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Lovvers – Ocd Go Go Go Girls

What’s up with the double V’s in band names? First there was Wavves, now there’s Lovvers with their “Ocd Go Go Go Girls”. The similarities don’t end there because just like Wavves, Lovvers know their way around fuzzed up and noisy punk. You know, the kind where the noise is only limited by the dials on the band’s amps.

So if there was a double V’d bands competition, who’d win? My vote would go to Lovvers who play some pretty catchy tunes. Well, they would be catchy if you could understand a single word of what they’re singing. No, scratch that… song slike “100 Flowers” and “Ad Lib” are pretty damn catchy regardless. The vocals are buried somewhere underneath the crackle of the mic and the jangly guitars while the drum marches on. I still like OCD Go Go Go Girls though. The album that is.
Score: 7 out of 10

Obits – I Blame You

Rick Froberg’s resume reads like a wet dream… he was the vocalist in Hot Snakes, Drive Like Jehu and Pitchfork. And he’s back now with Obits. Don’t ejaculate prematurely though because does “I Blame You” live up to the man’s legacy?

Well, when “Widow Of My Dreams” kicks in, things sound very Hot Snakes-y which of course isn’t a bad thing. It’s crispy garage rock with Froberg’s characteristic voice flourishing things up. “Pine On” is all jangly and shit and sounds great. And then we haven’t even reached “Run” yet, easily the album’s best song. The title track comes with a nice surf feel and doesn’t wash out and from there on Froberg keeps on going all the way up until “Back And Forth”. Unfortunately things don’t sound as intense as they did on Hot Snakes’ material but hey, “I Blame You” is a fun album nonetheless.
Score: 7 out of 10

Stuart Murdoch – God Help The Girl

Belle And Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch started writing songs in 2004 for a Ronettes-like band he wanted to put together. He held auditions and stumbled over the up until then unknown Catherine Ireton. Then things started getting more and more complex and in the end “God Help The Girl” became the soundtrack to a musical movie that will be made next year. The album not only boasts Murdoch and Ireton, but also most of the Belle And Sebastian family, a 45 piece orchestra, Asya from Smoosh and a host of other musicians including several more female vocalists.

Some of the cuts on here sound like B&S songs which makes perfect sense I guess. But Murdoch doesn’t mind taking jazzy sidesteps or tapping into the sound of 50s girl groups and ABBA. It all sounds extremely sweet and cuddly even though the story is about a girl reaching adulthood while not taking the easy route.

Personally I like most of what I heard (“Act Of The Apostle”, “God Help The Girl” and “Funny Little Frog”) but at times things can become a bit too sappy. Curious about the movie though!
Score: 7 out of 10

The Thermals – Now We Can See

The Thermals are back and this time around they actually witnessed firsthand what a studio looks like from the inside and they met an actual producer. This means no more messing around in the kitchen with a 4-track. But it also means that the roughest edges are no more on “Now We Can See”. Luckily producer John Congleton (Explosions in the Sky, Modest Mouse) keeps things messy enough to not let us forget that we are dealing with The Thermals here. The band themselves don’t exactly help here as they largely trade in their punkrock sound for powerpop.

Luckily, some things stay the same. Like the band’s ability to write übercatchy songs with sharp riffs, upbeat rhythms and Harris’s voice. One exception to the Thermals rule is “At The Bottom Of The Sea”, a very mellow song that’s stretched out over 5 minutes yet still manages to keep your attention.

I don’t how they keep pulling off these gems but kudos!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

MxPx – On The Cover II

MxPx is back with the follow-up to 1995’s “On The Cover” EP. Part two turned into a full-fledged album with no less than twelve covers. Could’ve been fun even though the concept of punk covers has been milked up to the point where the cow has died.

It might be a good way though to get younger MxPx fans into The Clash (“Should I Stay Or Should I Go”), Dead Milkmen (“Punk Rock Girl”) and The Ramones (“My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down”) and The Descendents (“Suburban Home”). The latter’s guitarist Stephen Egerton also helps out with a guitar solo on the cover of Poison’s “Fallen Angel”. But at the same time one can raise the question if it’s really necessary to have yet another cover of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”, “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” or “Kids In America”? ‘Not really’ would be the answer.

With more guest appearances from members of Flogging Molly, The Action Design, Chiodos, The Rocket Summer and Relient K and an overall nostalgic atmosphere (all of the songs are from the 80s), it gets an okay from me. I’d rather hear a new full-length though.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Weinland – Breaks In The Sun

‘Oh shit, where did these guys come from?’ is what I was thinking two minutes into “Breaks In The Sun”. Well, Portland, Oregon apparently even though that wasn’t what I was referring to with that question. ‘How come I never heard about these guys before’ and ‘surely this is not a debut’ were two more remarks I uttered while checking out this band’s album.

Turns out that “Breaks In The Sun” is indeed not their debut which I somehow missed out on. So I’m a bit late with becoming a fan but I’m making up for lost time and already sent a basket of chocolate chip cookies their way (made ‘em myself)! I always do that when a band has me hooked right from the start of the album all the way until the end.

