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15.4.08

Paint It Black interview


Paint It Black. Do they really need a lengthy introduction? I hope not because I wanna sleep real bad right around now. Suffice to say that they've once again released a kickass, brutal hardcore album that will have people raving about it for years to come. It's called "New Lexicon" and it's all the reason I needed to harass vocalist Dan for a couple of minutes.

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Dan: My name is Dan and I “sing” for Paint It Black.

PRT: For people who for some reason still haven’t heard Paint It Black yet… if the band was the lovechild of two other bands, which acts would’ve had sex and which position were you conceived in?
Dan: Picture this scenario: we are filming an erotic movie. Minor Threat is sodomizing Bad Brains (bent over the kitchen sink). Naked Raygun and Swans are the “Fluffers” (the people responsible with keeping the actors erect during the filming). Black Flag (Dez era) is filming the proceedings while Adolescents manage the lighting. To add to the confusion, while all of this is going on, Scratch Acid is trying to wash pots and pans in the same sink that Minor Threat and Bad Brains are fucking on top of. After the filming is completed, Kurt Vonnegut and Born Against will be collaborating on the editing process. Every few hours they get exhausted poring over hours of footage, so they take a break to relax, watching Dr. Stranglove with Thurston Moore.

PRT: Suppose you had enough free time, enough paint and unlimited access… what is the one thing you’d love to paint black?
Dan: Maybe Texas…

PRT: The new album is called “New Lexicon” but there was a rumor floating around the net that you were gonna call it “Gravity Wins”. That made me want to know what are some of the other rumors you’ve already found on the internet about yourself or the band?
Dan: I get into arguments with total strangers online who have “heard from a really reliable source” that there’s going to be a Kid Dynamite reunion next month. That’s pretty hilarious, because they insist with such conviction that they know something that I don’t about it. But my favourite is every year around the time of the Fest in Gainesville, there’s talk about me having wrestled an alligator. And I’m officially disavowing any knowledge of me and Paddy from D4 training to compete in the Wing Bowl next year. Until they start making vegan chicken wings it’s just not gonna happen. Unless we take over the stripping competition. That one we could win no problem.

PRT: Does the album title reflect the band’ sound in which you combine the sound of hardcore punk from the 80s with that of a hip hop producer? Or am I completely missing the point here?
Dan: The title reflects the need to expand our vocabulary in numerous ways, musically, lyrically, and politically. Doing something different with production is certainly part of that, but only a small part. There’s a crisis in underground music right now. When the enemy breaks your code, you have no choice but to devise a new code.

PRT: How did that collaboration with Oktopus come about? The end result is great but did you ever have any doubts about it at some point?
Dan: I have doubts about almost everything we do at some point. Sometimes I think I might have cornered the market on self-doubt. But that usually just pushes us to be perfectionists, and things work out in the end because of that. I’ve been talking to Oktopus for a couple of years about collaborating with us. It made total sense in terms of the moods that he creates on the Dalek records, and our shared history (we’ve known each other for 16 years). It took a little while to come to an agreement within the band as to how to structure the production, recording and mixing process. From there, convincing J. and Oktopus to collaborate was easy.

PRT: And how did you manage to hook up with Jeff Pezzati?
Dan: There’s a little known corollary to the rules of punk songwriting: Apparently, if you write a really, really awesome anthem, he materializes in the studio and sings it for you. You just have to be really, really awesome...

PRT: After having been around for as long as you have in different bands, is the excitement still the same when you release an album or does it become part of a cycle because well, it’s what you do?
Dan: Actually I get more and more excited about it as I get older, because I realize how lucky we are to have the privilege of making music and having people actually take an interest in what we create and what we do. I really think that, despite all the struggles and the strife, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect life…

PRT: Are you still able to learn new things when you hit the studio and are working with people like J Robbins?
Dan: We only work with people that we can learn from. If you surround yourself with wise people, and you’re humble enough to realize that there’s always more to learn, the results will always be interesting and your life will continue to change in interesting ways. If you think that you already know it all, and you surround yourself with people that just tell you what you want to hear, well then you’re screwed…

PRT: So what’s up next for you guys? Lots of touring? Any plans to come to Europe again?
Dan: If you know anything about Paint It Black, you know that we never really do lots of touring. We can’t really do full-time touring like lots of our friends’ bands, because of work commitment and other bands.

PRT: One can always hope. In the book/movie High Fidelity these guys that work in a record store are constantly making top 5 lists of songs for a specific occasion. If you would have to compile such a list, which occasion would it be for and which songs would make your top 5?
Dan: Top 5 Records to lock yourself in the basement and go insane to:
Joy Division- “Closer”
Live Skull- “Bringing Home the Bait”
Jean Claude Vannier- “L’Enfant Assassin Des Mouches”
Swans- “Greed”
Scratch Acid- self titled EP

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Dan: Thanks for taking the time to check us out. We play fast, fierce, brutal, political, emotional hardcore punk. If that sounds like a good time to you, come see us on tour with Trash Talk in September 2008. Thank you for the support!

Astrolites – Hard Luck


One more Swedish rockabilly band and then I’m done with them for this month! The Astrolites first got together back in 2002 but were then dubbed Tom Wilson & Astrolites but later shortened it up a bit. They play a pretty cool mix of rockabilly, surf and punk which they themselves refer to as hi-speed rockabilly.

It pretty much sums it all up as it’s rockabilly and it’s played fast… throw in some of that surf guitar twang and you’re looking at an album that doesn’t add anything new to the genre but doesn’t bore either.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.heptown.com
http://www.myspace.com/astrolitesband

Nailpin – III


As far as writing catchy poppunk songs with an emo twist goes, Belgium’s Nailpin does a pretty solid job on their new album. In the past they sounded a little too poppy if you ask me and their sound was as overpolished as vocalist Sean’s haircut. But there’s no denying that on “III” the New Found Glory wannabes from yesterday did a bit of growing and wrote a batch of songs that are actually quite good.

It all sounds that little rawer and more vibrant than in the past and it’s definitely a good thing. They might have traded in their NFG fixation for a Panic At The Disco one (“It’s Allright”) but hey, nobody’s perfect, right?
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.nailpin.com

The Buckshots – 3 Jacks High


After “Too Hot 2 Handle” Gothenburg’s The Buckshots are back with “3 Jacks High”. That’s 14 more rockabilly tunes for you to grease your hair to. They start off with the wild “My Baby Drives Me Crazy” before launching into the very Jerry Lee Lewis-minded “A Fine Tuned Love Machine” and the Elvis-like “Honey Bee”. You can hardly call this original but they do a pretty good job of recreating the originals’ atmosphere. Not exactly my cup of tea but if you’re into pure rockabilly, “3 Jacks High” should be a treat.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.heptown.com
http://www.thebuckshots.net

Nosey Joe & The Pool Kings – Tunes From The Bighouse


“Tunes From The Bighouse” is the second full-length album for Nosey Joe and his Pool Kings. I had never heard of this Swedish nine piece but dammit, they’re good! On their new album they play this über-infectious mix of swing, rockabilly and blues with so much energy that even I forgot about my cool and started shaking along. In the privacy of my living room of course. But I think that still says a lot about Nosey Joe’s infectiousness. And that’s just on CD, I can only imagine what kind of a sight they must create in a live setting!

