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Cavalera Conspiracy – Inflikted

12 Years after Iggor and Max Cavalera played their last Sepultura show together, you can find the two of them reunited. Not only on the stage but also on the Cavalera Conspiracy’s debut album “Inflikted”.

You know what happens when you put the two of them together? It’s like a suicide bomber at a crowded market place… the whole thing just goes boom! It’s pure sonic fucking mayhem.
As soon as opener “Inflikted” bursts out of the gates, you are hit in the face by an all-out assault of scorching riffage and Max’ trademark growls while Iggor is beating his drums like the damn thing still owes him money. Take everything you loved about Sepultura’s albums before they had every native tribe from here to the South Pole contributing to their releases… that’s exactly what you get on CavCon’s debut.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Automatic 7 – At Funeral Speed

After pretty much forever Automatic 7 is back with a new album and a new home. After having released albums on BYO and Vagrant, it got real quiet around this Los Angeles outfit for the last couple of years. Only to now pop up again with an amazing new album called “At Funeral Speed” which is out now on Mental Records.

If you thought this band was good on their self-titled debut or on “Beggar’s Life”, wait til they hit you around the ears with opener “40 Blocks” or the equally amazing “Sunday Eyes”. It’s like listening to Face To Face playing Social D covers! Who can resist that? Two big names to be compared to for sure but Automatic 7 can handle it. Not entirely convinced yet? Check out the band’s great version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City”, stand in awe and then go pick up your copy of “At Funeral Speed”. Sometimes it really can be that simple!
Score: 8 out of 10

Bullet For My Valentine – Scream Aim Fire

I don’t get this band’s success! What’s so special about a couple of UK youngsters that are doing nothing but rehashing Metallica and Megadeth songs with a poppy twist? Their singer has a whiny voice in the clean parts and overall the songs are way too long and sound completely uninspired. Kinda the same problem Avenged Sevenfold has… all image, all gloss and a sound that’s bigger than life but not a single song that’s worth more than a ‘mediocre’ tag anywhere on the album.
Score: 4 out of 10

Boozed – Acid Blues

A year and a half after “Tight Pants” (still a favorite among the emo kids but only because of the title), Germany’s Boozed is back already with “Acid Blues, a new collection of garage meets rock ‘n roll tunes.

You know the drill… loud rawk with dirty guitars, sturdy rhythms and a sleazy vocalist. You’ve already heard it before from the likes of The Hellacopters and Turbonegro, both of which Boozed already went on tour with. And while they are doing a pretty good job, they don’t quite reach the level of say, abovementioned bands. I guess we’re just pretty damn spoiled in that department by all those excellent Scandinavian bands!
Score: 6 out of 10

Sinew – The Beauty Of Contrast

Sinew is a relatively new band out of Germany, having been around for just three years. Yet on their debut full-length “The Beauty Of Contrast” they already have found a style of their own which they dubbed ‘cinemascopic alternative rock’. And in their lyrics they don’t talk about the more mundane aspects of our life like relationships. No, these guys think about ‘the plight of humans in an over-rationalized world and the search for a way out of it’. Yes, we love it over here when a band doesn’t take itself too serious!

But hey, let the music do the talking, right? Well, it ain’t halfbad actually. They try and go for a Tool/Muse combo but lack the technical skills and Maynard’s voice to sound like Tool and the big, fun, hook-filled sounds that lets Muse get away with what they do.

Meaning that “The Beauty Of Contrast” is an overall okay rock album with its proggy moments that occasionally falls short of what the band is aiming for. Then again, it’s only their debut full-length so who knows what the future will bring!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Jaya The Cat – More Late Night Transmissions With…

A couple of years ago Jaya The Cat’s core members Geoff Lagadec and David Germain said fuck it to another cold Boston winter and moved to Amsterdam for a couple of months. A couple of months soon turned into three years and now Holland is pretty much their home. I’m not buying they moved out here for the weather though. Amsterdam for a reggae band is probably as close to heaven as they can get during their life. They’ve rounded out their line-up with Alejandro ? and Green Lizard’s Jan Jaap Onverwagt, who apparently only plays in bands named after some kind of animal.

On album number three these cats sound pretty good and most of all, like they’re having a shitload of fun. Their mix of punk and reggae might not be the most original but to my knowledge Op Ivy and Sublime aren’t playing shows anymore and we need someone to fill their shoes. Not that Jaya The Cat is equally exciting as those two bands but hey, who knows! For now they’ve left us with a party album that makes me want to see them play live… should be a blast!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Death & Taxes – Tattooed Hearts & Broken Promises

Death & Taxes was formed three years ago when songwriter/guitarist Jeff Morris (formerly of The Bruises) felt the need to start a new band. Can’t say I blame him with songs like these milling around in my head!

