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interview Make Do And Mend

It's always fun to get a new release from a band you already like but it's way cooler to be blown out of your shoes by a new band. That's exactly what Make Do And Mend did with their "Bodies Of Water" EP (out now on Panic Records). And that's the reason I did this email interview with guitarist/vocalist James.

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
James: I’m James and I play guitar and sing in Make Do and Mend. I fucking love Nada Surf.

PRT: Who else is in the band and can you tell me one thing about them that drives you crazy when you’re stuck in a van together for too long?
James: The rest of the guys are Matt Pat and Mike. I don’t think this band would be able to exist if we didn’t get along so well. On the whole we are pretty caring and conscientious dudes. We do our best to stay out of each other’s hair as much as possible. I actually enjoy being in the van with those guys a great deal. Some of my funniest memories have taken place in that blue van with those three guys.

PRT: Can you give me the history of the band written in one minute or less… ready? GO! James: Umm we formed in 2005, recorded a demo, it sucked. We played some shows, recorded our first E.P. it was a little bit better than the demo. We played some more shows did a few tours Recorded our newest E.P. “Bodies of Water” Did another tour, released that E.P. and here we are. Yeah!

PRT: For the unlucky people out there who haven’t heard you yet… if Make Do And Mend was the lovechild of two other bands, which bands would’ve had sex and which position were you conceived in? James: Crowbar and Vitamin C. Needless to say Vitamin C got totally railed.

PRT: A name I saw a lot when researching you guys is Hot Water Music. How fed up are you with that comparison?
James: I wont deny that it gets annoying, just because we like to think that we are doing something fresh. But I can definitely understand where people get it. I think that people hear gruff yelled vocals and immediately think HWM but I think that we are stylistically really different from those guys. Either way, Hot Water Music is an incredible band. So if people think we sound like an incredible band then that’s a win in my book.

PRT: Is the ‘our own” in the song “Our Own Ebb And Flow” a way of saying you are your own band and more than a band that is influenced by HWM? Or am I seeing way too much into that? James: I think you’re digging a little too deep. That song is about growing up and trying to forge your own set of values and beliefs, and going back and forth between what you’ve been taught and what makes sense to you. The title sort of reflects that battle.

PRT: Panic Records recently released the “Bodies Of Water” EP…what made you decide to go with Panic Records over other labels?

James: The bottom line is Panic just seemed like the most legit option. A few other labels approached us about putting out the record and at that time they just weren’t what we were looking for. When Timm from Panic contacted us we talked a lot about what both parties had in mind for the record and the band and as it turned out we agreed on so much. Timm is just a smart caring dude who wants to do as much for his bands as he humanly can, and that’s why we decided to sign with Panic.

PRT: You already released the EP on your own before signing to Panic… was that a necessity or was being on a label roster simply not a priority?

James: We released the E.P. for free on the Internet just because we were way too excited for people to hear it. We played the whole shopping around for labels game and we eventually decided that we loved the record and we wanted ultimate control over how and when people heard it. So we took matters into our own hands.

PRT: What’s up next for you guys? Lots of touring? Maybe even in Europe? Writing for a full-length?
James: Right now we are just playing a ton of shows. We are going to do a full U.S. and Canadian tour in the summer. We are going to Europe in the winter, which we are all incredibly excited for. And 2010 will see an MDAM full-length. All really exciting things for us!

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
James: Thank you.

Pulling Teeth – Paranoid Delusions / Paranoid Illusions

Pulling Teeth might have been known as a hardcore beast that held its own between Integrity and Slayer, “Paranoid Delusions / Paranoid Illusions” sees this Maryland outfit taking a slightly different route. Everything you liked about these guys is still intact but their new album is anything but just another hardcore album.

The juxtaposition in the artwork is as good an indication of what’s to come as anything else. The contrast between good and bad or pretty and ugly, is present in the music as well where one minute they sound all sludgy and the next you hear birds chirping away. Even in the dirty part there are distinctions as Pulling Teeth likes to both thrash around like a caged maniac in some parts whereas in other parts they sound like a nastier version of Black Sabbath. Sometimes – like in “Ritual” – they switch things up in the same song. It’s all pretty depressing stuff yet still manages to sound pissed off as fuck.

This release might confuse some but I’m loving every second of it. There just aren’t enough seconds with just five songs on here but for me, that’s the only downside of “Paranoid Delusions / Paranoid Illusions”. One of the most impressive hardcore releases of 2009 so far!
Score: 8 out of 10

You Me At Six – Take Off Your Colours

You Me At Six (aka youmeatsix aka yma6 aka ym@6 aka ymas) is an English poppunk meets emo band who got together in 2006. Their career highlight at the moment is probably their UK tour with Fall Out Boy and – of course – their debut full-length, “Take Off Your Colours”.

They’ve worked on the thing for over a year and it shows. The songs on “Take Off Your Colours” sound more American than most American bands but without sounding overproduced like so many of their transatlantic peers. Plus these Surrey lads seem to have mastered the art of writing catchy hooks ages ago. What’s even more remarkable is the fact that even the obligatory slow songs (here present in the form of “Always Attract” and “The Rumour”) are worth listening to and don’t score high on the gag factor! “The Rumour” gets all epic on your ass towards the end with massive gang vocals, which I kinda liked.

Anyway, whether you like this sound or not there’s no hiding the fact that these guys are good at what they do even if they aren’t original at all. But hey, it’s only their debut so who knows!
Score: 7 out of 10

Anarbor – Free Your Mind EP

Anarbor’s album cover with flowers popping out of a man’s head seems kinda weak after just reading an article about a dude who had a little pine tree growing in his lung. Yeah, in his lung! The music itself on this 7-song EP is kinda weak as well, only establishing the fact that Anarbor sounds like the somanieth Panic At The Disco/Fall Out Boy wannabe. And seriously, of all the wannabes you could be, why settle for Panic At The Disco or Fall Out Boy?

