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17.3.08

Favez @ Sojo - March 20th 2008

One of my favorite bands is playing in Belgium on Thursday... be there or be square!

Automatic 7 interview


Finally! Seven years ago when I started this site, one of the first releases I received from Vagrant was a sampler that had two amazing songs on it from a band called Automatic 7. Unfortunately they had broken up and I was unable to do an interview with them. Fast forward to now where Automatic 7 is back with a great new album called “At Funeral Speed” (out on Mental Records) and where I finally get to do an interview with vocalist Johnny!

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Johnny: Johnny H. I sing for Automatic 7.

PRT: What have you guys been up to for the past 7 years and what made you decide to give it another go?
Johnny: We all sort of disappeared in late 2000 after “Beggar’s Life” and I can’t really recall much about the following two years but in 2003 I ran into Ray and Nic and we started working towards making record without a label. We were really loose about it and were just taking our time. We actually wrote a record, played a few local shows, made some demos and then decided to start over again. We just wanted to get it right and did not have any cares about a time line or record companies or producers or anything. So, that ate up a few years. My friend John Foote called me up one day wanted some tracks for a comp that his new label (Mental Records) was putting together and the next thing I knew we were talking about a full length. They just basically said “Send it over when it’s done” and that was what we did.

PRT: Does it feel like picking up where you left off or is it more like starting over again?
Johnny: Both. Automatic 7 always seems to be starting over so it’s like picking up where we left off….starting over…..right where we left off.

PRT: For people who haven’t heard Automatic 7 yet… if the band was the lovechild of two other bands, which acts would’ve had sex and which position were you conceived in?
Johnny: Jawbreaker and Social D and I think Jawbreaker would have Social D’s ankles pinned behind their ears while Face To Face is whacking off in the corner.

PRT: The new album is called “At Funeral Speed” and it once again sounds amazing, honest and sincere. So congratulations with that! Did you write the songs over the past seven years or were they all writen recently?
Johnny: Thanks. It’s a lot easier to get that honesty on tape when there are no producers and label people breathing down your neck.Fall In Line and The Better Part Of Me were from the 2003 sessions, Greasy (Revisited) was written in 1997 and came out on a Vagrant comp around that time but that version was a bit weak. We always loved to play that song live so we felt the need to it back to life. All of the other tracks were pretty much written at crunch time. Some of the tracks we literally had only played 10 times before we recorded them. Those are always my favourite tracks.

PRT: What’s up with the title? When I hear the words funeral and speed, I think of something slow and cerebral… neither of which are characteristics that can be attributed to Automatic 7.
Johnny: Who you callin’ un-cerebral suka?? There are a few reasons we chose that title. First, we felt it characterized the huge time gaps between albums and just the general pace at which our band seems to get things done. If you lived through Automatic 7 you would simply feel the weight of that title……in a very non-cerebral way, in fact. Second, it is lifted from an obscure Clash song on Combat Rock called Atom Tan and we wanted to pay our respects to Joe in a subtle/obvious way. “The pink hearse is leaving at funeral speed. Driving your heart
away with the flowers” We miss you, Joe.

PRT: Your new album is out on the relatively unknown Mental Records. How did you end up with them and how’s that working out for you?
Johnny: They are great. John Foote has been a friend of mine for 15 years.

PRT: Was it a conscious choice for you to stay away from the more well-known labels after the problems you had in the past with A&M?
Johnny: Yes, most record labels suck and totally fuck up the music but I don’t think we really thought about it in those terms. We just wanted to make a great record and rather than make a few demos and try to “shop” them around, we just decided to make the whole record. The more we did it on our own the more fun we realized we were having. The funny part is that the Mental Records deal just sort of happened in the process. I guess there is a lesson in there somewhere.

PRT: Your last album was released on Vagrant and in the liner notes of “At Funeral Speed” you say sorry to Vagrant… That kinda makes me wonder what you’ve got to be sorry about? Any sordid stories to be dug up there?
Johnny: Jesus, you actually did your homework and read the goddamn liner notes. I am sure that those guys could probably remember some nasty details but I will just say that we were just young and dumb and punk. The worst and most common combo. Without much detail I do remember threats of a switch blade stabbing from someone somewhere sometime. J Stupid.

PRT: The single of the album is your version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” and while admittedly it sounds great, aren’t you afraid of the Alien Ant Farm syndrom where a band becomes best know for a cover?
Johnny: It might be nice to be known for something don’t you think? Maybe we should have gone with the stabbing thing??

PRT: So what’s up next for you guys? Lots of touring? Any plans to come to Europe?
Johnny: Based on our past I am guessing a nice 5 to 7 year hiatus!! No Euro tour on this record…..sorry

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Johnny: Never pet a dog that’s on fire.

Check out the band's latest video for the song "All The Happiness You Can Buy"!

16.3.08

Burning Skies – Greed.Filth.Abuse.Corruption


The UK’s Burning Skies didn’t really impress me with their last album but for “Greed.Filth.Abuse.Corruption” these Bristol boys entered the Rape Of Harmonies Studios, took that name literally and never looked back. Their new album is a blistering mix of all things extreme. Whether it’s death metal, grindcore, modern US metal or black metal, they’ve got it all going on somewhere on the album. Think of Misery Index messing around with some old Carcass songs and you’re pretty much listening to “Greed. Filth. Abuse. Corruption”. Not exactly my cup of tea but there is simply no denying the sheer brutality that these guys skillfully sling at you for 28 minutes.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.lifeforcerecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/burningskies

Chris Walla – Field Manual


While most side-projects serve as a tool for an artist to show another side of himself, Chris Walla seems to be perfectly happy with what he’s doing in his other band. And so his first real solo album “Field Manual” doesn’t sound all that different from what he does in Death Cab For Cutie.

Yes, some of the lyrics on here are politically charged which isn’t something Ben Gibbard is known for. But musically, all of the songs on here could’ve fitted perfectly on any Death Cab album. I’m sure fans won’t mind (I know I don’t) but I doubt he’ll gain any new fans. As for me, I like all of the songs on “Field Manual” but at the same time I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to hear another side of Chris Walla. But hey, this one will tie me over just fine until the new Death Cab album comes out in May.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.barsuk.com
http://www.myspace.com/chriswalla

Supersuckers – Live At Helldorado DVD


The self-proclaimed Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World has a live DVD out.Weird that it took them this long seeing as they aren’t exactly shy when it comes to releasing live albums. Let’s see, we already had “Live At The Magic Bag”, “Live At The Tractor Farm” and “Must’ve Been Live” among others and now there’s “Live At Helldorado”, recorded at the Helldorado club in Vitoria, Spain.

There’s no less than 23 songs on here of some of the best country-influenced badass rock n roll to enjoy with crystal clear sound and video quality. I’ve never seen these guys live before but right now it’s like they are playing in my living room and I’m liking it. A lot. The extras really weren’t necessary for me but hey, you get a couple more live songs recorded in Serbia and a band discography.

Make sure to check out some of the other live DVDs Munster Records has released from the likes of The Black Lips, The Drones and The Nomads among others.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
http://www.munster-records.com
http://www.supersuckers.com

Years From Now – We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat


If the name of your album is a quote from “Jaws”, if you use a sample from “Anchorman” in one of your songs, if you have a song called “Hey McFly” and if you cover Youth Of Today and Descendents, you’ve already got my sympathy right from the get go.

While nineteen songs might seem a little much for one full-length, you should know this isn’t so much a regular full-length but more of a discography of the band up to this point including the “So Much Promise” 7-inch, an old demo, eight new songs and the abovementioned covers.

