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Oh No Not Stereo – 003

After a stint on Takeover Records, the twosome that makes up Oh No Not Stereo is left to their own devices. Well, not entirely alone because they recorded “003” with the help of producers Jim Wirt and Max Coane and got a couple of people to pitch in with some drums here and a guitar solo there. But in essence Oh No Not Stereo are two dudes called Sky Nielsen and Mykul Lee.
Call it powerpop or poppunk, fact is these two guys have a knack for writing catchy melodies with plenty of power behind them. The songs on here are mostly uptempo (except for the obligatory ballad “A World Of Your Own”) and ready for the radio. Think Sugarcult. Think All-American Rejects. Think fun, unpretentious rock music with big choruses and you’re there. With fifteen songs, “003” might be a tad bit too long but crank this baby up on a sunny day and you won’t regret it.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
No label

Lamb Of God – Wrath

Lamb Of God has become quite the powerhouse in the metal scene and so expectations are high when they head in the studio. With “Wrath” they once again blow the competition clean out of the water by simply continuing to do what they do best. Which is playing high quality thrash metal.
Tons of shredding, guitar squeals, dual guitar lines, monster rhythms and a very pissed off vocalist. These are all the ingredients every single thrash band out there uses but in the hands of Lamb Of God they become weapons that are wielded with lethal precision.
There’s nothing missing on “Wrath” nor is there a single note too much. And all of it is delivered in thirteen neat little packages. There’s no room for experiments on “Wrath”, these Richmond, Virginia dudes stick with their tried and tested formula and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Except for the annoying whiplash after a night of headbanging.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

The Loved Ones – Distractions EP

The Loved Ones’ debut (“Keep Your Heart”) was already promising but when tey dropped “Build & Burn”, I was floored. It’s still one of those albums I keep going back to. So yeah, I was stoked about a new EP! On it you’ll find six songs… three of their own and three covers.

“Distracted” &nd “Last Call” sound like they were held back from “Build & Burn” because otherwise the album would just have been too awesome. Firm punkrock-based tracks with some Americana and rock n roll thrown in with plenty of singalong opportunities.
Cover-wise they prove not to be the most original band out there by rounding up tracks by Bruce Springsteen, Joe Strummer and Billy Bragg. But rather than just punking them up, they manage to make the songs their own.
This’ll keep me going until their new full-length comes out later this year!
Score: 8 out of 10

Mouthbreather – Thank You For Your Patience

Moutbreather thank us for our patience but seeing as I had never heard of them before I got this album, there is nothing to forgive. Polite guys though! They call Richmond, Virginia home and just like once upon a time you immediately knew what a band from Seatlle sounded like, it seems you can do the same thing with Richmond outfits nowadays.
You can also tell these dudes have previously served time in Wow, Owls! and The Setup. But throw in a little bit of Avail as well. While hammering out 10 songs in 33 minutes, they strut around confidently and at a brisk pace. Add a sense of urgency that’s coupled to a fucked up flair for melody and you’ve got yourself one solid release on your hands that doesn’t wear out its welcome. Quite the contrary actually.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Make Do And Mend - Bodies Of Water

As fun as it is to get a new album by a band you already like, it’s way more fulfilling to get a release from a band you’ve never heard of that completely blows you away. Enter Make Do And Mend did with “Bodies Of Water”. These dudes originally released this 6-song EP for free earlier this year through the internet. But then the people over at Panic Records scooped this baby up and provided it with an official release.
Imagine a band that likes their post-hardcore as melodic as they like it powerful while combining the gruff vocals that Hot Water Music is known for with the explosive nature of The Lonely Kings. Throw in a fair bit of No Motiv when you’re referring to the mellower moments on this release and you can see the potential, right?
Make a mental note of this band and when March 31st comes around and you just cashed in your paycheck, don’t forget to pick up your copy of “Bodies Of Water”. You won’t regret it!
Score: 8 out of 10

Chris Wollard & The Ship Thieves – S/T

Do I really need to introduce Chris Wollard? The guy has been a major part of Hot Water Music, The Draft and Rumbleseat! Anyway, this is his first real solo offering… although solo isn’t exactly the word when you gather a revolving cast of your Gainesville friends around you. These Ship Thieves consist of Derron Nuhfer (ex-Gunmoll and Less than Jake), Ben Lovett (Heavens), and Hot Water Music drummer George Rebelo among others.
First thing you notice is that things are a lot more mellow than in the man’s other projects. Wollard even uses a more hushed side of his voice rather than the roars we’re used to. Wise choice though seeing as his vocals go well with the laidback indie rock. The fuzzy rock of opener of “No Exception” is about as loud and rowdy as it gets but it’s tracks like “The Same To You” and “” that make this album an irresistible charmer. It kinda reminds me of Eddie Vedder’s “Into The Wild” soundtrack.
This self-titled debut (and I’m hoping there will be sequels), is the perfect companion for a long drive, a lonely night or a sunny day spent preferably at a deserted beach. Hey, why not introduce yet another genre and call this an outdoor album if you will! Whatever you wanna call it, it’s great!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Barzin – Notes To An Absent Lover

