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Raccoon – “Strange Terrain” CD 8/31:03
Not exactly No Wave, but this foursome from Philly is definitely vying for a place on the esoteric mantelpiece. Parts of this EP (which is longer than some LPs) could easily have come off the White Album, but everyone knows what an enjoyable mess that was, as is this. The sound quality varies, but it’s pretty interesting. While one can find a melody line, don’t get too comfortable with it, ‘cause a new one is just around the corner. Anti-pop? You may not find yourself whistling anything here, but you may not want to turn it off, either. A truly democratic band, all members sing and contribute, a rarity these days. RBF
@ www.racccoonmusic.com

Rachel Gordon - "The Coming Of Spring" LP 14/42:36
Light and breezy yet substantive debut album from this San Diego chanteuse, assisted by a sympathetic cadre of minor Cali pop deities like Hector (Flying Color) Penalosa and local guy Chris von Sneidern. Some catchy originals coalesce nicely beside some surprisingly agreeable covers by the likes of Badfinger-via-McCartney and Johnaite (?!). Altogether a most enjoyable trifle that any fan of unreconstructed pop/rock will definitely go for. MLH
@ www.soundsofsubterrania.com

Rachel Loshak - "Mint" CD 11/39:57
Equally accessible to adult contemporary rockers waiting for the scheduling of the next Lilith Fair and indie rock kids into the new folk of Belle and Sebastian and other twee-ish acts, Rachel Loshak's third full-length release is instantly likable. She has an eclectic musical approach to complement her folky roots, with a heavy presence of piano and organ, and the occasional horn section. This reminds me particularly of Tanya Donnelly's solo records or her slower stuff in Belly: soothing, slightly dark, heavily arranged quiet-pop. Scott
@ www.rachelloshak.com

Radio Berlin - "Glass" CD 8/37.37
British Columbia stalwarts Radio Berlin are synthy and rhythmic; they have elements of that new "new wave" as well as the post "post-punk" to them. I have no doubts whatsoever that Radio Berlin can get the hot fashionable young hipsters out there to ignite the dance floor under the right decisions. Be it with their Shellac like rhythmicness, son of Rowland S. Howard style guitar style, or just the general textured and mostly somber tone that comes through on the songs. They aren't quite there yet, but if Radio Berlin keeps it up they might just be able to achieve escape velocity and compete with the big boys. Conan
@ www.radio-berlin.com

Radio Berlin - "Sister Sounds" CD 7/33:49
This album serves a tasty treat of remixed and alternate versions of tracks found on their previous two records. It opens with a sassy and perfectly solid synth track. Perfect post-punk melodies serve as a nice bed for Factory Records-esque vocals, all to a catchy dance beat. Then I think the band and those who remixed their songs (notables include Hot Hot Heat, Beautiful Skin, and P:ano) took a healthy dose of xanax, horse tranquilizers, k, and washed it all down with Robitussin. The songs disintegrate into a soporific state that left me unable to keep my eyes open...but in a good way. I offer this to all you sleepy types who like to space out to early Cocteau Twins and Section 25. Mona
@ www.globalsymphonic.com

Radio Dept. - “Lesser Matters” CD 13/43:10
Every time it seems like indie rock has gone ass-up into idiocy (and lately it’s felt that way an awful lot), a small humble record comes along to set things aright and provides a welcome respite from bands more concerned with their haircut than with crafting a good pop song. Unsurprisingly, most of these bands usually show by way of either Monitor Records out of California, or Shelflife Records, an unassuming little pop label based in San Francisco. Shelflife’s latest salvation from corporate indie drivel is The Radio Dept., a great, gauzey quartet from Sweden. The thirteen songs on their debut are swaddled in fuzz and buzz like an A&R man at a Williamsburg nightclub. Martin Larsson’s breathy voice is the perfect counterpoint to the Department’s distortion-drenched guitars, and in their better moments they recall the Field Mice as covered by the Jesus & Mary Chain. Brisk, soft, shivery pop songs to help you realize just how wrong bands above the radar have gone. J Edward
@ www.shelflife.com

Radio One – s/t CD 13/32:36
Sometimes when I get in review mode, I get jaded. I’ll listen to a few CDs, start writing, and just not really hear an album the right way. I an always tell when this is happening, and when it does, I know to do two things: stop reviewing for awhile, and make sure that whatever CD I’m listening to at the time gets set aside for a more special listen. That’s what happened to the debut by Radio One. These guys do a great job of recreating the Brit-punk sound of the Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, Slaughter and the Dogs and others, with speedy, aggressive tempos and plenty of melody. There’s a decent amount of variety here, with songs that occasionally have a political content. The lyrics could use a little work since they spout the typical question authority cliches, but if the musical content is any indication, then they’ve got the talent to push the envelope and make their sound more original and produce a bunch of really great punk records. Steve
@ www.disasterrecords.com

Radio Reelers – “Shakin’ at the Party!” LP/CD 10/23:39
Revved-up and ready-to-go rock ‘n’ roll that sent all my tics in a tizzy I was so excited. Rather than make me wish Johnny T. and Jerry N. were still alive and the Humpers, Devil Dogs, and – while I’m at it, what the hell – the Fun Things were still together, this San Francisco-based band (featuring members of the Trust Fund Babies, the Fells, and the Weird Lovemakers) holds its own and keeps the party going even after all the kegs have run dry. An energetic, catchy treat that lasts longer than (and is just as addictive as) a snort of white powder from atop the toilet tank – how can you possibly pass this up? Lily
@ www.dead-beat-records.com

Radiohead – “Hail to the Thief” CD 14/56:35
Thom Yorke and his Radiohead pals have officially made it to the next level. This level is being mainstream-popular, yet respected by just about everyone, having put out multiple discs that were considered “innovative”, and being able to say that they like a band or take them on tour translating into immediate interest in said group. Radiohead is now at the point where it can challenge its most mainstream fans and get away with it. “Hail to the Thief” does just that. This picks up right where “Amnesiac” left off, though slightly more melancholy. Plus there’s more laptopping and programmed beats happening. There are certainly more innovative and experimental artists out there, but none that are as successful at the level of these guys. Xtian
@ www.radiohead.com

Radon - "We Bare All" CD 23/66:29
Radon is an odd creature. They take trips into what should be shaky new skool territory, yet they kick ass despite such leanings. There is a tone of pure rock n roll underscoring every track, keeping the attitude nasty and cool. The playing is first rate, showing real skill and fire. The arrangements take some interesting turns, tight little changeups that vibrate and slam. When you see this disc in the racks, don't be fooled by the pop punk looking fellahs on the back or song titles such as "The Weiner Song" and "Bryan's World". This is loud and very, very good. Mark
@ www.noidearecords.com

Raik’s Progress – “Sewer Rat Love Chant” CD 12/39:20
Sundazed has done it again – discovered some great unreleased material from a mid-60’s garage band that was as cool as they were obscure. This Fresno teen punk group containing two wild Armenians specialized in generating terrifically moody garage psych (like the title track and “Don’t Need You”), snooty punk blasts (“‘F’ in ‘A’” and “Prisoner of Chillon”), and various trashy covers, all of which sound great to these ears. Three live cuts have included along with all nine of their studio recordings. An unanticipated diamond in the rough. Jeff
@ www.sundazed.com

Rainy Day Saints – “Saturday’s Haze” CD 13/46:46
RDS is a pseudonym for Dave Swanson, who did time in Cobra Verde, among other bands. Here he plays all the instruments, with guitar assistance on a few tracks. Now, one-man-bands like this can smack of self-aggrandizement. With that said, “7 Shades Of Blue” grabs you right off with a spinning hook and that certain moderately-distorted guitar sound that is too scarce these days. “Come On Girl” and “Lookout” continue in that same hard candy, power-pop vein. “Lost” takes off on a mini-tangent with some psych-guitar and becomes a different song for thirty seconds. “You!” is a right-on rave-up. All the makings of a late 60s multi-band jam are here. The organ, the bright acoustic jangle (isn’t there a suitable synonym for that word?), the comfortable assemblage of notes and chords, all arrive at the intended points. There’s a mastery of craft as well as a work ethic going on here, with something for everyone, a sprinkle of psychedelic freeness, a pinch of modishness, a dash of garage soot. There are a few songs that don’t get off the launch pad, but only a few. Not your semi-square uncle’s Get Hip Records band, thank God. Anthony
@ www.gethip.com

