Reviews December 2003
Forward: During the last time there have been only few updates on this site, especially when it comes to the lyrics. There were several reasons for this, the most important being that I had to pass my final exams, 8 tests in 10 days, each lasting 5 hours. So you can imagine I had pretty much to do before and during that time. After the tests were done I moved to another city (new address see below) so I didn't find the time to write much. And to make things worse, I found out that the fuckin' postal service stole some of the parcels I should have received, so I guess not every CD you sent me might have found its way to me. But be assured these problems are fixed now, regular updates are on the way and I apologize for the longer delay. Anyway, here's the new and only address for you to send your releases to:
Voice of Reason
c/o Stefan Muench
ADJUDGEMENT -- At Two O'Clock (CD / PCS Records)
Adjudgement is one of the oldest running Hardcore outfits from Germany because they were founded way back in 1994 and apart from one very recent line up change it's basically the same five guys who came up with a simple tape in '94 and now put out their new CD. In contrast to their long history and a lot of releases in the past "At two o'clock" is only their third longplayer as far as I can see? Earlier releases were put out by Lost & Found (Europe's number one Hardcore label, haha), We Bite and Vacation House (don't know that one I must confess), but their latest album is releases through PCS Records from Leipzig, Germany. I didn't expect much from Adjudgement as their early material didn't appeal to me that much, but "At two o'clock" is a surprisingly strong record. Even though you could say that Adjudgement could be described as a new school Hardcore outfit there's much more to discover than just the usual chugga chugga riffing and riffs stolen from Snapcase and Strain. Yeah, there even are some quiet parts on here and they fit in pretty well. So all in all I think this is a cool record and I wish these guys all the best for their future career.
Against Me! -- As The Eternal Cowboy (CD / Fat Wreck Chords)
As I'm such an honest guy I don't feel ashamed to tell you that "Against Me as The eternal cowboy" is the first effort I get to hear from this four piece from the US of A. And it's a pretty cool one, too. "Cliché Guevara" (title of the year!) reminds me to early Rancid or Operation Ivy without the Ska parts, mostly because of the singing that's sometimes resembling Jesse from the legendary Berkeley four. Song number three, "Mutiny on Electric Bay", is probably my favourite tune on this record 'cause it's got this cool off beat drumming to a nice melody, unfortunately the song's a bit short, but hey, so is life (Wow, I'm getting quite philosophical here, am I not?). "Sink, Florida, sink" (another cool title) is an acoustic track just with piano and acoustic guitar, very cool, too. So you see, there's a lot of variety on this album, not just the average Streetpunk record, but a really interesting output with tons of ideas and elements from various musical styles by four talented guys. Along with Lawrence Arms' latest album one of my favourite Fat Wreck releases in the last few months. Check it out!
Amical -- Fill In The Blanks (CD / My Favourite Toy Records)
Amical is another band from the apparently never ending source of Indie bands from Sweden. Maybe the four members of this band are also involved in other bands/projects but as I can't find the info sheet that came along with the CD at the moment I can't tell you any more details about that, hope you don't mind. And hey, it's the music that counts, not the story around a band. Ok, that's a lie, because I'm one of those guys who could spend hours and hours trying to find out which band member has played in which other band before. I remember doing that a lot years back in the late 80s / early 90s when Scandinavian Death Metal was "invented" and tons of bands came up who all seemed to have one or the other member from another act. But that's a different story, let's go back to Amical: There are four songs on this EP, melodic and powerful Indie and a sure thing for fans of this genre. They layout is also cool, so why not giving them a chance or a listen?
CURL UP AND DIE -- But The Past Ain't through With Us (CD / Revelation Records)
I can clearly remember when I first listened to the Revelation debut of Curl Up And Die entitled "Unfortunately we're not robots" because I didn't know what to think about this release. The vocals made me wonder what this band is all about for the most part, because they were more of an additional instrument rather than a voice speaking to the listener. As old Obituary (Yep, another Death Metal reference to show how "true" I am, haha) Curl Up And Die had no real lyrics but a mixture of screaming mixed with some words. Unique in a way but really strange. I didn't listen to "Unfortunately..." that much, but "...but the past ain't through with us" is really strong. Songs like "If this band thing doesn't pan out we're joining the army" (Title of the year!) are really killer tunes, mixing fast parts with midtempo stuff in a very brutal way and with - yes - real lyrics. Even though there are only four tracks on this EP the playing time is over 20 minutes, because the last song "God is in heaven, all is right with the world" (I'm glad) is over 14 minutes long, without any hidden song or any of that crap. This track is a real sick bastard, showing all of Curl Up And Die's musical elements and skills, moshing and heavy stuff along silent parts accompanied with a piano and some electronic pieces. Killer! These guys prove that you can make long songs interesting and not just boring crap like all those old Led Zeppelin tunes or crap like Burzum (I never forget how I laughed when I heard some of late releases by this freak). Anyway, this EP is really cool and comes with a nice booklet. Oh, and it's something like the twin record to Curl Up And Die's EP "We may be through with the past..." which came out earlier on a different label (Don't know which one, sorry!). Go ahead and get this.