Close the curtains, light the candles and get those tissues out. No, not for a masturbation marathon, you perv! But because judging from the album title chances are that you’ll shed a couple of tears while listening to “Notes To An Absent Lover”.
This band around singer/songwriter Barzin (including Great Lake Swimmers’ Tony Dekker) sings mostly about lost loves while drowning in a sea of shuffled rhythms, piano, steel guitar and melancholy. The softly whispered vocals only help set the mood. And while yes, it’s easy to lose yourself in self-pity and whining when writing songs like this, Barzin never bores the crap out of you even though the songs start to blend together towards the end. Other than that, there’s nothing really wrong with “Notes To An Absent Lover”.
Score: 6 out of 10

Sara Lov – Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming

After a decade in dream pop band Devics, “Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming” is Sara Lov’s first solo album (except for one EP).If you know Devics, you pretty much know what to expect from Sara Lov because her going solo hasn’t caused a dramatic change in sound.
Lov’s softly sung childlike vocals are tastefully draped over soundscapes that come with great melodies. Check out “Old Friends”, a Simon & Garfunkel cover she effortlessly makes her own. And while you’re at it, give “Animals” a spin. This duet with Sea Wolf’s Alex Brown Church is the absolute highlight of this album if you ask me.
If sweet and soft is your thing, you’re bound to have a good time with Sara Lov!
Score: 7 out of 10

Only Thunder interview

Only Thunder is a great yet still kind of unknown band from Denver, Colorado that have recently released an awesome album called "Lower Bounds" and according to their MySpace page they put the 'rad' in Colorado. And that's pretty much all you need as an introduction for an already lengthy interview with the entire band! (picture courtesy of John Iverson-Iverson)

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

Justin: I'm Justin and I play guitar and sing about 60% of the time. I love Jameson whiskey and cheap beer. I am currently living in Phoenix, AZ learning how to build and repair guitars. I work at Vinyl Collective with our Drummer Andy and my girlfriend of 6 years Caroline. When I'm not consumed by music I love getting out of the city and heading up the mountains to go snowboarding and smoke that good shit.

Casey: My name is Casey Yunko and tonight I bowled my first 600 series in my bowling league!!!

Andy: My name is Andy Thomas and I play drums in Only Thunder. I work in the music "indiestry" as part of Vinyl Collective/Suburban Home. I recently threw up 4 times in southern Georgia after a wild night with our friend Ninja Gun.

PRT: Who else is in the band and what kinda food gives them only thunder?
Andy: Joe plays bass and Casey, Pedro and Justin all sing and play guitar. I think the next part of that question is a diarrhea joke, so I will choose to ignore it.
Justin: Pedro-Burritos, Casey-Anything, Andy-Women and Joe-Chop Suey

Pedro: Does booze count as a food?

Casey: I think it's fair to say that Andy, Joe, Justin, Pedro and myself get Only Thunder from the Queso at Illegal Petes. That shit is sooooo good, but it will light up your ass like an electric night in Spring!

PRT: For the people out there who haven't heard you yet… if Only Thunder was the lovechild of two other bands, which acts would've had sex and which position were you conceived in?
Justin: Picking two is hard, but I'd say Quicksand meets Small Brown Bike.

Andy: We are the lovechild of Small Brown Bike and Minus the Bear conceived missionary style while Hot Water Music looks on and squeezes its nipples violently.

Pedro: If Helmet and Minus the Bear got super wasted one night, and Helmet took advantage of Minus the Bear just when it started to pass out, then Minus the Bear awkwardly woke up while Helmet was ramming it doggy-style...Only Thunder would have been conceived while they were both crying.

PRT: Can you give me the history of the band written in less than one minute starting… NOW
Justin: The Blackout Pact breaks up, Pedro and I meet. I am convinced that playing music isn't really my thing anymore, Pedro changes my mind. Pedro finds a practice space before we even have a band. I ask Andy to drum and he agrees. I ask Joe if he wants to play bass and he never gives me a straight answer. So I ask Casey to play bass and he never gives me a straight answer. Then a few days later they both say they want to be in the band so we just decide to have 3 guitars.

PRT: Together you have been in a shitload of bands already. Did you feel any pressure when you started Only Thunder? Because people will obviously already have certain expectations of what the band should sound like.
Justin: I made it a very clear point to make sure that we set no real goals when starting this band. Fuck getting "signed", fuck touring, fuck management. Let's just write the best songs we possibly can without any limitations or expectations and see where it takes us. Now we have a label, we are planning on hitting the road once I'm back in Denver and our buddy Ethan has kindly volunteered to manage us. It just came naturally. And we never really tried. We just focus on the music which we will forever do.
Andy: Casey, Joe and Justin were all in a band together called Cost of Living, so I think there were a lot of preconceived notions that we would sound just like them. I think all of have done a good job of brining new influences in to the band to make it sound nothing like any of our old projects. We definitely don't sound like my first band. We were metal and totally sucked.

Pedro: don't think we had any pressure actually, since all of our previous projects had shit the bed we were free to do whatever we want. A lot of the bands we were from sounded pretty different, and everybody took a "music first" mindset into this project. The great thing about this band is that nobody had any preset ambitions, we all just played because we wanted to. I think the songs came from an expression of that.

