Would you believe a few more punk record reviews?A few more recent punk 7"s to have crossed my path....
LOOK BACK AND LAUGH "Street Terrorism" EP
Five songs of rather tedious flailing about from this Northern California thrash band, playing it fast and direct but ultimately coming up with little that sticks to the ribs. Reminding me of crucial outfits like Talk Is Poison, Deathreat and Life's Blood, this certainly should work as at least a competent genre exercise, but the similarities are all in the concept, and the execution unfortunately fails to realize the strength of the style. The guitars have a nice, raw sound and sometimes indulge in slightly more interesting melodicism, but they're nowhere near as overwhelming as they need to be for this style, and the vocals are simply terrible, sounding less angry than just forced. Above all, the record lacks any real spark, any tangible dynamics, memorable hooks or particularly impressive displays of power that might cause one to remember it twenty minutes after listening. By no means a truly bad record, just generic and forgettable. (Deranged; www.derangedrecords.com)
THE PETS "Sticky Situations" b/w "Never Ask For Help" 45
There are inarguably some bad band names represented in this post, but these Oakland cats have to take the cake for worst of the bunch...."The Pets"??? Christ, who won that particular bet? Luckily, the record is a hit despite the distressing self-handicap imposed by their inexplicable choice of moniker. A-side's a quick, punchy blast of pure American punk rock circa 1977 (similar to what Time Flys have been doing but referencing the point a few minutes later when people realized that yes, in fact, you DO need short hair to be punk), fast, simple and catchy as hell, while the flip is even better, a driving mid-tempo stomp that sounds like a primitive early Dictators track (not least of all due to the heavy Handsome Dickisms), or maybe something the Foreign Objects or Gizmos would've coughed up. This band is destined to record a great song about professional wrestling, I can just feel it. (Sweet Rot; firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE VICIOUS "Obsessive" EP
Picked up this band's much-hyped first single last year and really didn't dig it at all-- very much in the vein of such current and recent fellow Scandinavian '77/'82 punk/hardcore retro acts as Gorilla Angreb, Regulations, Young Wasteners and Knugen Faller, but nowhere near as good as the standard consistently being set by the aforementioned, and somehow seeming a little less genuine, a little more contrived-- so I didn't bother with the LP. As with the LBAL EP reviewed above, I picked this one up primarily on the basis of strong reviews, here promising a real improvement over the debut, and that's definitely the case. Predictably reliant on now-stock Scandi influences, ie early West Coast American bands like Adolescents, Dead Kennedys, CH3, TSOL and the Dangerhouse roster, but even more slavishly than usual-- I had to return the needle to the beginning of the fourth song several times before giving up on identifying the no doubt totally obvious riff that it steals, and in the process realized that the riff fading out from the end of the third song is similarly borrowed-- although I'm once again unable to pinpoint exactly where I've heard it before! Anyways, original or not, all the elements of melodic California punk circa '78-'81 are here, from the clear, undistorted guitars and pummeling rhythm section to the snotty vocals and ultra-catchy, hook-laiden songs, and that's far more important to me than a little bit of unveiled inspiration from the right sources. Please note: it's becoming increasingly clear that this label can do no wrong. (Feral Ward; www.feralward.com)