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Dimmu Borgir – Enthrone Darkness Triumphant

Back when I was 15 or 16 I had this black metal phase where I listened to Burzum, Mayhem, Cradle Of Filth and yes, Dimmu Borgir. I really can’t remember why anymore because I quickly grew tired of a genre where every band sounds like they’re playing the same song.
Hearing Dimmu Borgir’s “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant” for the first time is something I can still recall vividly though. The way they combined sheer brutality with orchestral beauty was something I hadn’t heard done this way before. Sure, they looked like a bunch of friggin’ idiots with their studs, corpse paint and medieval weapons but ah, what sweet music these children of the night make!
Obviously I’m not the only one who thought so which is why the album is now re-released as a part of Nuclear Blast’s Reloaded series. There’s one bonus track which is not all that new because I’m pretty sure it was included as a bonus track on the original digipack version as well. Plus there’s some screensavers and Winamp (how five years ago!) skins but nothing really worth mentioning. That does not mean however that songs like “Spellbound (By The Devil)” or “Entrance” are any less impressive. As my strained neck muscles will testify!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Portugal. The Man – Censored Colors

Portugal. The Man. I’ve already reviewed one of their older albums and classifying them hasn’t become any easier since. These dudes call Alaska home and I’m thinking the cold got to them a long time ago. Here are the notes I took while listening to “Censored Colors”, the band’s third full-length.
All of the styles you can think of are present somewhere on “Censored Colors” plus probably some that won’t be invented for another ten years. The only constant is John Baldwin Gourley’s warm soulful voice. The rest of the band often joins in with great harmonies that could’ve come off of a Beach Boys album. Scratch that, the band joins in an awful lot. “Lay Me Back Down” is a beautiful mellow song that Fleet Foxes wish they wrote. 15 Songs might be a bit too long. This is prog rock I can enjoy. Very different from their past releases but I’m liking it although a little more variation wouldn’t hurt things on the next album.
Guess this review is as incoherent as “Censored Colors” but I highly doubt it’s equally beautiful.
Score: 7 out of 10

A Farewell Rescue - Never Meet Your Heroes

PA’s A Farewell Rescue released “Never Meet Your Heroes” last year but I’ve only just gotten my hands on it. Not that it’s that special. They do the whole sweet melody thing with distorted guitars and they’re not botching it up. It all sounds a little too much alike, both from song to song and compared to bands like Fall Out Boy or Hidden In Plain View. For those of you who just can’t get enough!
Score: 5.5 out of 10

Kings Of Leon – Only By The Night

It’s good times to be a Followill these days. The three brothers and one nephew from Nashville, TN quickly headed up the rockstar ladder to find themselves almost at the top with 2006’s “Because Of The Times” thanks to tracks like “On Call”.
They’re back now with “Only By The Night” which opens immensely strong with “Closer”, “Crawl, single “Sex On Fire” only to be followed by the beautiful “Use Somebody”. There is a bit of mid-album lull then with too many slow songs and too few memorable riffs or choruses before picking up momentum again with the melancholic “I Want You”, “Be Somebody” and closer “Cold Desert”.
The Followills have long outgrown the revival meetings where they used to bang on drums while their father preached and are now ready to fill stadiums. They’re raised on whiskey and cornbread rather than Guinness and potatoes but it’s true, they’re coming awfully to being the Southern answer to U2 on “Only By The Night”.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Rise Against – Appeal To Reason

Rise Against is a band with a message and they do not only carry it out in their lyrics. Their new album “Appeal To Reason” comes with a PETA flyer, the digipack is made out of recycled paper and they’re using vegetable ink. So if you’re really hungry, you can just lick the booklet for a bit and get your daily dose of vitamins.
But these guys believe in what they do and they don’t go about it halfheartedly. They’re even questioning themselves on this album, asking if their transition to a major label was the smartest thing to do. After the excellent “The Sufferer And The Witness”, they’ve written a new batch of songs that is equally impressive. You might’ve already heard lead single “Re-Education (Through Labor)” but opener “Collapse (Post-Amerika)” and the ballad-like “Audience Of One” are equally impressive. Same thing can basically be said of all the other songs on here come to think of it.
McIlrath still has one of the coolest voices around and with the rest of the band throwing punches while maintaining a pop sensibility and producers Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore make the whole thing sound crispy and crunchy, Rise Against came up with another great addition to every punkrocker’s CD collection.
Score: 8 out of 10

These Arms Are Snakes – Tail Swallower And Dove

With a sound that draws as much from post-hardcore as it does from more traditional rock, These Arms Are Snakes are once again on the warpath with “Tail Swallower And Dove”. With guitars that sound jagged as fuck, thunderous rhythms and a vocalist who’s just plain pissed off, there’s no lack of fury on here. They also manage to sound urgent, energetic and melodic. Most of the time all at the same time.
It doesn’t make “Tail Swallower And Dove” the most easily digesteable album out there but for those of you who are willing to sink their teeth in this one, get ready to be bitten back by what can only be described as the offspring of Fugazi and Quicksand. They are still relatively unknown over in these parts but let me assure you that they are more than worthy of your attention. If you have the chance, please check them out on tour with Russian Circles.
Score: 8 out of 10