Ram – “Monopolis” 2CD 18/99:44
This is a homegrown release by an Oregon band, led by guitarist/vocalist Ramakar. They dabble in a number of sub-genres from prog (“Monopolis”) to reggae-rock (“Roots in Shantytown”). There is also a power-ballad sensibility to some of this. Ramakar is a fiery guitarist but a limited singer. The musicianship is solid, and if pared down to one disc this could be a heady achievement. They need a real producer to rein them in a bit. Anthony
@ Zo, PO Box 764, Yoncalla, OR 97499

Ramblin’ Ambassadors – “Avanti” CD 9/24:02
If you need a soundtrack for your long, dusty drive through the American Southwest, the Ramblin’ Ambassadors pretty much have you covered with rumbling bass lines and reverb-saturated guitars. In addition to tunes that evoke panoramas of lush painted desert and one-armed cacti silhouetted against sherbet sunset, you’ll find a couple of galloping spaghetti western tracks (one courtesy of Ennio Morricone) and a cover of the Sid Presley Experience’s “Hup Two Three Four” (a band that, if I recall correctly, author Nick Hornby referred to in “High Fidelity”). There’s even a haunting number that’s perfect for peyote ingesting and/or alien abduction. Lily
@ www.mintrecs.com

Random Touch – “A Parade of Dusty Hobos” CD 14/69:38
Abstract instrumental collaboration made up of guitar, keyboards and drums, but it doesn’t occupy the same territory as, say, Modeski, Martin & Wood or Paper Bag, both of whom fit more firmly in the free-jazz pocket than this somewhat unformed spatial exercise. By the time they reach track four, “Repose As You Please”, they begin to take shape with flanged, raga-sounding guitar notes. “They Don’t Come Around Here Anymore” allows for more outwardly expressive non-linear guitar and keyboard weirdness that could be a subdued Blood Ulmer improvising. “War Chalking” goes out of its head a little with a spate of tiny effects and hints at Derek Bailey warming up and goofing off. “What Chosen Drama” gets new-agey but, overall, it’s a ride worth taking more than once. Anthony
@ www.randomtouch.com

Randy – “Welfare Problems” CD 12/31:52
These guys should be fucking huge. Period. Their last record I reviewed here, “You Can’t Keep A Good Band Down`” was a classic. This builds on that record and kicks sonic and political ass. I hear The Clash, Turbonegro, MC5, Rancid. Fucked up subversive punk rock that’s not afraid to experiment to make potent points through strikingly good lyrics. Definitely the record of the issue as far as I’m concerned, this is a record that you’ll be spinning for years, long past the sell-by date of most of the other stuff reviewed here. Jesse
@ Burning Heart, 2798 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026

Rapider Than Horsepower – “Stage Fright, Stage Fright” CD 11/24:55
A bassless quartet featuring moonlighting (former?) members of Racebannon among their ranks. Herky Jerky (otherwise known as “syncopation for syncopation’s sake) in spots with overwrought vox, which is usually enough for me to lunge for the “eject” button, but they manage to not do too badly; as a matter of fact the musicians manage to crank out some pretty good sounds, apparently learning their lessons from Cap’n Beefheart, Pere Ubu, et al. well. Unfortunately the vocals become increasingly annoying until you realize that, no matter how good the music underneath is, it’s not enough to keep this from being almost unlistenable. This is supposedly part one of a “two-album movement”, but unless part two is an all-instrumental rekkid I’d recommend exiting stage right. David
@ www.secretlycanadian.com

Raveonettes – “Whip it On” CD 8/21:39
There was a time in the not-too-distant past when blues and psych and power pop were familiar and useful adjectives. But somewhere around the turn of the century, America lost its Rock & Roll Lexicon. These days, every band who dares notch their amps past 5 and doesn’t sound like an 8th generation Pearl Jam gets slapped with the derision-baiting catch-all “garage”. All of which is to say that if people are going to go ahead and brand The Raveonettes a garage band (and some critics already are), they could at least do them the service of rhyming the offending word with “carriage” instead of “mirage”. Because if their debut EP is any indication, the Raveonettes are straight A students of late 80s UK rock & roll. The opening of the record is practically a Photostat of the first few bars of Psychocandy, and the frantic “Do You Believe Her?” sounds like a Ride record playing at 45 RPM. The group’s two members, Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner, have crafted volcanic pop songs that are equal parts swagger and dread. The guitars are so distortion drenched they threaten to detonate the speakers, furious chords frequently giving way to riotous, rockabilly solos. Because all the songs are written in B-flat minor it’s inevitable that they sound somewhat similar. But rather than deadening the impact, the trick serves as a unifying device. It’s harrowing pop pushed to the breaking point. J Edward
@ www.crunchy.dk

Razorcuts - A is for Alphabet CD 5/16:04
Hot on the heels of their superb “R is for Razorcuts” compilation, The Razorcuts offer up 5 more bounding chestnuts from their formidable catalog. Recalling the splendid sound of Sarah Records, the songs bounce and echo and shine. “First Day” is as glorious as the first day of spring, the chorus reaching heavenward as guitars dart around like bumblebees. The Razorcuts alternately recall The Pastels and Nikki Sudden, only with a greater debt to pop formula. Even a downtempo number like “Snowbound” has optimism and charm. The EP also includes two odd demos from 1984, which showcase the band’s pop sensibilities in slightly lower-fi settings. These five songs are a small glimpse of the glory that is The Razorcuts. J Edward
@ www.indiepages.com/matinee

Razorcuts - “r is for razorcuts” CD 21/63:11
The ‘cuts wrote some of the most charming pop songs of the janglepop era in the late ‘80s. Gregory Webster’s sweet voice straining to stay on key effectively put across the simplicity and honesty of the band’s approach. The ‘cuts, who took their name from the last two words of the Buzzcocks’ “Love You More”, made writing great songs seem deceptively simple. In an era of great British pop bands like the Chesterfields and Soup Dragons, the ‘cuts measured up to the best with their brilliant early singles on the Subway label. This tuneage from the late ‘80s will be right up your alley if you’re a TV Personalities fan. C86 forever! Mel
@ www.indiepages.com/matinee

Reaching Forward - "Complete Discography 1998-2000" CD 32/53:55
Tough, loud, fast hardcore with metallish guitars and shrieked vocals. The musicianship is first rate and the songs tear along at an intense pace. Chunking breakdowns cut into the mix here and there, but for the most part, it's a slam-slam-slam until the end deal. The sound and lyrics are nothing new, but for hardcore kids, this is a cool disc. Mark
@ Martyr, PO Box 955, Harriman, NY 10926

Reaction – s/t CD 11/20:09
Meaty punk rock outta Oregon (by way of Delaware), this kick ass band is now called The Stivs. This great sounding record combines the speed and feel of Zeke with the big sound and melodic tendencies of the last few Dwarves records. Features ex-Huntingtons and Deadlines members, these guys are a band to watch out for. I can’t wait to see them play live. Any band that ends a tune called “Shut your Face and Go” with the line “Pot-smoking Warlock!” is a-okay with me! Jesse
@ Acme, PO Box 441, Dracut, MA 01826

Read Yellow - s/t CD 4/13:49
Exploding out of the CD player with their raging badge song, “Read Yellow”, this took me by surprise when I heard strains of Hammerhead and, dare I say, Helmet in the rhythms. They blast off like a heavier Tricky Woo on “Fashion Fatale.” I’ll bet they’d rip your head off live. Anthony
@ www.fenwayrecords.com

