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PUNK Magazine Listening Party #12 (3/23/02)
St. Patrick's Day Listening Party
by Jolly Prochnik, John Holmstrom, and The General

Notes by John Holmstrom

It's Saint Patrick's Day! What better time to get drunk and listen to a bunch of promotional punk rock CDs? So I invited a few people over to listen to the incredibly huge pile of CDs we've been receiving in the mail.

Interested in having your band roasted/toasted (as the case may be) in the PUNK Listening Party? Then send your CD to:
PUNK Magazine Listening Party
PMB 675
200 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10003

Rocket From The Tombs  | Pop O.D. The Songs of IGGY POP  | How Many Bands Does it Take to Screw Up a Blondie Tribute?  | Les Sexareenos  | The Charismatics  | Nekromantix  | The 700 Machines  | Millencolin  | I Love Rich  | Bad Religion  | Cutoff  | Cretin 66  | Bad Chopper  | Out Cold  | Rock Music: A Tribute to Weezer  | Scene of the Crime  | Brian Wilson Shock Treatment | Millencolin Battle Game

Rocket from the Tombs Rocket From The Tombs
The Day the Earth Met...
Rocket From The Tombs
Live from Punk Ground Zero, Cleveland 1975
Glitterhouse Records
Go! Peter Laughner sez: "You can do it too!" With a couple of Dead Boys before they were Dead Boys a couple of real fat guys + Laughner you can't miss. It's the young Akron Sound! They sound and look like: "Things suck - so just say 'Fuck it'!" Very important - the much overlooked "so what" factor. Some of it sort of sounds like dying young 'cause of too much "so what" factor. Which Laughner did. (Died young) Also - because it's from Youngstown Akron Cleveland (where I get the impression it rains a lot) it's got this "ain't shit shakin' but the leaves on the trees" feel to it - it gets like that in NYC sometimes so I can just imagine Akron on a rainy day with not much money no drugs no girls nuthin' on TV, car broke down, owe rent, intermittent mental illness, 1975, not much music skills to speak of, you just kinda wanna... play... or somethin'. You get the picture and if that were all I guess it would suck but... it's real, they (the kids in the group) are real so - I find it highly relatable. I dig it and them. Put it this way: "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" sounds like the title, followed by a five second version of "Satisfaction," "Never Gonna Kill Myself Again" (a favorite subject of Laughner's) and Super Top Notch Classic "Final Solution" ("Gonna get me a ticket to a sonic reduction/Something sounds like nuclear destruction") Yes - a "Strange kind of wit" - Great Rock 'N' Roll! "Took the guitar player for a ride/He's never once been satisfied/It's so hard to forget/It'll take him years to get over it/I get so easily excited/It's like havin' a party when you aren't invited" Viva Laughner! Too bad he's dead - he obviously knew what real RnR consisted of and cared about that if not himself. It's the sound of young America being thrown to the dogs in the rain by the garbage near the train tracks where the trains don't run. Let me outta here + good luck to ya if you don't get out. It's a bummer all right but they redeem it out of the murk with that good old American Can Do/Know how. You can too!

What a lineup: Cheetah Chrome, Johnny Blitz, Crocus Behemoth (aka David Thomas), former Creem/PUNK contributer Peter Laughner and some other guys (Craig Bell, Wayne Strick and others). Cheetah and Johnny went on to form the Dead Boys with Stiv Bators while Crocus and Peter started Pere Ubu. (I wonder how few people know what they named the band after?)

Peter and Lester Bangs were great friends back in the day. I dunno if that Lester Bangs book by Jim DeRogatis goes into much detail on their peculiar friendship, but I remember Peter telling me that he once called Lester and told he had been listening to Lou Reed's Berlin for 24 hours straight while on a meth jag, which impressed Lester greatly, and once they agreed that "Sister Ray" was the greatest song of all time they became lifelong friends (which turned out to be a short time).