One For The Team – Build It Up

Never shy to add another solid act to their roster, The Militia Group gave One For The Team a place to call home. With “Build It Up” the band released an album that will charm your pants off with plenty of grungy guitars, danceable rhythms and extremely poppy melodies.
The male-female vocals of Ian Anderson and Grace Fiddler (who actually plays the keyboard) work really well together and these guys and one girl do a good job of keeping things sounding interesting and fresh all the way up to the last seconds of “We Can Work It Out” with “Best Supporting Actor” as the catchiest song on the album.
Score: 7 out of 10

Astronautalis – Pomegranate

Andy Bothwell aka Astronautalis earned his marks as an MC on the battle circuit before dropping his first full-length. After some more exposure, the man is now ready to unleash “Pomegranate”, his first for Eyeball Records and Eyeball’s first hiphop release ever.
But calling “Pomegranate” solely a hiphop album is selling it short. Call it a 21st century interpretation of American folk. Whether Bothwell is weaving together stories about opium runners, mountaineers or white-collar criminals, he is at the top of his game throughout the entire album. It’s hard to tell where one style ends and another influence comes into play but that’s exactly Astronautalis’ strength. Borders simply don’t exist here with “Secrets Of The Undersea Bell” and “Two Years Before The Mast” as my personal favorites.
Since we are dealing with hiphop, let me bust out a rhyme of my own:
Storytelling like Tom Waits
With Ike Reilly lurking in the shades
Beats coming in and fading out
If A3 and Beck ever heard this, they’d be proud
Yeah, I should stick with writing… I know.
Score: 7 out of 10

Lagwagon – I Think My Older Brother Used To Listen To Lagwagon

Yup, even punkrockers grow old. Born and raised on Fat Wreck, Lagwagon has been dropping releases for twenty years now. If they haven’t changed their sound by now, I think it’s fair to say they never will.
And so the songs on “I Think My Older Brother Used To Listen To Lagwagon” sound like, well Lagwagon. They might have slowed down a little here and there and they may never sound as good as they did back in the day but the songs on here are definitely a more than worthy addition to the band’s ever-expanding catalog.
And if you’re curious what some of these songs sounds like stripped down to an acoustic setting, go pick up Joey Cape’s solo album “Bridge” which is out now as well.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Kaiser Chiefs – Off With Their Heads

“Off With Their Heads” is already album number three for Kaiser Chiefs in just four years. They’re going at it hard yet they never choose quantity over quality. Predecessor “Yours Truly, Angry Mob” was one big hit fiesta and that’s no different with “Off With Their Heads”.
The entire album is filled with quirky British rock that reminded me of Park Life-era Blur once on “Never Miss A Beat”, found a great use for a Hammond organ on “Tomato In The Rain” and just never stops being energetic and catchy as all hell.
Produced by Mark Ronson, guest vocals by Lily Allen on “Always Happens Like That”, a string arrangement by David Arnold on “Like It Too Much”… it’s obvious that the Leeds boys are in good company. Not that they really need it. Because even without these guests, they would’ve had another winner on their hands with “Off With Their Heads”. I’m already looking forward to their festival appearances next summer!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

The Rasmus – Black Roses

I knew I’d already heard of this band but couldn’t remember the name of their hit single. Guess that’s already saying something about how much of an impression they made on me so far. Album number seven(!) sees The Rasmus teaming up with legendary producer and songwriter Desmond Child (who wrote the likes of "Livin' On A Prayer" by Bon Jovi, "Poison" by Alice Cooper and "Livin' La Vida Loca" by Ricki Martin). Yup, that simply screams album of the year, right?
“Black Roses” is extremely light gothpop and fans of HIM and Tokio Hotel will probably like this a lot. So if you have a vagina and are twelve years old, you can start learning the lyrics to “Ten Black Roses” or “Your Forgiveness” by heart. Everyone else will probably agree with me that these Finnish dudes contribute about as much to music as Lance Armstrong to the French cuisine : absolutely nothing.
Score: 3 out of 10

Slipknot – All Hope Is Gone

After the intro that is “Execute”, Slipknot lets it all go on the metallic threesome that is “Gematria”, “Sulfur” and first single “Psychosocial”. I have never been a big fan of these guys but even I have to admit that this is some prime metal. Joey Jordison might be a small man but he is a great drummer and Corey Taylor shows us why he is one of the best singers in today’s metalscene. The rest of the band seems more focused as well which translates in less chaos and more well-structured songs. Always a good thing.
Except for one Stone Sour leftover (“Snuff”), this is by far the best Slipknot album to date with even some room for experiments (the dark and dragging “Gehenna”). It’s solid proof of why these Iowa natives are one of the only bands that survived the nu metal movement in one piece.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Killing The Dream interview

Killing The Dream is one excellent hardcore band who just unleashed "Fractures" on Deathwish. If you haven't already checked them out, you are seriously missing out on one mean motherfucker of an album so read this interview and then go pick up/download your copy of the album!