In the song “Always Dirty, Never Clean” Anarbor asks ‘what the fuck happened to rock and roll?’. My thoughts exactly while listening to this EP! And you know what the saddest part is? There’s probably a ton of girls going nuts for these guys, thinking that this is what poppunk is supposed to sound like.
Score: 4.5 out of 10

interview Propagandhi

Hitler bad, Propagandhi good. Oh no wait, that was The Vandals. Who cares? It can apply to Propagandhi just the same as they once again prove on "Supporting Caste", their latest album on which they shred like crazy while filling our heads with the kind of riot-inducing food for thought they have been known for for quite some time already. Here's an interview we did with David "The Beave" Gullias. (photo courtesy of Mandy Malazdrewich).

PRT: The bio sheet that came with the new album helps us 'music journalists' out with some of the accolades we can use in our reviews. It made me wonder which five albums you would describe as ground-breaking, impossible to categorize and as works of staggering genius?
David: Haha...I don't know. I guess since Supporting Caste is my first record with the band I 'd have to say that one.

PRT: Thing is that a lot of music journalists do just copy stuff from biosheets. A trend that you see in regular journalism as well. I mean papers have a tendency to print the news they know their readers want to read about rather than writing about the stories that they should know about. Do you agree and what are your two cents on the subject?
David: I agree--you don't often read compelling pieces in the music-related press. It seems to me that most people working in the "music industry" don't really care about music at all. I'm not sure what they care about. Probably money.

PRT: To once again quote the biosheet... you are a bunch of visibly-aging prairie kids. Are bouts of arthritis what kept you from releasing a new album sooner?
David: Well, I'm only a soon-to-be visibly-aging prairie skid. I just turned 30; the other guys are approaching 40. But physical deterioration has had nothing to do with the band's sporadic release of records...yet. Todd's been nursing a bad knee for a while and nearly re-injured it kick-boxing right before leaving for tour. Jord's elbows are making some cracking sounds and he nearly lost his eyeball playing hockey, again right before tour. And Chris has a broken finger that never healed properly and is now literally useless and really painful. I think these are all signs that we better hurry the fuck up and record some more records before the end comes.

PRT: Your new album is called "Supporting Caste". How would you describe it to someone who hasn't heard your previous albums yet?
David: To my ears Supporting Caste sounds like a logical extension of what came before it. As a huge fan of the band for years before joining them, one of the things I loved most about their music was the progression I could hear from record to record. They never stagnated to conform to the flavour of the moment that was making a lot of bands from California rich. They always challenged themselves to do better. And this has not changed. The addition of me on second guitar has probably added something new to the mix, but I don't think Supporting Caste stands out at all as a departure from the past.

PRT: I read that you'll tour more than ever before and that there are even already plans for a new full-length. What happened?
David: Well basically we're just really happy and excited to be in this band right now. We worked really hard on the last record and are having a blast playing the tunes for folks. But we're also really anxious to get to work on some new tunes. Todd and I have been getting together for a few weeks showing each other some new riffs and I can't even believe how amazing this shit is sounding!!! But we're really focussed on touring and playing our new songs from Supporting Caste as good as we can, so there are no actual plans to start working on new stuff. But it is on the horizon!

PRT: In the past you've done some tours in areas where not a lot of other bands play... have you ever ended up in weird situations like the ones NOFX found themselves in judging from their new DVD?
David: Yeah, in the last few years we've been to places like Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Scandinavia and New Zealand which has--obviously--been pretty amazing. I haven't seen this NOFX DVD you're talking about, but I can almost guarantee we did not end up in the same "weird situations" you say they found themselves in. We met some really cool people and just really enjoyed our time in these places that we've never been to before. Snorkling in Costa Rica was definitely one of the highlights of my entire life.

PRT: Talking about Fat Mike... the new album isn't out on Fat Wreck. Is there a particular reason for that split?
David: It was simply a matter of them not showing much interest in our new record. We worked very hard on these new songs and we like them a lot and are excited to get out and play them for folks. We just wanted to work with people that share this excitement.

PRT: You used to run a label yourself, G7 Welcoming Committee. Is that definitely over with or are there plans to blow new life into the label at some point? I hope so because you had the best press releases!
David: I think Chris started loosing interest when Derek (the other guy running G7) moved away. He missed his buddy too much and I think sitting by himself in the office filling orders made him sad and lonely. Plus, between writing songs, practicing, recording and touring, the band has been taking up a lot of our time lately. So it may just be a matter of not having the time to invest in the label at the moment. I don't really know what (if any) plans there are for G7 in the future. You'll have to ask Chris.

PRT: You have already been around for quite some time... being as socially aware and politically active as you are, does it ever get frustrating if you don't see things changing over the years up to the point where you've been thinking about throwing in the towel?
David: If you mean throw in the towel as a band, who knows what the future holds. Right now this does not seem likely for a very long time. The four of us are good friends and we really feel like we're on a roll right now as far as our playing and our song-writing goes. There are lots of reasons to want to leave the world of playing in a band--from the corporate and commercial coup of music and its resulting dismal state to the often grueling and depression-inducing life of being on the road. But right now I see no end in sight. If by "throw in the towel" you mean stop caring about the world around us and become apathetic dicks, no fucking way. We all have an obligation to care about the consequences of our actions--especially those of us in the industrialized West. And to simply care about our fellow Earthlings, human and non-human.

The Number Twelve Looks Like You – Worse Than Alone

“Worse Than Alone” is New Jersey’s The Number Twelve Looks Like You’s fourth album but only the first I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. They are one of those bands whose name I kept hearing and reading about but that I had never quite listend to before.

