IF LABELS ARE UNBECOMING TO YOU, THEN YOU SHOULD BE COMING TO US:

We've got a few bands on the to-do list, but we firmly believe that you never know when you are going to be floored by some guys or gals hitting and caressing and striking and plucking their instruments. So, please send your recording along. We thank you in advance for helping us to possibly help you help yourself to get that record out!

FURTHERMORE, we, Beercan, do hereby declare that at the very least, all submissions will be reviewed right here. We'll even throw up some links to your website or whatever. It'll be fun. Seriously.

BEERCAN RECORDS ... 4603 Tonyawatha Trail ... Monona, WI 53716 ... USA

or

BEERCAN RECORDS ... P.O. Box 0457 ... LaGrange, IL 60525-0457 ... USA

The Accelerators - Haven't You Heard... - This record punched me in the stomach.  And then, when I was doubled over, it kneed me in the forehead.  The whole thing feels like a non-stop beatdown.  The Accelerators even managed to make a Damned song sound angry.  There's a lot of angst on this here CD not only sonically but lyrically as well.  Dual lead singers that both sound really pissed off and not in an affected bad-metal kind of way but in a brooding, troubled kind of way.

I'm not even sure that I really liked this CD, but I'm too afraid to say otherwise so, thumbs up! (Bitchin' Riffage)

The Accidents - EP - This one has had the review staff here hemming and hawing for months now.  You've got some kick-arse drumming going on here that makes one wonder why a band like the Who, instead of hiring Kenney Jones when Keith Moon passed away, didn't just find some young maniac like the kid that's hitting the skins here.  Surely it would have rejuvenated them towards something better than "Face Dances".  You've also got some really cool lead vocals here that sound double-tracked but aren't (I don't think).  Cool, raspy, broken-glass-swallowing stuff.  Pretty straightforward punk rock and it makes you think of how important punk rock can be when you're trying to figure things out and realizing that there's a lot more out there than your immediate town, county, what-have-you.

However, there is a little bit of a "punker-than-thou" sentiment to a lot of the lyrics that get's a little tiresome.  But that may be due to the fact that I'm becoming a codger who makes references to fifth-rate Who albums whilst reviewing albums.  Yes, this CD did indeed confound the Beercan staff.  But the capper is the one song on here that sounds a LOT like a Modest Mouse song...and...and...I saw Modest Mouse in concert once and it was unbearable, so I'm leaning towards being too annoyed by this EP.  You may dig it a lot, but it just wasn't my thing.  (Let's Pretend Records)

Bi-Furious - ...Are Stoked!!! - If Minor Threat drank and smoked drugs and engaged in other dangerous lifestyle choices, they'd sound like this, one would imagine.  Now, I don't know for a fact that these cats engage in said pastimes, but their liner notes include a copy of a handwritten note from someone referencing abuse of the author's room that says, and I quote, "I am extremely pissed at all of you for letting people go in my room.  There is blood, cum and vomit."  All of this is clearly hearsay and/or circumstantial evidence but I think it's safe to say, after listening to this disc, that these Bi-Furious cats are wild, wild.  Wild!

This album (???) clocks in at right around 7 minutes and as far as the Beercan staff is concerned, this is some delightful hardcore.  Is it angry?  Yep.  Is it fast?  Yep.  Is it tyyyy-ight?  Yep.  Is it lyrically all self-involved and frustrated and shit?  Yessir.  But what makes it so delightful and not so full of macho drudgery? 

Well, pick it up and figure that shit out yourself you drudgey macho fuck.  Here's a clue...if you're not grinning within the first 3 seconds of this disc and if you're not hooked by second 28, you might be too "serious" for this shit even though it's hawder than the hawdest.

Parts of that last paragraph sounded like a Mr. Skin blurb.  That was not our intention.   (Let's Pretend Records)

Big Jesus / Steerjockey - Split 7" - Even more brilliancy from this little label that can and will.  The flavor this time around is some straight-up, destructo-rock.  I really hesitate to type the first part of this next sentence, because I hate when reviewers say this because it doesn't really matter at all, but here goes.  Neither band is really breaking new ground here, but as alluded to in the last sentence, who fucking cares?  Millions of kids since the dawn of electrified amps have loved the rock and the roll and millions of kids have tried to channel all the goodness and badness and bad goodness and good badness that come along with the rock and the roll into their own songs.  But only a fraction of those kids do it correctly.  And both of these bands do it VERY correctly.  Sure, the song structures have probably been done before, but you can't fake the little nuances, time changes, distortion, feedback games, etc. that both Big Jesus and Steerjockey lay down on this platter.