Think rock n roll played with a streetpunk attitude with Social D watching in from the sideline and nodding along to songs like “Orange Line” or or the more mellow but equally exciting “Hold On”. Mark Lind of the Ducky Boys already called Death & Taxes the next Bruce Springsteen and while I won’t go equally nuts about this album, I can say that “Tattooed Hearts & Broken Promises” is a solid rock n roll disc that fans of Social D and The Ducky Boys should pick up!
Score: 7 out of 10

Javelinas - Seven Sisters

Javelinas is a rock band out of Chicago who have just dropped another solid album with "Seven Sisters". Whether you're talking about the flat out rockin' opener "Seven Sisters" which is about the American working man or the more rootsy "The 102", you can count on Javelinas to churn out a solid song that rocks from start to finish and is guaranteed to warrant repeat listens. Seventies rock, punk, Americana... it's all there in one form or another. Here's four guys that have been in one band or another for the past twenty years, they've seen it all and yet they're still going. And with "Seven Sisters" they've released a big fuck you for everyone who says they should pack it in already
Score: 7.5 out of 10

The Fashion - S/T

It took The Fashion four years to come up with the follow-up to their debut "Rock Rock Kiss Kiss Combo". I doubt much of that time was spent thinking about the album title but all the more about how many genres they could cram together in one single song. On their self-titled album these Danish dudes sound very poppy and danceable with hip hop beats supporting the songs that seem to deal with death and vampires a lot. So it's pretty much everything that mallkids would like thrown together in one neat little package. Sounds kinda fake and all too premeditated to me but I'm sure they'll have success with the fans of Tokyo Hotel and the likes.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

Hipbone Slim & The Knee Tremblers - Have Knees, Will Tremble

Apparently 'this record is a lession for every teen-ager and a warning for every parent'. Fortunately the music on "Have Knees, Will Tremble" is better than their sales pitch. Whether you're into dirty rockabilly, sixties beat or swamp blues, Hipbone Slim and his Knee Tremblers are here to help you get those hips shaking. Personally, I'm not too crazy about the rockabilly songs but you can wake me up for "Pathfinder" or "Leave Him" any time of the day!
Score: 6 out of 10


Alive In Wild Paint – Ceilings

Alive In Wild Paint made me think of a bunch of halfnaked girls wrestling around in a tub filled with paint but that’s probably because I’m a sexist pig. But rather than a couple of scantily clad beauties, this is in fact one of the latest additions to the Equal Vision roster that brings together members of Goodbye Tomorrow and Terminal.

Now knowing that these guys are on Equal Vision and that Mark Trombino agreed to produce their debut full-length, I was expecting a loud and rocking yet catchy album with a twist of emo. Again I was way off, because what these guys deliver is pure poprock with a whole lot of emo. The music itself is good enough… it’s nicely layered, it meanders gently and sure, it’s all-around pleasant.

But can someone explain to me what’s wrong with that vocalist! I mean… wow! That guy makes Chris Carrabba sound like the toughest guy around. With a high-pitched monotonous voice the guy goes through the motions on the twelve tracks on “Ceilings” and had me pulling out what little hair I have by song number four (and no, I’m not bald, I just like to cut my hair real short).
So here’s my advice for vocalist Travis Bryant… get angry, get pissed off, go ballistic! Go stand in a traffic jam for two hours every day, find a psycho girlfriend and let her push you over the edge or get a friend to yell at you non-stop until you snap! I’m not saying you have to go all hardcore on our asses but a little bit more power would be nice.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

The Steal – S/T

Funny how small the world can become through the internet… The Steal is a band from the UK that signed with Get Outta Town Records in Florida. And it’s from there that they sent this album over to me to review. Which I’m more than happy to do because this act with former members of Twofold, Captain Everything and Lucky Thirteen kicks ass!

On their self-titled debut these lads charge through 14 tracks like Pavarotti through an all you can eat buffet. Some of the songs barely last a minute and you can already see the dust settling right before your ears register the song is already done. Taking cues from Lifetime, Good Riddance and Kid Dynamite and then molding it into their own melodic hardcore gems, The Steal is one band you don’t want to miss out on!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Skindred – Roots Rock Riot

Five years after the gold-selling debut “Babylon” and over 10 years after vocalist Benji Webbe’s experience with Dub War, Skindred is back with a new album. Nothing much has changed as the ragga metal is still in full effect. Sure, it’s a pretty simple formula where downtuned metal riffs and stomping rhythms are mixed in with Benji’s dub delivery and a punkrock vibe but it works for Skindred.

