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Collective Soul – Afterwords

Shit, I didn’t even know these guys were still around! Collective Soul scored a couple of hits in the 90ies with their modern rock which was characterized by strong melodies, dito choruses and vocalist Ed Roland’s typical voice. It was always a shame though that their albums weren’t equally strong over the whole line. There was always room lefft for some filler.

Same thing with “Afterwords”. There’s a couple of tracks that will do really well on the radio like single “Hollywood” or “New Vibration”. Their sound hasn’t changed a bit in over ten years but it’s not like things sound outdated or anything like it. It is a shame though that there are way too many ballads on here, not all of whom are very good. It makes “Afterwords” an easy listen that I can enjoy when it’s playing but it’s probably not an album that I will pop in my stereo on a regular basis.
Score: 7 out of 10
El Music Group

G.G. Elvis and the T.C.P. Band – Back From The Dead

Oh boy, members of Ill Repute, Bad Samaritans, NOFX, Jughead’s Revenge, Dr. Know, Stalag 13 and Aggression started a band with one mission. To bring Elvis back from the dead. Assuming of course he is really dead. To lure the man out of his grave (or his hiding place), they anally rape a couple of Elvis classics such as “Viva Las Vegas”, “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Love Me Tender” and mash them up with old punk classics. Yup, it’s GG Allin meets Elvis… hence the band name.

The band originally started out as Punk Rawk Elvis but after several member changes they switched to G.G. Elvis and the T.C.P. Band and consists of G.G. Elvis aka Eric Lara of the Bad Samaritans on lead vocals, Elvis of Nazareth aka Tony Cortez of Ill repute on guitar, "Has-Been" Elvis aka Larry White of Aggression on drums, Elvis Vicious aka Dave Casillas of NOFX on lead guitar, Elvis '56 aka Gearge Snow of Bad Samaritans on bass and Little Sister aka Sara Jo Merin on backing vocals.

“Back From The Dead” is a gritty and raw yet incredibly fun album that will most likely be considered pure blasphemy by Elvis purists but fuck it, it’s funny. To top it all off they all dress up as Elvis (from different periods in his life) and put on an incredible live show.

The limited edition comes with a scratch & sniff sticker which I haven’t dared scratch yet and a ‘controversial’ DVD that as a highlight has a music video without the music. This because of copyright issues. The band works around the problem nicely though by providing humorous scrolling monolog at the bottom of the screen. Yup, these guys are keeping it punk!
Score: 8 out of 10

Venomous Concept – Poisoned Apple

What do you get when you put guys from Napalm Death, Brutal Truth and The Melvins together in a band? Pop music? Country? Sappy ballads? No, you get downright brutal hardcorepunk with some grind influences. That was what you could hear on Venomous Concept’s debut “Retroactive Abortion”. Due to a busy schedule The Melvins’ Buzz Osbourne couldn’t be there for album number two but the rest of the band hired Danny Lilker (Nuclear Assault, Brutal Truth en S.O.D.) to play bass on “Poisoned Apple” instead. Pretty good choice if you ask me. If you were hoping for surprises, don’t! Because “Poisoned Apple” isn’t all that different from their debut. They race through 17 songs in 34 minutes. Needless to say they keep up an unrelenting pace only slowing down for the nasty “Water Cooler”.

If you’re looking for subtlety or pretty harmonies, look elsewhere. This is a shredder from start to finish and just when you think they can’t go any faster, in comes some grindcore picking up the pace even more.
Score: 7.5 out of 10


The Steal interview

One of the most fun hardcore releases I’ve been listening to lately has to be The Steal’s self-titled album. They call the UK home but are signed to the amazing Get Outta Town Records out of Florida who seem to have a nose for great HC acts. Read on to see what vocalist Mark had to tell us!

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Mark: Hello, My names Mark. When I get the chance I sing in the hardcore/punk quartet known as The Steal.

PRT: Who else is in the band and what could I steal from them?
Mark: Dave is on bass and from him you could steal his sensitive singer songwriter talents. Lindsay is on guitar and from him you could steal his interstellar-based glow in the dark t-shirt. Finally Richard is on drums and from him you could steal his Brighton Amateur Science Club membership card.

PRT: Can you give me a quick history of the band written in less than one minute?
Mark: 4 guys decided to form a hardcore band just for the fun of it. By chance a lot of people seem into it and have given us the chance to play with people we never thought we would meet and in places we never thought we would travel to. We are most thankful.

PRT: You have to be the only band I ever came across to have 0 MySpace friends… aren’t you worried that this way you’ll never become the hype of the moment? How do you sleep at night?
Mark: I sleep at night on my side with my eyes shut, on a dark grey bed spread with matching quilt.

PRT: You don’t seem too keen on the internet (“World Wide World”) or about ciritics (“The Steal”), so exactly how annoying is this interview?
Mark: I wouldn’t say we aren’t keen on the internet, it has helped us in so many ways as a band. It’s a very powerful tool. What we aren’t so keen on is the way that the many positive uses of the net can be abused by people who just want to bitch anonymously. In regards to critics see the last sentence. I would not say this interview is annoying as you have not asked us “All of you were in X,Y,Z before doing the Steal is this something you have used to your advantage blah blah blah.” We have answered that question way too many times.

PRT: I know why I like your album, but for people who haven’t heard it yet… what are three good reasons why should they go out and pick up a copy?
Mark: 1.I’m often told that If you listen to just my vocals out of context of a hardcore record, they kind of sound like a hyper Yorkshire Terrier yapping so you could perhaps use it to communicate with a pet canine.
2.At a show recently a guy told me he likes to listen to the album while he works out.
3.It only has one swear word in the whole album so you can listen to it really load at work as long as you skip the end of Breakout.

PRT: You’ve already toured in the US, your album is out there on Get Outta Town Records… how hard is it for a band from the UK to make some waves in the States? Mark: I don’t think we would be anywhere without the kindness and coolness of many people, Charles at Get Outta Town and Jon at Banquet records being two of them. Without word of mouth and mentions on blogs like this we would be no where. One thing that I have always been amazed at is how overwhelming helpful and supportive the global punk community has been to us.