While drifting with ease from the mathcore of Dillinger Escape Plan to atmospheric soundscapes in under 30 seconds, it’s quickly established that “Worse Than Alone” is not the easiest album on the planet to listen to. Add the fact that TNTLLY is not a band that shies away from an experimental part here and there and you’ll know that this is quite a challenge. Fans of Mr. Bungle and other Mike Patton projects can already start drewling. The same goes for indierockers though because just when you think that you can’t take any more madness, in comes TNTLLY with a beautiful melody while still rocking out.

Diversity is the key here with chaos as the common denominator… even vocally speaking. Jesse Korman and Justin Pedrick do a great job of shrieking, screaming, grunting, yelling and singing the songs together and even throw in a couple of spoken word parts.

There is so much going on on “Worse Than Alone” that it’s hard to contain it all in a couple of lines. It’s a great album for those of you who aren’t afraid to really dig into an album. If it’s melodic background noise you want, please look elsewhere.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Yours For Mine – Dear Children

“Dear Children” is the name of Yours For Mine’s debut full-length. They are from Virginia and are a religious band but let’s not hold that against them because this is a fine debut. That and they don’t preach.

After an atmospheric intro, “Absence In Elegance” bursts out of your speakers and it’s an energetic mix of post-hardcore and progressive something else. Then things get weird towards the end of the song when Yours For Mine shakes things up by switching to a dub rhythm with some brass and a bunch of people talking. Awkward at first but you’d better get over it because the further down the tracklist you get, the more obvious it becomes these guys love to steer their songs into unpredictable directions. Might as well go with the flow.

They have all the signs of being just another post-hardcore act with screams/clean vox, crunchy guitars, breakdowns and so on but somehow they have already managed to find something of a sound all their own. If they manage to incorporate the experiments more into the songs next time around, I’m sure these guys will be all over your stereo in no time.
Score: 7 out of 10

Living With Lions – Dude Manor EP

Living With Lions is a Canadian outfit who originally released this EP in 2007. Since then they’ve also dropped a full-length called “Make Your Mark” and now Adeline is re-releasing both of those. I missed out on “Dude Manor” the first time around but luckily I got to play catch up now because this is a fun release.

The dudes of the manor play poppunk the way a hardcore band would play old Blink covers… fast, melodic and with just the right amount of grit in them. And for once no whiny voice that drags the whole into emo territory! Nope, this is all-out high-octane poppunk just like their friends in Daggermouth like to play.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Let Me Run – Meet Me At The Bottom

Despite having barely been around the block (Let Me Run started about a year and a half ago), these New Brunswick, NJ boys already have a full-length prepared. It’s called “Meet Me At The Bottom” and is out now on XOXO Records.

Eleven tracks of pure punkrock bliss that are heavily influenced by other New Jersey luminaries such as The Gaslight Anthem, The Bouncing Souls and The Ataris is what you get to hear on this album and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. All of the cuts are uptempo with the exception of “Here’s My Destroyer” which is as close as Let Me Run gets to a ballad. And with crunchy guitars, thumping basslines and vocalist Travis Omilian’s hoarse throat, it’s a pleasure to listen to tracks such as “Live Grenades” or “I Don’t Stomp, I Battle”.

If they add a little more variation on the next album, I don’t think there will be any stopping them.
Score: 7 out of 10

Hatebreed - For The Lions

It seems like Hatebreed is running out of inspiration. Following a live DVD, "For The Lions" is not a new Hatebreed full-length but rather a cover album. Usually this type of releases shows up at the end of a band's career. Let's hope that's not the case here!

But fuck it, when well done cover albums can be a lot of fun. And rather than that piece of shit that Reel Big Fish dropped recently, Hatebreed does an amazing job of paying respect to the bands that influenced them.

Expect the Hatebreed machine to sink its teeth in no less than 17 tracks by acts that range from metal powerhouses such as Slayer, Metallica and Obituary to hardcore legends such as Sick Of It All, Bad Brains, Black Flag and Cro-Mags.

All very nicely executed and interesting for Hatebreed's younger fans that might not know where Hatebreed got their sound from
Score: 8 out of 10


interview The Loved Ones

As far as I'm concerned The Loved Ones don't need an introduction. They released an almost perfect album with "Build & Burn", are working on what will hopefully be an equally good new full-length and have just dropped an EP called "Distractions" with three new songs and three covers. And guess what? It's good. Here's what Dave Hause had to say about it in an - albeit short - email interview we did with him.

PRT: You recently released a new EP called “Distractions”. Did you feel it was something you needed to do to tide people over in between full-lengths?
Dave: We had these extra songs and knew we were coming off the road to write the next record, and we felt like the songs were good, just not necessarily a good fit on either of the other full lengths.

PRT: There’s three new songs and three covers. Are the new songs all written for this EP or songs you had laying around from previous recording sessions?
Dave: These were songs that were from the Keep Your Heart and Build & Burn sessions.

PRT: The covers on the EP are from Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg and Joe Strummer. Would you say those are some of your biggest influences as a songwriter?
Dave: Yes, all three of those guys have had an enormous impact on me as a songwriter.

PRT: It seems like with you guys and bands like The Gaslight Anthem, the more recent albums of The Bouncing Souls and a host of solo albums by punkrock luminaries there is something new brewing where punkrock is fused perfectly with rock ‘n roll, country and Americana. Do you feel that as well and why do you think that is?
Dave: I just write what comes out. We have a ton of friends who are musicians who play many different styles of music. I wouldn't want to subscribe to any one scene or grouping of bands, we are the Loved Ones and that is what we are in control of and responsible for.