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Elijah: we are killing the dream. we like stuff like food, kitties, the sacramento know, guy stuff. also, the first frost of each winter. my name is elijah and i also like hot cocoa and moonlit gondola rides.

PRT: Who else is in the band and how would you go about killing their dream?
Elijah: easy. first, there's christopher 'chaze' (pronounced 'sha-ZAY') powers, aka dr. gugenheim aka dr. googz aka da google. i'd kill his dream by destroying every potato farm in the world. also, no more beer. patches o'houlihan shreds the axe- i'd kill his dreams by making him get tested for various venereal diseases. also, i'd see to it that jars of clay and dc talk could no longer make music...those are his favorite bands ever. for dj, our other axe wielder, i would send him back to roma's pizzeria #3 in folsom california and tell him he couldn't eat anything, and for isaac, i'd make him tour with us.

PRT: For the people out there who haven't heard you guys yet… if Killing The Dream was the lovechild of two other bands, which bands would've had sex and which position were you conceived in?
Elijah: i can't tell you how much time i've spent thinking about this. KTD is definitely the spawn of tesla and the hoods during a tantric union of the monkey love session. al green was probably playing in the background.

PRT: Can you give me the history of the band written in one minute or less starting… NOW!
Elijah: we all met in the scrapbooking club at our high school. we figured that there weren't a whole lot of bands out there that devoted songs to honoring memories properly, so we started killing the dream. over the years we've kind of moved on from the scrapbooking, but i think it will always be a part of our lives somehow.

PRT: You guys had to find two new guitarists between the release of your Deathwish debut and the new album. How hard was it to find a good fit and did that affect the writing process?
Elijah: it was certainly a tough task to find new guitarists...joel and bart were good friends and great musicians. we have known dj forever and he was able to just slide right in without too much trouble. luckily, in place apart had just come out and we had plenty of time to figure out all the writing stuff.

PRT: I thought the new album sounded a lot nastier than its predecessor and at the same time I noticed that there are way less singalongs and breakdowns. Was that a conscious decision?
Elijah: not really. i think it's just how it shook out. we didn't have any real goals in mind writing this record...if it sounded good, then we used it. as for singalongs, i always just sort of feel those out when i'm arranging lyrics- if there is a part on a song that lends itself well to gang vocals, and it fits the lyrics, then i'm more than happy to use them. on this record there just weren't a whole lot of spots where that was the case.

PRT: You worked with J Robbins on "Fractures"… what was that like and how was it different from working with Kurt Ballou?
Elijah: j. robbins is like the coolest dude in the world. maybe bill cosby. but after him, definitely j. robbins. it was a great experience to be able to work with him, and we all feel privileged to have done so. kurt was a great guy as well, and we are all super happy with how that record came out. he's definitely in the robbins/cosby realm. also, add jimmy walker to that list too.

PRT: If there is one thing you'd like to be remembered for with Killing The Dream, what would that be?
Elijah: if anyone remembers us at all, for anything...that would really mean a lot to me. hopefully, there will be one or two kids who look back and remember us as being a band that meant a lot to them...whether it was lyrically or musically or whatever. hopefully we were able to leave a good impression on anyone whose path we crossed as well. to be honest, i'd almost rather have kids look back and remember us and good, sincere people rather than a non heinous rock outfit.

PRT: Suppose all the planets would align and you would play the most perfect show ever, what would it look like?
Elijah: jay-z
donny hathaway
marvin gaye
the original temptations
stay gold
shannon from danity kane would be my date, and marvin and donny hathaway would sing all the hooks to jay's songs.

PRT: What's your position on the whole Real-life doll versus the classic inflatable one?
Elijah: i don't have any clue what you are asking, so i'll provide an arbitrary thought here instead of attempting to answer the question.
i just watched this film called the wackness. i would definitely recommend it to a friend. here is the elijah breakdown.
plot- 4 out of 5 pizza slices
characters/cast- 4.5 out of 5 slices
babez- 4.5 out of 5 slices (olivia thirlby and mary kate olson...i mean, come on)
soundtrack- 5 out of 5 slices (seriously one of the best ever- biggie, souls of mischief, mary j, lou reed, tribe...AWESOME)
best quote of the movie- 'i just wanna listen to boyz II men when i'm with you, yo'
seriously, this movie was awesome. check it out now if you have the means.

PRT: If I was to browse through your record collection or your iPod, what's the one album you wouldn't want me to stumble across?
Elijah: the chipmunks christmas album. seriously.

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Elijah: be excellent to each other. thanks for the interview broseph!

