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Mariachi El Bronx interview

Oh shit, they did it again! In November last year The Bronx released their excellent third album where they exorcised some more demons in that typical hardcore punk fashion of theirs, now they’re back already but with a twist. Meet Mariachi El Bronx!

PRT: Congratulations with the new album… when I first saw the live video of “Cell Mates” that you posted on your site months ago, I still kinda thought you were kidding but now “El Bronx” is there… did a lot of people think you weren’t serious at first?

Joby: I think a lot of people still think we aren’t serious. Most people associate mariachi music with the most popular style of it which is called norteno. That is the super circus-y type. We don’t play that.

PRT: When and how did you first come up with the idea to start playing mariachi music? Obviously you heard a lot of it growing up in LA but going from listening to actually playing it, still seems like a big step.
Joby: It’s just something we all really like. It was fun to learn how to play new instruments. I suppose it started when a tv show here in LA asked us to do an acoustic version of one of our songs (which happens to be one of my least favorite things ever due to the MTV unplugged series in the 90’s). Everywhere you went all you heard was “Layla” by Eric Clapton. I really built up resentment for that. So when we approached to do it I suppose it was a knee jerk reaction to my distaste for acoustic renditions, and mariachi seemed like a far better solution. It was great, so we decided to make a record.

PRT: Have you already heard from other mariachis what they think about the album? Joby: 3 thumbs up. PRT: Other than the obvious differences like the instruments, was writing for “El Bronx” any different compared to a regular The Bronx album?
Joby: Generally when we do Bronx records they are written in a certain space in a certain time. This record was written all over the world while on tour. I think that’s why it has a much broader spectrum then the usual Bronx point and shoot.

PRT: My favorite song on the album has to be “Quinceniera”… seeing as my Spanish sucks, can you tell me what the title means and what the song is about?

Joby: It’s when a Mexican girl becomes a woman. A celebration on her 13th birthday. Kinda creepy.

PRT: On a related note, how do you pick which band you’ll use certain lyrics for? Are there differences in subjects you touch upon?

Joby:I don’t want to speak for Matt here, but in my opinion he writes in the general direction of what the song looks like sonically.

PRT: You’re playing shows now both as The Bronx and Mariachi El Bronx, sometimes even on the same night. How do you guys keep up playing two shows back to back?
Joby:No idea. Super tired most of the time. I am currently trying to learn how to sleep standing up.

PRT: And aren’t you worried that people who go to see Mariachi El Bronx live will leave once you start tearing into “Shitty Future” or the other way round?

Joby: I would like to think that there are two kinds of music in the world. So I would hope that people are open minded and would enjoy two different types of music all crumpled into one show. Rinse repeat.

PRT: Are there already any plans to let us Europeans on the mainland experience Mariachi El Bronx live?
Joby: Yes – probably in November we will be heading over.

PRT: I just read that you are contributing a cover of “I Would Die 4 U” to a Prince tribute album that Spin is putting together. Any special events in the past that made you want to be a part of that release?

Joby:I am a huge Prince fan. Always have been. I would hate to meet him, but when I was a kid I thought that because he did everything on his records that was the coolest. And he was better then everyone else. A lot of people don’t know how incredible of a guitar player he is. He doesn’t care. He just writes booty music and licks his lips….


Over Stars And Gutters – Consider This Your Curse

“Consider This Your Curse” may look like an emo album and while the word ‘stars’ in the band name doesn’t exactly help either, Over Stars And Gutters are in fact not another skinny jeans band with awkward haircuts and crappy songs. Instead these Oklahoma punks tear a way through the ten songs on their full-length debut with an urgency that you just don’t hear often enough.

As soon as one anthem after the other starts pouring out of your speakers, you can just as quick pick up on this band’s influences. Hot Water Music, Dillinger Four, Lawrence Arms,… It’s all present and accounted for. So they are not doing anything new but fuck it! As long as they keep on writing honest and sincere melodic punkrock tunes that bleed passion like these ones here, I’m all for it. Someone please sign these guys!
Score: 7.5 out of 10
no label

Billy Talent – III

Billy Talent is back for another round and they do it with pretty much the same album as the last one. But I have to say that this pony is pretty good at its one trick.