I met Peter when Pere Ubu came to NYC in early 1976. Peter was actually our biggest ally at Creem, he wrote a lot of nice stuff about the magazine and he helped tune Lester and the Creem staff in about the early punk scene (which Lester himself was not really very fond of in 1976, he always found it much less interesting than the Detroit scene of a few years earlier). We never interviewed Pere Ubu for PUNK (I now wish we had), but we set them up on a radio show. Craig Castaldo (know best known as Howard Stern's Aqualung lookalike "Radioman"), who was our "Secret Weapon" back then, had a radio show at the time. Roberta took some photos of them during the interview. (I wonder if Craig might still have it on tape?)

Peter stayed in touch with me and wrote a few things for PUNK before he died in 1977. He was the first punk rock casualty, and his death at that time affirmed my belief that drugs are stupid. Peter's strange obsession with death and drugs can be hard on his songs "Life Stinks," "Amphetamine," "Seventeen" (not the Sex Pistols' song), and "Never Gonna Kill Myself Again." I think the last time I saw him was at our CBGBs benefit, when he was too screwed up on drugs to perform and they threw him off the stage. Turns out this was like an infamous incident, maybe the big warning sign that he needed help, but back then no one noticed.

Anyhow, Peter was a major creative talent behind Rocket From the Tombs and a lot of people around the Dead Boys and Pere Ubu would always talk about how great they were so Peter had a big influence on both bands. It's probably difficult for "punk rockers" today to appreciate this record but this is about as good as punk rock got back in 1974-75. This is the short-lived Gizmos/MC-80/Dictators punk movement that worshipped The Stooges + Alice Cooper + MC5. Which in turn inspired the Ramones and Dead Boys and all that came later.

The early versions of "Final Solution" and "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" are sort of interesting, as are the pre-Dead Boys takes of "Down In Flames," Sonic Reducer" and "What Love Is." It's interesting that David Thomas had such a big part in creating those definitive Dead Boys songs. But they are like bad demos, so only archivists and people who enjoy that trashy early 1970s post-glitter, pre-punk sound will wanna listen more than once. Too bad they weren't recorded better though, this could have been a contender. Instead of an artifact. Which is all it is. Sad. All the way around.

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Pop O.D.Various Artists
Pop O.D. - The Songs of IGGY POP
Static Records
Well, this is the opposite of Rocket From The Tombs. It accomplishes the unbelievable by taking the World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll and making it as ordinary and boring as a rainy day in Cleveland. It's like Superman pulling the Superhuman trick of flying back to Krypton - where he doesn't have anything special to distinguish him, much less super powers. In other words: Why in the fuck do it? A negative in the original sense. Negates. Takes that which is interesting and makes it un. AND - this is important - you wanna do a tribute to Iggy? GREAT! Popularize him! Make him well known and lionized! (And rich at last!) But! This record won't do that because all the bands are unknown - right? So it's a step up for them but it rockets Superman Iggy back to a premature tomb on Krypt-on. (Also - I saw Iggy on a VH-1 Fashion Awards show a few years ago and they had him playing "Rebel Rebel" of all things with Lenny Kravitz of all people. I guess sometimes they fly you back + sometimes you fly back to Krypton on your own steam.)

I am burnt out with tribute albums. On one hand, they can be a good thing and introduce you to new bands through old music that's familiar + well-liked by many. On the other hand, they are almost never better than the original music, so why waste time listening to tribute CDs when you can just play the real thing?

This is a perfect case in point. The Iggy CD is pretty tough to listen to. One thing about The Stooges was that they didn't write great songs as much as they were so great that anything they played sounded great. Sorry, none of these bands sound great. So you end up with a CD of cover songs like Forge doing "I Got A Right" or Spat!'s "TV Eye" cover that make you reach for the originals. And then you've got art-rock bands, like Jumbo, who reinterpret "Raw Power" and Mog Stunt Team's "No Fun" so badly that you want to track them down and destroy their equipment so they can't murder again. The best anyone on this CD seems to be able to do is Kristiva's innocuous/electronica "Funtime" (which is a David Bowie song anyhow) or the Down Boyz rapping to "Down On The Street." My favorite is the Immortal Winos of Soul, who wisely cover "Five Foot One" - an Iggy Pop song, not a Stooges classic. But with a name like that, this is probably a good band.