PRT: You have three guitarists in the band which can whip up quite a wall of sound. Did you set out to be a band with that much guitar or is that just something that kinda happened?
Casey: The writing process is where it all starts. Having 3 guitars really challenges us to take our writing to new levels. We have to be very careful to not overdo it. But we all stand by the idea that if you can't pull it off live, you shouldn't lay it down in the studio. It opens a lot of doors for us to be really flexible in the writing process, and it forces us to write music as "A BAND." Not just one person that writes everything start to finish.

Andy: That was the idea from the get go. We had seen other bands do it with success and felt it was a way to give the music more depth. We hope it works to our advantage and doesn't confuse too many people!

Pedro: It just kinda happened. At first we were gonna have Casey play bass, but we were able to get Joe as a bass player too, so we decided to try 3 guitars. It's a lot of sound, and at first we had to really watch what we were playing, because with 3 guys wailing all over the place it sounds like shit. So we had to make concious decisions to play down in places, so that we could make something listenable.

PRT: Your debut full-lenth is called "Lower Bounds". Why should people choose it over "Chinese Democracy"?
Justin: Because we are a new band. Not some washed up fuck bags going through mid-life crisis’s.

Andy: Rather than go into a diatribe about just how shitty the new Guns and Roses album is I will just say that we are poor and Axl is way too rich. Fuck Axl!

PRT: I love how the songs combine everything I love about bands such as Hot Water Music with some more atmospheric parts. But aren't you tired yet of the HWM comparison?
Justin: Ha! It does get old but I take no offense. I love everything those guys are. As people, as musicians, and as pioneers in a genre all their own. Never have I met a group of guys (besides Planes Mistaken For Stars) that are so honest and true to what they are about. It's very inspiring.

Andy: We will never get tired of that comparison. They are collectively our favorite band and we wouldn't sound like we do if it wasn't for them. We recently got to open for them in Denver and were as giddy as all hell. Great dudes, great band. Nuff said.

PRT: I read you're taking a break for a couple of months because one of your guitarists is off to school until early next year. Doesn't it suck to have to take a break now that the album is out and being received very positive?
Justin: That is me, and if anything I think it's just building up the anticipation. It's not like tons of people around the country are waiting for us to play their town. We do fairly well in Denver and the less we play, the more people get excited when we do play. If for some freak reason this album takes off and demands us to tour more, then they'll just have to wait until spring to see us. But don't hold your breath.

PRT: In the movie High Fidelity, the guys that work in the record store are constantly making these top 5 lists of songs for a specific occasion. If you would have to make such a list, which occasion would it be for and which songs would make your top 5?
Justin: Top 5 songs to sit on the couch, smoke tons of weed, and be a complete waste to: Torche-Brown Recluse, Isis-Holy Tears, Neurosis-Given To The Rising, Old Man Gloom-Gift and Pentagram-Forever My Queen

Andy: Top 5 reasons I shouldn't have done this interview. Ha! Kidding.

Pedro: Top 5 songs to kill everyone at Mortal Kombat to:
1. "5 to 9" by A Wilhelm Scream
2. "Open Hands To The Wind" by Hopesfall
3. "My Name Is A Killing Word" by Form Of Rocket
4. "Parishiltonisametaphor" by Dillinger Four
5. "October" by Able Baker Fox

Casey: I actually did it on my iPOD today!!!
1.) Anything off "The Shape of Punk to Come" - Refused
2.) "Highway to the Dangerzone" - Top Gun Soundtrack
3.) "Final Countdown" - Europe
4.) "Heart Attack America" - The Bronxs
5.) Is a tie between "Under Pressure" - David Bowie and Queen, and it's cover done by Small Brown Bike and The Casket Lottery

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Justin: Thanks for reading! I am not bright or witty enough for anything cool to say. But I can build you a guitar someday. yeah!!!

Mat McHugh - Seperatista!

Mat Mchugh is the frontman of the to me unknown Aussie band The Beautiful Girls. They haven't broken up or anything, McHugh just felt the time had come to drop a solo album titled "Seperatista!".
While he relies mostly on his acoustic guitar, the tracks on here are further embellished with touches of a cello or an accordion. It's all very mellow and laidback tunes on here with "It Isn't Me" as the absolute highlight of the album. Think of fellow surfer in arms Jack Johnson and you're not too far off the mark. Good stuff!
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Die! Boredom Records

Psyopus - Odd Senses

This is why inbreeding is illegal in most states. I think this falls under the category mathcore but I'm not sure because all I heard was a bunch of unlistenable, pretentious crap.
Score: 1 out of 10

Punk Rock Karaoke DVD

The Punk Rock Karaoke house band features guitarist and MC Eric Melvin (NOFX), guitarist Greg Hetson (Bad Religion/Circle Jerks) drummer Derek O'Brien (Social Distortion/Adolescents) and bassist Steve Soto (Adolescents/Agent Orange). Together they recorded 10 punk classics for you to sing along to in the comfort of your own living room.

Don't feel like singing them yourself? No sweat! Vocals can be turned on at any time. Cool thing is that they too are performed by a whole bunch of guest vocalsists. So even if you don't wanna go for a night of beer and karaoke, there's still a decent cover CD for you to enjoy!