Real Kids - "The New Rose Years" 2XLP
The Real Kids have been subject to a number of reissues over the years; and although their legend is built on the strength of their powerpop classic "All Kindsa Girls" more than anything else, they also put out a couple of other albums filled with similar material. Munster has reissued the "Outta Place", "Hit You Hard" and "All Kindsa Jerks Live" LPs in this double LP 220 gram vinyl package. The "Outta Place" LP was originally issued in 1982; and with production from Andy Paley, this might be the most pop of their releases; a touch of 60's pop hooky guitar mixed with some punk attitude on the songs. You also hear the influences of 50's twang rockers like Eddie Cochran on the songs. On the second studio effort here, "Hit You Hard", Paley is still at control of the knobs, with a more traditional rock n roll songwriting style coming to the fore. They're still fun melodic powerpop songs, and frankly, it's amazing they never found commercial success with something. John Felice, the band's leader and main songwriter was rather mercurial though, and this is one of those cases where temperament probably got the better of them. The live album is a real mixed bag; the sound sucks, but the energy of the band makes up for a lot, and there is a pretty incredible 7 minute plus version of their classic "All Kindsa Girls". Steve
@ www.munster-records.com

Real McKenzies - "Oot & Aboot" CD 13/27:55
These Canadians seemingly want to do for Scottish music what the Pogues did for Irish folk. Thing is, the Pogues actually used some traditional melodies and turned them upside down, while the Real McKenzies basically add an accent (hell, is it even real?) and bagpipes to the same kind of pop punk done by any number of other NOFX sounding bands on the Fat label. Still, it's a raucous romp through some fun and occasionally goofy tunes and Paul McKenzie's lead vocals are right there with anyone's for urgency, gruffness and authentic punk tone. You can't help but want to listen to a few songs on this more than once, after all who can resist a chorus of "Shit Outta Luck". Steve
@ www.honestdons.com

Realisitics – “The Realistics” CD 7/19:06
I enjoyed the Strokes first album, and I’m curious as to how they will follow up the success. Will they keep those distinct vocals or try something new? I just have to wait and see. In the mean time, The Realistics, who toured with the Strokes, could give the Strokes some ideas. Their sound is similar to the Strokes’ sound, but more varied. While the vocals on “Why didn’t you stay” sound distinctly Stroke-esqe, there are others that are distinctly less low-fi but sound just as good. The familiarity in the Realistics music is not a bad thing, these are catchy pop songs with too many hooks to keep your mind from wandering even to the great garage-rock organ filtering through the guitar. In fact, I’m going to issue a warning, the Realistics may linger in the head and cause head bobbing. Pam
@ www.catapultrecords.com

Really Red –“Teaching You the Fear” CD 18/39:04
Originally having made it to CD on a long-gone retrospective, the 1980 album from these TX semi-heroes makes its long-awaited reappearance. One factor that helped in making this band stand out was the way they absorbed the jaggedness of Wire and Gang of Four as well as the lessons learned from the usual hardcore heroes (listen to tracks like “Ain’t No Time” for proof). Intense and righteous without becoming self-righteous (a fine line that not every band manages to tread) this record still sounds like a breath of fresh air over two decades later. David
@ www.emptyrecords.com

Reason Seven – s/t CD 14/64:15
Don’t really know what to make of this record. “Away From Me” is air-tight, dancable ska-pop, “Low” is faux classic rock with a strong vocal tension, and the immortal line, “Remember when you loved me like a needle in the vein”. “Texas” turns the cornball phrase, “Fuck this I’m going to Texas” into pure gold. There are faint hints of mod and punk influences sprinkled about, and a couple thrash-rock tunes recorded live. It will be interesting to see if they ever garner any big label interest. A major could pacakage then as the next Sublime. Anthony
@ www.smogveil.com

Red Animal War - "Black Phantom Crusades" CD 12/44:53
"Black Phantom Crusades" is a massive album that rides on waves of shimmering D.C.-influenced guitar, impassioned vocals and powerful, complex melodies. It's political without being pedantic and aggressive without being pushy. Genre-splicing is hinted at but never fully exposed, like some mutant that resides in the dirty backroom. Red Animal War flirts with emocore but thankfully never spends the night; a testament to their restraint. Every song is fully realized and polished without losing its energy or drive, never stumbling over its complex rhythmic structures. Standout tracks like "Straight Lines for Construction Workers" are tight and catchy as fuck, furious in demeanor and calculated in execution. Saxophone and xylophone peak through muscular guitars, hinting at any number of punk-appropriated permutations. What sets this album apart is its clarity, both in its production and palatably self-righteous disposition. Excellent mood-driven post-punk from this Dallas, Texas foursome. Definitely worth checking out. John
@ www.deepelm.com

Red Bee Society - "Two Cops" CD 2/9:43
Nice indie pop material that might have fit on the Sarah label. A little dirgey at times, with a steady guitar and beat on the first song, including more than a few My Bloody Valentine fuzz pop moments. The second song is another fuzzy pop tune; with swirling keys. Can't say there's anything great here, but if pleasant, inoffensive indie pop is your thing, then these two songs will fit the bill. Steve
@ www.redbeesociety.com

Red Hot Valentines - "Calling Off Today" CD 3/10:45
From Illinois, this band has a full length coming out later in the year, and this serves as a preview. Judging from the three songs here, they're your basic pop band, nothing special except they use a moog extensively as a background instrument. Thankfully, they don't get into the wacky noodling that many bands often fall into the trap of when they get enamored of keyboards of any sort. The songs have plenty of pop/rock hooks, but for some reason they just don't stick in your head that long. Decent, in the same way the Get Up Kids are decent, you'll listen, think, "OK, that's not bad", and probably want to like it more than you really do because it has so many elements of what you look for in a good pop record, but it never quite lives up to the promise. Steve
@ www.polyvinylrecords.com

Red Krayola – “Singles” CD 21/75:30
Might seem a bit contradictory for a comparatively outré outfit like RK to have actually released singles, but release them they did, and this collection features almost all the tracks from same, including those very rare and unreleased. The band’s sound went through many a change over the years, thanks in no little part to a fluid lineup (mainman Mayo Thompson has been the only consistent throughout its almost-four-decade history) though for the most part he’s stayed most comfortably at the outskirts of what usually gets termed “conventional” music. (One would think there’d be a sense of knowing irony over having “radio edits”). The early 80s material – stuff that was recorded concurrent with and fit comfortably alongside (if not overshadowing) the better post-punk works of the era (some of the musicians responsible for same appearing here as well) and the stuff that was recorded with Art & Language hold up the best. Overall worth investigating, especially if your RoughTrade waxings are getting worn. David
@ www.dragcity.com

Red Letter Day – “More Songs About Love & War” CD 20/72:15
Reissue of the 1991 album from RLD, with their side of a 1988 split album with the Sect and a contribution to a Clash tribute tacked on. Actually their appearance on said tribute isn’t that inappropriate, since this is closer to post-post-post-Clash punkish rock (complete with noticeable guitar wanking) than rockish-punk or good ol’ punk rock. It’s Okay For What It Is – what they lack in songwriting skills/originality or way with a memorable tune they at least partially make up for in energy – but overall this will remind one why the very early 90s (when these tracks first surfaced) was considered by more than a few to be a low point for punk; whether true or not (and former Purple Onion habitués might argue that statement), records like this did help give that impression. David
@ www.overgroundrecords.co.uk

Red Reaction – “Welcome to the Warzone” CD13/35:36
Hailing from West Massachusetts, this CD features their album in all its remastered glory, with 3 bonus tracks. Hardcore with roots in regions Boston and NYC (w/o the crap “crossover touches”), probably not surprising considering their West Massachusetts origins. Could very well have fallen into a generic rut, but this manages to be powerful enough to avoid said pitfalls. Should be noted that almost half of the playing time is actually the old “Dead-air-followed-by-goofy-hidden-bonus-track” that got old ages ago; if you can’t find enough live/demo/non-joke stuff to fill up a CD then don’t even bother with the bogus “hidden track” crap. David
@ www.coalition-records.com