“Roots Rock Riot” is a fun party album that will make you move even if you don’t necessarily want to. Songs like “State Of Emergency” and “Rude Boy For Life” are excellent material to get that dance floor filled in no time and while Skindred does at times sound like Shaggy is fronting a nu metal band, there’s no denying that Skindred made an enjoyable album.
Score: 7 out of 10

Life Long Tragedy - Runaways

Shit, Life Long Tragedy released an album that definitely wears you down in just a little over 35 minutes. With grime-crusted guitars and a vocalist who seems to wallow in despair, they have no problem dragging you down into their world. And thanks to the mostly midtempo drums that work like a sort of stranglehold you are unable to crawl back towards the light.

And wanna know the funny thing? You can't wait to hit play again once it's done. Sludgy hardcore that reminds me of Modern Life Is War... who is able to resist it? It's too late for me... "Runaways" already got under my skin and refuses to leave.
Score: 9 out of 10

The Loved Ones – Build & Burn

On album number two, The Loved Ones do nothing but convincing. Right from the start they deliver with “Pretty Good Year” that comes with a chorus that begs to be sung along. Next up is “The Inquirer” which is equally irresistible. This is poppunk the way it’s supposed to sound. Melodic and catchy yet with enough grit and passion to convince even the biggest opponent of the genre.

With help from a couple of the guys in The Hold Steady in a couple of songs and Bouncing Souls’ Brian and Pete handling production, these guys know how to surround themselves with good people. And just like the Bouncing Souls, The Loved Ones excel at playing punk music but aren’t afraid to dig a little deeper every now and then. Like the folky feel in “Louisiana”... great stuff!
Fans of everyone from Kid Dynamite and Avail to Hot Water Music and Bouncing Souls, should collectively go crazy about this album and I for one am already looking forward to seeing them performing live at Groezrock this year!
Score: 9 out of 10

Every Avenue – Shh, Just Go With It

While Fall Out Boy needs naked pics of one of its members (lame pun… I know!) or more toecringing covers to stay in the attention, Every Avenue is busy cranking out another ridiculously catchy song. And while Cartel was busy acting like idiots in a giant bubble, Every Avenue is taking over their fanbase.

Things are moving pretty fast for these Michigan natives. Last year Fearless released their debut EP “Ah!” and before long they were back in the studio recording a full-length with producers Zach Odom and Kenneth Mount (Cartel, Mayday Parade). That album has just been dropped now and it’s actually a lot of fun as long as they shy away from Panic! At The Disco-like fiascos such as “Freak Out!”, which is exactly what I did when I heard it… and not in a good way. The obligatory sappy piano ballad follows that one which makes for a weak ending of an otherwise enjoyable poppunk album.
Score: 7 out of 10

Time Again – Darker Days

Time Again sounds as if they still spend all of their time out on the street but they’ve already been around the block once before. On album number two they don’t do much to get rid of the obvious Rancid comparison they garnered with their first album. If you play street punk and have a vocalist with a gritty voice who likes to swallow half the words on his lyric sheet, the comparison is made quickly. And most of the time deservedly.

But seeing as Rancid takes years and years to come up with a new album, we need something to fill up the time in between. The guys that make up Time Again understood that well and have written an album chock full of bouncy bass lines, fast-paced rhythms and singalong choruses. It’s catchy, it’s fun and it’s about as original as wearing tight jeans to an Aiden show.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Nada Surf – Lucky

On album number five Nada Surf does again what they do best…. Write beautiful yet somewhat bitter poprock songs. Like opener “See These Bones” which I wish a long and happy future on the airwaves…it starts off nice and slow before reaching a climax several minutes later with multi-layered vocals and the works. An impressive opener that is immediately followed by the übercatchy “Whose Authority”, a poprock gem that’s been lodged in my brain for weeks now.

There’s a couple of songs on here that I’m not entirely convinced by but maybe that’s just because I expect so much from them. And hey, even a lesser Nada Surf song is better than what a lot of other bands churn out. They always want to make me root for the underdog for one reason or another. Maybe it’s because of the band’s lyrics that always seem to deal with desires, dreams or relationships gone wrong. Other people that are rooting for the band are Ed Harcourt, Ben Gibbard and John Roderick. All of whom contribute parts to “Lucky”, which with “The Fox” and “The Film Did Not Go ‘Round” is off to a great ending.

And whaddyaknow… I wrote this review without mentioning “Popular” once!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Guards Of Metropolis - Alligator

Once you look past the ridiculous band name, the generic album title and the ugly album artwork, you will get rewarded for your open mind. I'm not sure how many people exactly will look that far, but it's well worth the effort, both visually and sonically. Because seriously, who needs Superman when you've got guards of Metropolis that look like vocalist Kristin and bassist Silver. These two Norwegian beauties hooked up with two California dudes and recorded a poppy hook-filled album with an edge.