Here's the full tracklisting:
"Manny, Moe, and Jack" by The Dickies (vox by MXPX's Mike Herrera)
"Back Against the Wall" by The Circle Jerks (vox by Pennywise's Jim Lindberg)
"Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie" by Black Flag (vox by Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba)
"What Do I Get?" by The Buzzcocks (vox by The Vandals' Warren Fitzgerald)
"Fuck Armageddon...This Is Hell" by Bad Religion (vox by Flogging Molly's Dave King)
"Suspect Device" by Stiff Little Fingers (vox by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones' Dicky Barrett)
"Minor Threat" by Minor Threat (vox by New Found Glory's Jordan Pundik)
"Bikeage" by The Descendents (vox by Lagwagon's Joey Cape)
"Amoeba" by The Adolescents (vox by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes' Spike Slawson)
"California Uber Alles" by The Dead Kennedys (vox by Throw Rag's Sean Wheeler)
Score: 8 out of 10

Pranksters – Living Disaster

Denmark’s Pranksters are a punkrock trio who like their songs fast and loud. And not very original. Think of Green Day with a little Bad Religion mixed in but not as good.

“Living Disaster” has 12 tracks that all race by in just 31 minutes. There’s not really anything wrong with the songs themselves even though the singer has – attention : understatement ahead – a bit of an accent. They could even be considered good if it had not been for the thousands of punkrock bands that came before them and did pretty much the same thing but with catchier hooks. Even within the album there is little to no variation making “Living Disaster” a fairly bland release that doesn’t stand out in any single way.
Score: 5 out of 10

Thrice – Live At The House Of Blues 2CD/DVD

If you put “Identity Crisis” and “The Alchemy Index” next to one another, it’s hard to believe you’re talking about the same band. Thrice has never stopped evolving, never shied away from an experiment or two and ended up well ahead of the rest of the post-hardcore pack with a sound all their own.
Recorded live at The House Of Blues, this is pretty much the ultimate Thrice set, revisiting every release they put out but giving the older material a new twist. The audience seemed to love it and I can see why. On the few occasions that I’ve seen Thrice play live, I got goosebumps. There’s something special about this band and if you’re not already onto that, I suggest you pick up a copy of this release and soak in a whole lotta Thrice!
Score: 8 out of 10

Urban Legends DVD (1998)

directed by: Bill Osco
starring: Dino Lee, Carl Crew, Rusty DeFage, ...
With a DVD cover promising me gruesome, violent, bloody and deadly scenes of what human beings can do to one another, I expected a Faces of Death style movie. I forgot to count in Rusty DeFage though and so instead I was treated to bad stand up comedy, even worse sketches and a whole lot of some of the worst acting known to mankind with incredibly annoying voices. Hey, that 'incredibly annoying' part actually goes for this entire movie!
Score: 1 out of 10

Bikini Bloodbath Car Wash DVD (2008)

Directed by: Jonathan Gorman & Thomas Edward Seymour
Starring: Debbie Rochon, Rachael Robbins, …
Here’s a movie about a bunch of bikini-clad girls that work in a car wash to help raise money for a good cause. Possibly a sequel to this movie? All goes well until they mess around with a Ouija board (never a good idea in this type of movie) and raise The Chef from the dead. Hence the title of the movie… Bikini Bloodbath Car Wash.
While the story on its own may seem like the kind of material Oscar winners are made of, this movie is bad. And I don’t mean bad like in so bad it becomes funny again. No, this one just plain stinks. The acting is horrible, the attempts at humour are pathetic, the dialogues are terrible and to let you in on a little secret, I think the guy that plays Chef is as much a real actor as he is a real chef.
To keep this momentum of negative energy going, I would further like to add that the blood and gore is kinda minimal and amateuristic (there’s an understatement!). But hey, at least there’s plenty of bikini action to go round and the ‘actresses’ are kind of goodlooking!
Score: 2 out of 10

The Legend Of Boggy Creek DVD (1972)

Directed by: Charles B. Pierce
Starring: a narrator and a bunch of people as themselves
"The Legend of Boggy Creek" is a pseudo-documentary about a Bigfoot-like creature that supposedly roamed around Fouke, Arkansas in the seventies. I've never quite seen anything like this movie before... people are playing themselves, re-enacting scenes where they saw the monster. It's kind of like watching a low-budget Attenborough documentary crossed with a Lassie episode. With songs. Yes, that's right... throughout the movie you'll occasionally run into hilarious songs. That's pretty much where the horror comes in as well. The monster itself is some dude in a gorilla costume, the acting is terrible but songs like "Hey There Travis Crabtree" are nothing if not scary.
Watching this for the first time now, it's kind of hard to believe this was a runaway hit movie back in the day. It looks extremely dated and moves at a very slow pace. Yet it does have its charm... even I have to admit that. If you want to feel nostalgic about seventies horror, this is one title you might want to check out.
Score: 5 out of 10