Reggie and the Full Effect – “Under the Tray” CD 17/38:01
If I were in The Get Up Kids, lords of all that is emo, I’d need to put out records like this just to keep myself sane. This is the Spinal Tap-ish side project of GUKer James Dewees, a metal, new wave, emo juggernaut that doesn’t manage to sound all that different from The Get Up Kids. In fact, if I were Dewees, I’d seriously consider adopting Reggie as a full time alias and ditch your buddies in the band. While still enjoyable on some guilty level, the previous record had, if possible, some of the most brilliantly stupid pop-rock moments I had heard in a while. “Under the Tray” lacks such transcendence, but it’s better than three quarters of the pop-punk on the radio and miles above The Get Up Kids last record. Furthermore, emo kids can learn some lessons here on how to stop taking themselves so seriously. Scott
@ www.reggieandthefulleffect.net

Reigning Sound – “Too Much Guitar” CD 14/37:04
Yet another new garage rock outfit, this one with pronounced 60’s riffage and verbal inflections. Yet strangely enough, the resulting songs aren’t overly derivative or at all generic. On the contrary, the Reigning Sound have somehow recombined their plethora of cool influences into a new, intriguing, and very appealing sonic stew with super trashy guitars. Imagine what the Jesus and Mary Chain would have sounded like if they had grown up in the mid-60s rather than the mid-70s, and you’ll have some idea of just how amazing this record is. Raw and rockin’ as hell. Jeff
@ www.midheaven.com

Remember the Ocean – “Ruth” CD 11/49:30
No, Remember the Ocean singer Kristin Larkin isn’t Natalie Merchant – she just plays her on record. R.T.O. play jangling, occasionally-catchy but never offensive power pop that yearns to be something more – at times flaunting eastern influences, and on other songs trying really hard to write that breakup song that’ll go on every mix tape you make for years. When the plan succeeds, as on the earnest “Every Empty” and the lilting “Summer,” R.T.O. can at least remind you to break out those old Sundays records. The album even offers one surprise to the dedicated listener, the penultimate track “Don’t Leave,” which sounds like it is was recorded in a live but intimate setting. Simple melody and simple lyrics add up to something far more than the sum of their parts, and on this track the listener gets a glimpse of good things to come for this act. Ryan
@ www.remembertheocean.com

Resistance 77 – “Long Time Dead” CD 11/36:32
Well all right then. I haven’t had a decent UK Oi! album comes my way in quite a spell. Actually, let me start over, Resistance 77 are more 80s style GBH than anything, I think. But they inlay of the CD claims to be heralded as an Oi! band. I guess they are, but they have more quick spunk than some Oi! outfits that I’ve come across. I don’t know. Once again, music labels that I can’t really attend to. But lets move on shall we? “Long Time Dead” is a fine and tight album of punk rock tunes that get the job done and support, wholeheartedly, the starving underclass in blue collar England. The music is somewhat lacking in any kind of real passion, but the tunes are good enough to cut through hat bullpucky. The title track, and album cover art, is in ode to the now dead pioneers of punk rock : Joe Strummer, Joey Ramone, Sid Vicious, etc. And I have an inkling that Resistance 77 want to call upon the bones of these brave and angry men (who all died rich) to fuse their music with the same vigor and success. If they keep it up they have a decent chance at becoming at least an underground phenom. But for now, Oi!, it’s a long haul to the middle. Whittaker
@ www.resistance77.co.uk

Resistoleros - "Rock N Roll Napalm" CD 13/27:35
Great return from Sammytown of Fang: 13 blazing, ugly tunes from his post-Fang band. I can't say enough about this record; if you like your punk fast and dangerous this is a band for you. Sammy's voice is in fine form and the song-writing is catchy like V.D. His lyrics are diverse and from the gutter-level you'd expect from the singer who brought you "Skinheads Smoke Dope" "Destroy the Handicapped" and "Fistful of Wicked Women.". Jesse
@ www.steelcagerecords.com

Restless - "Rarities" CD 20/65:39
This English band formed in the early 80's, in the midst of the rockabilly revival. They managed to get a few releases out, then fell into recording oblivion for several years. They've released a couple of other CDs since 2000, and this contains previously unreleased material, live performances and excerpts of a radio interview. They've got a very authentic sound and don't try and push the envelope of the genre too far in the studio. That might be some of my problem with a few of their songs; they almost sound too relaxed and by the numbers for a genre that has at its best has to push the envelope by setting pianos on fire and hip shaking to the end of the night. There are a couple of early demos ("Mr. Blues" and "Hesitate") and several live songs where they seem to play with the additional reckless abandon that makes the genre so exciting when it's done well. I'm sure they were a ton of fun live in their heyday, and skip past a couple of the more tepid tracks on this to figure out what hits you hardest. Steve
@ www.vinyljapan.com

Reunion Show - "Kill Your Television" CD 11/35:06
The CD starts off with some fun keyboard work then jumps into a pretty good melodic punk guitar driven tune with the keyboards being used effectively as a lead instrument. That trend continues for the bulk of the release, with a couple of exceptions where they don't get the keys into the mix. Eventually, most of the songs tend to sound the same, but the keyboard flourishes and consistent new wave power pop of the disc sticks in your brain. The vocals are another thing that hooks you in on this one, they're strong punk tough sounding over lyrics about, among other things, homogenization of the media. A tough, hard hitting pop punk release that'll surprise you with how often you'll put in the player. Steve
@ www.victoryrecords.com

Reverend Horton Heat – “Revival” CD + DVD
The Rev returns, in a more reflective mood at times, but generally cranking out more of his patented brand of post-‘billy rock. Not bad, though it does suffer the fate of most of his studio material, sounding too clean and constrained for its own good at times (I don’t think anyone’s expecting “Psychobilly Freakout” MK II at this point, but some of this treads dangerously close to “House of Blues” territory). Still, the three live tracks on the bonus DVD turn up the heat somewhat;, and also includes a visit by the Rev back to his old hood where it all began. David
@ www.yeproc.com

Revillos - “Attack” CD 17/58:15
Finally the real “Attack” sessions surface after an aborted run of counterfiet vinyl. I guess the master tapes were not complete, but somehow this great sounding CD was pieced together. Revillos are one of Scotland’s all time great bands, with their catchy, slightly whacky, ‘60s Brit invasion influenced girl-boy punk-era rock. One of the great live bands too. “Man Attack” alone is worth the price of admission, and there’s plenty more. Mel
@ www.captainoi.co.uk

Rhythm of Black Lines – "Human Hand, Animal Band" CD 10/58:06
This band is bit too wankery for my tastes; and not wankery in the “Neil Peart is god” kind of way, but in the “Syd Barrett is my hero and I really like psychedelic drugs” way. Not a bad album by any means, just way too much of that. I sorta get the feeling that while I’m listening to this and not seeing the point, there’s a lot of folks out there who would really, really like it. I have a feeling that both the band and their fans like a lot of music that could be described as “prog-fusion” and they’ve taken some jazz theory classes at the local college. Jake
@ www.rhythmofblacklines.com MP3 Download

Richies - "Forever and Today" CD 13/40:17
Don't confuse this band with the Ramones-core group of the same name from Germany, this group is from Australia and sticks to smooth jangle pop confections. Featuring three members of the Pyramidiacs, including producer Michael Carpenter, and Charlie Davis on vocals, this release was a long time in the making because of the busy schedules of the players. It was definitely worth the wait though, because the songs are so solid. Davis's former band was more of a straight up rock outfit, but the edges are smoothed out on this debut, leaving a fine indie pop effort along the lines of Squeeze, full of gorgeous harmonies, subtle and intricate lead guitars, and songs you can't help but want to sing along to. They also don't run into the trap of writing too many songs that sound the same; sure, 3/4 of the songs are at the same tempo, but they mix in a couple of real rockers as well, while maintaining the great pop sound. Terrific for fans of Fountains of Wayne, Squeeze, and other great indie pop/rock outfits. Steve
@ www.popboomerang.com

