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The Marked Men – S/T

With the longest song on The Marked Men’s 2003 debut clocking in at two minutes and nineteen seconds, it’s obvious these Texans don’t like to waste any time. So we’re not gonna either with this review.

The Marked Men have been or are active in bands such as The Reds, High Tension Wires, The Gash, The Vomit Punx, The Rolemodels and so on. I mean, they know what they’re doing. And what they are doing is play raw poppunk in the same vein as The Ramones, The Queers. These dudes do a great job which is why I think it was a solid idea to from the people over at Dirtnap (yay Dirtnap!) to re-release this album. Make sure to get your hands on 2004’s “On The Outside” and 2006’s “Fix My Brain” as well for some more quality poppunk.
Score: 8 out of 10


Kasey Anderson – The Reckoning

Kasey Anderson’s new album opens with the title track, a dirty and wretched affair that grabs you by the throat. He immediately had my attention but then track number two kicks in and we’re listening to Springsteen. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but it wasn’t what I was expecting after the growling and menacing guitars of “The Reckoning”. “Hometown Boys” sounds like it fell off the back of a Wallfowers album and “Buddy Bolden’s Blues” is a touching ballad with a trumpet that cause me goosebumps. Least you can say about Anderson is that he’s fond of variety. And can tell a good story. And knows how to write a good song.

If you’re looking for some solid Americana, do yourself and Anderson’s bank account a favor and pick up a copy of “The Reckoning”.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Blue Mountain – Midnight In Mississippi

A nasty rumor has been going round for a while saying that alt-country is as good as dead. But with strong releases from Old 97’s and Drive-By Truckers and now Blue Mountain, I’d say the genre is doing just fine.

On “Midnight In Mississippi” the band around Cary Hudson and his wife Laurie Stirratt show the young ones just how it’s done. With a mix of rock, country and a good shot of blues on the side (closer “Skinny Dipping”), they’ve written twelve songs that are a pleasure to listen to. The vocal harmonies, the melodies, the variation in both styles and rhythms make “Midnight In Mississippi” a must for all the Jayhawks fans out there. And while you’re at it, make sure to pick up “Omnibus” as well which contains re-recorded versions of some older Blue Mountain songs.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Damiera – Quiet Mouth Loud Hands

Damiera already dropped a more than decent debut called “MU(SI)C” in 2006, which was subsequently re-released in 2007 after signing to Equal Vision. The band around singer/guitarist Dave Raymond now resurfaces with “Quiet Mouth Loud Hands”, an album that blows their debut clean out of the water.

Like a weird crossover between the funky pop stylings of Maroon 5 and the proggy emo of Coheed & Cambria, Damiera cranks out eleven moody yet melodic songs that will have their hooks in you after just one listen. Opener “Rainman” is a naked and short affair that is juxtaposed nicely against the crashing drums that kick off the title track. “Teacher Preacher” is a fine song that will better explain the Maroon 5 comparison whereas “Chromatica” wouldn’t have looked out of place on a C&C album.

“Quiet Mouth Loud Hands” is a tight and concise album, clocking in at just over 31 minutes. Yet it comes with so much atmosphere, nuances and little details that it feels way bigger and longer. I’m loving it!
Score: 8 out of 10

Fucked Up – The Chemistry Of Common Life

About as nasty as David Hasselhoff on the bathroom floor and as wild as your mom and me last night, Fucked Up charges ahead with their latest full-length, “The Chemistry Of Common Life”. First though, you’ll have to wrestle through a minute of flute sounds (again… like your mother last night, only it wasn’t a flute she was blowing) but then things explode with “Son The Father”. And yes, I did say a flute because the dudes and one lady in Fucked Up pretty much do whatever they feel like doing, even if it means opening and closing their new album with abovementioned flute sounds.

