Author: Steve Richardson

The Diemakers
Detroit Recordings
Street: 02.26
The Diemakers = George Thorogood + The White Stripes

I’ve been fond of plenty of albums where the drums consistently sound a bit off and, as a long time Ramones fan, repetitive lyrics don’t bother me either. It wouldn’t be fair to blame the difficulty I had sitting through the six songs of Detroit Recordings on the drums or lyrics. Listening back to the first Black Keys–style note of the album or the fast-paced solo in “Gotta Go,” the guitar work impresses me, despite a tone sounding straight from the wiry veins of a computer chip. The overly masculine vocals, straining for melody, may be the only blamable aspect to of my struggle with Detroit Recordings. –Steve Richardson


Human Eye

4: Into Unknown

Goner Records

Street: 03.28

Human Eye = New York Dolls + No Age + Heat Dust

I’ve been into fuzz for a while now, but the tone of the guitar’s thick, audible padding, scattered throughout 4: Into Unknown, scratch deep—enough to trigger inner-ear ASMR tingles. Throughout the album and especially in “Surface of Pluto,” the wah of the guitar solos sound like they came straight from The Stooges’ Fun House. The Stooges even seem to influence the steady punch of piano keys in the background. When the wah backs off, bubbles and laser beams shoot across the back of my head (I recommend stereo headphones) and Screaming Females guitar comes to mind. On first listen, I thought the first few bars of “Alligator Dance” were a cover of Johnny Thunders’ “Personality Crisis,” although vocally, the song sounds nothing like Thunders. The tribal beat behind slow, wondering guitar of “Into Unknown” promises to pick things back up. Instead the album ends and I restart it. –Steve Richardson

Genre Zero/Bombs for the Bored

Get Dressed, Do Nothing

Empty Set Records

Street: 05.10

Genre Zero/ Bombs for the Bored = Arcade Fire + Boots to the Moon

Get Dressed, Do Nothing opens with a steady bass line that might continue through the whole track. Next, a violin comes in with the first taste of a continuing melody—which doesn’t annoy me to the extent of Yellowcard’s violin, but also doesn’t integrate as well as Loom’s violin tracks. After all of the instruments come in, the violin fades to the back. The dual male vocals (one low and steady, the other emotional and cracking) of the chorus work well and in opposition. Both sides of this split 7” sound busy—more so on the B-side, with a remix/dub by Bombs for the Bored. While the dub has its moments, as dubs tend to do, I prefer the original cut. The recording sounds thin and, as much as the lo-fi lover in me hates saying it, it could use more production. But the songs intrigue me enough to look past that. –Steve Richardson

Pentagraham Crackers
Live! From the Palace of Payne
Chthonic Records
Street: 05.31
Pentagraham Crackers = Dan Sartain + The Mr. T Experience
The fluid tempo and mood in Live! From the Palace of Payne flow from upbeat in one track, to depressive and longing in another. The genre seems fluid, too, and pinning it down may only last till the end of a riff. Pentagraham Crackers pull mostly from twangy blues and punk while singing with a cracking drawl to form a genre of unclassifiable indie rock, framed with continuous, bending guitar leads—whether to calm me down or to engross me in the motion of the beat the way “The Afterlife” does. The fourth track, “Noose For a Halo,” steps the tempo up after the slow “Danger Blues,” and adds head-bounciness with catchy vocals that sound very close to Will Sartain in the early days of Future of the Ghost—not that there’s anything wrong with that. –Steve Richardson

Jonny Manak and the Depressives

I Am Not A Bum… I’m A Jerk

Reach Around Records

Street: 10.09.12

Johnny Manak and the Depressives = The Von Bondies + The Dead Boys + The Ventures

Before the first track of I Am Not A Bum… I’m A Jerk ended, I held the vinyl’s cover next to the DVD case of Steve Martin’s The Jerk to confirm their visual likeness. Jonny Manak clad in bathrobe and boxers (pants around his ankles) holding all he needs was confirmation enough, but even the font of “Jerk” was lifted straight from the movie’s cover. I found the artwork too kitschy, but the movie references within the songs made them no less catchy. Even without seeing The Jerk, the crude, special meaning in the song “Special Purpose” could get a giggle when Jonny Manak howls “My special purpose, gonna pull it out and show it to you.” The album has the feel of early Steve Martin-era punk, but tracks like “Link” add a tasteful dose of surf—reminding me of Johnny Thunders’ “Pipeline”. –Steve Richardson