Big Jesus features Bob Shaw from It Burns (Beercan Records very own!) and you can hear his influence all over this record.  Scorched-earth vocals, cool guitar-work and speed.  Tons of angry speed.  And I suspect that the song "30 in a 55" is about getting pulled over after partaking in the sweetleaf.  It's about time a rock band took this topic out of the hands of hack comedians.  Steerjockey throttles down on the angry just a touch, but gears up the precision a touch.  2 of their 3 songs on this 7" ("Three Days High" & "Everybody") feature tre' rad tempo changes that tranform into facemelting solos that I greatly enjoyed.

OK, I'm going to revert back to cliched-reviewer mode now.  Recommended for fans of Supersuckers, Zeke and Air Supply! (Let's Pretend Records)

Conniption Fitts - Bullfights on Acid - "It's not funny/ It's a sickness/ This is serious".  Basically, this particular lyric from the track "What's Stopping You" sums up my feelings for this slab of rulingness.  From the top to the bottom to the bottom to the top, this is so great.  So great it makes me sick.  Lovesick.  And yes, I quoted C&C Music Factory.  Yeah, it happened.  Fuck you.  "Dance, Dance", "Bleeding Red", "Shock the Masses" will also make you weep wtih unrequited love for the Fitts.  And that's a fact fuckface.

But not as factual as the factualness of how rulin' the artwork on this album is.

Fuckface. (Let's Pretend Records)

Conniption Fitts - Shock the Masses - Just a little 4 song EP thing from - gasp! -   Let's Pretend Records!  We thought we were cool, but whoever these pricks are over at Let's Pretend are a dash cooler for putting out stuff like this.  Allow me to explain after I'm done moving...

...O.K. It's a few weeks later now and my feelings about this EP have not changed. Yeah, it sounds like it was recorded in a basement (and probably was) but "Dance, Dance" is such a catchy song that it cares not where it was recorded and decides to dance, dance around in your head while you're doing things like moving or driving or oddly enough, dancing.  The best thing about little EP's like this is that if they're good, you want some more.  This one definitely leaves you wanting more of the sort of herky-jerky, startish-stoppish, yet melodic rowrk that the Conniption Fitts seem to have a pretty good handle on.  (Let's Pretend Records)

Conniption Fitts / Be My Doppleganger - Split 7" - What with it being baseball season and all, let's go with some simple baseball analogies on this one, shall we?  Leading off is Be My Doppelganger who double sharply into the left-center alley with "Throw a Party".  Unfortunately, they strike out looking next time up with "Carbondale Babe City".  Carbondale and it's many babes deserve better representation than this.  Yeesh.

The Conniption Fitts bat second and ground into a fielder's choice with "New Heartbeat" but then hit a walk-off game-winning jack with "Walk 'em Back".  Very cool tune that find the Fitts stretching their proverbial legs a little bit.

All in all, this isn't a bad little record, but I've heard better from the Conniption Fitts and highly suspect that Be My Doppelganger has more to offer too.  (Let's Pretend Records / Bitchin' Riffage Records)

Fenwick - Demo - Well, the picture above ruins our little plan for this review.  See, it was going to be this really glowing review of this demo that mysteriously showed up in the Beercan P.O. Box one day and it would have all sorts of clever and complimentary things to say about Fenwick.  Then, at the very end, it would mention, very matter-of-factly, how they are an all-girl band but also point out how we opted not to start off the review by mentioning their particular sex because the music should stand on it's own and it shouldn't really matter if they are an all-gal band or an all-dude band or any combination of gals and dudes.  This way, we'd sound really progressive and forward-thinking.  However, this demo just came to us on a burned CD-R so we had to go to their website to steal a picture and Fenwick doesn't seem to have a band logo or anything like that.  So, we had to go ahead and put up a picture of these talented folks and just review the demo straight-up without the holier-than-thou posturing.

Anyway, the thing that struck me about each of the 3 songs was the control that is on exhibit here.  So many bands of the punk-rockish variety just go full-speed ahead from the get go and while that can be fine and dandy in doses, it's great to hear a band like Fenwick choogle through their songs with a really steady confidence.  And not to sound too much like a cologne commercial or some shit, but more often than not, confidence is pretty cool.  You get the feeling that these Fenwickians know that they have written some real gems and just want to lay the music out there and let it speak for itself.  This really comes through on the vocals which are not screamed or whined or shrieked or crooned or whatever...just sung, baby.  And when they do decide to rachet up the tempo, like with the 7 Seconds-style hardcore beat on "1st Name Steve..." the singer still just stands her ground and belts out what she wants to say until the beat slows down a bit, she speeds up a bit and the whole band falls into a transition into the chorus that'll make you weep tears of melancholy joy.  I...I think me encanta Fenwick.  Si.  Si, es la verdad.

