Thursday, December 22, 2016

December Reviews Part 1

Adversity – Figure Out EP (KROD)
Adversity describe themselves as pop punk/melodic hardcore and that’s pretty much on the nose.  They’re from Lyon, France but sing in English and they write some pretty soaring melodies driven by tight, fast guitars and a hard hitting drummer that you’d swear has extra appendages.  The lyrics are shouted/spoken and seem to be pretty personal and earnest to someone and that always makes music better.  Like I’ve always said, if you’re gonna make meaningful music, music that people are going to actually stop and listen to, you’ve gotta bleed somehow.  Whether it be physically, emotionally, whatever.  Adversity has done this, you can tell by the passion in which they play and it’s quite refreshing.  You have to open up and cast the line in order for people to connect with your art.  Otherwise you might as well be one of those “waste of good oxygen” EDM DJs.   – J Castro

Alvie & The Breakfast Pigs – Indian Rug Burn EP (Bird Flu Kitchen)
Alvie & The Breakfast Pigs went from being a busted up, lo-fi blues punk duo in Tempe AZ to a Faces influenced boogie rock power house four piece after front man Alvie Adams picked up his belongings and moved to The Bay Area.  Some would argue that it’s a natural progression, but it totally caught me off guard.  I’m always in awe when young bands care enough to cherish older rock n roll and let it influence them so much so that it comes out in their own music.  Aside from the obvious Rolling Stones and Faces influences, The Breakfast Pigs also remind me a bit of LA’s Dr Boogie and their Bay Area neighbors The Richmond Sluts.  If you like that kind of music and are looking for a band that adds youthful zeal to the mix, look no further than Alvie & The Breakfast Pigs!  – J Castro

Bad Future – S/T LP (Dirt Cult)
Searing new record delivered by this Seattle WA band!  The music on here is dark, tense, hard hitting and has a surrounding cloud of unparalleled urgency that is undeniable.  I can see how some can call it “hardcore” but I would never dismiss it as just that, no no no.  Bad Future’s music is too bottom heavy and intricate to do dismiss it as simply that.  As I listen to this record for what’s gotta be the 10th time since I’ve had it, I’m still captivated by their arrangements.  The songs are sewn together so that they’re taut and have a solid trajectory but make some quick, unexpected turns that shake, but never lose you.   Instead it just makes you want to hang on tighter and finish the ride.  – J Castro

Chixdiggit – 2012 LP (Fat Wreck Chords)

This whole record is set up as one continuous track on the digital release, I’m not sure what it’s like on the actual record, but this actually says a lot about the band.  That and the cover art (any RUSH fans out there?)  It’s quite brilliant to set up the record this way though.  So many digital music listeners are clicking past tracks after the first 5 seconds or so after they “get the idea”. This forces one to listen to the record in its entirety.  I’m guilty of doing this once in a while myself.  There are definitively separate songs of pretty catchy baggy shorts and backwards baseball caps style pop punk.  It’s cool that bands like this still keep music like this vital.  The songs on 2012 are still packed with catchy guitars, humorous lyrics, and every ounce of energy as Chixdiggit had in the mid 90’s.  It goes well with label mates Masked Intruder and Mean Jeans   – J Castro

City Slang – Sonic Crime Wave 7” (No Front Teeth)
People may not know it, nut the world needs bands like City Slang: kids with guts and guitars, tight pants and cheap sneakers.  Bands like this reset the focus.  They knock off all the useless barnacle’s off the mighty vessel that is rock n roll after it gets lost at sea and becomes directionless.  Other than the obvious Sonic Rendezvous Band influence, you got a pinch of Dead Boys, a dash of Slaughter & The Dogs, and a healthy slice of Aussie heroes X and The Saints.  3 short burst is all you get from this EP but that’s all you need.  After the record is over you’re gonna notice yourself on the floor covered in sweat, your shirt torn and somehow one of your shoes is missing off your foot.  – J Castro

Dirty Fences – Tommy & CC 7” (Die Slaughterhouse)
Everyone loves NYC’s Dirty Fences and to be honest, it’s hard not to.  I got the two banger this time around, but love it none the less.  This band oozes 70’s, that’s pretty much all you need to know.  Groups like Badfinger, Cheap Trick and maybe a little Flamin Groovies in there as well.  The guitars are front and center on these two slow burners but just the charisma alone is enough to drive these two tunes straight into your brain.  Watching the video for the title track of this 7”, it’s easy to write them off as just a silly novelty group.  But I have to believe they are more.  They’re too good at what they do to just be a flash in the pan type band.  If this had come out in the mid 70’s, Dirty Fences would be renouncing their nomination into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame right about now.   – J Castro