Madensuyu – D Is Done

Madensuyu (Turkish for sparkling water) are two Belgian dudes that have been playing music together since they were teenagers. Stijn “Ylode” De Gezelle plays guitar and bass while Pieterjan “PJ’ Vervondel is beating his drum kit like the thing still owes him money. Together they share a love for all things Sonic Youth, The Velvet Underground and post-rock a la Mogwai.
This can be heard on their second album “D Is Done”, an album where tension, anxiety and a general feeling of unease never waver and which at the same time reminded me of Baywatch. Well, at least the drum roll towards the end of “Tread On Tread Light” reminded me of the theme song. “Fafafafuckin” or “MY” on the other hand would’ve never been played while Pamela’s heaving breasts were onscreen simply because they’re too unsettling. Especially the saxophone in “MY” sounds like it didn’t live to see the end of the recording. And I haven’t even mentioned the title track which starts off like a lullaby before exploding in a nightmare only to then quietly fade out again.
This album is a punch in the face and a bandaid at the same time and I’m digging it. If you like your music fuzzed and fucked, then Madensuyu is just the thing you’re looking for!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Rosematter – Shooter’s Gonne Choke

If Letters To Cleo was too poppy for you. Or if Save Ferris was more ska than you could handle. Or if Tsunami Bomb was a little too loud for you. You get my drift… Rosematter is relatively young band that comes with a prepubescent sense of humor reflected in the album cover and song titles. Even though I have to admit that some of the titles are funny (“Pull A Fievel And Go West”).
Overall though this female-fronted poppunk band soulds like Tsunami Bomb without an edge, Save Ferris without the ska and Paramore without the marketing budget. Not a bad way to spend thirty minutes but the replay value on “Shooter’s Gonna Choke” is kinda low.
Score: 7 out of 10

The All-American Rejects – When The World Comes Down

While there’s something that keeps rubbing me the wrong way about Fall Out Boy, I’ve always had a soft spot for The All-American Rejects ever since their debut came out on Doghouse a couple of years ago.
In essence both bands are doing the same thing – both play pop music with a punky veneer – but AAR somehow does it for me. And that has never been more true than on “When The World Comes Down”. Maybe last year’s tour with Bon Jovi showed them what could be? Fact is that with the help of Good Charlotte producer Eric Valentine, The Rejects have made their slickest and most catchy album to date.
Just listen to it once and try to get those strings in “Fallin’ Apart” or the chorus in “Gives You Hell” out of your head. Actually, try to forget any of the choruses on “When The World Comes Down”! Or how about “Another Heart Calls”, the band’s duet with The Pierces. If it is solid pop music you’re looking for, look no further!
Score: 8 out of 10

Lionheart – The Will To Survive

The Bay Area used to be known for its thrash metal back in the day but Lionheart is here to show that they can play some serious metalcore there as well. “The Will To Survive” was originally released on Stillborn Records in 2007 and you know what that means… if you like Hatebreed, Terror or Shattered Realm, chances are you’ll get your mosh on with Lionheart as well.
Chugga chugga riffs, double bass action, pissed off vocals, gigantic breakdowns and gang vocals… it’s all there. While they clearly aren’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before and even though 17 tracks (11 from the original release + 6 new ones) might be a little bit too much of the same, Lionheart know how to play the angry card and come at you no holds barred.
Score: 7 out of 10


Thursday – Common Existence

Thursday always sounds good no matter what day of the week you play ‘em on. This is a very bad joke but it was very true for 2001’s “Full Collapse”, a classic in the genre. It also rang true for 2003’s “War All The Time” and 2006’s “A City By The Light Divided”, even though that one was a tad bit less. Since then they’ve left Universal and signed with Epitaph where they’ve now just released their latest album, “Common Existence”. And guess what? It sounds great once again.
As soon as opener and first single “Resuscitation Of A Dead Man” bursts out of the speakers, you’ll once again be blown away by the sheer power of this band. They charge out of the gates with Geoff Rickly’s characteristic vocals, awesome riffage, a very strong sense of melody and urgency and some screams in all the right places. What is even cooler is that they manage to keep building up tension throughout the rest of the album up until closer “You Were The Cancer”, which happens to be one of the best songs on the album.
Yet another great album by one of the leading acts in the post-hardcore genre… go pick it up now. You won’t regret it!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Fake Problems – It’s Great To Be Alive

I completely missed out on Fake Problems’ debut album but had already picked up their name here and there. On their Side One Dummy debut I’m hearing a lot of Against Me (“Your’re A Serpent, You’re A She-Snake” could’ve come right off of “New Wave”) but Fake Problems likes to throw some other shit in the mix as well. How about some cabaret? Sure, go for it! Or how about some folkrock? Hell yeah!
More is less is something these guys might or might not live by in their private lives. But when it comes to their songs, they are definitely not using this old adagium as the rule. Rich and busy arrangements full of twists and surprises are the norm, rather than the exception making “It’s Great To Be Alive” an album that sounds like the missing link between Against Me and Gogol Bordello.
Score: 7 out of 10

Leathermouth – XO

My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero was friends with the guys in Leathermouth and wanted to help them out by signing them to his own label. When their singer left though, he was quickly doing a lot more than investing money in the band. Whoever thinks he has the next step all figured out for a member of one of the biggest emo bands out there, might want to reconsider. I for one would love to see all the saddened faces of MCR fans after they’ve listened to “XO” and found out this is quite different from “The Black Parade”.
This is pure anger and pent up frustration oozing out through heavily distorted guitars, pounding drums and wretched vocals. Picture The Suicide File getting it on with Cursed and you might have an inkling of what to expect. The songs all tend to blend together after a while but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed this album!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