PRT: I read that you’re working on a new album right now. How’s the writing coming along and what can we expect from it?
Dave: The writing is coming along well. It's hard to say how we are going to approach recording this music, we are still writing and arranging. I would say we are trying to trust what comes naturally and be creative within how we approach playing, rather than trying to push outside of the box like we did on Build & Burn.

PRT: You’re also doing a project with guys from The Bouncing Souls and The Hold Steady. How did that come about and do you already have any recording plans?
Dave: Those guys had that band together and asked me to sing. We have no plans as of now, everyone is really busy with their other endeavors, we are just writing together when we find the time.

PRT: And as if two bands aren’t enough yet, you’re also going to be doing some solo stuff. Is that going to go even more into folk/country territory?
Dave: I'm approaching my solo stuff no preconceived notions. It will not be loud bombastic rock music, I think the Loved Ones satiate that urge in my life. It is leaning towards more acoustic music and will be played with a bunch of different musicians.

PRT: Do you have any time left for anything besides writing music?
Dave: I work construction when I'm home, I own a small business with a partner so that keeps me busy as well. I'll sleep when I'm dead.

PRT: Are there ever days where you are just fed up with music and want to do something entirely different or is it a constant love affair?
Dave: It's a constant love affair. It gets into your blood and you end up needing the fix of finishing songs and performing them, its a way to communicate unlike any other form.

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Dave: Thanks for the interview.


Joe Coffee – When The Fabric Don’t Fit The Frame

On opening track “Don’t Sweat It, Steal It” Paul Bearer puts his Sheer Terror roar to good use. But on the rest of album number two for Joe Coffee, he doesn’t sound quite as menacing. He even croons a little at times. Scary? Not really.

I’m not saying that “When The Fabric Don’t Fit The Frame” is a good album because this melange of street rock, punk, soul and blues is a little too all over the place for its own good. Yet it does have its fine moments. Like the bluesy “You’re Gonna Make Me Do Bad” and “Baby’s Comin’ Home Today” which comes complete with a horn section.

Whether it’s a case of “well on their way but not quite there” or “want to but can’t” is something I haven’t decided on yet. Let’s wait and see what they do on album number three.
Score: 6 out of 10

The Meteors – Hell Train Rollin

After 25 years and over 40 official releases, the self-proclaimed kings of psychobilly thought the time was about right for another Meteors album. Contrary to frontman P. Paul Fenech’s last solo effort (“Skitzofenech”), this is a solid album filled with the same kind of stuff The Meteors have been playing for the past two decades. No surprises, just more songs about death, dying, the dead, the undead and the living being eaten by the dead only to then in turn become the dead. All this in pure Meteors fashion. I doubt they’ll gain any new fans with “Hell Train Rollin but if you already own 40 albums by these guys, why stop there?
Score: 7 out of 10

Reel Big Fish – Fame, Fortune And Fornication

Just like jokes about Bush, ska bands covering rock/metal songs are out of fashion. Hell, ska bands themselves are out of fashion. Somehow the guys in Reel Big Fish missed that newsflash and so now I’m stuck with “Fame, Fortune And Fornication”, a cover album that looks just as cheap as it sounds.

While singing Slade, Poison and John Cougar Mellencamp songs might seem like a good idea when you find yourself drunk out of your mind in a karaoke bar, it’s not something you want to charge sober people money for. As I’m writing this Reel Big Fish is raping Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” and I’ve given up. What were they thinking? A cover album? Seriously? I’ve always liked these guys but you have to know when to quit.
Score: 3 out of 10

The Bigger Lights – Fiction Fever EP

When J.K. Royston (guitar/vocals) and Dan Mineart (bass/vocals) heard Topher Talley sing at a local show, a deal was struck to start a band together. With Mikey Davis behind the drum kit they rounded out the line-up and started writing songs under the moniker The Bigger Lights. Barely a year later they signed with Doghouse and released this 6-song EP digitally. Now there’s the physical version of that EP and it comes with a lot of extra content such as videos, photos and bonus acoustic/remix versions of all the album tracks.

If you like poppunk with arena rock aspirations, The Bigger Lights are just the band you’re looking for. Think early Plain White T’s and Sugarcult. These guys have no problem keeping the energy level up high throughout all six songs and just when you start to think that Talley’s vocals are a tad bit too whiny, in comes the rest of the band with excellent backing vocals.

I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys will be the next big thing for 16-year-old girls to go nuts over!
Score: 7 out of 10

The Grit – Straight Out The Alley

The Grit’s last album “Shall We Dine?” was a fun release and I was wondering what this London-based outfit would come up with next. Two years later they’re back after a whole lot of touring with “Straight Out The Alley”.

On their sophomoric album they’ve added Charlie Boy on acoustic guitar and while they were at it, decided to throw in a little brass, a ukulele and a mandolin here and there. The result is a matured version of “Shall We Dine?” and an excellent mix of ska, psychobilly, country and – of course – punk. You can hear these guys having a good time, regardless of whether they sound like Flogging Molly (“Cast Ya Mind Back”) or a fierce punkrock band (“Lunatics”).

Fans of Dropkick Murphys, The Briggs and Street Dogs should pick this up without batting an eye!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

The Action Design – Never Say

The Action Design is a relatively new band that got together in 2007 after vocalist Emily Whitehurst and bassist Matt McKenzie’s previous outfit Tsunami Bomb called it a day. They quickly added Pipedown’s Jaycen McKissick and drummer Jake Krohn to the line-up and landed on The Action Design as the new band’s name.

Those of you expecting to hear Tsunami Bomb 2.0 will be sorely disappointed because other than Emily’s voice, things sound different on “Never Say”. Never aggressive, always poppy and most of the time very danceable. And not in a pogo kinda way. ‘Hey, wait… pogoing is a form of dancing too!!!’ Yes, you’re very right but you’d look like a regular idiot trying to start a circle pit to the beat of keyboard-enhanced gems such as “Landmines” or “Tokyo Train”.

