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City Of Ships – Live Free Or Don’t Tour LP

“Live Free Or Don’t Tour” is the not so new City Of Ships vinyl-only release combining the band’s “Tour” and “Live Free Or Don’t” EPs on one album. This three-piece created an amalgam of all the post-something genres you can come up with in order to create one huge wall of sound. In these songs you’ll encounter lots of influences ranging from Planes Mistaken To Stars and Mastodon to Isis or Neurosis.

It’s very hard to pin these guys down but fact is they like to let the bass rumble while the guitar lays down some atmospheric riffage only to then have a vocalist come in who belts everything else out of the water. Except for the occasional messy transition where two ideas don’t really gel together like they ought to, this is one massive album that is nothing if not impressive.
Score: 8 out of 10

Official Secrets Act – Understanding Electricity

Official Secrets Acts is one of the newer bands to be hyped in UK indierock circles.Deservedly so? Yeah, kinda. “Understanding Electricity” is the name of their debut full-length and it opens very strong with “Mainstream” and single “So Tomorrow”, two tracks that thrive on twitchy drums and synth sounds along with vocalist Tom Burke’s capability to carry a tune.They sound somewhat like Kaiser Chiefs, XTC, Blur, The Killers, Pulp and Elbow all rolled into one.

Things become a little less interesting when they go for a mid-tempo shuffle in “Little Bird” but hey, not a lot of debut albums are perfect. These guys are at their best when they deliver uptempo songs like “Momentary Sanctuary” rather than the way too long “A Head For Herod” or the too new wave-ish for its own good “Bloodsport”.

There’s no doubt these guys can write a decent tune but they are still looking for a sound of their own. For the moment it’s as if they are desperately trying not to sound like other bands out there. But who knows what they will come up with on the next album!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Atta – I Just Love To Say I Called You

These guys changed their name from Gloryhole to Atta but as they reassuringly tell us on their site, they are still retards. Very short bands history… these three Swedish dudes first started playing together in 2007 and have now recorded their debut full-length album “I Just Love To Say I Called You”.

Don’t expect too much of this album, it’s just a bunch of fun punkrock tunes that remind me a lot of older Blink 182 and Sum 41. No pretentiousness, just fast rhythms, simple melodies and cheesy lyrics. But hey, it’s the perfect soundtrack to a sunny day like today!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

The Chelsea Smiles – S/T

Todd Youth formed The Chelsea Smiles in the aftermath of his Danzig adventure and already released one album on People Like You Records in 2006. After some messing around with the line-up and the switch to DR2 Records, they are now back with a new self-titled album.

These guys sure love their rock n roll and as they merrily rock their way through the twelve songs on here I can hear them taking cues from everyone from The Rolling Stones and The Faces to Kiss and New York Dolls. They all pull it off really well and deliver a solid release that can easily stand next to The Hellacopters’ or Backyard Babies’ best.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Sorry And The Sinatras – Highball Roller

The punk n rollers that make up Sorry And The Sinatras would make Ol’ Blue Eyes roll over in his grave but I don’t think they give two shits about it. On “Highball Roller” they head for Backyard Babies territory and never look back. It’s all piss and vinegar with plenty of booze, sweat and loud guitars. On “Burns City Burns” they come close to licking the heels of The Bronx but overall they still lack that band’s songwriting skills and sheer power. The rest of the songs on here aren’t as furious, which is where the Backyard Babies comparison comes in.

It’s nothing new and honestly, I’ve heard it better before. But overall “Highball Roller” is an enjoyable album that’s better than a lot of other albums by bands that’ve tried it with the same sound and whose name I’ve long since forgotten.
Score: 6 out of 10

Frightened Rabbit – Quietly Now!

No, this is not the new Frightened Rabbit album. Instead “Quietly Now!” is the live version of the band’s album “The Midnight Organ Fight”, recorded at the Captain’s Rest in Glasgow somewhere last year. It’s all centered around Scott Hutchison’s acoustic guitar and vocals with the rest of the band quietly jumping in with backing vocals, organ and the occasional mandolin.

No doubt this was a whole lot of fun live but it doesn’t translate too well to CD. Things get a little boring after a couple of tracks because when you strip it all down to a naked sounds like this, not a whole lot is left of the songs except for Hutchison’s vocals which well, get a little boring after a while.

Not a terrible album either but if you’re new to the band, you’re better off leaving this to the diehard fans and picking up the ‘regular’ version of “The Midnight Organ Fight” instead.
Score: 6 out of 10

The Enemy – Music For The People

After a first album that got The Enemy a lot of success in the UK, these lads are now back with a new album that’s really not that good. Whereas their debut album was a nice collection of songs inspired by The Jam and The Who, everything on their new album had to simply sound bigger. And as they aptly prove, that’s not necessarily a good thing. At all. You’ll know it right from the start when the intro to “Elephant Song” bursts out of the speakers. It’s as if they found the ‘epic’ button on the mixing panel when they first entered the studio and forgot to ever turn it off.

Sometimes this works but in The Enemy’s case the songs don’t really seem to go anywhere. They just keep building up tension to the point where you expect a kickass finale to come in, swoop the prom queen off her feet and give her a good fuck… except that that never happens.

Typical example of a UK band who drop a solid debut, get hyped by the likes of NME, start believing in their own hype and then deliver a sad excuse for a second album.
Score: 4 out of 10

Anti-Flag – The People Or The Gun

When Anti-Flag inked their deal with RCA Records, a lot of the early fans were pissed off because of selling out and blah blah blah. You know, the oldest punkrock cliché in the book along with ‘I liked their first album better’. But now it’s 2009 and Anti-Flag is back on an indie label. This time it’s Side One Dummy that will be releasing the new Anti-Flag album which is called “The People Or The Gun”.

