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Radar Bros. – Auditorium

Now that Grandaddy is no longer around, I’ve been looking for a substitute. Two songs into “Auditorium”, the new album by the for me completely unknown band Radar Bros, I was thinking I might’ve found them. But alas, the shoes left behind by my favorite bearded weirdos simply seem to be too big to fill.

It’s not that Radar Bros. are a crappy band. Picture Grandaddy at their most mellow and you’ve got much got “Auditorium” all mapped out. And I do mean ALL of “Auditorium” because all twelve songs on here are pretty much the same. They are pretty decent but where are those outbursts of distorted guitar? Where are the quirky bits that worked so well for Grandaddy? It’s that combination that did me and countless others in back when “Under The Western Freeway” came out. And it’s that magical combination that is lagging on Radar Bros’ new album.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

The Sword – Gods Of The Earth

Austin, Texas’ The Sword is back with another chapter in their history. “Gods Of The Earth” is more of the same and I’m still liking it. It’s obvious these guys have been listening to Black Sabbath with an almost religious devotion and so they pile one awesome riff on top of the other. With a great rhythm section, you end up with an album where it’s almost impossible to stop your head from moving.

It all sounds very uncomplicated and in spite of the occasional acoustic guitar or Maidenesque dual guitar lick, there is hardly variation but don’t let that stop you. Turn up the speakers and let songs like “Under The Bough” give you a severe case of whiplash!
Score: 8 out of 10

Turner Cody – First Light

On his second solo effort Turner Cody sounds like he’s longing for yesteryear. From the clarinet and the shuffling rhythms down to the cover photo, it all sounds and looks like this guy would like to have been born a couple of decades earlier.

Just like the tunes themselves, Cody’s voice sounds warm and just like Bob Dylan, Cody sounds slightly nasal and knows how to write great lyrics. While the live recordings in the studio give the whole a comfortably lazy and ramshackle feel, you can tell these guys know what they’re doing and how to do it.

What that ‘it’ entails exactly? Think of a mix of jazz, blues, folk and rock. I doubt there are many acts that sound like Turner Cody or you’d have to start going through your grandparents’ record collection but it certainly has its charm. I just wish there were a couple more hooks here to make things stick.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Sera Cahoone – Only As The Day Is Long

Hailing from Seattle, by way of Denver, Sera Cahoone used to play the drums in the bands Carissa’s Weird and the slightly amazing Band Of Horses. But she’s out on her own now taking the alt-country route and doing one helluva good job. Neko Case, watch out!

This talented lady wrote a bunch of folky tunes that are as sweet as they are instantly memorable. Her smoky voice goes well with the acoustic guitar and with plenty of additional pedal steel, banjo and the occasional violin, things are only getting better. It’s hard to pick a favorite track on an album full of gems so I’m not gonna. Just know that if Americana is something you like to listen to, you should go out and buy your copy of “Only As The Day Is Long” today.
Score: 8 out of 10

The Donots – Coma Chameleon

Next to The Beatsteaks and – unfortunately – Die Toten Hosen, The Donots are Germany’s punk pride. I took them well over four years to release the follow-up to “Got The Noise” but they finally got around to it with “Coma Chameleon”, out on vocalist Ingo’s own label Solitary Man Records.

It was worth the wait because they once again they wrote an album that’s interesting from the spoken word intro until the last notes of “Somewhere Someday”. Just like that other European punkband that got big on Burning Heart Records, they are evolving into more of a general rock album (semi-ballad “Stop The Clocks” and “The Right Kind Of Wrong”) but there are still plenty of traces of the band’s punkrock roots (Ingo’s vocals for one).

It doesn’t make “Coma Chameleon” a bad album however. Far from it. Mainly because these Krauts know how to write a solid rocksong and seem to still have plenty of big melodic hooks and catchy choruses up their sleeves.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Solitary man records

Mystery Jets – Twenty One

As if we haven’t heard enough jumpy UK indiepop bands lately, here are the Mystery Jets with their second album, “Twenty One”. All prejudice aside, it turns out to be an enjoyable album with catchy songs like “Young Love” and single “Two Doors Down”.

A couple of the songs don’t contribute a helluva lot to the album but other than that there is nothing really wrong with “Twenty One”. Catchy, slick popsongs with jangly guitars and even a sax solo (you’ll find it) make for an entertaining summer album.
Score: 7 out of 10

Flight Of The Conchords – S/T

If you are already familiar with the Flight Of The Conchords from their HBO show with the same name, you will already know all of the songs featured on this album. For those of you not in the know, Flight Of The Conchords are two Kiwis that listen to the names Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement.

Genres like lounge, a bit of funk, hiphop and Barry White… they’re all blatantly ripped off on this comedic duo’s first full-length. As with most comedy albums, some of the songs are funny and fit for repeated listens, others would’ve better been left on the cutting floor. “Hiphoppatumus vs. Rymenocerous” is an old-school rap battle between two of the worst rappers you’ll ever hear with the most ridiculous lyrics being used first. It works pretty good for them, as does the blatant Pet Shop Boys ripoff “Inner City Pressure”.

Then there are songs like “Ladies Of The World” which are semi-funny the first time you listen to ‘em and negligeable from then on. The music is laidback all throughout the album but let’s face it… no one’s gonna listen to this album for the music, it’s about the lyrics and overall they’re pretty witty with ‘I’ll pop an apple in his ass… he’s gonna wake up in a smoothie’ as my personal favorite.
Score: 6 out of 10


The Real McKenzies – Off The Leash

When The Real McKenzies come out of their favorite drinking hole near some Canadian loch with a new album, you know what time it is. So dust off that kilt of yours, stock up on whiskey and start a party because “Off The Leash” has arrived.

On the band’s seventh album not a lot has changed. Paul McKenzie and his clan members still like to mix up punkrock with bagpipes and are still doing a good job. I have to admit that I’ve always liked the Murphys just a little better and that too is once again no different. Even though there’s no going around the fact that opener “Chip” and “Drink Some More” are killer songs.

Something that is new are the country and dixie influences that breeze in out of nowhere on “The Ballad Of Greyfriars Bobby” and “The Maple Trees Remember”… it might seem like a weird combo but hey, it’s all folk so it’s all good.