Duck and Cover – Stuck in Decline EP (Susspool)
Bean Town’s own beat down boys are back in action with another EP/almost an LP.  It’s got 7 songs and I consider anything with 8 full songs an LP, so there!  More ferocious, melodic Punk Rock with a solid rock n roll back bone.  Hell, they even cover Cheap Tricks “Way of The World” from Dream Police and more importantly actually do it justice!  And this coming from a HUGE Cheap Trick fan!  The song ends up with kind of a tougher spin, which is OK by me.  This is Duck and Cover’s follow up to their 2014 Self-Titled LP.  This particular release of theirs has a strong Thin Lizzy being covered by Cocksparrer sound to it.  Which in my opinion, works very well for them.   – J Castro

Earth Girls – Wanderlust LP (Grave Mistake)
This band is from Chicago and has been blowing out some raw, top shelf garage pop for a few years now.  They have a couple of really good EP’s out already so I was highly anticipating this, their debut long player.  Needless to say I was not disappointed in the slightest.  The “pop” side of Earth Girls music isn’t so syrupy sweet you gag and fall into a diabetic coma.  The quick sharp guitar licks cut up your ear canal and allows for quicker, longer lasting absorption of the music into your bloodstream.  To me, Earth Girls falls somewhere in the middle of early Muffs and early Donnas and Cub.  Yes, they’re that good!  They aren’t copyists at all either, they definitely found a unique angle to this sub genera of underground music that I happen to have a soft spot on my cold, black heart for. – J Castro

Flesh Rag – Stay Away 7” (Schizophrenic)
OH HELL YES!  Another Rock N Roll face melter from this Hamilton, Ontario trio.  Perhaps you’ve read our reviews of Flesh Rag’s other records, we’ve gotten to review the last few records they’ve put out and they’re all aces!  This new 7” just adds more to the myth and legend that is Flesh Rag.  The band didn’t move in a new direction, they didn’t add new instrumentation and aren’t now dabbling in experimental atmospherics.  If anything they just got darker and meaner.  What flesh rag delivers here is three more songs of that Dead Boys, Stooges, Saints riff riddled punk rock n roll we love ‘em dearly for.  And if you aren’t yet acquainted with them, well by all means let me introduce you.  World, meet Flesh Rag: the most underrated PUNK band currently roaming the western hemisphere.   – J Castro

Get Dead – Honest Lives Elsewhere LP (Fat Wreck Chords)
I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard San Francisco’s Get Dead before but I gotta say, I’m glad I have now.  This may sound a bit selfish, but records like this is why I do a blog.  Get Dead would have probably passed me by if not for getting the chance to review this record.  This is the band’s third LP, so I don’t have too much to hunt down now.  The first thing that caught my attention were the vocals.  I’m pretty sure if you looked down lead singer Sam King’s throat, you’d see pulsing raw hamburger with bits of glass stuck in it.  With a voice like that, you can’t help pay attention to the guy.  The guitars are hard and loud yet melodic and tight, and the drums pound hard setting a firm foundation for the band to launch of off.   Fantastic record, the Fat crew are on winning streak!  – J Castro

Guitar Gangsters – Prohibition LP (Wanda)
Let me first start off by saying if you like late 70’s Punk Rock like The Lurkers, The Boys, Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones, Buzzcocks etc, and you haven’t yet heard Guitar Gangsters.  Stop reading this and go listen to them, you may want to start here with this one, Prohibition thoughThis is a LIMITED repress of their 1989 stellar debut LP originally put out on Link records.  If I remember right, this label put out mostly Oi! type stuff, since it was run by one of the guys from The Business but they did reissue a lot too.  But now our pals at Wanda Records have got a hold of it and now what you need to do is take advantage of that fact and don’t let this record pass you up again.  This is loud, stout heated, infectious punk rock done oh so right.  – J Castro