Riddle Of Steel – “Python” CD 11/43:16
I was almost expecting some kind of metal album with a band name like that. Even the name of the album, “Python”, could mean certain doom in the Krokus style of fret melting fury set to plastic digital disc. But…no. Riddle Of Steel play confident, harmonious precision rock mannered in an almost Helmet style yet boiled down to a Fugazi love and nod to some noise and ratchet core gone ungloved haymaker. I really, REALLY dug this album in the light that it maintains on so many different cliffs: The songs alone stand out as almost epic with the still driving beat but wavering on the superfluous idea that time signatures don’t mean a one way highway, or a deviation from the actual thrust. They could include an actual “beat” that persists and the surface licks go in quasar fractions to make the album swoon almost all incumbents of music following. Me? I love Sabbath style metal and rawk, and I totally loved “Python”. You? Well what the hell are you doing reading more of this? Damn man. Put this down and go get whatever Riddle Of Steel you can. When you do, come back to me and tell me how many times you’ve had to listen to it and them before actually getting it and realizing that rock still fxxking rules! Good work boys! Whittaker
@ www.asceticrecords.com

Riff Randalls - s/t CD 6/13:06
Shouldn't be any secret what a band named after the cool chick in "Rock 'N Roll Highschool" sounds like; yup, it's a female version of the Ramones. Actually, they aren't an all girl band, their bass player is a boy. Anyway, the songs are all bouncy pop punk tunes, with plenty of attitude and great hooks. I hate to compare this band to other female fronted bands, because it really shouldn't make a difference whether a girl sings or a guy does, and it certainly doesn't have any real bearing on how good a band is, but people will go "So, are they better than the Donnas?". I say yes, the songs are plenty punk, but it's the pop melody that sticks in your brain. Nice, raw production helps keep the songs loose and perky and all the songs here flat out rock. If you're looking for fun blasts of pop punk, look no further. Steve
@ Delmonicore, Boix 231123 Connaught PO, Calgary, AB T2S 3B1, Canada

Riffs – “Underground Kicks” CD 11/42:28
Reissue of the Riffs’ debut album, originally back in 2000; better than I remembered it though that might be due to the remixing. Based on this the lads learned their lessons from their Dolls (esp. vox and handclaps) and Pistols (wall-of-sound guitar attack) rekkids well. Mind you it doesn’t beat the masters at their own game, but it puts many a similar outfit to shame. David
@ www.tkorecords.com

Riot 99 – “Last Train to Nowhere” CD 12/34:35
Mix Chaos U.K. with a run-of-the-mill oi band, and you’ve got Riot 99 from the Great White North. Sometimes fast and snarly, sometimes mid-tempo oi, Riot 99 is only really notable because of their repeated affinity for cunnilingus. Such lewd odes to down below like “I just want to suck your cunt” “Nun Fucker” and “Sure Thing” are mixed in with the standard punk/oi topics of drinking, rioting, conformity, and the meaningless of war. I might be a fan if I was a local, but since there’s a ton of similar bands around here I’ll pass. Probably a blast to tour with though, like a Canadian Blanks 77… Jesse
@ Longshot, PO Box 462, 31 Adelaide Street East, Toronto, M5C 2J5 Canada

Riot Squad – “Another Heartbreak” CD 6/17:53
A contemporary Belgian “streetpunk” band with pronounced r’n’r stylings, not one of the many earlier groups with the same moniker. One thing that sets them apart from the usual bovver boys is a female guitarist on background vocals, who complements the lead singer well and also sounds pretty damn haunting herself. A couple of the tracks here are a bit generic, but there are also three excellent mid-tempo cuts with very catchy melodies and tasty guitar parts that I love (namely, “Dead End Cruiser”, “Don’t Gamble With Love”, and “Rose Tattoo Girl”). Within this increasingly stale subgenre, it’s a miracle when any songs truly stand out. Jeff
@ www.streetanthemrecords.com

Rise Against - "Revolutions Per Minute" CD 13/37.43
Is it wrong that I like this CD so much? a) it's on Fat Wreck Chords, b) it's most easily defined as "screamo", and c) The band describes themselves as "political". Usually any one of these three things means I won't like it, but this CD is great. Elements of 90's Pop Punk, 80's Hardcore, and a touch 70's Arena Rock are delivered quite nicely by this four piece out of Chicago. I'm fairly certain the drummer digs death metal too, as he throws in some wickedly fast double kick rhythms every now and again. This album has a lot of musical depth, much more then I have come to expect from a Fat release, but it does come with that Fat sense of humor. And let me tell you, a "screamo" band with a sense of humor is a rare thing. One thing I like about Fat releases is the sonic quality is always great, and Rise Against's "Revolutions Per Minute" is no exception. The 13th "hidden" track, a cover of Journey's "Any Way You Want It", closes the album and brought a smile to my face. If liking this is wrong, I don't want to be right. Manny
@ www.riseagainst.com

River City Rebels - "No Good, No Time, No Pride" CD 12/29:54
Slick, over produced "street" punk. The genre as I like it best has balls hanging down to your knees, but this stuff leaves me feeling like I've just stepped into a frozen pond and the turtle action is going on big time...guys will know what I mean. Anyway, it's apparent that this band is trying to smooth out the rough edges on a style that is heavily over done these days. They're successful in doing just that, and the end result is that it sometimes sounds forced and trite; like a bunch of suburban kids trying to sound tough and hard. They do utilize a few ska riffs, and a sax and trombone are part of most songs, although you sometimes have to strain to hear them, and occasionally get political/working class with their lyrics. The CD contains some video from their April 202 tour, in documentary form, which holds some interest. It would be nice if the music held it just as much. Besides, their press stuff touts them playing with the "Dead Kennedys"...yeah, right. Steve
@ www.victoryrecords.com

Riverboat Gamblers - "Something to Crow About" CD 13/28:50
The second full length from these sloppy Texans keeps the raging rock n roll guitars churning full throttle. They aren't a classic punk band by any means; there are all the raw elements of punk; many of the same three chords done over and over, but the energy is that of a hi-fi garage band; similar to the Rip Offs and the Mummies, only with the production knobs turned in a way that bring the sonic levels way up. The songs have plenty of melody, but they aren't sweet in any way, with the buzzing guitars stripping away the sweetness that many bands fall into when they do this kind of stuff. Mike "Teko" Wiebe's vocals are screamed to keep pace and volume over the music and are perfect for the genre. Have a Bud and break the bottles all over the dance floor when you're done, because U.S. punk RAWK (take THAT you Hives, Hellacopters and Turbonegro fans!) is back in fine from with these guys. Steve
@ www.gearheadrecords.com

Rizzudo – s/t CD 7/21:24
Another post-90s band of below-the-radar, sensitive males who combine emo, math rock and old fashioned punk into an unadventurous hybrid. This trio of brothers wants to be like June of ’44, but even the meanderings of “Headstrong” and the moaning keyboards of “Shark Encounter” don’t raise them to that level. Anthony
@ www.rizzudo.com

Rob Smith – “Better World Tomorrow” CD 14/39:49
Smith was in the long lost to the world Aussie powerpop band the Innocents in the late 70’s, and has only in the last 3 or 4 years released some solo work. With the help of Michael Carpenter, who has been responsible for production work on some of the best Australian pop band of the last 10 years, Smith releases what sounds like a long lost Rubinoos album. There are plenty of jangly Mersey beat style guitars everywhere, hooks galore, handclaps, nice harmonies, and some great boy loves girl lyrics. Smith add touches of piano and horns here and there, but they’re all used to good effect to produce a strong pop disc that fits right alongside any number of releases that rely heavily on the melody without sacrificing too much in the rock department. Aces, and sure to be on my top 10 list at the end of the year. Steve
@ www.wizzardinvinyl.com

