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ISSUE 169-170 RECORDING REVIEWS
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Issue 152-153_ Records that Escaped Reviewing

For almost 28 years we here at The Trouble With Normal have been interested in hearing some of the music that you have been making and recording. Feel free to send your vinyl, CDs or tapes ("for sale" only or at least take the effort to make a cover for them. This goes for CD-Rs also.) to our cramped but we call it home P.O. Box so we can possibly review it. If your release is only available as a download send us a link and we'll check it out as well (as with CDRs and tapes please make a cover for it). It may take us a while to get to them (we do have obligations in our lives not related to this zine) but we will review them in time and guarantee an honest review Until the next issue, here are some recordings that just might interest you. Boone

ALICE BAG - Sister Dynamite LP
Part of the isolation and quarantine that makes people stir crazy is the feeling that everything is the same and the not knowing when the end will be in sight so when this album was coming out I knew I had to listen. On her third solo album Alice Bag and her band blows away the sonic cobwebs with some driving energetic medium-fast bordering melodic punk rock delivered with a steady beat, crunchy guitars, and moving vocals. Lyrically these songs take on a mix of personal issues ranging from individuality to sexual orientation to clueless people/assholes who won't take a hint with references to fragile masculinity, social media,privilege, class inequality et al along the way. With high energy catchy songs, the music guides the listener and lets the themes in the songs sink in and take hold. Expectations were somewhat high when news of the new album from Alice Bag was coming out and they've been met and exceeded. However you get your music, please get this album. I look forward to being able to pick up a physical copy once this mess is all over. (BOONE)
(In The Red Records. P.O. Box 50777. Los Angeles, CA 90050. intheredrecords.com.)

AYAHUSCA TASTING ROOM - download album
This came to my attention as I was putting the final touches on the last issue so it ended up being pushed back so I could have time to truly listen to this. The debut from Ayahusca Tasting Room delivers an experimental sonic world blending electronics and samples with nature sounds and what sounds like baritone saxophone. Emerging from this mixture are audio landscapes that draw upon elements of free jazz, experimental music and drum and bass into the mix to take the listener down a surreal path. It's a listen that can be confrontational but can also seem relaxing at points if one is in the right mood for it as its blend of moodiness and space arises from the arrangements. ATR isn't your typical listening experience but readers with a taste for experimental sounds and a desire to push boundaries will find something interesting within these tracks. Glad I decided to take the plunge and listen. (BOONE)
(arrington.bandcamp.com)

D.O.A. - Treason LP
Sometimes, by coincidence, a record manages to come out at the right moment to reflect what's going on so this upped my curiosity level when I learned D.O.A. was releasing a new album. The latest album from the hardcore punk legends blasts out the gate with a short breezy blast of punk rock that blends commentary on current events with tales of life in D.O.A. and getting payback on an asshat (with the band's almost patented type of sick humor, of course). Full of tight hooks and overdriven but still crisp power chord guitar, the songs kick ass and drag the listener along for the ride. Add to this a cover of Neil Yong's "Hey Hey My My" and the album becomes a sonic statement on the current state of the world and how we got into this mess even before the pandemic brought other issues lingering under the surface to light. While D.O.A.'s music isn't for everyone punk fans curious to see how melodic songs don't necessarily have to be lacking in content would do wise to pick up this album, listen, and learn how things can be done. (BOONE)
(Sudden Death Records. Cascades P.O. Box 43001. Burnaby, BC V5G3H0. Canada. suddendeath.com)

EX STAINS - download EP
There's been a lot of ups and downs related to the worldwide pandemic related cabin fever so when I discovered this was being released it was a definite plus for my May Day. On their posthumous EP Ex Stains (featuring former members of Sex Stains, Warpaint, and Delta 72) throw down some dark moody post punk blending jagged yet danceable grooves with heavy reverb laced guitar and eerie synth like effects. Short sharp tales about sexist expectations, dealing with assholes and the like are delivered full force with aggressive hooks and a ton of attitude. They know their pocket and lure the listener in rather than trying to reach out to them; making the impact even more jaw dropping in the long run. Ex Stains was only with us for a brief time but went for the sonic jugular and gave us some energetic slabs of post punk anger and pure songs along the way. Download this and discover the power for yourselves. (BOONE)
(allisonwolfe.bandcamp.com)