It all goes to show how great the Stooges were. Often imitated, never duplicated.

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Blondie TributeVarious Artists
How Many Bands Does it Take to Screw Up a Blondie Tribute?
Sympathy for the Record Industry
Great. They all try to stick pretty close to the original sound + energy. Blondie was one of the greatest things that ever happened on Planet Earth. This record is a very sincere form of flattery and the songs stand on their own. I just wish there was out there somewhere some originality as original as the original original. But the truth is, girls are just as unimaginative as guys. It's easier to do what's been done already. They all do not a bad job of it - but like, how excited do you want me to get, you know? It was twenty years ago! It was original then (but it's not then anymore, you know?)

*Jimmy Destri: One of the great song writers. All of 'em highly underrated musical ability-wise and of course the great guitar of Chris Stein. And... The One... And Only... Debbie Blondie.

On the other hand, this Blondie tribute is a blast. These bands have the right attitude! A sticker on the CD says: "24 tracks by 24 bands that aren't as good as Blondie" so the bullshit is out of the way right away. Also, the bands cover a lot of stuff people might now know that well, or else they improve the original. like the first song, "Call Me" by Squatweiler gives a punk rock sound to the Giorgio Moroder American Gigolo soundtrack.

Blondie took a lot of shit from idiots back in the day for not being "good musicians" but I saw them effortlessly cover songs by anyone anytime during live shows. They all loved rock 'n' roll and really knew their shit. They could improvise, which is becoming a lost art form...

The best songs on this CD are by "girl groups" who were obviously inspired by Debbie & Co. to get into the act ("Little Girl Lies" by The Friggs, "Hangin' On The Telephone" by the Kirby Grips, "X-Offender" by Fur, "Detroit 442" by The Kowalskis, "Kung Fu Girls" by Buck, "In The Sun" by Trinket, "One Way or Another" by Yellow Scab). They pay tribute by playing it straight. And remind us all that Blondie was a great rock 'n' roll band once upon a time. Too bad they had to knuckle under to pop pressure and become a great disco/dance band in order to make it big. Makes you wonder... What if? But anyhow this is the best tribute album I've ever heard in my life so run out and buy a copy right now!

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Les Sexareenos Les Sexareenos
14 Frenzied Shakers
Sympathy for the Record Industry
Very excellent. Since it's so cold up in Quebec you need this kinda. But... I hate to spoil the party but like I used to swear by this type of sound, again, when it was original like if you discovered an old LP in some $4.99 bin or something. But it's a little funny that they've nailed a particular old sound just exactly. I don't trust it. It's too exact. A "replica" to be what it says it is. I smell a rat. But then, I often smell a rat. But then, there's often a rat.

Sounds like Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels just came out of nowhere and put out a new LP. Great stuff, pure rock 'n' roll. This is what rock 'n' roll was before the hippies and drugs messed it up. It could have been produced better, but then it would lose that "live in 1966" sound.

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MEANWHILE: Frank Black from Postcard500.com stops by and borrows Jolly from the party - he's moving into bigger offices. Apparently his business is taking off. Well, that makes sense. Frank locked himself in his office and worked right on through the WTC disaster. Unbelievable. Anyhow, I am left alone in the office.

CharismaticsThe Charismatics
Stomp Box Records
This CD has been lying around the office for a long time, but we never got around to playing it. Epitaph then sent another copy, but I don't know why - unless maybe Stomp Box is distributed by Epitaph? I dunno, I can't find them on the Epitaph Website... I never keep track of that "inside the business" stuff anyway. Anyhow the CD cover is a photo of a monkey with a hard-on, maybe that discouraged people from playing it. Well, The Charismatics are one of those California power-pop/kiddie punk bands that so many people over the age of 21 seem to dislike. Only they're from Texas, and play loud/fast songs with meaningful lyrics like "In my head I pretend I ask how are you/In my head I pretend you say you're lonely." Pretend=pretentious. Or "I wanna be sedated/I wanna be your pimp/I wanna be an alcoholic/And I wanna live..." When did punk rock become so pathetic? Also, I just noticed that they're straight edge. Does this have something to do with the fact that they're whiny and self-absorbed? If anyone out there knows, email me.