With equal parts Garbage, Elastica and Blondie, "Alligator" makes for a fun listen with great choruses in songs like "Perfect World" and "Don't Wanna Be Like You". Check it out!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Jim Ward - Quiet

Jim Ward of At The Drive-In/Sparta fame has his own little label going on with Civil Defense League, which is being marketed and distributed through Doghouse. Previously he already released a collaboration between himself and poet Bobby Byrd which was quite annoying to listen to. So it was without too much expectations I started listening to this 5-song EP only to find out that it was quite a pleasant listen.

"Quiet" covers the load pretty effectively. It's a collection of mellow songs made up mostly of Ward's voice and acoustic strumming. Maura Davis from Denali/Glös makes an appearance on "Take It Back" which is quite nice but the highlight of "Quiet" has to be the ukulele-enhanced "Coastlines". If you have any money left in your pockets after picking up Eddie Vedder's "Into The Wild", this one would fit nicely with it.
Score: 7 out of 10

Vietnam – S/T

Vietnam consists of four dudes who look like some strays that just wandered in from the seventies and they’ve got the music to prove it. On their self-titled album you’ll hear guitars that are both bluesy and psychedelic at the same time while vocalist Michael Gerner could pass as an early Dylan thanks to his vocal delivery. There’s definitely something to be said for what they are doing but they occasionally go offroad for a little bit of noodling like in “Apocalypse” which is wasted on me, a 28-year-old with the attention span of a chihuahua.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

The Dillinger Escape Plan – Ire Works

Holy mackerel! Not only is “Ire Works” the first Dillinger album I managed to completely sit out in one session, it’s also the first time I actually enjoyed it. That’s not to say that they’ve thrown all of their mathcore tendencies out the window. No no no, The Dillinger Escape Plan will never write pop songs even though they did cover Justin Timberlake on 2006’s “Plagiarism” EP.
With just one original member still in the band (guitarist Ben Weinman) and a couple of years of having been around, it’s no wonder the band doesn’t sound the same anymore. Opener “Fix Your Face” and “Lurch” are vintage Dillinger Escape Plan though with crazy time signatures and demented jazzy riffage. “Black Bubblegum” however sounds like something Mike Patton could’ve written for Faith No More years ago and is the most likely single candidate of the entire album. And things get even more diverse owards the end of the album with a song like “Horse Hunter” which starts off with a typical Dillinger noise blast before heading into space rock territory with guest vocals from Mastodon’s Brent Hinds.

Oldtime fans might not agree with the band’s ‘new’ direction but in this reviewer’s opinion Dillinger Escape Plan has released their best album so far with “Ire Works”.
Score: 8 out of 10

Orange – Escape From L.A.

The youngsters from Orange are back from another round and man, do I hope they stay down when they hit the deck. And they surely will because this poppunk garbage disguised as streetpunk that you get to hear on “Escape From L.A.” is just too lame with the cover of “Karma Chameleon” as an absolute low. Snake Plissken would kick their asses if he wasn’t a fictional character!

I don’t know what the people over at Hellcat are thinking but by signing bands like this one along with Left Alone and others, they are ruining whatever credibility they had left after releasing the second Transplants and Lars and his Bastards’ albums.
Score: 4 out of 10

The Knives – Filthy Angel

The Knives are a couple of dudes from LA who like to play rock music. They’ve been friends with CKY for a while and got Bullets And Octane’s Brent Clawson to produce their album.

Balls out on the table kinda rock with a punky edge and some Maiden riffs is what you get on “Filthy Angel”. The result is not too shabby but things start to sound alike relatively fast. Maybe a little more diversity next time will get them a lot further but for now this is just a catchy yet average album.
Score: 6 out of 10

Copeland – Dressed Up & In Line

Ah, Copeland… they always make me laugh! Like on their ‘new album’, which is a compilation of rarities and unreleased songs. The first track is called “You Love To Sing” and it is followed by the words ‘slow version’. Now, here I was thinking that all the Copeland songs are slow versions of other songs but apparently it’s just that one. Guess they play speed metal any other day of the year.

And how rare exactly is their Soundgarden cover of “Black Hole Sun”? I mean, the compilation it was on (“Punk Goes 90s”) is still readily available as is The Police tribute for which they completely brutalized “Every Breath You Take”. As far as vocalist Aaron Marsh could ever brutalize anything that is. I mean, the guy has taken singing syrupy piano ballads to a whole new level of embarassment on his regular albums. So what exactly should you expect from the leftovers? Judging from what I’ve heard on “Dressed Up & In Line”, not a whole lot. Making this release an early in the year contender for ‘most unnecessary album released in 2008’.
Score: 4 out of 10

Operation Ivy – S/T

When Op Ivy broke up and Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman went on to form Rancid while vocalist Jesse Michaels kept doing his thing with Common Rider, they left a classic behind called “Energy”. That album has already been re-released a while back with eight additional songs (the “Hectic” EP and two songs from the “Turn It Around” comp). Now that re-release has been re-released but not before it was remastered.