My Epic – I Am Undone

Hmm, a release from the Facedown imprint Dreamt music. Kinda hard to get enthousiastic about that right away. Remember Thieves & Liars? I mean… ouch! So it was with a little trepidation that I went into “I Am Undone”.
These North Carolina natives play an extremely breezy kind of emopop with high-pitched, drawn out vocals supported by string sections and very mellow guitars. I often got the feeling they are more than capable to conjure up a storm (especially on the instrumental “Perelandra”) but just like with sex before marriage, they always pull back just before things get out of hand.

While this teasing can be fun at first, it can become kinda frustrating just the same. Other than on “You Know We All Love You” they never really rock out but do manage to churn out a couple of nice atmospheric tunes that fans of As Cities Burn and even Thrice (“Men In Little Houses”) should be able to appreciate.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Unearth – The March

Holy shit! A metalcore album I actually like? It’s been awhile but Unearth is one of few bands you can count on to deliver quality. And that’s no different on “The March”. These dudes found their way to the studio with a batch of new songs and producer Adam Dutkiewicz (no more Terry Date… thanks, but there’s the door) in tow and recorded what would be album number four for these Bostonians.
They don’t cover a lot of new ground on “The March” but have honed their songwriting skills even more and have now come up with a bulletproof way to write the perfect metalcore anthem. This means hardhitting metal with an equal amount of chugga chugga riffs and blistering solos. Of course, the barked vocals and breakdowns are still in place as well.
No real standout songs here, it’s simply all good all over the board!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

United Nations – S/T

When members of Converge, Glassjaw, Thursday and who knows who else start a band together, all the messageboards go into overdrive and a hype is quickly created. Try and live up to those expecations!
Regardless of who is in the band other than Geoff Rickly, Daryl Palumbo and Ben Koller, United Nations’ self-titled debut is a noisy affair with a sound that harkens back to mid-90s screamo Ebulition-style (think spazzy, think grindcore even ). Yet somehow they manage to keep things sounding melodic at the same time. Melodic grindcore… who would’ve thunk it!
But seriously, the way those who cannot be named (legal stuff ya know) manage to combine pure chaos with beauty is quite impressive. Add a sense of humor to the band’s list of qualities (the obvious references to The Beatles and Refused) and you’re looking at a solid release that already has me waiting for the supposed follow-up “United Nations Plays Pretty For A Bunch Of Fucking Babies” with Kidz bop versions of all the songs on this album.
Score: 8 out of 10

No Fun At All – Low Rider

After a successful reunion show at Groezrock last year, Sweden’s No Fun At All decided to get back together and record a new album. It’s called “Low Rider” and has everything you could ask for in an NFAA album… frenetic rhythms and catchy choruses.
For all the kids out there who were too young when this band was kicking ass the first time around in the early 90s… think Pennywise, Bad Religion and early Millencolin. Yup, it’s fast-paced punkrock and it’s all good. Prime example of a band not living up to their band name and that actually being a good thing. Welcome back guys!
Score: 8 out of 10
Beat ‘Em Down Records

Energy – Invasions Of The Mind

I don’t know where Bridge Nine keeps digging these bands up but they’ve got another winner on their hands with Energy. “Invastions Of The Mind” might not go down in history as an instant classic but as a debut, this is very, very good stuff.
Imagine AFI circa “The Art Of Drowning” with some more poppunk sensibility mixed in. The songs all come with fast rhythms, great guitar licks and equally melodic vocals, a couple of solid atmospheric parts and seriously… there’s simply no going wrong with a vocalist called Tank!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Holy Ghost Revival – Twilight Exit

After they had gotten their hands on all the spandex outfits Seattle had to offer, Holy Ghost Revival relocated their asses to London. Somehow that city seems like a better fit for these retro glamrockers who on “Twilight Exit” prove that pants that are too tight result in high vocals.

While Freddie Mercury would’ve no doubt approved of the pants that are so tight you can tell which religion they are, the rest of Queen would’ve no doubt approved of their music. As would Meatloaf. As would The Darkness. Because yes, Holy Ghost Revival doesn’t just come with a silly name, they also have silly, completely over the top cockrock songs that scream camp. And camp is fun. At least for a little bit. So I’m down with a little bit of Holy Ghost Revival. But not too much. If I really want camp, I’ll just go and rent The Rocky Horror Show instead!
Score: 5.5 out of 10

North Side Kings – Suburban Royalty

North Side Kings occasionally make music when they’re not too busy kicking Glenn Danzig’s ass. On “Suburban Royalty” they let loose their inner thug once more with songs like “This Means War” and “Street Trash”. It’s obnoxious hardcore with a little thrash and punk worked in occasionally but it sounds great. It’s not all tuff guy posing though. The North Side Kings have a sense of humor as well that comes through in song titles “Giving Emo Kids Something To Really Cry About”and “Nice Girls Finish Last”.
You won’t hear anything on “Suburban Royalty” that you haven’t heard bands like Agnostic Front, Skarhead or Blood For Blood play before but North Side Kings execute the songs (and probably their enemies) flawelessly.
Score: 7 out of 10