The Faceless – Planetary Duality

It took me the better part of half an hour to figure out the band name as seen on the cover but apparently this is the new album from The Faceless, a tech/death metal outfit out of LA. Normally I don’t like this genre too much but other than many of their counterparts, the dudes in The Faceless remembered to actually write songs. Songs with sick riffs, an even sicker voice, rhythms only an epileptic can dance to and an overall creepy atmosphere…. That’s what you can expect on “Planetary Duality” and I’m actually loving it!
Fresh off of tours with Lamb Of God and Job For A Cowboy, this quintet plays as tight as can be and while being an all out assault on your ears for most of the time, they don’t shy away from some clean vocals or melodic lines here and there. Hell, they even throw in a piano every now and again. It’s a daunting album to say the least. Take “Xenochrist” for example… thirty seconds into the song you’ll think you’re listening to Dimmu Borgir while fifty rhythm changes later you find yourself listening to a killer melodic riff before a cybervoice takes care of the vocals over a staccato riff while a funky bass line merrily dances away. And that’s just one song!
Like I said, I’m not too at home in this genre but based solely on me being able to listen to the entire album, enjoying it and actually wanting to hear it again, I’ll go ahead and call this one of the best in its genre.
Score: 8 out of 10

The Blackout Argument – Remedies

Shit, I doubt there’s many hardcore bands out there that name all of their songs after the homeopathic remedies of Bach Flowers but count on Germany’s The Blackout Argument to do just that on their second full-length. Why? Because just like those remedies, their songs are made ‘to heal the receiver’s injured hearts and souls’. It does have kind of a gay vibe to it, right?

Luckily the songs on “Remedies” are anything but gay as The Blackout Argument raise a little bit of hell with their melodic hardcore. Nothing too original… I mean, we all know what Rise Against and Boysetsfire sound like. But they do a pretty good job of keeping things interesting throughout the fourteen songs on here. Vocalist Raphael Schmid may not be Nathan Gray but once you get used to his voice, there is not a lot you can say against “Remedies”.
Score: 7 out of 10

Second Sex – Petite Mort

Second Sex is a Strokes clone from France who have now dropped a full-length called “Petite Mort” (which is a French expression for an orgasm). To stay with the sex references… this album is the musical equivalent of getting a halfhearted handjob from a girl whose hand is still moist from the last guy. Not even the ‘novelty’ of six of the songs being sung in French can save this one from sounding stale and boring.
Score: 4 out of 10
Because Music

The Iguanas – If You Should Ever Fall On Hard Times

Even though most of the new album was written in Austin, TX thanks to hurricane Katrina, The Iguanas still have New Orleans on their minds. But instead of dedicating an entire album to the tragedy that struck New Orleans in 2005 and the hardships that came with it, The Iguanas bounce back with their typical mix of swamp rock, tex mex and roots music.
Whether it’s a song about corrupt politicians (“Back In The Limelight”) or an instrumental (“The Fall”), The Iguanas prove themselves to be excellent ambassadors of the New Orleans nightlife where the women are as hot as the weather.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Rodney Crowell – Sex & Gasoline

“Sex & Gasoline”? Sounds like someone loves getting a blowjob in the car! Anyway, on his latest album Rodney Crowell does what he does best… play and sing songs. Mostly about women. Hell, in “The Rise And Fall Of Intelligent Design” he even goes as far as to wish he could be a woman for an hour or so. Empathy or insanity… who knows?
This new album also marks the first time Crowell is not producing his own album if I’m not mistaken. Joe Henry is behind the knobs on this one and it seems like his biggest contribution was making an album that’s country at heart but that doesn’t sound like your typical country album except for little bits of steel guitar here and there.
The end result is yet another fine release by this Steve Earle contemporary. It could’ve used a little more power every now and again but Crowell’s sincerity makes up for it in the end.
Score: 7 out of 10

Throw The Fight – In Pursuit Of Tomorrow

So not all bands that call Minneapolis home are equally original. Thank you Throw The Fight for making that clear! On their debut full-length they bang away nicely enough with their blend of emocore. It’s just a little bit predictable if you’ve ever heard a band like Atreyu before. And haven’t we all!
It’s catchy enough though so who knows, there will be probably still be enough kids out there that just can’t get enough of this kinda stuff and have some money to burn.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

The Stiletto Formal - ¡Fiesta, Fiesta, Fiesta, Fiesta!