Call it dance-rock or poppunk or whatever, fact is The Action Design released a solid debut with “Never Say” that holds its own between releases from likeminded acts such as Metric
Score: 7.5 out of 10


Papa Roach – Metamorphosis

I’ve always liked Papa Roach but with “Metamorphosis” it’s really simple… they can do a lot better. They played it safe and rehashed every single idea they’ve had over the years (luckily except for the raps) and called it their new album. And did they already fit in so well with the Buckcherries and Mötley Crüe’s of this world before their passage on last year’s Crüefest? Or did that ‘metamorphosis’ happen later on? Hell, Mick Mars even contributes a solo to the song “Into The Light”. I’m not sure. Fact is I couldn’t slip into the new batch of songs as easily as I did in the past.
Album number six for the Roaches opens with “Change Or Die”, a slogan that rings hollow considering what follows. Things take a turn for the better with “Hollywood Whore” and “I Almost Told You That I Loved You”. If you can get past the inane lyrics that is. But once the band starts to sound like Hinder in “Lifeline” or heads for Nickelback’s neck of the woods with the cheesy ballad “Carry Me”, it seems like we’re a long from home.
If you ask me “Metamorphosis” is the perfect example of a band with an identity crisis and – judging from the back cover – a very crappy stylist.
Score: 5 out of 10

Diablo Blvd. – The Greater God

Named after a COC song, Diablo Blvd. is a Belgian band started by comedian Alex Agnew in 2005. They already released a demo from which I learned that unlike Tenacious D or Flight Of The Conchords (other examples of bands started by comedians), Diablo Blvd. is a band that doesn’t rely on punchlines or gimmicks. Agnew - along with with members of Born From Pain, A Brand and The Ditch - means business.

“The Greater God” kicks off with Agnew asking us if we are listening before launching headfirst into “The Day The Moon Howls”. Pounding drums, powerful and melodic riffs, Danzig-like vocals with the occasional Keith Caputo-esque wail and catchy choruses… Diablo Blvd. has it all. This is - simply put - rock ‘n roll played by a bunch of guys with their balls intact. Guns ‘N Roses, Misfits, The Cult, Billy Idol… it’s all present and accounted for somewhere in these twelve songs with “Second Coming” and “Sweete Enemy Mine” as my personal favorites.

All too often Belgian rock bands have an air of pretentiousness surrounding them, which is a damn shame. Luckily now we have Diablo Blvd. to remind us of what rock ‘n roll is supposed to sound like!
Score: 8 out of 10

Within The Ruins - Creature

Oh joy, another one of those let’s-cram-everything-we-can-into-one-song type of releases. This includes every kind of vocals known to mankind, about thirty rhythm changes and those annoying little arpeggio riffs placed alongside ultra-heavy breakdowns. Can you say Between The Buried And Me wannabes?

I gotta hand it to these Massachussetts guys though, they know how to shred! Now all they have to do for album number two is learn how to write an actual song and they’ll be well on their way to better things.
Score: 5 out of 10

Ladyfinger (NE) – Dusk

Google Ladyfinger and the first search result that comes up is a link to a vibrator that goes by the same name as this Nebraska outfit. “Dusk” is album number two that they get to fill with their mix of hardhitting seventies rock and eighties hardcore and while it does provide pleasure, it’s not the same kind as that other ladyfinger. But who cares honestly! They once again did a great job with a little help from producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Minus The Bear).
Opener “Over And Over” immediately sets the mood with a sound that reminds me of the Foo Fighters while “A.D.D.” comes with a nervous bass, erratic drums and some Queens Of The Stone Age influences. “Little Things” is by far one of the most catchy songs on the album along with “Let’s Get Married” and more than enough proof that these guys can’t just make loud music but also loud melodic music.
“Dusk” is not going to be a classic but if they manage to just add that little bit extra and squeeze out a couple more tracks like “Little Things” on album number three, then it’s going to be really hard to hold these guys back!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Arise And Ruin – Night Storms Hailfire

Canada’s Arise And Ruin is back with their second album on Victory, “Night Storms Hailfire”. It’s the follow-up to 2007’s “The Final Dawn” and honestly I can’t remember anything about that one. Usually that’s not a good sign.

These dudes like their hardcore mixed with groovy death metal parts which is a pretty cool idea and I quickly found myself nodding along to “Bring The Rain” and “Thrashburn”. The production on this one is downright dirty and along with vocalist Ryan Bauchman’s growls, it provides decent headbanging material. Occasionally they will slow things down for sludgy parts like in “The Aftermath”. But most of the time, they sound as if they need to be somewhere else in ten minutes.

Somewhere around the halfway mark the songs all started to blend together which is a shame and I’ve heard this sound being done before and being done better by the Belgian act Rise And Fall, but overall this bastard child of Entombed and Hatebreed made a solid album with “Night Storms Hailfire”.
Score: 7 out of 10


New Found Glory - Not Without A Fight

"Not Without A Fight" is already New Found Glory's sixth full-length and it comes hot on the heels of their EP which was released alongside the full-length by their own alter ego, International Superheroes of Hardcore. Along with the help of Epitaph and producer Mark Hoppus (Blink 182), NFG managed to put together an album full of poppunk songs the way they are meant to sound. They are fun. Nothing more and certainly nothing less.