UPDATE!!! - All the above applies to Fenwick's now-released full-length, "Totally OK" which YOU can pick up at their website or at My Little Rockstar Records.

The Hell - LP - This is another LP that we were lucky enough to get our mitts on before it is actually released and if we were a label with, you know, money, we'd put this thing out yesterday.  Hopefully something can still be arranged along those lines...but enough of the insider industry talk.  This is some deranged punk rock and roll straight out of the middle of god-knows-where, IL.  That is not a slight.  Seriously, that is meant as the highest of compliments.  I mean, when I was these dudes' age, I thought the Who was some of the most far-out shit that I'd ever heard (which they are) but these guys are drawing from influences that would have had me crying for my mammy back when I was a youngster...but enough about me. 

In a perfect world, if you looked up "rollicking" in the dictionary, it would somehow depict the bass line to the last track on this album, "Love for the Sun".  Of course, this clearly isn't a perfect world and The Hell seem to be aware of this hence all the anguished yelping, jacked-up intensity and general cacophony going on here throughout the whole disc.  That is not to say that this album is some kind of pity party though.  Is it possible to have a total precise, brutal Black Flag vibe while at the same time maintaining a level of celebratory nonsense?  Listening to this, it seems that it can be done.  And the drummer is pretty amazing here too...but enough of this review.  Just go check out these guys if you can.  DAG!!

Hot as Hell - Love's This Way EP - So Jame Gumb is prancing around his basement applying makeup to himself with his junk tucked away betwixt his legs while taking a break from making a suit of flesh and his latest victim is bellowing up from a dank pit but being barked at by Jame's miniature poodle.  And all the while, there is that creepy song playing in the background, right?  Well, this new Hot as Hell EP sounds like what would be playing if ole' Jame's mean streak ran a little deeper; a touch (and I do mean "touch") angrier.

But don't let that scare you off.  This is some dern creative stuff that's rooted in rock but manages to get sort of brit-poppy and weirdly funky kind of like your better T. Rex tunes.  And just like T. Rex, these 4 tunes are heavy on the sexual innuendo.  I'm guessing that track 2 is actually about the band's mic-stand/PVC pipe abomination that Chadtime (bass) and P.M. Cranberry (guitar) both sing out of, but with a title like "Man on Man" and an absolutely lurid bassline lead-in that would get kicked out of the most liberal of establishments, you've got to wonder.  The EP closer, "The White's In Her Eyes", starts out like it's going to be an acoustic cooldown.  Perhaps an ode to a lovely lady who has just shared a long evening of loinful pleasure.  But then the tinny, distorted vocals kick in and you, the listener, fear that said lovely lady is going to get thrown back into Hot as Hell's pit of warped libido.  But, then again, maybe that's the way that the lovely lady in question likes to get down.  Different strokes (and I do mean "strokes") for different folks.

If this all sounds a little too much for your ears and brain and crotch to be comfortable with, then just go check out Hot as Hell live and you can focus on Tambo Teri's gold-lame shorts-wearing, keyboard-playing self.  She's quite lovely and talented.

You uncivilized cretin.

It Burns - Rough Mix - Oh doctor, it appears as though another wee label like ourselves recognized the genius of It Burns about a day late and a dollar short.  Well, at least someone dredged up this collection of recordings before they vanished forever and ever.  Consisting of 3 or 4 sessions between 2003 and 2005, this 2-disc release is all prime, bull-power stuff dealing with such topics as women, non-woman stimulants (wink wink), the lack of women, and the lack of non-woman stimulants (if you know what I mean).  Maybe the selection of bands that they cover on this will give you a better aural picture of what It Burns was all about i.e. Zeke, Hangarounds, Naked Raygun.  However, just glancing at the song titles themselves probably does the trick even better - "Scapeblownow", "Swamp Ninja", "Supertzar" and my personal favorite, "Fuck You Overkill" which is their own song "Fuck You Over" fused with Motorhead's "Overkill".  I'm a sucker for shit like that and your a sucker if you don't go over to Let's Pretend Records and pick this up for cheap. (Let's Pretend Records)

Maaster Gaiden - Like It Never Happened - Juvenile as it may sound, the word "Gaiden" does, and always will, make this reviewer think of the video game "Ninja Gaiden" and that ain't necessarly a good thing because that game, while having a cool title and awesome artwork, sucked.  Unplayable quite frankly.