Years From Now is a Florida-based outfit and when they aren’t picking oranges or helping senior citizens cross the street, they like to play positive melodic hardcore in the same vein as Gorilla Biscuits or CIV. And it needs to be said, they do a great job on “We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat”. So if you like to listen to “Start Today” while completing your morning calisthenics routine, why not pop in a little Years From Now instead every now and again?
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.getouttatownrecords.com

V/A – State Of The Scene


Get Outta Town is a relatively new label from Florida that has already released some kickass albums by The Steal and Endgame among others. They also dropped this comp with a pretty self-explanatory title. Or to put it in label owner Charles’ own words: “So often, hardcore kids look to the past and reminisce about the ‘good old days’. I think that a lot of times this makes us miss the bands that are out there today touring, putting out their own records and pushing the scene to expand”.

What you get are 36 songs from bands all over the world (from South Africa to Italy and from South Korea to Australia). Some of them are signed to labels, others aren’t. And while you may have heard of some of them (The First Step, Ambitions, Bullet Treatment, Slumlords), this will be your first encounter with a lot of other bands.

You probably won’t like all of the songs on here but it’s a great way to find some new acts that’ll do the trick for you just fine. As for me, I’d love to hear more from Just Say Go!, Van Damage and a couple more acts. But you get the point, this is one of the best hardcore comps I’ve heard in a long time and it can be yours for just 4 bucks... it’s a no-brainer!
Score: 8.5 out of 10
http://www.getouttatownrecords.com

Knuckledust interview


Knuckledust has been a name you hear popping up a lot in the past ten years. They’re probably one of the hardest working hardcore bands in the UK and have recently unleashed a new hardhitting album upon the masses called “Promises Comfort Fools”. Time to check in with vocalist Pierre for an update!

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Pierre: My real name is Pierre but most call me Pelbu. I was born in London to 2 Peruvian immigrants who raised me to fight for my familia. Tried to keep active since 1996 by founding the bands Knuckledust, Beat Down Fury, Maldito and more recently Bun Dem Out as well as being part of the Rucktion Records familia.

PRT: Who else is in the band, which London monument/hangout spot would you compare them to and why?
Pierre: Well the band would comprise of Big Ben ( Wema. That’s what all the girls call him and it aint cos he tall), Upton Park home to West Ham United( Definatly Ray). Last would have to be a filthy dirty squat which after many years had a modern face lift oi oi its gotta be Nic!!!!

PRT: You have been around for ten years now and are still going strong with the original line-up. What’s your secret?
Pierre: A quest for Guinness sponsorship! I wont let them quit till I get Guinness delivered to my door step daily! The KD boys are good people and don’t be fooled, we fight and argue like every other family. We’ve accepted who each of us are and from the experiences we’ve shared we definatly learned to accept each others positives and negatives in a solid way.

PRT: After having roamed around Europe for so long, are you setting your sights on the US as well?
Pierre: I will go anywhere there is someone willing to listen to our style of poor peoples music.
Flights out of UK are quite expensive so we are kind of limited to where we can reach plus the exchange rate really doesn’t help us out either. Thanks to Theo GSR we are managing to rinse Europe a lot more and I guess If people want hear it bad enough then may workout but I feel its early days yet.

PRT: Do you think hardcore bands come with an expiration date? And what would be the reason for you to ever throw in the towel?
Pierre: I always believed the rules to hardcore was that there is no rules! But still there are some bands who really need to expire for true. Being in a band is only a part of the equation for me as the idea to start the band was to support London’s HC scene and as we already prove there’s more to do than just bands to keep the part of the scene we love alive. This is our way of life now after 11 years growing up with the scene here and throwing in the towel is not an option for frontline LBU mans.

PRT: If Knuckledust was the lovechild of two bands, which bands would’ve had sex and which position were you conceived in?
Pierre: Wow that would be one hell of a violent orgy. I would say Blood4Blood, Bounty Killer and The Business in a menage a trois don’t ask me who had the bay cos I don’t get stabbed over it hahahaha!

PRT: Your new album is called “Promises Comfort Fools”. Have you ever been comforted by a promise other than the one saying this interview was going to be entertaining?
Pierre: Of course I have, in love and in life but with each time I got stronger and wiser.
But Im older now and don’t really get excited by much, but some youth I come across really have trouble seeing whats right in front of them after the promise of something flashy.
The amount of promises Ive heard from just being in band is quite amazing if I stop to think and a lot of young bands get caught up in dreams then chewed up and spat out.
Kd got that tuff skin that cant be chewed through, probably taste like guinea pig to.

PRT: I saw that the album comes with a DVD. What can people expect from that one?
Pierre: The DVD is mainly the whole Belgium Ieper Fest all filmed real nice like, see 4 mans on stage doing their thing black up and nuf white kids bussing themselves ups, yea my mum liked it. There is also some so called bonus footage of us acting fool in studio during the Promises …. Recordings and an intro to the history of KD. A little experiment for GSR which I’m sure you’ll enjoy but really its all bout the riddims and flows!!!

PRT: In the bio sheet you’re being referred to as ugly and obnoxious. Is that something you were going for or does someone over at GSR doesn’t like you guys that much?
Pierre: I think maybe most of Euro HXC think were ugly and obnoxious just because we’re a multicultural band mixing cultures they don’t get much exposure to because I notice many Euro kids telling me some very strange things about what they think we are about.

PRT: You’ve started your own label as well. Was there a need for a London-based hardcore label?
Pierre: YES! There was labels at the time who really helped boost our style bands when they first came out but alongside that we always were strongly into the DIY ethic of Hardcore back then. Now in 2007 weve proved that we can help bands to help themselves if they have the dedication and family spirit we promote. The majority of the Rucktion heads are involved in bands we put out and truly the bands and label have helped each other to grow very strong over the years. We have a lot of work yet to do with Rucktion but no other can touch us for UK realness.

PRT: In the movie High Fidelity the guys that work in the record store constantly make these top 5 lists of songs for any occasion. If you were to make such a list, which occasion would it be for and which songs would make your top 5?
Pierre: 1.Mavado – Badman place ………Rucktion nights at The 12 Bar Club every month. (Good Guinness there).
2.Tego Calderon – Otro botella………. North London all year round LBU BBQ’s!!!!! Bless up LBU Jerk chicken chef Buju AntonBDO & Pisco sour & Guinness strrrrr8!
3.Business – Guinness boys………. Day in day out ME WANT IT! Luckily I have my own personal G.Nice!
4. Stout - Gods of war………… Watching the football in our local. Guinness is good tho!
5.Ninebar – Forest fires…………..Morning, noon and night billing ‘em up bun’in them down this is the style of London town.

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Pierre: I wont hate you if you download the cd…………JUST GET IT! Soldados ready!

At The Close Of Every Day – Troostprijs


At The Close Of Every Day has a way with presenting their album. Whether it’s a book with the CD taped in it or a puzzle accompanying the album, the least you can say is that this Dutch outfit makes their releases stand out.

And that’s no different with their new album, “Troostprijs”. The first 1000 copies of the album come in a beautiful handmade packaging that’s too difficult to explain here. So just make sure you’re one of the first to pick up the album! Their first since 2005’s “De Geluiden Van Weleer”. Sure, there was the remix album “Leaves You Puzzled” last year but that wasn’t any good if you ask me. And even though the title “Troostprijs” might led you to believe otherwise, it’s not the prize they hand out to losers and the songs are not in Dutch. What a mindfuck huh?