NAPALM DEATH - "Logic Ravaged By Brute Force"/"White Kross"
One of the surprises of early 2020 was when Napalm Death not only announced a world tour (one that, unfortunately, was canceled due to the pandemic like most tours this years) but a new album to come out. Just before the tour began they released a new single. "Logic Ravaged By Brute Force" finds the grindcore pioneers taking a darker, almost melodic path with baritone sounding lead vocals in the verses and a more atmospheric sonic attacks in the guitars and rampaging rhythms. On the flip side "White Kross" is a cover of the Sonic Youth song and appears to take it into a bit heavier direction while keeping the noise rock elements alive. Both songs tackle the artsier side of Napalm Death without sacrificing what the band has become over the decades. While originally touted as a preview of the upcoming album, since this turned out to be a non album single (at this time at least) it felt appropriate to review it. For the most part the seven-inch version is sold out but you can stream and buy a download if you know where to look. (BOONE)
(Century Media)

NEW STANDARDS MEN - I Was A Starship LP
I had been curious about this album for a little bit but it had somehow gone under the radar between work, projects, and other life obligations so when I had a chance and was curious to listen I decided to jump on it. The latest album from New Standards Men finds them (and a few collaborators) delivering some moody lingering instrumental experimental rock that draws from jazz, experimental music, Krautrock and doom metal, among other sounds. Simmering rhythms and bittersweet guitar linger over the listen as the songs continue while occasional electronics, piano, and other instrumentation weave in where needed. The tracks here are less songs than sound pieces that act as a sonic catharsis as it lures you into the mix. These guys create an aural gray area that's both lingering yet hard driving as it builds towards an explosive climax. New Standards Men's music has always been a bit off the beaten path but this time around they've created an album that could bridge a gap between strictly rock/metal fans and those craving a bit more experimental sonic fare. It still won't be for everyone but the audio vision here will draw in those willing to give them a chance. (BOONE)
(Vinyl on: Floating Cave Records. [newstandardsmen.bandcamp.com]. Cassette available from: Personal Archives [opersonalarchives.bandcamp.com]).

REDD KROSS - Red Cross EP
40 years ago a group of kids/young teens (literally, their bassist was 12 at the time) entered a studio and laid down an EP that captured youthful energy and punk rock zeitgeist; their name at the time was Red Cross (until legal threats from the American Red Cross forced a changed to Redd Kross). This is the 40th anniversary edition of the release, capturing the original (or close to original) incarnation of the band in punk trashy, bratty punk rock glory with short fast songs driven by raw guitar, primitive beats, and a snide attitude throughout. While the original version fit on a seven inch the McDonald brothers and company fleshes out this version with demo versions of some of the songs (including one that wasn't on the EP) and a live version of another song not on the original release. This EP and the included bonus tracks, however, are the crude and rough start of the band's long and winding musical story when they would later rebel against the rules of hardcore punk. It's a hella ton of fun so check it out. (BOONE)
(Merge Records)

THE VAPORS - Together LP
In one of the bigger surprises of the 2010s was the reunion of late 70s/early 80s power pop (then considered new wave) band The Vapors so when I learned that they had a new album I knew I had to take the plunge and stream it. The band's long awaited third album (and first album in roughly 39 years) continues their legacy of tight hook laden melodic rock songs fueled by tight yet tasteful guitar and to the point rhythms and updates it without having to do much along the way. While these mainly personal/love songs (though hinting at larger issues - especially on "Letter to Hiro No. 11") tend to stay up-tempo there are a couple of more introspective tracks as well as a ballad that wouldn't have been likely on their earlier work. Together shows that, while time has obviously passed since the Vapors last came out with music the band has used the time to their advantage and made an album that reflects what's happened since rather than pretend it's still 1980-81. While I think the vinyl version may be sold out (or damn close to it) the CD and download versions are still available. So, whether you've heard about the band or remember them back in the new wave heyday and wonder what their new stuff would be like give this a listen and decide for yourself. (BOONE)
(Manmade Soul/The Vapors Own Records. Check out: thevapors.co.uk for link to purchase)

All contents this page 2020, Boone Stigall/The Trouble With Normal