Whether it’s their own compositions or covers of “Sapphire”, “Much Later” or “Ghost Riders In The Sky”, they keep the horns blazing, the rhythms inviting and the vocals nice and gritty. Excellent material for all the fans of Royal Crown Revue and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy!
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.heptown.com
http://www.myspace.com/noseyjoe

Left Lane Cruiser interview


Have you already heard of Left Lane Cruiser? If you haven't, you sure are missing out on a treat. I hadn't but I was sold three songs into "Bring Yo' Ass To The Table", the duo's latest album (out now on Alive Records). Along with The Black Keys, this is some of the best fucked up blues I have ever heard. Make sure you don't miss out on them!

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Brenn: We are just two guys from Indiana who like to rock the fuck out. Joe is a college grad, I'm a college dropout. We both like to drink, we both love to play, and we share a passion for music. Both of us found our start and inspiration in the late great R.L. Burnside. If it weren't for R.L., LLC never would have happened.

PRT: I saw that you have the nick Sausage Paw... what’s the story behind that one?
Brenn: I have fat hands. Short, stubby, fat hands. Someone told me once that my fingers looked like Vienna Sausages, and it just stuck. Now a lot of people call me suasage paw.

PRT: Can you give me the history of Left Lane Cruiser written in less than one minute?
Brenn: I've known Joe's wife for 10 years. She said Joe and I should get together. We did. It worked. LLC was born.

PRT: For the unfortunate few out there who haven’t heard you before, if Left Lane Cruiser was the lovechild of two other acts, which acts would’ve had sex and which position were you conceived in?
Brenn: R.L. Burnside and Clutch slipped Led Zepplin a roofie and had their way with them. Not sure which position we were concieved in, but it would be an uncomfortable one.

PRT: You have a new album out on Alive Records. How did you end up with them and how’s that working out for you?
Brenn: We owe that to our favorite man on this earth..Chris Johnson. Chris puts on the Deep Blues Festival in Minneapolis, and is a huge asset to our genre. Chris discovered us on Myspace through a friend, and contacted us for a disc. We mailed one up to him, he liked it, so he made plans to come down to Fort Wayne, and film one of our shows. Patrick from Alive contacted Chris about the DBF and some bootleg Black Keys recordings, and Chris insisted that he take a listen to some of our stuff. Patrick listened, and liked it, so we shook hands and put out Bring Yo Ass To The Table. Alive has been great to us. We have been big fans of the label and several of their artists for a long time. When the chance arose for us to be a part of it, we jumped at the opportunity.

PRT: You’re going on tour in a couple of days... what exactly can people expect from Left Lane Cruiser live?
Brenn: We hit stage the fury and don't slow down till we are done. You can expect us to be drenched in sweat. You can expect it to be loud as hell. You can expect us to give it everything we've got. And you can expect everyone in the room to be stompin their feet and hollerin by the time we're through.

PRT: I looked you guys up on YouTube a couple of weeks ago and just like on the album it struck how big and full a sound you guys got going on even though it’s just the two of you... what’s your secret?
Brenn: Joe. That motherfucker astounds me everytime we play. His hands have a mind of thier own. His thumb plugs away at them bass strings, while the rest of his digits fill the sound with all kinds of voodoo shit. That man's style makes it easy to sound so full.

PRT: Not only do you play the drums in the band but you also play the harmonica, provide all the shouting plus a lot of other stuff. Is drinking before you go out to play a show a bad idea if you’ve got that much going on or is it essential?
Brenn: Drinking is NEVER a bad idea. It is somewhat essential to have sme drinks before hiting the stage. Joe and I aren't big talkers on the mic, so we have to have some drinks so there ain't just silence in between songs. As far as juggling multi responsibilities on stage...yeah drinking helps me to fuck it up now and again, but thats just a risk you take. Nobody comes to your shows to watch you be safe on stage. It's the fuck ups that keep things interesting. The multi tasking thing also helps fill the sound in answer to your question above.

PRT: Your new album is called “Bring Yo’ Ass To The Table”. Other than it sounding amazing, why should people bring their ass over to your table?
Brenn: Shit, I don't know. Yall think its good, so I guess they can just take your word for it.

PRT: You have songs about subjects as diverse as food (“Pork N Beans”) and racism (“Justify”)... how does a typical Left Lane Cruiser song come to life?
Brenn: It usually starts with Joe coming up with a riff. I plug in the percussion, we rearrange and orchetrate it, and boom a song pops out. As far as lyrics, thats all Joe. You sing about what you know, and thats rings true for us as well. Joe and I love food, so that theme pops up a lot. Joe also has a strong political side to him, and that comes through a lot as well.

PRT: Any plans to bring yo’ ass over to Europe anytime soon?
Brenn: We are working on that right now. We have gotten a lot of love from Europe, and can't wait to get over there.

PRT: And one last question... if someone like me who knows shit about blues music would want to start getting into it more, what are some of the acts he should definitely check out?
Brenn: R.L. Burnside
T-Model Ford
Junior Kimbrough
Black Diamond Heavies
Muddy Waters
These are some of our favorites!

14.4.08

Kingston Falls – Armada On Mercury


I feel kinda bad for Kingston Falls. I mean, if they would’ve released “Armada On Mercury” a couple of years ago, it would’ve probably been a huge hit. But we’ve been hit over the head with so many albums from bands in the same state of mind, that it’s next to impossible to still impress with a mix of pummeling drums and sugary choruses. Even though they are doing a pretty solid job on “Armada On Mercury”. No idea where the album title comes from but their mix of metal and radiorock is pretty damn cool.

There’s tons of other bands that are doing the dual guitar attack and all that but they don’t have a singer as versatile as Nathan Lambright Dale. Whether that guy is doing the whole death metal thing or singing with clean voice, it’s always impressive.

Kingston Falls sure has made some progress compared to 2006’s “Crescendo Of Sirens” but if they dig even deeper I’m fairly convinced they can come up with a truly awesome album. In the meantime I’ll make sure to pop this one in the stereo from time to time!
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.facedownrecords.com
http://www.kingstonfalls.com

The Matches – A Band In Hope


One can never be sure what to expect next from The Matches but with “A Band In Hope” they have once again changed up their style. This time around they’ve traded in their poppunk anthems for hyperkinetic yet at the same time mellow indierock. Sounds like an oxymoron but then again, so does the album title, doesn’t it?