PRT: On your site I read that all of you are also playing in other bands right now… which bands and what’s up with The Steal?
Mark: Dave does a lot of shows doing his acoustic stuff under his full name Dave House which features our good friend (and occasional 5th member) Jon from the Don Ramos Players.
Rich has a few musical projects on the go. One being the Beat Express who we have a split 7” with (available soon!). He also plays in the instrumental band Hot Damn.
Lindsay is preparing to start a sound design course so be prepared for a numerous projects from him soon.
I am starting a band with my good friend and Illustrator Will Exley called the auxiliary which is basically an excuse for us to make up artwork.
The Steal was never planned as a full time touring band. With all of us working full time and in some cases in different towns its hard for us to hook up as often as we (and a lot of fans) would like.

PRT: It also said that you’ll be back in business in 2008. So what can people expect from you this year?
Mark: Like I said we have a split 7” with Rich’s other band Beat Express coming out in the next month. We also have 3 songs that we have covered by a band called Lightyear that should hopefully see the light of day soon. We have even spoken about doing a new album if we get a chance.

PRT: In the book/movie “High Fidelity” the guys that work in the record store are constantly making these top 5 lists of songs for any occasion. If you would have to make such a list, which occasion would it be for and which songs would make your top 5?
Mark: Top 5 songs to listen to on a road trip
Shoulder To The Wheel – saves the day
Absinthe party at the fly honey warehouse – minus the bear
Fear and Loathing on Long Island – Latterman
Turnpike Gates – Lifetime
I cannot - Osker

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Mark: Thanks for taking the time to check us out. If you have time why not also check these bands out: Our Time Down Here, Crazy arm, The Don Ramos Players and Tellison.

Annihilation Time – III : Tales Of The Ancient Age

Far out dude! For the third time Annihilation Time treats us to a most excellent mix of 70ies rock with tons of groove and played with a punk as fuck attitude. They rage their way through ten songs and as if just that isn’t enough yet, they throw in one awesome guitar solo after the other.

Whether you like banging your head or going nuts in the pit, I think it’s all fine with these guys. Just make sure you crank this album up all the way and if you get a chance to see these guys live, make sure you do. It’s like listening to Thin Lizzy completely strung out on speed. Or think Black Flag during the “Slip It In” era… yeah, they really are that good!
Score: 8 out of 10

I Walk The Line – Black Wave Rising!

On their third album, the Finnish dudes that make up I Walk The Line did a pretty great job. “Black Wave Rising” is an entertaining album that is jam-packed with catchy melodies from start to finish. Not a single song on here will let you down! And even though song titles like “Demonic Verses” and “Monster” might led you to believe otherwise, this is simply a feelgood album. They might rip off Nirvana on the beginning of “Paradise” but most of all this album shows I Walk The Line are a sureshot for winning the award for Finland’s biggest fans of Against Me’s latest album. That means there’s lots of new wave influences! Hell, they even cover Berlin’s hit “The Metro”! Their English might not be the best out there but the abundant use of keyboards and overall catchiness more than makes up for that.
Score: 7 out of 10

H2O – Nothing To Prove

After the whole “Go” debacle seven years ago, it got kinda quiet around H20. Not that they sat on their asses the whole time. Everyone kept themselves busy with family and other projects like Hazen Street and Juliette And The Licks. But hey, they’re back now with the appropriately titled “Nothing To Prove”. They’ve already more than proven themselves in the past.

The album opens with the catchy “1995” and they keep up with the upbeat poppy hardcore sounds I love ‘em for right up until “What Happened?”. The positivity and optimism still jumps right at you and you can hear these guys having a ton of fun. I’ve always loved this band’s sound and it’s good to see they still have what it takes to bring me back to the mid 90’s when I first got into hardcore in a single second.

Of course they invited some friends in the studio as well and that list reads like a friggin’ who’s who of amazing bands. Roger Miret, Freddy Cricien, Civ, Kevin Seconds, Lou Koller, Matt Skiba… they’re all on here somewhere with New Found Glory’s Chad Gilbert producing the whole thing.

“Nothing To Prove” is a great return to form for H20 and with nothing left to prove, they simply wrote the album they wanted to write and I couldn’t be happier with it!
Score: 9 out of 10


Do Or Die – Pray For Them

It took the guys in Do Or Die three years to come up with a new album but they’re back now with “Pray For Them”. And guess what? They still sound as pissed off as before. Right from the get go they burst out in some metalcore mayhem with “Proved Wrong” and they keep on going right up until the re-recorded versions of “Do Or Die” and “Bella Famiglia” with guest vocals from none other than Jamey Jasta and Roger Miret.

These Belgian dudes play a kind of metalcore that’s competent enough and it does the trick just fine. But there are hardly any surprises. And that’s kinda both the strength and the biggest flaw of Do Or Die at the same time. They just keep on going with what they do best but I was kinda hoping for a little something more on album number four.
Score: 6 out of 10

Ike Reilly – Poison The Hit Parade

To tie us over until Ike Reilly’s new album comes out, there is now “Poison The Hit Parade”, a collection of demo songs, alternate takes and EP tracks. Just like on any of his other albums Reilly’s lyrics and his witty sense of humor are the main draw here. His stories always include the most lovable drunks and screwups you’ll ever encounter.

All this praise about the lyrics doesn’t mean the music is crap. Far from it actually. Just like the lyrics, it’s filled with unexpected turns that keep things more than interesting. “Poison The Hit Parade” might not be as good as say, “Sparkle In The Finish” but for an odd-and-ends collection, this is pretty much downright impressive.
Score: 7 out of 10

The Weepies – Hideaway

The Weepies are Deb Talan and Steven Tannen, a happily married couple with a baby boy who jump at every chance they get to tell the world just how happy they are together. It’s adorable. It’s cute. As are the songs on “Hideaway”. Gently strummed folkpop songs that slide in your ear so smoothly you don’t even notice them at first. But then you realize that the melodies are stuck in your head along with the quirky harmonies.