Beneath The Sky – The Day The Music Died

If generic metalcore with shrieks, screams, grunts and clean vocals with tired breakdown after tired breakdown is your kinda thing, then Beneath The Sky is here to fill that tiny little gap between (insert bland metalcore act) and (insert bland metalcore act).
I don’t hear any distinction between any of the songs on here and what I do here is of the ‘been there, done that’-variety. The band itself seems to have realized that as well and called it a day. Not too much of a loss if you ask me and definitely not the day the music died.
Score: 4.5 out of 10

Barricade – Demons

Barricade does the whole NYHC thing in a most convincing way on “Demons” while also paying tribute to acts like Ringworm. Relentless and uncompromising are two words one could throw at this band and they would no doubt stick.
Throughout 13 songs this Pennsylvania outfit never ceases to rip shit up with shredding guitars and barked vocals. To further spice things up they inject the songs with plenty of breakdowns and singalong action. Sounds familiar? Well yeah, NYHC bands like Madball have been doing this for a long time. But that doesn’t take away any of the strength of “Demons”.
If they keep this up I’m thinking Barricade could become a big name in the scene. And I’m not just saying that because they’re all a lot bigger than me and could easily kick my ass. “Demons” simply deserves to be heard.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Lovvers – Think

You’d be hard-pressed to understand the lyrics to any of Lovvers’ songs. For one, the vocalist Shaun Hercher’s voice is distorted. And the songs are over by the time you’ve fully realised they began. Racing through seven songs in less than fifteen minutes and calling it a full-length might seem a little over the top but you do get something in return. What that return is exactly? Loud riffs, frenetic rhythms and big basslines that wash over you with a whole lot of urgency.
Opener “Human Hair” hits the spot just right with its Pixies-like riffs thrown in before turning into the riot-inducing “No Romantics”. And they keep up the pace with nihilistic angst-filled tracks like “No Fun” and “Wasted Youth” before ending with “Talk Cheap”, one of the best songs on “Think”.
“Think” is a pretty cool debut that doesn’t outstay its welcome. One might say that it’s pretty punk of Lovvers or that it’s simply a ruse to cover up the fact that all of their songs kinda sound alike. I haven’t quite made up my mind but I do know that I like this album.
Score: 7 out of 10

Ben Folds – Way To Normal

Ben Folds has always been painfully honest in his lyrics. Or maybe it’s all just short stories and we don’t have a first clue what he’s really like. I honestly don’t care… I just know that I like his candid wit and sparkling pianopop. Did so when it was still performed under the moniker Ben Folds Five and still love it now that it’s ‘just’ Ben Folds. Like a younger and less gay version of Elton John, Ben Folds has doing his thing his way for quite some years already.
After “Rockin’ The Suburbs” and “Supersunnyspeedgraphic”, this is Folds’ third solo album and like all of his other releases, it isn’t flawless. So let’s not dwell too long on “Dr Yang” or “Errant Dog”. After all we like Ben Folds.
So instead we will focus on things where he truly shines. Ballads are one such thing and with “Cologne” and “Kylie From Connecticut” there’s two of ‘em that are really, really good. Looking for something more upbeat? How about the threesome that is “Bitch Went Nuts”, “Brainwascht” and “Effington”, They’re all good as well.
In other words, “Way To Normal” is a typical Ben Folds album filled with wry humour and tales of heartbreak. I for one am hoping he’ll never find the way to normal if it means he’ll keep cranking out releases like this.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Gym Class Heroes – The Quilt

Gym Class Heroes are back with album number three called “The Quilt” and damn, this stuff is just too catchy! A band that manages to keep me listening to hiphop for fourteen songs has to be doing something right!
The secret behind GCH is the fact that they like to diversify so whether you’re talking about the guitars in “Live A Little” with Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, the Jurassic 5 vibe in “Like Father, Like Son (Papa’s Song)” or the ridiculously slick single “Peace Sign/Index Down” (with Busta Rhymes), it always works thanks to the cutesy melodies and Travis’ solid raps. I personally could’ve done without the cheesy ballad that is “Live Forever (Fly With Me)” but still… “The Quilt” is a guilty pleasure but there’s no denying that it’s a job well done.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Killroy – Football Chants & Angry Rants

80s-era SoCal band Killroy is back for another round with their brand of oi! Punk. It may sound as something of an anomaly but these Americans simply transported hooligan music from the streets of the UK to the States. Except now it’s not about soccer but American football. And let’s face it, it’s not as if a couple of Americans can’t crank out the three-chords-are-all-you-need punkrock songs with angry vocals just as well as their UK counterparts.
Along the way they throw in a Cockney Rejects cover (“Bad Man”) and play Sham 69’s “Borstal Breakout” under a different name (as if we wouldn’t notice!) and then call it a day after 15 songs. Nothing new here but they do the chants and rants thing just fine.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Solea – Finally We Are Nowhere