In times of war and economic recession, there is no lack of fuel for a political punkrock band like Anti-Flag. And so you’ll find songs on “The Economy Is Suffering… Let It Die”, “You Are Fired (Take This Job, Ah, Fuck It)” or “No War Without Warriors”… titles that don’t leave much to the imagination. There are no surprises on this album, it sounds just like any other Anti-Flag album and except for the stinker that is “This Is The First Night”, this is yet another solid punkrock release that fits right in the band’s discography.
Score: 8 out of 10

Brakes – Touchdown

Featuring members of British Sea Power, Electric Soft Parade and The Tenderfoot, Brakes is a kind of playground for members of eccentric British guitar bands in which they can lose everything they can’t get out of their system in their own bands. As a result their albums are a far cry from being consistent. Which doesn’t mean they’re not interesting or good, it’s just harder to get a grasp on these guys.

Things are no different on “Touchdown” which opens with “Two Shocks”, a song that might as well have been written by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. “Red Rag” on the other hand is an all-out assault on your ears that goes on for a minute and a half, before the Pixies rear their ugly head in “Crush On You”. Other bands that came to mind at one point or another during these 35 minutes are Idlewild, Guided By Voices and some more Pixies in “Oh! Forever” before things come to a beautiful halt with the Nick Drake-esque “Leaving England”.
Score: 7.5 out of 10


Punk Rock Invasion @AB

What to do when the greatest venue in the country comes out swinging with a Punk Rock Invasion? Tell people about it of course!

Not only does the AB in Brussels come with the best sound, they also have excellent taste in music. Need proof? Go over there tonight to watch Anti-Flag along with Splitside and Tenement Kids.

Other shows that fit in this new concert series are shows by New Found Glory and Bayside, Me First & The Gimme Gimmes and Useless ID, Aloha From Hell (new German emo sensation) and the almighty Gallows along with Ghost Of A Thousand.

Here are the dates along with the links for more information:

New Found Glory

Me First & The Gimme Gimmes

Aloha from Hell



Juliette Commagère – Queens Die Proudly

Juliette Commagère’s name might not ring a lot of bells with you but she fronts the indie/dance/rock outfit Hello Stranger with whom she already opened for the Foo Fighters and in which she spends time with her partner Joachim Cooder. Which makes her the daughter in law of one Ry Cooder. She also helped out on James Maynard Keenan’s solo project Puscifer and sang on a track with Avenged Sevenfold. Whether that last thing is something to be proud of, I’m not sure. Anyway, she is now presenting “Queens Die Proudly”, her very own first solo offering.

On thirteen timeless compositions she effortlessly combines synthpop, ambient and world music that have as much to do with Enya as with Kate Bush. She has a very pleasant voice that can go from whispering to powerful in about two seconds, the exact same thing that can be said of her songs in general. Whether introvert like in “Nature Of Things” or more uptempo as in “Overcome”, Commagère always puts on a great performance that shows she’s influenced by her singer/songwriter brother, her father (producer of classical music) and her father-in-law who also helps out on “Overcome” and “Nature Of Things”.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Annabel – Each And Everyone

Annabel started out of Kent, Ohio when brothers Ben and Andy Hendricks decided to give it a go together. After two EPs and a couple of line-up changes, their debut full-length is now a fact. It’s called “Each And Everyone” and it’s out now on Michigan upstart Count Your Lucky Stars.

Three of the songs on here ("Castles in the Air," "Bouquet Mines" and "Parade Rest") could already be found on their latest EP “Now That We’re Alive”. They haven’t changed a lot except for a better production and are definitely still worth hearing. The real treat lies in the band’s new songs though. With a decidedly happy sound, the guitars always seem to build up to a nice climax while being propelled by Andy Hendricks’ impeccable drumming. Ben Hendricks has the perfect voice to go with this kind indierock with poppy touches. It’s kinda high-pitched but in a good way, especially working its magic when combined with background vocals by the others. There’s nothing but good things to say about this album… it sounds very warm and full and when those bells come in during “Bouquet Mines”, I get this silly smile plastered all over my face every single time.
Score: 8 out of 10

Narrows – New Distances

With a line-up that consists of Dave Verellen (Botch), Ryan Frederickson (These Arms Are Snakes, Nineironspitfire), Rob Moran (Unbroken, Some Girls), Jodie Cox (Tropics) and Sam Stothers (Makeout Boys) you know that you’re gonna get a noisy mess. And that’s exactly what “New Distances” - the band’s Deathwish debut - is.

Packed with discordant riffs, rumbling basslines and rattling drums along with Verellen’s venomous growling, this is an absolute monster that’s not easy on the digestive tract. With the spirit of Shellac intact along with the metal and hardcore of each member’s previous outfits, Narrows delivers an album that goes for the jugular in songs like “Newly Restored” and “The Fourragere”. They do give the listener a time to catch his/her breath every now and then like in the intro of “Gypsy Kids” before they launch into near five minutes of blissful sludge.

With its members being spread out all over the US and even in the UK, rehearsals won’t be easy to plan but with an album like this, they prove they can conquer that obstacle with ease and give a ton of other bands a run for their money.
Score: 8 out of 10

Look Mexico – Gasp Asp 7”

Holy crap! These three new songs (four if you get the digital version released by Lujo Records) by Look Mexico come on some very nice vinyl with cool artwork and… holy crap! They sound amazing! Guitars and vocals whirl and swirl all over and around each other and every time a throbbing bassline or another one of those awesome riffs is at the risk of going overboard it is drawn right back into this maelstrom of sounds. It’s as if there’s ten contrasting things going on in one and the same song yet they all work together to become this little wonderfully melodic gem of post-rock-indie-whateveryouwannacallit that is a perfect fit for all you Minus The Bear fans out there.

With this release Look Mexico pulled off the perfect heist… they come in, do their thing and get the hell out, leaving the listener behind all dazzled and confused but without the metallic aftertaste that comes with having a gun shoved down your throat. Hopefully a new full-length is in the works and hopefully this will be the first of many great releases by the new Tiny Engines label.
Score: 8 out of 10

This Is A Standoff – Be Disappointed

Two years ago, This is a Standoff booked a European tour on the legs of just two demos they posted on their MySpace page and the credibility they had with former Belvedere members in the band. Then their debut album “Be Excited” came out and woke everyone up. They’re back now with album number two for which they couldn’t have picked a more ironic title than “Be Disappointed”.

