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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Dischord Records

Rating: 6.5/10 ?

January 27, 2005
Dischord Records has always been a label known for its gritty hardcore sound. That sound, which has single-handedly defined the genre of DC punk rock, has been present since the 1980s, when label founder Ian MacKaye fronted the influential punk band Minor Threat. Newer Dischord acts such as Q and Not U and Black Eyes - although both more artistic and angular than the legendary Threat - still manage to exemplify the sound by releasing albums that always sound as if they are sprinkled with a little dirt before the compact disc jewel case is sealed shut and shrink wrapped. It is a bit crazy - maybe credit Don Zientara at Inner Ear Studio, who has engineered for a good amount of the Dischord catalog; or MacKaye, who is still owner - but when you hear an album from the DC label, you can just tell.

The latest self-titled release from the Routineers is no different. In typical punk rock fashion, the album does not extend beyond the 30-minute mark through 11 songs. The music is styled around the two lead personae, Amanda MacKaye and Ryan Nelson. MacKaye pushes tracks for which she sings lead vocal into a more abrasive Riot Grrl type aggressive. Nelson has a similar high-pinched yell, but shows a little more awareness of the structure and melody for the songs. When both vocalists sing together, the result is both cacophonic and beautiful at the same time - an interweaving, sharply barked punk rock preaching session. Through it all, the two sing heavy about thoughts that are overly personal (and strangely comforting), so much so that even the song titles seem very inside and self-defining: "FB," "Pussy Pants," and "My Apostasy." The effect that the duo creates is similar to that of other cool female-male frontline pairings such as We Ragazzi and Quasi.

After fulfilling all these characteristics that are exemplary of Dischord punk, there are several other things that the Routineers do to separate themselves from the pack. The eponymous recording is lean throughout the basic-chord songwriting ability and actual captured sound (not a whole lot of low-end frequency but a good live, vibrant sound). Both aspects in this situation, however, are entirely desirable and make the band sound great, as if they were recorded in old school analog.

Honestly, the Routineers were primed to disappoint. I thought, Fucking nepotistic bastards. I looked at the cheap black and white album cover and just expected the music to be much of the same quality. My harried first-glance judgment was wrong but good thing that again Dischord Records knew they were right.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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