Musically ATCOED is just as whimsical... it’s extremely mellow music but at the same time there is this strange tension coming off of the lyrics that courses through all of the songs. The band’s songs may sound stripped down like on their last album but then in comes a horn section like we got to know on “The Silja Symphony” or the warm sounds of a marching band which is something new for Minco Eggersman and co.

I honestly can’t think of a single other band out there that sounds anything like At The Close Of Every Day but I can tell you that with “Troostprijs” these Dutchies have released yet another beautiful, heartwarming album that will light up even the coldest and darkest day.
Score: 9 out of 10
http://www.volkoren.com
www.atthecloseofeveryday.com

Black Francis – Svn Fngrs EP


In the last couple of years Blackie released a laundry list worth of releases which weren’t all that consistent. But the least you can say about the guy is that he knows how to keep busy. Allow me to introduce the latest piece of evidence. Cooking Vinyl asked the former Pixies frontman to record a B-side for a single and barely a week later Frank Black returns with a 7-song EP.

It starts off with the quirky and semi-annoying “The Seus” which sounds like Black’s take on hip hop music before heading for Pixies territory with “Garbage Heap” and “I Sent Away”. And then there’s closer “When They Come To Murder Me” which is pure Americana, another diamond in the rough.

The coolest thing about this EP is that it’s short. It sounds like the band was having a lot of fun in the studio messing around with another one of Frank’s ideas, running with it for a while then dismissing it and moving on to the next song with a completely different vibe. And it’s that ramshackle collection of ideas along with the sparse production that make this such a fun release! Oh, and according to the man himself it’s about a lot of nasty sex. And songs about nasty sex are never a bad thing!
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.cookingvinyl.com
http://www.blackfrancis.net

American Speedway – Ship Of Fools


What do you get when you put a bunch of friends from Philadelphia together whose only dream consists of drinking and rocking the fuck out? American Speedway obviously! While “Ship Of Fools” might not be the most original album you’ll hear this year, it will kick your ass from start to finish. It’s loud, it’s fast, it’s gritty and it’s amazingly catchy. Think Supersuckers, Zeke, Riverboat Gamblers or MC5 with a vocalist who somehow has to be related to Bon Scott.

These guys aren’t out to change the world. They just want to have a good time playing the music they love to hear. And it shows on “Ship Of Fools” even though live is where these guys truly shine. American Speedway is the kind of band you’ll see pounding away shots at the bar until it’s their time to go on. They then will plug in and bring the rock before heading back to the bar. And if they get thirsty during the set, they can always let their guitarist deliver another cool solo or let the audience do the singing when it’s time to churn out another chorus that’s excellent singalong material.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.prophasemusic.com
http://www.americanspeedwayrocks.com

In Defence – Don’t Know How To Breakdance


Christ, by the time I had scratched my balls once I was already halfway through the album! These guys go through the thirteen songs on “Don’t Know How To Breakdance” like they’ve got somewhere else to be in ten minutes and don’t plan on being late.

After a couple of 7” and splits, In Defence has now dropped their first full-length and if you like thrashy hardcore with NYHC a la Warzone mixed in, then these guys are like a wet dream. Now I don’t often say that when it involves guys but for In Defence I’ll make an exception because they have sarcastic lyrics, kickass songs like “Boombox Crew” and “No War But Star Wars” and managed to get me moshing in my living room.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.getouttatownrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/indefence

Endgame – Distracted EP


Never heard of these guys before but Endgame made quite the good impression on me with the 5-song EP “Distracted”. If you are into the whole New Jersey hardcore sound – and come on, who isn’t? – then you seriously need to check this release out. It’ll make you think of later Turning Point, early Crime In Stereo and the entire career of Lifetime. You have to admit, there are worse bands to be compared to! Honest, heartfelt melodic hardcore is still my favorite kind of hardcore and Endgame does it as good as some of the best acts in the genre.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
http://www.getouttatownrecords.com
http://www.endgamemusic.net

Hermano interview


Here's an email interview Christophe did with Dandy Brown from Hermano. Great band, great new album... what else can I say? Even if you didn't like their first albums, you should definitely check out their latest effort. It's called "... Into The Exam Room" and besides being their most versatile album to date, it rocks from start to finish... what could you possibly have against that?

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Dandy: I'm Dandy Brown, bass player for Hermano. I'm 5' 9' (translate to meters if you wish), 160 pounds. I'm a father of three daughters, husband to a beautiful wife, a literature teacher at a local high school, a member of no clubs, and a native Ohioan. I'm 41 years old. My favorite meal would have to be a Richard's steak sandwich from Richard's pizzeria in Hamilton, Ohio. I smoke, drink Jim Beam when I drink, and play a '68 Jazz Bass. I'm left handed. I could write a few hundred pages of this shit, but I think that will do for now.

PRT: What was your last meal up until now, and was it any good?
Dandy: I had a cheeseburger at a local restaurant in Yucca Valley about five hours ago. It sucked.

PRT: What would you rather be doing instead of answering these silly questions?
Dandy: Today is my wedding anniversary. Analisa is inside right now putting our 7 month old, Kentucky, to bed. Hopefully, the baby will fall asleep soon. It is my wedding anniversary for Christ's sake.

PRT: Hermano started out as some kind of side project for various members. When did you guys decide to make it a priority?
Dandy; Actually, we are just now, after ten years, thinking about making a few more shows possible over the next year. This summer is going to be the most active era for Hermano since the inception. In the past, our lives were different, and through both positive and negative episodes in all of our lives we have evolved as people. Circumstances change, and I think that's true for everyone.

PRT: You recently released your third album, 'Into The Exam Room'. It seems a lot more diverse than the previous efforts. A conscious move? Or mere coincidence?
Dandy: Again, I think everyone evolves, and that I think is true for taking that evolution and applying it to our music. I don't think it is a conscious thing, but I also know that we set out to do the new album wanting to not get too far away from the same experimental emotion that has been there since 'Only a Suggestion.' Honestly, I don't think '. . . into the Exam Room' is that far away from the first album.

PRT: How does 'Into the Exam Room' compare to both previous albums?
Dandy: The first one was a whim, the second one was an experiment, and '. . . into the Exam Room' is the fruition.

PRT: And how does it compare to Justin Timberlake's 'FutureLove/SexSounds'?
Dandy: Timberlake likes to prance around with some ok pop music. Hermano rocks.

PRT: You're still being categorized under Stoner Rock. Does that label bother you?
Dandy: No.

PRT: Also, because of John Garcia's presence in the band, references to Kyuss are quite common. Is it hard to remain somewhat overshadowed by the legendary band? And do you hope that the references will someday stop?
Dandy: Like it or not, Hermano and Kyuss will forever be intertwined, just like all of the other Kyuss off-shoots over the years. The comparison and mention of Kyuss will always be there because they were an amazing band. I feel honored to have that connection. Beyond that, though, both are heavy blues bands that have similar roots, and that's about as far as the comparison should go. There is no doubt that Hermano and Kyuss move in different directions and create diverse atmospheres.

PRT: A Wikipedia-page about Hermano states that you guys are more popular in Europe than you are in the States. Is this true? If so, how come? Do you have any plans to change this?
Dandy: The fact of the matter is, we haven't spent that much time focusing on the States. Whenever we have had time to get out and do a tour, Europe has always been more romantic than doing a tour at home. I've been across the United States probably 20 times in my life. There are still quite a few places in Europe I haven't seen yet.