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Return of the Loving Dead
Hellcat Records
People sing about death so much I'm beginning to think it's probably overrated. Foreigners like to eat our American death product a lot. It's romantic to them - to me, too. I like this okay but the effect of hearing it is strange. It's like you're sitting there watchin' a bad horror movie at 4:30 a.m. drunk. You fade into it, 'til it's you and you're it and then the next time you look there's all these foreign whites looking at you looking at your TV from behind your couch. It's very ghastly as they steal your "experience" (is watching TV really an experience?) with their skeletonish fingers and '50s haircuts. Whoo! Who goes there? It's scary, really scary, how foreign people eat dead pseudo non-experience of real live 'mericans *shudder* be... before... the... non-flesh of the TV ghosts are even cold in the ground. Scandinavians are stupid. Hey, all I was doing was half-watching a bad horror flick and you go out and build a whole culture/empire around it. Thanks, "Spooky." (You'll recall, no doubt, Casper's cousin, the "Tuff Lil' Ghost.")

Nekromantix HOLMSTROM:
The press release says these guys are Danish + this is their first US release + they're psychobilly. I like it, it's okay. I think Jessica (who's busy on her School of Visual Arts thesis) would love it. Too bad she's not here. I like the song titles: "Who Killed the Cheerleader," "Murder for Breakfast," "Haunted Cathouse" and their "seven-minute metalbilly epic" "Nekronomicon" is interesting. I'd like this better if it wasn't so clean and sophisticated though.

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700 MachinesThe 700 Machines
Turn On
From "Dream Long Dead" Productions. Now this is really scary. "Detroit-fueled Punk 'N' Roll Dynamites." I think our next war should be with Greece. Then Italy then Egypt. We don't owe these cultures anything but they're always touted as the cradle of our so-called civilization. There's a song on this called "Born To Do The Thing" - born to do someone else's thing you mean. "Serving the highway" get it right at least. "Serving cheeseburgers" you mean. As in "Cheap, cheap cheeseburger cheap." Again, as an American, I thank you for the tribute.

From Athens, Greece, birthplace of democracy... The Fabulous 700 Machines. Inspired by The Stooges + MC5, they're determined to play "straight ahead unadulterated rock 'n' roll." Well, they do remind me of 1970s rock 'n' roll but it's difficult to hear any MC5 or Stooges influence in there. It's okay stuff, but they just sound like a lot of other 1970s bands - like Van Halen. It's weird that they're promoting themselves as liking the Stooges and MC5 more than Van Halen. I doubt this is a calculated commercial move on their part. (Or is it?)

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Home From Home
Burning Heart Records
Okay. That does it. From the photo I would think this group was USA born and bred but no - they're from Scandinavia! Let's not forget that Scandinavian countries did business with the Nazis and the Allies during WW2! Faithless enough to give capitalism a bad name! And! Inside the record there's a "monster movie" joke poster which is a double ripoff 'cos it's not even a song about a movie on TV but a picture of a movie poster - an AMERICAN movie poster. Man if America makes it through this "recovery" period we got enough enemies to have wars for the next 700 years at least. And not just new cats who wanna fuck up and steal our culture but don't forget the occult side of the Nazis they used to have rituals where they would make it that if their dead soldiers "came back" they would come back as Nazis and they even did an extra wicked move which said that whoever they killed would come back as one of them. This music sounds like that. I mean, if you saw this little Scandinavian punk in the photo - he looks like he's got a baseball cap on, he's got his left foot lifted and twisted like a normal bashful American kid would do. This song "Afghan" is a putdown of America. I don't really want to say any more but I do think the US has a lot more enemies in the world than just the obvious ones. On the other hand anybody can say whatever they want. And lastly, here on home soil there's plenty of people who don't dig freedom but prefer some kinda 1984 fascist totalitarian... Hey, it's Saturday night, I'm alive, I'm gonna get drunk and have a good time (that's my "job") but... anyhow! Watch out fer yourself! Next beer and next record please!