Anyway, the songs still sound like they’re being pulled in ten different directions with dozens of ideas pouring from the seams and the cheese factor at an all time high but for the first time I can actually stand listening to these guys. Sure, it’s bombastic and artsy but they’ve got some great hooks and the band ends up sounding like the inbred spawn of Hot Hot Heat and My Chemical Romance. And you know we at PunkRockTheory.com always sympathize with disabled people which is why we’re giving this album a thumb and a half up.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.epitaph.com
http://www.thematches.com

Ron Franklin – S/T


When Ron Franklin isn’t busy firing off dirty blues riffs at you (“Dark Night, Cold Ground”) while hollering over them, he’s showing us his more gentle side with Dylanesque acoustic songs that are equally compelling (“Do Not Wait ‘Til I Am Laid ‘Neath The Clay”). This singer/songwriter that calls Memphis home even though he’s hardly ever there, isn’t doing anything new but he’s doing an amazing job at writing honest, hearfelt music while paying tribute to all the greats that went before him. And while a songwriter being influenced by Dylan isn’t exactly a novelty, it’s the combination with the Delta blues that did me in. Just give “The Elocutionist” - where Franklin throws distorted slide guitar licks and a mouth organ together - a listen and consider yourself a fan from then on.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.alivenergy.com
http://www.ronfranklinmusic.com

New Bloods – The Secret Life


From Portland, Oregon comes New Bloods, an all-girl outfit in the line of The Raincoats. Normally I couldn’t be happier because like every straight guy I think an all-girl threesome is hot. But listening to “The Secret Life”, I find it very difficult to feel any sort of excitement.

The tribal drums along with the bass lines are extremely repetitive and the violin or fiddle or whatever is just plain annoying. Throw in grating vocals and you’re looking at an album that should’ve kept on living a secret life. The whole thing just sounds like some arty farty experiment gone horribly wrong and I honestly can’t picture anyone listening to the whole thing just for fun.
Score: 4 out of 10
http://www.killrockstars.com
http://www.myspace.com/thenewbloods

Pennywise – Reason To Believe


Album number nine for So-Cal stalwarts Pennywise doesn’t offer any surprises. Or it would have to be that they traded in longtime home Epitaph for MySpace Records (just for the States though, in Europe the album does come out on Eptaph). It might seem kind of funny that a socially conscious band like Pennywise with their ‘stick it to the man’ attitude ends up teaming up with Rupert Murdoch but once you get past that, “Reason To Believe” actually has a lot to offer.

That is, if you don’t expect anything new. These guys stick to what they know. An why wouldn’t they? They’ve got the formula down pat and we all know you shouldn’t change a winning team. They rage through 15 songs at breakneck speeds with Fletcher’s usual four-chords-are-all-you-need riffs, Jim’s usual rants against all the injustices in the world coupled to infectious hooks and lots of whoa-whoa singalong action.

So yeah, ‘nothing new’ are the keywords here but hey, “Reason To Believe” is still pretty enjoyable!
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.epitaph.com
http://www.pennywise.com

12.4.08

Dead Hearts interview


Funny story. I did an email interview with Jeremy from Dead Hearts when their album "Bitter Verses" came out but got some really short answers back. I really liked the album though, so I ran it on the site anyway but with an intro that said something like 'the asnwers are shit but at least the album is good'. After that I forgot about the interview. But Jeremy didn't. Anyway, long story short... we met the guy when he was playing a show in Belgium, we had a laugh over it and did a fun interview. If you haven't heard "Bitter Verses" yet, do yourself a favor and pick it up. It's great!

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Jeremy: My name is Jeremy. I play guitar in the Dead Hearts and this is my first time in Europe ever.

PRT: And are you liking it over here?
Jeremy: So far yes. I love the chocolat. And it looks like the show is going pretty good too. We just flew in from the States and got here like around nine in the morning and it was only a 45 minute drive from Brussels to here so we've been stuck here since around 10 AM.

PRT: How do you keep busy on a day like this then?
Jeremy: I read a little bit, got my laptop out, emailed my wife, talked to my brother online for a couple of minutes. He's a metal guy, looks like Danzig.

PRT: Is that a compliment?
Jeremy: Yeah, I mean it in a good way (laughs). We're just keeping busy because we are bored out of our minds. We've been stuck here for like 12 hours now and we're all pretty jetlagged. None of us have slept yet but the good thing is that the bus will stay here until 8AM. So i heard there's some dance party after the show. I might check that out and then I think we're all gonna go to bed. We looked around a little but there's really not much to do around here. Oh, and there's a shower here so I'm gonna take one later as well.

PRT: You say it like that's a rare thing?
Jeremy: In the States it is unless you're playing bigger places. We did a 15-show tour once and two places in Canada had a shower and two in the States. That was it. Over here it seems like every venue has a shower. Plus we get fed a lot better. In the States they say here's ten bucks, go buy what you want. And when we got here there were sandwiches, fresh meat and vegetables, milk and cereals. And then they said 'oh yeah, your hot meal is coming in like two hours'. And that's great because in the States you get your per diem but you still end up paying a couple of bucks out of your own pocket. Here we've all been fed and we've already stocked our fridge so that's good.

PRT: How come you've never made it to Europe before?
Jeremy: We had plans to come here with Ruiner two years ago but our schedules couldn't sync up and then we got off the Sick Of It All tour and we were like, well, our record just came out in the States. Let's tour some more here even though our record on Reflections has been out for a long time. We could never seem to make our schedule work to come over here, things in the States just kept interfering. Also my wedding interfered two years ago. Not that it interfered (laughs). But because of my wedding two years ago and Derrick's wedding a year ago, we never made it over. And you can't come over in the summer cuz of the festival season. So it's either in the spring or the fall and we just never managed to sync up. Until now.

PRT: I read somewhere that you took your band name from a Midnight Oil song and a line from a song from Him. Aren't you afraid to come out and say you read Him lyrics?
Jeremy: No, not at all. Him is one of my favorite bands.

PRT: Seriously?
Jeremy: Dead serious. I can even say it with a straight face. I can't say I'm a fan of some of the people that are fans of the band but I think that that guy is a great songwriter and at home I have every single CD and the singles box set. I know it's not very punkrock and it's not very hardcore to like Him. It's just that I have this weird affection for gothic metal like Type O Negative and stuff. And I hear elements of that in Him. I guess it just struck a chord with me. I avoided it for the longest time because there's that show "Viva La Bam" and that guy is a total jackass and he's crazy about Him. But then I found a copy of "Love Metal" for like 2.99 in some record store and figured I'd buy it and resell it on the internet. Then I listened to it and by the third song I thought it was the best record I had ever heard.

PRT: Have you already heard the new album?
Jeremy: "Venus Doom"? Oh yeah, bought it the day it came out.

PRT: It's actually the first one I liked... this is completely off the record though.
Jeremy: It's a lot heavier huh? I didn't like "Dark Light" which was their previous record because it was all rock songs. I like the ballads and the acoustic stuff but I didn't like that it was all rock. I want a little more variety in my records. And then the new album came out and it's so heavy for what they're doing. I was just impressed by it. I had started withdrawing from Him a little cuz of the last album but now, man, I'm back in! And I really liked Midnight Oil back in the day. I was listening to a lot of metal and punkrock and was getting into hardcore through thrash metal and crossover and Midnight Oil was like this weird band that wasn't like anything else I listened to. I heard real passion in the lyrics and somehow that album has always stayed with me. So when the time came to pick a name for the band I suggested The Dead Heart and then after our first practice we settled on Dead Hearts because it sounded better.

