Reviews

Homestead

Antietam Antietam LP

Definitely the punk equivalent of middle period JEFFERSON AIRPLANE. The “punk” side comes from the PATTI SMITH-ish vocalist, though both sides she and the male vocalist hit higher notes. Musically, it’s a jazzy/folky rockish band with tough, punkish power (at times).

Antietam Until Now / Rain 7″

Critics have been falling over themselves for this band, but frankly it’s some of the worst music I’ve ever heard. I keep going back just to double check, but to me, it sounds like MARIA MULDAUR singing with a bad new wave band. On top of that, the BEATLES cover on the flip is just inane. Pass.

Beat Temptation Concerned About Rock Music? LP

On a third of the tunes here, this band gets too mellow for my rockin’ meter to register, but on the others they play a rough pop rock’n’roll that’s pretty neat. The guitarist can really wail—he just doesn’t do it often enough. A neat cover of the VELVETS’ “What Goes On” that mutates into the STOOGES’ “1969.”

Big Black Racer-X EP

I love BIG BLACK for their heavy rhythms, crystal-clear production, and storybook lyrics. This new record is no different. But as much as I love any abuse I can get from these guys, and as much as I love some of their songs here—their material is getting slightly tired. Their new stuff keeps reminding me of their other past classics. Same riffs! This may be too harsh a criticism, though, as I’d recommend this record above most others. So, I still highly recommend it.

Big Black Atomizer LP

I love BIG BLACK and this LP is no exception; the only qualm I have is that a couple of these songs sound so much like the BUTTHOLE SURFERS that they should’ve declared an ode to them so as not to be called plagiarists. Still, this material is strong in melody, rhythm, lyrics, and production. Classic songs as always.

Big Black The Hammer Party LP

Actually, this is a re-issue, one side containing their first EP Lungs, and the other presenting their Bulldozer 12”, both of which came out in 1982. Lots of driving darkness here, though the Bulldozer side has a lot more power to it.

Bloodsport I Am the Game 12″

From Chicago, high-production post-punk with good power, occasionally delivering straightforward punches, but like the robot boxers on the cover, there isn’t an overwhelming sense of identity or heart. Maybe I’m just OD-ing on all these major “indie” releases that rely on major-type production, making them sound homogenized to me.

Breaking Circus The Very Long Fuse EP

Basically, this is just a one-man band that features an ex-member of Chicago’s STRIKE UNDER. But because the sound here is so dense and cohesive, it sounds like a full band. With this release, they are a full group now with the addition of two former members of MAN SIZED ACTION. Some of the thick sound recalls the din of MISSION OF BURMA coupled with a light, dreamy pop atmosphere, but even so, there really is a definite and distinct sound here.

Death of Samantha Strungout on Jargon LP

DEATH OF SAMANTHA opts for a discordant and somewhat arty approach to mid-tempo DIY rock. That may be the problem; in presenting a style rather than ace songs, this band evades any real appeal for me. Good, hard guitar sound, though.

Death of Samantha Laughing in the Face of a Dead Man 12″

Citing the SAINTS and TELEVISION among their influences, one can hear it a bit. But those groups, despite sometimes extended length songs, always made them memorable, whereas DOS seldom leave traces of tunes re-emerging through the mind rubble. Undelivered promise.

Dinosaur Dinosaur LP

Revisionist rock for people looking for a “hip” way to mellow down from punk. You know, those folks who find the newer HÜSKER pop sound really stretching their limits of noise tolerance. Hmmm, I guess I don’t like it too much.

Dogmatics Thayer St. 12″

Boston garage rock in the tradition of the REAL KIDS. Those who enjoy the REPLACEMENTS will probably take to this, though I found it a bit too slick and poppish and not rockin’ enough. There are a couple of kickers, but the ballad-y side (augmented by the dreaded sax) is more than I can take. Also, “Hardcore Rules” is a backhanded slap at the scene.

