Dr. Frank

Workin Muthas Acid Rain 12″

The Florida-based KML label has come out with yet another great punk rock record. Eight short, fast, energetic, catchy tunes from this Mississippi band, all delivered with tough crunchy guitars and super gravelly vocals.

Happy Hate Me Nots Salt, Sour and Brighton / Inside 7″

Pleasant Aussie power pop. The B-side is forgettable, but the A-side is much better than expected, owing to some rough edges left in the mix and some catchy hooks. It’s not as strong as some of their earlier stuff, but it’s a good tune anyway.

V/A Can a Butterfly Smash a Wheel? LP

This compilation is intended as a document of the underground rock scene in Bødø, a small Norwegian town north of the Arctic Circle. The music is incredibly diverse, ranging from pop-punk to grungy hardcore to syntho-disco to experimental art-noise to jangly guitar pop. There are also some rumbling synth “mood music” tracks which are quite relaxing. Production tends to be on the muddy side, but the concept is bizarre enough to make this one interesting.

Toxic Zombies Die Toxic LP

Sloppy hardcore cum metal, reflecting an admirable and sincere (I think) concern for the dangers of toxic waste disposal, and more generally for all society’s ills. The record has its humorous moments, many of them unintentional. But you gotta give these guys credit for trying: to quote the ‘ZOMBIES, “punk is great, punk is cool.”

Ratcat Ratcat 12″

Noisy Australian guitar-oriented pop, kind of like a punchier JESUS AND MARY CHAIN. What saves this 12” from predictability is the unexpected sick humor in the midst of the pop tunes. “She’s Gone” is a plaintive lament about a dead cat, and “Car Crash” with the immortal line “Sorry about the car crash / I hope you don’t mind / We’ve killed your family and loved ones… hope you’ve got insurance” is notable for its catchy tune and hilariously deadpan vocals.

Asylum Leopards / Ode to Belial 7″

Above-average Aussie rock’n’roll, fast and energetic. The B-side, an instrumental ode to the rubber-suited star of the movie Basket Case, wins this month’s award for the best screams on vinyl.

Pre Metal Syndrome Pre Metal Syndrome LP

This is an all-girl metal band from New York, featuring a zillion guitar solos and a screeching vocalist trying to sound like Satan. If this sort of thing is your cup of tea, then this record fills the bill, though it sometimes tends to sound a bit mainstream. Lyrics range from slightly dogmatic political/social commentary to “Midnight Rambler”-type axe-murderer nightstalker “gonna getcha” biker-style tunes.

Cosmic Psychos Cosmic Psychos LP

Of all the Australian bands trying to be mistaken for the STOOGES these days, the COSMIC PSYCHOS perhaps come closest to achieving the goal. A few of these songs actually sound like they might be rediscovered STOOGES classics, and the overall feeling of this LP recalls the Funhouse era of everyone’s favorite band. Noisy, nostalgic fun.

Toy Dolls Bare Faced Cheek LP

Pretty standard TOY DOLLS stuff here, not quite as inspired or energetic as past efforts. The DOLLS’ trademark zany humor seems a bit forced on some songs, and the best track, “Fisticuffs in Frederick Street” has already been released twice. Not bad, but I know these guys can do better.

TMA Beach Party 2000 LP

An energetic and well-produced follow-up to 1985’s What’s for Dinner? On this record, the band moves away from the rough-edged wackiness that led to comparisons with the ANGRY SAMOANS in favor of a more streamlined, slicker sound. Traces of surf, sixties, and metal are combined into a powerful guitar sound, but I miss the irreverence and originality of the first LP. Still, this is a strong release.