When Solea released their self-titled debut, I was hooked! Excellent guitar-driven rock that was poppy, nicely layered yet still had some of that punkrock energy seething inside. It took these former members of Samiam, Knapsack, Texas Is The Reason and Sense Field a while to record the follow-up “Finally We Are Nowhere” but it was well worth the wait.
“Finally We Are Nowhere” is filled with great melodies, hard-hitting rhythms and everything about Solea’s music just screams heartfelt and sincere. As a result I can’t help but love every single second of this and if you are into any of the members’ previous outfits, you will too.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Plan 9 – Manmade Monster

What originally started as a one-time Misfits tribute, turned into something else… kinda like the protagonists usually do in the B-rated monster movies these guys are no doubt influenced by. “Manmade Monster” is filled with the kind of horrorpunk that the Misfits invented and out of all the other bands I’ve heard doing the same thing, Plan 9 is definitely way up there.
There are three Misfits covers on here but if you’re a novice you’d be hard-pressed trying to single them out between Plan 9’s original compositions. Which I guess is saying a lot.
On a sadder note, vocalist Aaron Fuller recenly died in a motorcycle accident but the remaining members have already announced they will continue with Plan 9.
Score: 7.5 out of 10


10th anniversary Hard Life Promotion + birthday party of its owner Mike

We don't post shows often but anything for our buddy Mike so here goes... and Mike, happy birthday!!!

Friday October 24th 2008.

VZW MaNo presents:
10th anniversary Hard Life Promotion + birthday party of its owner Mike

With gigs from:
Rumble Fist (NL) + Unbreakable (B) + Sparkle Of Hope (B) + headliner Homer (B).

Venue Onze Kring, Kerkstraat 10 in Wachtebeke (B).
Start: around 20h00
Entrance: 4 (or 5) Euros


Deadly Sins – Selling Our Weaknesses

Dropkick Murphys fans might already know the name Stephanie Dougherty because she sang with the Murphys on “The Dirty Glass” and also lent her vocals to songs by Roger Miret And The Disasters and Lost City Angels. Deadly Sins is her own band and she surrounded herself with former members of The Generics, Reach The Sky, The Queers,… good people who all have all already earned their stripes in the Boston punk scene.
On “Selling Our Weaknesses” the Deadly Sins crank out a batch of powerful punkrock songs that remind me of The Distillers (that raw female voice!) and the more mellow Tsunami Bomb tracks. They don’t do anything new, things aren’t exactly spectacular but this is still a solid punkrock release that no one will take offence to.
Score: 7 out of 10

Tom Morello : The Nightwatchman – The Fabled City

Tom Morello is back with his superhero alter ego The Nightwatchman. His debut “One Man Revolution” was barely satisfactory but back then he was armed only with his voice an acoustic guitar. Hey, I bet that even Batman wasn’t at the top of his game when he first started out.

On “The Fabled City” Morello is backed up by more complex arrangements boasting mandolins, piano, cello and guest vocals by Serj Tankian and Shooter Jennings. As a result this collection of songs has no problem keeping me interested with Morello rallying against everything that bothers him with a voice that lies somewhere between Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen.
Highlights for me are “The Lights Are On In Spidertown” and the Serj Tankian-enhanced “Lazarus On Down”. If he keep improving like this with every single release, his one man revolution might just take place after all!
Score: 7 out of 10

The Datsuns – Headstunts

The problem with The Datsuns is that they released a near perfect debut album to which all their future releases would be compared. While they are still to surpass said debut, that does not mean their future releases weren’t any good. Quite the contrary. As they so adequately prove yet again with “Headstunts” (an anagram for The Datsuns).
Opener “Human Error” jumps right at you like a jack-in-the-box and once that organ kicks in in “Hey! Paranoid People!”, you know you’re in for one hell of a ride with loud guitars, frantic drums and catchy choruses. I could’ve done without the 8-minute closer “Somebody Better” which sounded a little too much like Kula Shaker… never a good thing but other than that this is a whole lot of rock n roll to sink your teeth in!
Score: 8 out of 10

I Set My Friends On Fire – You can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter

Seriously, if this is the best thing your A&R managers can come up with, you’re better of firing the whole lot of ‘em. Again Epitaph has managed to reach a new low with I Set My Friends On Fire, another crappy band that got signed after a small MySpace success they had with their cover of Soulja Boy’s “Crank That”. If you wanna hear a good mix of grindcore and pop, check out Japanische Kampfhörspiele instead of this shit.
Score: 2 out of 10

