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Spider Cunts – Stuck Up -N- Mean

May 23, 2012 4 comments

Beer City Records, 2000

I couldn’t resist.  Sifting through yet another dollar bin I came across a band name that consisted of two words I thought I would never see together.  Spider Cunts.  Did the group members sit around one day and think about how spiders had sex, and then thought well, what about spider reproductive organs?  Let’s name ourselves after one of those?  No idea.  Since the four ladies of the band looked content (not angry, not vengeful) on the back cover photo I figured they were either holding something back or just wanted to get my attention with their band name (er, success!).  What amazed me after buying the disc was that when I looked the group up, they didn’t have a single review on allmusic.com or rateyourmusic.com.  I deemed that a travesty, so these next few paragraphs needed to be written.

Spider Cunts don’t get cute with the type of music they play, for a Beer City band should sound like they’re in-your-face rock and roll and, indeed, they are.  With songs like “Punch You in the Neck!” and “60 Stitches in 6 Weeks”, it’s immediately apparent this ain’t no pop band.  The first track of “Rage” is pretty much what the rest of the album sounds like with its chugging bass and simply chorded guitar.  As the song picks up into a sort of punk/hardcore hybrid, vocalist Amyl Nitrate shouts out about how angry she is.  Not she needed to explain herself, for the following songs of “Hey!” and “Scream 4” pretty much sound the same way both musically and lyrically.  You get the message about Spider Cunts immediately.

Unfortunately, even the songs that have more engaging (re: amusing) lyrics don’t separate themselves from the angrier songs.  “7 A.M. Love Affair”, a tune about two drunk people skipping the whole dating phase, is just more shouting.  “Brooklyn Lager” is the band’s tribute to their favorite brew, which is probably a better choice to screech about than Corona with lime or Stella Artois.  Of course, besides the lyrics the song sounds just like “Closed Deli Breakup”, “Boys With Morals 2000” and “Liquor, Heavy N Hard”.  In fact, if one stripped the vocals from every track I bet at least half of the songs are composed the exact same way.  Unfortunately there’s just nothing to distinguish each song from each other as they all mostly conclude in less than two minutes and the entire thing shoves you out the door in less than thirty minutes.  For a debut record I suppose such urgency to just get it all recorded without a nod towards variety is somewhat understandable given a new band’s excitement.  But given that one song is enough of an idea of how the whole record sounds, there’s really not much of a need to spin the whole thing through that often.

Spider Cunts can be heard on Last.fm, sure, but the live video is what you should see.

As excited as I was to see an all girl band named Spider Cunts, I just can’t say that this album lived up to my hopes of rock ‘n roll brilliance.  I guess I wished too hard for hooks and repeat spins, when all it really sounds like to me is a clumsily organized hardcore effort.  Perhaps if I had seen them live I’d appreciate their choice of music more, because I imagine the animated set would have made the band more impressive than the sound off of this disc.  As it stands, it comes across as boring regardless of some of the slick song titles.

Regardless of what I think of their music these days,Spider Cunts certainly could have been bigger during the early nineties when Hole, Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill and other grrrlish bands were popular.  But they came out in 2000, so nearly a decade after the movement was in its prime Spider Cunts had a go of it to see if anything was left.  As it turns out, they only put out one record … so I guess that answers that about the grrl movement of 2000.  By the way, looking further into the liner notes apparently Amyl Nitrate got knifed in the face by some guy named Thomas “Ducky” French and he was on the run.  It may be twelve years on, but I hope they got that Ducky guy.  He probably turned himself in eventually, for having a group named Spider Cunts after you likely isn’t good for your health now or later.

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Hammerhead – Into the Vortex

July 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Amphetamine Records, 1994

Apparently there are eight bands out there that have been named ‘Hammerhead’, though I’m sure only one of them released records that had killer retro sci fi covers.  The group’s photos on the insider cover make them look rather grim in what appear to be futuristic spaceman uniforms, yet that sullen look combined with the festive cover art made the record a bit of a mystery.  The band’s name does look sort of surfish, but the way that astronaut guy is running away from it I had a feeling these guys might be loud.  Then again, astronaut guy could hate country music and that’s why he looks so fearful.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, I had no idea what this was going to sound like.