It might not be as instantly catchy as some of the songs on their debut, but the drums are still friggin’ fast, the guitars still squeal and crunch and do all kinds of right things while vocalist Steve Rawles has just the right amount of bite in his voice. I mean these guys are fast, melodic and technical as fuck… if you were into Belvedere or consider yourself A Wilhelm Scream fan, you should most definitely own this album. One of the finer punkrock albums I’ve heard this year!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Today Forever – Profound Measures

The biosheet that comes with Today Forever’s second album promises me melodic hardcore that will appeal to both fans of both Comeback Kid and Snapcase. On top of that, these guys that call Kassel, Germany home venture well beyond the worn hardcore trails and faceless emo-rock uniformity. Has to be good, right?

Apparently this biosheet came with the wrong CD because what I heard was just another run-of-the-mill metalcore album. Granted, these guys aren’t all bad but the melodic parts they feel like inserting in every song feel forced and stale. Today Forever likes to keep their songs short, which is a good thing but it doesn’t do much to keep things fresh as I’ve heard this kinda stuff countless times before and when yet another breakdown crashes over me before leading into yet another catchy chorus, you can count me out.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

Nahemah – A New Constellation

Spain’s Nahemah have a new album out called “A New Constellation” on which they keep following the path they carved out with their last release, “The Second Philosophy”. Expect a sound similar to Enslaved and Opeth with loads of keyboards that give the band a very full sound.

Vocalist Pablo Egido does a good job of sounding pissed off and evil whereas the rest of the band lays down a more melodic yet heavy sound, even incorporating the occasional mellow part with a saxophone. It sounds weird as fuck but once you get used to it, there’s no denying that this is actually a very solid release by a band that somehow manages to combine prog metal, death metal and post-rock.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

The Living End – White Noise

Finally out in Europe is The Living End’s new album “White Noise”. While these guys are rock stars in their native country Australia, we’re still waiting for the rest of the world to fall in love with these guys who are known not only for their kickass liveshow but also for writing some of the catchiest punkrock tunes in the Southern hemisphere. Songs that will kick you with a conscience no less.

Things are no different on “White Noise” and while their sound is already as familiar as your favorite breakfast cereal by now, there’s no denying this is yet another solid album that rocks from start to finish. “How Do We Know” is one explosive opening track while the title track shows these guys are still very much into rock n roll as well. While they aptly prove in their lyrics that the world is one big, complicated mess (“21st Century”), their songs are still uncomplicated and fun as hell!
Score: 8 out of 10

Hand To Hand – Design The End / Follow The Horizon

Four years after their last release, Hand To Hand is back with a new album and a completely new line-up except for vocalist Rob Kellom. This Florida outfit plays the kind of screamo that has been done countless times before by other bands already. Don’t believe me? Well, you have your screams/clean vocals, breakdowns, singalongs, dual guitar riffage and double bass drums. It’s as if they took their cues straight out of the textbook and forgot to inject the whole with a personality of their own. These guys know how to play and they can write a decent song but come on, who’s still waiting for yet another album filled with the same songs?
Score: 6 out of 10


Tiny Animals – Sweet Sweetness

Tiny Animals call New York home and according to their website are planning on giving the world some of the best rock songs ever written. While they are not quite there yet, they have released a solid album with “Sweet Sweetness”. It’s not hard to figure out that an album called “Sweet Sweetness” by a band named Tiny Animals isn’t exactly death metal material. No, these guys and one girl write pop songs wrapped in a rock blanket and they do it well.

On “Useless” they sound like Jimmy Eat World whereas “All The Way Down” reminded me a lot of the hugely underrated Helicopter Helicopter. They have a knack for writing solid melodies and along with the distorted guitars and the great vocal harmonies of Chris Howerton and his sister Rita May, there is not a whole lot wrong with this album. Okay, so they lyrics are a little cheesy but the music is way too catchy to make a fuss about that. And hell, who listens to pop music for the lyrics anyway? Three band members. Twelve songs. One fun album. Don’t need more than that!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Stemm – Blood Scent

Stemm is a NY-based metal band that should ring a bell with the UFC fans out there as their songs have been used in all the fights since 2002. They have recently released a new album called “Blood Scent” on which the staccato guitars along with vocalist Joe Cafarella’s growls are reminiscent of Pantera, especially on tracks like “One King Down”. They are not afraid to embrace a more melodic style either as they more than adequately prove on a track like “Beneath The Skin”. Another standout track is the NIN cover of “Wish”, which they adequately make their own.

Overall I’d say their sound is a throwback to what was popular a couple of years ago with bands like Sevendust, Bloodsimple and Drowning Pool. Unfortunately enough for them they are a couple years late seeing as most of those bands have already reached their peak a while back and I’m afraid people have since moved on to other sounds.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Sylvie – Trees And Shade Are Our Only Fences

On their second album the indierockers that make up Sylvie use plenty of complex rhythms, guitar noodling a la Minus The Bear and the male/female vocals. They know how to write compositions that are easy on the ear as well. So basically they have everything that would make me like this album at hand… so how come I can’t get into it?