Robert Mitchum – “Calypso – Is Like So” CD 14/37:53
Robert Mitchum singing Calypso? Yep, it’s the reissue of Mitchum’s famed 1957 calypso album. (Ya have to remember that Calypso was the Big Thang back around the time this was recorded). Robby wisely chose to forgo any mershing down for the U.S. audience (no strings, vocal choruses, etc.) and decidedly to tackle the material relatively straight. Probably wouldn’t stand up against Lord Invader as an Authentic Calypso Product, but you do you get some lively fun upbeat workups that’ll fit well in your Exotica collection or blaring in the background at your next tiki shindig. As a bonus there are two bonus tracks at the end, including the fab proto-drag tune “Ballad of Thunder Road”. Considering how short the shelf life is for these celebrity rekkids (Bruce Willis or Don Johnson anyone?) the fact that people still enthuse over this record over 45 years later should tell you something. David
@ www.cherryred.co.uk

Rock Kills Kid – s/t CD 6/20:29
Sigh…when reviewing records, the most depressing thing that can happen is putting on a new record, then forgetting about it until it’s over. Rock Kills Kid’s latest is one such album – pleasing, semi-melodic punk that never raises a pulse, much less an eyebrow. Sample lyric: “Nothing is right, everything’s wrong now/where do I go this time why do I try/no, I don’t belong now, where do I go.” Clearly, these guys took careful notes in the angst-rock 101 class. Nothing new here – rock may kill kid, but a lack-of-new-ideas releases like this could certainly kill rock. Ryan
@ www.rockkillskid.com

Rockbottom - "Throw Away" CD 10/33:46
From Japan, this quartet plays some pretty perky powerpop in the tradition of many a skinny tie band of the late 70's and early 80's, and when they aren't doing that, they do a pretty decent homage to Cheap Trick. It's nice to see the "Live At Budokan" still has it's influences. The lyrics are pretty unintelligible (even with the lyrics printed in the booklet), except when they are singing the title track's chorus of "ROCKBOTTOM" over and over, and the production could use a little boost - after all who wants to sound like they are playing inside a fish bowl, right? But the songs are pretty good pure rock n roll numbers with enough melody to keep you interested. They do seem to have something against TV, with one song titled "TV Kills" and another song with the line "no more shit of TV show" but the general theme of the disc is about Rockin' OUT. Fun sloppy stuff that'll appeal to the Cheap Trick fan in all of us. Steve
@ www.ne.jp/asahi/target/earth

Rocket from the Crypt – “Live From X-Ray” CD 10/26:30
Despite the title this is actually the latest studio effort from everyone’s fave post-garage punk-with-horns-from-San-Diego outfit. It feels kinda skimpy (10 songs at under 27 minutes), though what they lack in length they make up for in terms of full-throttle SD Rock (as in “Rock Motherfucker!”). This is pretty much like their last effort: definitely better than their major-label offerings but not as good as what they were once capable of. Still, even if this isn’t quite up to “Circa Now” standards (and how sick the band must be of hearing that phrase by now), RFTC’s “pretty good” still beats most bands’ peaks, so you should know what to do. David
@ www.vagrant.com

Rocket from the Tombs – “Rocket Redux” CD 12/51:06
Yes, reformed bands who redo old songs are usually a good enough reason to run for the nearest exit but, as always, these guys just HAD to be different (plus it’s worth noting that these are the first “real” intended-for-general-release recordings of these songs, as opposed to the live/demo/rehearsal tracks that made their way onto various bootlegs and the previous official retrospective). This seminal Cleveland proto-avant-garage-punk outfit (represented here by David Thomas, Craig Bell, Cheetah Chrome, Steve Mehlman, and Richard Lloyd filling in for the departed Laughner) tackle twelve tunes from their repertoire (a few of which were later done by spinoffs Pere Ubu and Dead Boys); the spirit of old must have (re)possessed them, cuz the results are definitely edgier than what some of these folks have, ahem, been associated with in years. For folks who are old enough to easily fall prey to “maturity”, it’s actually somewhat reassuring that their more “reflective” moments (where Laughner’s deceptively sensitive touch is missed) pale compared to the likes of the RTT version of “30 Seconds Over Tokyo”. Based on this, I daresay I regret missing their recent reunion tour more than I did with the Pixies. David
@ www.smogveil.com

Rocket Summer – “Calendar Days” CD 10/38:52
One of those rare written/produced/playing all instruments DIY that works. For a solo effort, this CD has a full feel, rather than a mere ego trip. Bryce Avary avoids that DIY trap of “if the technology exists, I must do it” and just gives us the music without unnecessary “extras” like sound effects and manipulation. And, fortunately, that helps make this very listenable. Soft rock? Hard pop? Whatever, it all fits together, especially thanks to Bryce’s songwriting skill and vocals. He can carry a tune, yet doesn’t sound processed or like everyone else. RBF
@ www.themilitagroup.com

Rockin' Ryan and the Real Goners - "Caged Heat" CD 16/39:56
Hot diggity dog! I had to doublecheck the liner notes to make sure this band was from 2003 instead of the mid-1950s. This platter of mostly original tunes could've easily passed as a reissue of an obscure rockabilly act, with all the sass and swagger of cool cats like Billy Lee Riley, Ronnie Dawson, and Eddie Cochran. The best new rockabilly band I've heard in a long time - none of that watered-down or over-produced neo-rockabilly crap here. Lily
@ www.gollygeerecords.com

Roddy Frame - "Surf" CD 11/36:09
Really wanted to like this latest effort from the former Aztec Camera leader - after all, AC’s early Postcard singles like "We Could Send Letters" and "Pillar To Post" bring back many fond memories, being as they were nigh-perfect early-80’s folk-pop nuggets. Even their first two proper, major label LP’s had their moments. But, sad to report, this is a long solo acoustic sprawl through emotions that, when set to music, are best left within the walls of one’s local java joint on open-mike night. Inoffensive and inessential. MLH
@ www.spinartrecords.com

Rodriguez – s/t CD 13/26:38
Chalk up Austria as yet another “foreign” land spitting out fine high-octane punk-rock-n-roll. That’s definitely memorized their Stooges albums but added their own layer of grit and grime instead of doing rote rehashes (a fate that befell more than one of their 90s equivalents). Not bad at all. David
@ www.swindlebra.de

Rogers Sisters - “Purely Evil” CD 11/28:44
If one were to pass this off as a long-lost “downtown NYC” post-punk rekkid I doubt the punters would have blinked. Jagged post-punk meets what new wave COULD have been without that all-diluting “commercial potential” element. Vox do hit B52s territory at times but we no so much talking “Rock Lobster” or “Downtown” as their more serious tunes (“your number’s been disconnected”…). Worth making room in your collection for. David
@ www.troublemanunlimited.com

Rogue Wave – “Out of the Shadow” CD 12/36:47
This is a reissue on Sub-Pop of an album that came out in the SF Bay area in 2002, with the songs having been remastered. This is a real find, after a few listens you find yourself hooked into the various styles on here; ranging from the Elliott Smith sounding “Be Kind – Rewind” to occasional rock out moments (well, sort of…they never raise the noise levels that high) on a song like “Endless Shovel”. You hear bits and pieces of Simon and Garfunkel, Sebadoh, and the more quiet Elephant 6 bands, and although many of the songs are quiet and languid, no one song sounds that much like another. When this was recorded, lead Rogue Zach Rogue handled most of the instruments and vocal work, with some additional personnel on harmonies, the occasional pedal steel, and a Wurlitzer; he now has a full band backing him. Hopefully this reissue will give them a nice push, because this is as fine an indie pop album to come out in the last couple of years. Steve
@ www.subpop.com

Ronald Isley and Burt Bacharach - "Here I Am" CD 13/58:17
Ronald Isley, the main vocalist for the long running soul vocal group the Isley Brothers, takes a turn at the Bacharach/Hal David songbook, with Burt on the piano. A bunch of classics; sung by a guy with a great voice. Most of the familiar songs are here, "In Between the Heartaches", "Close to You", "Anyone Who Had a Heart". I could go on about the timelessness of the songs; between Bacharach's writing, Hal David's great lyrics, well, it's kinda hard to go wrong...but they kinda did on this. Too cocktail lounge; too smooth, too soulless. Too bad, it could have been interesting to hear a good soul take on these songs, but it just falls flat. Steve
@ www.dreamworksrecords.com