Opener “Sunken Eyes” is a very mellow piano meets acoustic guitar affair that you can’t help but love. It is followed by “I’m Sure It Helps”, a track that pays tribute to Neil Young. Hell, it even sounds more Neil Young than the good man himself on his last album.

It’s not just the first two songs that are great though… Weinland’s voice is pleasant, the melodies are top notch, the atmosphere is mellow and is further enhanced by the use of dobro, mandolin, lap steel and melodica. Oh, and they whip out the loud guitars in all the right places!

Make sure to check this one out! After all having quit their jobs last year to focus on the band, I have the feeling these guys can use your support.
Score: 8 out of 10

Echo Screen – Goodbye Old Life EP

Back in 2006 Echo Screen sounded like a way too sugary poppunk band. Not terrible, but they wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. After a hiatus the band got back together and headed for the studio to record “Goodbye Old Life” with Ace Enders.

The five songs on this EP are definitely a couple of steps in the right direction for these guys. Opener “I Amsterdam” sounds like something Limbeck could whip up while “The Ballad Of Jack Shephard (Battle Chorus)” is a song that Death Cab would like to have written. “Bombs Away” is off to a good start as well but then kinda loses its appeal by being a bit too repetitive in the chorus. Luckily there’s still the piano balladry of “The Sun” to end things on a better note.

Fun release by a band that’s onto something… keep an eye out for them!
Score: 6.5 out of 10
ES Music

Frank Turner – Love, Ire & Song

Looks like 2009 is turning into Frank Turner’s year… just a couple of months ago he released “The First Three Years”, a compilation of older material. He then got scooped up by Epitaph who are now re-releasing last year’s “Love, Ire & Song” and later this year he will be releasing “Poetry Of The Deed”. The former frontman of Million Dead sure is a busy fella…

Like I said this is a re-release and a smart move by Epitaph because this album deserves to be heard by more people. If you haven’t heard of this guy yet even after his tours with The Gaslight Anthem and The Offspring, then you’re missing out. Turner at his best sounds like a mix of Billy Bragg and Luka Bloom and on this album he’s in killer form. “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous”, “Photosynthesis”, “Imperfect Tense” and “Long Live The Queen” are all brilliant songs that prove that one man armed with only an acoustic guitar and smart and witty lyrics are all you need to have a good time.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Set Your Goals – This Will Be The Death Of Us

With “Mutiny” Set Your Goals released one helluva fun album three years ago. Question was if they could top it now that people knew what they were in for and the surprise had worn off. The answer is yes. Set Your Goals who have since then switched labels and now get to call Brett Gurewitz daddy, now rightfully get to call themselves the new kings of hardcore influenced poppunk as far as I’m concerned.

“This Will Be The Death Of Us” is 38 minutes of pure fun with uptempo rhythms, numerous gang vocals, more melodic riffs than you can shake a stick at and of course, the dual vocal attack of Jordan Brown and Matt Wilson. These dudes have somehow found the perfect balance between aggression and melody and other than Paramore’s Hayley Williams throwing in the lamest guest appearance ever, this is pretty much a flawless and extremely smooth ride. I Am Avalanche’s Vinnie Caruana, New Found Glory’s Chad Gilbert and Turmoil’s Jon Gula all help out on a song as well even though this really wasn’t unnecessary. Set Your Goals more than prove they don’t need anyone else to write the poppunk album of the year. A Day To Remember can learn a thing or two from these guys.
Score: 8.5 out of 10


The Dead Weather – Horehound

Now that Meg White is busy thinking table decorations and wedding dresses (here’s an idea… go with something white with a little red and black in it), Jack White is exorcising his demons. From behind the drum kit this time around and with a little help from Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs) and Dean Fertita (Queens Of The Stone Age).

Together they crank out a dozen dirty blues cuts that remind of early Nick Cave or very recent Nick Cave if you’re referring Grinderman. It all reads away like something that should by all means sound amazing. And at times it does. The funky “Treat Me Like Your Mother” is one of the absolute highlights on here if you ask me as is the Dylan cover of “New Pony”. Alison moans as if the vibrations coming off the bass drum are tickling her private parts and there’s a couple of very cool riffs that rear their ugly heads here and there. Yet overall “Horehound” sounds as if they stretched every little idea into an entire song and recorded the whole thing in just a couple of weeks. Oh wait, they actually did that. Maybe invest a little more time in the whole thing next time and be a wee bit more selective?
Score: 6.5 out of 10

The Dead Weather - Horehound

Wilco – Wilco (the album)

Wilco is one of those bands that I love listening to but hate writing about. They’re one of those college rock bands that play Americana. Or the other way around. No wait, they’re THE college rock band that plays Americana. Or the other way around.

The band’s new album is simply called “Wilco (the album)” which I guess shows that these guys don’t even need titles anymore. Over the years Wilco has become a quality label, you simply know it’s going to be good. Yet they once again surpass my expectations and pleasantly surprise me with the beautiful slide guitar in “Deeper Down”, the making out between Jeff Tweedy and Feist in “You And I” and the opening of “One Wing” which never fails to make me blink away a tear.