After two EPs (“Masochism In The Place Of Romance” and “This Is My Boomstick”), The Stiletto Formal felt it was time to go all out and release a debut full-length. And all out they went on “¡Fiesta, Fiesta, Fiesta, Fiesta!”!
While the first two songs on the album might still sound normal (normal as in what you’d get if you put The Arcade Fire together in a room with At The Drive-In), the rest of the album does its best to take the earlier established rules, break them in tiny little pieces and then start reconstructing songs from there. Occasionally, a song runs off in a less than desirable direction (the drum and bass intermezzo in “6 P.M. Your Time”) but things are quickly rerouted back to awesomeness most of the time. Blame it on the passion of a young band with a great sound still figuring out just how far they can take things.
The cello in “50 CC’s Of Anything Potent” and the indierock/hip hop fusion of “Sleeping Our Way To The Top” are just two fine examples of the genius ahead from The Stiletto Formal.. Passionate, compelling, melancholic, intelligent, powerful and blessed with a flair for the dramatic, it’s all on here. I’m a fan!
Score: 8 out of 10

Fall From Grace – Sifting Through The Wreckage

Seatlle’s Fall From Grace are four dudes who have already had their share of problems in their personal lives. One of them was homeless while another one almost died in an accident. They all overcame their problems, started a band and now sing about the events that took place in the past. Talk about music being cathartic!
Musically “Sifting Through The Wreckage” is punky hardrock, not too different from what Papa Roach dished out on their last album. With Terry Date (Deftones, Soundgarden) in the producer chair, a crystalclear sound is pretty much a given. When cruising in the fast lane (opener “Hated Youth”), Fall From Grace is definitely worth your time but it’s during the slower songs that they lose me with the back-to-back ballads in the form of “This Sickness” and “I Can’t Win” as the biggest no no about this album. Luckily they go out on a high note with a cover of The Ramones’ “Pet Sematary”.
They could use a couple more memorable hooks and fewer ballads but all in all “Sifting Through The Wreckage” is a decent debut from a band we might hear more from in the future.
Score: 6 out of 10

The Vendetta vs. Danny Diablo – When Worlds Collide

When worlds collide indeed… Italian hardcore outfit The Vendetta kicks out the jams with Lord Ezec’s alter ego Danny Diablo spitting out rhymes. They are further supported by a plethora of friends including Roger Miret, Puerto Rican Myke (Skarhead, District 9), Skinhead Rob (Transplants) and Necro among others.
The album sounds great and is the perfect mix of hardcore and hip hop. If crossover is not your thing, you might as well skip this one. Still here? Great! Because you’re bound to get your groove or mosh on with the “Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun” remix or the “Ready 4 War” remix. Or knock yourself out trying to figure out all the bands and song names that are being referenced in “Mechanix”.
Great release and way better than that crappy album by Skam Dust from a while ago (even though he gets to do his thing here as well on “Snow White”).
Score: 7 out of 10

2nd District – Poverty Makes Angry

Members of District and The Revolvers got together and – very originally – called themselves 2nd District. The result of that fusion can be heard on “Poverty Makes Angry”, an album that’s about as original as the band name.
Buzzcocks and Sex Pistols are the main influences on here. At least when the band is not trying to go all poppy on our ass in songs like “Only One”. Some people might like this, personally I’ve never been too keen on the Sex Pistols. And I most definitely don’t want to hear some German dude give away his best Johnny Rotten impersonation. Yes, that is including the accent. Plus he sounds like he had a puff of helium before heading into the recording booth resulting in one incredibly annoying voice. So annoying even that I couldn’t pay much attention to the music.
Score: 4 out of 10

Earth Crisis – Breed The Killers (reissue)

It’s hard to imagine now that there was once was a time when metalcore wasn’t a musical genre plagued by clichés and fashionistas with ridiculous haircuts. Which makes me ponder if vocalist Karl Buechner had a similar haircut back then and used his trusty bandana to hide it? Whatever the case may be, I Scream is now re-releasing Earth Crisis’ 1998 album “Breed The Killers” to remind us of what once metalcore once sounded like.And to place the band back in the spotlight as they are back together and working on a new album (out in April on Century Media).

The album has been remastered and comes with two bonus tracks (a live version of “No Allegiance” and the previously unreleased “Standing Corpses”). If you weren’t around to hear this one when it first came out on Roadrunner, get ready for a barrage of metal riffs, a lot of groove, Buechner’s nearly undecipherable vocals and a strong message about animal rights, the sorry state the earth is in and the straight edge / vegan lifestyle.
The album does not come with a lot of variation but it has been known to cause some serious blunt force trauma as it bashes you over the bandana-wearing skull until you choke on your tofu.
Score: 7.5 out of 10


Tim Barry – Manchester

On his latest solo effort, former Avail frontman Tim Barry sounds even better than on predecessor “Rivanna Junction”. While his gravelly voice is delivering stories about love, friendship, life in general and Texas cops (he doesn’t have anything good to say about ‘em… shocker!), the folky music shines brightly thanks to the use of banjo, violin, piano and mandolin and thought through arrangements.
A lot of former punkrock frontmen are reinventing themselves as singer/songwriters inspired by country and the likes these days. Just think of Chuck Ragan or Joey Cape. Joey Cape’s album was alright but “Manchester” is right up there with Chuck Ragan’s “Feast Or Famine”. There’s nothing insincere about this album and I can just see Mr. Barry writing these songs while chilling on the porch on one of those warm Virginia evenings.
Johnny Cash would be proud to see his legacy live on in “Sagacity Song” while “Ronnie Song” is simply a beautiful ballad. Don’t miss out on this one!
Score: 8 out of 10