PRT: What's so interesting about an Exam Room that you want to draw your audience into it?
Dandy: I don't think we need to draw anyone into it. We're all there already.

PRT: If Hermano would ever be convicted of a crime, which one would you (hypothetically, of course) have committed?
Dandy: Attempted robbery at a convenient store . . . trying to steal coffee, cigarettes, and energy drinks.

PRT: The band has been around for almost ten years now. What were the biggest highlights so far?
Dandy: Every single show. That's no joke.

PRT: And what would you still like to achieve with Hermano? Any big plans, hopes, dreams or ideals?
Dandy: I would like to be able to fulfill that dream of capturing music, and sharing musical moments with as many people as I can. Of course, that's been my goal from the minute I put my hands on my first instrument.

PRT: The writing process hasn't always been very easy for the band, with some members living spread out across the country. What are your favorite writing conditions?
Dandy: Writing music for Hermano has never been difficult at all. The hardest part has always been finding time to piece together an album. As for songs, though, that's the easy part. Give any of us a couple of hours and some tin cans, and I'm sure we'll have a few songs ready.

PRT: What would be your top 5 songs for spending a snowy day in Eastern Europe, where everybody speaks weird languages and cooks funny smelling meals?
Dandy: I don't know where you're eating, but 90% of the meals I have ever had in Europe have been delicious. In regard to spending the day with a mix, though, drop all of the Sade releases into the player and press 'shuffle.' That will be my first five.

PRT: Your favourite record of the year 2007?
Dandy: El Guapo Stuntteam's Accusation Blues.

PRT: If there would ever be a movie about Hermano, what would it be like, what would be the main plot and who would play you?
Dandy: Only Depp could play me. No one else could sink to the introverted debauchery that would be needed for the role! Honestly, though, I'm not sure if anyone would want to see the movie. They could easily look at their own lives and see mine. I'm pretty normal . . . I think.

PRT: And what would the rating be? X, R, or PG13?
Dandy: If it is an honest movie, I think it would have to be rated R. I think everyone's story at least deserves that rating.

15.3.08

Deep Blues Festival @ Lake Elmo, MN

With a total of 45 performers and a film festival it looks like the 2nd Annual Deep Blues Festival should be worth a visit. So make sure to check it out if you're free on July 18-20 and can make it over to Washington County Fairgrounds at Lake Elm, MN.

I don't know every single band/artist on the bill but if you've got Th'Legenday Shack Shakers, Left Lane Cruiser, T-Model Ford and the Black Diamond Heavies, it can't be bad at all!

Tickets are on sale now at www.deepbluesfestival.com and that also happens to be the place you'll want to check out along with http://www.myspace.com/deepbluesfestival for more information!

12.3.08

V/A – Take Action! Vol. 7 CD/DVD


God, the greedy bastards from good causes never seem to have enough money! And so SubCity once again releases a chapter in the Take Action! comp series after already having raised over a million bucks. This time the name of the charity that will receive a portion of the proceeds is called Do Something, which allows young people to personally help change the world.

Helping out by contributing a song and/or a music video are among others Every Time I Die, Silverstein, Motion City Soundtrack, Every Avenue, Plain White T’s, Aiden, Thrice and The Red Chord. It’s a shame that none of the songs on here are previously unreleased. Then again, seeing as this comp is sold for barely 7$, asking for unreleased tracks would make us a bunch of greedy bastards as well now wouldn’t it?
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.subcity.net

The Presidents Of The United States Of America – These Are The Good Times People


The Americans are getting ready to elect themselves a new president this year. What better time for the Presidents of the United States of America to release a new album? It’s called “These Are The Good Times People” and they’ve got my vote!

These guys have been a great source of feelgood songs ever since they dropped singles like “Lump” and “Peaches” in the nineties. And that’s no different on their new album. “These Are The Good Times People” opens with first single “Mixed Up SOB”, keeps up the melodic upbeatness through “Ladybug” and the witty “Bad Times”, makes fun of French girls in the appropriately titled “French Girl” and goes out with a shitload more addictive sunsoaked poprock songs. Now if only I could make the sun shine, I’d be all set for the day!
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.cookingvinyl.com
http://www.presidentsrock.com

All Idols Fall – Standing On The Brink EP

I worked for most of the summer. But I got to spend some time at home, went to a couple of festivals and hung out with my friends. That’s basically it and since then nothing much has changed. Not so for All Idols Fall… they got together last summer, signed with Deck Cheese, recorded an EP and toured all over the UK opening for A Wilhelm Scream and are about to do same for Anti-Flag. Not a bad way to spend your first six months as a band!

These guys like their hardcore punk fast and melodic with the occasional catchy chorus… just like A Wilhelm Scream or Rise Against. The result is a more than decent EP that makes me look forward to more!
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.deckcheese.com
http://www.myspace.com/allidolsfall

10.3.08

The Agony Scene interview


The Agony Scene recently released a mighty fine album called "Get Damned". I don't think my upstairs neighbour would think likewise but who cares. She wouldn't know good music if it kicked her in the ass anyway. Read on to see what vocalist Mike has to say. He seemed to be doing the interview on autopilot but that's okay. So did I haha!

PRT: What were you doing the ten minutes prior to answering these questions?
Mike: answering other questions. i have about three more of these after this one.
PRT: Who are you and what is the most agonizing scene you’ve ever found yourself in?
Mike: im mike i sing. probably watching my wife give birth to both our kids, she was probbibly in a much more agonized state than i was tho.
PRT: Who else is in the band and why should/shouldn’t they be damned?
Mike: chris plays guitar and brian playes guitar. rye plays bass and ryan drums. were all going to hell. its just a matter of when.

PRT: Can you give us a quick history of the band written in less than one minute?
Mike: formed in 02, signed in 03, put out a record, toured, broke up, reformed, put out a record toured, took a break, put out a record and toured, that brings us up to date.

PRT: When I was in Texas last summer I heard a lot of jokes about Okies genre "Did you hear that they have raised the minimum drinking age in Oklahoma to 32? It seems they want to keep alcohol out of the high schools!". And I’m guessing you have the same jokes about Texans as well. Any idea where that "animosity" comes from?
Mike: i wasnt raised here so i dont know. i think they are both pretty depressing places to live and dont think either one has the upper hand really. texas has austin tho, and thats way cooler than anything in OK.

PRT: "Get Damned" is already your third album and it’s definitely your most accomplished album to date with the perfect balance between melody and brutality. Do you feel you’ve come into your own with this album as well?
Mike: i think were always a work in progress. this is just where were at now. who knows what the future will bring. i dont know if this is really the definativeagony scene record. but who knows it might be the last.

PRT: The band has been shook up considerably since the release of your last album with members switching instruments and a new drummer. Did things fall into place right from the start with the altered line-up?
Mike: honestly yes. we have people come and go all the time. i mean the guy who recorded drums on 'get damned' was fired after he finished tracking his stuff. we seem to get by with our revolving door of new peole coming and going. as long as me and chris are there were fine.

PRT: You went from Solid State to Roadrunner to Century Media. What’s with all the switching around?
Mike: well we weren't a christian band and then we broke up so we got dropped form solid state. then we didnt sell enough records and we were/are fat so we got dropped from roadrunner. and CM is happy with sloppy thirds. works out well for us.

PRT: Now that your Solid State period is already a couple of years behind you, do you still get a lot of questions along the lines of ‘are you or aren’t you a christian band’?
Mike: not so much anymore. i think we've made it very clear to anyone who pays enough attention that we are not. there's still some who think otherwise so let me set the record straight. nope...