I seriously like the way Riva Racette and Chris Notenboom’s voices mix and mingle with each other while the guitars are giving chase but after a couple of tracks, you notice it. There aren’t any memorable hooks and as soon as a song has passed, I can’t remember anything about it. Sylvie could be a great band if only they manage to make all of their songs as catchy as “Dark Ages” which is one of the few standouts on “Trees And Shade Are Our Only Fences”.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

The Process – Vultures Of Human Decay

The Process from Sweden like their hardcore with a crusty edge and end up sounding not unlike Tragedy with a couple of touches of Refused thrown in for good measure. Things start off with a slow intro that helps paint a pitch black background before they fill in the rest with five fast, aggressive and bleak songs. They do a pretty amazing job and everything from the production to the artwork is only more proof that this is an album worth hearing. If you’re a fan of the abovementioned bands or The Hope Conspiracy’s and Modern Life Is War’s of the world, I’d advise you to check out “Vultures Of Human Decay”.
Score: 7 out of 10

Hands – The Sounds Of Earth

Remember the movie Fargo by the Coen brothers with its weird yet wonderful humor? Well, here’s a christian band from Fargo, North Dakota who display absolutely no sense of humor on their debut full-length. According to the band, “The Sounds Of Earth” tries to put the contrasting themese that run through humanity on display… yikes! Themes such as judgment and mercy, separation and communion,… I have no problem with christian music but please, don’t take yourself so serious!

Musically Hands sound like Underoath covering Isis songs with long atmospheric and instrumental parts that don’t always lead to a climax but rather simply fizzle out without leaving much of an impression (“Mercy”). The vocals range from grunts to screams and clean vocals and while the grunts are decent enough, they could use a little more work when it comes to screaming and singing.

Overall Hands does show promise but they are still a long way from being able to write the album they most likely had in mind.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

Wintersleep – Welcome To The Night Sky

“Welcome To The Night Sky” already dates back to 2007 but we had to wait until now to hear Canada’s Wintersleep over here. On what is already their third album these Cannucks prove they can rock out, whether it’s with their guitars blazing or with restraint. Sounding not too unlike other great Canadian rock acts such as The Tragically Hip and The Weakerthans, Wintersleep easily holds its own between them with tracks like opener “Drunk On Aluminium” and “Dead Letter & The Infinite Yes”. And then there’s “Weighty Ghost”, which shows a completely different side of the band who suddenly sound like Paul Simon. Check it out, you won’t regret it!
Score: 7 out of 10

Neil Young – Fork In The Road

‘Just singing a song won’t change the world’ is what Neil Young exclaims on his new album, “Fork In The Road”. It’s indeed doubtful that a song will resonate with enough people to effect a change in the world. But it becomes downright impossible if the songs you have to work with are of the same level as on Mr. Young’s new album.

It’s as if Young - along with Ben Keith, Anthony Crawford, Rick Rosas, Chad Cromwell and his wife Pegi - recorded the whole thing on automatic pilot. Which is the perfect opportunity to tell you that a lot of the songs on here are inspired by his car, a converted ’59 Lincoln that runs on electricity.

It’s not a bad album though… “Just Singing A Song” is a solid track as are “Johnny Magic”, “Get Behind The Wheel” and the title cut. It’s just a shame that a crapper like “Cough Up The Bucks” found its way on here as well. Nonetheless “Fork In The Road” is an album that a lot of garagerock bands would give their left nut for. The sloppy lofi sound and Young’s typical solos and quivering voice are all there but still… this doesn’t cut it considering what the good man has released in the past. Why not just release that Archives boxset everyone has been waiting for for years now?
Score: 6 out of 10

Mansions – New Best Friends

Mansions aka Christopher Browder is at his best when he’s writing biting, cynical lyrics. Which is probably why his entire debut album is filled with them. Some of the songs on “New Best Friends” have apparently already been released before but they are now all cleaned up and well, not shiny. It’s hard to call something shiny when the vocals are distorted and there’s a lot of fuzzed up sounds coming through your speakers.

Album opener “I Told A Lie” is a short one-minute introduction to what’s to come before launching into “Talk Talk Talk”, one of the best songs on the album. One of them… because “Por Favor Is Spanish” and “The Worst Part” are pretty amazing as well. If you like Brand New (with whom Browder shares producer Mike Sapone), Jimmy Eat World or Straylight Run, you should have no problem dreaming away with Mansions’s full-length debut.

The second disc contains a whopping 38 MP3-files with the contect of 7 previously released EP’s containing other songs, demo takes or acoustic versions. A fun extra to an already solid debut!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Van Atta High – Doin’ Something Right

When 4 out of 5 band members are replaced, I think it’s fair to say you’ve got yourself a new band. That’s exactly what happened with Van Atta High and so they no longer sound like a generic screamo band on “Doin’ Something Right”, but rather like a generic poppunk band.

Vocalist Steve Kellner proves he can still scream on the opening track but on “Birthday Girl” he proves equally well that he’s capable of writing a mediocre ‘boy meets girl’ poppunk song and is not afraid to use it. Luckily he redeems himself somewhat with “Shakin’ In My Shoes” which kinda rocks as does the cover of Starland Vocal Band 1976 hit “Afternoon Delight”. The last three tracks show the band’s acoustic prowess or lack thereof and means that Van Atta High’s new release ends on a downer.

Overall “Doin’ Something Right” shows promise in some points. So who knows what will happen on their next release?
Score: 6 out of 10

NOFX – Coaster

Following their antics in countries that are not so punkrock as they are (see Backstage Passport DVD), NOFX is back with a new album. Shocking? Hardly… it’s fast, it’s melodic, it’s funny and it has one or two ska songs.

NOFX is for punkrock what the Rolling Stones are for rock n roll… they keep doing the same thing over and over again and keep getting away with it, simply because they are so damn good at it. “Coaster” tackles a variety of subjects ranging from creeping out half of Tegan & Sara over alcoholism to the death of Fat Mike’s parents in “My Orphan Year” which just so happens to be one of their best songs ever.

Oh yeah, if you wanna buy this on vinyl, don’t look for “Coaster” but for “Frisbee”! Ahhhh, they still manage to crack me up!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Hybrid Children – Fight As One

“Fight As One” is already Hybrid Children’s seventh album but I had never even heard of these guys before. This Finnish outfit apparently has quite a following in their homeland but as it seems haven’t caused much waves yet elsewhere. Let’s find out why!