If you’re looking for a soundtrack to this summer’s good times, pick up a copy. And as always these guys will be hitting the road hard so be on the lookout for them in a town near you!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Jakob Dylan – Seeing Things

Shit, if I was Bob Dylan’s son I wouldn’t ever come near a guitar and I wouldn’t even think about trying to write a song of my own. Jakob Dylan however did and already released a couple of great albums with The Wallfowers. On “Seeing Things” it’s just him though armed with a bunch of songs and an acoustic guitar while Rick Rubin is occupying the producer chair. That same Rubin who already recorded stripped down albums with Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond. Two more names I wouldn’t want to be held up against. Jakob Dylan however is unafraid and came back out the studio with an album he doesn’t need to be ashamed of.

“Evil Is Alive And Well” might not have been my pick to open the album with but tracks like “All Day And All Night”, the almost upbeat “Will It Grow” or the poppy “Something This Way Comes” are definitely worth hearing. Jakob might not be as good a lyricist as his dad (then again few are) and I think I like him better when he’s backed up by the rest of the Wallflowers, the general laidback atmosphere of the album and songwriting skills make “Seeing Things” a first solo effort Dylan can take pride in.
Score: 7 out of 10

The Briggs – Come All You Madmen

The album cover is already pretty friggin’ obvious about it but most of the songs on “Come All You Madmen” are the kind of punk singalongs that are perfectly suited to raise your fists to. If not for the ode to their hometown LA (“This Is LA”), The Briggs could easily pass for a band straight from the grimiest of streets in Boston and that impression is only enhanced by contributions from Dropkick Murphys’ Ken Casey and Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ Dickie Barrett.
If it’s anthems you’re looking for, these guys service you with “Charge Into The Sun” (with an additional solo by Brian Baker) and “The Ship Is Now Sinking”. They are the kind of punkrock songs that simply charge ahead and take no prisoners. But The Briggs have a sensitive, more cuddly side as well that they like to show in folkier songs like the Flogging Molly-esque “Oblivion” or the ballad that is “Molly”.
“Come All You Madmen” is yet another solid and diverse release by the LaRocca brothers and definitely worth your time if you’re looking for some exciting streetpunk.
Score : 7 out of 10

Me First And The Gimme Gimmes – Have Another Ball

One of my alltime favorite Graspop Metal Meeting moments has to be when Me First And The Gimme Gimmes played there between all the black, death and hasbeen metal acts. Especially when they pulled out the ukelele and went into “I Believe I Can Fly”.
It shows what kinda band the Gimme Gimmes are. The problem with a joke that gets out of hand though is that it isn’t funny anymore. Up til now these guys avoided that pitfall by having fun concepts where they fooled around with everything from showtunes to country. But would it still work with “Have Another Ball”, a new album with not so new songs recorded back in 1997 during the sessions for their debut, “Have A Ball” ?
The answer is yes because I caught myself smiling when I heard The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” being used as the intro for “You’ve Got A Friend” and “Only The Good Die Young” is probably one of the best covers the Gimme Gimmes ever laid down on tape.
If you bought the now out-of-print 7” series, you’ve pretty much heard all these songs before. But it should be a treat for everyone else, provided by one of the longest running gimmick bands in punk.
Score: 7 out of 10

Neuraxis – The Thin Line Between

Neuraxis have already been going at it for twelve years. In that time they’ve released their share of albums and continually gotten better. That’s once again no different on “The Thin Line Between”, which is without a doubt their best so far. While it was already obvious two years ago with the release of “Trilateral Progression” that these Canadian dudes were technically proficient without losing themselves in it, they now seem to have concentrated on making things more fluent and dynamic.
I don’t always find technical death metal the easiest genre to get into but these songs have some serious groove to ‘em without the band losing sight of death metal clichés and even melody. And thanks to a great production job, “The Thin Line Between” is well on its way of becoming one of my favorite tech metal releases. It may be a very short list but they’re on it now and I guess that’s saying something as well.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

The Old Haunts – Poisonous Times

The Old Haunts is a rock n roll band of the jingly jangly variety. When you’re playing this kind of music, you’re most likely not going to reinvent the wheel. But hey, you can drive an old car just as well and you don’t really need GPS, 23 airbags, a new fuel injection system or an MP3-player to reach your destination.
These guys got that alright and so they churn out a dozen songs that drive just fine with former Bikini Kill drummer Tobi Vail laying out the rhythms while Craig Extine is pouring his heart out with an a-typical trembling voice. And while the bass lines rumble on, The Old Haunts speed up most of the time, occasionally stop for a slow burner (“Sunshine”) or decide they wanna go surfing instead (“Sister City”). Not entirely memorable but still a decent addition to your collection.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

The Kills – Midnight Boom

When Alison Mosshart (formerly of Discount) and Jamie Hince (formerly of Blyth Power and Scarfo) teamed up, they probably didn’t expect The Kills to get as big as they did when they released “Your Mean Side” back in ’03. Overcome by their success they made the mistake of releasing pretty much the same album (only slightly less good) in ’05 under the moniker “No Wow”. Which brings us to today where people were anxiously awaiting album number three. Would they repeat themselves again or make some changes?
Well, on “Midnight Boom” they made some changes while keeping all of the trademark Kills ingredients. Their two voices, the dry guitar and the oh so essential drum computer are still present and accounted for but Spank Rock producer Armani XXXchange threw in some funky beats and lots of synth parts that make things way more dynamic and – dare I say – catchy. Goodbye Velvet Underground, hello Blondie! I don’t mind at all and I’m pretty sure the triphop-esque “U.R.A. Fever”, the gloomy “Black Ballon”, the raging “Sour Cherry” will please all the indie hipsters in their leather jackets.
Score: 8 out of 10

Born To Lose – Saints Gone Wrong

After having spent some time in various side-projects and almost certainly in a whole lotta bars, the guys in Born To Lose decided to pull it back together, played some shows and ended up writing a new album called “Saints Gone Wrong”.