PRT: I saw that you’re coming to Europe with Himsa… what should people over here expect when they’re coming to an Agony Scene show?
Mike: we're gonna be sweaty and drunk and get really worn out near the end of our set. we're good live but it takes alot out of you to perform trying to recover form jetlag.

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Mike: nope.

Haunted Life – The Declaration


Haunted Life is a fun, positive and sincere band out of Chicago who have released a pretty good album with “The Declaration”. On it they race through the entire tracklisting in just under 20 minutes playing hardcore punk that is not too different from what other Chicago greats such as Break The Silence or older Rise Against excel at. Basically the kind of band you’d half expect Dan Precision to play in. While they do not quite yet reach those bands’ level yet, with songs like “Walking Dead” or “The ‘N’ Word” these guys should have no problem getting any party started!
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.getouttatownrecords.com
http://www.hauntedlife.com

Fidget – Ashes & Dust


Germany’s Fidget have already been around for a couple of years but only recently got signed to Redfield Records. “Ashes & Dust” is the first result of that collaboration and like our good friend Borat would say before he goes about his business locking up gay people… is nice!

These four guys and one very cute girl play alternative rock that’s both catchy and very melodic. Sure, there’s a ton of other bands out there doing the same thing but with the dual vocal attack of Darline and Tom, Fidget scores extra points on songs like “Take Or Leave” and “Choke On The Promise”. If you’re a fan of acts such as Helicopter Helicopter, Elastica or an upbeat-er version of Belly, you should definitely give Fidget a listen.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.redfield-records.de
http://www.fidget.de

8.3.08

Foo Fighters interview


This guy I met one drunken night in Barcelona – he works for the Dutch FHM Magazine – wants something to remember his evening with the Foos by. Too bad for him no camera’s or mobile phones were allowed in the Odeon in Amsterdam. Fear of Internet-leakage, right? But the drunken Dutchie (note: he wasn’t drunk then, but I remember him drunk from Barcelona) seems to be a creative one. He taps drummer Taylor Hawkins on the shoulder and gives him pencil and paper. He then jerks Dave Grohl away from his conversation, assumes a posing position and gives Hawkins the order to start drawing. And to my utmost surprise, Hawkins starts grinning and sketches the twosome. Not that Hawkins has any artistic talent at that. But it sure is a unique souvenir.
And you know, the grin with which Hawkins made the drawing and Grohl did the posing, illustrate the idea of the Foo Fighters perfectly: world’s friendliest rock band.

Of course we would’ve loved to sit down with Grohl earlier that day. He is, after all, none other than the dude from Scream and Nirvana, and occasional session drummer for Queens of the Stone Age, Killing Joke, Juliette and the Licks and a hundred other bands. But the record label didn’t let us choose. We had to settle with Taylor Hawkins and bass player Nate Mendel.
But hey, we weren’t gonna complaini about that either. Hawkins used to play for Alanis Morissete and recently drummed in the new Coheed & Cambria-record. And we can add that he’s one of the most straight forward, honest tell-alls we ever met. Then there’s Nate Mendel, the soft spoken former bass player of Sunny Day Real Estate. Indierock-gods, they were.
During our 25-minute chat (we managed to stay five minutes longer than the other journo’s… hardy-har-har!) we came to the conclusion that all the Foo Fighters are just as friendly as frontman Grohl.
“And that’s hard work”, laughs Mendel. Hawkins interrupts immediately, something that will happen a lot more during the conversation: “Really hard work. We got a bunch of image consultants to keep that up”. Hilarious, Hawkins, hilarious. “No, seriously, you don’t buy the bullshit”, continues the drummer in a more serious manner, “If you see a band like Velvet Revolver, you wonder how they can still be around. There seems to be so much bullshit in that band!”

PRT: Guys, you have a new album out, what would you like to share about it?
MENDEL: “Yes, let us share.” (laughs)
HAWKINS: “Hey man, it’s your job to ask questions.”

PRT: Well, what’s your overall thoughts about it?
MENDEL: “We’re really proud of it?”
HAWKINS: (laughs)
MENDEL: “It’s true though. We were sitting talking to each other. You like the record? ‘Yeah’. Do you like it?’. Yeah! It’s actually pretty good. On the last record, we split things up, and this one incorporates some of the elements of that last one, other musicians, quieter songs. Older quieter songs that we did were kind gimmicky or a novelty or silly. Now we were able to have quiet songs that still are meaningful. It’s on a big scale.”
HAWKINS: “Yeah, everything is kind of extension of old ideas but on a new level. “Come Alive” is an extension of an idea like “Aurora”. What we started with on “Aurora”, ended up in “Come Alive”. It’s a sort of colourful, cinematic type of song in dynamics. It’s not holding back. We didn’t hold back on anything. Dave followed his muses and ideas. He’s always been economical in his approach to music. He’s letting that go a little bit more.”

PRT: I was surprised by “Erase/Replace”, a huge rocksong which will do very well on a big stage or festival.
HAWKINS: “Yeah. I love that song. Our manager hates it though.”
MENDEL: (laughs) “He almost booted it off the album.”
HAWKINS: “It’s got the little middle section that almost turns into Jerry Rafferty/Baker Street-thing with harmonies, smooth, seventies, laid back middle section, in between this almost military rock song or something. (imitates the drum) And that’s an extension of “Low”. It goes along with what I was saying earlier, where a lot of these ideas are built upon older ones, but taken further out.”

PRT: Dave said about “In Your Honor” that it is the ultimate Foo Fighters album. How do you go from that to making a new one?
HAWKINS: “It’s the ultimate ultimate album. It’s the double ultimate. I don’t know, you tend to think every time you make a record it’s the best goddamn fucking thing you ever done. But I didn’t think the last one was the best record ever. I thought it was good, it had some great songs. I didn’t think “One by One” was our greatest record. I thought they had good songs in between okay songs. I don’t know, this album has a whole higher quality, and as a whole it’s less black and white, not a heavy song, light song. Like Nate said, the mellow songs aren’t novelty, they’re real songs.”

PRT: It’s a lot less straightforward as well.
HAWKINS: “Yes, Dave lets things happen that wouldn’t have happened before.”
MENDEL: “Part of it is also thanks to Gil. We worked with him on the second record too. He has some different ideas and is willing to assert himself and free the band to do some things. You have someone there that you can kind of… You don’t have to worry because he’ll tell you when you’re going off too far in the wrong direction.”
HAWKINS: “And he was very into making the music dramatic. Which I remember, when we were in preproduction, working very hard on these songs, I remember that the two common themes of describing things were ‘build’, all the songs sort of build. And ‘drama’.”
MENDEL: “It’s got to remain interesting.”

PRT: What I thought was interesting is, that there are quite a lot of classic rock elements. The soft intro to “The Pretender” for example, reminded me of “Stairway to Heaven”.
HAWKINS: “Sure. I can see that. I was thinking “Eleanor Rigby”, The Beatles. (starts singing).
MENDEL: “I think it’s part of who our band is at the moment. That classic rock thing, the seventies-melancholy vibe, melodic DNA.”
HAWKINS: “And it’s what we grew up on. When the first record came out, I wasn’t even in the band. Me and my brother, that was our album of the year. It’s what we’d listen to when we’d go out and get fucked up. We just thought it sounded like Steve miller on steroids and speed.”
MENDEL: “Which is alright!” (laughs)
HAWKINS: “It is. And the way Dave doubled his vocals, he sounds like Steve Miller. We all grew up on that kind of thing. And you can do what you want, put a different haircut or a different production value on anything. But if it’s rock music or hard rock, it’s never going to stray far from Black Sabbath. If it’s melodic pop rock, it’s never gonna stray far from the Beatles. If it’s country tinged, it’s never gonna stray far from…”
MENDEL: “Nickelback.”
HAWKINS: (laughs) “Why did you have to fucking say that? Say Creedence, The Eagles, Crosby Stills & Nash.”

