Reviews

Snappy Little Numbers

Armchair Martian Demo cassette

This is a cool little piece of history. The demo was originally recorded and self-released in 1995, and was reissued this year, coinciding with the band playing some reunion shows. ARMCHAIR MARTIAN from Fort Collins, Colorado had close affiliation with Chad Price, the third singer of ALL, who is credited on this tape as “the Bigfoot” for his weird scream at the very end of the tape, but I think he did also sing on some of the band’s material later on. This tape is really catchy, and while the ’90s are certainly not my favorite of decades for punk, this is undeniably good. It’s kind of like if the poppier later-era ALL stuff tried to sound like GIN BLOSSOMS, but couldn’t help but have a little peppering of HÜSKER DÜ tossed in there, too. If any of those aforementioned references are your thing, this is highly recommended.

Bad Year My Escape 7″

This record really makes me realize that the only difference between a lot of the “cheesy” pop-punk that gets compared to NOFX and the “authentic” pop punk that gets compared to CRIMPSHRINE is production value. BAD YEAR’s songs are pretty great, but I kind of can’t get past the squeaky-clean delivery. There are moments where the grittiness sneaks in, but most of it lands closer to SCREECHING WEASEL. Hand-screened, one-sided, four-song picture disc.

Black Dots Everything Has Gotta Change LP

No, not that BLACK DOTS band! I have to admit that I gave this one sided twelve incher an extra spin, because it looks like April from VENA CAVA plays bass in this outfit, and she is a stellar human being. This is well polished, Fest-ready, gruff melodic stuff. Despite it not being my favorite genre, it’s pretty fun, and at the last second they show off some FUEL influences, which is always acceptable in my book.

Charlie Continental & Heaty Beat We’re Getting Fixed (The Grawlix Saves the World) 7″ flexi

Holy shit, thanks to Snappy Little Numbers, it seems it’s flexi-disc month here at MRR. This one has the original version of the song and a remix featuring a rap break (HEATY BEAT) in the middle. This one definitely fits into the category of snappy little number. Mid-tempo and catchy as all hell, if you’ve got a pulse, you’ll find yourself bouncing your head and/or tapping your toes to this one. I’m a fan. Limited to 100 copies if you want the flexi.

Cheap Perfume Nailed It LP

A remastered vinyl reissue of Colorado Springs’ CHEAP PERFUME’s 2016 debut CD, with fourteen tracks of strong, unapologetic, feminist punk powered by loose, occasionally sludgy and sturdy garage bashing. The lead vocals are pointed and direct, hurling political barbs and jarring take-downs reminiscent of the sharper moments of NAKED AGGRESSION. Echoed and backed by another set of volatile female backup vocals, sometimes shouted, sometimes sung, HEAVENS TO BETSY could be a reference point, but so could the jubilant chaos of ANTI-SCRUNTI FACTION. Like the music, it’s all kept inventive yet simple, recalling lots of different bands (at one song it took awhile for me to finally place what it sounded like—unexpectedly, it was EMPIRE!), but it’s personal in expression, with many different influences but no direct comparisons. The lyrics go between sassy and brutal, assailing sexism, Trump, male expectations of women, navigating relationships, defining consent, and their enunciated clarity pins with the music to make it all shout-along friendly. 300 pressed on red vinyl. The cover is basic but apropos, with a diagram of uterus forming the interior a punk skull!

Cheap Perfume Burn It Down LP

I’ve got a coworker who totally wears way too much cheap perfume. She practically showers in it, and I have to give her a wide berth whenever we pass in the hallway so I don’t suffer a headache the rest of the day. This record is the antithesis of that anecdote—it’s something that I would happily douse myself in in any setting and never worry about getting migraines. CHEAP PERFUME are a four-piece feminist as fuck band with fast dancey songs about rape culture, virtue signalers, nazi punching, and a JOAN JETT cover. While I feel so incredibly lazy in making this comparison, some of the songs (“Time’s Up” in particular) sound a hell of a lot like BIKINI KILL or LE TIGRE. Definitely has that kinda blown-out, screechy, female howl to the vocals. And yet the next track, “Fauminism,” is taken down several notches and delivered in this bouncy, pop punk, bubblegum package. I’m really into singing sweet harmonies about shitty false feminism. Great record. I love it.