These Texas boys rock throughout the entire album, never slow down and seem to be having a lot of fun doing it. It all sounds very powerful and Chris’ vocals along with Ben’s backups alongside the guitar solos kept my ears glued to the speakers right until the end. Expect tons of melodies and even more ‘whoa whoa’ singalong parts. This is punkrock played with a rock n roll attitude. Or the other way around. Whatever floats your boat. In any case, this is a solid album!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

The Grip Weeds – Infinite Soul : The Best Of The Grip Weeds

New Jersey’s The Grip Weeds is one of those bands you’ve never heard of but wish you had. Dunno how those things keep on happening but they did with Big Star. And now again with The Grip Weeds, who just like Big Star play some excellent powerpop with psychedelic diversions. Think The Kinks, think The Who, think the Byrds, think Revolver-era Beatles… basically think of every great rockband from the sixties, throw it all together and you’ve got The Grip Weeds.

With Little Steven Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool Records they have found a new home and to celebrate the occasion there is now “Infinite Soul”, a collection of hits you have never ever heard before. Plus one brand new song called “She Brings The Rain”. And if that one is anything to go by, then the band’s fifth album that they are now recording should be quite the treat!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Thee Oh Sees – The Master’s Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In

Thee Oh Sees have released a whopping seven releases since 2004, including a double album. Not always as Thee Oh Sees but also under the monikers OCS and The OhSees. I don’t exactly see the point but as long as John Dwyer does I don’t have a problem with it either.
On the band’s latest album “The Master’s Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In” they mix up lofi grease rock with the fuzzed up sounds of a band like Jesus & Mary Chain. All 14 songs are sung as a duet with Brigid Dawson being the second singer and all of them sound alike. Luckily for the band it’s a pretty sweet and sassy song that I listen to a bunch of times.
Score: 6 out of 10


Pukkelpop 2008... a preview

Ah yes, it’s that time of the year again where we feel our intestines start to weaken at the thought of three more days of drinking, eating junkfood (by choice not because there isn’t anything healthy to eat) and listening to loud music. In other words, it’s Pukkelpop time! This year it will all take place on August 14-16 at the same place it always does, Kiewit.

Thursday is not only a great band, it’s also the day when the action begins. And how! We will kick the day off with the ridiculously catchy indierock of The Pigeon Detectives, to be followed immediately by the scathing hardcore attack that listens to the name Have Heart. They will be playing at The Shelter. No, this is not the zillionth Pukkelpop stage. It is the revamped version of the Skate Stage.

Next up is the first of many difficult choices... do we go for The Cribs or the new sensation that is Santogold. We don’t know yet but we will hopefully when the time comes. Any way, we will be washing a burger down with a beer or two after that while enjoying the not so soothing sounds of either The Unseen or Danko Jones. We have never seen The Unseen before which is why they are The Unseen. Once we have seen them they will have to disband or change their name. We have however already seen Danko Jones countless times yet he always plays an amazing show... second hard choice of the weekend!

Next on our lists is a mix of old and new(er) with Joan As Police Woman, the anthemic folkpunk of Dropkick Murphys, Serj Tankian (System Of A Down frontman for those of you living in a cave), maybe a little bit of Black Light Burns (Wes Borland’s latest project), the honest alt-country of Drive-By Truckers or – like last year – Editors and a spoken word performance by Henry Rollins. Not to mention that we would also like to see The Flaming Lips, Thrice and The Ting Tings. Which would make this difficult choice 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 respectively. By then it’s already Friday technically speaking and to wake us up a little for the drive home, we plan on watching Soulfly tear it up and then find our way back home without tearing anything up. After all, we will still have two more days to go!

On Friday we get to sleep in a little and enjoy a healthy (or not so) breakfast because the first band we want to see is Cult Of Luna. After that things will no doubt become hectic again with Los Campesinos, Cold War Kids and the Canadian skatepunks A Wilhelm Scream. Oh, and Volbeat. Unless they have another death in the family and have to cancel their show again like at Graspop. Let’s hope not for their and our sake.

Time for dinner is planned in next because even tireless rock journalists need some fuel. And beer. It’ll either be a noisy night with Metallica and Meshuggah playing or we can go for the double attack of Lanegan and Dulli (The Gutter Twins) which is a little more quiet as are Alkaline Trio, Tokyo Police Club or the nervous twitchy rock of The Futureheads. By then we will have no doubt lost count of the amount of difficult choices. Oh well, as long as there is enough beer to wash down the occasional attack of sorrow we should make it just fine.

We would probably like to keep things a little more quiet on day number three but the people at Pukkelpop didn’t take that into account and so they planned a lot more cool acts for the final day of Pukkelpop. How about showing some Belgian pride? God knows we can need in a time where we don’t even have a government. Luckily for us we do have some excellent bands and they all seem to gather at Pukkelpop: Black Box Revelation, Monza, The Hickey Underworld, Soulwax and so on... they’re all gonna be there.

As are the psychedelic rockers from Black Mountain, the fun lovin’ skapunks that make up Less Than Jake, the slightly dramatic Dresden Dolls or the hype of the last months, MGMT. You like more reputed and subdued names? Well, how about Manic Street Preachers, Elbow, Bloc Party and Sigur Ros? Or what’s that? You say fuck subdued? Alright, for those who like things a little louder than their parents there’s always As I Lay Dying, Neurosis or the reigning kings of metalcore, Killswitch Engage.

Whatever it is that gets your panties in a bunch, you are sure to find it at Pukkelpop. We will be there and no doubt so will you!


The Legacy – Beyond Hurt Beyond Hell

The Legacy is a UK-based hardcore band that already dropped two releases in the past. It got kinda quiet around them in 2004 due to several line-up changes and a couple of bumps in the road. But they’re back now though with a new album called “Beyond Hurt Beyond Hell”.

They kinda remind me of a band like Unbroken with the more melodic and atmospheric parts going hand in hand with the aggressive parts. They don’t reach Unbroken’s level just yet though and while “Beyond Hurt Beyond Hell” is a fairly solid release, I didn’t remember too much from it afterwards.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Firewater – The Golden Hour

So what do you do when your wife wants a divorce and an idiot gets re-relected into the oval office. You can either sit at home and feel depressed or you can go out and see the world. Luckily for us, vocalist Tod A (ex-Cop Shoot Cop) did just that and came back with enough ideas to fill an album with Firewater’s punkrock meets gypsy and klezmer tunes.