PRT: The album is also mellower. There’s just a few hard rock songs.
HAWKINS: “If there’s any album it reminds me of, it’s “Nothing left To Lose”. And it’s better than that. I like that. I’ll tell you one thing that definitely affected a couple of songs on the album: Dave got a piano. There are two songs on the record that are a direct influence of someone putting a piano in Dave’s house. Those songs would never have happened had Have not a piano. It’s simple as that. Give him a new instrument, he tinkers around, learns some things and tries to find chords.”
MENDEL: “Just don’t send him anything weird like bagpipes or something.”
HAWKINS: (laughs) “It just opened new door for Dave. And I guarantee you: if we keep making records – which I think we will, since we have a 3 million dollar studio that we have to pay for – you will see more and more of that side. Which is great. Any change for me is great, to a certain degree.”

PRT: It keeps it exciting.
HAWKINS: “Yeah. I don’t think there’ll ever be an electronic influence on our record. I don’t think you’ll ever hear…”

PRT: Timbaland?
HAWKINS: “Timbaland will never come in and produce a track for us. The Game or Jay-Z won’t be rapping on one of our songs. Strike me down if that happens. Kill me if that happens.”

PRT: You’ve been in the Foo Fighters for ten years…
HAWKINS: “Nate’s the original original. I’m just riding his coattails.”
MENDEL: “It’s only a couple of years now, and it seems so long.”
PRT: What were your best and worst moments?
MENDEL: “For once I will be honest, instead of answering Reading, what I always say… Which was great.
HAWKINS: “I’ll tell you what: two days ago was one of our finest moments, Live Earth. Because we are part of something that’s important to us and to the world. Dave was out there in front of the world, and showed that he’s the frontman in the world right now, as far as I’m concerned. He can’t dance like JT, he’s not the greatest singer of all time. But neither was John Lennon.”

PRT: He’s good with crowds.
HAWKINS: “People love him. And he loves people. (laughs) He’s got it, the gift of being himself and being larger than life at the same time. There’s people that are affected.”

PRT: Do you guys feel you’re working in the shadow of Dave?
HAWKINS: “No! We’re quite comfortably holding up his ass.
MENDEL: (nods)
HAWKINS: “That’s our job. Our job at Live earth, of me, Nate and Chris, was to make sure that Dave sounded good. And that’s what a band should be. If there’s a singer, there’s a focal point. That’s what people are mainly going to look at. Of course they also love to see a drummer go off, and see the rest bouncing around. But our job, our little trio, is to make sure that Dave sounds great and that he feels comfortable and can bring it to the people.
So no, if you mean it in a musical sense? No, because we all do things on the side. There are moments in the studio that I’d like to do what I wanna fucking do, and not be told what to do. Let’s try this instead of what your first idea was. But I think it’s that way with anybody who’s the main singer and song writer, you have to kind of follow where he’s going with the song. And Dave happens to be good at all the instruments, so he can sit down and tell you exactly how to do something. That can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but at the same time, he’s usually right. They’re his songs.
MENDEL: “Yeah. Six months after the record’s done, we listened to it whole, and we go: ‘why did we want to change that?’ We lived through that experience a few times.”
HAWKINS: “I’ll tell you one thing. One of the biggest differences, among the things we already covered, is that Nate really got to play bass in a big way on this record. The last couple of records, I felt I wasn’t stoked about the fact that a lot Nate’s style was more suppressed. Dave was going for more a riff-oriented thing where the bass had to follow the guitar. Nate is a busy melodic bass player. With having Gil producing it, also a bass player who’s interested in having interesting parts, him and Nate did the bass by themselves. Then Dave came in, and at first he was slightly taken aback, and then lived with it for a while, and eventually realised it made the music better, and that it’s making him happier and making him enjoying to be in the band even more. It’s all good.”

PRT: What was your worst moment in the Foo Fighters-history?
HAWKINS: “We had some shitty ones.”
MENDEL: “There’s the “One by One”-thing. It was rough, we made a record and it wasn’t right. And it was a turning point. Is this what we wanna do? Will we try to salvage this? It was a scary, disappointing time.”
HAWKINS: “Our heads weren’t in the right place. Dave didn’t really want to be there. He wanted to go play with Queens of the Stone Age. And we were having a hard time making that record. The producer Adam Casper, is a great engineer but no producer. It has one of our best drum sounds ever. But he’s not a producer. Dave was in charge of something and he didn’t even want to be there. We all felt that vibe a little bit, and we tried to do it in a different way. It was a dark time for the band. But in the end, it was one of the most triumphant times. We made it out of that, and then the album came out with two fo our best songs ever, “All My Life” and “Times Like These”, and that’s when we – especially in Europe and Australia – starting to see our growth. In audience acceptance, we made a huge progress.”

PRT: What makes you such a huge band? John Paul Jones, Norah Jones, Josh Homme are coming out to help you out.
HAWKINS: “The biggest collaborator, or guest, on that last record, was Norah Jones. She did the most. Josh and John Paul just played a little guitar part.”

PRT: But you don’t see them on Green Day or U2 albums.
HAWKINS: “I’m sure they would be on a U2 album too.”
MENDEL: “We just asked them.”
HAWKINS: “It’s not because we’re the Foo Fighters. John paul Jones probably didn’t’ even know who the fuck we were.” (laughs)
MENDEL: “That’s one of those question that can make you sound like an asshole. Like, why aren’t people tired of you yet, why do they like you?”
HAWKINS: “I know why. Because we always come up with a couple songs that people like and they’re on the radio. And we always deliver live. We have our own standard of what a good live show for us is, that varies for us. But Dave is always great, and we’ve gotten better. Being a rock band and being a good live band is essential. If you’re not a good live band, you’re fucked.”

Stonerider – Three Legs Of Trouble


After having released a terrible album under the name Fight Paris and after losing a singer, the rest of the band decided to rethink what they wanted to do. Out of that soulsearching came Stonerider and a new singer was found in the form of Matt Tanner.

With “Three Legs Of Trouble” they have released every A&R manager’s wet dream… Led Zep is hot again in case you didn’t notice. AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd are a couple of other acts these guys are heavily influenced by. You guessed it… Stonerider likes to play riff-heavy Southern rock and they do a pretty banging job with nine songs of their own and a solid version of Nazareth’s “Hair Of The Dog”. They need to work a little more on their hooks to make the songs more memorable but brute force already works wonders for these guys.

The Black Crowes might be aiming for a comeback but they’ve got some competition now in the from Stonerider.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.trustkill.com
http://www.stonerider.net

Trip Fontaine – Dinosaurs In Rocketships


Trip Fontaine is a German act that I think named itself after one of the characters in the movie “Virgin Suicides”. And while a song like “Failures Of Repute” wouldn’t have looked too out of place on the movie’s soundtrack with its repetitive guitar line and an overall sense of moody mellowness, the band’s mix of post-hardcore, post-punk and emo is not always equally appealing.