This couple might not be as weird or eccentric as The Moldy Peaches but they are definitely from the same neighbourhood. Only difference is that The Weepies might live together in suburban bliss while the Peaches get together somewhere in a seedy alley just around the corner.

The only song that didn’t appeal to me was “All Good Things”, which as it turns out is something they re-used from when they were writing songs with Mandy Moore for her album “Wild Hope”. Glad to see I’m still able to point out shit from a mile away. None of the songs on here are edgy or even close to dangerous. They are just so damn cute even corporate America embraced the couple which led to Old Navy and JC Penney using their songs in commercials!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Goldfinger – Hello Destiny

Dammit, I forced myself into liking this band’s previous releases but honestly I never felt the same way about them as I did about their old songs like “Here In Your Bedroom” or “Mabel”. It’s not that they were bad albums but something was missing. Smarter people than myself have already said that Goldfinger has been clinging onto their skapunk (and eventually ska-less punk) for years now but without their youthful enthousiasm, it simply felt forced.

But then came the news that guitarist Charlie Paulson was back in the band. The dude left ten years ago right after their finest hour. So who knows, maybe that’s what was missing the whole time. Which would make their new album “Hello Destiny” their best in years. It has to! Right?
Wrong. On “Hello Destiny” the band does bring back some of the brass and even a little bit of ska (“Get Up” and “If I’m Not Right”) but other than that the songs on here taste just as bland as the ones on “Disconnection Notice”.
Score: 6 out of 10

New Found Glory – Tip Of The Iceberg / International Superheroes Of Hardcore – Takin’ It Ova

I just barely recuperated from New Found Glory’s ‘From The Screen To Your Stereo II” release and bam, we’re already treated to a whole new batch of songs. First there’s the NFG EP with 3 new songs (I especially like the opening track) along with three tasty covers from Lifetime, Gorilla Biscuits and Shelter. Kudos on that excellent selection!

And then there’s the band’s alter ego, International Superheroes Of Hardcore. Which basically gives New Found Glory a way to use every hardcore cliché in the book while singing about seatbelts, Indiana Jones, screamo and – my absolute favorite track on the album – Back To The Future.

With ISHC they have managed to take their juvenile sense of humour to a whole new level while proving they haven’t forgotten their hardcore roots just yet. Good times people, good times!
Score: 8 out of 10

Murder By Death – Red Of Tooth And Claw

With “Red Of Tooth And Claw” Indiana’s Murder By Death released an album that is nothing but impressive. It’s as if these guys were in jail alongside Johnny Cash or write their songs at the desk next to Nick Cave. Whatever the case may be, Murder By Death (kudos on the band name by the way!) completely absorbed those songwriters’ work and simply started pouring out songs of their own one day. Songs that are pitch black. Songs that tell of grime, murder, obsession and sex. Vocalist Adam Turla doesn’t romanticize anything. He just lays it all out there for the taking while the rest of the band cranks out a solid foundation of country, Americana and rootsrock. And hell, any band that writes an instrumental theme for Ennio Morricone that makes you swear you already heard it while watching Clint Eastwood ride into town is okay in my book!
Score: 8 out of 10

The Pigeon Detectives – Emergency

Barely one year ago The Pigeon Detectives released their debut album “Wait For Me”, which was one of the most fun albums I’ve heard all year. They’re back already now with “Emergency”, a reflection on all the things that happened to the band in the past twelve months. Sure sounds serious enough but these guys wouldn’t be The Pigeon Detectives if they didn’t still excel at writing upbeat and incredibly catchy songs. A point they immediately prove on opener “This Is An Emergency” and the equally energetic “I’m Not Gonna Take This”. They slow down a bit on the next couple of songs before going all out again after that. Only to slow down completely with “Nothing To Do With You”. And hell, they even pull off a ballad!

It’s that mix of brawny pop that we know from the Kaiser Chiefs along with a little bit of edge that The Strokes used to have and a crispy production job by Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur, Babyshambles), that makes “Emergency” a great listen. One can hardly attribute The Pigeon Detectives a sound of their own but fuck it, an album with songs as catchy as “I’m A Liar” has every right to be played at maximum volume and preferably at a festival this summer.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Chatham County Line - IV

Bluegrass. Not exactly my favorite genre. But what the dudes from Chatham County Line do on their fourth album charmed the hell out of me. Everything is recorded in live takes in the studio with very little meddling afterwards and it gives the album a very real and warm sound. Which is a perfect sound for the band’s acoustic-driven and harmony-heavy songs. Throw in vocalist Dave Wilson who comes equipped with an equally warm and twangy voice that’s perfect for this kinda music and you know you’re in for a treat.

And while the band’s instrumentation is very traditional with banjos, violins and a pedal steel guitar, the way they write songs isn’t. It’s pop, bluegrass, rock and country all rolled into one without ever sounding like one thing. And it’s especially on songs like “One More Minute” that these guys score major points with me. A ballad that doesn’t sound fake or cheesy? Hell yeah! Bring it on!
Score: 8 out of 10

That Was Something – Bears!

I recently received Detroit’s That Was Something’s new album in my mailbox and I have to say I have never ever heard of these guys before, nor of the label they’re on (Oort Records). As far as I can tell it’s the label’s second release, while That Was Something’s MySpace page says it’s the band’s fifth album in five years.

The music on “Bears!” sounds every bit as cuddly as the artwork suggests and while they know how to write some slick poprock songs, boredom struck me around the halfway mark and I had the hardest time distinguishing separate songs from then on. All of the songs have nice guitar sounds and keyboard effects with hooky vocals yet they lack that extra bit of zing to make them stand out in a genre that’s already very crowded.
Score: 6 out of 10

Broadcast Sea – Wounded Soldier

Pluto Records has had a very consistens release record ever since I got in touch with them years ago. While I may not like every single release they put out, I always admire them for the bands they choose to work with. Rather than picking up acts that are similar to the hype of the day, they go for bands they believe in. Look at Broadcast Sea… while these guys will never sell a shitload of albums, they are more than worthy of being heard.