I can’t explain why I like Wilco so much, just like I can’t for the love of god explain why there’s a camel on the album cover. But there is a camel plastered all over the artwork and I do like Wilco a whole lot. Next month I’m seeing them live at the Pukkelpop festival, consider me excited!
Score: 9 out of 10

The Intelligence - Fake Surfers

The Intelligence is Lars Finberg’s new project. You might know the guy from A Frames…so what’s this noisy fella up to now?

Imagine you’re on drugs and need a good soundtrack to accompany your trip. If I were you I wouldn’t use “Fake Surfers” because things would turn into one humongous bad trip real quick. One of the songs on here is called “I Hear Depression” and that’s a pretty friggin’ great description of the crap I’m hearing on “Fake Surfers”. Whoever thought that lo-fi would go hand in hand with an industrial edge? Well, Finberg proves it’s possible along with the fact that he’s very, very good at getting on my nerves.
Score: 3 out of 10

Isis – Wavering Radiant

Post-metal’s darlings are back with an album that somehow manages to encompass the band’s entire 12-year existence. It comes with the rawness of the debut, the hypnotic pulse of both “Oceanic” and “Panopticon” and the same vibe as “In The Absence Of Truth” (only this time with better results).

“Wavering Radiant” still has those sludgy repetitive riffs we love Isis for alongside Aaron Turner’s powerful voice that roars and booms one second and soothes the next. It’s that constant juxtaposition of loud and quiet, tension and relief and singing and screaming that makes “Wavering Radiant” Isis’ most complex puzzle so far. Decipher it and you’ll be rewarded with a bold yet exciting album.
Score: 8 out of 10

Outrage – Broken

The Outrage that released “Broken” is not the Japanes heavy metal band. Nor the UK band with the very cute girl singer. And nope, it’s not the Austrian death metal band either.

This Outrage calls New England home and have been spreading the hardcore gospel since 2006. They have a distinct 90s vibe going on which is never a bad thing, except for this one short instrumental in the middle of the album which sounded like medieval folk. Don’t know what the idea behind it is exactly but other than that fans of 108, Unbroken and early Converge should be down with “Broken”.

If you wanna play ‘guess the guest vocalist’… dudes from Have Heart, Soul Control, Hostage Calm and Defeater are all contributing vocals to this very solid album.
Score: 8 out of 10


Valkyrja – Invocation Demise

Sweden’s Valkyrja (not to be confused with Valkyria…also from Sweden) play some pretty nasty black metal. Yikes, satanists! Yes, all hail Satan and that kinda stuff. “Invocation Demise” was originally released on Northern Silence Productions (also home to a band called The Wandering Midget… awesome name) but is now being re-released on Metal Blade. Thank god… oops Satan… because we really needed another black metal album that sounds just like every other black metal album out there.

Black metal has to be one of the most rigid styles in music with its blastbeats, high shrieks and repetitive riffs. And Valkyrja does nothing that Enslaved and Mayhem haven’t already done a long time ago. But hey, gospel songs are being covered over and over as well so why shouldn’t the black lord receive the same praise?
Score: 6 out of 10

Ichor – The Siege

This just in… deathcore has reached Germany! With “The Siege” Ichor tries to cash in on the newest hype by throwing a bunch of grunts and shrieks together over a slew of Cannibal Corpse-like death metal and little guitar ditties we already know from Dying Fetus. Oh, and don’t forget the breakdowns.

I’m already not the biggest fan of deathcore so when I hear a band in this genre simply copying other bands, I’m not impressed. At all.
Score: 4 out of 10

Psychopunch – Death By Misadventure

Here’s what I said about Psychopunch’ album “Moonlight City” just a year ago: The loud guitars, a straight-ahead rhythm section and a powerful vocalist… that’s the basic dynamics of any rock ‘n roll band and Psychopunch proves that that it still rings true today. Throw in some catchy singalong choruses and you know all you have left to do is grease up that hair and rock the fuck out with Psychopunch!

Guess what? Nothing has changed on album number eight. “Death By Misadventure” contains twelve slabs of the band’s typical punk ‘n roll. The guitars still make a lot of noise, vocalist JM makes even more noise and the rhythm section tries to keep everything together. I do miss the pinup artwork though but other than that Psychopunch has once again released a solid album that fans of the Hellacopters and the likes have to pick up.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Nim Vind – The Stillness Illness

Nim Vind released the highly enjoyable horrorpunk album “The Fashion Of Fear” back in 2005. After that it got kinda quiet around Nim Vind – the alter ego of Chris Kirkham - except for the news that he broke with his label Fiend Force.