When they started doing what they do ten years ago, people were confused but now with acts like Gogol Bordello and Beirut exploring the same path, it’s kind of the hip thing to do. Not that Tod and friends give a fuck, they just like to write solid songs. And there’s plenty of those to be found on “The Golden Hour”. With exciting and eclectic songs like “This Is My Life” and the anti-Bush tirade “Hey Clown”, it feels like a journey that you can dance to in your own living room. These guys should be a treat live as well so make sure to check them out when they’re in your town!
Score: 7 out of 10

When We Fall – We Untrue Our Minds

When We Fall is a Swedish emotional hardcore band that just released an album with a title I don’t understand. But that’s probably just me because I’m not that in touch with my emotions. That all dates back to… ah, who cares.

On “We Untrue Our Minds” they use all of the clichés of the genre including but not limited to the sing/scream thingy. Thing is that the screams on here are pretty cool and the clean parts are for once not sung with a whiny kinda voice. Musically you can place these guys somewhere between Rise Against and Comeback Kid. All in all this is a decent debut full-length but is worth hearing. Which is saying a lot about a band in a scene that is so crowded.
Score: 6 out of 10

Discipline – Old Pride, New Glory

The Dutch streetpunk juggernaut known as Discipline wanted to record some covers and ended up with a whopping 30-song release. Twelve of the covers are newly recorded, the others could already be found on various releases but have been thrown together here on one disc as bonus tracks and include songs by Cock Sparrer, Slapshot, Rose Tattoo and Social D.

As for the new ones, the hooligans that make up Discipline show they listen to more than just streetpunk by recording their interpretation of Twisted Sister, Ramones, Slade and Billy Idol songs. With a result that honestly sometimes doesn’t sound too different from the originals after having been Disciplined. They do a pretty good job though of making it all sound very energetic, I’ll hand ‘em that much. I just wish they would’ve been a little more original in picking the songs. Covering “Rebel Yell” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is not exactly a novel idea that is going to earn you a lot of points from the cool police.

Overall, this is a fun release to tie things over between two studio albums but I think people are more interested in hearing new Discipline songs rather than hearing yet another band play “I Wanna Live” in a way the Ramones already played it back when they recorded it.
Score: 6 out of 10

Sparkle Of Hope – Light The Torches

Hey, are you tired as well of all the metalcore outfits that seem to pop up just about everywhere? Well then I doubt you’ll care much for Sparkle Of Hope’s new album. Yes, these guys are technically skilled (especially guitarist Daan Witters) and despite some clever parts they smuggled in here and there, this basically sounds like what As I Lay Dying and Killswitch Engage have already done before them. It’s a lot heavier than their debut though with even a little Bring Me The Horizon here and there.

I’m not saying “Light The Torches” is a bad album because it’s not, it’s just that I’ve already heard this so many times that it doesn’t do it for me anymore. If these guys would’ve made this album a couple of years ago then it would’ve been a completely different story as far as I’m concerned. But unfortunately it’s 2008 and you can buy albums like this for 0.01$ all over eBay.
Score: 6 out of 10

Hellbound Glory – Scumbag Country

A new release on Gearhead usually comes with two guarantees… it’s gonna be good and it’s gonna be garagerock. Hellbound Glory however takes us from the garage to the trailer park but luckily the quality is still there.

Hellbound Glory plays outlaw country, pure (or inbred) and simple. They might play eveything with a punkrock attitude but that’s about as far as it goes. Think Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams III with plenty of coke and booze to get this 70s country lovefest started and as much grit as you’ll find on the thousands of miles of highway that bring these guys to where they have to be to play another wild show.
Score : 7.5 out of 10

Said And Done – Endless Roads EP

Dutch HC outfit Said And Done did a pretty cool job with “Endless Roads”. They’ve got the NYHC groove in full effect and probably spent a unhealthy amount of time listening to Leeway and Cro-Mags. Not that they’re a ripoff but you just can’t look past the ‘influenced by’ part. Which is not a bad thing unless you think it is. The customer is always right yadda yadda. Unless of course we say you are wrong.

Solid vocals, solid riffs and solid breakdowns make for a solid release and that’s basically all you can ask for, right?
Score: 7 out of 10

They And The Children – Home

If you ask us how we at like our hardcore, the answer would be loud, raw and gritty. Now granted, most hardcore bands are loud. Otherwise they would be out there playing lounge music or something else that makes my toes curl. It’s the raw and gritty part that I don’t always find. I did find plenty of that though on “Home”, They And The Children’s debut full-length. Raw and gritty doesn’t even cover the load… this album is abrasive as fuck!
When they’re not busy venting all of their frustrations by beating the shit out of their instruments like the damn things still owe them money or fucked their girlfriend, they are throwing in these ugly sludgy parts that couldn’t spell DOOM more obvious even if I printed it in the biggest font size I can find.

If you are already slightly depressed going into this album, you might want to hide the knives and flush the pills down the toilet, cuz They And The Children like their noise so thick sunlight doesn’t even stand a chance of penetrating all the different layers.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Russian Circles – Station

I remember being blown away by Russian Circles’ debut “Enter” so I was seriously looking forward to their new release and once again these gloomy inhabitants of the Windy City do not disappoint. The band’s heavy brand of post-rock can go from a mild breeze that flirts with your nipples through your shirt to a full-blown hurricane that’ll rip said shirt right off your back in mere seconds.

This instrumental trio of guitar, bass and drums does a great job of conjuring up a frenzy in songs like “Harper Lewis” and “Station” but Russian Circles does an equally impressive job of keeping you enticed with more subdued soundscapes like opener “Campaign”. This is largely due to Mike Sullivan’s guitar who knows how to write some beautiful sounding parts.

Comparisons to Isis and Pelican (same hometown) are within reach but it wouldn’t be fair towards Russian Circles who are well on their way of coming up with an impressive sound all their own.
Score: 8 out of 10

Raunchy – Wasteland Discotheque

Denmark’s Raunchy is back with their futuristic hybrid metal on “Wasteland Discotheque”, already the band’s fourth full-length. As soon as “Somewhere Along The Road” bursts out of the speakers it becomes clear that they haven’t changed a thing about their sound. The combination of death and thrash metal with poppy elements and a shitload of synth action is still firmly in place and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Think In Flames and Soilwork with a little of Linkin Park thrown in.

