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REVIEW: 4.5/10

Obvious Records is a Midwestern Punk label; I suppose they’re a new one, because this release will be their first on wax. This is straightforward – 5 songs from 5 bands for 5 bucks.

First up are Dekalb, IL’s Stockyards, with “Goons of Dekalb.” This is probably one of those cheeky “we’re so weird” songs, but there’s nothing cheeky about it. This is pretty awful. It starts off like an awkward high school talent show punk attempt, then turns into an awkward high school talent show punk attempt with quasi-screamo vocals. The Stockyards’ facebook says they play “high energy, socially-conscious punk music.” It’s anybody’s guess how socially conscious they are, because the production, vocals, and playing are mostly a big earache. I’m kind of sad I paused “Astral Weeks” to review this.

After the first abortion, Madison, Wisconsin’sDharma Dogsstep up to the plate. “Hoka Hey,” recorded by Bobby Hussy is ‘sap-suckling gunk rock.’ Whatever that means, this isn’t bad; there’s a good beat here – the kind that gets bodies moving at a show – but it’s also paired with a nice thrashy screamy section. The vocalist is content to sound like himself, which is something I really appreciate now that everybody seems like they’re either forcing their vox into some weird imitation of someone else, or submerging them in lo-fi muck and fuzz. There’s great energy here, and it’s convinced me to push on.

Uh-oh. Side B kicks off with another Dekalb band,The Phantom Scars.Fortunately, this is pretty good. This reminds me a lot of THE PENETRATORS, but with more bite and a lot more fuzz. The loose feel of it makes me think this was made up five minutes before recording it, but sometimes that works – and this does.

In the number four slot is Kalamazoo’sInflatable Best Friend,with their song “My Dead Bird.” This might be good, but I’m not sure. The recording is sub-Mummies quality, which makes it sub-sub-sub anything else. There’s a pleasant little PIXIES-ish middle-section, the quiet-loud-quiet thing that millions of bands do, but this one isn’t bad. The rest of the song doesn’t fare so well – it reminds me of THE PROMISE RING, but with squeaky, pained vocals. The band has some interesting ideas, though.

Last up isTHE OVERHEATERS,who are the best thing on here. A stomping, commanding riff and banging drums provide a nice counterpoint to the rest of the single, which has playing that’s amateurish at best. There’s a good gang vocal chorus; and some paper-thin vocals that actually work really well here – for some reason, it reminds me of “Heavy Days” JEFF THE BROTHERHOOD, but with a full band, and maybe less stoner-weird. This is a 1:40 blast of snot and punk energy that’s natural, yet also firmly in control. If you’re gonna check out any of these bands, make it this one.

Save for the Overheaters and maybe the Dharma Dogs, this is something to skip over. It’s only five bucks, and it’s a collaborative effort by some clearly new bands on a new label – I appreciate the spirit, and I do think there’s some potential here, but it’s just not something I’m dying to have on my shelf.

LISTEN:

Side A-
“Goons of Dekalb” by The Stockyards. From Dekalb, IL. 
“Hoka Hey” by Dharma Dogs. From Madison, WI. 
Side B-
“Under My Hood” by The Phantom Scars. From Dekalb, IL.
“My Dead Bird” by Inflatable Best Friend. From Kalamazoo, MI.
“Broken Bones” by The Overheaters. From Zeeland, MI.
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