“Shine On You Lazy Liaison” is dance punk the way it should be played, which makes it one of the best songs on here along with “Moon Balloon”, another mellowed out track. But then in come songs like “Astronaut” or “Vicemagazinegestalt” who are just plain annoying with the spazzy guitars and hysterical vocals.

One thing that is sure though is that you’ll never know what Trip Fontaine is gonna hit you with next. I’ll just leave it in the middle whether that’s a good thing or not.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.redfield-records.de
http://www.tripfontaine.de

Too Pure To Die – Confidence And Consequence


Next to endless corn fields and the freak show known as Slipknot, Iowa is also home to metalcore outfit Too Pure To Die. And where most bands only have one shot at releasing a debut album, Too Pure To Die does it twice. First on their own and now again on Trustkill. The only difference is that for the new version they re-recorded the vocals with new singer Paul Zurlo.

These guys play metalcore that taps from the same vein as Throwdown… so picture groovy songs with plenty of nods to Pantera and the occasional breakdown. It’s hardly original and after a while the songs start to blend together. Thing is these guys play with enough conviction to pull it off nonetheless. You won’t find this album in any end of the year lists come December but give these guys another year on the road, let them return to the studio and I’m reasonably sure the result will show more of a face all their own.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.trustkill.com
http://www.toopuretodie.net

The Black Halos – We Are Not Alone


Canada’s The Black Halos are a bunch of punk n rollers who have been going at it for a couple of years already. “We Are Not Alone” is album number four for these guys and on it they do what they probably do best… play bratty punky rock n roll which is divided neatly over twelve songs by producer Jack Endino. It’s melodic, it’s upbeat, it’s rockin… it’s all good and you can tell these guys have been playing together for a while now! But unfortunately I can’t stand the singer’s snotty, unintelligible vocals which kinda ruins things for me!
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.peoplelikeyou.de
http://www.myspace.com/blackhalos

Zimmers Hole – When You Were Shouting At The Devil, We Were In League With Satan


Technically Zimmers Hole is not a Strapping Young Lad project since the band already existed before Strapping Young Lad made an impact on the metal scene. But with SYL members and a vocalist called The Heathen in the line-up, it could easily be mistaken for one.

“When You Were Shouting At The Devil, We Were In League With Satan” is the name of album number three for this Canadian outfir and as you can tell, it’s not wise to take these guys too seriously. It’s all about paying tribute to metal and having fun doing it. And they do this in a great way by writing kickass speed/thrash songs with a lot of poop jokes in ‘em. Guess you could say that what Tenacious D does for classic and hard rock, Zimmers Hole does for metal.

To properly prepare yourself for this album, I’ll leave you with The Hole’s Commandments:
1. Should They Plunder, Thou Shalt Suffer an Eternity of Humiliation in Song for Thy Ignorance and Stupidity.
2. Thou Shalt Embrace the Flame. For It is The Creator, and The Destroyer, and The Cooker of Weeners.
3. Thou Shalt Wear Dark Clothing. Especially, Big Tall, Leather Boots.
4. Thou Shalt Break the Crust that Imprisons the Rectally Retentive.
5. Beware the Changeling Glo-God for It is the True Weakness of Will.
6. Thou Shalt Ignite That Which Burns.
7. Thou Shalt Suck It. Suck It Up. Suck It The Fuck Up. You Fuck.
8. Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of Bob Barker. The True Shirtless Aerosol Cheesus Crust, in vain.
9. Thou Shalt Stand and Accept It.
10. Thou Shalt Swill Ale From A Bullet Proof Cup.
11. Thou Shalt Revel in the Flesh and Consume the Feast That is Life, Before the Great Flash - Dot of Armageddon.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.centurymedia.com
http://www.legionofflames.com

Chuck Prophet – Soap And Water


Chuck Prophet… never heard of the guy before but with a name like that you’ve got my interest. It’s like a mix of Chuck Norris and Jesus rolled into one. Big names to throw around, right? Absolutely, except that they have nothing to do with the music which makes them absolutely pointless in this review. Which is something that can probably be said about the rest of my reviews as well. But here goes…

“Soap And Water” is Chuck Prophet’s eight solo-album and before that he already had a career with Green On Red. Quite the discography if all put together yet somehow I have missed out on all of those releases. Listening to “Soap And Water”, I think I can live with it though because while Prophet knows how to write some pretty good songs, it’s not very memorable. This mix of singer-songwriter, country, rock and a little bit of electronica is actually something I’ve heard being done before by The Ike Reilly Assassination and honestly, I liked it better then because Reilly had witty lyrics along with everything else.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.cookingvinyl.com
http://www.chuckprophet.com

Los Campesinos – Hold On Now, Youngster


A couple of students start playing music together because studying all the time tends to get a little bit boring. How many bands do you think started this way? All of them? The difference with Los Campesinos is that they didn’t stay as local as they thought they would have once their songs hit the internet. Quickly Los Campesinos were one of the most hyped bands on the world wide web, signed a deal with Wichita and now present us with their first full-length, “Hold On Now, Youngster”.

That album title is something we could philosophise about quite a bit but since the band itself doesn’t live by those words, why the hell would I? Right from the start these seven youngsters race out the door in “Death To Los Campesinos” and then stumble all over each other in their enthousiasm in “Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats”. Think Pixies meets Pavement as played by a bunch of kids with ADD.

Did I already mention that this is an enthousiastic band? Frontman Tom Campesino sounds a little sloppy at times but then again so does the girl who helps out with the vocals and by extention the entire band. So he kinda gets away with it. The absolute highlight of the album comes in the form of the catchy “You! Me! Dancing!” where the band seems to have even more energy than a couple of rabbits going at it. So energetic even that forming a more literate title becomes a challenge of phenomenal proportions.

This definitely is a fun indierock album for people who loved all the 90s alternative rock bands like Dinosaur Jr, Magnapop and the abovementioned Pixies and Pavement. Probably and preferably to be witnessed on a couple of festivals near you this summer!
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.wichita-recordings.com
http://www.loscampesinos.com

Hayseed Dixie - No Covers


From the fictional Deer Lick Holler deep in the Appalachians, the hicks that make up Hayseed Dixie have been cranking out bluegrass covers of AC/DC (AC/DC, Hayseed Dixie... get it?), Kiss and a multitude of other rock acts whenever they were able to drag themselves away from their moonshine or making helpless tourists squeal like a pig. "No Covers" however is the band's first album with - the clue is in the title - their own material. Still true though to their brand of rockgrass (a mix of rock and bluegrass), Haysee Dixie cranks out 14 songs about drinking, cheating, killing and other activities that'll see you burning in hell.

With a fiddle that sounds like it's been set on fire and a lightning-fast banjo thrown in with electric guitars and great hooks, "No Covers" is a fun album that proves these guys have a helluva lot more to show for than they've been given credit for in the past.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.cookingvinyl.com

Buzzcocks – 30


2007 marked the 30-year anniversary for the Buzzcocks because exactly three decades have passed since the band released the “Spiral Scratch” EP. While so many of their peers have already called it a day or even a life a long time ago, these guys are still kicking ass and taking names. And to prove that they released a live album called “30” with 28 songs on it… now that’s what I call fucking punkrock :-)

Anyway, the sound is good, the songs are still great and it’s still obvious why this band influenced so many others. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of bands out there today that could learn a thing or two from these oldtimers about punk!
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.cookingvinyl.com
http://www.buzzcocks.com

7.3.08

Paint It Black – New Lexicon


What Dan Yemin and the rest of Paint It Black (including new drummer Jared Shavelson) do on “New Lexicon” is impressive to put it mildly. They claw their way through fifteen songs in just over half an hour with a sense of urgency and anger that you just don’t hear often enough. We did of course already hear it on the band’s two previous albums but for “New Lexicon” Yemin had some ideas on how to pimp the 80ies hardcore punk sound he has perfected over the years.
J Robbins did a wonderful job producing the album. Especially by bringing the bass way up front which makes my living room floor rumble and has me running for the table while yelling ‘earthquake!’ every single time. When the album was done, it was sent over to co-producer Oktopus of the indie hip hop group Dälek who worked his magic by transforming feedback and cymbal crashes into haunting sonic nightmares.