I Am Ghost – Those We Leave Behind

The screamo kiddies from I Am Ghost are back with a new album. It consists of My Chemical Romance’s dark imagery, riffs from Avengeld Sevenfold’s arsenal and the kind of catchy choruses Aiden doesn’t shy away from either. In other words, your typical screamo fare.
Wow, look at that! Three sentences was all I needed! Let’s try it in three words now… not very interesting. Or: mediocre at best. Or: only for fans.
Score: 5 out of 10

The Mongoloids – Time Trials

Never heard of New Jersey’s The Mongoloids before but “Time Trials” could’ve just as well been written by any other NYHC band. Mostly mid-paced songs with plenty of groove and a vocalist that actually tries to sing rather a la Sheer Terror’s Paul Bearer. Yikes! Just sound pissed off please… scream, yell, whatever but don’t sing! However if you manage to look past the vocals you’ll find a rather entertaining band making “Time Trials” one of those albums you’ll have to listen to before buying to see if it’s your thing or not.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Throw Rag – Tee-Tot

“Tee-Tot” is Throw Rag’s debut full-length and was originally released on Hellnote Records back in 1999. It’s now being re-released thanks to the people over at Acetate with two bonus tracks. It already shows what we all have learned by now… Throw Rag is a very exciting band that always manages to find the right balance between songs that inspire your hips to shake and tracks that rock(abilly).
Let yourself be lulled into submission by “Lady Boo” only to then set the place on fire with songs like “Race With The Devil” or “Table 4 3”… these Salton Sea natives have it all for sale on “Tee-Tot”. Maybe not as good as their later releases but still worth having if you’re a fan of their country/rockabilly/punk/swamp boogie/…
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Years Spent Cold – Moving Heaven To Hell

Cookie monster vocals always make me laugh. And albums where the songs serve as something you play in between all the breakdowns don’t exactly get me all riled up either. Which is why Years Spent Cold’s “Moving Heaven To Hell” largely went in one ear, out the other. It did give them a good cleaning though because the sheer volume and intensity blew all the crap right out. So kudos on that!
Other than that this pretty standard (or even sub-standard) deathcore where all the songs sound exactly the same and all the band members sound very angry. Get laid, write some new material that doesn’t sound so constipated and we’ll have another look. Who knows, it might actually be good next time around!
Score: 5.5 out of 10

Know The Score – All Guts, Still No Glory

This is the re-release of Florida’s Know The Score out of print debut album. It has all the old-school madness from before plus five extra tracks and it’s all completely remastered.
If old-school HC is your thing, then you definitely do not want to miss out on “All Guts, Still No Glory” because it’s filled to the brim with awesome riffage, great breakdowns and confronting lyrics that home in on everyone who these dudes don’t get along with. And if you don’t like it, it’s probably because they’re talking about you!
Score: 8 out of 10

Wild Sweet Orange – We Have Cause To Be Uneasy

Wild Sweet Orange sounds cute enough. But then there’s the first song which is called “Ten Dead Dogs” which is anything but cute. So what to think of this Alabama-based outfit? Well, they play indie rock for one thing. The kind that’s easy on the ear. Their sound can be pinned down somewhere between Coldplay (but less whiny) and Limbeck (but less country) and I have absolutely no problems with it.

Their vocalist is called Lovinggood (yes, that’s his real name) but as a kind of counterweight the drummer is called Kilpatrick. I thought that was pretty cool while I was listening to songs about lost love and families falling apart. All of which are served with well-executed arrangements and nice melodies. Not a bad way to start off a music career!
Score: 7 out of 10

Bloc Party – Intimacy

Seemingly out of nowhere comes Bloc Party with album number three. It’s called “Intimacy” and with a little help from Jacknife Lee and Paul Epworth they’ve managed to come up with a perfect mix of all of their different faces.
Opener “Ares” sounds like a nailbomb exploding with block rockin’ beats, loud guitars, sequencers and Kele Okereke’s voice shooting off in different directions but then finding each other for the grand finale. Same thing can be said for single “Mercury” but without the guitars. Who needs those when you can bring in sampled horn sections and use vocoders!
“Halo” on the other hand is vintage Bloc Party with urgent guitars and a tight rhythm. And there are more similar treats to be found on “Intimacy” with “Trojan Horse” and “One Month Off”. And then in comes a song like “Biko” which lives up to the album title. Or what to think of “Signs”, a very mellow but beautiful song enhanced by a shitload of tiny little bells? In one word… greatness.
There’s a lot of different things going on on Bloc Party’s third album but they tackle all the different styles with ease and cross the finishing line in style… not a single song that does not sound amazing. Which makes it very clear that these lads are well on their way of becoming one of the biggest rock bands around!
Score: 9 out of 10