PRT: Your last album "Bitter Verses" has been out for what, a year now? Have you been on the road ever since it came out?
Jerremy: Yeah, pretty much. We got off for like a week or two here and there but we've been touring a lot. Not as much as some other bands but we did four or five tours Stateside already. I think we did around 160 shows. Plus myself and Derrick are married, we all have jobs. It's a juggling act but we try to make it work. If we had better tours, we would tour more. But the big tours that would really sustain us and make it possible to not have a job, we never seem to get those. What we do is we talk with friends that are going out and we'll go on the road with them. At least then we're sure of having a good time. The shows have been steadily getting better and better so we're building the momentum.

PRT: Is that how you landed the Sick Of It All tour?
Jeremy: The Sick Of It All tour was kinda weird. That tour was right when "Bitter Verses" came out and we once did a one-off show with Sick Of It All at the end of one of our tours. Thanks to a this guy Chris who had moved from Buffalo to New Jersey and was booking shows there. He booked Sick Of It All, saw that we were ending our tour a day earlier not too far from there and asked us to tour for one more day and play the show. It was a good show, the Sick Of It All guys liked us and we got along really well and then eight months later we were doing the 20th anniversary tour with them and The Warriors. It was awesome! It was the first time I was on a tourbus. We didn't have one but we hung out a lot with them on their bus (laughs). It was a different setup than this one. It wasn't a doubledecker. But it was just them and their crew so they didn't have to share it with like a million other bands.

PRT: All three of you are on this bus?
Jeremy: Yeah, it has 18 bunks up here but they are comfortable. We'll see how it works out!

PRT: So are you guys already working on new songs?
Jeremy: Yeah, we recently came out of the studio. We wrote and recorded about five new songs in between the last tour and this tour. Four of them are completely finished. The fifth one doesn't have any lyrics yet. We also got confirmed for a Kid Dynamite tribute so when we go to record that song, we're also gonna complete the vocals on the other song.

PRT: Do you already know which song you'll be contributing?
Jeremy: It's sort of a medley of two short ones... "32 Frames Per Second" and "Sweet Shop". Charles from Get Outta Town is gonna put it out. He also did the Kill Your Idols 7" box set. It's gonna be pretty awesome!

PRT: And those new songs are they for an EP or something?
Jeremy: No, they're just demos for a new LP. We'll probably record that this spring. We did those songs just to keep the band going. Because if we wouldn't do anything during those two months off and then came over here, we would be terrible. So yeah, we had a couple of new songs and a friend of mine owns a studio, we went in and recorded them.

PRT: And is the new album gonna come out on Ferret or are you going to switch to yet another label?
Jeremy: Who knows! Who knows what's going on? Right now things are cool with Ferret. I sent them the new songs and I don't know what they think of them (laughs). That's where we're at right now.

PRT: You started out on State Of Mind right?
Jeremy: Yeah, the State Of Mind thing was interesting. Cuz what happened was we had recorded a 5-song demo and some friends of ours back in Buffalo wanted to put that out as a 7" because we had already sold 350 copies of the CD. And then while were talking about that, we had written another three songs so we went in and recorded them. Then State Of Mind got ahold of us along with several other labels and said hey, we'd like to do a record with you guys. We basically told them that whoever could get the CD out by December - which was when were going to do our first tour - can out put the record. So State Of Mind released the 5 songs from the demo and the three new songs and then they came out as two separate 7" as well. And now that EP is out on Burning Season Records in Austria along with three bonus tracks.

PRT: If you compare that first release with "Bitter Verses", I thought there was more of a rock n roll thing going on, you know what I mean?
Jeremy: Yeah. When the first release came out we were young. I mean, I'm not a young man but we were still a young band. And we just went in and recorded whatever we had. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am. You know? But then like every other band, we progressed. Your sound is ever evolving. There are some bands that don't sound anything like what they started out like two years ago and with us it just evolved naturally. If you listen to the first EP, then the Reflections EP and then "Bitter Verses", I think it sounds like a natural progression. But yeah, the first one was more rock n roll, more punkrock in the way that the song structures were shaped. We wrote those songs in the sumer of 2004, recorded the last of them in September that year and then by December they were out and we were touring and it's been pretty much nonstop ever since.

PRT: Is is true that you finished recording "Bitter Verses" at 06/06/06 at 6:00PM?
Jeremy: That is absolutely true! And it was not by design or anything, it's just the way it happened. We were done with recording, mixing and mastering the whole thing. Then we listened to it and when we were done and had all agreed that it was good, we looked up at the clock and the thing just jumped to six o'clock. We thought that was pretty amazing and we had to make a note of that!

PRT: So is that why the album turned out so good? Cuz you sold your sould to the devil? Is is that whole gothic metal thing again that's coming into play here?
Jeremy: I didn't sell my soul for that album. I think I sold my soul a long time before that already and it just finally caught up with me!

PRT: You got a record deal pretty fast, you already have a couple of releases out, you toured the States several times and now you're touring in Europe. What are some of the other things you'd still like to achieve?
Jeremy: I'm not sure, I'd like to go to Japan. I think bands have different goals. Some just want to tour and get their records out and that's cool. And I have those goals too most of the time. Like I wanna go to Japan and Australia, you know? And then there's other goals like I'd like to put out a record that kids actually wanna buy. Like I would want to sell a certain amount of records so that I'm more comfortable and we can do this more often and I don't have to go home and work a shitty job. But you know, those goals are attainable through two ways. One way is that you play what kids want to hear. The other way is through hard work, doing what you want to do to the best of your abilities and as much as possible. And I think that's the route this band has gone. I could care less what kids want to hear. So I think our goal is being the most affective band we can be without selling ourselves short.

PRT: But you would like to make this a fulltime job, right?
Jeremy: I think anybody who's in a band and says he doesn't want to make it a fulltime thing, is full of shit and there's probably a lot of posturing behind it. I would love to make this my job. When that's not your goal as a band, you tend to get caught up in other things and once again in posturing and all that. I would love to come home in between tours for two months and spend time with my family and not have to get up at nine in the morning. Coming home from a tour is a bit of a bummer because we know we have to get back to work. And I would love for it to be as much as a celebration as it is to go out on tour.

PRT: Would you be prepared to make compromises to reach that goal?
Jeremy: Compromises or sacrifices?