HOWEVER, that shitty video game has nothing to do with this album other than the fact that they both floated across our field of senses at some point in this crazy thing we call life.  And thank goodnessosity that this CD did because as shitty as the video game "Ninja Gaiden" was, Maaster Gaiden's debut album is inversely that great.  I'm going to go ahead and not make too much about the fact that there are only 2 people performing on this slab (drummer and singer/guitar guy).  But what I will tell you is that if you were wildly disappointed with the Sultan's second album and were left thinking, "How could the first Sultan's album be so full of rigid punk guitar precision while at the same time being 'melodic as fuck' and then they follow it up with this shitty pile of whiny wine?" well, let Maaster Gaiden play the role of an inspired John Reis and blow your doors off with punk guitar precision, barked vocals, and melodic as fuck tunes.

By the by, if anyone takes the term "melodic as fuck" seriously, you're even stupdister than someone who takes the term "punk as fuck" seriously. (Big Action Records)

MeAH! - (Do What I Tell You) Or Do What You Want - I feel as though I've already wasted enough hours of my life inhaling nitrous in basements and trying to convince myself that I wasn't wasting my time while listening to bands like this.  That feeling doesn't change for recorded efforts.  One shouldn't spend a half-hour listening to folks just dick around with things that make sounds simply because those people have the gumption to document their dicking around.  Or maybe one should.  Do what you want.  HAR!!!!

I was going to get into a whole thing about how, at the very least, the cover art is reminiscent of Murphy's Law's "The Best of Times" only instead of drawings of faces, it's all houses and instead of in-color, it's all black and white and...oh fuck it. (Let's Pretend Records)

 

Mexican Cheerleader - Mexican Mystery Tour - Aw hell, I don't know where to start with this one.  Let's try this route...I once saw these guys at the Bottom Lounge and the guitar player had a small framed picture of Paul Stanley on top of his amp and...no, I pretty much hate Kiss so that's the wrong route.  OK, so what if I mentioned that this band is fronted by the bass-man/singer from Oblivion and that same guitar player I mentioned in the last sentence was in Apocalypse Hoboken?  Well, neither of those facts have all that much to do with this EP so far as I can tell.  How about this?  This sounds likes what would happen if classic 50's rock and roll fused with 80's punk but avoided the general bad-attitude posturing of lower-end garage punk rock???

Aw hell, just put this on, hit play and if, after the first song, you aren't hooked well, then, you're an asshole. (Underground Communique Records)

Patrol Wagon - EP - The first couple songs on this nugget sound to me like a sped-upped Embrace.  And it's actually a little known fact that Embrace was Ian MacKaye's very finest project (unless you're more of a Egghunt fan) so "Hooray!" for Patrol Wagon.  But then things take a turn for the delightfully unexpected and Patrol Wagon starts to sound like the best hardcore band that you've heard in ten, maybe twenty, years depending on your date of birth.  But, but a hardcore band that can lock onto a groove and ride that mother fucker directly to that point inbetween your eyeballs that you couldn't see if you tried for hours on end.

And then it's over.  And you want more.

However, minus 10 points for the Cuban Revolutionary hat that the singer is wearing in one of the pictures on their myspace page.  But this ain't the Vice Magazine Do's & Dont's so ignore my bullshit and go pick this up. (Let's Pretend Records)

The Peelers - Mr. Bombhead P. Cosmonaut - It looks as though the Peelers may be splitsville.  And just because we, Beercan, put out their full-length masterwork, Let's Detonate, that does not mean that we are entirely biased in their favor.  And, of course, we would not give them a glowing review of some shit they put out when they were on their last legs just out of nostalgia or as a delusional hungover memory of when they roamed the earth on 10 legs and 4 Firestone wheels.

No, we would not do that.

But what we would (and will) do is give them a glowing review of one of the best 6-song EP's you'll hear this year.  Another thing that we, Beercan, should mention is that all 6 songs are covers and quite frankly, we ain't never heard any of these tunes before hearing this EP.  Adam Scott (Peeler guitar player/songwriter) has always had a knack of bridging the somewhat sizeable gap betwixt knuckleheaded rock dope and high-minded art chap and the song selection and resulting Peeler interpretations are perfect examples of this knack.  You get all the 2 guitar chicanery, yelpish croonery, rollicking bass and crack-crack drums you've come to expect from the Peelers, but with a thin, yet distinguishable, layer of refinement.

