Review: Westside Daredevils – Twilight Children

Originally published in Punk Planet September/October 2006 The Knoxville quintet follows up 2002’s All Things Small Produce A Spark with a handful of studio-nurtured ditties that pop-pop-pop! In case your mood’s not elevated instantly by perky guitars or Ben Folds Five-style vocal melodies, the group throws in sleigh bells and hand-claps for good measure. Elsewhere,…

Review: Old Growth – S/T

Originally published in Punk Planet September/October 2006 Boilerplate pop-punk from a trio that hits the right poses but sometimes ambles half-hearted through the proceedings. Tracks occasionally hint at a bluesy undercurrent or hidden wells of melancholy but most the 11-song outing is safe with a capital S, circling around fuzzy guitars and the usual head-bopping…

Review: Numbers/Adult. – Numbers + Adult. = This Seven Inch

Originally published in Punk Planet September/October 2006 Numbers steals the show on this rumbling little two-song battle of the bands, where the weapons of choice appear to be tinny dance rhythms, shrieked vocals, electronic beeps and Moog whirring. Pro: Numbers’ temper-tantrum “Nothing matters/ but what I want” refrains. Con: The shrill close to Adult.’s “Monologue,”…

Review: The Sems – Any Day Ago

Originally published in Punk Planet September/October 2006 Yes, the sophomore effort from this one-man studio project quickly defines itself with an enveloping succession of fragile, synth-driven pop soundscapes. But it’s not until the sixth of the disc’s 14 tracks — the intoxicating “The Last Noise” — that it starts pacing down roads toward a higher…

Review: Joan of Arc – “Eventually, All At Once”

The Chicago-area collective/Tim Kinsella pseudo-solo experiment offers up 10 tracks of textured folk ballads, knotted full-band fare and laid-back, jangly post-something vaguely in line with June of 44’s Anahata. The group’s press material and its label’s website go out of their way to stress the record, all 36 minutes of it, took months to write…

Review: Final Fantasy – “He Poos Clouds”

Bizarre, bizarre, bizarre. Chamber music constructed around D&D’s eight schools of magic may not seem like an ideal premise for a record but Owen Pallett pulls it off and he does it with astonishing grace and seeming ease. Channeling Van Dyke Parks as readily as Stephen Prina or Xiu Xiu, Pallett builds relatively short chamber…

Reviewer Spotlight: The Jesus Lizard – Liar

Originally published in Punk Planet September/October 2006 The Jesus Lizard’s third full-length, released some 14 years ago, simply is without rival. A pummeling, explosive record, it’s one of those rare discs that connects those who’ve discovered it. We all remember the blood-curdling thrill of being ripped out of our seats by the jackhammer rumble of…

Review: Venice Is Sinking/What We Do Is Secret – S/T

Originally published in Punk Planet July/August 2006 Jangly guitars and cooed female vocals lead the way in this five-song split between a pair of Georgia-based quintets. Venice Is Sinking tries to rise above the tide of like-minded guitar-driven pop outfits with swelling, vaguely Celtic strings and an oddly menacing instrumental, but the best track may…

Review: Haram – S/T

On first blush, this quartet’s 11-song full-length debut may feel like a fuzzy mimeograph of Fugazi shortly before the century turned. But, after two or three listens, the group’s textured, clattering guitars and half-shouted verses prove to be their own elixir. The record’s middle section — particularly the plodding “Deal,” the buzzsaw-blitz of “Disease” and…

Review: Press The Button – The Button: For Dummies

Originally published in Punk Planet July/August 2006 Simply put, a mess of found-sound collages that clearly reflect the inspiration of their origins — namely, the bleary-eyed experimentalism of late-night radio. On the disc’s four tracks, a series of remastered MP3s that clock in near 60 minutes, boilerplate jazz-swing soundscapes and piano solos intersect with antiquated…