Do the Fins like a little bombast in their music? Just have a listen to Nightwish and you’ll know the answer. Do Scandinavian people like rock n roll? Hell yeah! And whaddyaknow, Hybrid Children is a punk n roll band that likes to listen to Hanoi Rocks and Mötley Crüe and who decided it’s a good idea to throw the two together to create something that has easy consumption written all over it.

Is that a good thing? Not really… while something so cheesy is not my thing, I can still appreciate a band that does a good job. Unfortunately Hybrid Children is one of those acts that likes to repeat their most catchy lines ad infinitum in the chorus until you get tired of the whole track after barely one listen.
Score: 5 out of 10

Dust – Radio Killer

Iceland’s most known musical export is Björk and I’m not exactly a fan. So automatically I was kinda hesitant of Dust seeing as they too hail from Iceland. Yes, I’m a prejudiced prick. These guys formed in 2002 and – according to the label - ‘found themselves on the shores of West Coast America’ only to then call it quits in the beginning of 2003. Apparently they had lost each other again.

They then went on to form other bands with vocalist Dave Dunn starting Envy of Nona and the rest of the band going on their merry way to form Corona… uh Canora. Fast forward a bit until Envy of Nona breaks up at which point Dave Dunn wipes the dust off of Dust with the help of some new faces. They quickly record a new album with some old songs and a couple of new ones and call it ‘Radio Killer” because they don’t like the music that’s being played on the radio.

Which is funny because they try really their hardest to sound like every other shitty American modern rock band. Unfortunately Dust manages to sound even worse than 90% of said shitty bands. The album even includes the cheesiest ballad I’ve come across in years… which just so happens to be the song they made a music video for. Check it out on YouTube, it’s good for a laugh. Anyway, not a big fan of Iceland anymore… until the next Minus album comes out that is.
Score: 2 out of 10

Trashmonkeys – Smile

Trashmonkeys is a German outfit that has already been around for more than ten years and with “Smile” they have recently released their fifth album. Their sound is firmly rooted in garage, punk, ska (“Bad Day”) and comes with – unfortunately – a very present German accent.

All the songs may sound somewhat familiar, probably because they stole half from The Hives and the other half from The Beatsteaks. But that’s okay because in the end “Smile” is a fun little album with “Isolation” as my personal favorite. There’s plenty of rattling guitars, rolling drums and snotty vocals to keep you going for a while and the addition of synths here and there rounds it all out nicely.
Score: 6.5 out of 10


Duff McKagan’s Loaded – Sick

It took Axl Rose a long, long time to finally get the new Guns N Roses album out there and in that time all the other real Guns N Roses members had long since moved on to other projects, the most known of which is Velvet Revolver. Now that that band has come to a screeching halt, Duff McKagan finally has some more time for his own pet project, Loaded. Which is funny because McKagan is a former alcoholic. He’s been working with this band whenever he could since 1999 and with more free time on his hands, he got round to cutting another full-length called “Sick”.

Five of the thirteen songs on here have already been released earlier on the “Waster Heart” EP which is a little bit lame if you ask me but come on, let’s cut the guy a break. Because what we get to hear on “Sick” is just fun hardrock with a punky edge. You’d swear Slash helped out with some of the solos on this album and – perhaps surprisingly – McKagan is a more than decent vocalist. Don’t expect anything too special, just a fine rock album to blast through your speakers without thinking twice about it.
Score: 7 out of 10

Old Man’s Child – Slaves Of The World

On album number seven not a whole lot has changed for Old Man’s Child. For some bands this is not a good thing, for Galder and his one-man-project it works. His mix of black metal, melodic death metal and thrash sounds raw yet inviting and in a weird way even catchy.

“Slaves Of The World” is a feast for those of you who love blast beats, heavy riffage and cool vocals. Galder recorded a lot of the vocals at home which gave him some more room to experiment and I have to say that the result is pretty badass. Other than the vocals, Galder did everything on the album except for the drums who were safe in the hands of Peter Wildoer (Darkane, Pestilence) this time around.

You can count the calmer moments on “Slaves Of The Wordl” on the fingers of one hand but for once so much aggression isn’t tiring at all making this a very solid release for all the metal lovers out there
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Drag The River – Bad At Breaking Up

Songs about women, whiskey, bars and broken hearts… preferably combined in one and the same night… this has to be a Drag The River album! Wait a minute, that can’t be because they broke up! Well, kinda at least. But “Bad At Breaking Up” (haha!) isn’t a new album, it’s a compilation of B-sides, 7” tracks and various rarities from this Fort Collins, CO country outfit.

And I do mean country, not alt-country like most of the punks gone country like to play. These guys don’t feel the need to inject their songs with yelling and beefed-up guitars. Hell, they don’t even need drums on most of the album. Jon Snodgrass and his friends just strum their guitars and tell the stories they feel like sharing. Even though the lyrical content won’t exactly make you happy (lyrics in country music don’t ever have that effect), the music sounds like it was recorded while hanging out on someone’s back porch with the occasional beer breaks and succeeds in making you think you’re there as well. In “Return” you can even hear the crickets chirping.

Seeing as it’s a compilation of songs that have been recorded throughout the entire band’s history, it lacks a sense of direction. And 20 songs is a little much. But to tell you the truth, that’s just nitpicking because this disc is almost as good as any of their regular albums.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Blue October – Approaching Normal

I had already listened to “Approaching Normal” a couple of times but postponed writing the review unti I don’t know, ‘til I felt like it. It’s Monday morning now and while still in my waking up process I’ve listened to it one more time and have finally given up.

Blue October’s fifth full-length has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Their post-grunge rings even more hollow and empty than Creed and will most likely smother you in corniness and bombast in a way that even Live never managed to put on record.

Vocalist Justin Furstenfeld sounds like a total wanker who’s lugging around all the pains and frustrations of the average teenager. In fact the good man is 33. Even Fred Durst sounds less pathetic while singing about doing it all for the nookie. Fodder for the airwaves it is.
Score: 3 out of 10


Far interview

The recently reunited and all-around awesome act Far is currently wrapping up their fifth full-length release with producer and guitarist Shaun Lopez fiddling the knobs with an early spring release to look forward to. I don't think we need any more reasons to do an interview with Shaun.