So fuck us for not having previous knowledge of the gleefully sexy "Orgasm Flambe", the epically angsty "Final Solution" or the fittingly melancholy "I Can't Stand It".  And fuck the Peelers for unleashing this pearl on the world while they were on what looks to be their final tour.  And fuck you if you don't try to track this thing down by hook or by crook.

Drop us a line, we'll point you in the right direction.

Planetstruck - Demo - Have you ever had one of those dreams where you are either a.) trying to run from/after something and your whole system is not responding the way you want it to or b.) are trying to punch someone who REALLY did you wrong only your muscles aren't firing the way you want them to?  In either scenario, the dreamscape feels really sludgey and frustrating.  And that's exactly how this demo from Chicago band Planetstruck sounds.

This ain't really my thing, but we're open minded enough to know that if sludgey, sweetleaf-ish music is your thing, then this should do the trick.  The vocals on this one kind of jumped out at me on this too because whoever it is who's singing doesn't try to sound all dark and shit.  Rather, the pained yelping seems pretty authentic, kind of nerdy evern, and that's always good.  In my book.

The Plastik Explosives - Songs of the Doomed - Talk about a supergroup my friend. Off the top of the head you've got Mashers, Mushuganas, Repos, Tall Dark Strangers...ah but forget about all that. One shouldn't put too much stock in all that "x-So and So" talk because it doesn't always pan out and it sets predetermined expectations either too high or too low. Ahem. Anyway, you know when you're at one of those big warehouses where a million bands all practice and as you stroll the hallways trying to find the room where you came from you can hear everything from bad metal to bland funk to boring punk? But then you walk by some closed door and hear some glorious wailing noise coming from inside. You can't see in but you get a pretty good idea of what's going on. Guitars in walls, amped-up drummer breaking cymbals, singer getting light-headed, beers spilling on amps, etc. And you want to step inside but don't for fear that you catch a stray pick in the eye or better yet, get the shit kicked out of you. That's what this album sounds like. Yeah, it's kind of muffled, but the mightiness burns through all that technical nonsense and that makes the album all the mightier. Let's get specific, shall we? If "Back Road Breakdown" doesn't stick in your head, then you may not have one. "Neo-Con Man" sounds kind of like a track off of that last Drags album when they were all delightfully sloppy and gacked-up sounding with the warbling slide guitar weaving its way in and out of the songs. But you should be sufficiently hooked after the first track ("Megalomaniacs") anyway so, whatever. One last thing - the band member pseudonyms: Gnar Kotixx, D.W. Premiere, Mel A. Zhun, Honorable Rev. M.T. Plastik and Dr. Lotus. I was half-expecting Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk to show up in the liner notes. (www.threat-records.com)

Plastiq Passion - "I Can't Wait" EP - This kind of sounds like the Police (long before Sting started writing shitty music and and bragging about tantrically-fucking his wife) tantrically-fucking P.J. Harvey.  Or maybe the emotional aftermath of Sting tantrically-fucking P.J. Harvey somehow captured on audio tape?  I don't know.

There is definitely something cool going on here.  A very controlled, but intense, vibe running through this whole EP.  Never speeding up for speed's sake, yet never really throttling down.  The whole effort is mesmerizing.

I dig it, but find myself a little creeped out by the final lyric of the EP: "And I will look through all your stuff/ Just because iiiiiit's fun".  Maybe, this one needs a few more listens.  Or maybe not.  Ah, the wonders of music.

Prizzy Prizzy Please - S/T - Horns in the rock music often get a bad rap, but if you think about it, they've definitely had their moments in the genre.  Personally, I'm very partial to Rocket From the Crypt.  X-Ray Spex is good stuff.  And I have to admit that within the last month I actually searched Itunes for "Night Train to Yiggity Yiggity" by the Secret Cajun Band.  And while probably the only other person I know who would get that reference is the other guy who runs Beercan, it's still a true statement and a great band...with horns.

Anyway, Prizzy Prizzy Please has a sax player and sounds nothing like the aforementioned bands or really like anything else going right now.  This is art ladies and gentlemen.  Trying to describe would be sillier than writing about music already is, but for the sake of argument, let's just say that there are punk-ish elements here and leave it at that.  This is, in my estimation, a big giant amalgamation of a huge record collection, tons of video game soundtracks, maybe some science fiction fandom, and a hearty tablespoon of good-natured weirdoness.

We, the Beercan staff, dig this record a lot although I couldn't guarantee that this would be everyone's thing.  But there is no denying that stuff like this is important.  If awesome weird kids don't try to make awesome weird music in their basements, then what will become of the horns?  What will become of the horns!?!?!?