Kasper Thompsen’s screams might start to sound kind of monotonous after a bit, but the combination of brutal parts and extremely melodic parts is executed perfectly and keeps things moving at a swift pace. And when they throw in an excellent cover of Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” next to excellent own compositions such as “The Bash” or “The Comfort In Leaving”, I’ll even go along with the moronic nickname these guys got (‘Danish Dynamite’)!
Score: 8 out of 10

The Undeclinables – S/T

These Dutchies have changed their band name almost as many times as they’ve put out a record. They went from Undeclinable Ambuscade to Undeclinable and now to The Undeclinables. For album number four they found a new singer but other than that things have pretty much stayed the same.

My biggest problem with this eponymous album is that the new singer isn’t as good as the last one and he drags the whole album down a bit with him. But it’s not fair to blame everything on the poor guy because the songs start to sound more and more the same as well the further you get down the tracklisting.

So this one didn’t quite live up to my expectations. It wouldn’t be bad for a beginning band but from the band that gave us “Sound City Burning” I was expecting a little bit more than this.
Score: 6 out of 10

Born Ruffians – Red, Yellow & Blue

Born Ruffians already surprised a lot of people with their EP last year and are prepared to surprise us again with their debut full-length “Red, Yellow & Blue”. Armed with a bunch of songs that sound as neurotic as the Hot Club De Paris and a vocalist that sounds like he ran away from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Born Ruffians are ready to take everyone on with their indiepop.

It all sounds very colorful and energetic but it’s all the twitchy stuff that gets me plain annoyed. Others will love ‘em for it, I just get nervous of the frenetic rhythms and staccato guitars after a couple of songs.
Score: 4 out of 10

Cold World – Dedicated To Babies Who Came Feet First

Seriously, can labels get more hardcore than Deathwish? I don’ t think so which is why I didn’t expect their latest release, Cold World’s “Dedicated To Babies Who Came Feet First”, to start off with a hiphop intro. That’s right… beats, scratching and some guy telling us to ‘turn it up’. There’s a couple more interludes during the album that I personally could have done without but oh well!

The actual songs are still pretty hardcore though… mostly mid-tempo stuff that doesn’t lose any of its aggression due to a slower pace. I’m hearing a lot of nineties Biohazard in there and with Billy Graziadei producing the album, it maybe shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise. Other than that there’s some “River Runs Red” era Life Of Agony going on as well and they’ve plenty of groove to throw around.

I would’ve liked the album more without the hiphop parts but overall “Dedicated To Babies Who Came Feet First” is a pretty decent album that sounds unlike most hardcore released these days.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

The Psyke Project – Apnea

The Psyke Project is a Danish band that has already released three albums so far with “Apnea” being the latest one. It’s already been out for a while in Denmark but only now has it become widely available thanks to the band’s new home, Lifeforce Records.

It’s a shame that for every good album, you get ten mediocre ones. Reading The Psyke Project’s bio you’d get the impression they’re gonna be one of the good ones but alas, “Apnea” is rather mediocre. With their brand of hardcore mixed in with a little bit of Converge’s chaos, Neurosis’ sludgy moments and Deftones’ atmosphere, it looks like it should sound diverse enough to keep your ears glued to the speakers. Unfortunately things already became repetitive after four songs.

The Psyke Project will be in the studio in November to record the follow-up. Let’s hope it will sound a bit more thought through.
Score: 6 out of 10


Polar Bear Club interview

One of the most amazing bands I have come across recently is Polar Bear Club. They've got that whole gritty Hot Water Music thing going on and rock like crazy on their debut full-length "Sometimes Things Just Disappear". Check out what guitarist Chris has to tell us and how he denies having ever heard of the RealLife doll... smart answer Chris, smart answer!

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?

Chris: I'm Chris and I play guitar in PBC. I'm a Leo and the movie "Field of Dreams" makes me cry. I like Taco Bell, beer, and basketball.

PRT: Who else is in the band and did they ever go swimming naked in December?

Chris: Jimmy sings, Nate plays guitar, Goose plays bass, Emmett plays drums, and Tracker drinks beer. None of us have gone swimming naked in cold water or anything. The Coney Island Polar Bear Club invited us the last time we played on Long Island, but our van conveniently broke down the morning we were supposed to go (no, really, it actually did).

PRT: Can you give me the history of the band written in one minute or less starting… NOW!

Chris: Yikes, that's tough. Well I started jamming some songs with two guys who are no longer in the band. We recorded a demo, and Jimmy joined us to do vocals. We played our first show in August 2005, had a few members changes since, and now we have an EP and a full length out and are only scratching the surface of ruining our own lives. Stay tuned.

PRT: For the people out there who haven't heard you guys yet… if Polar Bear Club was the lovechild of two other bands, which bands would've had sex and which position were you conceived in?

Chris: That's a great question. The easy answer would be Hot Water Music and Small Brown Bike or something like that. But everyone's sick of hearing that about us by now, or at least I am. So instead...I'm going to say AC/DC and Third Eye Blind, with Third Eye Blind playing the role of the female and receiving doggie style. Or maybe reverse cowgirl with Stephan Jenkins talking about tater tots through the whole thing.

PRT: I read that Polar Bear Club is now a fulltime thing for you. Was that a difficult decision for you to make? Any sacrifices you had to make for it?

Chris: Yes, it is, or actually it is about to be. We've been in the planning stages all summer and are taking off at the end of August for a whole bunch of touring and then writing a new record. It was a very difficult decision for me personally, but mostly because of the financial risk involved; being in a band is just not something you should do for money, for a lot of reasons. We all have jobs and stuff that we're leaving, and in my particular case I'm leaving law school after one year and an internship at a really great firm, so there are obviously some pretty dire financial implications going along with this. Emmett is giving up a teaching job, Nate is leaving school and a job at a science lab as well. But once the decision was made, it quickly became clear that this is absolutely the right thing to do for everyone involved. We're all very cynical and sort of pessimistic about music industry stuff in general, but this band is very special to us and I like to think it's very special to some other people as well. I can wholeheartedly say that I've never been happier or more excited about any life decision I've made, and it's an incredibly liberating feeling to just say "fuck it" to all of your stereotypical financial concerns and just do what you've always wanted to do and have a true passion for. And if we can live off of it enough to keep doing it for a while, well then great.