Brendan Canning – Something For All Of Us…

This is part two in the ‘Broken Social Scene presents’ series after last year’s solo effort by Kevin Drew. This time it’s up to that other founding member, Brendan Canning to show what he’s worth on his own.
The songs on “Something For All Of Us” actually don’t sound all too different from what BSS does which isn’t too much of a surprise seeing as most of the band helped out on this album. The least you can say about the album title is right on the money as well. You’ll hear raucous rockers (“Hit The Wall”), eccentric indiepop (”Possible Grenade”), lofi acoustic songs (“Snowballs & Icicles”) and even a ballad or two (“Antique Bull”).
A must for all the Broken Social Scene fans out there and I know there’s a lot of you!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Okkervil River – The Stand Ins

Okkervil River is back with the direct sequel to last year’s “The Stage Names”. Artwork, some of the songs… they all fit together nicely. And just like on last year’s “The Stage Names”, these Austin indie rockers filled “The Stand Ins” with charming songs that read like novels and are beautifully arranged with strings, horn sections and vocal harmonies. Just think of Bonnie Prince Billy and My Morning Jacket and you’ll get the gist of it.
Score: 7 out of 10

Hawthorne Heights – Fragile Future

When Hawthorne Heights lost guitarist / screamer Casey Calvert to an accidental prescribed meds overdose, they almost lost the will to go on with it. Luckily they soldiered on and came to terms with their loss while writing “Fragile Future”, which turns out to be their best album to date. Which still isn’t saying all that much.
I wasn’t exactly a big fan of Hawthorne Heights’ first two releases and that was largely due to Calvert’s screams. As terrible as it may sound, the lack of screaming on “Fragile Future” lets the band’s knack for writing catchy melodies shine through more than before. Which in turn makes me actually enjoy their third album.
Calvert lives on in the lyrics though in “Four Become One”, “Rescue Me” and “Disaster”. This is pure emopoppunk a la Taking Back Sunday with a little early No Motiv mixed in. Nothing original, just an album packed with slick songs.
Score: 7 out of 10

Stigma – New York Blood

Stigma and New York… doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is Vinny Stigma’s solo album. And when one of the godfathers of hardcore drops a solo album, expectations are high. Luckily Vinny has no problem delivering the goods because with “New York Blood” he released one hell of a fun album!
It has little to do with the thrashy hardcore that Agnostic Front plays though. Instead he looks back to the old days of punk and hardcore and throws in some rockabilly (“My Reflection”) for good measure. Hell, with “Hole In My Heart” Stigma even wrote a power ballad!
“New York Blood” is a great album that begs to be heard in a live setting so you can sing along with the title track, “15 Pints” or the 7 Seconds cover “Young Till I Die” while drinking a beer. Fuck it, make that a couple of beers!
Oh yeah, don’t forget to check out the horror flick by the same name starring Vinny Stigma as a drugdealer/brothel owner!
Score: 8 out of 10

Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue

Jenny Lewis, or half of Rilo Kiley as she is also known, released a first solo album in 2006, cut an album with The Watson Twins and is now back with “Acid Tongue”. Here she cranks out polished country songs that leave plenty of room for Lewis to show off her angelic voice. At times she reminds me of Joan Osborne. Which is a compliment in my eyes seeing as Osborne’s voice still gives me goosebumps on a good day.
“Godspeed” sounds like one of John Lennon’s lost piano ballads whereas “See Fernando” shines with some great steel guitar. The duet with Elvis Costello (“Carpetbaggers”) deserves an honorable mention here as well. But basically there aren’t any bad songs in sight here.
Solid Americana album from a versatile artist who doesn’t do anything new on “Acid Tongue” but managed to write together a collection of songs that have a timeless quality.
Score: 8 out of 10

Blitzen Trapper – Furr

Blitzen Trapper is already back with a new album after last year’s debut “Wild Mountain Nation”. Whereas the general conclusion back then seemed to be they sounded like Pavement, I’m not hearing a lot of that on “Furr”. Or it would have to be that these guys are pretty diverse in their output just like the jangly rockers in Pavement.
No, “Furr” is filled with the sounds of the seventies. Be it psychedelic rock like “Love U” or the folk-rock harmonies that pop up all over the album. My personal favorites would have to be the country ballad “Black River Killer” about a cowboy on a killing spree and the piano ballad that is “Not Your Lover”. Whatever it is they’re playing though, they always display a keen sense of melody and harmony making “Furr” a genuine pleasure to listen to.
Score: 8 out of 10


Daphne Loves Derby - On The Strength Of All Convinced

Here's what I wrote about this album when it first came out on Outlook Music in 2005:

I could say that a band whose songs are downloaded by more than 2,300,000 people without a label pushing them can't be a bad band. Cuz how can 2,300,000 people be wrong? But if I said that then I would sound a little too much like an infomercial.

So lemme put it this way...Daphne got together with Derby around three years ago in the state of Washington. They've been loving each other ever since and decided to write songs about it. The songs ended up sounding like Copeland meets Death Cab meets older Jimmy Eat World. In other words... "On The Strength Of All Convinced" is good mellow emopop and the production job by Casey Bates (who just worked with Gatsby's American Dream on their amazing album "Volcano") didn't hurt either.
Score: 7 out of 10