It turns out that Hammerhead sounds like the typical rough around the edges hard rock band, though unlike the groups that tend to smash it out all the time, Hammerhead have enough creativity to make the music a little more interesting.  “Swallow” is an introductory track that lays out the noise and shouting, but it’s ultimately not a strong tune.  It’s when “The Starline Locomotive” comes on where Hammerhead begin to show what they can do.  It has a menacing bass intro by Apollo Liftoff (aka Paul Erickson) before Interloper’s (aka Paul Sanders) guitar wavers in.  The calm build up to a heightened conclusion show that Hammerhead aren’t in any hurry to get a song over with and prefer to draw the listener in to their sometimes melodic noise.

Other songs that stand out for me is the droning yet angry “All This Is Yours”.  The lyrics sounds as if the author is infatuated with a female celebrity from an old magazine, which I guess is understandable if it’s all about Farrah Fawcett or Cheryl Tiegs, right?  “Brest” is one of the more aggressive songs that has an utterly merciless showing from the drummer Isolation DH-9 (aka Jeff Mooridian Jr).  The heavy instrumental “Galaxy 66” is a nice break from the raspy vocals, but it merely is a setup song for the long “Journey to the Center of Tetnus 4”.  Unfortunately, “Journey” is seven minutes of solid hard rock with poor wordless vocals.  Regardless, it’s a pretty good send off for a decent rock record.

Go listen to a few tunes from Hammerhead at their Last.fm page.

I’ve heard a lot of hardcore bands over the years and many of them sound very similar as to go forgotten.  Even though Hammerhead contain a lot of qualities of those dime a dozen artists, their periodic forays in tempo variation, as well as their cover art, makes them stand out a little more.  Hammerhead put out one more record after this one before calling it quits, but it apparently was one of their better ones.  If you like what you hear from this record, or wish to find some older hardcore albums to mix up the modern playlist with, go pick up “Duh, the Big City” if you can find it.

Warship – Supply and Depend

July 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Vagrant Records, 2008

There is nothing to comment about that album cover; it is epically awesome.  It’s got that sweet, swirling metal font for the band name, a 1776-like album title ribbon, and the excellently artful battleship in the middle.  Didn’t care what they sounded like… well, sorta already knew thanks to it being a Vagrant release.  This is the sort of album cover that one wishes to blow up to poster size and just stick it somewhere prominent.  If anyone cares, some guy named Brad Bacon created it.  Nice one.  Oh, onto the music…

Warship oscillate between heavy metal and hardcore throughout the album, which succeeds in making something that could easily fall into monotony something more enjoyably diverse.  Well, diverse for loud, heavy rock that is.  “Toil” is a typical track that involves a lot of screaming by Francis Mark and plenty of noisy help from Rob Lauritsen.  As the only two guys in the band, they both perform double duty on the critical instruments for this recording.

“Profit Over People” jacks the speed and intensity even higher, which is a level returned to often in songs like “We’ve Never Been Equal” and “Empty Vessel”.   Although Warship is often trying to maximize their presence in the listener’s air space, they do an excellent job changing tempos from song to song.  Just as “Profit Over People” seems to leave an impression that Warship will be high intensity all of the time, “Wounded Paw” provides a nice mid-tempo breather that shifts quickly back and forth from slow to fast.  Also, even though “Empty Vessel” and “The Waiting List” pounce and pulverize, the group possibly lays on their best song “Indoors” to cool off a bit into conclusion.   After a track list full of songs that seem to accuse someone of neglect and/or carelessness, the tone of “Indoors” is one of exhaustion.  Tell me about it.

Bludgeon your musical senses at Warship’s MySpace page for a few tunes.

Warship are what they are, and that is oppressive force.  If hardcore or metal are your thing then certainly go and find this record if you can.  It seems that this may be a one and done record, for the two members of the band have since carried on with other projects.  Since it was recorded not long ago, I imagine there is still a chance for the two to get back together and produce more of the heavy stuff together.  Their biggest challenge, however, is to somehow top that album cover.  I don’t think it’s possible.

Some Girls – Heaven’s Pregnant Teens

April 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Epitaph Records, 2006

Epitaph is nothing if not consistent.  This had to be a punk record and, given its dark color scheme and songs like “Dead in a Web” and “Bone Metal”, it was likely going to be a hard one.  For a cheap price any punk record is worth a listen.  Unfortunately, like most modern punk records, it likely wasn’t going to be rewarding in the long term.   I took a chance.