But even if you don't give a fuck about horns, you should care about Prizzy Prizzy Please.  (Let's Pretend Records)

Prizzy Prizzy PleaseSass Dragons - Split CD - Well, this showed up in the magical PO Box the other day compliments of Sweet Pete at Let's Pretend Records and they've done it again.  I was tempted to skip right ahead to the Sass Dragons half of this split, but that wouldn't be the right thing to do and I have much too much honor and integrity for those type of shenanigans.  So, instead I got a treated to a total mindfuck compliments of Prizzy Prizzy Please.  While they don't sound all that much like them, they kind of remind one of Apocalypse Hoboken in that the singer kind of goes back and forth between gruff vocals and weirdo, high-pitch crooning that he's actually pretty dern good at.  Between that and the song titles ("Cystic Fibrosis", "Crackhead/Drillbits"), this reviewer, for one, got that same sort of creeped out, but entertained and happy vibe from this record.  Some beautiful keyboard and horn parts in there too...OH!...and if you took the vocals off of the last song ("Cow on Cow") you would have a fucking PERFECT celebratory song for the end of an old Nintendo game.  You know, when you finally solve the game and they scroll the credits of hundreds of anonymous Japanese programmers who helped make the game possible.  Yeah, it sounds exactly like that.  So, to sum up, happy tunes, kind of creepy, video-game memories, suspicion of consumption of drugs that most people have never even heard of, nicely done.

As for the Sass Dragons side, it's truly one of the best things I've heard all year.  Yeah, there is a lot of silliness going on what with a song devoted to the fast-food chain Rally's and a full-fledged kazoo solo in another song, but it never gets to the point where it's annoying or unfunny.  They've got a sense of humor

combined with a taste for la musica that they really know how to use well.  It's the same kind of thing that separates, say, the Dickies from some assholes like the Presidents of the United States of America and their fucking songs about peaches and the like.  "She's Got Pills" (featuring the aforementioned kazoo solo) is an automatic play-again-and-again song and "1981" and "Coldcocked Robot" will stick in your head right away too.  But then on "We Are the Blood and Guts" they do a total gear shift to a slow-burn, haunting bum fest.  Unreal.  My guess is that The Sass Dragons are probably the smartest guys in a room at any given time, but choose to be punk rock bozos instead of engineers or physicists or whatever.  And perhaps that makes them even smarter in a way.

    

A kazoo solo for god's sake! (Let's Pretend Records)

Rawles Balls - Pick Up the Entire Catalog, You Cheap Fuck - Freak? Bozo? Satirist? Cover Artist? Performance Artist? Artist, at all?

Genius?

I'm leaning towards the latter.  For the sake of full-disclosure and to protect my credibility as a record reviewer read by dozens the world over, I want to state that I have conversed with Rawles (Mr. Balls?) electronically.  He seems like a pretty cool guy and is definitely schooled in a pretty wide range of music outside of the pop stuff that he plays.  He claims to know Ned of the Action Swingers personally so that may be clouding my judgement, but I don't think so.  The basic schtick of Rawles and the gang, as far as I can tell, is to learn as many cover songs as possible in as short a time as possible and crank out as many albums as possible in as short a time as possible.  A few of the albums are documentations of live shows and that's where the real magic happens.  For example, after a particularly charming rendition of the sleeveless New Jersian's "Born to Run" (featuring kazoos in lieu of horns and mumbling in lieu of lyrics (I think ole' Rawles actually says "chicken parm" as a catch-all lyric a couple times)) someone in the crowd shouts out, "Play a song you don't know...at all," and Rawles fires back with, "I think we just did."

Again, it's all cover songs, but here's the kicker.  Somehow, someway some of the Balls versions are better than the originals.  "Live Wire"?  Fuck Angus.  "Police On My Back"?  Fuck that Big Audio Dynamite guy.  "Dang Me"?  Well, I ain't fucking with Roger Miller.

Oh, and it seems that there are no less than three hilarious, musically-inclined, TOTAL foxes involved in the band at any given time.  And that's not including Rawles himself...HIYOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Retardos de la Mour - S/T -

Sass Dragons - Mancandy - This particular collection of tunes starts off with undoubtedly the funniest 7 or 8 seconds ever recorded to tape.  Just a little homage to sappy fragrance commercials to get things underway.  From there on out it's 3 guys who know how to write a damn catchy song and throw plenty of comedy in to boot.  I know, I know...you don't like your rock dulled down with laughs.  But give this CD a chance and before you know it, you'll probably be singing "Faggot Boys" quietly under your breath as you go about your day.  Seriously, there's no reason that, given a little production, that song couldn't be in heavy rotation on top 40 rock radio.  Except of course, that "faggot" is a filthy word and even an filthier concept to most people who enjoy top 40 rock radio.  But that's not the point here.  The point is that there's some great songs on here that you're never going to hear unless you get hip to the Sass Dragons my friend.  (Let's Pretend Records)