PRT: How about both?
Jeremy: You mean like in our sound or our style? Nah. I mean, look at me. I'm not the ideal of what sells records. My appearance, my attitude, the fact that I'm straightedge. That does not sell records to the masses and that's fine by me. If you wanna cater to the masses, that's fine by me but I'm not prepared to do that. Sacrifices are a whole other ballgame. I think everyone in the band has made great sacrifices to make the band work and to get to where we are now. Like me, I've been married for two years now and every time we have to go on tour, I have to leave her behind but that's okay for her and it's okay for me. So that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. But when it comes to compromising to what we do or who we are to sell more records, I don't think we'll ever do that. And when you're in a hardcore band, there's only so much showmanship you can bring to the table. If you put too much theater into it, you'll end up being fake and that's not at all what we're interested in. We'd love to sell records but not at the expense of selling ourselves short. This is who we are and this is what we do. If you don't like it, don't approach our band because we'll just tell you to fuck off.

Jonin – The Secret


North Carolina’s Jonin play metalcore with a lot of In Flames-influences and in a scene that’s so oversaturated it’s not even funny anymore, they actually manage to be something of a breath of fresh air. Albeit with a bit of a rancid smell.

Their songs are highly melodic which is something the guys in Jonin are pretty good at. Another cool thing is that vocalist Stuart Smith uses just his singing voice. That’s right… a metalcore outfit with no screaming (not counting the guest vocals by Killwhitneydead’s Matt Rudzinski on “Shameless”). Smith deserves credit for the effort but unfortunately he’s trying a little too hard to sound like a cross between James Maynard Keenan and Aaron Lewis from Staind .... remember those guys????

Oh, and Killswitch Engage’s Adam Dutkiewicz called… he wants his guitar squeals back. Other than that, the riffage is actually pretty good and along with the occasional well-executed solo, I guess I can forgive the abundance of squealing guitars.

All in all, this is an okay album from a band that still has to find a face of their own and I’m afraid that “The Secret” will largely stay just that.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.tribunalrecords.net
http://www.myspace.com/jonin

Cursed – III : Architects Of Troubled Sleep


Holy fuckin’ shit! Cursed’s new album should have no problem doing for CD’s what “The Ring” did for videotapes. The only difference? You don’t have to wait a week before you die, your heart will simply explode after the last notes of “III : Architects Of Troubled Sleep” have faded out.

After “II” and last year’s EP “Blackout At Sunrise”, Cursed had everyone waiting for new material and I have to say that it doesn’t disappoint for one single second. These dudes have to be the meanest, most vicious hardcore band around and they come at you with an all-out visceral attack. The album starts with a nasty collage of soundclips that helps set the mood before these guys blow you away with “Night Terrors”. Vocalist Chris Colohan’s screams never sounded sicker while he’s exorcising all of his personal demons at the same time and one song probably does for this guy what ten years in therapy would never achieve. And the best thing about it is that the guy actually has smart, eloquent lyrics and along with all of the chips on his shoulder (organized religion, the daily drudgeries of life, politics,…), this is a killer combo.

Throw in some truly scary sounding buzzsaw guitars and a drummer who’s beating his drumkit like the damn thing ran over his dog, raped his girlfriend and shot his grandmother and you know you’ve got one massive album on your hands that will have lesser hardcore bands running for shelter. While they stay true to their sludgy, crusty and downright dirty brand of hardcore, they’ve written a more varied album and coupled it to a flawless execution. “III” is definitely the band’s best album so far and probably even the best hardcore album I’ve heard this year.
Score: 9 out of 10
http://www.reflectionsrecords.com
http://www.your-funeral.com

Bob Mould – District Line


'Growing old, it's hard to be an angry young man.' So it’s not something you will hear a lot of on Bob Mould’s new solo album. Except maybe for the lyrics to “Again And Again” which deal with the details of a particularly nasty breakup.

Other than that the former Hüsker Dü/Sugar frontman keeps things balanced and familiar on “District Line”, his seventh solo album if I counted correctly. No big surprises here but another batch of solid songs that see Mould revisit his grungepop days in Sugar ('Return to Dust', 'The Silence Between Us'). It also seems that the electronics he used in the rather disastrous “Modulate” have been finally put to good use in songs like “Shelter Me”. And guess what? The vocoder tactics actually work in opener “Stupid Now”.

By combining loud guitars with a folky approach to songwriting, Mould has churned out his most cohesive album in quite some time and it proves that yes, he may be growing old. And yes, it might be hard to be an angry young man at his age but at least he still knows how to write a great song or two.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.beggars.com
http://www.bobmould.com

The Hush Sound – Goodbye Blues


Unlike labelmates Panic At The Disco, the guys and girl in The Hush Sound haven’t changed their sound at all for “Goodbye Blues”. They’ve still got that cabaretesque retropop sound going along with a lot of piano tinkering. The one big difference is that Greta Salpeter takes the lead on most of the songs whereas the vocal duties were more or less split in half between her and Bob Morris on previous releases.

I’m still not sure whether I actually like The Hush Sound but fact is they released a happy-sounding album filled with upbeat pianopop songs. None of the songs really stand out but the album itself has a nice flow and once you pop it in, I find myself listening to the whole thing.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.decaydance.com
http://www.thehushsound.com

A Thousand Times Repent – Virtues Has Few Friends EP


‘You are demons. I think the only thing you’ll taste today is your own blood’. With this sample A Thousand Times Repent start off their Tribunal debut before launching headfirst into some sick deathcore where the singer sounds like a squealed pig. To say these guys’ music is brutal is like saying the pope is kind of christian.

There’s tons of chugga chugga parts on here along with dissonant parts similar to Norma Jean and Job For A Cowboy and an overall sense of dementia that rules Between The Buried And Me’s releases as well. Just when I kinda got into their sickness, I was treated to acoustic and ethereal parts at the end of both “A Band Of Hunters Stalk In Edo” and “That Was The Night Everything Changed”. Oh, and closer “Complete Relinquish Utter Abandon” is all acoustic. Didn’t see that one coming! And while they do this in a great way (that singer has an incredibly versatile voice!), the sudden change in sound is just too big to cover up this band’s lack of experience in the songwriting department.

This Christian outfit from Atlanta, GA definitely has some skills but they still need to figure out a way to come up with a sound of their own instead of throwing completely opposite parts together and calling it a song.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.tribunalrecords.net
http://www.athousandtimesrepent.com

Gwen Stacy interview


Gwen Stacy is one of the newest bands on the Ferret roster and with “The Life I Know” they released a fun metalcore album. Which is why I thought it would be fun to do a short email interview with the guys. Which you can read here. Huh.

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
TJ: I'm T.J. I play drums for GS

PRT: What do you think was Gwen Stacy’s cause of death… the fall from the bridge or did she break her neck when Spidey grabbed her?
TJ:I'm absolutely positive it was the grab. If you look at the actual shot of it happening, it shows her being grapped with a big "snaaap" next to it

PRT: How often do you get asked about the band name in interviews?
TJ:Consistently every interview so far I believe :)

PRT: Who else is in the band, which Spiderman fiend would you compare them to and why?
TJ:Cole reminds me of the Green Goblin. He's squirrely and small. And green.

PRT: Can you give me a short history of the band written in less than one minute.
TJ:Out of many, one.