Dinged Up Mucho Dolor LP

This record was released digitally in 2016, but thanks to the swell folks at Snappy Little Numbers in Denver, it’s gotten a proper release on vinyl now. The sound is not exactly homogeneous and that makes it difficult to pin down. But I’ll be goddamned if “Don’t Torture Me” isn’t the power pop banger of the summer. That track is just under four minutes and it’s a dancey romp the whole way through. Something that is worth mentioning is Joe Rankin (the person behind DINGED UP) recorded every single sound on the record themself. I’ll say that the vocals seem a little bit distant in the recording, but I think it works really well. Especially when they’re layered with woo-ooos and background vocals like in the song “Noose.” And Joe Rankin has such an interesting singing voice that helps DINGED UP stand out from the crowd. Many of the tracks are fast-paced, high-energy jams, though “Dial Tone” slows everything way down in the middle of the record and shows off their mellow side. I love all the guitar parts—many of them are sharp and piercing while carrying a nice melody, and the instruments are mixed really well. I’d recommend giving this one a spin if you’re looking for something different but in a very good way.

Giggly Boys Another Close Call 7″

This two song 7″ barely makes it to four minutes in total. The A-side is an uptempo melodic punk number in the vein of MASSHYSTERI, with a reverbed out Mark E. Smith soundalike on vocals. The B-side is a little more garage-y, a little more rock’n’roll, a little catchier, quite a bit shorter, and probably the better of the two. This stuff sounds similar to their previous output, but a little more polished, and I mean that in a good way.

Low Forms Gaze to Bow / The Watchful Eye LP

This is an interesting concept for a record, and the band pulls it off well. It’s one album, but both sides are presented as two different suites of music, showcasing different facets of the band’s presentation. “Gaze to Bow” is slower, atmospheric and contemplative, focusing their energy in a way that feels like a long drive across the plains. There are only three songs, and they all blend into each other seamlessly and beautifully. “The Watchful Eye” has a more upbeat and poppy sound which can kinda fall into the camp of REPLACEMENTS, RVIVR and the stomp of TOYS THAT KILL. The four songs on this side also blend into each other, but they stand alone as different songs with their own hooks and melodies. Even though both of these sides are fairly different from one another, I think they both complement each other well, and it has a really good feeling overall.

Spells Stimulants & Sedatives LP

This Colorado band cranks out some cool guitar indie rock and melodic punk. This reminds me of later HÜSKER DÜ and BEACH SLANG but there’s also good female backing vocal interplay going on here. This is their second full-length and it’s pretty damn solid. There was a lot of this guitar punky pop coming out in the ’90s and it’s done well here.

State Drugs Takings & Leavings LP

This is a compilation of previous recordings/releases from this Colorado band. It reminds of later HÜSKER DÜ with EVAN DANDO-like vocals; a little ARMCHAIR MARTIAN-sounding at times as well. This is decent, but surely not on the level of the aforementioned bands. Still, I like this melodic, somewhat crowded genre, and this band isn’t bad at it.

The Animal Steel Smooth Jazz Chords 7″ flexi

It’s not often you see a one-sided flexi disc come along. This is an interesting one. It’s sort of hardcore, sort of emo and has that disjointed rhythm section thing going on. The vocals remind me in an odd way of PEGBOY, but the sound is “heavy” and more FUGAZI. This stuff can be very hit or miss with me and honestly, I’m still trying to figure out if this one was hit or miss. Let’s give it another roll. Clocking in at over five minutes, you’re almost bound to lose my attention. Still, I’m on the fence, though I will admit to leaning towards hit, rather than miss. It looks like the physical release was limited to 100.

Zephr Don’t Worry About It LP

Here’s a full fourteen song’s worth of JAWBREAKER-informed, emotional pop punk. It lands very directly in the early ’00s, No Idea Records school of pop punk. Think about NORTH LINCOLN, BRIDGE AND TUNNEL, etc. but not quite as slick sounding. Melodic guitar riffs drive the mid-to-uptempo songs that are complimented by a mix of sung vocals and “I should really clear my throat” yelling. It’s not poorly done, but it lacks the hooks or that special songwriting that you need to make a record stand out in this genre.