www.rp-punkrock.de). As I said, a cool thin that is really worth your attention!
V/A -- The Mighty Desert Rock Avengers (2 CD / People Like You Records)
Being a collaboration by People Like You Records and Stonerrock.com, this compilation features 32 bands/tracks with mostly unreleased songs on a 2 CD set. As you can easily see from the title, this comp gives you a good overview about Stoner Rock, Sludge and Doom. Whilst these kinds of styles are usually not my cup of tea I have to admit that there are some bands on here that really kick ass, just as Sunride or Rite, both from Finland. But there’s also some bands that I don’t like that much, but I guess that’s just a matter of taste, right? For fans of Stoner Rock in general or bands like The Hellacopters etc. this is surely interesting, but I don’t really get excited for the whole 120 minute playing time of the two CDs because sometimes it’s just too much Led-Zeppelin-like-70s-sound to me. Bands featured are: The Awesome Machine, Backdraft, Sunride, Sparzanza, Abdullah, Stoner Kings, Boogieman, Magnified Eye, Qrquesta del Desierto, Rite, Zerocharisma, The Atomic Bitchwax, Souldivider, Seid, Spiritu, Lowrider, Solarized, Desert Sun, Plutonium Orange, Eternal Elysium, The Mushroom River Band, Nosedive, Thumlock, Solace, Mothercake, Santoro, Honcho, Duster 69, Zebulon, Low Vibes and Mudhorse.