DESERT CITY SOUNDTRACK -- Funeral Car (CD / Deep Elm Records)
The first thing you see with almost all Deep Elm releases is the beautiful cover artwork. To continue this tradition, "Funeral car" by Desert City Soundtrack has another fine layout, simple but strong. Just nice pictures that fit perfectly to the sound of the band. Talking about the sound: Along with Brandtson, Slowride and Appleseed Cast, Desert City Soundtrack belong to my absolute favourites on Deep Elm. The piano has a dominant part in the songs, you can almost compare the music to Coldplay I think. Just listen to the wonderful opener or "Drowning horses", one of a handful of songs with beautiful female backing vocals delivered by Shelley Short. But there's also lots of energy from electric guitars and screaming to be discovered on "Funeral car", e.g. on the aforementioned "Drowning horses" or on "Drawn and quartered". I don't want to say anything more about this magnificent record, because words can't describe the greatness that you will find on here. A must have and definitely my favourite record this month!
FLUX OF PINK INDIANS / THE EPILEPTICS -- Fits And Starts (CD / Dr. Strange Records)
I hardly have any information about these two bands which can be found on this CD, but I guess the two are more or less the same band with just another name as the line up is pretty much the same. Please excuse me for not being an expert in '77 styled Punk Rock. Flux of Pink Indians and The Epileptics are not one of those retro bands that try to copy the '77 sound, because they've been around during this period of time judging from the date of the recordings. The whole thing starts of with three live cuts recorded in November 1978 in a really poor sound quality. Singer Colin Latter seems to be pretty drunk or what?! So let's better forget about the live tracks and go straight to the following three demo songs which are actually pretty nice Punk Rock, sometimes even reminding to the Californian kind of bands. Not bad, really. Then we have the three song "Stortbeat" EP from 1979 and I could say absolutely the same about them as I already did concerning the demo tracks. Which means the songs are quite cool. Another three live tracks are next on the CD, and they could also easily have been left out. Oh yeah, the sound of the demo and the EP tracks is ok by the way. The "Stortbeat" EP got re-recorded in 1981 and is also included here, but I prefer the original 1979 versions because the guitar sounds way better on the earlier takes. So much for The Epileptics, what follows are six tracks by Flux of Pink Indiands, the first three of 'em from the 1981 "Crass" EP, the other three from the 1982 demo. All of these songs are totally in the vein of The Epileptics, as I said, similar line up and stuff... All in all a solid re-release, nothing I would put on every day, but quite entertaining.
THE FREEZE -- Land Of The Lost / Rabid Reaction (CD / Dr. Strange Records)
Finally these two great records are re-released. I don't know if they have been out of print for the last few years, but I guess that's pretty much the case. I think The Freeze were one of those bands that were so influential for lots of other bands but didn't get the attention they deserved. Maybe that will change with this re-release on Dr. Strange (Thanks Doc!), 'cause the 1983 album "Land of the lost" is a true masterpiece of early 80s Punk Rock made in California. The funny thing is, The Freeze didn't come from O.C. or L.A. but from Boston! This is Boston not L.A. anyone? Unlike other Boston bands coming up with their albums back then The Freeze didn't play full speed ahead Hardcore in the vein of Slapshot, SSD or DYS but rather melodic tunes that could be compared to the Adolescents or the Circle Jerks. Songs like "Days of desperation" are still classic examples of teenage angst and anger filled energy. A must have! "Rabid reaction" came out in 1985 and starts with the killer track "Warped confessional", clearly showing that The Freeze stayed the same, still blasting out energetic punk anthems with great vocals and over the top melodies. And if this weren't enough for you to buy this one, there are four songs from the "Guilty Face" EP to be found on here, those four tracks being alternative versions recorded in 1984 whereas the EP originally came out in 1982. To sum it up, The Freeze rule and you should get this re-release.
HALF-LIFE -- Global (CD / Pul Rec.)
JUPITER JONES / SPRINGTIME -- Split (CD / Matilda's Records)
Hot Water Music anyone? The last time I heard of Springtime when they sent me their demo and back then I felt reminded to the Gainesville four because the vocals resembled those of Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard and also the melodies were similar to early Hot Water Music songs. Now it's 2003 (well, not too long anymore) and Sprigtime come up with another three songs that were recorded in early 2003 and I don't think I do them any wrong if I say that they're still influenced by Hot Water Music. Again, this does not mean that Springtime is just ripping the off, but the songs truly show their source of inspiration, especially when you look at the quite moments and the twin vocals by Daniel and Markus. By the way, this time Springtime even LOOK similar to HWM on the band pic. Funny... As this is a split release, Jupiter Jones contribute two songs that are also in the direction of rough Punk Rock with melodies and emotion not too far away from Springtime, but with German lyrics. Surprisingly the lyrics are pretty cool. I mean most lyrics written in German are not my cup of tea, but these here are cool. The CD comes with a nice artwork, so friends of this kind of sound should take a listen.