With a sound that nestles itself nicely between a band like Isis and raw indie rock, Broadcast Sea purge their souls on “Wounded Soldier” with the kind of desperation that feels all too real. Inspired by the stories guitarist/vocalist Sterling Cash’s brother brought back with him after doing a tour in Iraq, Broadcast Sea play every single note with a piss and vinegar attitude that is fueled by rage and the dual vocal attack between Sterling Cash and Calvin Sprague gives me the impression that there’s an ongoing battle between the two of them of who sounds the grittiest. Throw in a great production job that leaves all the dirt intact and you’ve got yourself a winner on your hands with “One Day We’ll Find You” and “Turning Heads” as my absolute favourites.
The only downside I can find about “Wounded Soldier” is that it’s only 8 songs long and leaves me wanting a helluva lot more!
Score: 9 out of 10

No Use For A Name – The Feel Good Record Of The Year

Arrogant little brats! “The Feel Good Record Of The Year”… who the hell do they think they are? Oh yeah, along with other Fat Wreck staples such as NOFX and Lagwagon, No Use For A Name have been kings of the fast punkrock song for years. So I guess if anyone has the right to give name one of their albums like this, it’s them.

Or do they? While No Use For A Name is still a kickass band and will no doubt forever remain just that, they do not maintain the same level of excitement throughout the entire album. While fast songs such as “Biggest Lie” or “Under The Garden” set the bar high, there are a couple of halfassed tracks that would be good enough for other bands but not for No Use. And a piano ballad like “Ontario” just isn’t the best way to go for these guys. I thought they would’ve figured that out by now. Overall though they’re still damn good at what they do. High on speed, high on melody and a couple of singalong choruses… that’s all I need to hear on a NUFAN album!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Unearthly Trance – Electrocution

Since “The Trident” you can’t call Unearthly Trance a pure doom band anymore and honestly, I couldn’t be happier. Which of course was never possible before because doom and being happy don’t go well together. For their new album “Electrocution”, this NY –based trio decided to stray even further from the beaten path of doom (which obviously leads to the nearest graveyard) and came back with an album that should send the dudes in High On Fire back to the studio to write an even better album.

Don’t worry, it’s still heavy as fuck but without the boundaries of doom restricting them, Unearthly Trance has written their best album so far. Entire songs are still built around one majestic riff by Ryan Lipynsky that have been known to reduce entire buildings to piles of rubble but there’s more going on and it makes things only more exciting than anything they’ve done before.
Score: 8 out of 10

The Hellacopters – Head Off

As of last year The Hellacopters are no more. Which is a damn shame because they are without a doubt one of Scandivia’s finest rock bands. But at least they won’t let us go home empty-handed but with one last studio album instead, “Head Off”.

Even though the album is comprised entirely of covers, you wouldn’t say so right away. They have all been subjected to the Hellacopters formula and wouldn’t look out of place on any of their other releases. If you are interested in the original artists, check out The Hellacopter site but it includes artists like New Bomb Turks and Gaza Strippers. Anyway, just like any other album by this band, it’s all no-frills rock n roll that goes back all the way to Thin Lizzy. “Head Off” is a great way to say goodbye and we here at PunkRockTheory HQ wouldn’t have it any other way!
Score: 8 out of 10

Psychopunch – Moonlight City

The Swedish bastard childs of the Hellacopters and TurbonegroHellac (the DVD of the orgy is now up for sale at eBay) are back with a new album. It’s already number seven for ‘em in just ten years, yet they show absolutely no signs of slowing down. Not with touring, not with recording and definitely not with the music they play

“Moonlight City” consists of 10 raging slabs of perfectly executed punk ‘n roll. The loud guitars, a straight-ahead rhythm section and a powerful vocalist… that’s the basic dynamics of any rock ‘n roll band and Psychopunch proves that that it still rings true today. Throw in some catchy singalong choruses and you know all you have left to do is grease up that hair and rock the fuck out with Psychopunch!
Score: 8 out of 10

Textures – Silhouettes

For “Silhouettes”, Holland’s Textures looked back to what they did on “Drawing Circles” and then took their songwriting to the next level. Think of everything you liked about these Dutchies and then proceed by enlarging it tenfold. Or if that’s too hard for you metalheads out there, then just go and pick up “Silhouettes” and find out for yourself firsthand.

There’s still a lot of weird rhythm changes, chugga chugga riffs and lots of screaming which is placed oh so so well alongside moody keyboard contributions, Mike Pattonesque clean vocals and atmospheric guitar parts that you can’t help but get impressed. But that was already the case on “Drawing Circles”. So what’s the big difference? Well, the songwriting is even more clever and they managed to smuggle in a little more melody without compromising on the level of aggression.

In short… with “Silhouettes”, Textures have released an album that will no doubt launch them to the forefront of the European metal scene which is exactly where they belong!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

At The Soundawn – Red Square : We Come In Waves

At The Soundawn is an Italian band that we are going to hear a lot more from. Take my word for it. With “Red Square : We Come In Waves”, these dudes released an impressive debut that is guaranteed to turn a lot of heads.

Yes, they sound like Neurosis and Cult Of Luna but it all still sounds mighty impressive. With a massive wall of sound a la Mastodon alongside calmer, more mellow pieces and the skills to weave these two together like Mogwai would do, there is a lot to be said for these guys. There’s only seven songs on the album but all of the tracks are cleverly constructed and kept me coming back for more, making “Red Square” an album that is a worthy addition to any decent metal collection.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Millencolin – Machine 15

15 Years after these Orebro, Sweden guys first started playing skatepunk, they have changed their sound quite a bit. Ever since “Pennybridge Pioneers” the band sounds more like a solid rock band than anything else. And that has never been more true than on “Machine 15”. Not that it’s a bad thing because their sense of melody and the catchy choruses they’ve always written still work even when not supported by lightning-fast rhythms.

