New music reviews: Redd Kross, RAD, Down By Law, 45 Grave, Long Distance Poison

Did I mention that Tuesday night’s Redd Kross gig at The Roxy was a record release show? Here’s a review on that long-awaited LP as well as some other new music that you should check out…

Down By Law – Champions at Heart
It’s been almost 10 years since Down By Law released a CD, and this one plays kind of like a well-polished retrospective of band leader Dave Smalley’s entire musical career in both themes and styles. It mixes the youthful metallic anthems of DYS with hardcore chargers by Dag Nasty and melodic punk songs about girls from ALL–with a ton of songs about the scene for good measure. “Popcorn and Coke” might be the catchiest tune and the biggest conversation starter, too. Is it a straightforward “Alfredo’s” style celebration celebration of food and fucking around? Or is it an update of Black Flag’s “TV Party” but with the irony dialed down to nothing? Crank it up and decide for yourself. [DC Jam Records]

45 Grave – Pick Your Poison
I commend Dinah Cancer (original member and ex-Castration Squad, Vox Pop, and Nervous Gender), Frank Agnew (ex-Social Distortion, Adolescents, and T.S.O.L.), and the new crew for expanding on the original goth punk band’s sound. Some of the songs sound rather pretty. But music that isn’t scary or rocking just isn’t 45 Grave! Maybe it’s more like later Damned? Diehards will dig the golden vinyl, but aspiring death rockers should check out the seminal Sleep In Safety (and peep the “Partytime” sequence from Return of the Living Dead on YouTube) first. [Frontier Records]

Long Distance Poison – Signals to a Habitable Zone
Rather than referencing the ominous tones of ’70s horror movies, this ambient, electronic drone crew captures the mysterious-yet-scientific vibe of Chariots of The Gods and In Search Of. Interesting, and if the musicians actually plan on transmitting the compositions into space, does that make the two pieces otherworldly or earthly? The thick LP comes as part of a deluxe package with a huge cryptic poster/diagram, the tracks on CD, and experimental (and probably stoneriffic) visuals on DVD. It’s a shame the videos couldn’t have been dubbed on VHS instead, though. [Fin Records]

RAD – Live on KDVS
The first side of this hand-numbered, limited-edition, and professionally recorded outburst of honest and unironic thrash on tape features an extended version of the “Live on KDVS” radio show that you’ve probably heard on SoundCloud. With only two songs from the band’s debut 7″ single (most of the others are on the highly coveted Smell bootleg) this serves as an ass-kicking preview of the Sacto crew’s next studio release. Yes, the takes are 100 percent rad and sound amazing on analog. The second side whips through brutal and worthy covers of JFA, Negative Approach, MDC, and Jerry’s Kids. Party with me, punker, indeed! [Pleasant Screams Cassettes/Sacramento Records]

Redd Kross – Researching the Blues
Infusing the rad melodies of the band’s later work with the garage rock/punk power of the Teen Babes and Neurotica eras, the new incarnation of Redd Kross is actually timeless. The totally ripping first song/title track practically kicks down your front door, the stacks of riffs in “Downtown” will blow through your bedroom like a hurricane, and everything-but-cowbell “Uglier” catches you with your pants down in the bathroom and with no choice but to submit to pure pop awesomeness. And that’s just the first three cuts! This is no trendy Internet-driven hit, but a collection of seriously bitchin’ tracks that gets better with every listen. [Merge Records]