PRT: You’re a christian band and while you don’t seem preachy about it I was wondering how much shit you’re getting for that?
TJ:There's been a few cases where we've had other christians bands tell us we were wrong for our approach on our beliefs. Not that we care. But there are a small handful that think that we're cowards about our faith.

PRT: If Gwen Stacy was the lovechild of two other bands, which band’s would’ve gotten it on and which position were you conceived in?
TJ:Beloved and Poison the Well, and as far as the details go, I think they'd appreciate if we respected their privacy :)

PRT: The new album is called “The Life I Know”. Does that mean I will know what you are all about after having heard the album?
TJ:You'll definitely understand a good portion of the things we've endured in our lives so far.

PRT: The album cover I have is different from the final version… what made you change it?
TJ:I actually didn't know of any changes. At least not that I remember. I sleep a lot though, so that may be why.

PRT: You recorded the album with Paul Leavitt and Brian McTernan and it said in the bio sheet that having an outside opinion is not always a bad thing. What did they bring to the table?
TJ:We tried to hit as many ideas as possible with our album. We didn't want to have twelve tracks that all sounded the same, and Paul and Brian helped us focus those ideas I think. Sometimes things just didn't work, and when working with twelve songs at one time, sometimes it's easy to miss details. They helped us reach the goal that we were trying to hit, Paul especially.

PRT: I like the album but felt that it would’ve been even better with just the screams rather than the typical singing/screaming combo… have you considered letting the clean vocals out? Or is it something of a given these days to include them?
TJ:Brent can sing really well, and we wanted to utilize that talent, but at the same time we didn't want to give in to that given standard of singing/screaming combo bands. Which is why we're not afraid to do songs without singing. I think we have a lot more to offer than just easy selling singing choruses. We don't plan on phasing it out or stepping it up. It's more like when it happens it happens.

PRT: What’s up next for Gwen Stacy? I know you’re on tour now with Scary Kids Scaring Kids and Haste The Day… how’s that working out for you?
TJ:That tour was freaking awesome. All the dudes from that tour were awesome to us and we had a great time opening for them. Next is Central America with Haste the Day and Still Remains, then opening for Still Remains, then the Devil Wears Prada and Maylene. All of which I'm really excited for.

PRT: Any last words for our readers?

TJ:Go pick up the album if you haven't already, come hang out at a show on one of the tours, come say what's up on our myspace.

8.4.08

Deadline – We’re Taking over


UK’s cutest girl fronting a streetpunk band is back! Liz and the rest of Deadline have just dropped “We’re Taking Over”… not a complete new album but it does boast four new songs along with a live show.

The new songs are what we’ve come to expect from Deadline… solid punkrock tunes that are extremely melodic. “We’re Not Americans” is a bit of an odd one out seeing as it could’ve been on a Dance Hall Crashers album but it’s still pretty good.

The live show was recorded in Lichtenfeld Stadthalle in the summer of 2007. No overdubs, no auto-tuning and all the little mistakes… that’s what you get. It sounds a lot rawer and faster than on the band’s albums and while there are some awkward off-key moments, it’s still a pretty good show that has a bit of everything from all of the band’s releases. Which makes it interesting for new fans, while the new songs will spark the interest of longtime fans.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.peoplelikeyou.de
http://www.deadline-uk.com

Thomas Function – Celebration!


Whether it’s the country of "2012 Blues, the slightly psychedlic opener "Filthy Flowers" or the blues of "Earthworms", Alabama’s Thomas Function make it all work on “Celebration!”. And make it sound pretty. It all seems straightforward enough but once you start finding your way around the album, you’ll see all these different styles blend together nicely. “Celebration!” is abound with energy and everything just seems incredibly vibrant. And if you couple that to strong melodies, you’re looking at a pretty fun album even though I’m not too crazy about the high-pitched vocals.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.alivenergy.com
http://www.myspace.com/thomasfunction

Thee Merry Widows – The Devil’s Outlaws


America’s first all-female psychobilly is back for another round of waking the dead and drinking blood. The new album is called “The Devil’s Outlaws” and the album cover seems to be inspired by Tarantino’s “Death Proof”. And just like that wasn’t Tarantino’s best, neither is this the best Merry Widows album.

Their psychobilly is a little spiked with surf, garage and horrorpunk but it sounds a little too basic to be really engaging. The rhythms are kept very simple and monotonous and the buzzing guitars sound the same in all of the songs. They do however have a good sense of melody and know how to sneak some cool solos into their songs. Not a bad album, I’m sure the real psychobilly fans will lap this up but overall I think that these ladies are a lot more fun on the stage rather than on their album.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.peoplelikeyou.de
http://www.merrywidowsmusic.com

Nathaniel Mayer – Why Don’t You Give It To Me

Nathaniel Mayer started his musical career in the sixties before disappearing from the musical landscape for several decades. It wasn’t until 2004 that Mayer came back with “I Just Want To Be Held” which was released on Fat Possum. It tasted like more and so he surrounded himself with some of his new friends (The Dirtbombs’ Troy Gregory and The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach among others) and recorded “Why Don’t You Give It To Me”.

Listening to the album it quickly becomes obvious that Viagra isn’t an unnecessary invention seeing as this senior citizen likes to sing about the fairer sex. A lot. The good man’s withered voice along with a great backing band results in a whole bunch of sweaty rhythm & blues songs that are as exciting as they are timeless.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.alivenergy.com

Blood Red Shoes – Box Of Secrets


Blood Red Shoes calls Brighton home and was made up by Steven Ansell and Laura-Mary Carter in 2004 after their previous bands called it a day (Cat On Form and Lady Muck). Yes, it’s just the two of them, like the White Stripes. That’s pretty much where the comparison with that act ends though. Because on “Box Of Secrets” they make a lot of noise that resembles Sub Pop artists like Mudhoney with a British sense of style. They both sing and along with the meaty rhythms and chunky guitars this results in solid songs like “It’s Getting Boring By The Sea” and “You Bring Me Down”. It does all kinda sound alike. Then again, when you race through 11 songs in 41 minutes, do you really need variation?
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.v2music.com
http://www.bloodredshoes.co.uk

Cataract – Cataract


The dudes that make up Cataract get to blow out ten candles on their birthday cake this year. If they eat birthday cake that is because listening to their music I think these guys’ prefer drinking blood to eating cake. Anyway, to celebrate the occasion they released an eponymous album and on it they blast away as usual.

Their particular brand of metalcore is not that original (think Born From Pain and the likes) but they do it so well and with so much energy, that you can’t help but get sucked in. Cataract combines a big fat groove with breakneck speeds before reigning everything back in again and then letting it go full blast. This pacing along with riffs that will make your face melt make for one devastating monster of an album that will blow you away from start to finish. Here’s to ten more years of shredding and blasting away every bit as meticulous as the clocks their countrymen are known for.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.metalblade.de
http://www.cataract-collective.com

R.E.M. – Accelerate


Just when I was ready to completely give up on R.E.M. after they kept releasing one mediocre album after the other, the news came that Michael Stipe finally came out of the closet and admitted he was gay (gasp!). It apparently also meant he found his balls back along with the rest of the band and wrote a great batch of new songs.