And whether you’re talking about the string section on “Done Is Done” or the glorious “Who’s Laughing Now”, you gotta hand it to the Swedes… they’ve done it again! And along with a superb production job by Lou Giordano (Taking Back Sunday, Sunny Day Real Estate,…), “Machine 15” makes me hope Millencolin will be around for 15 more years.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

To Kill – When Blood Turns Into Stone

To Kill has to be my favorite Italian hardcore band. Not in the least because I can’t recall any others. I guess that also makes them the worst Italian hardcore band I know, doesn’t it? But seriously, these guys and one cute girl are pretty kickass. On their new album “When Blood Turns Into Stone” these Romans slay everything in sight like some kind of modernday gladiators. But instead of using a sword, they come armed with razorsharp riffs and pummeling drums and with a wall of noise that would scare off even the biggest barbarian.
What they do is not exactly new but they play their music with so much conviction, that you can’t help but get sucked in. If you’re into acts such as Most Precious Blood, pick this one up. You won’t regret it!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

On Fire – Masquerades

On Fire is a Dutch hardcore band that has just released its second album with “Masquerades”. It’s fast-paced hardcore punk with some hardrock influences thrown in. Hell, they even use a cowbell in “Neon Dreams, Glass Fibre Dreams”… how many hardcore bands do you know that use a cowbell? Musically things sound pretty good even though they don’t bring anything new to the table. Other than the cowbell. My only problem are the grating vocals which at times just aren’t too flattering. Overall though, I have to say On Fire released an energetic album that should get a moshpit going.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Dead Boys - Return Of The Living Dead Boys : Halloween Night 1986

In 1986 Dead Boys reformed for a show in NYC. Of all the days they could've picked, it of course had to be Halloween. This DVD is the document of that show at the Ritz where Stiv Bators, Cheetah Chrome, Jimmy Zero, Jeff Magnum and Johnny Blitz all got it together again one more time. With an intro by none other than Joey Ramone and 17 songs, this is pretty cool stuff. They play their very own punk anthem "Sonic Reducer" twice and also throw in a cover of The Stooges' "Search And Destroy" towards the end. Even the fact that this DVD was shot with just one camera from way in the back of the venue like it was some 8th grader's school play can't suppress the fun!

As bonus material you get a TV interview from 1980 featuring Stiv plus the "Sonic Reducer" music video. All in all this is an okay DVD and if you're a fan of The Dead Boys' sleazy gutter rock, then you will want to check this one out.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Tad - Busted Circuits And Ringing Ears DVD

"Busted Circuits And Ringing Ears" documents the rise and eventual disintegration of the heaviest band around Literally. TAD may have never quite reached the status that other grunge bands achieved in the early 90ies but that didn't stop the band from becoming pretty well-known nonetheless. It could've been a lot more than that because TAD definitely had the potential to be every bit as solid as Nirvana. Unfortunately they went through a lot of label and legal issues that ultimately took its toll. It probably didn't help either that they weren't exactly poster boys like Kurt Cobain.

The DVD shows all of this from the band's beginnings as Tad Doyle’s solo project. Most of Tad’s ex-members are interviewed but the DVD also includes interviews with Soundgarden's Kim Thayil, Nirvana's Krist Novoselic and Chad Channing, Mudhoney's Mark Arm and Sub Pop cofounders Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt. The documentary paints a good picture of Tad, from what they stood for musically to Doyle's warped sense of humor. Or you can watch it as the typical story of a band that signs with a major, doesn't live up to the expectations and then collapses under all the pressure. It's a solid documentary either way!
Score: 8 out of 10

Neva Dinova - You May Already Be Dreaming

Neva Dinova is a country/slowcore outfit that got signed to Saddle Creek for their third album after label boss Conor Oberst became a fan along with other Saddle Creek artists such as Rilo Kiley and The Faint. And just one quick listen to "You May Already Be Dreaming" will convince you that the quintet fits right in there on the roster.

One of the strongest selling points of Neva Dinova is that you believe every word that rolls out of vocalist Jake Bellows' mouth. And while three guitars might seem like overkill, it works wonders for this band. "Will The Ladies Send You Flowers" is as pure as anything I've heard this year with Bellows totally nailing the Johnny Cash-like delivery. The absolute highlight for me however is "Clouds" with a distorted riff that would make Neil Young very proud. Or jealous.
Whether they're quiet or loud, Neva Dinova always sounds so incredibly warm. Just like the blanket you used to roll yourself into as a kid. Whether you wanted to forget everything around you or be comforted, "You May Already Be Dreaming" will do the trick every bit as good as that blanket used to.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Freaky Age - Every Morning Breaks Out

How do you rebel against your parents if your dad played in a band called Betty Goes Green and your mom worked in the music business for years? The answer is easy... you don't. You start a band yourself, make it to the finals of Humo's Rock Rally three years later, land a record deal and drop a solid garagerock album at the age of sixteen. At least that's what Lenny Crabbe did along with the rest of Freaky Age.

"Every Morning Breaks Out" is filled with the kind of songs that made The Strokes big but you can just as well find traces of Television on the band's debut. Both the guitars and the vocals sound casually bored yet catchy and with a couple of killer choruses and dito guitar licks, "Every Morning Breaks Out" deserves to be head. It might not be very original but there's no real reason why Freaky Age shouldn't be a lot bigger by the time they outgrow puberty.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Donita Sparks + The Stellar Moments - Transmiticate

One might expect a lot more from seminal riot grrrl band L7's frontwoman but what Donita Sparks does on "Transmiticate" is not very exciting. No flannel shirts anymore for this female, but a whole lot of 80's rock flashbacks instead. Should be okay is what I hear you thinking. Alas, things turned out different. With monotonous rhythms that keep pounding on for song after song and hardly any hooks or riffs worth picking up on, there's really not that much to say for "Transmiticate". Other than that Donita Sparks used to front L7. Which I already stated in the first line of this review. So I guess that about rounds this one up.
Score: 4 out of 10

Terror - Live June 10, 2004 : The Bowery Collection

Straight from the CBGB soundboard comes a live set by the always destructive Terror. The sound quality may not be top notch but I can easily let it slip because it kinda represents the whole DIY spirit CBGB's was known for. As for this particular show, Terror cranks out eleven tunes of their metallic hardcore and get the place going like they always do. Scott Vogel is obviously enjoying a hometown moment and it makes for a memorable passage with the rest of the band shredding like crazy.