PRT: So what made you guys get back together and why now?
Shaun: We had always said, we would only get back together if it felt right. After a nice phone conversation with Jonah it seemed like a possibility but nothing firm. At first it would just be one show and see where it goes.. Then the idea of a UK tour seemed fun and semi-easy. And here we are… That’s where it started..

PRT: What was the reason behind the breakup in the first place back in ’99 and how did you solve any problems between you guys (if there were any)?
Shaun: The classic breakup reasons. Egos, solo projects, communication. I think we have gotten better at communicating now. That’s a good thing. We all still have egos, but that’s what makes us, us..

PRT: Looking back are there any things you would’ve done differently knowing what you know now?
Shaun: I never like to look back and think about that. I like to look back and think what we did was pretty cool and how our music had staying power. Not many bands have that. I’m sure there are things we could have done different/better but I’d rather look forward!

PRT: Is the reunion a matter of picking up where you left off or does it feel more like starting all over again?
Shaun: Both I would say. The playing was actually very easy. It’s just something that’s natural to us I think. The 4 of us get into a room and it just happens. I think when you are away from each other for 10 years people’s personalities change so I would say in that sense it is like starting over. In a mostly good way I would say.

PRT: You’ve already created a lot of buzz with your cover of Ginuwine’s “Pony”. Who came up with the idea of covering that track and the Hot Little Pony moniker?
Shaun: Johnny came up with Hot Little Pony, which was an old inside joke that our friend and photographer Jeff Gros came up with. We needed a secret name for a couple secret shows we were playing and it seemed fitting. The idea to cover Pony was Jonah and me. We thought it would be fun, since we had always loved the original. The idea was to cover it as if Ginuwine were fronting Helmet.

PRT: There’s a ton of bands that name you as one of their biggest influences. What was it like to see those bands go on and get a ton of mainstream success? Did breaking up ever feel like a missed opportunity?
Shaun: Again, prefer not to look back. Sure there will always be those shoulda, coulda, woulda, things, but at this point, I think we are all happy. It’s great to have influenced. Maybe one of those mainstream success bands can buy my ass a taco one day. Not much to ask, right?

PRT: Jonah started other bands with Gratitude and New End Original, you started The Revolution Smile but they both came to a halt as well. Are you guys just impossible to work with?
Shaun: Ha! I like your style dude… Not sure of Jonah’s situation but The Revolution Smile guys are still my closest friends, so there wasn’t any bad blood there when it came to ending that band.

PRT: You’re doing a lot of work as a producer as well. How different is it to be a part of the recording of an album in that role instead of being in the band?
Shaun: I love it. When a band trusts you to fulfill their vision, it’s a great thing. The thing that is great about producing is that you get to work with so many different genres at times. I would never want to be a “metal” producer, or a “pop” producer.. As a fan of many different kinds of music, it’s great to work on different stuff

PRT: You recently signed with Vagrant. What made you decide to go with them over other labels?
Shaun: The deal made sense. That’s pretty much it. We signed with them in the states only, which gives us the freedom to seek out our own deals in each market. Majors are in the shitter, and their fate is very uncertain right now. We didn’t want to be a part of that. Vagrant understands who Far is. They know we are “the guys with the Pony song”. Good dudes, good label.

PRT: Right now you’re recording a new album which should be out this summer. Can you already tell us a little bit about it?
Shaun: It’s our most diverse album yet if you ask me. It’s the heaviest, yet lightest, yet poppest, yet weirdest, all rolled up into one. I feel like we are making the record I have always wanted to make. I’m excited.

PRT: What’s up next for you guys once the record is done and what are your expectations for the future?
Shaun: We don’t know actually. I know there will be some touring involved, hopefully overseas. I love touring over there.

Silverstein - A Shipwreck In The Sand

On album number four Silverstein takes the concept album route. After just having spent the better part of a week listening to the new Mastodon album, Silverstein’s kinda pales in comparison. But in all honesty, I’ve always liked Silverstein over all the other bands in their genre. There’s something about their sense of melody and energy and great riffs, that sets them ahead of the screamo pack.

The album’s fourteen songs are divided into four parts that tell the story of a couple’s relationship coming to a halt and the burning of their house. Lyrically things are still not that great, still making it the band’s weakest point. Musically however these dudes have definitely upped the ante on “A Shipwreck In The Sand”. Double guitar riffs follow each other at a blistering rate while the drummer is pounding away. The switch between clean vox and screams seems awkward a lot of the times in this genre but Silverstein lets it all roll into each other with ease making “A Shipwreck In The Sand” their finest effort to date. Fans will no doubt be pleased while haters will no doubt still be hating.
Score: 8 out of 10

Mastodon - Crack The Skye

The dudes in Mastodon are big and hairy and pretty good at writing concept albums. Following up the excellence of “Leviathan” and the awesomeness of “Blood Mountain” might make some bands shit their pants. Mastodon simply shrugs and writes an even better album. This time around they just pull out all the stops and perfect their progmetal, creating something most bands can only dream of.

There is a concept to “Crack The Skye” but it’s not easy to follow… it involves dark magic, astral travelling and Rasputin and his role in the downfall of the Czar in Russia. Yeah, it’s pretty far-fetched but who really gives a fuck when the music hits you this hard? As if they didn’t rock enough already, Mastodon throws a shitload of seventies rock into their sound and combined with their affection for rolling drums and excellent riffage, things get massive this time around.

Just have a listen to “Quintessence” or the title track which comes with guest vocals from Neurosis’ Scott Kelly. The addition of keyboards in tracks like “The Czar” add yet another dimension to Mastodon’s already ever-expanding sound and thanks to producer Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, AC/DC) everything sounds crystal clear allowing us to find something new to be amazed over every single time.