KILLTIME -- Monsters Behind The Screen (CD / Winged Skull Records)
I received this CD weeks ago but didn't find the time to write a review until now because of my aforementioned exams, the move to another city and so on. Sorry. But here it finally is, a review for "Monsters behind the screen" by Killtime from Rome/Italy. I thought that Winged Skull would only put out albums by bands from Luxembourg, but apparently that's not the case (anymore). Killtime play melodic Punk Rock in the midtempo vein, and even though there are some really cool tunes and melodies on this album I can't say that this kind of sound makes me wanna sing along all the time. That surely isn't Killtime's fault because they easily can compete with other bands of that genre, it's just that I don't that much about this sound anymore. Fans of this type of music should take a listen anyway, because there are many more bands around that are worse that Killtime.
KITSHICKERS -- Armée De L'Air (From The Known To The Unknown) (CD / Winged Skull Records)
Call it deja vu, but I immediately felt reminded to Bad Religion's 1983 "masterpiece" "Into the unknown". Maybe that's because of the cover artwork which also depicts some space images and the title of the record. But the music is not too much in the "Into the unknown" vein, and I think that's good. Don't get me wrong, Bad Religion are still my fave band and "Into the unknown" is not as bad as a crap album like "No substance" (Fuck Campino and shit like "Raise your voice"!!), but considering that this band did classics like "No control", "Against the grain" and so on... But we're not talking about Bad Religion but about this album from the Kitshickers. As I have absolutely no information about this band I can't give you any detailed information about them, but I guess they're from Luxembourg?! And the sound of the 15 songs on the album? Maybe Space Punk? I really don't know. There's distorted guitars and all that but at the same time there are some really strange samples and vocal effects together with some keyboard sounds. Hey what about The Pixies as a comparison? I think that's maybe the most fitting band the Kitshickers can be compared with, but why not judging for yourself? Can't tell if this is good or band, it's just not my type of music.
RAL PARTHA VOGELBACHER -- Kite Vs. Obelisk (CD / Monotreme Records)
I'm pretty sure I've never heard such a strange band name before with the exception of Japanese grinders Outo or Gauze. Who or what is Ral Partha Vogelbacher?!? Maybe I should ask Chadwick Bidwell, the driving force behind this San Francisco based band... This guy gathered around him a lot of people from other San Francisco bands just like Thee More Shallows or The Court and Spark, all of them completely unknown to me. Together they recorded "Kite vs. Obelisk", the European debut album from the band. On it you can find a variety of styles, ranging from Country to Indie to Folk, but honestly I can't make out any The Smiths references in the sound. Maybe they're in the lyrics, but as they are not included I can't say if that's the case. There are some really cool moments on this album, e.g. "Red hot tugboat", "I'm a Jai Alai kinda guy" (with decent horns) or "Walking a sickly bobcat south of your cedar infested estate" (This month must be the one with the strange song titles, that's for sure!), but also some that are just boring to me. Take a listen and decide for yourself if you like this band.
THE RIPPLE EFFECT -- Demo Part 1 (CD / DIY)
The first thing that came to my mind when I found this CD in my mailbox was the cool logo which is a funny "Back to the future" rip off. After I threw the CD in my player I was wondering if Dave Smalley had another project apart from Down By Law and Dag Nasty, 'cause the vocals are totally in the vein of those of Dave, which is a cool thing because I think that his voice is really unique within the Punk and Hardcore scene. Well, not quite unique when you take a listen to the Ripple Effect, hehe... The music these guys from Germany is mid tempo Pop Punk with acoustic guitars and lots of melodies. I was really surprised when I read that this band is more or less kind of a project because the songs were too melodic for the members' main bands. Hopefully the Ripple Effect will continue their quest for the perfect pop song in the future and come up with some more nice tunes. For a DIY release the four songs come over in great sound quality. If you're interested, get in touch with them through firstname.lastname@example.org or check out an MP3 at www.mp3.de/therippleeffect
SOULMATE -- Revolving (CD / Make My Day Records)
One of those bands that I didn't know to date and one of those which really surprised me in a positive way. Soulmate were already formed in 1993 and put out a couple of EPs, a split with Reno Kid, and - as far as I can see - two full length CDs, the latest one from 2000. As I said before, "Revolving" is the newest album and it's really cool. Imagine a mixture of catchy Indie Rock combined with pop appealing Emo and vocals that sometimes remind me to those of Brian Molko from Placebo and you have a vague impression how Soulmate sound like. Maybe they felt inspired by the bands they've toured with in the past, like Jimmy Eat World, Ash, or Pale, but I'd say they're outstanding enough to have an own identity. Most of the time it's laid back emotional music which lots of variety and recognizable melodies. 10 songs that show the massive potential in this band, and if you didn't know them before (as me) then I'd better get away from the screen and pick up this album.