Keep an eye out for a lot more releases in this series as CBGB's has opened their vaults. Other titles already include Mooney Suzuki, The Queers, H2O and The Toasters. With a portion of sales going to the Hilly Kristal Foundation for Musicians and Artists, this will definitely do no harm in keeping the CBGB legend alive.
Score: 7 out of 10

Shooting At Unarmed Men - Triptych

When Mclusky went boom, two new bands popped up. There's Future Of The Left on the one hand and Jon Chapple's Shooting At Unarmed Men on the other. The band's debut was recorded in just three days and their second release was called "Yes, Tinnitus". Do I really need to spell it out? This is one intense band that doesn't like to fuck around.

Nothing these guys do is normal... "Triptych" has 13 songs divided over three CD's. Not the most 'green' thing to do but a good thing nonetheless. Seeing as you can really use the bit of quiet you get when switching the CD. Dropping bombshells left and right and then giving those bombshells names like "Sometimes The Best Thing You Can Do Is Die" or "Happy Birthday Placenta"... yeah, I think it's fair to day I like this band. And if I read a line like 'your Dear John letter had grammatical errors and failed to mention that you're a cunt' then I'm completely sold. You're next.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Be Your Own Pet - Get Awkward

Nashville, country capital of the world. But also home to Be Your Own Pet, a young and punky band that shows everyone how to rock the fuck out on their second album, "Get Awkward". No sophomoric slump in sight here, only adrenalin-fueled songs that deal with sex, partying, drinking, drugs and umm... Russ Meyer's "Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls". The songs on "Get Awkward" may not show a lot of depth but they will get any party started and god, how refreshing is it to listen to an album where the band simply said... fuck it, we're not doing a ballad! Vocalist Jemina Pearl has the perfect voice for this kinda music, the rest of the band sounds like The Stooges on speed and armed with more than enough catchy moments, "Get Awkward" is an album that is guaranteed to plaster a smile on your face while you're shaking along to songs like "Becky" or "Zombie Graveyard Party!".
Score: 8 out of 10

MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

MGMT (pronounced management) are two hip dudes from Brooklyn who borrow freely from 30 years of pop music and then copy/paste those influences into new songs that are extremely hard to classify. But hey, it's catchy as fuck and goes extremely well with the sun and a cold beer. Can you really ask for more?

Opener and buzzworthy single "Time To Pretend" sounds like something The Flaming Lips could've come up with. And whaddyaknow, the producer of "Oracular Spectacular" is none other than Dave Fridmann who in the past has already worked with yup, The Flaming Lips. Sixties psychedelic pop, trendy kitsch a la Air, a little bit of funk, a feelgood atmosphere that brings back The Polyphonic Spree and a lot of things that go bleep in the night... it's all here and it's all interwoven in a great way. I'm ready for the summer!
Score: 8 out of 10

Forward Russia - Life Processes

With a nervous mix of post-punk, progrock and dance, Forward Russia attempted to write a concept album of sorts about life with their sophomoric release. All of life's big themes are expressed on "Life Processes" by the vocals of Tom Woodhead while the rest of the band does a pretty good job of keeping things jagged and angular. The biggest difference with debut "Give Me A Wall" is that they actually use song titles this time around and - more importantly - the songs sound more mature.

Songs like "Spring Is A Condition" and "Some Buildings" have no problem maintaining a very high energy level and producer extraordinaire Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Minus The Bear, Pearl Jam) once again does an amazing job of making things sound crispy. Probably not suited for every single day unless you wanna end up on Xanax but pretty impressive nonetheless.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

For Today - Ekklesia

A christian band posing with axes and a chainsaw. Hmmm, that somehow doesn't simply pop out and scream 'we love Jesus', now does it? Okay, so Joseph was a carpenter and for that he needed some timber (thanks to the whole immaculate conception thing he didn't need any wood though... get it?) but that's pretty much the only link I see.
Anyway, For Today is yet another mallcore outfit that plays it by the numbers. Everything on "Ekklesia" is executed pretty well but things never ever get exciting. And it's not for lack of trying because the songs stray all over the place in every single song. Between all the chugga chugga parts, cliché breakdowns, screams, grunts, clean vocals and melodic riffing, I simply ended up being bored two songs into the album. Lyrically, it's all about loving Jesus but I strongly doubt the good man himself would approve of this generic drab to spread his word.
Score: 3.5 out of 10


City & Colour – Bring Me Your Love

For City & Colour, Dallas Green freed himself from the rest of Alexisonfire to do the singer/songwriter thing. While it’s not exactly a novelty for someone from the punk/hardcore scene to take a walk down the acoustic path, I found “Bring Me Your love” to be an enthralling album from start to finish.

First of all, the dude has an excellent voice and listening to songs like “Confessions” or “What Makes A Man” there’s no going round the fact that he knows how to write a solid song. Sure, it’s kinda sappy and yes, it’s another batch of songs about one dude and his experiences with the opposite sex. But the rootspop of a track such as “The Death Of Me” struck a chord with me and I can’t seem to shake it off.

If you think Dashboard Confessional’s last albums suck or if you wanna hear something similar to Josh Ritter, then you should by all means check out City & Colour’s “Bring Me Your Love”.
Score: 8 out of 10

In Flames – A Sense Of Purpose

When you’re talking about In Flames, the opinions are always divided. Older fans hate the new and more melodic direction the band went in with albums such as “Clayman” and “Soundtrack To Your Escape” while others loved it. With “Come Clarity” the band seemed to go back to a more aggressive sound which gave people new hope. But on their new album “A Sense Of Purpose” they went the other way again and made a very accessible and highly melodic album.