People who awlays claimed that metal is for meatheads are already reported fleeing from cities to go hide in shame.
Score: 9 out of 10


Royal Bangs – We Breed Champions

Originally released by the band itself in 2006, “We Breed Champions” was then re-released in 2008 through Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney’s label Audio Eagle Records only to take up ‘til now to finally get a release in Europe. The band is already working on a new album as we speak.

With bands like TV On The Radio, Bloc Party, The Killers and other bands combining electronics with rock music and gaining star status, it’s weird that it took these guys so long to release their album over here but oh well. These Tennessee natives might not be as good as Bloc Party but they are definitely better than The Killers. Then again, even a newborn baby crying sounds better than The Killers.

Anyway, Royal Bangs are sure to please their share of young ones’ hearts with their lo-fi electronics-enhanced brand of rock. It comes with recalcitrant guitars, uncooperative bleeps and while that doesn’t sound good on its own, it somehow all works out with some pop sensibility injected. Even tremendously so in a song like “Cat Swallow”. They also have the whole Pavement sloppiness shtick going on (“Russia Helps”) which helps them even more.

Basically when you leave out the electronic experimentation, you’re listening to a very solid garage band that hits more often than they miss so we’ll gladly forgive them for “Japanese Cars” which sounds like Sigur Ros’ retarded cousin and expectantly look forward to their new album
Score: 8 out of 10

Still Flyin’ – Never Gonna Touch The Ground

If you suddenly find yourself in a band called Still Flyin’ and have an album out called “Never Gonna Touch The Ground”, I think it’s time to put away the bong. This San Francisco outfit seems hellbent on jumpstarting the summer and at the beginning of the album it even looks like they might get the job done. Opener “Never Gonna Touch The Ground” starts off weird but ends all sunshiny and the two following cuts (“Following The Itinerary” and “Forever Dudes”) are pleasant enough.

After that the haze of smoke seems to have taken its toll on Sean Rawls and his multi-instrumental multi-vocal troupe and none of the following songs are memorable or even catchy no matter how happy happy joy joy they try to sound. Childish and messy are words that came to mind. They try really hard but never manage to create the same relaxed atmosphere that The Polyphonic Spree or I’m From Barcelona pull out of their hats.

Getting together with all of your friends to play some music has to be a lot of fun but as this album more than adequately proves, it’s not necessarily something worth sharing with the rest of the world.
Score: 4 out of 10

One Win Choice – Define/Redefine 7”

Ah, the good stuff! New Jersey’s One Win Choice are back with a new 7” filled with heavy riffage, fast drums and angry vocals yelling equally angry vocals and backed up by plenty of whoa’s. Wait a minute? Haven’t we heard other political melodic hardcore bands like Strike Anywhere and the likes do this before? Yes, we have but who cares… this still sounds good.

There’s three songs on the 7” with two more that are exclusive to the digital version. One of those two is the drumless “Every Heart” and while equally unoriginal as the other tracks on here, it’s equally good.

Damn fine release by yet another damn fine New Jersey outfit!
Score: 8 out of 10

Beat Strings – Fang In Rain

Iowa apparently harbors more bands than just Slipknot. Who would’ve guessed? Beat Strings is the name of this outfit and with “Fang In Rain” they have released a very enjoyable album. All of the songs are filled with references to the world’s two most popular indulgences. Those of course being sex and drugs. They have no problem adding the rock n roll themselves and so they’re all set for stardom.

Think of a mix between post-punk and glam with a vocalist who can go from mumbling to falsetto in no time. I’m hearing a lot of OK GO sounds in songs like “Nothing Could Explain” or “Lose A Disguise” which is always a good thing. With “Find A Love” they took care of the obligatory yet completely unnecessary ballad but other than that I have no problems with Beat Strings’ “Fang In Rain”.
Score: 7 out of 10


Charles Chaussinand interview

Kid Dynamite is one of those bands that influenced a whole bunch of people. I wouldn't want to feed all the youngster that were inspired to start their own band after having heard the self-titled album or "Shorter, Faster, Louder". Kid Dynamite's members have since moved on to other exciting projects but the band's legacy still lives on. Nothing proves this fact more than "Carry The Torch", a tribute album that is finally about to see the light of day after a lot of time and effort have been poured into it. Coordinating a tribute album that features a whopping 39 bands is no small feat and so it made sense to do an interview with one of the masterminds behind the album, Get Outta Town Records' Charles Chaussinand.

"Carry The Torch : A tribute to Kid Dynamite" will be released July 7, 2009 on CD and July 14, 2009 on vinyl through Get Outta Town Records and Black Numbers Records.

PRT: When did you first come up with the idea of putting together a Kid Dynamite tribute?
Charles: Get Outta Town Records was actually brought into this record after the idea came together by Copper Lung Records and Black Numbers Records. I was asked to help with distribution and basically tie up the loose ends of the album. Kid Dynamite is one of my favorite and most influential bands, so it was really a no brainer for me to get involved.

PRT: With liner notes from Dan Yemin and Dave Wagenschutz and Yemin even contributing guest vocals on one song, it seems this tribute got their blessing. Was that important for you and how involved were they with the making of this tribute?
Charles: When I first was brought onboard with the album, I called Dan and made sure he was aware this was being done and cool with the idea. I have been lucky enough to become friends with Dan Yemin over the last few years and he is really a tremendously kind person. I like when tribute albums include a personal thought from original members, so I emailed Dave and Dan asking if they wanted to write up a retrospective on Kid Dynamite, just touching on some of their feelings, especially since this tribute was coming out, and they were both totally open and helpful. Aside from their retrospectives, they didn’t really have much to do with the release coming out, but just knowing they were cool with it made all the difference to me.