Not a whole lot more that needs to be said about this one. It’s a classic, you simply need to have this in your collection. So if you haven’t, go pick it up without hesitating and if you do already own a copy, you might wanna check this one out nonetheless because of the better sound quality.
Score: 9 out of 10

The Moe Greene Specials – Open Road (Again)

What do you expect a band called The Moe Greene Specials to sound like when you know they’re from Belgium and have some serious songwriting chops? Well, probably not like Calexico. Yet that’s exactly what you get to hear on “Open Road (Again)”. Any moment you expect a tumbleweed to drift by or some outlaw to gun you down before you even had the chance to down your tequila. I could list a whole bunch of other clichés here but suffice to say that “Open Road (Again)’” – and especially the instrumental tracks – would make an excellent soundtrack to a spaghettiwestern. That’s not to say that the other songs aren’t worth listening to. Trust me, they are!
Score: 8 out of 10

Land Of Talk – Applause Cheer Boo Hiss

Land Of Talk hails from the Land of Canada and this 3-piece knows how to churn out some catchy rock with poppy hooks. All the indie kids out there will love it and admittedly, there isn’t anything not to love. With just the basics (bass, drum, guitar and a voice) they kept me listening to all ten songs (including three bonus tracks) and then had me listen again. The main attraction here is Elizabeth Powell’s voice which is reminiscent of Chan Marshall’s but that doesn’t mean the drummer and bassist are there just for the kick of it. Nothing too fancy but anything that has that early Sebadoh sound going on is alright in my book!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Zeno Tornado and the Boney Google Brothers – Lover Of Your Dreams

First thing that popped into my head? Please lord, let the music be better than the band name. And it is. Well, if you like fucked up bluegrass. Or Dirty Dope Infected Blue Grass Hillbilly Hobo XXX Country Music as they like to call it themselves.

Expect lots of fiddles, banjos, guitars, mandolin and stand-up bass action. The music itself sure sounds traditional enough but it’s in the lyrics that the fucked up part comes out. Anyway, just like that retarded kid in “Deliverance” Zeno Tornado proves that when hillbillies aren’t busy showing tourists some manlove on the river, they can play some pretty decent tunes. Yes, even Swiss hillbillies.
Score: 6 out of 10

Guilty Hearts – S/T

The three native Angelinos that make up Guilty Hearts have already sharpened their teeth in outfits such as The Rippers and Blood On The Saddle and have now joined forces to unleash som lo-fi rawk.

Their self-titled debut combines the best from garage, rock n roll and punk not unlike Gun Club. With thundering drums, fuzzed up guitars and a batch of solid songs, the Guilty hearts are ready to make a lasting impression. They may be lo on fi, but they’re high on energy! And yes, that might just be the worst pun ever.
Score: 6.5 out of 10


Heaven Shall Burn – Iconoclast

After 2006’s “Deaf To Our Prayers” and the ensuing tours with God Forbid, Caliban and Maroon which reportedly left over 15,000 with permanent ear damage, Germany’s Heaven Shall Burn are back with an album about a group of warriors who are sent to judge and destroy the murderers of God. Sounds heavy huh! Then again, so is the band’s music so it all fits together nicely.

The peaceful intro might still have you thinking something else but I doubt these dudes can still fool their fans into thinking they’ve released an album filled with soothing sounds. After exactly 88 seconds, all hell breaks loose in the form of “Endzeit” and after that they never look back and just crush everything in sight. Heaven Shall Burn recorded the whole thing in the Rape Of Harmonies Studios and then had everything once again mastered by the go-to guy when it comes to brutal music, Tue Madsen. Nothing new under the sun (or in Heaven Shall Burn’s case a pitch black night with preferably a storm) but still highly effective!
Score: 8 out of 10

The Agony Scene – Get Damned

The Agony Scene hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma, a city also known as the asshole of the world. The band however sounds like anything but shit and the only thing they have in common with their hometown’s nickname is that they’ve been tearing a whole lot of people a new asshole with their self-titled debut and follow-up “The Darkest Red”. And I’m pretty sure the tearing will continue with the release of “Get Damned”, The Agony Scene’s most accomplished album to date.