On their new album which they recorded in their own studio with Daniel Bergstrand, they focus on writing downright catchy yet still somewhat heavy songs. Chances are real metalheads will frown at this but I really enjoyed “A Sense Of Purpose”. There are still plenty of powerfull riffs and guitar solos but just like Soilwork, In Flames likes to incorporate singalong choruses that get stuck in your head.

Sure, things may sound alike towards the end but songs like “Alias” and the 8-minutes-long “The Chosen Pessimist” show a band that has truly found its own sound. Vocalist Anders Friden has found a voice that lies somewhere between screaming and clean vocals and while many may not think much of it and go back to playing “The Jester Race”, I’m digging the vocals as much as pretty much everything else on the album.
Score: 8 out of 10

Less Than Jake re-issues

While Less Than Jake is busy writing tunes for what will be their ninth studio album, they took some time out to re-release some of their older material with a shitload of bonus material. Fresh out of their commitment to Warner Bros., these ska veterans started their own label Sleep It Off and what better way than to make the first release "Losers, Kings And Things We Don't Understand", the band's first album.

The other re-releases are "Pezcore", "Goodbye Blue And White" and the "People's History Of Less Than Jake" DVD all of which originally came out on Fueled By Ramen. Next to new artwork all of them have a shitload of bonus material on an extra DVD including lots of live action from the Less Than Jakes. It makes these albums not only the perfect introduction for new fans but they will also nicely complete every diehard fan's Less Than Jake collection without making it look like a quick way to make some money thanks to the wealth of bonus stuff.

As for us, we'll always have a special place in our heart for one of our favorite ska bands and we're already stoked about the new album which will hit stores this Summer. In the meantime, these releases will tie us over just fine!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Minus – The Great Northern Whalekill

Iceland’s noisemongers are back to write another chapter in their own history and right off the bat, they’ve got my sympathy even more than before. It shows a sick sense of humor to call your album “The Great Northern Whalekill” (remember Pantera’s “The Great Southern Trendkill”? wink wink nudge nudge) and then plaster artsy pictures of incredibly fat people throughout the booklet.

But the main thing here is the music. And that is far from a joke! Oldtime fans might need some adjusting because there is less metal this time around. But man, do these guys rock! It made me think of a more urgent version of Queens Of The Stone Age. And as it happens the album was produced by Joe Barresi who in the past has worked with… indeed, Queens Of The Stone Age. The songs are melodic yet never lose their sharp edge and have so much groove that by the time the second and best song - “Black And Bruised” - kicks in you’ve already been nodding along a couple of minutes.

Towards the end of the album things kinda start to sound alike but it doesn’t matter. That only means that if it rocked at the beginning, it keeps on rocking until the very end.
Score: 8 out of 10

Rocket From The Crypt – R.I.P.

On October 31st 2005 Rocket From The Crypt played their last show ever at San Diego’s Westin Hotel Ballroom. It’s a shame they aren’t around anymore because they were a great band that rocked as much as they had fun. And those two points are well proven on “R.I.P.”. After the intro the band bursts out in “French Guy” and never looks back from there. They race through a total of nineteen songs that come from the band’s entire back catalog. Oddly enough “On A Rope” is missing from the album but at least it’s on the DVD!

Things sound great… The guitars are nice and raw, the horns are as awesome as ever and Speedo's vocals are even grittier than on the band's albums. If you missed out on this band in the past, this is a great opportunity to do some catching up and if you were a fan in the day, you don’t want miss out on this one either. As far as live albums go, this one’s pretty good capturing both the band, the audience and the mayhem ensuing from it.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Nasum – Doombringer

Live album number two this month from bands that aren’t around anymore. Nasum’s history came to a sudden halt in 2004 after lead singer/guitarist, Mieszko Talarczyk, died in the tsunami while vacationing in Thailand. But not before he and the rest of Nasum made quite a big splash (no pun intended) in the grindcore scene with their albums and more than anything else, with their charged live performances.

Relapse now unleashes the final chapter with “Doombringer”, a 25-minute live set the band recorded in Osaka on their final Japanese tour. Everything sounds great and even a non-grindcore fan like yours truly got sucked in by so much energy. Just like a nailbomb, this is fast, brutal, lethal as hell and highly effective. Talarczyk already let us know from the other side, that he agrees and that you should always go to bed with a surfboard… just in case!
Score: 9 out of 10

Good Riddance – Remain In Memory : The Final Show

While it would be easy to make a lame joke here about Good Riddance and their final show, truth is I’m gonna miss this band. Ever since I first heard them back in 1996 on the Fat sampler “Survival Of The Fattest”, I’ve been a fan of Good Riddance. They’re nice guys and they play great music that comes with a message and is played with absolute conviction. So it’s a shame to see them go. Until they reunite obviously.

Until then we’ll have to make due with this live album which comes with a selection of songs spanning the band’s entire career. The main reason the band called it a day last spring was because punk music had changed and they felt left behind. Listening to this album and hearing the fans cheering like crazy and singing along I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who will be missing them and it makes me wonder if they made the right decision. From “Mother Superior” to “Yesterday’s Headlines”, it’s all on here and they’re all still a pleasure to listen to. Guess it means we’re one solid band less and one step closer to songs about heartbreak completely taking over the punk scene.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Victims Of Circumstance – Do It Yourself

Florida-based Victims Of Circumstance are all about doing it yourself. They started their own label, are taking care of all the promotion and marketing and even named their album after it.

They play this kind of grown up version of poppunk with a twist of ska mixed in. They do the punk thing pretty good but when it comes to the ska parts, they could use a little more work. Like “Brandon’s Challenge” which is a pretty cool song up to the chorus. Oi punk is attempted as well in “Rocks And Human Bombs” but I’m sorry to say it’s a sound that completely doesn’t suit them and the song is kinda misplaced in between the other more mellow tracks.