PRT: I remember when I first got in touch with you; there were already announcements about a Kid Dynamite tribute. How come it took so long to complete?
Charles: The record had a great deal of hang-ups. Working with 39 different bands in itself is a huge test of will because you really have to want a project to see the light of day dealing with all the different band dynamics. Bands agreeing to be on and then missing the deadlines, finding replacement bands, people not getting back to us, people begging us to be on the record, then when we say OK, they completely seem to lose interest. It was basically anything you could imagine going wrong seemed to do just that. In the end, the product is stronger than I thought it would be going into it and all of the bands really worked their asses off to make this record sound great.

PRT: It turned out to be a massive release with 39 bands covering pretty much every single song that Kid Dynamite ever recorded… was that the idea from the start?
Charles: Doing a tribute for a band that has two full lengths and a split is really something that you need to make sure you cover all your bases on. When the 7 Seconds tribute was released some years ago, there is no way that EVERY 7 Seconds song could be covered, so choice songs were picked and it went forward from there. For this record, we had the chance and the ability to make sure every song that Kid Dynamite recorded would be covered by a band that wanted to be a part of the record. For me, leaving songs out just wasn’t an option.

PRT: How did you go about selecting bands? Did you approach them or did some of them ask you if they could contribute a track?
Charles: Selecting bands was really a split. Sometimes, bands would ask us for any open slots and once we put them on, they would just stop getting back to us. Others would have their song back to us in a few days of being told they were on the record. Black Numbers and Get Outta Town Records certainly had bands and friends that we wanted to make sure were included on the album, and most of them got on there, but for the most part, it was an equal split of us asking bands and bands asking us.

PRT: Are there any bands you got in touch with but didn’t hear back from?
Charles: There were loads of bands that we would message and not hear back from, then other bands we’d ask and not expect to hear back but they would be stoked on the record. We probably cycled through like 150 bands to get this record to completion.

PRT: Originally this was a joint release between you, Black Numbers and Copper Lung Records who seemed to have backed out now. When and why did this happen?
Charles: Copper Lung Records decided that this wasn’t a release they still wanted to do and gracefully stepped back, leaving me and Black Numbers Records to keep things rolling. It was tough at times and this was really a labor of love for both Black Numbers Records and myself, but it is soon to be back in our hands.

PRT: What did you set out to achieve with this album?
Charles: Achieve? Hmm….I can’t really say I had a goal when working on this record. More than anything I think it can be looked at as a “thank you” to Kid Dynamite, or really any band that influences people to start their own bands, write a zine, or take part in what is going on around them. I think this record does the spirit of Kid Dynamite justice and can’t wait to see what kids

Comeback Kid – Through The Noise

With three succesful albums already under their belt, it was time for Comeback Kid to come out swinging with a live CD and DVD combo that captures what the band is about. Because while they already sound amazing on CD, live is what it’s really all about for these road warriors. Logically, seeing as they spend up to 10 months a year on tour.

The live show – which was recorded in Leipzig, Germany – features a solid 17 songs including “Wake The Dead” and “Die Tonight” and has a guest appearance in the form of This Is Hell’s Rick Jimenez on the song “All In A Year”. Both the audio and the visual are great and capture the raw energy that Comeback Kid brings to their shows.

The DVD also comes with the hour-long documentary “Our Distance” which draws a nice picture of the band’s history with interviews with all the band members (including original vocalist Scott Wade) and a lot of live footage dating back to some of their earliest shows.

All in all a very nice package that is an absolute must for all the real Comeback Kid fans out there!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

CIV – The Complete Discography

“Can’t Wait One Minute More” has to be one of the first hardcore tracks I fell in love. Coincidentally it’s also CIV’s most well-known song. But as this discography more than adequately proves all over again, this NYC-based band around vocalist Anthony Civarelli knew how to write some seriously decent tracks.

This is the band’s complete 43-track discography pressed on two discs here and it comes with some simple yet very goodlooking artwork.. It includes their1995 debut album “Set Your Goals”, their second and final release “Thirteen Day Getaway”, the “Social Climber” 7” and several B-sides, live tracks, and rehearsal recordings taken from the CIV archives.

Not to be missed and keep your fingers crossed… maybe they’ll play some reunion shows in support of this release!
Score: 9 out of 10

Roll Call - Sotto Il Suo Cielo

The skinheads that make up Italy’s Roll Call like their songs simple and straight to the point like most of the skinhead/oi! bands out there. With gruff vocals over mostly mid-tempo rhythms, this is pretty decent stuff that reminds me of some of the older TKO bands like The Forgotten.

All of the lyrics are in Italian which is a nice touch… I think it shows the band’s integrity and passion for the genre and at the very least there’s no awkward accent ruining everything. It makes it a little harder for all the non-Italians to join in on the singalongs but practice makes perfect I guess.

If you’re into streetpunk, you might want to check out Roll Call!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Gonzales – Checkmate

The Italian answer to Hellacopters, Gluecifer and Turbonegro? Let’s check it out!

“Checkmate” is a collection of ten songs that fly by in 30 minutes. These guys clearly have no time to waste and blast off with the fast-paced “Nothing To Lose”, a credo that’s already been used by countless other rock n roll bands. And that’s the problem with Gonzales… they are not the worst rock n roll band out there but not exactly the best either.

One really cool song or a funny gimmick is all it takes to set yourself apart in this scene and that’s what Gonzales is still lacking for the timebeing. Or it would have to be the friggin’ cool guitar solos that come courtesy of guitarist Mark Simon Hel. I know it’s definitely not their cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” which has already been done – and a lot better – by Social D.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Motionless In White – When Love Met Destruction

With Eighteen Visions’ blessing, this Pennsylvania outfit adopted that band’s song title as their moniker and started cranking out their own songs rather than the rock covers they used to play while still in high school. “When Love Met Destruction” is out now on Tragic Hero Records and will be followed later this year by the band’s debut full-length on Fearless Records.

After hearing this EP I can’t say I’m really looking forward to the full-length as these guys sounds like every other band out there. Sure, they do a decent enough job but you all know exactly what you’re going to get. Think Bleeding Through or Vanna or Silverstein or Underoath or whatever and realise just how unnecessary another band like this really is.
Score: 5.5 out of 10