Listening to “The Stillness Illness” I can see why Fiend Force wasn’t interested in releasing this album because it doesn’t have to do a helluva lot with horrorpunk anymore. This is poppunk with a sixties vibe and a very slick sound. It all sounds catchy enough and it’s easy on the ears but not for a second was I drawn into it. It’s a fun album that’ll work just fine as background music. Anything else is reaching a bit too far though. Better luck next time!
Score: 6 out of 10

Merauder – God Is I

When Merauder dropped “Master Killer” back in ’96, they were right at the forefront of the metalcore movement. Now that that style has watered down to something it was never supposed to be, these NYC stalwarts are back to show the young ones exactly how it’s supposed to be done.

It’s good to hear these guys play songs again that are the equivalent of shooting first and asking questions later. Armed with tons of groove, Jorge Rosado’s brutal voice and riffs that are chunkier than your favorite peanut butter, they will have no problem melting your face off. Especially when they throw in one of those Slayer-esque solos. Holy shit! For Merauder it’s easy… metalcore means metal and hardcore. They stick to that formula with a fervor and thrash their way successfully throughout all of “God Is I”, an album that will pummel your ass into oblivion.
Score: 8 out of 10

American Steel – Dear Friends And Gentle Hearts

When American Steel came back to life in 2007, they surprised everyone by releasing the instant classic “Destroy Their Future”. Two years later the follow-up to that one is ready and while “Dear Friends And Gentle Hearts” is not the kick in the ass that “Destroy Their Future” was, it still is an very, very solid album.

These Oakland punks still sound like a mix of Alkaline Trio (the title track), older Against Me! (“Tear The Place Apart”) and Rancid (“From Here To Hell”) and if you didn’t already know that these dudes can write mean hooks, then just check out “Safe And Sound”, “Lights Out” or “Your Ass Ain’t Laughing Now”. I don’t know what else to say… “Dear Friends And Gentle Hearts” is a prime example of East Bay punk and as solid as… well, American Steel.
Score: 8.5 out of 10


Reno Divorce – Tears Before Breakfast

Reno Divorce is an amazing band. You don’t have to take my word for it, just check out their previous releases and be blown away. Unfortunately they haven’t had a lot of luck with their distribution in the past and as a result these Denver, CO by way of Orlando, FL natives are not nearly as big as they deserve to be. Hopefully that will all change now that they’ve found a new home with I Scream Records who have just dropped the band’s first album in six years, “Tears Before Breakfast”.

Album opener “Supercharger” immediately kicks things into gear and from there on out it’s gritty punkrock ‘n roll all the way. Yes, these dudes sound a lot like Social D but don’t call ‘em a copycat because they have a knack for writing catchy melodies which they then beef up. Girls are still the main subject here with cuts about the one responsible for blue balls (“All Show, No Go!”), the one you can never turn down (“I Won’t Say No”) and the one that got away (“How Long’s It Been?”). Original? Hardly. But fuck me, what a kickass album!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Big D And The Kids Table – Fluent In Stroll

Big D And The Kids Table are back with a new album called “Fluent In Stroll” and this time around these Boston natives pulled up some extra chairs for the backing vocal group Doped Up Dollies. These ladies immediately get the necessary introduction in opening track “Doped Up Dollies On A One Way Ticket To Blood” and then further enhance songs like “A Kiss A Week”, the title track and “We Can Live Anywhere!”.

Thanks to producer Joe Gittleman (Mighty Mighty Bosstones) the horns shine and the vocals ring crystal clear and with the band sure of its talent to write entertaining songs, “Fluent In Stroll” became one highly enjoyable album filled with highlights. There’s hardly any punk left to pick up on in Big D’s sound but all the more ska, double-dutch, swing and reggae making “Fluent In Stroll” the band’s most laidback album so far. Full of songs about girls and drinking, it’s a breezy affair that’s the perfect soundtrack for a summer day.

“Fluent In Stroll” shows how a skapunk band can properly evolve and improve rather than releasing dubious and completely unnecessary cover albums and live DVDs. Yes Reel Big Fish, I’m looking at you.
Score: 8 out of 10

Incubus – Monuments And Melodies

Ha! How about starting off a greatest hits collection with a previously unreleased track? Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense? It does for Incubus who kick off “Monuments And Melodies” with “Black Heart Inertia” before launching into “Drive”, “Megalomaniac”, “Wish You Were Here”, “Pardon Me”, “Nice To Know You” and a bunch of other songs that made them into the rock stars they are now. It’s been a long way for these dudes that started way back when vocalist Brandon Boyd was still sporting dreadlocks. Unfortunately, there’s hardly a trace of “S.C.I.E.N.C.E.” or “The Fungus Among Us” to be found on here except for an acoustic version of “A Certain Shade Of Green” on disc 2. That’s right, no “New Skin” or “Take Us To Your Leader” on here. Damn shame!