These guys are from Sweden, so they have to be good. They put a computer game on their CD. I'll play it at home and write a separate review. Anyhow this is one of those Pennywise/NOFX/Bad Religion clones. It's catchy, peppy and poppy! But it's not angry, fiery nor original. There are a few good sings: "Botanic Mistress," and "Fuel to the Flame." It's okay - sort of like a bologna + cheese sandwich. Not a lot of meat to sink your teeth into, but if you're really hungry for some punk rock it will do.

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I Love RichI Love Rich
The Greatest Rock 'N' Roll Record of All Time
I.L.R. Records
Okay! This bites wood in so many different ways I'm gonna have to drink some beer first! Glug!

Way it bites #1: Sounds like KISS
Way it bites #2: Bad KISS
Way it bites #3: "Old style" production - what bothered me most about "Sexareenos"
Way it bites #4: Makes fun of "old style" "Bad" KISS. One question: Why? To make fun of it? I like old style bad KISS - they were good! Three minute songs mostly, straight ahead RnR. I liked them a lot before punk rock came along. I can't make heads nor tails of this record so I guess I just have to say - it sucks! A lot! In lots o ways, but - don't repeat don't listen to this just to find out the many ways. If it sucks it sucks right.

Okay, here's some more guys who worship KISS and want to bring back glam-rock. And we're all supposed to be in on the joke. I enjoy KISS. We interviewed them in 1976 for PUNK, and I did a great cover story on them for PUNK #9. It was an awesome story, one of the best covers I ever drew and one of the best comic strip interviews as well. But the printer went out of business and almost took us with him. Hardly a day goes by that I don't think about that incident... The thing is, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were actually into the whole punk thing back then. They were very cool with us and we even got a photo of them without their makeup! Way back then that was a major coup. I also saw a KISS cover band at Manitoba's a few months ago. They were a lot of fun. I can appreciate a good KISS imitation. But this CD is like those tribute CDs we reviewed earlier - why bother with a good imitation when you can have the real thing?

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Bad ReligionBad Religion
The Process of Belief
Bad lyrics. This is not rock 'n' roll. Sorry.

Got to respect these guys. My punk rock nephew from FLA, Matt Shumate, is a big fan of theirs. I guess they're up there with Green Day as far as being 1990s punk icons. But before I listened to the CD I almost barfed at the pretentious, plastic CD packaging. It almost screams: "THIS IS IMPORTANT AND ARTISTIC" at you. The music is fast and aggressive but it's a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. Where did everything go wrong? When did punk bands decide that sounding like The Marbles, Milk 'N' Cookies or The Bay City Rollers was preferable to trying to sound like Suicide, Von Lmo or Screaming Mad George? It's got to be the whole California thing - the weather is always nice and when you rent an apartment you get a hot tub and/or jacuzzi with it. Here in NYC you get a bathtub in the kitchen.

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Hats Off To Evil
East End Industries

Typical punk rock....

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Cretin 66Cretin 66
Demolition Safari
Steel Cage Records
They're from Kansas! (Phew! At last!) They sing about "freedom to smoke some weed all night/they send you out to war/Bang your fuckin' head." Cool CD cover: Bare ass naked chick on top of a demolition derby car in the desert. Okay. Now what. It still don't move me because let's get real real gone for a change. Y'know? (Oh, I forgot to tell you I got shoot with a .22 in the arm several months back - I used some cloth to stop the bleeding, which it did eventually. I can't tell you if it went in and stayed or if it was just a flesh wound. Anyway it doesn't hurt anymore and so what, right? But - I just though with all the "tough guy" music I might as well "ante up." Even though I have no tattoos I am indeed armed and also I'm a real badass also definitely.) Anyhow, drink up, stupid. It's St. Patrick's Day. Saturday.