I would advise them to stick with their poppier sound that has enough of that Mighty Mighty Bosstones grit to make it stand out. “Do It Yourself” is worth checking out even if it’s just for the pic of the extremely hot blonde on the cover (can someone get me her email address?) or if you’re into the Bosstones’ sound, but with a little more time under their belt, I think we’ll hear a lot more from the Victims Of Circumstance in the future.
Score: 6 out of 10

Keith Caputo – A Fondness For Hometown Scars

“A Fondness For Hometown Scars” is the title of solo album number three for the little Life Of Agony frontman with the big voice. The new album opens with “Crawling” and that’s exactly what this album does, except not really so on that first track which takes a little too long before it gets underway. During its finest moments however, it crawls under your skin with haunting melodies and Keith’s soft voice. Tracks like “In December” or “Got Monsters” are easily some of his best work yet.

But Caputo can’t leave the rocking completely behind him and so he bursts out in some good old-fashioned rock n roll with “Troubles Down” and “Devils Pride” proving that he would make an excellent replacement for Scott Weiland in Velvet Revolver.

While the track listing may feel a little awkward at times with those two barnburners thrown in there and while not every song is worth remembering, this is still a damn good album from a guy that is not only blessed with a beautiful voice but also with some solid songwriting skills.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Minus The Bear interview

Here's a short email interview we did a while back with Minus The Bear. The band's line-up boasts current and former members of Botch, Kill Sadie, and Sharks Keep Moving and if you like adventurous rock music then you should definitely check out their latest album "The Planet Of Ice"!
PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Jake: I am Jake and I am in the band Minus the Bear. It's what I do.

PRT: What were you doing ten minutes prior to this interview?
Jake: I was eating pork at a mexican restaurant.

PRT: Who are the other band members and what would they give me if I were a homeless beggar
Jake: Erin, Dave, Cory and Alex. Maybe they'd give you some change, but most likely they wouldn't give you the time of day!

PRT: Can you give me a short history of the band written in less than one minute?
Jake: Dave, Erin, Cory and Matt got together and I joined soon after, did an ep with Suicide Squeeze followed by several other releases. Insane amounts of touring in the USA and over seas, and writing over the past few years have given the world what we now know as Minus the Bear.

PRT: If Minus the Bear was the brain child of two (or more) older bands, who'd be mommy, who'd be daddy and in what Kama Sutra-position was Minus the Bear conceived?
Jake: Mommy would be The Police and Daddy would be Pink Floyd. We'd have been conceived in the 'Yawning' position

PRT: What would you like to tell us about 'The Planet of Ice'?
Jake: What would you like to know? It's a rock n roll record. Much more rockin than our old stuff. Generally more guitar riffage.

PRT: Titling the album 'Planet of Ice' made me think you disagree with Al Gore over the whole 'global warming'-hype. Do you think it's just a trend to be environmentally aware or is the global warming a natural thing that happens every couple of thousand years?
Jake: It has nothing to do with global warming. Global warming is obviously real and supported by science, it's not a trend and its effects are being seen now...we may be past the point of no return regarding the Earth's environment.

PRT: In what way has the band evolved over the course of three records?
Jake: Not sure...I think we've progressed and created more interesting musical tapestries. We've let ourselves branch out more recently and I think we'll become more experimental in the future.

PRT: I read somewhere that after the first record, you got labelled as a funny band (great music with funny titles and lyrics about drinking and girls) but you wanted to shake off that stigma. Why? And did it work out?
Jake: I never thought the lyrics were humorous whatsoever. Sometimes light hearted, but there is not a single joke in the lyrics of a minus the bear song. A lot of songs are about drinking and most songs are about girls in one way or another, so not sure how that's funny. The song titles were just jokes. Not related to the lyrics. We want to shake off the stigma because people keep talking about it instead of the music (kind of like now!). It's not like we're the only band that had funny song titles...just the one that gets picked on.

PRT: Are you still haunted by the Botch-history of some band members?
Jake: Only dave was in botch. Not reallly. Sometimes kids yell 'botch' at shows and it's neither funny nor cute...just annoying

PRT: Many people file Minus the Bear under 'indie'. I, however, see it more as smart pop music for music lovers. Where do you classify Minus the Bear yourself?
Jake: I think we're a rock band. We're indie because we're on an independent label. Indie doesn't give any impression as to how music will 'indie' band on a major label for instance is an oxymoron.

PRT: Music-wise, Minus The Bear is in the top league, pretty technical and, well, hard to play (perceived by a mere amateur). How do you guys challenge yourself in song writing and playing? And is there still any room for progress?
Jake: We simply try to make music that's interesting to us. There's always room for progress...I don't think we've scratched the surface of our potential.

PRT: In addition to that, how haard is it to write complicated music that is still accessible?
Jake: Yes, that can be difficult. But that's this band's challenge. We always want to be able to marry the complex and the catchy.

PRT: Even more than on 'Menos El Oso', 'Planet of Ice' focuses on atmosphere in the songs with these soundscape-y things. A conscious choice?
Jake: Yes.

PRT: What would be the three main differences between 'Planet of Ice' and Justin Timberlake's FutureLove/SexSounds?
Jake: POI has more guitar, worse singing and a much lower recording budget.

PRT: Hey, I just stole your iPod. What bands are on there that I should definitely check out?
Jake: Tiny Vipers, Subtle, Cloudded, Pink Floyd, The Who, etc.

PRT: Why did Minus The Bear cross the road?
Jake: To fuck the chicken

PRT: If you'd have to write a musical, what would it be about and what would it be called?
Jake: It would be about cooking pork. It would be called 'Pork Funk'.

PRT: What's the biggest Spinal Tap- moment in the history of Minus the Bear?
Jake: Pretty much every show. It seems like we have moments that are ST worthy all the time....last night for instance I couldn't find the stage to save my life.

PRT: Can you give us three reasons to buy 'Planet of Ice'?
Jake: It's a fucking killer record, we need the money and people love it. In general

PRT: What does the future look like for you guys?
Jake: Very bright. We're going to tour our asses off and hopefully start writing soon. We're going to be everywhere all over the world.

PRT: You have ten seconds to type your last words. Go!
Jake: Holy shit, only ten seconds! And then, what, I'm dead? Damn...this is awful news...