That second disc boasts mostly unreleased tracks that honestly wouldn’t have looked that out of place on any of the band’s regular studio albums. The Prince cover of “Let’s Go Crazy” is a great way to jumpstart any party and an even greater way to end this comp. Here’s to eighteen more years!
Score: 7 out of 10
Incubus - Monuments and Melodies

The Golden Age – Unlock Yourself

Panic is a label on the rise and they prove it once again with The Golden Age’s second full-length. “Unlock Yourself” is chock full of melodic hardcore anthems that hit all the right spots. All of the cuts on here are fast-paced, energetic as hell and come with more hooks than a tackle box. Oh, and there are plenty of opportunities to sing along and feel smart thanks to the meaningful lyrics. Think Strike Anywhere or Stretch Armstrong, get excited, then embrace “Unlock Yourself” and regret the fact that albums like this don’t come out all the time. The Golden Age may not be reinventing the wheel with this one but show that it still a lot of miles left.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

For Today – Portraits

Shredding for the lord… brilliant concept! Whoever came up with that one sure has earned his free pass to heaven. Because ever since we have been flooded with Christian hardcore and metalcore releases. In For Today’s case ,these children of god do their utmost best to pummel your ass, melt your face off and tear you a new one… all very un-christian things to do if you ask me but oh well.

If you’ve heard their previous album “Ekklesia”, you’ll know what to expect… mosh-friendly melodic metalcore that’s riddled with breakdowns, over the top cookie monster vocals and a Jamie King production job. Yes, you’ve already heard this a couple of times before but just like praying your rosary, it never gets old. Well, actually it does… but this is still an okay-ish metalcore album.
Score: 6 out of 10

Tenet – Sovereign

Now that Strapping Young Lad is taking a breather, guitarist Jed Simon has time to work on his other projects. Not too long ago this resulted in a highly entertaining album by Zimmers Hole and now he’s back with a punishing and faster-than-light album under the Tenet moniker. Along with his Strapping Young Lad buddies Gene Hoglan (drums) and Buron Stroud (bass), former Exodus vocalist Steve Souza and former Testament guitarist Glen Alvelais, he’s here to kick some ass!

With faster-than-light speed I’m not only referring to the rhythms. The fact that the album contains only nine songs spread out over barely 30 minutes helps as well. It’s over before you know it and will leave you hungry for more. Along with razorsharp riffs and solos alongside Souza’s vicious growl, these guys lift compositions like opener “Being And Nothingness” and “Crown Of Thorns” to a higher level. Think Exodus. Think Pestilence. Definitely one of the best death/thrash releases I’ve heard this year.
Score: 8 out of 10

Arkaea – Years In The Darkness

After Dino Cazares left Fear Factory that band would never be the same again without Cazares’ trademark riffage. Vocalist Burton C. Bell figured that out as well after a while and started concentrating more on his Ascension of the Watchers project. And so Christian Olde Wolbers and Raymond Herrera had to find something else to do with their time and started Arkaea. They then recruited Threat Signal’s Jon Howard and Pat Kavanagh to round things up and headed for the studio with a bunch of songs that were originally written for the next FF album. Which explains why “Years In The Darkness” sounds a lot like a light version of Fear Factory with a terrible vocalist to boot. The shouting is still okay but once the clean vocals come in, I’m cringing. Especially take note of the chorus in “Beneath The Shades Of Grey” which sounds like something a 4-year-old would sing.

In the meantime Cazares and Bell relaunched Fear Factory without Olde Wolbers and Herrera which is kinda funny if you think about it. Let’s hope that new album will sound a lot better than “Years In The Darkness”, which reminded me a lot of Bleed The Sky as well. And hey… wait a minute… weren’t they those Fear Factory copycats? Which would make Arkaea a copy of an already poor copy? Yikes!
Score: 4 out of 10

Suicide Silence – No Time To Bleed

Suicide Silence is back with the follow-up to “The Cleansing”. This one’s called “No Time To Bleed” and is just as uninteresting a deathcore release as its predecessor. I don’t get the hype about this genre… it’s death metal with breakdowns played by technically skilled musicians so it should be okay. Yet it always ends up sounding like shit.

The vocals here are laughable, varying from shrieks of the squealed pig variety to cookie monster grunts. Plus the lyrics are incredibly inane… which is probably why these guys do their best to make the vocals as unintelligible as possible. The hyperactive drums and riffage don’t make things any better but at least they provide a cool part here and there.

If you ask me deathcore is a genre invented for all the guys who lust after emo chicks but think the music is too soft. So they jumpstarted this genre which is ultra-heavy and would still allow them to sport skinny jeans and a ridiculous haircut. Everybody wins!
Score: 4 out of 10

One For The Team – Build A Garden EP

With four new songs and four reworked tracks that previously appeared on “Build It Up”, there’s no lack of material on One For The Team’s new EP even if the songs are kinda short.

This indiepop outfit out of Minneapolis does a great job of playing breezy songs with shared boy/girl vocals that are quite subtle and easy on the ears. The title track quietly builds up until it drowns in a sea of noise and is followed by some lo-fi goodness in the form of “Ha Ha”. “Best Supporting Actress” and “Best Supporting Actor” are two seriously addictive tunes as well and wouldn’t have looked out of place on the soundtrack of Juno.