PRT: I honestly had never heard of you guys before "Sometime Things Just Disappear" but I was completely blown away by the album. You seem like this band that blew up all of a sudden based solely on the songs, which is a rare thing these days where every single band seems to get hyped. What's it like for you guys?

Chris: It's fucking amazing. I have no idea what to think of how well we are or aren't doing, but it's nice to know that whatever good fortune we have had is coming for the right reasons. All of us have been doing bands for a long time now and we put our hearts and souls into the music itself, and give the writing process a great deal of thought, so just to know that some people are listening to it and really connecting with what we're trying to do is such a great feeling. I think the internet has been awesome for that too, in some cases -- it's not always about a band's image or haircuts or clothes or anything, because people can just click around and listen to shit until they find something that appeals to them. It creates a lot more emphasis on just making songs that people want to hear and not worrying about other shit, and that has been pretty refreshing. That being said, we also don't have any silly sense of accomplishment or entitlement or anything like that. There are a lot of bands doing a lot better than us, and a lot that are doing a lot worse, and you can only control that to a certain point and sometimes it's best to just ignore it and enjoy what you do.

PRT: What's with the album title? And while we're at it, what have you ever had that just disappeared?

Chris: The title comes from a Taco Bell trip we made while at the studio. Honestly, I just don't feel like typing it right now, and hopefully most people that will bother to read an interview with us have already heard it anyway. If not, we'll tell you some time. Basically we couldn't think of anything for a long time, and this title just arose out of a funny incident. And things that just disappear...well, plenty. Money has a strange way of evaporating constantly. That and my dignity, liver, get the point.

PRT: The lyrics all seem to be autiobiographical. Have you ever written lyrics that you didn't use in the end because it felt like you were giving away too much of yourself or situations in your life that you wouldn't write a song about for that same reason?

Chris: I can't really answer this one with too much detail because Jimmy writes all the lyrics. But I know that he's constantly writing, revising, etc., and he has tons of lyrics that either get postponed or thrown out for one reason or another. I don't think it's ever because the lyrics are too revealing, though...the whole point is to address things that are meaningful and that you really care about. He's never been shy about touching on very personal topics, especially because his style often leaves these ambiguous or open to interpretation anyway. He may write with one thing in mind, and a reader may get a completely different message that resonates with them, but that's a good thing of course.

PRT: What's up next for Polar Bear Club?

Chris: Lots and lots of touring. We're doing the Gaslight Anthem CD release shows in August, followed by a lot of touring in the fall months with friends like Gaslight, Broadway Calls, and The Swellers. We can't wait! Then sooner than later, a new record. The ideas are flowing and we're really excited about what's getting tossed around. Check our MySpace page for tour dates and all that good stuff, we're constantly updating it.

PRT: Are there any plans to come to Europe? And if so, please don't skip Belgium!

Chris: Yes. We don't know when just yet, but hopefully in late '08 or early '09. We'll do our best, Europe is awesome! One of my favorite show experiences ever was in Belgium with a previous band. You have an awesome country.

PRT: What's your position on the whole Real-life doll versus the classic inflatable one?

Chris: I honestly have no idea what this question is asking, but it sounds like something I should know about. Let's talk off the record some time.

PRT: Any last words for our readers?

Chris: Re-watching the entire Twin Peaks series on DVD is unbelievably satisfying. I highly recommend.


The Night Marchers – See You In Magic

John Reis is a friggin’ genius… the guy already proved it a bunch of times with Drive Like Jehu, Rocket From The Crypt and The Hot Snakes. And now he’s back again with another awesome project called The Night Marchers. For this one he finds himself backed up by Gar Wood’s jangly guitar, CPC Gangbangs’ Tommy Kitsos on bass and co-conspirator Jason Kourkounis from Hot Snakes on drums. Together the four of them crank out thirteen most excellent garagepunk tunes that fill the gap between Hot Snakes and Rocket From The Crypt perfectly.

This right here is exciting music, boys and girls! And long ago before thousands of shitty bands came along, that was exactly what rock n roll was about. Say ‘thank you John Reis’ for reminding us of just that once again.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer

Rumor has it that while recording “At Mount Zoomer”, songwriters Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner sent a memo to their label with just two words on it : no singles. I don’t know whether it’s true or not but it very well could be because rather than the collection of singles that was Wolf Parade’s debut “Apologies To The Queen Mary”, their sophomoric release is way more coherent.

The nine songs that make up “At Mount Zoomer” are a very cool mix of indiepop and progrock with some catchy retro sounds. And whether a song is short or long (closer “Kissing The Beehive” goes on for 11 minutes), it doesn’t matter. These guys just let the reins go free and it works out great every single time. There is something to comparing them to that other Canadian outfit, Arcade Fire. And the comparison is only reinforced with Wolf Parade recording a large portion of the album in Arcade Fire’s Petite Eglise studio. But they won’t let the critics get off that easy because there’s way more to Wolf Parade than being an Arcade Fire clone.

This just a very enjoyable album that brings indiepop and progrock together and while that is certainly ambitious, they do it without losing sight of the hooks and catchy choruses that people want to hear. You should check this out for yourself but you ain’t getting my copy… it already is on repeat in my stereo.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

V/A – Duyster vol. 3

Duyster has been one of the most interesting radio shows in Belgium where they have been playing all the best in slowcore, postrock, indietronics and singer/songwriter for several years now. As those things go, there was no going around the obligatory compilation series of which the third installment is out now. Once again it’s a 2CD set with the ‘classics’ on the first album whereas the second disc is dubbed ‘live sessions’.

The ‘classics’ are off to an impressive start with contributions from big names such as Broken Social Scene, Modest Mouse, Yo La Tengo and The Notwist. Basically the entire first half of the album is stellar. It’s a shame that the last couple of songs from Ida, Boards Of Canada and Juno couldn’t keep that momentum going, making this disc end on a bit of a sour note for me. As for the ‘live sessions’, pretty much the same story… I really like some (Iron & Wine, Joan As Police Woman, The Shins, The Great Lake Swimmers) and others not so much (Ansatz Der Maschine, Patrick Watson).