Dogmatics Everybody Does It 12″

Half the tracks here are really listenable garage rock’n’roll, while the rest tend to be too rockabilly-ish or poppish in derivation for me. Obviously, they’ve got power and roots, but I hope they don’t get stuck in the past.

GG Allin & the Holy Men You Give Love a Bad Name LP

What a cool guy, huh. He rapes girls, shits on the audience, does drugs and pukes all over himself—anything he wants. He plays grungy-ass rock’n’roll—really punk. But I’m still disappointed. G.G. let me down. If he was really the heir to Jerry Lee and Iggy, he’d have made this a scratch’n’sniff record.

Great Plains Born in a Barn LP

Maybe if you’re from the Midwest you might relate to this record, with its geographical themes (there’s even a song about Woody Hayes) and garagy appeal. But it’s pretty folky overall. Erikka says it sounds like “bad NEIL YOUNG.”

Green River Come on Down 12″

From Seattle, where heavy metal is a big force to reckon with, comes this debut. I’m not really sure about this record yet, but they stray a line very close to mid-period BLACK FLAG while tending to go for a more infernal, personal side to their lyrics.

Happy Flowers My Skin Covers My Body LP

Manic vocals set to sporadic musical mayhem — sort of in the BUTTHOLES spirit. I thought you had to be from Texas to do this kinda stuff, but these lads are from Virginia. Will interest the fringe freaks and art trendies.

Live Skull Bringing Home the Bait LP

Eee-yowww! This I like…a lot. Comparisons with SONIC YOUTH are going to be made, because LIVE SKULL keeps charging with full-speed intensity. I can’t see these guys ever closing their eyes and just drooling.

Live Skull Pusherman 12″

Don’t know what the big deal is over this band, at least after listening to this three-song release. I found the tunes boring, lengthy, and exactly what I’ve been trying to avoid in music for a long time. Maybe live they make it.

Live Skull Don’t Get Any on You LP

This live LP showcases LIVE SKULL’s guitar-laden, atmospheric post-punk sound. Obstinately non-melodic, the songs on this LP, although excellently recorded, don’t excite (they’re too slow) and don’t stick to the ribs (they’re not catchy enough). Fans of the band will like this, though.

Meatmen War of the Superbikes LP

Outflanked by G.G. ALLIN on the outright perv side of punk, Tesco and co. uphold the intelligent irreverent side of the genre. And even if musically they venture into metal, flamenco, and other forms, this is really humorous/satirical punk (attitude) at its incisive best, although there are some pretty dark overtones and self-indulgent meanderings (musically and lyrically). Wish I could play most of this on the radio.

Naked Raygun Throb Throb LP

This band consistently defies categories. More than hardcore. More than rock. More than experimental. And this LP blazes out with a fury that’s sharp, clean, and loud as fuck. The sound on this release is more concise and focused than earlier stuff but doesn’t sacrifice any of their drive. Possibly one of America’s most important bands.

Naked Raygun All Rise LP

This is a bit different than previous records in that there’s only a couple of songs with their distinctive bass licks and chunky melodies. So instead of bordering on redundancy, they prove their diversity by being more melodic, rockin’, and even pop. This LP is more challenging than before and really great.

Otto’s Chemical Lounge Spillover LP

Is this the “fusion” music of punk? OTTO’S CHEMICAL LOUNGE pounds out these eight songs, and depending on whether or not you view this as a plus or minus, incorporate funk, jazz, rock, etc. into the tunes. Personally, I find it a bit annoying, especially on the covers of the GROOVIES’ “Slow Death” and the classic rocker “Shakin’ All Over.” I’ll take the originals, straight up, thank you.

Otto’s Chemical Lounge Spillover LP

Sadly, there’s talk about this psycho-delic garage band breaking up. If that’s so, at least they’ve left behind a killer 7” and a nice, full-bodied album of frenzied HENDRIX riffing, bluesy vocals, and staunch, tight rhythms. Not as crazy as their single, but still worthy.