All of the songs on here are cute yet still snappy enough to keep things from sounding too sugary. Good work by a band to keep an eye out for!
Score: 7 out of 10

Meat Puppets – Sewn Together

I seriously got into music when bands like Pearl Jam, Peppers, Alice In Chains and Nirvana started exploding. What can I say… I’m a kid of the 90s! So of course I saw Nirvana’s Unplugged performance. Devoured is actually more like it. And like so many others, that’s how I learned about the Meat Puppets. Three of their songs found their way into that legendary performance (“Plateau”, “Oh Me” and “Lake Of Fire”) and actually were some of the highlights. After that the band around the Kirkwood brothers released their most successful album with “Too High To Die”, words they more than lived up to during the next couple of years. They have been back together since 2006 and “Sewn Together” is the name of their latest musical exploit.

“Rotten Shame” is probably the closest they get to the old days but it’s by far not the best cut on here. “Sapphire” is a dark song that has somewhat of an orchestral feel to it while “I’m Not You”, “Clone” and “Smoke” are just a couple of the songs on here where the band mixes rock and country with great results. What’s that? Oh yeah, cow punk is what they like to call it. Whatever. I’m digging it!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

In Blood We Trust – On Thin Ice

Walking on thin ice is not a smart thing to do. Signing to Filled With Hate however is. Especially when you’re a German band that likes to play some nasty hardcore. And hey, just so happens that that is exactly what In Blood We Trust does. “On Thin Ice” is made up of nine songs that are pure Ruhrpott moshcore. This means plenty of chugga chugga riffs, a growling vocalist and lots of room for gang vocals. And of course, tons of breakdowns.

Ain’t nothing original on here, just well-performed hardcore songs that guarantee a good workout in the pit.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Ben Weasel – These Ones Are Bitter

“These Ones Are Bitter” is Ben Weasel’s second solo album and was originally released in 2007 on the man’s digital download only record label, Mendota Recording Company. I think it only now became available on CD thanks to Asian Man Records but I’m not sure.

Anyway, what you get here is a handful of top notch poppunk songs the way we are used to from Mr. Weasel, great melodies the way we are used to from Mr. Weasel and an urge to start tapping your feet the way we are used to from Mr. Weasel. So why not call it a Screeching Weasel album? Because he recorded this one with Alkaline Trio’s Dan Andriano and All American Rejects’ Mike Kennerty and Chris Gaylor… duh!
Score: 8 out of 10

Against Me! – The Original Cowboy

“The Original Cowboy” is a collection of demos of material that ended up being 2003’s “As The Eternal Cowboy”. What you get honestly doesn’t differ a helluva lot from the end result with the exception of some tracks being shuffled around. So at first sight this may seem like a somewhat irrelevant release. But after having heard this album a couple of times, I fell in love with how everything sounds that little bit grittier, dirtier and sloppier. It actually makes “The Original Cowboy” an even better album than “As The Eternal Cowboy” if you ask me. I’m just curious to hear how raw and gritty their upcoming Butch Vig-produced full-length will be…

People that are new to the band should pick this one up over “As The Eternal Cowboy” and diehard fans will want this new version as well so I guess Fat Wreck wins all around!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

The Casting Out – Go Crazy! Throw Fireworks!

According to Nathan Gray, he started this band because it is fun. And listening to “Go Crazy! Throw Fireworks!”, you can clearly hear these guys having a good time. This time around Gray checks his political beliefs at the door and unlike BoySetsFire’s output, this is more straightforward punkrock instead of the hardcore he used to play with his previous band. And I have to say that it works wonders for them.

Gray’s characteristic voice is still very impressive as are the catchy melodies that already found their way onto BSF’s last two albums more and more. “The Ebbing Of The Tide”, “These Alterations”, “Quixote’s Last Ride”… this album is simply filled with solid songs from beginning to end and come courtesy of one of the funniest guys in the scene. I’m a fan and I’m sure all of you will follow once you get to hear “Go Crazy! Throw Fireworks!”.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Therefore I Am – The Sound Of Human Lives

Therefore I Am have been around since 2004 and have now signed with Equal Vision who recently helped release the band’s debut full-length, “The Sound Of Human Lives”. Despite being from Boston, they don’t play tuff guy hardcore but instead opt for a catchy take on post-hardcore. They already released a split with Vanna but don’t go comparing them to those guys. Best to forget that whole episode actually… it’s something that will no doubt rank high on their list of things they should’ve thought through better when they look back on their musical career at a later stage in life.

So, they don’t sound anything like Vanna. Cool. What do they sound like then? Well, at their heaviest like in opener “Death By Fire”, they sound like older Thrice. But as one will notice in other songs, these dudes are not afraid to throw in some more poppy hooks which go well alongside Alex Correia’s gritty vocals. Circa Survive and Receiving End Of Sirens are two more names that will come to mind as you work your way further down the tracklisting.