Sass Dragons / Party Garbage - Snacking is for Sissies Split 7" - (Let's Pretend Records) - This slab reminds me of a 7" that I searched hither and yon for years ago.  That 7" was also a split but featured the Motards and the Cryin' Out Louds.  Now, in this metaphorical comparison, the Sass Dragons are the Motards in that I already know of them and have pretty much never been let down by anything they've churned out.  On the other hand (or side, if you will) I'd never heard of the Cryin' Out Louds and I've never heard of Party Garbage, but you know what?  Both bands very much hold their own on each respective record.  And then, I learn that Party Garbage is from Texas just as the Cryin' Out Louds were which is all the more amazing considering that Let's Pretend has historically dealt with only Midwestern bands!  Craaaaaaaazy man. Crazy.  The comparisons don't end there though.  Party Garbage slings a similar type of lo-fi, pleasantly sloppy punk mess that comes best served from warm, humid climates like TX.  So, fuck yeah Party Garbage...nice to meet you.

As for the Sass Dragons side, it's more of the same melodic, smart-assed awesomeness that an afficionado like you has come to expect.  "The Fifth" is undoubtedly the greatest song in the great and illustrious history of songs about the number 5.  "Count to Three" doesn't seem to be about the number 3 but rather about insulting some fucker with barbs such as, "[You're] dumb and retarded and your hair is parted".  That's genius.

I like "Acid" too, but I really hope it's not about dosing somebody.  The only time that that practice would have even been remotely acceptable, and even this is a big "maybe" was when Grace Slick tried to dose Richard Nixon.

Slow Gun Shogun - Stray Dogs, Broke Cars, Graveyards - It's got to be difficult to fully convey the oomph of your musical message when you're the only guy in a 4-piece band.  But for the most part, this solo exercise in the magic of 4-tracking really works well with the songs that the Slow Gun Shogun is putting forth here.  At first listen, things sound kind of sparse but upon further review, I think that's basically the point.  All the subject material on this 6-song EP are about some loneliness, some heartbreak, and some fuck-the-world sentiments.  And as most livers of life know, those sentiments, while ultimately universal, still remain fiercely personal when they're actually happening to you.  Obviously the Shogun has enough know-how to play all the instruments himself.  So fuck waiting for a band to catch up with some thoughts that you want to get out, like, now.

The Shogun has a kind of nasal, yet deep (but never whiny) vocal delivery that resonates profoundly on "Wish I Could Fix It All", which is the gem of this disc, followed closely by "Lyin' Again".  And the cover of Waylon Jennings "Lonesome, On'ry & Mean" made me sad and mean-feeling but also happy and contented because ole Slow Gun didn't try to outdo ole Waylon.  An excellent cover.

So dig on some Slow Gun Shogun.  And not to contradict the first part of the review, but to hear this shit with a fleshed-out band and some electrical amplification might really be even more of a treat.

Tokyo Sex Destruction - Black Noise is the New Sound - Perhaps it was the peppering of words like "new", "revolution" and "propaganda" throughout the liner notes.  Or maybe it was the fact that the liner notes are the band's anti-capitalist manifesto.  Or maybe it was that the singer sounds exactly like the Mooney Suzuki guy.  Was it that the CD cover says it was recorded in "STEREO/MONO"?  Hell, maybe it was just the black turtlenecks.

Look, I pretty much agree with the message that I think this band is trying to convey.  Modern media sucks, is mind-numbing and dumbing, live baby live, etc.   But musically-speaking, I didn't like it when Nation of Ulysses trotted out this act.  Nor when the Make-Up did.  Nor when International Noise Conspiracy did.  Nor when Tokyo Sex Destruction does.