With the help of Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers), things sound better than ever before. Ian D’Sa’s riffs are even more present than in the past and Kowalewicz’ still sings as if his balls are permanently in the wringer. From opener “Devil On My Shoulder” over “The Dead Can’t Testify” and up until “Definition Of Destiny”, it’s all pretty damn good.

It’s hard to pick any favorites because everything’s kinda similar… I mean if you’ve heard one song by Billy Talent, you’ve pretty much heard them all. But like I said before, it’s a good song. If you’re into melodic rock, you’re gonna like this album. It would be nice though to hear something at least a little bit different on the next album.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

V/A – Carry The Torch : A Tribute To Kid Dynamite

There’s no denying that Kid Dynamite was one highly influential hardcore band. So it was only a matter of time before a tribute popped up. Get Outta Town took charge and what was supposed to be a normal tribute album turned into a 39-song behemoth.

Yes, this album boasts every song that Kid Dynamite ever recorded and they are played by a wide variety of talented bands. Those acts include Broadway Calls, Lewd Acts, PRT favorites Make Do And Mend, Static Radio NJ, No Trigger, The Ergs, This Is HellToken Entry drummer Ernie Parada along with a shitload of others. My favorite new discovery would have to be No Secrets Between Sailors who unfortunately called it a day last month. Bummer! Another bummer comes in the form of To The Lions who manage to turn “Rid Of The Losers / Bring On The Cruisers” into a typical moshcore cut… big no no!

Anyway, if you are new to Kid Dynamite this is a good place to start. Not only do you get to know Kid Dynamite’s material, you will also be introduced to a bunch of bands influenced by these hardcore legends.
Score: 8 out of 10

Scott H. Biram – Something’s Wrong / Lost Forever

Scott H. Biram seems the kind of guy that will bring you on the verge of tears with a colorful story and then tells you to fuck off ‘cause he doesn’t want you to spill your tears in his scotch. With a sound that can best be described as a mix of Delta blues, authentic country, a bit of gospel and a decidedly punk attitude, Biram will shake up your world with “Something’s Wrong / Lost Forever”. It’s the first album he recorded in his home studio and with all the little mistakes left on the album, it only makes things warmer and more honest.

Opener “Time Flies” could be the one of the best songs the Black Keys haven’t written yet while “Sinkin’ Down” is downright beautiful. “Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue” is pure and authentic country that comes before “Judgment Day” is let loose. Better hold on, it’s a fast one and one of the best songs on a great album! Another highlight is “I Feel So Fine” which sees Biram teaming up with The Black Diamond Heavies for an all-out rock n roll barroom brawler.

While the album itself may sound like a broken record, Biram never does. Instead he proves that he can rock with the best of them even though his talents truly shine on the more mellow moments.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Memphis May Fire – Sleepwalking

This full-length should’ve arrived a lot sooner but as this Texas outfit headed for the studio, their vocalist decided it would be a good time to leave the band. And so the search began for a new screamer. After turning over some rocks and seeing what crawled from under it, they stumbled over Matt Mullins, who went to work with all of the already completed songs.

Whereas these dudes were sold as Southern rock meets screamo on their debut EP, this time around it’s just screamo with just a hint of Southern rock thrown in almost as an afterthought. It’s all very formulaic but they do an okay job I guess. It’s a vast improvement over their EP and at least they’re not simply rehashing what everyone else in the scene is doing. Kudos for that.

If you want to pick up on more Southern rock vibes, pick up Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster’s new album instead. “Sleepwalking” is more fit for the fans of Every Time I Die.
Score: 6 out of 10

Cobra Skulls – American Rubicon

I only know Reno from one of the lamest comedy shows on TV (Reno 911) and from one of the best punkrock bands around (Reno Divorce). But apparently it’s also home for the Cobra Skulls who are back with the follow-up to 2007’s “Sitting Army”. Their new album starts off with “Time And Pressure”, which sounds like Against Me’s vocalist fronting Tito & The Tarantulas at one of their shows in the Titty Twister and immediately shows that these guys are sticking to their guns.