It’s not that they’re doing anything new (thank god for that) but it’s more of a return to their roots. Peter Buck lets his guitar waver throughout all 11 songs and they race through them in just 35 minutes. That doesn’t leave much time for filler or crap so they cut that all out and win me back with every single song on here. You all should know “Supernatural Superserious” by now but cuts like “Living Well Is The Best Revenge” or the punky “Horse To Water” are equally impressive. “Houston” would’ve fitted in perfectly on “Automatic For The People”. And “Until The Day Is Done” wouldn’t have looked out of place on “Document”.

It’s good to see these guys back into form because for a while it looked like R.E.M. wasn’t just asleep… these guys had gone in a coma instead. “Accelerate” however shows that R.E.M. still has what made them so great back when they started in the 80ies and I couldn’t be happier!
Score: 8.5 out of 10
http://www.warnerbrosrecords.com
http://www.remhq.com

Year Long Disaster interview


Every once in a while, a band will slip almost unnoticed onto the radar before making a mark on the musical landscape. I think that is something that could happen with Year Long Disaster, a pretty new band that likes to rock the fuck out. Its members however have been around for quite some time already in other outfits and know what they’re doing. Check out this short emailer we did with with bassist Richie Mullins.

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Richie: Richie Mullins – Urban legend

PRT: For people who haven’t heard you before, if Year Long Disaster was the lovechild of two other bands, which bands would’ve had sex and which position were you conceived in?
Richie: Soungarden and Rose Tattoo in a back alley standing quickie.

PRT: Drug use is something mentioned a couple of times in the bio sheet and I felt it also suggested that you guys got clean because of the band and the music you were making. Is that what happened?
Richie: We got clean so we would not die. Music is a great reason for living.

PRT: Something I was wondering about, how did being clean change being in the band with one another and writing songs?
Richie: It helps immensely to be awake while practicing, to not be heinously violent with each other after drinking too much whiskey, to not be pawning your guitar to smoke crack. It really goes without saying everything comes much easier when you are in a state of mind where you can actually concentrate on what is truly relevant and important to your life.

PRT: And how do you handle being on tour as a former drug addict? Because I can imagine there’s a lot of temptations out there.
Richie: Sure, as a former addict you think and often dream of getting high again. The key for me is to remind myself exactly how bad the actual consequences of those actions were. There is a definite element of negative re-enforcement that after time just turns into an almost automatic aversion of that element of the scene. Its fun at times to watch people do stupid shit while wasted just to go, “Wow, I used to be that asshole.”

PRT: One of you is the son of Dave Davies from The Kinks while your drummer used to play in Third Eye Blind and your bassist used to play in Karma To Burn. I guess it’s easier for a label to create some more publicity if a band has that kind of a background story but at the same time people will come in with certain expectations. But does that work for or against you?
Richie: It works in the sense that old fans of those individual groups often check us out. It works against us because people have expectations for us to be re-incarnations of those groups.

PRT: Ever feel like bursting out a Year Long Disaster version of a Kinks song onstage?
Richie: No. No we do not.

PRT: You decided to go with Volcom. Was it because it’s an indie label with likeminded bands (Valient Thorr, ASG) or did they just throw a shitload of free clothes at you?
Richie: Valient Thorr was a big reason, the free clothes were sweet as well.

PRT: What’s up next for Year Long Disaster? Any plans to come to Belgium anytime soon?
Richie: Touring the UK with Velvet Revolver. Then Europe with Turbonegro then Europe and the uk on our own. We will be playing Leuven April 13th

PRT: In “High Fidelity” the guys that work in a record store are constantly making these top 5 lists of songs for specific occasions. If you would have to make such a list, which occasion would it be for and which songs would make your top 5?
Richie: Top 5 songs to hum while tightening your sphincter to skewer the results of a polygraph test:
5. Helter Skelter - the Beatles
4. Problem Child - ACDC
3. The Bomber - Motorhead
2. D’yer Mak’er - Zeppelin
1. All Is Love - Bjork

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Richie: Don’t tighten your sphincter, just tell the truth.

2.4.08

Antillectual – Testimony


Antillectual did a pretty good job on “Testimony”. They like their punkrock the way Dag Nasty, Strike Anywhere and Rise Against play it and shit, I don’t really have any problems with that at all. I say punkrock but there’s both rock and hardcore parts to discover just the same. And they make it work throughout most of the songs. So musically this one definitely gets a thumb up.

But then come the lyrics… it’s kinda okay to force your lyrics to fit into songs even though they don’t seem to be written for them and hey, it’s cool if you have a message you want to spread. Actually I’m all for it otherwise I would listen to pop music. But I never liked it when bands print their lyrics in the booklet and then post this explanation next to it. Let your fans figure out out what the song means for themselves, don’t spell it out! There’s one song here called “I Hate Myself When I Shave Myself” which is probably the most retarded song title of the year. But then you read the disclaimer next to it and you find out it’s actually not a song about shaving at all! Gosh! It’s about how we do all these things to fit in, including shaving even though we don’t like it! What a great metaphor! Such vivid imagery!

Anyway, the music here is more than okay but they need a lot more work more on the lyrical department!
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.theshieldhardcore.com
http://www.myspace.com/antillectual

Endzweck – The Grapes Of Wrath


Despite the German band name, Endzweck is a Japanese hardcore outfit that has been cranking out releases since the start of the new millennium. “The Grapes Of Wrath” was released in Japan in 2006 but it has taken up til now to get a proper European release date thanks to I For Us Records. They’re already working on a new album which should see the light of day pretty soon.

So what does Endzweck sound like? It says in the bio-sheet that they sound kinda like Shai Hulud and that’s pretty much the best comparison I can come up with as well. All of the songs are fast-paced and the guitars sound pretty melodic yet the whole thing still sounds pretty damn aggressive. The singer has a high-pitched yelp and I can’t tell whether he’s singing in Japanese or English but it sounds cool nonetheless. Throw in a couple of samples as well and you’re looking at a solid release for the Belgian I For Us Records.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.iforusrecords.be
http://www.endzweck.rg

Killerpilze – Mit Pauken Und Raketen


Just when you thought we were safe and that we’d seen the last of them leave our country back in 1944, in come Killerpilze. With big drums and rockets no less! We already had Tokio Hotel before that but Killerpilze is way more listenable than that girly Sideshow Bob wannabe.