Yes, in a perfect world Clear Channel, Nashville Idol, FM Radio, etc. would all go fuck themselves, but this ain't the remedy. (BCore Discs)

V/A - The World I Know: A Tribute to Pegboy  - As this is being typed, Pegboy is probably loading their gear into the Metro here in Chicago for a show that they'll be playing within a few hours.  No shit.  It's the night before Thanksgiving and they do have a show.  Yes, they still occasionally play out and I imagine it's for a few reasons.  First and foremost, they probably still dig playing, it's probably a lot of fun to see old friends and frankly, it's probably a decent payday for them.  Now, I don't know any of the Pegboy gents personally, but I have seen them play a bunch of times, have chatted with a couple of them at shows and my old band even opened for them once.  I can't make the show tonight, but I wish I could because it's going to be a fucking blast.   I guess what I'm trying to say is that there's a reason Underground Communique was able to find so many bands that wanted to be a part of this tribute album.  That being that Pegboy has always been able to resonate with a whole lot of people as everything a punk band should or could be.  Of course, the pedigree is there what with members coming from the Naked Raygun and Bhopal Stiffs' camps.  And the music always lived up to and beyond that pedigree.  Crushing, bruising, wailing yet emotionally complex tunes that could just as easily make you want to kick your stereo off it's table as they could make you want to get all introspective and possibly shed a tear or two.  Yeah, I know that sounds plenty soft, but did you ever listen to "Strong Reaction" in your formative years while trying to figure out why you didn't have the balls to call that one girl who you were 99% sure really liked you?  Or did you ever listen to "Never A Question" and think about your own grandparents?  Or listen to "Dog, Dog" and wonder if you actually are getting "old"?

But throughout their career and at every live show I have ever attended, there is always a prevailing sense of fun.  While the subject matter of the songs may come off as kind of mopey if you were to just read the lyrics, that has never been the case with Pegboy's music.  Larry, John, Joe and Pierre are never saying "woe is me", but rather, "woe is me, but probably woe is everyone else who's honest enough to admit it, so fuck it..." 

Well, this could go on for paragraphs and paragraphs and paragraphs, but what about the actual CD?  It's pretty great and gives YOU, the listener, an idea of how far reaching Pegboy's influence has been.  Vic Bondi's rendition of "Method" is particularly haunting.  Beercan Records' very own Phenoms' rendition of "Mr. Pink" is particularly sloppy and filtered through a garage-y point-of-view.  Robotboot vs. What's Missing From Your Life's version of "Witnessed" is particularly unexpected.  Haymarket Riot's version of "Through My Fingers" is particularly dead-on and lovingly true to the original.

But this CD isn't really about the bands that are on it, but rather a sincere expression of thanks for all the good tunes that Pegboy has laid down over the years.

So, with all the thanks and kudos out of the way...how about a new album you lazy fuckers?  We already know you're practicing to play these occasional shows.  A new album is the next logical step, no? (Underground Communique Records)

Veines - Demo - This is a demo.  A pretty darn good demo, but definitely a demo.  That is not a bad thing as there is clearly something good going on here.  Good tunes played well that call Teengenerate to mind.  But again, it's just super-demoey.  One could easily imagine these guys plugging in in a live setting all unencumbered and feedback-laden and these 4 songs would take on a whole new, invigorating feel.

And while that headbuttin' muthuh Zinedine Zidane could probably beat my American football-playin' ass 7 times out of 10, I still kind of sinicker anytime I hear punk-rock lyrics sung in French.

And no, I've never used the term "Freedom Fries".

And yes, I said 7 times out of 10.  I suspect that High school running backs occasionally trump World-Class midfielders or whatever-the-fuck they're called.

Wabash Cannonballs - Demo - So, we're a about a million days late and most likely several dollars short on this review, so allow me to compensate by dropping a super-insider Chicago-scene reference on you by letting you know that the Wabash Cannonballs rise from the ashes of the gone-but-not-forgotten Leroy Fix.  Ahhh, we feel much better now, don't we?

Anyway, as this is typed, August is just getting rolling and while we still have several weeks of summer left, people start to get desperate around these parts with Fall and fucking Winter looming.  But that isn't entirely bad.  In fact, it usually leads to the most memorable blowout-type of activities.  Well, let this collection of tracks by the Wabash Cannonballs be your guide, guru and soundtrack to these last days of summer. 

Really talented, but not pretentious, musicianship on display here.  Rush fans, fucking walk.  Genuine whisky-soaked and cigarette-smoked vox.  Rock-solid drums.  Tasty licks.  Yeah, I said it...tasty licks.  "Like A Box (That's How We Roll)" is, in addition to being the song title of the year, an honorable homage to the Stones.  "Drinking in Self-Defense", in addition to being the runner-up for song title of the year, could be the late-night, back-porch song that lands you the make-out session with that gal in the sundress that you've had your eye on all afternoon.  And "Your Smiling Dipsomania" is, in addition to being the song title that most sounds like a bad medical diagnosis, one of the best goddamn songs I've heard all year.

In fact, it's so good that I'm going to go look up "Dipsomania" in the dictionary.  See you in the Spring.