But hey, if you’re into this kinda music, there’s no going wrong with this release. At least then you won’t just get depressed on a Sunday evening…. You can now pick your own evening to swallow that year long supply of Prozac all on your own!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Death Cab For Cutie – Narrow Stairs

“Narrow Stairs” is album number seven for the Death Cabbers and nothing much has changed since “Plans”… but is that really necessary? When you’ve perfected your sound over the years and have come up with a sound so delicately delicious, would you seriously change anything about it? I wouldn’t. And luckily neither do Gibbard and co.

Once again this is an album with dark lyrical content that drag you into a mild depression but thanks to the wonderful melodies, the warm bass sounds and the punctual rhythms they always smuggle into their songs, things never get too bleak. Single “I Will Possess Your Heart” goes on for nearly 8 minutes without boring for one second and two songs into the album it’s alrady the second highlight after opener “Bixby Canyon Bridge” which rocks suprisingly hard for these guys. That song then stands in stark contrast with closer “The Ice Is Getting Thinner”, which is basically just Gibbard’s vocals shrouded in a lonely guitar. In that song he says that ‘We’re not the same, dear / As we used to be’ and while that may be true for him as a person, it’s not so for Death Cab For Cutie. And I honestly couldn’t be happier about it!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Pilgrimz – Boar Riders

Wow, this could very well be the worst artwork we’ll see in 2008! I was expecting some country music and was about ready to get my hoe down when I popped this baby in and found myself listening to some fairly brutal metal. Which of course we don’t mind over here at At least not when it’s done properly. Unfortunately these Danish dudes don’t seem to know the word diversity which causes me to listen to the same song 10 times in a row. They sure as hell try to sound diverse though with a sound that’s somewhat similar to what I expect The Hives to sound like when they’re playing thrash metal on some forgotten Sunday afternoon. But it’s just not working as it should!

The weirdest thing is that the songs are either off to an awesome start (“Drama King & Drama Queen” for example) or have a bunch of cool riffs in them but never fully live up to their potential. So you know they’ve got what it takes to write some solid songs. Except that in the end… they don’t! Give these guys some time to further develop their sound and I think they might be onto something. But for now I’m gonna have to say thanks but no thanks.
Score: 6 out of 10

Austrian Death Machine – Total Brutal

Austrian Death Machine is the side-project of As I Lay Dying’s Tim Lambesis where he pays tribute to the world’s greatest action hero turned politician. Yes people, I’m talking about Ahnuld aka the Governator. And lemme say it’s about frigging time the man got some respect from the hardcore scene. After all he was the original tough guy and the most brutal of ‘em all. Especially in Conan The Barbarian! I mean, how many men do you know that can dress in a miniskirt and still look imposing? So fuck Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris and Sylvester Stallone and get ready for the Austrian Death Machine!

Every song on here is broohtal and fast, there’s plenty of chances to sing along, all of the lyrics are made up of quotes from various Schwarzenegger movies and every single song comes with a guitar solo. For those some friends were invited to pitch in including Adam Dutkiewicz (Killswitch Engage), Jason Suecof (Trvium) and Mark Macdonald (Mercury Switch). Other than that Tim plays all of the instrument and used samples for the vocals before resorting to a friend of his who does a mean impersonation of Schwarzenegger so he couldn’t get sued for using the samples without permission.

The skits in between the songs are only fun to listen to once but the songs themselves are pretty damn enjoyable and manage to make me smile every single time. Especially “I Am A Cybernetic Organism, Living Tissue Over ‘Metal) Endoskeleton” and “If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It”. Even if you’re not into As I Lay Dying, you might want to check this out!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Campus - We Are The Silence

Campus got together in the winter of 2004, released an EP that was distributed through Funtime, then got signed to Funtime and are now releasing their debut full-length called "We Are The Silence". There ya go... history of the band in a nutshell. You're welcome. I aim to please.

When I heard the name Campus I was somehow thinking of an indierock band preferably with some jazzy freakouts. What I was not expecting was some brutal yet fairly melodic screamo meets metalcore. It's all well-executed and even the sing/scream combo didn't get on my nerves too much. It does all start to sound a little monotonous towards the end but all in all Campus is a pretty cool addition to the Belgian scene. If only they would change that terrible bandname!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

The Locos - Energia Inagotable

As if fronting one frenetic skapunk band wasn't enough, former Ska-P vocalist Pipi started The Locos who have just released their second album, "Energia Inagotable". Because of the fast rhythms, the awesome horns and Pipi's vocals, I don't really hear a lot of difference with Ska-P. Which in my eyes is a good thing cuz I always liked those guys. If you're into energetic skapunk that comes with the kind of message no man in his right mind would not rally behind, then pick up "Energia Inagotable" to kickstart your next party. So put on your dancing shoes while sending out those letters for Amnesty International.
Score: 7 out of 10

Enemy Rose - Promises We'll Never Keep

From my hometown Antwerp comes Enemy Rose, a relatively new band that likes to crank out sleazerock songs on their debut "Promises We'll Never Keep". They might be a new band but its members aren't... vocalist Tommy X and guitarist Sammy Dimera both play in The Heartaches while bassist Ponzy calls Smash My Radio home and guitarist Spinal Steve does his thing with Smooth Lee. So this is a bunch of friends coming together and making the music they like. No pressure. And it shows on "Promises We'll Never Keep"... raw rock n roll with plenty of catchy choruses like you've already heard before. But it's still good so who am I to complain?
Score: 7 out of 10

Bad Luck Charms - S/T

Kerry Martinez might not be the biggest name in the punkrock scene but along with Duane Peters, he is the driving force behind US Bombs. For Bad Luck Charms he has surrounded himself with a couple of friends including Brian Knott (The Nuns) and Brenden Deal (B.A.D) and together they wrote a bunch of songs that make up the band's self-titled album.