Killerpilze is basically Germany’s answer to Sum 41 and Blink 182. These dudes (aged 14 to 17) play catchy poppunk with a little Lostprophets (the chorus in “Der Moment”) here and a ska tune or two there (“Für Mich Geschaffen”). It’s absolutely nothing you haven’t heard before - unless you count singing in German as something entirely new - but I have to say they do a decent enough job.
Score : 6.5 out of 10
http://www.universalmusic.be
http://www.killerpilze.de

Panic At The Disco – Pretty Odd


What?!? No more exclamation mark in the band name?!? One can only wonder how many guys of the marketing department over at Decaydance/Fueled By Ramen/Atlantic they had milling over that one. Another option was scratching the entire band name and keeping only the !. In the end it was decided this would cause too much confusion with the already existing !!!. And even though the ridiculous exclamation mark will be severely missed, we can all keep on breathing because the rest of the band’s ridiculousness remains intact on the band’s follow-up to their breakthrough album, “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out”.

This time they do shy away from their cabaretesque emopoppunk and end up sounding more grown up. Probably hoping this will appeal to older kids so they can finally invite someone backstage after the show without ending up facing the same charges as R. Kelly. To achieve this they tried to make “Pretty Odd” their very own “Sgt. Pepper” and while they do manage to write a couple of good songs with great melodies, one could easily wonder why we would listen to these boys’ interpretations when we can listen to the original. And to make matters even worse Panic At The Disco slide back to the sound that made 14-year-old emo girls experience their first orgasm towards the end of the album.
Score: 5 out of 10
http://www.decaydance.com
http://www.panicatthedisco.com

Tegan And Sara – The Con


Tegan & Sara have already made some waves back home in Canada and in the States thanks to Neil Young (who signed them to his own label), The White Stripes (who covered one of their songs) and oh, their own songs. But it has taken them five albums to finally claim the spotlights in Europe. The single “Back In Your Head” has been all over the radio lately and listening to “The Con” I see no reason why these twin sisters shouldn’t score a couple more hits with their very own brand of pop music.

Now, you may wonder why a male chauvinist pig like me might like these girls. Very simple… lesbians are hot! And they’re even hotter when they write excellent fucked up indie pop songs like “Relief Next To Me” or “Are You Ten Years Ago”. “Back In Your Head” and “Hop A Plane” may sound poppy and upbeat, the better part of the songs on “The Con” show a darker, rawer side of these girls and I’m loving it along with the great vocal harmonies and a wonderful sense of melody.

If you still think fondly of the days when acts like Belly or Elastica were doing their thing, then here’s your new fix!
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.sirerecords.com
http://www.teganandsara.com

Billy Bragg – Mr Love & Justice


While “New England” still continues to warm that special place inside of me every single time I hear it, Billy Bragg has continued to release beautiful and angry yet somewhat inconsistent albums. He has slowed down somewhat because we have had to wait six years for the follow-up to “England, Half English”. But it needs to be said that “Mr Love & Justice” has been well worth the wait.

If you needed any further confirmation that Bragg is an excellent songwriter and that his regular backup band The Blokes is made up fantastic musicians, just check out this album. Robert Wyatt sings along on opener “I Keep Faith” and makes it an even more memorable song. Even more memorable are the Arab-spiced “O Freedom” and the gospel-enhanced “Sing Their Souls Back Home”.

The last two songs (“The Johnny Carcinogenic Show” and “Farm Boy”) kinda stand out because they aren’t up to par with the rest of the album but all in all, “Mr Love & Justice” is a perfect example of how a punk can age gracefully.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

New Found Glory – From The Screen To Your Stereo part II


Following up 2000’s “From The Screen To Your Stereo”, New Found Glory is back with another batch of covers of move themes. This time it’s a full-length rather than an EP and the fans got to vote on which songs should appear on the album but other than that things have stayed the same… you take a song that’s become known through a movie and give it the New Found Glory poppunk treatment.

With a little help from the band’s friends (Dashboard Confessional, Fall Out Boy, Taking Back Sunday to name a few), these guys churn out versions of songs from a plethora of movies. From “Walk The Line” over “Amélie” to “Donnie Darko” and “Pretty Woman”… it’s all here. And while not all of the songs are great (why cover Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” and not change a thing?), it’s a fun album by a fun band for their undoubtedly fun fans.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.drivethrurecords.com
http://www.newfoundglory.com

The Morning Light – The Sounds Of Love EP


Featuring former members of Transition, The Morning Light first saw the light of day (haha) less than a year ago and they have since secured themselves a deal with Fearless, played nearly 150 shows in 2007 and have now dropped this 6-song EP.

Their tunes sure sound like the sounds of love but I’m thinking more of puppy love rather than of a strong and sturdy relationship. It’s sugary and cheesy poppunk with a piano that makes you think of Jack’s Mannequin, mellow parts that’ll vaguely bring Death Cab to mind and the kind of singalong parts Dashboard Confessional got known for.

I’m sure admitting to liking this will cost me a lot of scene points but every now and then it’s fun to hear some extremely melodic and sappy songs like “You’re Not Mine” or the acoustic “The Sounds” rather than ruthlessly getting slapped around by the latest metalcore act.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.fearlessrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/themorninglight

Our Last Night – The Ghosts Among Us


Gee, what to think of Our Last Night? These guys released an enjoyable debut album with “The Ghosts Among Us”. And if you haven’t listened to any music in the past five years you might even call it fresh. But the truth of the matter is there are hundreds of bands out there like Our Last Night. Bands who all sound an awful lot like they simply lifted some Underoath riffs from their albums and coupled them to Saosin’s choruses. And I don’t mean it sounds like they were influenced by these acts… no, it sounds like an exact copy.

So I don’t know what to think of these guys. If you’re a big fan of the sound, I guess you won’t mind. And there’s no denying these guys are technically skilled. But all technical prowess aside, I’d like to see at least a little bit of imagination, originality and ultimately a face of your own. And I’m not finding any of that on “The Ghosts Among Us”.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.epitaph.com
http://www.myspace.com/ourlastnight

Jucifer – L’autrichienne


Jucifer’s new album starts off normal enough with a 90s alternative rock song a la Sonic Youth and G. Amber Valentine’s vocals resembling Tanya Donnelly’s in the chorus. She then dives headfirst into the thrashy “Thermidor” where she sounds more like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist”… the part where her head is turning around with vomit spewing from her mouth.

It pretty much maps out the rest of the album which sounds like PJ Harvey fucking The Melvins with a strapon. You’ll find yourself listening to pure noise one second and to luscious vocals mixed in with mellow guitars the next… sometimes even within the same song.

“L’autrichienne” is definitely not for everybody but if you think metallic and shoegazing are two words that belong together, then “L’autrichienne” is the album you want to pick up.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.relapse.com

Muse – Haarp CD/DVD


A band that is as bombastic as Muse has to have an equally bombastic intro. And so “Haarp”, the band’s first live album, starts off with “Dance Of The Knights” by Sergei Profokiev before launching headfirst into “Knights Of Cydonia”.

After that the tracklisting reads like a greatest hits with songs like “Supermassive Black Hole”, “Butterflies & Hurricanes” and “New Born” with the crowd singing along on every song. On the DVD you get the same songs but with a couple of extra songs and all this is presented in great audio and video quality.

I’m not that big on live albums but as far as they go, this one’s pretty good and a treat for every self-respecting Muse fan out there!
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.warnermusic.com