Roolettes - s/t CD 13/35:50
Simple songs that simply rock. There is no social message on the Roolettes self-titled debut, just lots of good, hard music. "Gimme Gimme Some Fun" is tight, fast and frenetic, with no point but go go go! "Pretty" delivers a mid-tempo love letter to a girl who is ... pretty. "Summer Fun" ranks up there with the best of the early Ramones, full of "yeah yeah yeah" and cheerful, distorted guitars. Check your brain and get ready to smile. The Roolettes are gonna do you right. Mark.
@ www.vinyljapan.com

Rosie Thomas - “Only With Laughter Can You Win” CD 11/39:03
This has got to be the most girly CD that has ever been in my possession. Everything is pink, there are flowers on it, and it’s one of those female singer-songwriter types. I would imagine this stuff goes over well with the Lillith Fair crowd, but it doesn’t do much for me. Rosie has a great voice, but the music is just way too bland and adult contemporary. I really wouldn’t be surprised to hear her music being played on Dawson’s Creek while a couple of angsty teens make out. She’s done some interesting duet work with Damien Jurado, it’s just too bad this isn’t closer to that work. Jake
@ www.subpop.com

Ross Beach - "You Make It Look So Easy" CD 17/40:49
Ross Beach is a true underdog. As a perpetually overlooked member of the early Elephant Six Collective, he accrued the experience to become the Next Big Thing in indie (or at least the next to get signed to Sub Pop). His agreeable, 60s-influenced songwriting has "summer fun" written all over it. Still, he seems content to release album after album of catchy but similar-sounding love songs, never quite attaining the next level of status in the underground rock community. Maybe Beach is happy this way, with mildly received albums and a sort of mid-level indie status. But I suspect he'd welcome a boost in notoriety. His recipe - both solo and with his band The Hellpets - consists of plaintive, warbling vocals with a hint of Southern twang, angelic female backing harmonies slathered over beds of jangly guitars, organs, and lots of clever lyrics, and a naively refreshing innocence. So what's wrong here? Nothing really, it's just not enough to take him to the next level. "You Make It Look So Easy" is plagued with paradox, full of buoyant melodies that inevitably lead to dead ends and catchy songs that overstay their welcome. It's not memorable or affecting, but they do make pleasant sing-alongs. John
@ www.abouncingspace.com

Rotary Downs – “Long After the Thrill” CD 13/41:23
Downs’ frontman singer James Marler is a fan of Stephen Malkmus-like wordplay. And like Malkmus, Marler’s vocal delivery is more than a little languid. This, of course, makes Rotary Downs sound a lot like Pavement. That’s not a bad thing. There’s a dreamy, off-kilter quality to the songs on this record; these guys are onto something good. Kevin
@ www.rotarydowns.com

Rotters – “Wrench to the Nuts” CD 17/42:06
Reunion of the semi-legendary LA punk band of “Sit On My Face Stevie Nicks” infamy. The only thing is that if you look at the fine print only one of the original members remains, usually not a good sign. Though there are a few songs here that fulfill said fears, this averages out overall as being “above average”; some tracks are fairly leaden, some are actually pretty good. Not to say that this record is actually “essential” or that any of the material is up to the aforementioned anti-classic, but it’s solid enough, which is sometimes the best you can hope for from these single-member “reunions”. David
@ www.dionysusrecords.com

Roustabouts - "The Only One" CD 12/33:50
The Roustabouts come out with guns blazing, all instruments slamming forward simultaneously. The band moves as a single entity, kicking each tune to the curb. With a sound not unlike early Social Distortion, they hit it hard and fast while still maintaining a pleasant ring to the arrangements. High marks for energy and power, even though the songs themselves don't show a lot of range. Hey, why fix what ain't broke? Mark
@ Haunted Town, 1658 N. Milwaukee Ave #169, Chicago, IL 60647

Roy - "Tacomatose" CD 5/18:22
This Seattle band appears to be on some sort of anti-drug crusade with preachy songs like "The Bolivian Army Lays Siege To Seattle". The problem, besides being full of obvious cliches, is that as songwriters they have enough trouble just finding a tune, let alone getting poetic. The press sheet references Nirvana, as if enough time has passed to do so safely. Whoever wrote that must have been smoking PCP-laced crank at the time. Anthony
@ www.initialrecords.com

Royal City – “Alone at the Microphone” CD 11/39:11
A decent alt-country-ish slab of music from this crew of Canadians. I enjoyed, but wasn’t blown away, by their previous release ‘At Rush Hour the Cars’, and I feel the same about this album. Both are somewhat forgettable, but when you’re actually listening to them you like it well enough. The new album has a bit more backbone to it from a rock point of view though; where the first was almost marked by it’s lack of music it was so delicate, this release finds the sound much more fleshed out in that ‘this is a band and not just one dude’ kind of way. They often get compared to Neil Young, but maybe that’s just because of the similar nationality; the music sounds quite different to me. I can’t even really think of any specific bands to point to, but more of an overall feeling; a very mellow vibe, making me think of lazy Sunday afternoons looking at the rain through the window, reading a good magazine. Just like the magazine, Royal City might not stay with you too long, but you enjoy it while it lasts. Jake
@ Rough Trade, 66 Golborne Road, London W10 5PS UK

Royksopp – “Melody A.M.” 2XCD 14/60:48
Supposedly a superior form of what’s been termed “downbeat”, though this is warmer and livelier (especially on such tracks as “So Easy” and “Eple”) than you’d expect from the name; while some of this is pretty “chill-out” most of this has quite a bit of pep. Works better when they’re not going for a soulful (or worse, 70s EZ soundtrack) feel, but overall pretty inventive and not content to shill chill-by-numbers. If you’ve been wanting to check out the world of electronica you could definitely do worse than this. Comes with a “bonus” disc featuring four remixes and three videos. David
@ www.astralwerks.com

Rubber City Rebels - "Pierce My Brain" CD 12/35:01
These old school punks are back, with 3/4 of the lineup intact from their heyday in the late 70's and early 80's. Originally from Ohio, the band came out of the same school of punk that produced bands like the Dead Boys, and seemed on their way to punk stardom; Sire signed them, never put the record out, but Doug Feiger of the Knack (who loved the Rebels) got them onto Capitol. The record didn't do well though, and that was that. Fast forward to 2001, the band gets back together, plays a few shows, and with Bob Clic (brother of guitarist Buzz Clic and member of The Lewd) handling bass, they put out this record in 2003. The good news is that they've lost none of the punk snot that made them so great back in the day; songs like "(I Wanna) Pierce My Brain", which leads off the CD, set the tone, plenty of punk attitude, tongue in cheek lyrics, rockin' guitars and great traditional punk vocals. There's a tribute song to Dead Boy Stiv Bators, a couple of covers, including Status Quo's "Paper Plane" and a song that was written (the lyrics) by a fan who is related to an Afghan warlord (it's true!) that taunts other warlords. This baby is lots of fun, with lots of great traditional punk that sounds just as fresh today as it would have had it come out when these guys first started out some 25 years ago. Steve
@ www.smogveil.com

Rubinoos - "Live in Japan" CD 14/46:05
Recorded live in 2002, the SF Bay Area's Rubinoos are best known for their semi-hit "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend", which by any standard is one of the great power pop songs of all time. They also produced a couple of full lengths in the early 80's, with the same great singalong lyrics about love and fun harmonies and guitar pop. Since their "heyday", they've put out a release here or there to little fanfare (including a CD of all covers last year), plus members of the band have appeared here and there on other folks' releases. This live effort is solid, with the band running through many of their songs as well as covers of the Flaming Groovies "Shake Some Action", the Raspberries "Tonight", the Looking Glass classic "Brandy" and others. They're playful with the crowd, do a great job on their own material as well as the covers, and it's nice to hear a band working as hard today as they did in their prime. I saw them back in the day, and I'd love to see them now too, based on this release. Steve
@ www.airmailrecordings.com