The Jeanies – Amilee 7” (Hozac)
WOW, and I’ll say it again, WOW!  I’ve heard the name before, but I haven’t actually heard this phenomenal band until just now!  Give me a moment to compose myself……OK.  I think I can contain my jubilation enough for a moment to finish this review now.  First of all, the amount of charisma these dudes radiate if amazing.  They’re from New York and they play smooth, hook filled 70’s style power pop.  This kind of Raspberries/Big Star type of power pop that when done right, is one of my favorite kinds of music.  And let’s just say this 7” is already one of my favorite records of the year.  This band has an LP out as well that they released in 2014 and it’s equally as great.  The Jeanies play smart, guitar driven, rock n roll that captures your heart and doesn’t easily let go. They’re one of those bands you simply can’t just press stop in mid song.  – J Castro

Leather Towel – Towel IV LP (Hozac)
Cool, trashy and aggressive garage punk from Australia.  It’s been cut up and stripped down of any and all dead weight whatsoever.  This is to maximize the velocity in which it penetrates your flesh with the greatest of ease. This is one of those bands that you feel lucky hearing because they’re really good at what they do at the moment but at any second, you get the feeling that it’s all going to derail and fall off the bridge in a terrible awful twisted wreckage.   This kind of music takes a certain swagger, a particular savoir-faire if you will, to pull off right.  Especially since Leather Towel isn’t exactly the first of its kind to stumble out of the murky swamp.  Bud these scrappy young bucks pull it off quite well.  Apparently there’s members of Ausmuteants
in this band and you can kind of hear that, but this record certainly stands on its own.  – J Castro

Low Culture – Hard To Say 7” (La-Ti-Da)
Low Culture are another one of those bands that works hard and puts out records fairly consistently that are always pretty great.  Kind of like Steve Adamyk Band in that way. This here record is the latest installment in their arsenal.  As always, Low Culture plays their own brand of charming, 
jangle-y, punky, power pop. They’re a tad loud, but never annoying.  They create a light hearted atmosphere but are never obnoxious.  And their lyrics are smart but not pretentious.   The two bangers from the La-Ti-Da gang always leave you wanting more, especially in this case.  But this label really knows what they’re doing.  They crank out some of the best records out there and that’s why we love them here at Audio Ammo and Hard To Say is why we love Low Culture and why you should too!   .  – J Castro

Lutheran Heat – Louder Than the Other Side LP (PiƱata)
WOW what a cool record!  This is one of those albums that you hear just the first 5 seconds of the first song and you fall in love.  Loud, raggedy, ramshackle rock with hopelessly catchy hooks delivered with such style that it reminds you of every fabulous indie rock band you ever loved, yet simultaneously none of them at all.  What the hell do you mean by that you fat dumb ass, you may be asking?  Well if you shut up I’ll tell you;  I hear Dinosaur Jr., Guided by Voices, Superchunk, The Replacements, Yo La Tango etc. but only in spirit mind you!  The band has enough talent of their own to be able to move those bands best records to one side and now sits pretty and quite deserving among all those classics.   – J Castro

Michael Kane & The Morning Afters – Adding Insult To Injury EP (Cassettes on Record)
I am starting to sweat my year end list this time around!  So many great records are hitting us one after the other!  Michael Kane & the Morning After’s are a solid example of that.  The first tune “Back on the 9” is a blazing number that sounds like something that could have been on Stiff Little Fingers debut record.  It winds down a tick with “And the Bells”, a softer strummed, introspective number.  The third song called “The Likes of You” is a mid-tempo, hook filled ditty that for some reason reminds me a smidge of Jawbreaker’s song “Indictment”.   Just a faint reminder, not a rip off or anything by any means.  The parting song is a slow Tom Wait’s inspired tune called “I’d Promise but a Song Ain’t a Ring” damn that’s a heavy title.   Solid songwriting put together the old fashioned way; with real emotional sacrifice.  Take notes kids.    – J Castro

Notopia – Demos EP (Self Released)
This British band whips out 6 super quickie songs of pretty cool thick, melodic Punk Rock that sounds like it could have been in a mid-90’s skate video.  It falls somewhere between Pennywise, Dag Nasty and Chicago greats The Bollweevils.  And when I say super quickie, I ain’t fooling around, the songs clock in from :07 to 1:42 being the longest track.  These demos are very well done, well produced and executed.  I almost question the “demo” title, this could easily pass as the band’s official first release pressed right on wax.  So if you’re into any of the band’s I mentioned above but tired of the same old songs over and over, then check out Notopia’s Bandcamp page.  Your thirst will be quenched.   – J Castro