On it you’ll hear one thrashy, pissed off metal monster with the occasional breakdown and a lot of melody which means this album is a great way to jumpstart you year!
Score: 8 out of 10

Accidents – Summer Dreams

Sweden’s punk n roll maniacs are back with a sequel to “Poison Chalice” and they haven’t changed their formula all that much. What does that mean? It means charging full speed ahead with plenty of references to Motörhead and the likes. When they’re doing just that, they’re doing a great job. “Wrapped In Linnen” however is a hit and miss as it sounds like something the Dropkick Murphys left on the cutting floor. With good reason. And while it’s nice to hear these guys bring some variation into the album by slowing things down every now and then, I’m pretty sure they could do better than the suckerpunch that is “I Just Wanna Take You Home”.
So maybe the band’s new album isn’t as exciting as “Poison Chalice” was. Then again it’s nice to see that they are trying to mix things up. Hopefully everything will come together nicely on the next album!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Streetlight Manifesto – Somewhere In The Between

You could harly call last year’s revisitation of “Keasbey Nights” so all in all Streetlight Manifesto fans have had to wait four years for the proper follow-up to “Everything Goes Numb”. But I have to say that it was all worth the wait because you’re not likely to find many equally enticing ska albums in the coming months.

Tomas Kolnaky still knows how to write great lyrics that read like an essay while the rhythm section cranks up the tempo. A normal horn section would have trouble keeping this up but Streetlight Manifesto’s brass is arguably one of the best around, providing album highlights in every single song.

In short, “Somewhere In The Between” is a great skapunk album that will please new and old fans alike and with songs like “We Will Fall Together” and “One Foot On The Gas, One Foot In The Grave” there are sure to be a whole lot of new fans!
Score: 9 out of 10

Sandra Nasic – The Signal

Looking at the cover I thought that with a nose like that she has to be German. And yes, Sandra Nasic is indeed German. And if I looked any closer I would’ve even recognized her as the former frontwoman of the Guano Apes, a band no one has heard a thing about since they scored a couple of hits with “Lord Of The Boards” and “Open Your Eyes”.

Now, I don’t know about you but if I see someone posing in leather pants with a guitar and a snake, I’m not expecting anything good (unless that someone is Alice Cooper). And again I was right because “The Signal” is full of electropoprock songs that can’t keep me interested for more than a minute. “Sorry” sounds like a Garbage leftover and the ballad “Stop The Crying” has been done a zillion times before by other mediocre artists. Skip this one!
Score: 4 out of 10


Admiral Twin – Center Of The Universe

Tulsa, Oklahoma… not exactly known as the musical epicenter of the world if you ask me. But the ground there was fertile enough to sprout Admiral Twin. For their fifth album “Center Of The Universe”, they’ve come up with no less than 15 poprock songs that owe as much to The Beatles as to Fountains of Wayne (minus the witty lyrics).

It turned out to be quite a decent album and while one could write quite a lot of good things about it, it’s lacking when it comes to memorable hooks. Sure, it’s fun while you listen to it, but try remembering some of the songs after hitting the off switch.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

The Boggs – Forts

Here’s a riddle for you… which band is sometimes a large group of people and at other times a solo endeavour and combines folk, garage, punk, blues and disco and is located in Berlin as well as New York and has people from all over the world contributing parts to their third album? The answer is The Boggs, the brainchild of Jason Friedman. One could easily fill an entire page about the project and how it all works both on- and offstage or about all of the stuff Friedman does next to the band.

And honestly, it would probably more interesting than the album itself. Because while “Little Windows” – one of the better songs on here – reminds me of Polyphonic Spree or I Am Barcelona, things all too often sound like a whole lot of layers heaped together rather than like a coherent song. And while there are a lot of cool ideas to be found on “Forts”, it’s not always easy to spot them.

For the more adventurous listeners only I’m afraid!
Score: 6 out of 10

Light Pupil Dilate – Snake Wine

Atlanta, Georgia is not only home to the dudes in Light Pupil Dilate but also for the beards that make up Mastodon. And let that be the first band I thought of when I listened to “Snake Wine”. The drumming, the powerful vocals and the unpredictable song patterns… it all hints to Mastodon. But these guys are not merely a copycat. They definitely show a face of their own on their sophomoric release “Snake Wine”.

The album is as psychdelic as it’s melodic and as heavy as it is bright. May sound a little weird but then again weird seems to be exactly what Light Pupil Dilate are shooting for. In the bio they say that Light Pupil Dilate combines elements of classic metal (Slayer, Sepultura), progressive rock (King Crimson, Yes), punk (Hot Water Music, Nomeansno), hardcore (Converge, Today Is The Day) and 90s DC rock (Fugazi). And you know what? It’s true… you can find all those elements on “Snake Wine” and somehow Light Pupil Dilate managed to mold them into sizzling slabs of guitar-driven fury.