Rufio - "EP" CD 3/10:02
I know CDs are cheaper to produce than 7 inch vinyl, but I hate the 3 song CD. Just a pet peeve I guess. After all, this does have more than just the three songs; you've got a video, some interview stuff, band photos...but a three song release just belongs on vinyl. I'm not the biggest fan of this style of melodic "punk", as it gets labeled punk in the mainstream press, because it's way too sanitized. Some people think that just because the songs are fast and have guitars that they should be called "punk", but these songs aren't. They're generic alternative stuff with some melody, some angst on the vocals, and no real punch. Sure they can play proficiently, but there isn't anything that sticks after one listen or leaves you with any real feeling at all. Blah stuff. Steve
@ www.nitrorecords.com

Ruiners – “How’s That Grab Ya?” CD 16/60:55
Fucked up male/female band outta Detroit. 10-15 years ago, this band would’ve been the house band at Raji’s and favorites of Flipside. The Ruiners combine basic punk (Johnny Thunders, the Cramps) along with flashes of garage (The Mummies) and synth radness. Imagine if the Simpletones smoked a lot of speed and had crappy jobs stocking supermarket shelves, all the while day-dreaming about vampires, sex, rock’n’roll, and degeneracy. Not by-the-numbers at all, The Ruiners are quirky, completely over the edge, and really rockin’! “How’s that grab ya” kicks ass in a sleazy smoke-filled bar kind of way. Jesse
@ Disaster, PO Box 7112, Burbank, CA 91510

Rum Diary – “A Key to Slow Time” CD 5/33:01
This California band is hard to pin down. Their mostly-instrumental indie drone-pop is either soothing and annoying, depending on your taste for unfurling, repetitive soundscapes and ultra-patient drum beats. When they do sing, however, it’s a bad idea. The tinny vocals are mostly off-the-mark and serve only to weigh down the light structures of the songs. The opening track “The Day Dale Earnhardt Died” features the lines: “I want a race car…I need a race car.” The rest of the lyrics are pretty hard to discern. Is the lead singer commenting on the passing of a hero? Or making a profound statement on death in our celebrity-worshipping society? It’s hard to care. The rest of the songs let too much emo inflection and three-chord reliance slip past the quality censors. I couldn’t even make it through all twelve minutes of the last track. Still, their crisp bass tones and intuitive way around a melody hint that they could (at least instrumentally) create a great album someday. John
@ www.therumdiary.net

Rum Diary - “Poisons That save Lives” CD 8/60:14
The Rum Diary are a peculiar type of bird; although located so close to the Bay Area of California, they keep themselves pretty entrenched in the small town life that they know and love instead of escaping to the big city like most folks seem to do. More than likely, it’s this exact type of thinking that probably keeps their music so fresh and inspiring. What they sound like to me is a heady brew of Three Mile Pilot rock; smart, atmospheric emo of the Appleseed Cast; and the mellow math-rockiness of Dianogah – three great bands, and as far as I’m concerned, if you’re drawing comparisons to them then you’re on the right track. An engaging live act as well, the Rum Diary includes what is probably way more instruments than their tour van is happy toting around and no how to utilize them into their engaging sound. This one is definitely a keeper. Jake
@ www.substandard.com

Rumah Sakit/Sweep the Leg Johnny – split CD 13/78:03
Two bands caught live during an evening at the Bottom of the Hill. STLJ kick out the jams big-time with their patented intense Ex-gone-post-hardcore sound. RS is too much on the math-rock tip for my tastes, but they are admittedly pretty powerful here, even if I had to keep breaking out my slide ruler while listening to their CD. Worth it for Sweep the Leg Johnny, and RS doesn’t do too bad either. Good sound quality as well (no walkmanrama sound here). David
@ www.sickroomrecords.com

Running From Dharma - "If We Don't Speak..." CD 11/50:30
It's hard to stay "up" when continually reviewing post-adolescent emo bands. And calling everything emo that won't fit neatly somewhere else is a suspect device. It's become a catch-all like heavy metal or psychedelic. If it falls in the swamp it sticks there. Thrash-punk-hard rock cobbled together into heartfelt high school emotions is what we have here. "To Angels And Endings" has a baby tiger snarl. There is a Sunny Day Real Estate feel to "For Once to Follow Through." Bonus track sounds like a hardcore version of Live. Maybe if I was 16 years old I'd be creaming my jeans over this, but I suppose these kids today would rather suck the corporate cock of Kid Rock, M&M or 50 Cent Piece. Stupid fools. Anthony
@ www.corruptedimage.com

Running Like Thieves – “Same Time Next Year” CD 6/12:08
So these guys are pretty heavy and fast and will cause problems in clubs everywhere because their sound is the gut punch rock that will get the meatheads all stirred up and wanting to beat your ass. Running Like Thieves play real thick music, like a gristled T-bone steak gurgling on the grill with a case of cheap beer and the radio tuned up way too loud as to annoy your neighbors and let them know you are indeed a scared little kid locked in an adult body hating their job and what’s on TV. But they could be four of the nicest guys you ever met. Who knows? The music though is pure adrenalized cock rock. So there is that… Whittaker
@ www.livewire-records.com

Russian Futurists - “Let’s Get Ready to Crumble” CD 10/40:00
Brainspew of one Matthew Adam Hart, this is windswept, glacial yet tunefully approachable bedroom pop with the odd turn of witty phrase. Kind of like Stephin Merritt on a Prozac jag, except a song like “You Dot, Me Dot, T-Dot” gets almost funky in a way Merritt would no doubt find abhorrent, doleful urbanite sourpuss that he is. MLH
@ www.upperclass.org

Ruston Mire - "Driving Straight Up in Siam" CD 13/50:56
Brian Naubert is the heart and soul behind this Seattle band. (Yes, Virginia, they are still making music in Seattle.) His songs are artful and thoughtful and all about girls, and as much as I wanted to dislike this I just can't. "Bed of Glass", "The Hole in Her Chest" and the title track should be all over college radio. Mostly mid-tempo with fluid guitars and harmonies there is a point where it all coalesces absent specific genre requirements. Anthony
@ www.roamrecords.com

Ruth's Hat - "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Rock and Roll" CD 13/31:10
On their second full length, the Canadian pop punkers have done both some addition and subtraction, but the end result all adds up to a fine pop punk effort. Missing is some of the sloppy fun and speed racer style 1-2-3-4 punk that occasionally dripped over the melody and added are a couple of slower songs and keyboards that work well with their rich melodies. They've slowly started to evolve into a band that sounds more like the Smoking Popes on this release than anything else, with a little quirk in the melodies on occasion, and some nice lyrical twists. Lots of songs about driving and cars and girls, and they're all fun. A band that's growing with every effort, and hopefully the leap to a larger label will get them some richly deserved attention. Steve
@ www.fastmusic.com

Ruth's Hat/Sewing With Nancie - split CD 12/27:53
Done in 2001 for a tour by the two bands, these were done in limited quantities by Mutant Pop. Each band does six songs, and they're all covers. Some of the songs are safe and predictable, but there are also some interesting choices too. Ruth's Hat does a Replacements song, but picks "When It Began", speeding up the song a bit from the original and giving it a nice turn. They also pick "Dominated Love Slave" by Green Day, and a Link Wray cover. Sewing With Nancie gets a little more imaginative with their choices, doing the Beach Boys' "In My Room", Journey's "Don't Stop Believing", and the Yaz tune "Bad Connection" among their group of six. They do however tend to do most of the songs at the same pace and beat, not bringing enough of the original to the plate, but they're all decent covers. I've always liked both bands, and a disc like this, particularly done as a tour only effort, is a great idea and way to give their fans something extra. Steve
@ www.mutantpop.com

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