Personal & The Pizzas – S/T LP (Slovenly)
What you’ve got here is a collection of out of print singles and five new tracks by Personal & The Pizzas.  If you don’t know about these here Paisanos, let me take a moment to enlighten you.  These here Jersey dudes drink a lot, fight unfairly, respect good food, and know how to treat a lady.  My kind of schmucks, I gotta say.  Now on to the music; I hear Ramones riffs, Dictators style lyrics, and all of this delivered with good ‘ol Detroit/Stooges style old school toughness.  If you are a fan of the type of stuff I mentioned above, this is the perfect place to start your Personal & The Pizzas obsession.  And just one more piece of advice before you go get this record, when you put it on, have fun and don’t overthink it.  If you want something with a message, go put on your REM records you jerk!   – J Castro

Puff – Living in the Partyzone LP (Slovenly Recordings)
Puff play wildly unpredictable synth craziness from the city of Berlin.  At times it can get pretty avant-garde and experimental but at other times their synth forefathers shine through and you can hear some Devo and Tubeway Army clawing their way to the surface.  With the name of this record being what it is, I’m actually a bit frightened of anyone that would consider this the “Partyzone”.  This record is pretty intense, with pulsating beats going one way, synth madness running around unpredictably in the room, the in your face German and English vocals.   It’s the kind of record you can’t really just put on in the background or while in the car, it commands your attention.   Let me put in another way, it’s kind of like watching Teletubbies on LSD.    
  – J Castro

Radio Burns – One Sided Reputation 7” (Solid Sex Lovie Doll)
Cool four song release from this Detroit foursome that have all been in a bunch of other bands it seems.  Since it’s from Detroit, it’s got power to it along with some explosive riffs.  This reminds me a little of The Devil Dogs/New Bomb Turks/The Candysnatchers school of tough guy punk n’roll that seems to have died out with those bands in the late 90’s.  At least the genuine ones did.  There’s a few still kicking around, don’t get me wrong it’s always good to hear more.   They’re the kind of guys that could care less if you spill beer on their leather jackets just don’t mess with the hair.  Radie Burns have put out a pretty solid release, the only thing that seems to hold it back from its true powerful potential is the production.  The drums are set back a bit, but otherwise it’s a full blown rock n roll hurricane.   – J Castro

Razorbats – This High EP (Self Distructo/Glunk)
There seems to be a resurgence of music like this and it makes me oh so happy.  Loud, fun, sweaty, rock n roll!  The kind I grew up with and that’s lodged in the pleasure center of my brain for better or for worse.  Groups like Razorbats, Biters and Wyldlife are bringing Hanoi Rocks, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC style licks and kicks (or should I say KIX) back onto the stage and doing it with a ridiculous amount of energy and charisma. If you’re a fan of fast paced 70’s hard rock/glam or even 80’s stuff that was influenced by that like L.A. Guns or Faster Pussycat, then this is your new favorite band.  Rock n’ Roll isn’t dead but you do have to get off your lazy ass to find it.  – J Castro

Skittish Itz – Back to Reality LP (Hidden Home)
Skittish Itz have been playing around the Boise, ID area for about 10 years now and have a previous LP out; 2012’s Had a Food Baby and a couple of EP’s.  They play a hearty, robust style of punk in a similar manner to bands like maybe Monsula, Fifteen, Rhythm Collision or Face to Face used to but without the latter mentioned band’s quick tempos.  They’ve got a good sense of humor about life but the music isn’t obnoxious.  It often seems honest and the record has a sense of “bad things happen, bad people suck, all you can do is laugh it off and don’t let ‘em get you down” kind of vibe. The band presents themselves on this record as a kind of “every man” types just trying to make it through the day.  – J Castro