I think it’s fair to say that this is the first real surprise of 2008 and here’s to hoping there’ll be a lot more following of this caliber!
Score: 9 out of 10

Make It Count – Leeway

For a second I couldn’t believe it… but then it turned out the album title was “Leeway” and that “Make It Count” was in fact not the title of a new Leeway album I had somehow heard nothing about. Germans, ha! They used to simply invade our country, now they’re a little more subtle and start messing with our minds instead. So just for that I should subtract a couple of points from the final score!

Anyway, Make It Count is a German band that likes its hardcore oldschool. Fast-paced, straight to the point, pissed off but always with a sense of melody. With plenty of cool singalong parts and breakdowns in all the right places, Make It Count definitely seem to know what they are doing. Throw in a great production and a cover of Battery’s “Whatever It Takes” and you’re looking at an album that all the oldschool fans out there should be able to appreciate!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Year Long Disaster – S/T

Ever since Led Zep and Black Sabbath did it, mixing blues with rock n roll or metal has been totally working for a large number of bands. Year Long Disaster is one of those acts as can be heard on their self-titled Volcom debut.

It seems the album is divided in two parts where the first half of the album is filled with straight-forward rock with amazing songs like “Cold Killer”, opener “Per Qualche Dollaro In Piu” or the ZZ Top-influenced “The Fool And You”. Hooks, riffs and a Southern groove… these guys have got it all to spare! On the second half of the album some Led Zep grandeur comes into play with “Swan On A Black Lake” taking the cake stretching out over almost 9 minutes.

With the bassist from Karma To Burn in the band, you could’ve expected this kinda sound. But did you honestly think this could come from the son of a Kink Daniel Davis and Third Eye Blind drummer Brad Hargreaves? Neither did I but who cares… just crank up those guitars and let the testosterone take over!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

The Breakup Society – Nobody Likes A Winner

Bob Hoag might be best known for his work as a producer but he also plays drums in a band called The Breakup Society. On “Nobody Likes A Winner” they show the best of themselves in a mix of poppunk and garage and do a pretty good job on all of the fourteen songs.

All of the tracks on here deal with losing, losers, feeling lost and all the other words you can form with the verb ‘to lose’. Yet Breakup Society’s main man Ed Masley tells these stories in such a way that all of the characters end up being lovable. Musically things are mostly upbeat with great hooks and occasionally they’ll throw in some piano or trumpet on top of the basic guitar-drums-bass combo to further enhance The Breakup Society’s flavour.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

NOFX – They’ve Actually Gotten Worse Live

Live album number two for the dudes in NOFX is called “They’ve Actually Gotten Worse Live”. It doesn’t really serve a purpose but what the hell… 24 songs that weren’t on their first live album “I Heard They Suck Live” with different arrangements (read: they’re played faster to hide some of the drunken mistakes) alongside lots of onstage banter about how drunk they are and lame jokes. What else is there to say? NOFX hasn’t changed in all these years so by now everyone should know what to expect from one of their shows. And it’s exactly what you’ll hear on “They’ve Actually Gotten Worse Live”.
Score: 7 out of 10

V/A – There’s Only One ‘T’ In Wichita

Can someone please explain to me what the purpose of a remix is? They never ever are as good as the original and most of the time they are just plain annoying. Like the remix by Dave P and Adam Sparkles of Bloc Party’s “Hunting For Witches”. Personally I think any guy that goes by the name of Sparkles deserves to be shot, especially when you fuck up a song that’s as good as “Hunting For Witches”.

Luckily things pick up from there with cuts from Blood Brothers, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Les Savy Fav, The Bronx and everyone else on the Wichita roster. All that for 3.99£ max!
Score: 7 out of 10

Angels & Airwaves – I-Empire

The cover of Angels & Airwaves newest album may have the same vibe as a “Star Wars” movie poster, the album is nowhere as good as any of the original movies but a lot closer to the terrible “Attack Of The Clones”. What you hear on “I-Empire” are sleep-inducing songs that aren’t going anywhere but in circles without any original ideas, directions or hooks.

Tom DeLonge is still singing the same repetitive vocal melodies he’s been using ever since Blink 182’s heydays but at least then they were supported by loud guitars. Here you get a lot of keyboards and building up to well, nothing much like on Blink 182’s trying to sound mature album “”. It’s so obvious that the guy is trying to create something significant but in the end it’s just painfully clear that no matter how orchestrated his songs are, the guy’s voice lacks severely and it all still sounds exactly the same as last time.
Score: 5 out of 10

The Active Set – S/T

Matthew Stolarz helped found The Briggs, before leaving that band and starting another project called The Active Set. No hard feelings between him and the rest of The Briggs though seeing as Jason and Joey LaRocca helped out a great deal on this EP and Jason also produced the whole thing.