"Listen To Your Friends", "47" and "Such A Mess" all boast chugga chugga riffs, catchy choruses and Jordan Pudnik's trademark nasal vocals. Don't expect anything new, New Found Glory have long since perfected their sound. But despite having been around for quite some time already, these guys still manage to keep sounding fresh with every single new release and that's an accomplishment on its own.
Score: 7 out of 10

Archive - Controlling Crowds

Archive is a London-based collective built around Darius Keeler and Danny Griffiths. They've already been around for a couple of years, released a bunch of albums but if I'm right "Controlling Crowds" is going to be the album that will definitely launch them all over Europe.

With their feet firmly planted in the electronic scene, these dudes don't shy away from incorporating hiphop ("Razed To The Ground") or indierock a la Secret Machines in their songs or from using a full choir. This results in an album where you're never sure which direction a song is gonna go in. Which in turn allows Archive to keep things interesting for a whopping 78 minutes.

Archive knows how to whip up a storm like Mogwai, they can get trippy with the best of them (think Massive Attack), they know where to use which vocalist (5 or so in total) and - most importantly - they have a knack for writing beautiful melodies. Put it all together and you've got an album on your hands that you're best off listening to as a whole. If you insist on skipping straight to the best, check out first single "Bullets" (one of the most beautiful songs I've heard this year), "Dangervisit" which is like a 7-minute showcase of Archive's sound or "Collapse/Collide", another definite highlight on an aleady basically flawless album.
Score: 9 out of 10

Burn Halo - S/T

Avenged Sevenfold and Eighteen Visions had a lot in common. Both started out as metalcore bands and then ditched the core suffix after a while. Avenged Sevenfold did so with great success and became a household name. Things didn't work out exactly the same way for Eighteen Visions who subsequently called it a day in 2007.

But now James Hart, former Eighteen Visions frontman, is back with Burn Halo. The rest of the line-up consists of Nickelback drummer Daniel Adair, former Jane's Addiction bassist Chris Chaney, guitarist Neil Tiemann (who now tours with American Idol winner David Cook). Oh yeah, Synyster Gates plays guitar on two tracks as well... you know, he plays in Avenged Sevenfold.

Anyway, combine the sounds of Avenged Sevenfold's last album with the musical atrocity known as Nickelback et voila... Burn Halo. Hopefully this collection of middle of the road rock songs with airwave aspirations will get Hart the success he's so obviously aiming for. It sure sounds like everything else you hear on the radio.
Score: 5.5 out of 10
Rawkhead Rekords

Corpus Christi - The Darker Shades Of White

A metalcore album? Fuck, it's been a while! But hey, Corpus Christi has the man upstairs on their side so how bad can it be huh? But what are they doing on Victory... was there no more room on the Facedown roster?

Anyway, "The Darker Shades Of White" is Corpus Christi's debut album and while the band name is kinda dumb (there's a city with the same name... what's next? a band called The Bronx that's from LA? hahaha... ohh wait), their music is fairly enjoyable. It has everything you expect on a metalcore album. If you don't know what I mean with that by now, just check out any Killswitch Engage or Atreyu album. These dudes nail it on some songs (opener "Parade Of Scars") and have a close call on others but overall this is as good as an album devoid of any surprises will get.
Score: 7 out of 10

Smash The Statues - When Fear Is All Around Us

Originality is overrated. I know I bitch a lot about how I'd like to hear more bands with an original sound (especially when I'm talking about metalcore) but then a band like Smash The Statues comes along and you know that originality is overrated.
These Dutchies play hardcore punk that taps from the same vein as Good Riddance and Propagandhi like so many other bands out there. But unlike many of those soundalikes, these guys do it really, really well. Seriously, the songs are fast and aggressive yet have just the right amount of melody as well. And while for other bands it's impossible to keep things interesting for the duration of an entire full-length, Smash The Statues string fourteen songs together with ease.
So yeah... sometimes originality is overrated!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Ritual - Beneath Aging Flesh And Bone

Ritual is a Swedish band that plays a combination of progressive rock and folk music.... oh no, wait! Different Ritual. These dudes are from Germany and with "Beneath Aging Flesh And Bone" they have just dropped their Reflections debut.

This very nice-looking digipack harbors ten hardcore cuts that sound very 90s but walk with plenty of rock n roll swagger. Kind of a Modern Life Is War vibe with a 90s edge if you will? Not a perfect description but pick up the album anyway... I promise you you'll love it. I know I did!
Score: 8 out of 10


The Riverboat Gamblers – Underneath The Owl

Album number four for these Texas dudes finds them cranking out just under a dozen songs that rock harder than your grandma’s rocking chair and go down smoother than a bottle of Wild Turkey. Something the Riverboat Gamblers have had more than experience with judging by their adrenalin-fueled plea to hide the bottles in “Keep Me From Drinking”.

Opener “Dissdissdisskisskisskiss” sets the tone for the rest of the album… dirty riffs, pounding drums and Mike Wiebe’s voice coming in with a chorus simply begging to be sung along by a bunch of sweat-drenched fans. They smuggle in a couple of curveballs as well in between the noise like the glockenspiel-enhanced “Robots May Break Your Heart”. But overall these guys like to rock out with the amps turned all the way open.

Rock ‘n roll is dead? Fuck that… I’d like to present the jury with exhibit A called “Underneath The Owl”.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Static-X – Cult Of Static

Ten years after “Wisconsin Death Trip” these guys are still going! I don’t know if they’re going strong but judging from the album title, they think they are and they show no signs of slowing down on albumer number six.

“Cult Of Static” is not that different from Static-X’ other albums. You take some industrial metal with pounding drums and Wayne Static’s growls et voila… new album is done! They’ve been using the same trick for years and by now I’ve given up that they will ever try anything else. But hey, they have their one trick down pat. Fans of Fear Factory and Spineshank will no doubt appreciate this. And now everyone together… Fear-who and Spine-what?
Score: 6 out of 10

Neal Casal – Roots & Wings

“Roots & Wings” is already Neal Casal’s twelfth solo album yet he is still probably best known as that guitarist supporting Ryan Adams as one of the Cardinals. His latest release has a whopping sixteen songs for sale that all seem to stem from the seventies… folksy pop songs take the spotlight with lead roles for Casal’s voice and his acoustic guitar.