Phantom Tollbooth Jack of All Phobias 12″

This seven-song job rocks hard, but also contains a number of instrumental and vocal over-indulgences that infect even the more promising tracks. It’s like the MINUTEMEN in terms of song structure, with lots of guitar wankings and awkward vocal intrusions. Basically unappealing, for me.

Salem 66 Seven Steps Down 12″

Lightweight semi-psychedelic pop. SALEM 66, who appeared on the Conflict sampler, manage to produce some delicate, tasty tracks with folky guitar strumming. It can be downright pretty at times, but they’d need a lot more guitar firepower and punch to really move me.

Salem 66 Across the Sea / Pony Song 7″

Really nice stuff here from SALEM 66. “Across the Sea” features some cool guitar and vocal interplay which is highlighted by a super chorus. The B-side falters in its vocals and length, but it’s still strong. Play it for your Mom.

Sonic Youth Bad Moon Rising LP

Once again, bravely mixing their snotty garage sound with all-out noisefests, the new SONIC YOUTH LP is full of careening walls of sound and mixtures of delicate and uncomfortable tension. “Ghost Bitch” is one of the creepiest songs I’ve ever heard. Some gore filmmaker better grab these guys while they’re still cheap! This also includes their duet with LYDIA LUNCH on “Death Valley ’69.”

Sonic Youth Flower / Halloween 12″

This one is even more of a drone than ever. “Flower” is upbeat in their classic noise style while the title track is lyrically provocative and musically sedate. Still, both songs are good. Not my fare, but I wouldn’t be without.

Sorry The Way It Is LP

The hard-edged rockers on this album usually have some hook or twist to make them quite listenable, whether it’s the hard and varied guitarwork or a melodic twist to the vocals. The compositions don’t, however, really stick to the ribs, a fact attested to by the fact that the best song here is “Ex-Lion Tamer,” the WIRE song.

Squirrel Bait Squirrel Bait LP

Now that the REPLACEMENTS have wimped out, where do you go for that great, snotty, teenage garage music? Louisville, KY, apparently, the home of these young’uns who not only manage to capture the snarling adolescent howl but also have a sense of structure and melody in all their songs. Highly recommended.

Squirrel Bait Kid Dynamite / Slake Train Coming 7″

These songs chug along at a decent pace but they don’t really hook like the ones on their LP. This is more of a holding pattern until their next album. I guess I’m still with ‘em… for now.

Swans Young God 12″

Tried listening to this while depressed—I broke into hysterical laughter. Tried listening while in a good mood—I whipped off the needle. But it’s “hip” to like this kind of painfully slow, “wrenching” post-punk noise, right? Guess I’m uncool.

The Cannibals Trash for Cash LP

More ’60s-ish garage raves from Mike Spencer and Co. No wimpoid stuff here—it’s all raw, raging real rock’n’roll, with lots of ripping guitars, feedback, screaming vocals, and lots of noise. Like the NOMADS, these guys got the spirit, not just the form.

The Flies Get Wise LP

The last time I heard the FLIES, I thought they were just an OK garage band from Boston. This record has them turning up the fuzz and feedback to a really nice effect. While there’s still a poppier side to them, even strains of country in there, they’ve got a good handle on the future if they keep in those rough edges. VELVET UNDERGROUND fans should check out “All Hung Up.”

The Lorries Crawling Mantra 12″

These guys used to be RED LORRY YELLOW LORRY. At least they figured out how stupid that was. This new one is “late ‘80s gloom disco” music. You’ll hear it at all the cool clubs. Heavy on the beat, rhythm, and somber BAUHAUS-ian vocals. If you go on for this kind of thing – it’s pretty damn good. Otherwise, beware.

The Micronotz 40 Fingers LP

While there’s a decent power here and the vocals are as great and gruff as ever, there’s a sameness to their largely mid-tempo tunes that lulls me to sleep. Outside of the title track and one other tune, I didn’t perk up that much.