Oh man, what a mess.  It’s a typical thrash and bash affair with Some Girls with lots of yelling and jolting twists and turns.  It’s interesting that the band consists of guys who have some experience in this type of music (the Locust, Give Up the Ghost, etc).  However, that doesn’t mean they are any better than a hyperactive chimpanzee with pots.  Since the record is so short, here’s an equally hurried overview of this recording that sounds like an audio explosion.

At an epic two minutes, “Beautiful Rune” probably comes across as the most ‘enjoyable’ of all the tracks.  The band spends most of the time playing one riff while the drums numbly crash about in the background.  Vocals and lyrics are a complete afterthought given that it just consists of a guy scratching out gutteral sounds with minimal care towards clarity.  “Hot Piss” is a hot mess, like when a brick hits you in the face.  Not fun.

“Dead in a Web” actually has a pretty good power riff, but then turns out to be mimicked shortly thereafter by “Warm Milk”.  I guess thrash bands only have so much diversity.  “Ex Nuns/Dead Dogs” is nearly two minutes long, with about half of it comprising of a single chord repeated over and over.  That must have been “Ex Nuns”.  The ravaging “Dead Dogs” part must be where I’m supposed to forget that “Ex Nuns” completely blew.

“Totally Pregnant Teens” is just like … ah hell, just like the rest of the record.  “Bone Metal” provides the only moment of peace with a tone that sounds like a flat line (the sound of my interest level to this point?).  Inevitably, the band shows up at the end and throws a TV.  “Marry Mortuary” is a horror show theme, “Religion II” is a PiL cover that does not make me wish to hear the prequel from these guys, and though “Skull’s Old Girlfriends” wins the song title award, the bludgeoning punk song makes me feel sympathy for Skull given that his old girlfriends sound like loud, nagging hags.

Then there’s the nine minute “Deathface”.  C’mon, you think that I want to hear nine minutes of this stuff?  I decided to stick with two and call it a night.

Some Girls can be looked into at their website and MySpace.  Bring the earplugs.

The song that epitomizes what the band may say to any listener is “You’ll Be Happier With Lower Standards”.  Some Girls, you are right.  I should probably come down a few steps from my little hill of taste.  As it goes with music, there is certainly a market for these type of tunes for those interested in sheer volume of noise as well as aficionados of the mosh pit.  Unfortunately for fans, Some Girls called it quits back in 2007 … hmm, maybe “Deathface” was their “Long and Winding Road”.

For me, this whole album just makes me scratch my head.  What makes me laugh is that the liner notes include lyrics.  Good joke, guys.

Wolverine Brass – Wicked Witch

April 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Auxiliary Records, 2006

I suppose with a dollar one can find a reason to buy anything.  This particular record stood out not just because its cover art was pleasantly simple with brown hues, but also that they included the word ‘wolverine’ in their band name.  I had never heard of them and their song titles didn’t give me much of a clue what they sounded like, so I considered this a shot in the dark type of purchase.  Okay, yes, it had high risk for tossability, but so do half of my random pickups.

A group of four guys in the Kentucky area formed Wolverine Brass to make loud, pain-ridden music.  Or at least, I think it’s pain-based.  I couldn’t really tell because the duo of Billy Bisig and Stephen George trade off unintelligible vocals from song to song, sobased on their strong, scratchy tones I assume these guys are going through emotional issues.  Some songs just sound awful with this approach, like “Leviathan” and “Percolator”.  The former just gets too carried away with divergent sound and poor vocals whereas the latter not only is too slow at the beginning of the record but is lacking in a spark of interest.

Where the band actually excels are heavy-edged instrumentals, for “Wolverines of Ambient” is an excellent tune that harnesses the hardcore element while setting a mood.  It is apparent with this tune alone that these guys can play, even if they can’t sing.  “Outdated and Overrated” starts off as if it will be a debacle, but the band rebounds during the middle with a chorus that trickily combines raw volume with catchy riffs.  The third tune that I found to be promising is “Prayer”, which could actually be considered the prettiest hard rocker of the entire bunch.  This is not only due to the heavy and light dual guitar work on the chorus, but also to the fact that the vocalist decides to sing-speak the song at a middle tone.  I know this goes against their in-your-face mission, but the vocals sound much better when they’re not trying so hard to be anguished or vulnerable.  Apart from the instrumental, this is likely the best tune on the short record.