Named after a FW Johnston novel, “The Chemistry Of Common Life” is hardcore punk the way it was supposed to sound. It’s loud, obnoxious, aggressive and raw. But there’s also plenty of room for melody. And power. White power even if you’re one of the idiots that actually believes Fucked Up flirts with Hitler’s ideology. Anyway, think of Black Flag and The Pixies getting it on (kinda like your mom and… oh well, you get the picture) and picture Pink Eyes, 10 000 Marbles, Gulag, Young Governor, Mustard Gas and Mr. Jo popping out nine months later. You’ll know what to do when they go straight into a blistering rendition of “Golden Seal”
Score: 8.5 out of 10

House & Parish – One, One-Thousand

House & Parish has only been a band since 2006, yet its members have already more than cut their teeth in acts such as Texas Is The Reason, The Promise Ring, The Love Scene and The Gloria Record. “One, One-Thousand” is their debut EP and just like the slick and minimalist artwork, their songs are all in good taste.

With a shoegazer mindset firmly in place, they drop a mature and lush pop album that will have you nodding along in no time. Especially on tracks like “This Curse” and “Standardesque”, House & Parish has my full attention. If that’s any indication of what we’re gonna hear on their first full-length, then you can already consider me a fan!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

The Baseball Project – Vol. 1 : Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails

Steve Wynn and friends unite under the moniker The Baseball Project. The friends in question are Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows/Minus 5), his wife Linda Pitmon (Miracle 3) and Peter Buck (REM) and The Baseball Project’s first album is filled with the kind of stories that make baseball at least a little bit of an interesting sport.

With a lyrical content that’s rooted firmly in American history, the music couldn’t stay behind and ends up sounding like typical American rock with a folky touch that will entertain both fans of Tom Petty and The Posies. That is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong. “Frozen Ropens And Dying Quails” is a solid album made by musicians who know how to write a decent song. Yes, the artwork looks like they threw it all together in less than one minute but songs like “Broken Man”, “Satchel Paige Said” or “Jackie’s Lament” more than make up for that.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Solea interview

Solea is pretty much one of the most underrated bands I have come across in the almost nine years I've been doing this zine. They already released an amazing album a couple of years ago and are back now with "Finally We Are Nowhere", an album that shines from beginning to end. And hey, if you need another selling point... the band features Garrett Klahn from Texas Is The Reason and Sergie Loobkoff from Samiam. Read on to see what they had to say and buy the album for yourself as an extra christmas present. Or while you're at it... pick up a whole bunch and treat all your friends to a copy. They'll like you. For real this time. (photo courtesy of Piper Ferguson)

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Garrett: This is Garrett. I live in Brooklyn, NY and make music.
Sergie: I'm sergie, I live in los angeles and sometimes I make some music...usually, I'm a pretty boring guy that works, comes home, reads, draws a drawing...lies around alot. I try to skateboard and jog too.

PRT: having been a part of bands such as Texas Is The Reason, Samiam, The New Rising Sons and Knapsack, did you feel a lot of pressure when you started the band in 2002? because people will already have certain expectations. or did you just start the band for fun and not care about anything else?
Garrett: No pressure at all. Sergie and I had always talked about playing together. It was a natural progression.
Sergie: I don't think either of us really think anyone really gives too much of a crap about any of the bands you mentioned...I mean they are old news. In fact, anyone that still cares would be pretty openminded people! But, we really started to play music together because of the opportunity to make songs and perform a little...not to make money or stroke our is a little late for that in our lives, we aren't young, hip guys.

PRT: for the unlucky few out there who haven't heard Solea yet... if Solea was the lovechild of two other bands, which acts would've had sex and which position were you conceived in?
Garrett: I would say Dinosaur Jr and great band from Chicago called Seam.
Sergie: In our dreams, ha. but I think we approach a sound like that. definately we sound alot like the guy from Texas Is The Reason singing for Samiam at the very least, ha...