These guys have some really cool ideas, know how to play their instruments but things just don’t click as well as they should. Keep in mind that this is only their debut though. If they keep on evolving which they no doubt will, I think they have more than enough talent to deliver a breathtaking album next time.
Score: 7 out of 10

Sonny Vincent with members of Rocket From The Crypt – S/T

Good thing that garage-y punkrock sounds timeless! These eleven songs were recorded way back in 2003 by Sonny Vincent along with some members of Rocket From The Crypt (Ruby Mars, Speedo and ND). No idea why it took so long but this is the first time they’re released on CD and LP. All I can say is that it was worth the wait.

If you like three-chords-are-all-you-need punkrock with catchy as fuck melodies or if you are a Rocket From The Crypt or Night Marchers fan, then this is one album that most definitely belongs in your collection. Nuff said!
Score: 8 out of 10

Death Before Dishonor – Better Ways To Die

The least you can say about Death Before Dishonor is that they are a hardworking band. When they’re not out on the road, they’re cooped up in the studio with Jim Siegel (Have Heart, Dropkick Murphys, Blood For Blood) recording new material which now sees the light of day under the moniker “Better Ways To Die”.

On these eleven songs they still sound as tough as nails but shuffled things around just enough to make the new album more than just a mere copy of “Count Me In”. Vocalist Bryan still has that powerful roar and is still being backed up by tons of chugga chugga riffage, powerful rhythms and tons of groove making them sound not unlike Terror or Agnostic Front. But this time around these Bostonians incorporated little bits of melody here and there in the form of short solos and a couple of whoos (“Remember”). Because of this, comparisons with Blood For Blood and Pro-Pain aren’t too far-fetched either.

All very nice names to be compared with and Death Before Dishonor absolutely deserves it. With “Better Ways To Die” they have dropped one of the most powerful hardcore albums of the year.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

The Legends – Over And Over

The opening track of “Over And Over” comes with a beat that is as repetitive as it is commanding and the guitars and keys that are draped over it show off a sense of melody that is as typically Swedish as IKEA. It’s a solid introduction and even more impressive is the fact that The Legends manage to maintain this level of quality throughout all twelve songs.

The brains behind The Legend is Johan Angergård (also known as ‘he who founded Labrador Records’ and ‘he who also plays in Club 8 and Acid House Kings’) but the man has put together a solid line-up of nine people in total who all do their best to make “Over And Over” one big poppy love affair.

“Seconds Away” is a song built almost entirely on feedback yet it still manages to sound catchy as hell. The title track is pretty much the same thing and “Dancefloor” is a pretty apt title for a cut that is well, danceable. Heavily inspired by both My Bloody Valentine and twee as fuck bands, The Legends wear their influences on their sleeves but don’t let them get between themselves and a highly enjoyable album.
Score: 7 out of 10

Goes Cube – Another Day Has Passed

Ever wondered why they call New York the city that never sleeps? Two words… Goes Cube. As long as these guys are rehearsing, it’s no wonder nobody gets any shut-eye! This Brooklyn three-piece has been handing out the heavy since 2003 in the form of several EPs. “Another Day Has Passed” however marks their full-length debut and it’s a 13-song trip into metal country.

Well, to be honest it’s not pure metal. Sure, there are some thrashy parts with double bass drum and solos tend to run wild on this album. And oh, the bass sometimes sounds like this dude is playing the Enola Gay that is about to approach Hiroshima instead of a simple guitar. So yeah, it’s metal. But some of the riffage on here could be Fugazi’s just the same before it turns into yet classic rock passage. This probably isn’t helping you much in terms of pigeonholing this band but who cares… the force is strong in this one so let is blast out your speakers with the volume knob all the way up to 10!
Score: 8 out of 10


Dead And Buried – Bear Witness

Delaware’s Dead And Buried is back after five years of nothing. And as if they’ve never been anywhere, they immediately tear you a new one with opener “Better Off Dead”. Turns out that was only the appetizer because after that it only gets more brutal.

“Glory Days” made me feel like something swallowed me whole, “Mutilation” pulled me through the wringer and “Time Just Ain’t Movin’ On” spit me back out all mauled and shit. “Bear Witness” is one downright brutal affair that fans of Meraude or Ringworm will instantly be smitten with. Even though they’ll never admit it because being smitten is for sissies.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Nueva Etica – 3L1T3

The intro of “3L1T3” might set you on the wrong foot for a couple of seconds with that hiphop beat but then these feisty Argentinians crank up the brutality with “El Tiempo Es Ahora” which I think means that the time is now. And it is. Because after that these straight edgers don’t take their foot off the gas once until the last notes of “Sudamerica” ring out.