Check them out on MySpace if you want to have a listen:  Wolverine Brass

I have mixed feelings about this record.  This is due to the fact that I believe that half of it is noisy, confused junk whereas the other half has some good potential.  Since I don’t tend to listen to the screamy loud stuff all that often, I propose that those who enjoy a little more chaos in their rock to give this record a listen if they can find it.  Unfortunately, anyone who becomes a sudden fan of this group will be sorely disappointed that they were one and done with this record before moving on.  Reading some information from their MySpace page tells me that they have all been prone to hop around from band to band, so perhaps we will see these guys separately somewhere else soon.

Categories: TheRest Tags: , , ,

Rival Schools – United By Fate

March 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Island Records, 2001

The bright green sliver of album art that shone amidst the cracked cases and nineties soundtracks gave me something to finally aim for with my hand as I browsed a difficult dollar bin the other day.  The design of the disc is really striking, even if it is in a shade of green that normally causes one to feel rather relaxed.  I like the circle with the erratically spaced horizontal lines the most, but it’s the duo that I can’t figure out.  Are they running or getting ready to sit cross-legged?  Their arms also look rather flimsy, so I have no idea really on what’s going on.  However, I did notice that the album was an advance CD all the way from 2001, so for this to be found nine years later on the cheap must have meant that someone held onto it for awhile for a reason.  Well, I took it upon myself (and my quarters) to find out that reason.

The marketers of the CD wanted to tell me why I made the right decision nearly a decade later.  Since this is an advance CD, the inside the cover of the album is a long script about why this record is the greatest thing ever released.  It helps that the group contains one of the more prominent American hardcore musicians in Walter Schreifels from Gorilla Biscuits and Quicksand, which the marketers gushingly elaborates on.  Cache Tolman is also a member, which gives the group a little more cred since he was in CIV and has worked with the Gavin Rossdale.  Finally, drummer Sammy Siegler was all over the place with Glassjaw, Youth of Today, and quite a few others.  Does this excite you?  It was supposed to.  Since the meeting of all of these members constitutes as “an event” in hardcore music history, I began to feel inferior to the magnitude of awesomeness that was apparently contained within the thirteen tracks.

Needless to say I was ready to tear into this record, but it turns out it’s just a regular old hard rock kind of thing that is essentially passable.  The vocals of Schreifels definitely sound like they’ve been through a few cheese graters/hardcore bands, but it is a fitting sound for the type of music that the group blasts through.  “Travel By Telephone” is the introduction to the group and it comes across more as an emotional hard rock song that one has heard many times before but, of course, can’t think of which bands have already done it.  It’s a pretty good song, but it is commonplace.  Quicker and rawer songs like “High Acetate” is more like it thanks to the volume of the guitars and the immediacy in Schreifels voice.  Unfortunately, the breakneck speed is short-lived as they immediately sink into a slower, emotional track entitled “Undercovers On” that, of course, has the predictable emotional build.  Can you believe this thing goes five and half minutes?  It reminded me a little bit of Sunny Day Real Estate … which if you’ve heard enough SDRE beyond “Diary”, you’ve definitely heard more than enough of that pleading rock stuff already.  The band does pick it up to its usual place for the rest of the record with some decent tunes like “The Switch” and “My Echo”, but nothing really stood out for me.  If a band is going to be “an event” I would have figured I’d have noticed.

You can find a few music clips from their MySpace page or Last.fm.

I can see why people were excited for this disc back in 2001 and I can’t blame the marketer for trying to get people to believe that this was a big deal. However, what it really ended up being was a foray into something more accessible by musicians who aren’t used to doing such music. It was room temperature hard rock and not much more. It still had some appeal to a few crowds of listeners, so it was a bit surprising to find out that the band only put out one record before going off to their respective groups. Apparently the band is putting out a reunion album soon, so if you like what you hear maybe you’ll look forward to it. After nine years apart, hopefully it sounds better than what they tried before.