Wide Angles - Boxcutter - Another rock solid 4 songs from Wide Angles put out, um, last May on No Breaks Records. Much like on their debut 7", Wide Angles show and prove that they are pros at crafting gritty-yet-melodic, tough-yet-emotional mid-tempo ponk ruck music. It's tempting to describe them as "no-frills" too, but after listening to these tunes a couple of times, some rather intricate guitar-work and layering becomes apparent.
Only minor quibble here is when the singer reaches a little too far. The guy's got a great voice for this band, but you've to know your limits a little bit too, you know? But honestly, that is a very minor quibble. This is excellent stuff. (http://wideangles.bandcamp.com)
Los Derrumbes - Hacen Cantar a Sus Amigos 7" - Oh boy, not much better. A pretty much straightforward interpretation of 50's-style rock and roll. For example, an incredibly tepid cover of "Rockin' Robin" shows up on side 1. I was going to go into some bullshit about how the only way I could see these tunes working was in some campy European movie where a peripheral character was really into American rock and roll and these songs were playing in the background of a scene, but then quickly realized that was some bullshit. (www.losderrumbes.com/)
De Keefmen - Cryin' at my Door 7" - Things took a turn for the better with this one and I'm not just saying that to be nice. De Keefmen offer up 2 pretty hornery rockers that both feature some skronky guitar solos that you, yes you, will enjoy.
Kobanes - Demo - Unabashed Ramones worshipping is often a razor's edge. On one side, bands have made a career out of it or at least kick-started a career (read: the Queers, the Donnas, the Riverdales, etc). On the other perilous side, if done incorrectly, you can get some of the most basic, unimaginitive boring bullshit you've ever heard. Fortunately, the Kobanes fall into the former category. That's not to say that we're guaranteeing that they'll actually make a career out of their music, but they clearly have figured out that while that Ramones-y formula may seem seductively simple, you still have to write good songs, know how to play, keep it supa-tight and all that good stuff.
Look, you won't be surprised by what you get from the Kobanes. 1,2,3,4's, whoa-oh's, love songs, hate songs and songs with "I Don't Wanna" in the lyrics but they throw in enough of their own little twists and sense of humor to make it work. Plus, mechanically-speaking, I've always felt that the most important thing for a band playing this style of music is for the guitars and the bass to be in absolute lock-step in order to create that buzzing, relentless drive. If it gets sloppy, then the whole things falls apart and the Kobanes don't allow that to happen.
I think the CD they sent in had a few tracks from each of their 3 albums so check out the link below and dig them for yourself. (http://kobanes.bandcamp.com)
Part III of our Cut Throat Records appreciation post and the hits keep coming.
Gun Crazy/Teen Cool Split 7" - This is going to be a little backwards as the Teen Cool side got the first listen. Looks like Teen Cool was around from 1993 to 2003 which is an impressive run for a band and, holy shit, Toby Marsh of Motards relative-fame was in the line-up for these guys. Fuck, how did I miss out on all these bands? Anyway, more really good stuff and for the entirety of the first track, "Crash and Burn Kids", I was trying to place which British singer the Teen Cool singer sounded like. Anyway, when the opening riff of track 2, "Dilemna Doll", kicked in, it all started to make sense. That opening riff is really similar to the main riff in "Art School" by the Jam and that kick-started by slow, slow brain into realizing that the singer's voice sounds a lot like Paul Weller, also of the Jam. Soooooo, Teen Cool kind of sounds like a bit-faster, bit-more-reckless version of the Jam. Which is good.
As for Gun Crazy, more good stuff dealing with things that a lot of good punk rock songs deal with. In particular, factory lines in the song entitled "Factory Line" and interacting with bad news chicks named Jane in the song entitled "Talk to Jane".
Libertine - Guttersnipe Glamour 7" - This one wasn't quite as cool. Kind of reminded me of another TX-based band from around the same era (that being the late 90's/early 00's) called the Dead End Cruisers. Saw them open for Pegboy in Austin many moons ago, bought their CD, listened to it once or twice and eventually sold it on Ebay. How's that for an obscure reference? Anyway, pretty standard sleazy rock 'n' roll and the last track on this little EP is indeed a stab at a reggae-ish song. And as discussed elsewhere on this blog, lots of bands of this era tried to pull this off and it never really worked. And sure enough, this tune isn't so good either.
The Stupor Stars - Poison Arrows 7" - Great name for a band, first off. More importantly, this little sampler platter serves up 3 delectablely catchy morsels. The title track has that melancholy-yet-boundlessly-enthusiastic mix that makes music beautiful and makes you, the listener, play it over and over. Things get a little more mean-spirited with "Don't Fight Us" but it's still catchy as all get-out. Wrapping up the 7" is another willy of a dilly of a ditty called "Hey Maita" about a beautiful black-haired girl. And goddamn, is there anything finer than a beautiful black-haired girl? Both songs feature one of this reviewer's favorite, but difficult to describe, things in punk rock tunes. That being that millisecond pause between a verse or chorus ending and a really solid guitar solo starting up. Like, not a full breakdown, but just a split-second pause where everything drops out and then, "SKRUUUUAAAAHWAAAAHWWEEE" or however one might put a solo into the written word.