WOW! These guys are cool! Great rock 'n' roll! YEOW! YEAH! They can scream and sing! Dave Clark Five... Ramones... Dead Boys... English punk... Everything good rolled into one. And an awesome punk cover of "Inna Gadda Da Vida! They call it R + B PUNK ROCK 'N' ROLL FUCKED UP METALLIC NOISE! Yeah - and I like it!

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BadChopperBad Chopper
Acme Records
"Had a real bad time because o' you" Right. Exactly. "Now you're gonna pay!" Right. "I ain't no criminal." Ain't no fun. "The road is my only home." Right. YES. This is first rate. Rather good.
"Unhappiness is a con."
-Iggy Pop

The most underrated + overlooked Ramone plays on this CD - C.J. (he sings and plays bass). This is a single, just two songs, but they sound good. Real fine. I ran into C.J. a few weeks ago. He's got no problem with not being part of the Ramones' induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. Real humble guy. He seems to have a pretty cool attitude towards things.

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Out ColdOut Cold
Will Attack If Provoked
Acme Records
Not too bad. "Violent Moodswing." Yep. It's the song you want to play at your wedding to like, a really nice chi - I mean, woman. A really nice woman. "Self inflicted." Another winner at the wedding. "No Discipline At All." "Will Attack If Provoked."

Typical hardcore punk rock.

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Rock MusicVarious Artists
Rock Music: A Tribute to Weezer
Deaddroid Records
"I'm just kinda angry."
- General Johnny Ramone

"Not bad" "OK" "Not that good" "I'd prefer the Stooges."
- Jolly

WTF is Emo anyway? I don't get it. I don't get Weezer. I bought their CD when the "Buddy Holly" video came out. I always liked Happy Days. (But only the really early episodes.) But it seemed like those guys in Weezer related more to Potsie and Ralph Malph than Fonzie. And that's not cool. Fonzie was cool (at least for the first season or so.) Fonzie was punk rock. Henry Winkler had just starred in The Lords of Flatbush, so he had a bit of street cred. But these guys from Weezer come along and want us to be like Potsie? This totally confuses me! Why would anyone want to be like Potsie? Didn't they ever see the episode where Potsie, Ralph and Richie start a rock band but the only song they can play is an instrumental version of "All Shook Up" and then they lose all the money they get paid for playing by playing poker with card sharks? Well, that band sucked! Well, that's Weezer for you. And I guess that's all the bands on this CD for you! Nerd rock! Weezer's not so bad, but this tribute CD is.

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Scene of the CrimeVarious Artists
Scene of the Crime
Good Cop/Bad Cop Records

I drew the record cover for this, so I can't really review it. Suffice to say I think it's okay. Jolly is crawling around on the floor right now looking for a roach Frank left behind. It's kind of late, it's almost time to leave. And The General just arrived.

What an honor it is to be back at the PUNK Listening Party! And it's right where I left off - bad music, bad beer. And Jolly drunk out of his mind on the floor.

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Brian Wilson Shock TreatmentBrian Wilson Shock Treatment
Poe Records
Q. What record is this?
A. It's the Brian Wilson Shock Treatment Experience. Just listen 'cause it's good.
Tired. We have to go. A lot.

It's too late at night to listen to weird stuff like this. It's St. Patrick's Day. We're drunk. (Well, Jolly and I are, The General got here late as usual.) So I am calling it quits.

Cool band. Any group that sings about shock treatments rules! They got a song called "Drop Me On My Head." I got a better idea. Let's drop Jolly out the window!

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At this point everyone left for the Marz Bar, where some drunk guys did a half-naked dance on top of the bar, then got in a vicious fight. One guy bit another guy in the nose and drew blood. We tried to ignore them and play pinball, but it was almost impossible since they were fighting on the floor a few feet away. So much for St. Patrick's Day!

The Millencolin Battle Game
The game involves playing the role of a rock musician robot, and you're supposed to hit the correct chords in the song by hitting a letter on the keyboard. Now, I suppose someone out there will feel like this gives you the feeling of being a real rock guitar god (I couldn't get the drummer or bass player robots to work). Not me. It just seemed like a pointless exercise. You can try out the game yourself online at their website: www.millencolin.com.

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