Everything trickles by ever so gently with occasionally a little gem popping out (“Hereby The Sea”) making this a very gentle release that all you Gram Parsons lovers out there should own!
Score: 7 out of 10

Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Everything’s For Sale

Two brothers from Wales head for blues territory with “Everything’s For Sale”, wearing their influences on their sleeves. The Stones, The Black Keys, Deep Purple … it’s all there and accounted for.

So while what they’re doing isn’t exactly new, it’s still entertaining most of the time. Guitarist/vocalist Alled Clifford has a mean voice to go with his nasty guitar sound while his brother is kicking the shit out of his drums at a steady pace. It’s not all heavy though as they end their album on a folksy note with “Mary’s Tune” as if to show that it isn’t all bad after all.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

O Pioneers – Neon Creeps!!!

Wow, it’s finally out then! These guys had to deal with a whole lot of line-up changes leading up to the release of “Neon Creeps!!” but the album is finally out now thanks to Kiss Of Death and Asian Man.

The song titles might led you to believe you’re dealing with a highschool poppunk band (“Saved By The Bell Was A Super Good Show”, “I Have A Major Weightlifting Problem”), but once those gravelly vocals and jangly guitars kick in you’re quickly set straight. Think Hot Water Music, Jawbreaker and older Against Me. Not bad at all but I’m missing that special something to make this a memorable release.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Rentokill – The O.S.E.

Buy the 12”, get the CD to go along with it… that’s what you get when you pick up a copy of Rentokill’s “The O.S.E.”, a concept EP. The artwork is kinda ugly if you ask me and four songs (including a cover of Tom Wait’s “Downtown Train”) is not a lot. But at least these Vienna punks know how to write a decent punkrock song not unlike Propagandhi or Strike Anywhere. And so the rhythms are fast and the guitars are fast yet melodic on “The Object”, “The Subject” and “The End”.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Soulgate’s Dawn – Messiah

Generic metalcore release number three of the day comes courtesy of Soulgate’s Dawn (what???). On ”Messiah” they do everything that is expected from a metalcore release these days and - like a million other bands out there – end up sounding just a band trying their best to sound like HeavenShallBurn and Darkest Hour.

A little bit of originality… is that really too much to ask for?
Score: 4 out of 10

Seneca – Reflections

Another predictable as hell release comes courtesy of North Carolina’s Seneca. A.P. said about their self-titled 2006 release that it was ‘what metal should be’. I don’t know about that since I didn’t hear their debut. But I can tell you that on “Reflections”, Seneca does everything by the book and nothing more. Clean vocals here, guitar squeal there and breakdowns everywhere. Yawn!
Score: 5 out of 10

Malefice – Dawn Of Reprisal

For the ten or so people out there still waiting for the latest in metalcore / thrash that sounds like Killswitch Engage or Lamb Of God, there is now Malefice’s second album. They do a decent enough job but fact remains that the tracks on “Dawn Of Reprisal” could’ve just as well been on a whole bunch of other metal albums released in the last couple of years. Get a sound of your own already!
Score: 6 out of 10

The Shaking Hands – S/T

The Shaking Hands (previously The Horror) play potent streetpunk like a whole bunch of other bands. They do a good enough job but it’s really hard to stand out in a a scene where most of the bands sound kinda similar. These dudes (including some of The Young Livers) do have a way with big choruses that harbour a whole lot of ‘whoa’-s and ‘ohhh’-s. Easy to sing along to while slamming around the pit or while having a beer.

It’s not like these guys reinvented the wheel but their self-titled album is good for some old-fashioned fun punkrock and like John Lennon said it a long time ago: sometimes that’s all you need. Oh no, wait… that was love! Whatever.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

C.A.P.S. – Strip Down & Rebuild

Raw garagerock that runs on jetfuel, male and female vocals, a handful of powerchords and an organ… that’s all that C.A.P.S. need to put together a solid album that reaches its climax in the middle with “Highway Demon” and “Six Finger Shake” and only slows down in the last song (“Bring The Man Down”).

If the Gearhead Records catalog is well represented in your CD collection, you might want to check out this Copenhagen outfit!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Olympus Mons – Nothing’s Gonna Spoil My Day Today

I can’t really tell you anything about the music other than that these London kids play the kind of energetic rock that the Kooks and every other UK band seems to play. Which in itself isn’t a bad thing… like one, like ‘em all is what I thought. But I can’t wrap my head around exactly how bad Olympus Mons’ singer is… easily one of the most annoying voices I’ve heard in a long, long time.
They give an excellent piece of advice though through their album title and who am I not to follow good advice! So in order to keep my day spoil-free I threw this album in the bin and you know what? It worked! I immediately felt better! Thanks Olympus Mons!
Score: 4 out of 10

Asobi Seksu – Hush

After their first two albums didn’t come with the success the band was hoping for, Asobi Seksu (Japanese for casual sex) decided to take a slightly different route with their shoegazer eruptions. On “Hush” you’ll find less distorted guitars and more dreamy pop music which suits Yuki Chikudate’s sweet, childlike voice. Rather than just yelping a little, she really sings this time around and easily becomes the main attraction of this outfit. Think shoegazer meets Cocteau Twins if you will.