PRT: with "finally we are nowhere" you released an amazing album. but i read that recording it wasn't always that easy because Garrett, you weren't into it anymore? What happened exactly?
Garrett: We recorded the record in Los Angeles. I was sick of being away from home and had a lot of other things going on in my life. I just took a little break. We ended up finishing the record in NYC which made it a lot easier.
Sergie: Garrett remembers things a little mellower than I ... because he didn't stress about letting down the label and stuff. I am the guy that deals with all the 'business' of the band...which is painful when you are a struggling, broke band. I was worried as shit about getting people in trouble at the label...and actually about perhaps getting sued if we didn't finish a final product for them. I also was very sad because I put so much work and effort into the record while he was absent. At the time I understood, he wasn't into the songs, the band...even just playing with me. Fair enough. But what I didn't like was that we were letting down alot of people. It all worked out well in the end...but for a long, long time I really didn't think we would make the record.

PRT: you already convinced me but can you give people three good reasons why they should spend their money on it when we are on the verge of an economical depression?
Garrett: It swings. It’s melodic. And you can dance to it.
Sergie: I say this not because I would see a dime from the proceeds...because I wouldn't unless we sold a very unrealistic number of copies...but our european label (arctic rodeo) and japanese label (bad news) have invested alot of time and money into this...they deserve to at least make their money back. It sounds like I'm being fake...but it's true: I don't mind if people steal...concerning my own profit because I have received almost nothing by way of royalites before piracy means nothing to me. But there are alot of people who try to make a living off legitimately selling music. they deserve to be paid for their efforts. After all, I make a living off graphic design...I have fun touring and making recordings...

PRT: What I just can't wrap my head around is the fact that the album already came out in 2006 in Japan, took until now to get released in Europe and is still only available in the States through import if i'm not mistaken... how come labels aren't lining up to release an album like this?
Garrett: You’re asking the wrong guy. I have no idea. The music business isn’t like it used to be. But we’re happy it finally made its way to Europe.
Sergie: One side of it is that we are not young guys...we are not new...we are not fashionable. But mainly, we don't devote our lives to the band touring and touring and touring. In 2008, labels need a band commited to their band to make it work. we are actually lucky to have these two labels that stand by us when they know our situation...otherwise the record would never have been recorded, you know?

PRT: having been a part / still being a part of influential emo bands, how do you feel about what emo has become in the last couple of years?
Garrett: I don’t really know how to answer that question. I am out of the loop.
Sergie: If you mean bands like Fall Out Boy or Hawthorne Heights or whatever...yeah, I don't pay attention. I am much more interested in other types of music. I love Built To Spill, The Zombies, Hendrix, Sonic Youth, Beck, whatever...more than what is necessarily the 'thing' of the moment...

PRT: you also started a new project with John Herguth from House & Parish called Atlantic/Pacific... what can people expect from that?
Garrett: Dreamy, lush and melodic. That’s the best way I could describe it.
Sergie: It is a mellow Solea or House & three guys sitting on a couch hanging out with pressure, no motives...

PRT: can you imagine a life without being involved with music in some form, way or shape?
Garrett: No chance. Music’s all I’ve got.
Sergie: I could...but now that I'm used to being able to pick up a guitar every half and hour or so when I'm at home...well, there would have to be something else to occupy my free time and nervous energy. I used to not know what it would be like to live without a dog in the house...for example...but now it has been 8 years, i've adapted.

PRT: are there still things you'd like to achieve with one of your projects?
Garrett: I’ve always wanted to put record a “solo: album. I put a band together called The Surrounding Areas. Look for us in 2009.
Sergie: I'm a little jealous of Garrett...he sings and plays guitar, so he has that option. I can't no one would be interested in some simple instrumentals by me, ha.

PRT: any last words for our readers?
Garrett: Come see Atlantic/Pacific in December!
Sergie: yeah, please...that would nice.

The Dudes – Brain, Heart, Guitar

How bad can a band called The Dudes be exactly? It’s a good name for these Canadians though. They’re just dudes, writing rock songs that feel poppy. Or pop songs that rock. Whatever floats your boat.