Steve Adamyk Band – Graceland LP (Dirtnap)
The fact that this band isn’t as big as Green Day or Blink 182 is one of the greatest tragedy’s our universe has ever seen. Not that they sound too much like those bands and don’t get me wrong I like Green Day and Blink 182.  But in a lot of ways Steve Adamyk Band are better, like light years better.  Their songs have a punk style tempo sure, loud memorable guitars are also present but SAB have a kind of Springsteen/Tom Petty quality to them, something that anchors them closer to your heart.  A certain quality that helps you embrace their music a bit tighter, helps you absorb it more thoroughly.  You can tell Steve Adamyk is a fan of 90’s punk, earnest rock n roll and is probably a pretty passionate dude in most things he does.  You can’t fake the amount of emotion that surrounds his music and that’s what makes it so extraordinary.   – J Castro

Suburban Homes – Are Bored LP (Total Punk)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: for straight up, sludgy, guttural, blunt force trauma to the head punk rock; Florida’s Total Punk label is top notch.  Accept no substitutes.  They have the knack of somehow spotting and plucking out the meanest and toughest from the cess pools of the American South and East Coast.  The Suburban Homes guys are from Crawley, England though, which is south of London, closer to the Channel.  Since Suburban Homes aren’t from the usual dark, dank, steaming alleyways where Total Punk usually finds their bands, this band does sound a bit different than their usual suspects.  Suburban Home’s songs have a post punk/Swell Maps feel to them with a dash of Wat Tyler kitsch.  To sum it up, join us in welcoming yet another addition to the Total Punk lineup!  – J Castro

toyGuitar – Move Like A Ghost 10” EP (Fat Wreck Chords)
toyGuitar has one of the most distinct sounds of any working band plugging away out there right now.  I can hear the first 5 seconds of any of their records and I can tell it’s their own unique mixture of punk/power pop and garage rock n roll all wrapped up into a contemporary sounding package that explodes out of your speakers.  Jack and the gang don’t do nostalgia and they aren’t worshippers of any one particular sound.  They don’t come out in matching tight fitted black suits like some British Invasion cover band nor do they have perfectly tussled hair like Tom Petersson and Robin Zander power pop worshippers.  These are four people who simply create fantastic music through a filter of their own wide variety of influences.  And yes, it’s as refreshing as it sounds. – J Castro

The Vitamens – S/T EP (No Friends)
So, so good.  Hold on, let me absorb it just a tick more.  Oh yeah, this record is pretty fantastic and it’s from Kansas City!  What we got here is some phenomenal 90’s style lo-fi garage punk that’s been stripped down and supped-up.  This band would have been right at home and lounging on the couch of the Rip Off Records legendary roster back in the day.  They got the aggression, the hooks and the sass similar to The Spoiled Brats, Loli & The Chones and The Spastics.  Or kinda like contemporary hell raisers like The Ills, Neighborhood Brats or Midnite Snaxxx.  I would adore to see this band live, but something tells me this is as good as it’s gonna get for me.  I will just wait here with a salivated mouth and sweaty palms for their next record!   – J Castro

Warsong – Control LP (Sabotage)
Warsong are from Zaragoza, Spain which is in the north eastern part of the country up closer to the French border.  Control, I believe is the band’s second LP to date and 4th release overall.  These Spaniards continue their unique brand of dark, cold yet melodic rock with a punk edge.  This record is taught, flows well and is produced and polished up nice and shiny like a stiletto dagger ready for the kill.  The entire record is sung in Spanish even though some of the song titles are in English.  Which I think is cool because Spanish is my native tongue too.  Not that you NEED to know the lyrics to appreciate the vibe of this record, but it does help since the lyrics are pretty well written.  The only thing I can really compare this band to without picking it apart is Portland’s The Estranged.    – J Castro

The Wead – By The Whey 7” (Slovenly)
Listening to underground rock n roll for 25 years and going through mounds of reissues and  comp series I figure pretty much if it’s worth listening to, I’ve probably already heard it.  Someone by now would have already plucked it out of obscurity and thrown it out into the world on a comp or a 7” single.  But then there’s bands like Cleveland’s The Wead that come staggering into the ring from out of nowhere.  This recording was originally made back in 1966 but unreleased until now and sweet Mother Mary does it sound like it.  American garage rock n roll in all it’s glory, the way all your favorite bands from that time and place used to do it.  The A-Side is loud, melodic, and boasts a gargantuan guitar hook.  The B-Side is also a winner and is super catchy in a Kinks kinda way.  This is essential for fans of this type of music, or if you just want to impress your hipster friends.  What a fabulous find from Slovenly, thanks for putting this out into the world again fellas, I salute you!  – J Castro

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