"You Hate Our Veterans, Your Label Is Garbage": Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 52
Obligatory Disclaimer: Record reviews are a tricky business. It's one thing to enjoy music, but to, like, pick out what you like about it? That being said, if I review your thing and I didn't like something, don't feel too bad. My opinion doesn't matter all that much.
Brainwashed California - Demo - Blow Blood Records - 7 songs - Cassette, download
For those unfamiliar, Brainwashed California is a spinoff group of Brainwashed Youth that features Mr. California. You probably figured that out from the name. The first four tunes are modern updates on Brainwashed Youth songs, including classic hits "I Don't Really Like You" and "Blow Up This Place," which prove to be just as timeless now as they were whenever. Terry "Mr. Terrible" California adds exactly what you'd expect to the mix with thrilling results. Once we get to the new stuff, "Have You Seen My Gnashers?" is mostly a Mr. California song heavy on keyboard and drum machine, given that the only guitar was his two or three note guitar solo. Great call-and-response vocals from Paul E. Wog and newcomer Meggie Mohawk on this one. If you're as sick of Christmas music as I am, let "Brainwashed Xmas" speak to you. Aside from the group's wishes for you to have a "dodgy New Year," there's also a barely-related interlude from Terrence "The California" that's a must-hear for fans of his work. On the closing track, "Civilized People," Jayson from Magic City provides some synth noise over what's arguably the most punk of the new songs. The whole thing is stupid, vulgar, and in several places not even in tune. What I'm getting at is that it's pretty good. I will say that nothing could ever live up to the first time I saw this group live (also their first performance with Meggie Mohawk), mostly because of their stage show. As one member of the audience put it, "my god, these lights!" So go see them live. 4/5
(blowbloodrecords.bigcartel.com for the tape, blowbloodrecords.bandcamp.com to download)
Noah Depew - Martian Torture Beat - Objectively Good Records & Tapes - 2 songs - Cassette, download
This is really not the kind of thing I ordinarily review or even listen to, but here we are. Side A, or "Martian Side," does actually sound martian, or spacey at least. Maybe like the sounds of rayguns and spaceships or something. I don't really know anything about electronic music, so I can't really tell you anything other than that it is in fact electronic music. I wouldn't call it noise exactly, but I also don't really think you could dance to it. But what do I know? The creator of this gave me some background info: "It's not rock 'n' roll." There are several "movements," of sorts. Some parts are somewhat peaceful, others chaotic, others melancholic. One friend who was hanging around while I listened to this requested that I turn it off, as it was creeping them out. Take that as you will. "Torture Side" is kinda the same thing but performed live, I believe at Maple Lanes. It has me reconsidering not thinking of Side A as noise, as it's similar, but Side B is…noisier. I believe I was told that this was performed during an indie rock show, which is probably the perfect place for it. The end of the tape has what was described to me as "edgy and terrible" samples, some of which I cared not to listen to, followed by another short synth noise bit. I really don't know what to say about this, if I'm being honest. If you're into electronic music or noise or whatever, hey, check it out. Or don't. Or do?
The Scuzzballs - The Scuzzballs - self-released - 5 songs - Cassette, download
I guess this band is pretty new because I didn't hear about them until relatively recently. Or I'm just clueless, which is also extremely possible. The Scuzzballs play reverb-heavy indie rock– some of it might fit in with the kind of thing that gets called "neo-surf" or whatever, but I have no idea. I wanna say it reminds me of Wavves, but also I'm really not totally familiar with Wavves except for "No Life For Me," and you can probably imagine that I didn't buy that record because of Wavves. Did these guys open for Wavves? Sure, let's run with that. I think there are some other effects going besides the reverb at points, but I didn't feel like calling up my pedal guy to have him listen and tell me. The standout track for me here is "Mosquito," which has a good melody, some sorta off-key harmonies, and a chord progression that reminds me of some Nirvana song. Definitely a solid tune. The closing track "Jicky" isn't bad either: kinda more uptempo with some nasally vocals and a decent guitar solo. Don't know what the title is about; my extremely limited research told me that Jicky is a type of perfume. Or maybe they're just Stephen Malkmus fans. There's room for improvement, but it's their debut release and they're doing alright, so there you go. 3.5/5
Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send it directly to Observer headquarters: The Lakewood Observer, c/o Buzz Kompier, 14900 Detroit Avenue, Suite 205, Lakewood, OH 44107.