“Brain, Heart, Guitar” already came out two years ago but it took them until now to get it out in Europe. That of course is a true dude’s nature… be relaxed, take your time, don’t stress. If it doesn’t happen today, it might happen tomorrow. And if not, then it’ll have to wait ‘til some other time. But hey, it’s out now with new artwork (even uglier now!) and the disc comes with two bonus tracks and two videos.

“Brain, Heart, Guitar” is filled with the kind of songs that are fun to listen to and harmless enough not to antagonize anyone but also not memorable enough to truly convince me. I might pop this one in the stereo every now and then if I wanna hear something mellow.
Score: 7 out of 10

Makeout Party – Lengths And Limits

Oh shit. Am I going soft? Do I feel like crying on someone’s shoulder? What’s going on? Why do I like Makeout Party’s album? This is emo music for god’s sake! Or could it be simply because these dudes wrote a bunch of highly inoffensive yet very melodic and oh so catchy songs?

Makeout Party doesn’t want to be tough or aggressive (which is next to impossible to start with when your band is called Makeout Party). Instead they are happy cranking out jangly pop songs that take me back to early Jimmy Eat World or The Promise Ring.

Not convinced yet that this is a great album just because I say it is? Shame on you but okay… just check out the title track which starts out with Cirignano’s vocals over an acoustic guitar before whipping up an electrical storm complete with a beautiful vocal harmony.

Crappy emo bands take note… despite the fact that Makeout Party seems to fit in with the rest of you when it comes to band names, they will kick your ass with their songs!
Score: 8 out of 10

Son Ambulance – Someone Else’s Déjà Vu

From the moment “A Girl In New York” opens Son Ambulance’s second album in samba mode, we’re thrown back to the sixties. Other names that flashed through my mind as “Someone Else’s Déjà Vu” was playing included everyone from Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones (“Wild Roses”) to Simon & Garfunkel (“Horizons”), Air (“Legend Of Lizeth”) and Bright Eyes among others.

Everything sounds very cute and cuddly while singing about broken hearts but I never got sucked up into the music. They’re piling stuff on top of other stuff and actually get away with it for the biggest part because – admitted – things sound pretty. But they never come off as authentic or heartfelt.
Score: 5 out of 10

Scream Hello – Everything Is Always Still Happening

Screaming hello at someone is somewhat of a contradiction. The hello part is friendly and nice, the screaming is not. That same contradiction can be found on Scream Hello’s debut full-length “Everything Is Always Still Happening”… it’s the perfect union of melodic indiepop with the occasional outburst. They like to mix things up both genre-wise and pace-wise and that’s pretty much the least you can say. Like on the 8-minute long “We Don’t Exist”, one of the album’s most ambitious songs. It’s a mashup of jangly indiepop and hardcore before fading away in some kind of rock jam. It’s actually not the best representation of the album because it’s my least favorite track on here but still.

“Bullets” is the kind of song Boysetsfire could’ve written while the 52-second “Business Ethics” is a no frills hardcore song and it shows these guys can do the pissed off thing just as well as the feelgood jangly kinda thing (“Vinger And Baking Soda”, opener “Thirty-Five Plumes”. They’re not quite where they should be but Scream Hello do prove with “Everything Is Always Still Happening” that they are a force you don’t wanna mess with and I fully expect them to take over the scene with their next full-length.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Eugene McGuinness – S/T

Eugene McGuinness’ debut full-length is one with many faces. It’s sharp and witty yet it’s romantic. There are fast songs but really slow ones just the same. Yet somehow they’re all tied together nicely and form one hell of a calling card.

McGuinness lived in Liverpool for the duration of his education at LIPA, the same school that spawned The Wombats. But he grew up in London and has Irish blood running through his veins. All of which can be retraced on this album. The razorsharp tongue from London, the wit and romanticism that the Irish are known for and the big hooks those other Liverpudlians conquered the world with all those years ago.

I doubt McGuinness is going for global domination but he did release a solid album that everyone who’s into quirky pop is sure to appreciate.
Score: 7 out of 10