Bruce Springsteen – Working On A Dream

For an album coming out right around the inauguration of a president who decided he’d go into politics when he found out he could never become Bruce Springsteen and subsequently received a lot of support from the Boss, “Working On A Dream” is remarkably apolitical. Instead we get a collection of songs of which a handful are instant classics.
Opening the dance is the 8-minute long “Outlaw Pete”, a ballad about a lost soul that comes with a Sergio Leone feel. It’s kind of unsettling to pick up a couple of notes of Kiss’ “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” but the song does prove that Springsteen still knows how to tell a story. The album ends with another outsider story, this time based on Mickey Rourke’s portrayal of a loser as seen in “The Wrestler”. Both are amazing.
In between we are treated to “What Love Can Do” and “This Life”, two stellar pop songs where everything feels right. Or how about the bluesy stomper that is “Good Eye” which seems to be lifted straight out of the Delta and would’ve made Howlin’ Wolf proud. And let’s not forget rockers like “My Lucky Day”… welcome back E Street Band! Unfortunately “Working On A Dream” is also the home of one of the worst Springsteen songs ever with “Queen Of The Supermarket”… I don’t know what the man was on when he recorded this but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to try it.
“Working On A Dream” was recorded right after “Magic” but it never feels like a hastily slapped together album. Is it the way they recorded the album in between shows or the wake up call they received after the death of organist Danny Federici? Fact is that the Boss’ latest is a return to form that fans have been waiting for for quite some time now.
Score: 8 out of 10

Franz Ferdinand – Tonight : Franz Ferdinand

The boys in Franz Ferdinand were tired. Tired of touring, tired of doing the same interview over and over… just tired in general. So they decided to take their time for the next album and slow down a bit. Something that is reflected in the songs they wrote for “Tonight : Franz Ferdinand”.

The new Franz Ferdinand album is different yet still the same. It’s danceable with all the disco beats and catchy thanks to the hooks yet it all sounds a little less jagged. Because of living the good life or because of the keyboards that have been smuggled into pretty much every single song? Who knows! Fact is that is “Ulysses” is an extremely catchy track that can be counted among the best these Scottish lads have done so far. Same thing can be said for “Can’t Stop Feeling”, which has the words ‘single material’ written all over it. But then there’s “Lucid Dreams” on here as well… a song that wavers into a big no no and then drags on for way too long.

It’s a good thing these guys aren’t afraid to try something new but in the end this still sounds exactly like Franz Ferdinand and doesn’t really move me in any kind of way.
Score: 7out of 10

Towers Of London – Fizzy Pop

Never heard of these guys before and after having played “Fizzy Pop” a couple of times, I”m pretty sure my life would”ve felt equally complete if I had completely missed out on Towers Of London.
The tunes on here are a little punky with a lot of glamrock influences a la LA Guns and all those Sunset Blvd. dwellers from back in the 80s. Now, that does sound like a combo that could work. Unfortunately Towers Of London are more like the local band you’d hire to give your kid’s birthday party a boost rather than a dangerous rock ‘n roll band.
Score: 5 out of 10
Vibrant Records

Faster, Faster – Hopes & Dreams

Faster, Faster has everything for the crowd to drewl about. Well, that’s not saying much since they get their panties in a bunch about pretty much every single act there but still. The 92% score they got over on that fansite may serve as a reference point in our search to find out what these guys sound like.
Fast poppy songs with just a little bit of punk thrown in… two sweetvoiced singers that have had their hearts broken by just about every girl they run into and like to share their experiences with everyone… the token acoustic song towards the end of the album (“Forever…”). It’s all as predictable as say, a Fall Out Boy album.
Obviously a lot of people dig this kind of sound but alas, I’m not one of them. They’re pretty decent at what they do though. I just like my bands with that crazy little thing called inspiration. Or creativity.
Score: 5 out of 10

Dawn Of The Dude – International Time Travel With Magical Babes

Run-of-the-mill poppunk with a very short expiration date and annoying synth sounds that rear their ugly head in every single song. Add a dumb band name and dito album title and you’re looking at a bunch of songs that would only look well as filler material on the soundtrack of a movie like “Dude, Where’s My Car?”. Things get even worse when they decide to write a ska song (“Brittany Kaiser”) and end up sounding like Less Than Jake lite… extremely lite.
Who wants to hear this kinda stuff? Not me, that’s for sure!
Score: 4.5 out of 10

Son Ambulance – Someone Else’s Déjà vu

Son Ambulance’s third album opens with a samba-influenced memory of the sixties and Simon & Garfunkel-esque vocals while the next two songs could’ve been on any Air album. Yup, this is music for all the nostalgia lovers and melancholic hearts out there!
Belle & Sebastian, Bright Eyes, sixties tropicalia,… it’s all there on “Someone Else’s Déjà Vu” somewhere and it does sound pretty good most of the time. Nothing earthshattering but still worth more than a lukewarm ‘meh’ which is followed by a barely noticeable shrug of the shoulders.
Too bad they occasionally feel the need to drag songs out for over 6 minutes. Hey, at least they ditched the pianos this time around so that I didn’t have to mention the name Ben Folds again. Oh wait, I just did!
Score: 6.5 out of 10