Reviews

New Alliance

Anti I Don’t Want to Die in Your War LP

The most intense thrash album from LA in quite a while. The music is pretty generic, but it’s also plenty loud and fast. Lyrically, ANTI range from intelligent (“Fight War, Not Wars,” the title track, and “The Cycle”) to the semi-moronic WASTED YOUTH level (“Poseur” and “I Hate You”). Go for it if you can’t get enough thrash punk, but not if you’re searching for something unusual.

Ciccone Youth Burnin’ Up EP

Mike Watt (ex-MINUTEMEN) teams up with Ethan James and Greg Ginn for a hard, heavy, and thoroughly funky version of the MADONNA song. SONIC YOUTH gets their chance on the flip with a weird, dreamy version of “Into the Groove.” Too cool.

Descendents Milo Goes to College LP

This LA garage punk group bids farewell to vocalist Milo. Well-produced and snappy-fast, they are as tight and fun as they come, somewhat reminiscent of the DICKIES. The songs cover teenage problems like conformity, parents, drugs, and suburban life. One disturbing note—in “I’m Not a Loser,” they resort to the all-too-prevalent “you fucking homo” name-calling. Maybe these teenage insecurities will ease up after graduation.

Descendents Bonus Fat 12″

Not only do you get the DESCENDENTS’ classic Fat EP on this one, but also the two songs from their rare Ride the Wild 45 and an additional compilation track. This is hard-edged SoCal funnypunk at its best, and a welcome return to vinyl. May be the band’s best record.

Descendents I Don’t Want to Grow Up LP

A superb second LP from the DESCENDENTS. The first thing that hits you is its schizophrenic character—side one presents more of their catchy garage punk with satirical and scatological themes (some of which are overtly sexist), whereas side two highlights a newer sound that combines irresistible pop or countrified melodies, heavy punk guitars, and sensitive, reflective lyrics. I actually prefer the latter (especially “Silly Girl” and “Good Good Things”), which seem to result from Bill Stevenson’s (ex-BLACK FLAG) influence.

Hüsker Dü In a Free Land EP

This band is one of the hottest, most awesome bands to ever walk onto a stage. They are not to be missed. Their first single was weak, and their LP was hard to make out, but this new single comes closest to capturing their raw, grating, high-speed velocity. Great!

Minutemen The Politics of Time LP

Although dodgy sound quality mars some of the tracks on the MINUTEMEN’s latest opus, this retrospective album offers a variety of unreleased studio and live compositions (including gems like “I Shook Hands” and “Base King”). Not all of the songs here exploit this band’s unique punk-funk stylings, but their fans will find interesting moments among these twenty-seven tracks.

Nip Drivers Destroy Whitey 12″

Despite some rather questionable lyric overtones, there’s no question that this 9-track EP by the NIP DRIVERS presents extremely catchy, high-velocity bursts of punk rock. “Dog and a Cow” and their theme song are especially strong thrash-style tunes, so if you like accessible hardcore with dumb/funny lyrics, you’ll find this release delightful.

Phantom Opera Zoo 12″

This band is one of the new “eclectic” post-punk outfits that seem to be pouring out of SoCal. They mix punk power and intensity with other genres, borrowing from hard rock, funk, etc. This one works better than many I’ve heard, though I’d like to see more of these bands harken back to early punk’s appreciation of economy in length of tunes.

Phantom Opera / Secret Hate A Cut Above split cassette

Here, we have coupled the previously available PHANTOM OPERA EP, a group that rose from the break-up of the criminally underrated SECRET HATE, whose EP is also featured here. Both bands combined heavy riffing punk with everything they could get their hands on, from metal to surf. Too cool.

Slovenly Even So 12″

More geeks from San Pedro! Yeah! At first, their pop guitars make them sound as though they’d like to get on MTV, land a big recording contract, or imitate insipid Euro-pop bands. But you’ll soon see that this is just another bunch of self-indulgent weirdos (including Rob Holzman of SACCHARINE TRUST) playing a mixture of pop, post-punk, and jazz, with a slight dash of psychedelia and occasional keyboards and saxes. If you like TRAGIC MULATTO, you’ll love Slovenly.

Slovenly Even So 12″

It’s unfair to compare a very original band to another just to help explain their sound. But I will. A little like the MINUTEMEN, but fuller and less manic; a little like the FALL, too. The lyrics are offbeat and are used more for sound/mood than message. Most of them used to be a band called TOXIC SHOCK.

Slovenly After the Original Style LP

Count the influences: WIRE, MEKONS, the FALL, JOHN CAGE, MINUTEMEN, TALKING HEADS, JOY DIVISION, even LEONARD COHEN. But what makes this record so much better than their earlier EP is that the group finally has the ability to digest their influences and discard ideas to create their own exclusive sound. At times the music is tense and obsessed, while other times it’s loose and reflective. This is a great step forward for this band.