The Nomads Outburst LP

This debut US release of Swedish veterans the NOMADS contains four tracks from their recent Where the Wolfbane Blooms 12”, but don’t let that stop you from picking this one up. The NOMADS are without a doubt the best of the neo-’60s punkers today, with some of the nastiest guitar licks going. Killer!

The Nomads She Pays the Rent 12″

A three-song job featuring a cover of the LYRES’ “She Pays the Rent” (a hotter version than the original), a pounding “My Little Ruby,” and then a very atypical “Nitroglycerine Shrieks” (a crypto, unrelenting post-punk blaster like LINK WRAY on acid). Hot as always.

The Outnumbered Why Are All the Good People Going Crazy? LP

This is a good garage pop band that doesn’t come off obnoxious. They manage to switch easily from an early PAUL REVERE ripping guitar sound to an easy chiming BYRDS sound. Although I like this record a lot, I’d still like to see a little crustier production.

The Proletariat Indifference LP

So many bands pretend to have something to say, but the PROLETARIAT have always had articulate and pointed lyrics to match their sharp, precise music. The addition of two vocalists is kind of cool and makes things a little more interesting.

The Reactions Cracked Marbles 12″

Decent but unoriginal power-pop on these six tunes. Jangly guitar and pounding drums are the cornerstones here, a more BEATLE-y version of the CHORDS or JOLT. I’d use the late, great QUICK as my standard in power-pop, mainly due to their guitar power and tunemanship—these guys’d get a 6 to the QUICK’s 10.

U-Men Stop Spinning LP

The best of post-punk without wimping out. In fact, this new one rips. You can hear BIRTHDAY PARTY, CRAMPS, and country blues influences, but the material stands on its own. Reminds me of NAKED RAYGUN and SCRATCH ACID in terms of classic post-punk originality and guts.

Uzi Sleep Asylum 12″

A posthumous release, a five-song job of not-so-exciting post-punk, or maybe it is exciting for jaded, over-the-hill, aging “I never was a punk” types. Actually, “Ha-Ha-Ha” has fine power and moments of madness, but that only pales the rest of the tunes.

V/A Speed Trials LP

A nifty little live compilation that features the musical side of a five-day art festival held last year in New York. Lotsa homeboys on this one, like LIVE SKULL, SONIC YOUTH, SWANS, and the BEASTIE BOYS. Also includes two tracks from the FALL.

V/A The Wailing Ultimate: The Homestead Records Compilation LP

The greatest hits of Homestead. Can’t afford all those records? Get all the hits here. Included are: VOLCANO SUNS, BIG BLACK, NAKED RAYGUN, LIVE SKULL, DEATH OF SAMANTHA, DINOSAUR, SQUIRREL BAIT, SALEM 66, and many more.

Volcano Suns The Bright Orange Years LP

This band features Peter Prescott of MISSION OF BURMA, and is indeed reminiscent of those days, but this is a little less tame and more likeable. They are being touted as the “new HÜSKER DÜ,” which I’d like to avoid doing but it’s incredibly hard not to. Nevertheless, the VOLCANO SUNS are unto themselves in imagination and talent. This record is fabulous.

Volcano Suns All-Night Lotus Party LP

Still as great and still as diverse, this SUNS LP is almost as good as their first. It’s a mixed bag with half psycho rockers and half melodic country-type beats, which is OK but not as overwhelming as before. However, some of these songs are real standouts in terms of originality and intensity. Still worthwhile.

Volcano Suns Sea Cruise / Greasy Spine 7″

Both songs on this single are fun but not really substantial. They feel more like outtakes in the studio than full-fledged songs. Fact is, with any other band, they would have sounded terrible, but the SUNS could play the phone book and make it sound cool. Hope the LP has more for it than this.

Volcano Suns Bumper Crop LP

A new line-up for this Boston band. Though there are fits of rage here and there, and glimpses of real power and acceleration, too often the “corporate pop” sound predominates, an overproduction that homogenizes any eccentricities. Still, the tracks that do demonstrate genuine emotion are really good, just with that shone through more.