If you're into sleazy glam a la Hanoi Rocks and downright dirty punkrock like Dead Boys used to play, then you should waste no more time reading the rest of this review but just go out and pick up a copy of this album. Hellcat should be releasing this album but instead they're happy to release crap albums these days by even crappier bands. Oh well, their loss I guess. If you wanna hear good solid streetpunk like Hellcat used to be known for a couple of years ago, go ahead and pick this one up!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Weezer – The Red Album

I have to say that I lost touch with Weezer after their debut charmed the hell out of me. Geekrock… I loved it for a while! After that I became the slick, suave macho man that I am now and didn’t look back. And honestly, the Weezer songs I heard on the radio in years to come never really seemed as catchy as say, “Buddy Holly” or “Say It Ain’t So” with “Beverly Hills” as the absolute worst and most uninspired I’ve ever heard them.

But they’re back now with another self-titled album that heralds the band’s red period. And with a new colour come some changes. For the first time other band members got to write songs and even sing a couple of them on the album. Yes, they are the least interesting of the bunch and you’ll find them towards the end of the album under the names “Cold Dark World”, “Thought I Knew” and “Automatic” but still!

What is still intact are the melodies and catchy choruses that are firmly rooted in your brain after just one listen. Take single “Pork And Beans” for instance! Or the mellow “Heart Songs” where Cuomo reminisces about the songs that mean the world to him from Debbie Gibson and Michael Jackson to Nirvana and Slayer.

It seems that changing instruments around and not being the only one writing songs, did Cuomo good and made him write some of his most inspired songs in years. Welcome back Weezer!
Score: 8 out of 10

Thrice – The Alchemy Index vol. III & IV : Air & Earth

When I first listened to vol. I & II of “The Alchemy Index” I wasn’t all that impressed. Not that I didn’t like it, it just wasn’t what I was expecting to hear from Thrice. Sure, they’ve always enjoyed their little sonic experiment here and there but this was something else entirely. But eventually the release grew on me. So now I’m finally listening to vol. III and IV and it’s way easier to get into. Not only because the previous release kinda prepared me for what I was gonna hear but most of all because this is definitely the better half of “The Alchemy Index”.
“Air” shows all the different sides of Thrice who – just like the wind – can go from gently breezing to raging within seconds. Lots of drum beats and electronic sounds here with “The Sky Is Falling” and the incredibly intimate “Silver Wings” as the highlights.

“Earth” sounds exactly like what you’d expect from it… rootsy, earthy (if that’s a word). It reminds me a lot of vocalist Dustin Kensrue’s solo album “Please Come Home”. It sounds all cozy and warm which probably has something to do with the fact that they recorded it in a barn with wooden floors and they played all acoustic instruments. Highlights here include “Come All You Weary” and the Frodus cover “The Earth Isn’t Humming”.

When you put all 4 EP’s together, you’ve got a whopping 24 songs in total that show all the different sides there are to Thrice. While it’s a lot to take in, it does prove that whatever these guys do, they do it well. Not one release by Thrice has sounded similar and I for one am curious to see what they’ll be up to next!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Statues – Terminal Bedroom

Statues is a Canadian band that combines the best of powerpop and 70s British punk. On “Terminal Bedroom” you’re treated to a total of twelve songs that will make it hard for you to decide whether to start dancing or singing along. There’s always the possibility of doing both at the same time but I’m a guy and we can’t do two things at once.

“Terminal Bedroom” is a compilation of a couple of 7” the band put out over the years but I doubt you can tell the difference between this and one of the band’s regular full-lengths. It all sounds cohesive, catchy and fun and I can’t seem to get “No Time” out of my head. Plus they make GG Allin sound like The Buzzcocks with their version of “Dead Or Alive”. There’s pretty much no going wrong with this one!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Withered – Folie Circulaire

Atlanta's Withered already left a blistering impression with their Lifeforce release "Memento Mori" and they're back now with "Folie Circulaire", their debut for Prosthetic, the home for all things heavy on this planet.

With their sludgy take on death metal, they've got quite something special on their hands. The first half blends these two together seamlessly without letting either one take control of the reins. On the second half however, it's death metal city all the way. And as much as I like that doomy sound, it sounds frigging awesome especially when you listen to the Necrophobic cover "Into Armageddon" and the one-two punch of "Purification Of Ignorance" and "Drawn Black Drapes".

One thing's for sure though if you listen to Mastodon, Light Pupil Dilate and Withered... there's one talented bunch of metalheads living in Atlanta!
Score: 8 out of 10

The Funeral Pyre – Wounds

On their last album, The Funeral Pyre still had this whole black meets death metal going on. It was pretty decent but that was about it. For “Wounds” they ditched pretty much all of their death metal leanings and came out as a surprisingly good black metal band. I say surprisingly because these guys don’t come from the middle of some frozen Swedish forest but instead they call La Habra in sunny California home.

They know how to write an enticing song and shred like crazy without feeling the need to go on a solo binge every 30 seconds. Which is something to be admired if you ask me. It’s great music with lots of atmosphere and yes, melody. All that needs to change is that these guys need a bigger budget to spend on production. When that happens I’ll probably have to say that Dimmu Borgir and Emperor have a serious competitor on their hands.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

86 Mentality – Final Exit

On 86 Mentality’s “Final Exit” you’ll hear 7 songs that were recorded in the studio and 6 songs that were recorded live in Belgium at one of my favorite clubs ever, Lintfabriek (RIP). Don’t expect anything you’ve never heard before, just straight-up no-frills hardcore streetpunk straight out of Washington DC, including a Varukers cover of “Soldier Boy”. If you’re into Negative Approach and the likes, you’re gonna love this!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

The Queers – Live Febraury 3, 2003 – The Bowery Collection

The Queers don’t like to waste any time and neither do I… so let me just say that on this live album - which was recorded at CBGB’s - these guys do what they do best. Which is play snotty poppunk. 31 songs’ worth of snotty poppunk. That’s a lot of songs. Meaning there’s no time for stage banter. It’s mostly Queers originals but they left a little room to squeeze in a Ramones and a Mr. T Experience cover.

Can one ever get tired of a band that mixes up The Ramones with Beach Boys melodies? I don’t think so. And hopefully neither do The Queers! Whether you’re a longtime fan or looking for an introduction to these guys, this live album will do the trick. No questions asked!
Score: 7.5 out of 10