The songs are Integrity-style brutal and pack more groove than a Biohazard and Madball album combined. I’ve never heard anything like this come out of South America before. Which is not a diss to other South American bands at. It just shows how good these guys are. And even though I don’t understand a word of what they’re saying, I can tell you that “3L1T3” will wreak more havoc than a bad burrito.
Score: 8 out of 10

The Cassidy Scenario – Withstanding Voracity

From the ashes of Austria’s Estate rose The Cassidy Scenario who with “Withstanding Voracity” have released a solid hardcore read. This scenario has eleven chapters and while it’s all pretty straight-forward hardcore, these dudes never forget to inject some melody into their songs. Whether that’s in the form of a riff, clean vocals or a singalong, it’s always there in some form. It’s hardly original but it’s a job well done and if you’re a fan Comeback Kid, you’re sure to get your mosh on to cuts like “Chasing Memories Or Delusions” and “Promising Heaven And Earth” while the more atmospheric parts like “The Abandonment” or the intro will appeal the Modern Life Is War fans out there as well.
Score: 7 out of 10

Attack! Attack! UK – S/T

The Attack! Attack! I’m talking about here is a Welsh outfit that’s not to be mistaken with the Attack! Attack! that’s signed to Rise Records. These dudes like to crank out poppunk with some catchy hooks. I don’t what it is with Welsh people but they have some pretty decent bands there.

They do have their Fall Out Boy and Panic At The Disco moments but at the same time they have a lot in common with an act like Funeral For A Friend. I could totally see these guys on Fueled By Ramen’s roster getting hyped the shit out of so thousands of young, impressionable girls have another band to swoon over.

Nothing you haven’t heard before, just another decently played poppunk album.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Black Friday ’29 – Black Friday 2009

If you name your band after the biggest economic crisis of the 20th century and release a new album while in the midst of a new crisis, it’s not hard to come up with a name for the album. And so Germany’s Black Friday ’29 comes out swinging with “Black Friday 2009” two years after having released “The Pursuit Of Happiness”.

It’s another mosh-worthy album that packs plenty of groove. Think NYHC meets Comeback Kid. Old school with a new school twist. The riffage is heavy yet at the same time these guys sound more melodic than ever. Put it all together and you’ve got an album Germany can be proud of. Unlike some of the other shit they pulled a couple of decades ago.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds – Dracula Boots

Kid Congo is of course the former guitarist of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Cramps and The Gun Club. On “Dracula Boots” Congo fires up his guitar and tries to blow new life into the jungle genre along with his Pink Monkey Birds.

It turns out to be more an album for audio geeks rather than one for the masses but hey, let’s face it… only audiophiles read online reviews of a Kid Congo album anyway, right? Check out opener “LSDC” and “I Found A Peanut” if you want to know what you’re in for… cool repetitive riffs and Kid Congo’s hypnotic voice over a simple beat. It’s all pretty basic yet experimental at the same time.

Congo pays tribute to Bo Diddley with a cover of “Funky Fly” and then it’s up for the instrumental “Black Santa” where he proves that all it takes is one simple riff to carry an entire song.

Not the album of the year but if you’re openminded enough and want to hear something not so everyday-ish as a lot of other stuff out there, I can recommend “Dracula Boots”. Even though it definitely does not feature Kid Congo’s best work.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Children – Hard Times Hangin At The End Of The World

Think back to the days when it was still cool to run around with a mullet and a shirt with the sleeves torn off or to cruise in your muscle car blasting Priest or Maiden through the open windows.

Now fast-forward to 2009 and its happening all over again with Children, a new band out of New York featuring members of Early Man and S.T.R.E.E.T.S. You’ll probably have to make due without the mullet, sleeveless shirt and muscle car unless you live in a trailer park. But that’s okay… “Hard Times At The End Of The World” doesn’t need those things. At least now you can finally listen to dual guitar attacks, shouted vocals and the occasional psychedelic keyboard without looking like an idiot.
Score: 7 out of 10

Aiden – Knives

Even though I’m turning 30 in a month, I still feel like a kid sometimes. Listening to “Knives” was one of those moments. As a kid I got spooked easily and so the artwork of Aiden’s new album scared the living shit out of me. And a band that uses the words knives, blood, carving, fire and burn in pretty much every single song… well, they have to be really really dark, right? So they scared the living shit out of me as well.

But then I switched back to adult mode and realized that Aiden is now officially its own cliché. And they were already an amalgation of all the emo clichés to begin with. The lyrics are utter shit… I mean, can anyone beyond the age of 12 take lines such as ‘fuck your god / fuck your faith in the end / there’s no religion’ serious? Didn’t think so. Then there’s the music which is as inane as the rest of the band.

So yeah, I wasted a couple of minutes of my life listening to this album which I will never get back. But it’s my own fault. After all this is the new Aiden album I’m talking about. What the hell did I expect?
Score: 2 out of 10

Sworn Enemy – Total World Domination

New Yorkers have a reputation for being straight-forward and nervous people. With titles like “Still Hating”, “Ready To Fight” and “Step In The Ring”, Sworn Enemy can already check straight-forward off of their list. As for nervous… first the Persistence tour, then another tour opening for Earth Crisis, two albums in two years… they simply can’t sit still. So yeah, check the box in front of nervous as well.

With “Total World Domination”, Sworrn Enemy does exactly what is expected from them. Nothing more, nothing less. Ten more punishing cuts of their thrash metal and hardcore crossover with plenty of shredding along with Sal Lococo’s trademark vocals make sure you stick with them until the last chugga chugga of “Home Of The Brave” fades out.
Score: 7.5 out of 10