Despite very solid cuts like opener “Layers” and “Sunshower”, TPOBPAH do not manage to keep things interesting throughout all twelve songs. Things always sound pretty and cute but that alone doesn’t guarantee a memorable song. The occasional bursts of guitar are very welcome when they rear their ugly head as they help break through the monotony. I can only hope Chikudate and guitarist James Hanna will return to their noisier selves on album number four.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – S/T

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart isn’t exactly a band name that appeals to the imagination. Expecting to hear the latest offspring that came from emo cum and a poppunk seed, I popped in this self-titled album very hesitantly only to be pleasantly surprised.

This outfits seems to be raised on a strict diet of My Bloody Valentine and Jesus And Mary Chain… pure pop bliss wrapped in fuzzy guitars. A girl called Peggy Wang-East drops in with the occasional keyboard passage and backup vocals that wrap themselves gently around Kip Berman’s vocal chords. That same Berman does an excellent job of sounding distant while moping like an old man and citing lyrics that seem charming at first until you notice they come with a dark edge. Just have listen to “Come Saturday” en “This Love Is Fucking Right” and be charmed by everything The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart do. They’re so much more than a MBV tribute band and even leave other revivalists like Crystal Stilts and Vivian Girls far behind them.
Score: 8 out of 10

We Were Wolves – Yeah, Mammoth

Hailng from Texas, We Were Wolves is a young, new band that likes to rock. I know that because I heard them do it on their debut album “Yeah, Mammoth”. Listening to this disc, I’m also fairly sure these guys dig Josh Homme and Jesse Hughes. They might not have the tongue-in-cheek lyrics that Eagles Of Death Metal are known for but these dudes have a sturdy rhythm section, some solid riffs and a vocalist with a deep howl. And that’s pretty much all you need to write a decent album. Give these dudes a little more time to gain some more experience points and these Wolves will sound just as fun as Hughes (even if he’ll always have the coolest moustache).
Score: 6.5 out of 10
no label

The Marked Men – Ghosts

With guitarist/vocalist Jeff Burke moving to Japan, it looks like we won’t hear anything new from The Marked Men for quite some time. Luckily they left us with “Ghosts” to soften the blow. And they soften it with ease, even topping 2006’s “Fix My Brain” in the process.
The songs – 15 intotal - fly by and while it does help to keep things sound fresh with every new listen, it takes a couple more listens for the sheer brilliance of it all to shine through. The melodies and vocal harmonies on this one are outstanding. This is primo poppunk and excellent garage rock at the same time. I don’t know how they do it but The Marked Men do everything right. It’s fast, it’s catchy and they rock out throughout the entire album with not just one highlight but fifteen of them. There’s simply no going wrong with this album!
Score: 9.5 out of 10

Hatesphere – To The Nines

Despite an almost completely new line-up including a new vocalist, Hatesphere still sounds like a thrash monster on their latest album. New vocalist Jonathan ‘Joller’ Albrechtsen might not have that same manic voice as predecessor Jacob Bredahl but he does a convincing job while the rest of the band keeps their foot on the gas pedal, pushing it all the way down throughout the entire duration of the album.

They aren’t reinventing anything but they know how to crank out some potent thrash metal with the occasional groovy death metal part creeping in. If you like your music loud and rude, don’t hesitate to pick up “To The Nines”!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Great Lake Swimmers – Lost Channels

Great Lake Swimmers are back with album number four of their folky tunes and if there’s any justice left, they will finally receive the recognition they deserve with this album! Predecessor “Ongiara” already gave a lot of people the chance to get to know these Cannucks, the rest of the world will hopefully follow now thanks to “Lost Channels”.

Once again Tony Dekker and his friends dish out some of the most melancholic sounds for us to savor while Dekker drapes his tenor over them. These guys’ weapons of choice are guitar, bass, violin, cello and a whole lot of disarming melodies. And yes, drums! Meanwhile Serena Ryder helps out with her vocals and Bob Egan gets to whip out his pedal steel guitar.

I didn’t get “Singer Castle Bells” which is nothing but 48 seconds of bell sounds but I can tell you that “Pulling On A Line” and “Stealing Tomorrow” are beautiful songs, the first coming off as a rockier version of GLS while the latter has that characteristic reverb-drenched sound.
Score: 8 out of 10

Scary Mansion – Every Joke Is Half The Truth

The name Scary Mansion might suggest that we’re dealing with a band here but basically this is a project by a lady called Leah Hayes. Leah sounds a lot like Cat Power but dismissing her as a mere copycat would be cutting her short.

Opener “Captan” starts off with a lot of feedback and processed drums and helps make a point right from the start… this is not going to be the easiest album to sit through. And even though all the other songs on here hardly sound like “Captan”, accessible it is not. Hayes likes her songs folky, raggedy and with minimal arrangements. And oh yeah, depressing as fuck. I seriously like “Go To Hell” and “Shame” but towards the end of the album I was ready for some of ABBA’s greatest hits to serve as a counterweight.
Score: 7 out of 10

The Creepshow – Sell Your Soul

The Creepshow is a Canadian psychobilly band that I had never heard of before until this album arrived on my doorstep a while back. “Sell Your Soul” originally came out in 2006 on Dynamite Records / Crazy Love Records and was followed in 2008 by “Run For Your Life”. Now People Like You Records is re-releasing the band’s debut with a bonus DVD featuring a live show of the band.

“Sell Your Soul” starts off with an intro that immediately sets the mood (think old horror / sci fi movie) before launching into some primo psychobilly with “Creatures Of The Night”… a galloping bass, yummy guitars, a sexy girl called Sarah Sin wriggling around the mic and some nice keyboards atop a catchy chorus. That’s pretty much the formula for every single song on the album but it never gets old. On “Shake” they prove they’ve got the 50s rockabilly flair down pat while “Doghouse” (with guest vocals from Matadors’ singer Hooch) shows they can rock pretty hard as well.

For fans of Horrorpops and Nekromantix!
Score: 7.5 out of 10