What Moon Things
Hot Grits Records
Street: 06.03
What Moon Things = Moneen + Desaparecidos + Evangelicals
With a sound perfect for supporting Saves The Day, What Moon Things may have come a little late for me. It’s not that they can’t pull the emo thing off—the songs get stuck in my head with a wave of melancholy like dark, Northwestern cloud cover. The sun (or maybe a more uptempo, rage filled metaphor) begins to shine through for me with the third track, “Doesn’t Make Much Sense.” The song opens with a muddy drumbeat, heavy bass and thin vocals, creating a moshy mood. Then, halfway through, the song slows down, returning to the same state of depression that Conor Oberst evokes so well. –Steve Richardson


Pop. 1280
Imps of Perversion
Sacred Bones
Street: 08.06
Pop. 1280 = Mayyors + Ex Models + Mission of Burma
The deceptive opening guitar chord of Imps of Perversion hints at another surf album, with its thin echo lingering as a tribal beat backs the chord’s decay. The crunchy bass, synchronized with simple double-time picking on the guitar, cuts in and knocks the surf sound off its board within seconds. The drums hang around the bonfire drumcircle throughout the album, while playing staggered beats like a 45 of The Locust played at 33 rpm. Without much change in rhythm, the use of robotic vocal effects and backing power-drill sounds distinguish “Population Control” from any other track. The vocals come half-spoken like Jello Biafra for the entirety of Imps of Perversion, but really emerge in the verses of “Nailhouse” through lines like, “They blow ‘em up with land mines.” It’s refreshing to avoid the flesh-searing positivity of the beach sun, even with the landmines. ­–Steve Richardson

Midnight Oil

Essential Oils

Sony Music

Street: 04.30

Midnight Oil = Richard Hell and the Voidoids + The Saints + Thompson Twins

Similar to The Essential Clash, although with better pun usage, Essential Oils’ double-disc-load takes you on a tour spanning an entire Midnight Oil lifetime—from second-wave punk through poppy new wave. Disc 1 begins with “Run By Night” and the sound of mildly distorted guitar accompanied by wooden sticks racing to pound 16th notes from the metal hi-hats. By the end, the first disc echoed, electronic thumps replace the drums and synth overpowers the guitar. Slide in Disc 2 and the familiar bass line of “Beds Are Burning” will remind you why Midnight Oil sounded familiar—the feeling may be lost by Track 18. A friend once told me he didn’t like anthologies because you miss out on so many songs. Due to the inclusion of “Beds Are Burning,” I don’t feel I missed anything. –Steve Richardson

Naomi Punk

Television Man

Captured Tracks

Street: 08.05

Naomi Punk = Slow Animal + Nü Sensae + Weed

If you can find a way to play Television Man with the same relative speed increase you get when you change from 33 to 45 rpm, but without the pitch distortion, you might hear a pretty kick-ass punk album. Naomi Punk know how to write songs, and they’ve found the right voice for their sound. They even know how to incorporate ancient electronic tom beats, as their instrumental “Plastic World No. 6”—which would fit in a high-energy Twin Peaks scene—proves. The whole album just feels a little sluggish to me, though. Maybe I just need to lay off the caffeine. –Steve Richardson
Captured Tracks
Street: 09.03
Holograms = Iceage + The Vicious + Metz
Forever uses the upbeat power of nearly unbroken speed to avoid any clashes with boredom while finding identity through unique vocals. The vocals’ flavor lies where the over-masculine punk chants of Criminal Damage meet the melodic cries of The Cure. The second track, “Flesh and Bone,” drops the drums but not the speed for a phased guitar and vocal intro that breaks into one of the album’s catchiest choruses. “Attestupa” stands above the other tracks due to the synth in its chorus—a common tone scattered through Forever—that complements the repeated line, “I’m so tired,” with ear-tingling smoothness. –Steve Richardson