On The Active Set’s first and self-titled release you’ll find six songs that are miles away from what The Briggs are doing. They are only punky in a Hot Hot Heat/Bloc Party kinda way with some jagged guitars. It all sounds more than decent enough and Stolarz proves that he knows how to write upbeat, poppy songs with an eighties twist… “Mindless” has this cool Costello vibe and opener “Escape Act” is just a great song all around. Be on the lookout for these guys!
Score: 7 out of 10

This Is Hell – Misfortunes

Vultures on the cover. I like that. And just like vultures feed off the flesh of the dead, I suspect the dudes that make up This Is Hell feed of all the crap that goes on in the world. They suck it right up and then channel all their aggression and frustration into hardcore splinter bombs that destroy everything in sight.

Right from the start, This Is Hell bursts out of the gates with “Reckless” and they keep up the unrelenting pace all the way to “Cement Shoes”, the bonus track that ends this band’s second album.

It ain’t fancy or pretty but then again the most effective and practical machines hardly ever are. These guys know how to properly apply their chugga chugga parts and the occasional breakdowns along with Travis Reilly’s manic screams to create an awesome album that will send many a hardcore band back to the drawing board.
Score: 9 out of 10

Kingdom Of Sorrow – S/T

Did Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta or Down/Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein play King’s Quest 2 a lot when they were younger? I have no idea but when the two of them got together for a side-project, they quickly settled on the name Kingdom Of Sorrow.

The biggest question is of course whether Kingdom Of Sorrow sounds like Hatebreed with some of those kickass NOLA influences or is it rather the other way around? Turns out it’s the second option and I couldn’t be happier because Kirk Windstein is at his best when he sounds like well, Kirk Windstein. Sludgy riffs over pummeling drums coupled to Jamey Jasta’s hardcore bark make for a pretty convincing album, Especially on songs like “Grieve A Lifetime” where one great riff is coupled to another.

So it doesn’t quite sound like Hatebreed but that doesn’t mean that Hatebreed fans are left out in the cold. The opening part of “Lead The Ghosts Astray” is vintage Hatebreed and of course, there’s Jasta’s growls to identify with. But who knew the guy had more up his sleeve? Hell, on “Screaming Into The Sky” he’s singing with a clean voice and makes it sound good… who would’ve thought!

Kingdom of Sorrow’s self-titled debut is a pure slab of metal that begs to be cranked up all the way to 11… Spinal Tap style! Maybe not quite as good as Down’s albums but then again, few albums are.
Score: 8 out of 10


Hard-Fi – Once Upon A Time In The West

The first thing I noticed about Hard-Fi’s new album was that it had a lot of yellow on the cover. I don’t like yellow that much. Then I saw ‘no cover art’ spelled out in big letters. The yellow was repeated in the rest of the booklet and there wasn’t much else to look with no band photos or lyrics to be found. Just ‘insignificant photoshoot’ in even bigger letters.

Luckily the music itself is a lot more appealing and right from the get go they score bigtime with first single “Suburban Knights” which thrives on a chorus of addictive oohs and aahs. “I Shall Overcome” and “Tonight” are equally good and I found myself ready to forgive them for all that yellow in the artwork. Whether it’s rock, ska, Britpop or motown, these lads throw it all together on one big pile and pull out whatever suits the melody they’re working with. And while not every song is brilliant, there’s always a bit of piano, a string arrangement, a catchy chorus or a cool riff present to make sure it’s impossible to get the song out of your head.

In short, “Once Upon A Time In The West” is a shamelessly catchy album that sounds very well polished but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s just a lot of fun!
Score: 8 out of 10

Bloodlights – S/T

When Gluecifer called it a day, guitarist Captain Poon decided he hadn’t had his share of liquor and groupies just yet and so he started a new band called Bloodlights. On the band’s debut they drop twelve songs that don’t sound all that different from what was going on with Gluecifer or it would have to be for the more polished sounds that Bloodlights deliver. This is fast-paced rock n roll with some Queens Of The Stone Ago influences along with a bit of smeared eyeliner that they borrowed from the New York Dolls. Fun album that would’ve been better if it came with a rawer sound!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Cortez – Thunder In A Forgotten Town

With “Thunder In A Forgotten Town” the Bostonians that make up Cortez deliver a solid stoner album. There’s nothing on here that you haven’t heard before from bands like Kyuss, Fu Manchu or even High On Fire, but they’re doing a pretty decent job of cranking up the guitars and churning out some doomy riffs along with more solo action than any single man with access to internet porn will see. Add a singer who more than knows how to handle himself to the equation and you’re looking at another fun release on the best – if not only – Belgian stoner label, Buzzville Records.
Score: 7.5 out of 10