Anyway, you and I...we together...should find out if these guys and 1 gal put out any other records because these 3 songs are great.
The Monocles - Out of Your Mind 7" - And finally, the Monocles. Pretty strong stuff and the first track "Out of Yr Mind" kind of reminds one of the Spits in that it's catchy punk rock and roll stuff with kind of weird sounding distorted vocals. The second track is a bit of a groaner, but the 7" rebounds quite nicely on track 3, "Darken Your Door". Yes it does.
This is "Part II" of the Cut Throat Records appreciation post from a few days ago. And there will be a "Part III" eventually too. They sent us a lot of good stuff.
Born Liars - Go Back One Day 7" - 3 tracks that reflect everything we wrote about this band here.
Born Liars - Ragged Island - 11 tracks that also reflect everything we wrote about this band here.
Pat Todd and the Rank Outsiders - Don't Worry 'bout Me Baby 7" - Holy shit, how did we not get to this stack of vinyl earlier? It really doesn't pay to be lazy. Pat Todd is, of course, of Lazy Cowgirls fame and is thereby quite rulin'. I've heard it said (or maybe read it written) that Paul Westerberg is the Bruce Springsteen of underground rock 'n' roll but honestly, I like Paul Westerberg's music better than the Big Boss Man (what a hip stand to take) so in my mind's eye, that statement just means he's less well known. Along those lines, you could probably make the argument that Pat Todd is the Paul Westerberg of...of...undergrounder rock 'n' roll?
Maybe that was a little forced, but the point is that the title track served up on this little platter is what you'd expect from Mr. Todd...and what you'd expect is primo, ripsnot rock. The second track, "Idle Time" slows it down a little bit, goes acoustic and laments about time well-wasted. Listening to this track though is certainly not time wasted.
So, this is good shit. As a quick market research project of the vast readership of this blog, whose music do you like best - Bruce Springsteen's, Paul Westerberg's or Pat Todd's?
Jack Scratch - Jack Scratch 2012 - Doing a little research on Jack Scratch learned me that they were a bit of a local breakout band here in the greater Chicago metropolitan area back in the late 80's-early 90's. A touch before this reviewer's time so they were totally new to me although the pictures of ticket stubs and fliers on the CD tray reference bands and venues that kicked up those weird types of quasi-memories that make you think, "oh man, those were heady times" but then you're like, "you know, I wasn't even actually there but I do remember meeting slightly older kids who seemed incredibly worldly who were probably there." Then, as you start to form your own bands and experiences and memories and "scenes", you realize that yes, those times you quasi-remembered-but-weren't-actually-there-for were probably pretty great, but also full of the same bullshit and down-times that anyone else goes through. In other words there's some idealization and nostalgia sprinkled in there too. But again, not to say that there weren't elements of greatness. Or maybe this is all just cynical ramblings on the part of this reviewer...so let's move on.
As an example of the aforementioned ticket stubs, there's one where Jack Scratch opened for Jane's Addiction at the Metro in 1988 and keeping in mind that this was not only about 2 decades before Illinois' smoking ban kicked in, but also the tail end of the 80's and ALSO Jane's Addiction being involved, I can't even begin to imagine the quantity and variety of things that were smoked and/or inhaled at that particular show be it in onstage, backstage, in the audience or in the bathrooms. Seriously, the mind boggles.
But anyway, it was probably grand times for the fellows in Jack Scratch and god bless 'em for deciding to get together years later and start playing shows again. Looks like some of the tracks are new originals while others are retreads from their past. It's all good stuff and they know what they're doing. Solid rhythm section, sharp guitarwork and some Dave Vanian-ish rough rock crooning. I'd say the standout tracks are the opener "Broken Dreams" and well, one near the end. Maybe it was "See Saw". We weren't blown but aren't about to knock anything either.
Oh, except these couple things which just kind of cracked me up but make 100% sense since this a band that crested at the advent of CD's and is making another run as CD's are going the way of the Dodo bird. 1.) There is a "secret bonus track" that is not listed (unless I miscounted, which is possible but if I didn't miscount, this is an incredibly 90's thing to do) and 2.) the bonus track in question is a tepid, tuneless reggae style tune the likes of which was HUGE back in the early 90's by alternative-type bands. No shit. Tons of bands did this even it wasn't their usual style and it almost never worked. Actually, no, it never worked.
I just sound like a dick at this point, so I'll stop. But overall, this is quality stuff and if you dug you some Jack Scratch in yesteryear, this will do the trick I bet. (www.jackscratchband.com)