The result is a an album that is as melodic as it is brutal and it does not bore for a single second. Extra kudos to the photographer who did a great job with the pics in the booklet!
Score: 9 out of 10
http://www.reflectionsrecords.com
http://www.paintitblack.org

Ill Nino – Enigma


Originally the new Ill Nino album was to come out in June 2007 but got pushed back several times for whatever reason. Just when I thought it wouldn’t get released at all, “Enigma” ends up on my doorstep. Not that I was necessarily looking forward to this album because the band’s last release was sub par to say the least.

Apparently the band realised that as well and decided step up to the challenge. And I have to say that “Enigma is their best release since their debut “Revolution Revolución”. This means more Latin influences than ever, more metal and heavy and mellow songs walking hand in hand. All this alongside Dave Chavarri’s typical drumming and Cristian’s powerful voice makes for a pretty diverse album. Hell, with “Me Gusta La Soledad” there’s even room for an acoustic song sung entirely in Spanish in between the more crushing songs. Listening to opening track “Alibi Of Tyrants” and “Finger-Painting (With The Enemy)” I finally remember why I ever liked Ill Nino in the first place and I’m willing to bet someone at Roadrunner is right now kicking his ass for ever letting these guys go. Welcome back Ill Nino, como esta?
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.cementshoesrecords.com
http://www.illnino.com

Mercenary – Architect Of Lies


Ever had an album that was so wrong yet was so much fun to listen to? If not, please pick up Mercenary’s “Architect Of Lies”. This Danish outfit started out as a death/thrash act but with the admittance of vocalist Mikkel Sandager and his brother, keyboard player Morten they have evolved into something much, much more melodic. Bombastic is a word I could’ve used there just as well.

The high-pitched clean vocals, the highly melodic guitars and the abundance of keyboards are completely over the top and often make the band come off like a powermetal act. Luckily the powerful drums and shredding riffs are there to add some balls to the whole. Basically this means you end up with an album that is a guilty pleasure. And so if asked, I will deny liking Mercenary with all my might while banging my head to “Embrace The Nothing” in the privacy of my home.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.centurymedia.com
http://www.mercenary.dk

Ray Davies – Working Mans Café


Ray Davies was something of a wild cat back when he was with The Kinks but the Ray Davies that you get to hear on “Working Man’s Café” 44 years after “You Really Got Me” is a bit of a whiner. Like Walther Matthau and Jack Lemmon in Grumpy Old Men but without the oneliners. Like when he’s singing about the working man’s bars that have to make way for internet cafés… you already know this sorta behaviour from your grandparents. Everything was better in the old days. Even Ray Davies’ music.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.v2music.com

6.3.08

Cloak / Dagger interview


Put members of Count Me Out, American Nightmare, Striking Distance among others together in a band and things sure to get loud and nasty. And that's exactly what Cloak / Dagger sounds like. Their album kicks ass and so does their live performance. Do yourself a favor and check out their debut full-length "We Are". It won't change your life but it is a nonstop rollercoaster ride and that's all the reasons we needed to ask vocalist Jason some questions.

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Jason: I am Jason Mazzola. I sing for the Dagger, I love coffee and shopping at thrift stores and need to get a new record player.

PRT: Who else is in the band and why would they make a great secret agent?
Jason: Collin Barth is on guitar and he would be the best at playing poker or being a secret agent because you never know what he's thinking but he's a smart cookie. Adam Juresko are bass player would be a runner up since he has no cell phone, no i.d. he could create a new identity in no time. Colin on drums would be good at debugging bombs since he's good with cars. I would be the worst.

PRT: Why did you go for the name Cloak / Dagger. What's so secret about the band or are you avid comic book readers?
Jason: There's no real meaning behind the name. Colin said we are doing a punk band called Cloak/Dagger and you're going to sing. No relation to the movie or comic.

PRT: I read that Cloak / Dagger started as a temporary project but now you've got a full-length out and are doing a complete tour in Europe. So how serious were you about the band before and what turned it into the project it is today?
Jason: We weren't serious at all when we first started. We just wanted to play a few shows here and there but things really took off after we started playing out. We just finished a full U.S. tour and then did the European tour two weeks after. After a while we all decided to do this full time and just do as much as we could with the time we have. Two months straight is a long time to be homeless.

PRT: The full-length is called "We Are". The best you came up with during an uninspired brainstorm or do you want people to know that the album is the perfect representation of what the band sounds like?
Jason: It's just a more clever way to make it a self titled record and a lyric from one of our old songs. We are daggers.

PRT: For people that haven't heard the album yet, if Cloak / Dagger was the lovechild of two other bands, which bands would've had sex and which position were you conceived in?
Jason: I've heard and can agree with the Black Flag meets Hot Snakes comparison. I think that it would be the mutual respect and admiration of both bands in the missonary position.

PRT: Speaking of other bands, you have all been involved in other bands like Count Me Out, American Nightmare, Striking Distance. Do you think that works for or against you? Because people will probably have certain expectations before even having heard a single note.
Jason: We made it a point not to advertise or expect anything due to the ex-members clause. I think that things are just the same as they have always been and we had to work just as hard as any of those bands we were in to get to where we are today. Sometimes it works for us and sometimes not, after the first year of us being a band people knew what to expect.

PRT: Three of you were also involved in Renee Heartfelt. I absolutely love those releases so please tell me that the band is still active and that a new album is in the making!
Jason: Pete who is the singer song writer of Renee is doing a band called Memorial and is in dental school so there won't be a new release any time soon for RH but it was a good band who didn't get the respect they deserved when they were around and active.

PRT: On the one hand there are still bands like yours which play hardcore the way it started out and on the other hand there's a zillion bands that like to be categorized under a zillion subgenres. What do you make of this evolution? And do you think that traditional hardcore is coming back as a reaction to that evolution?
Jason: I think that it's just a matter of bands playing a niche in between of punk or hardcore and not aiming to sound like anything. I think that in the 80's you couldn't really call Bad Brains or Black Flag punk or hardcore or call Fugazi a punk or hardcore band they were just good bands. I think that people are tired of music that fits a certain formula so yeah I think it is a reaction to that. Collin likes to refer to us as a fast rock and roll band.

PRT: In the movie High Fidelity the guys that work in the record store constantly come up with these top 5 lists of songs for any occasion. If you would have to make such a list, which occasion would it be for and which songs would make your top 5?
Jason: Breaking up with your girl or boyfriend mix.
1. R. Kelly- Real Talk
2. Joy Division- Love Will Tear Us Apart
3. My Bloody Valentine- Only Shallow
4. Marked Men- Right Here With You
5. Iron And Wine- On Your Wings

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Jason: Thanks for reading, go to
gravemistakerecords.com and check out what Alex has to offer he doesn't put out anything bad. Come see us next time!