With a solid mix of punkrock and rockabilly, they tear their way through a whopping seventeen songs and never falter once. Vocalist Devin Peralta always manages to sound soothing and pissed off at the same time and occasionally shows his Argentine roots by bursting out in Spanish while the rest of the band is doing an awesome job of backing him up. These dudes aren’t doing anything new at all but prove that a well-written song with a catchy hook is still everything you need.
Score: 8 out of 10

ASG & Black Tusk – Low Country

“Low Country” sees Amplification of Self-Gratification – or ASG as they are better known - return once again with yet another stonerrific release. This time around they teamed up with Savannah, Georgia’s sludge metallers Black Tusk for a split release that features four new ASG cuts and three by Black Tusk, for whom “Low Country” is the last in a triptych of split releases. The other two were with Fight Amp (Brutal Panda Records) and Holy Mountain (No Idea). All three of the releases come with beautiful artwork by Baroness’ John Baizley.

The album was recorded live in the studio by Philip Cope (Kylesa) to catch both bands’ natural rawness and I think they succeeded in doing just that. Both ASG and Black Tusk sound even more feisty than on their past releases and the two of them make for a great match with a somewhat similar sound.

Time to fire up that blunt, kick back and groove along to the not so soothing tunes on “Low Country”!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Dredg interview

Dredg released one of my favourite albums so far this year with "The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion". It's an amazing album that constantly crosses over into different genres but always sounds like a Dredg album. If you haven't already checked it out, you definitely should because you are missing out! Here's an email interview we did with lead singer Gavin.

PRT: Congratulations, you’ve released one of the best albums I’ve already heard this year! But how come it took you guys over two years from when you announced the new album to the actual release?

Gavin: There were some personal reasons, the label change ate up some time, and there were a lot of trial and error delays as well.

PRT: “The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion” marked your departure from Interscope… what exactly is the story behind that parting?
Gavin: There really isn't much of story other than the fact that we got dropped because we didn't sell enough records and didn't really fit their business model anymore. When we were signed in 2001 the music business was a whole different world.

PRT: Do you like having matters back in your own hands? And how do you plan to use that newfound freedom?
Gavin: Honestly, I believe that if there is a good time to be independent that time is now. That being said, with independence comes more work and less resources so we still have have a lot of stairs to climb.

PRT: The new album is inspired by a Salman Rushdie poem and comes with something of a religious theme… I’m just curious about how the creative process works with you guys. Could you tell me a little bit more about that?

Gavin: This time around we weren't really focused on making a strict concept record but a lot of the lyrical content seemed to parallel an essay that Mark found by Salman Rushdie called "A Letter to the Six Billionth Citizen". From there we used it as a template for the rest of the writing and for the artwork. I think it's influence is most apparent in the artwork and packaging.

PRT: Or maybe I can see it myself when that Making Of DVD of “Catch Without Arms” finally comes out… what happened with that one?

Gavin: That succumbed to harsh realities of a poor economy and a lack of funds. It is on ice for the time being. We may combine the footage from that dvd with footage from all of the records. Kind of a making of our whole catalogue, if you will. Or maybe we will just post it on our site. Not sure...

PRT: You’ve always been a band that doesn’t stick to one specific genre musically and the visuals have always been a big part of Dredg as well… other bands that try that sorta thing sometimes seem to lose themselves and forget to write actual songs (*cough* Mars Volta). How do you avoid that pitfall?
Gavin: I think first and foremost we are most focused on writing quality songs - songs that can be played with an acoustic guitar and a voice. I think our collective input and individualities are what create our eclectic sound. We are a very democratic band when it comes to decision making and the creative process.

PRT: You have a treasure hunt going on over at your site which is a pretty cool idea… how did you come up with it? And how important is it for you guys to stay in touch like that with your fans?

Gavin: We had a treasure hunt with "Catch Without Arms" as well. The winner of that hunt was able to name a song on the new record which ended up being "Long Days and Vague Clues". Drew has spearheaded these treasure hunts for the past 2 records so he would be a better member to ask but I know he feels and we feel that fan interaction is very important to us and our listeners.

PRT: Suppose Dredg ever calls it a day… what would you like to be remembered for? And are there things left on your to do list with the band?
Gavin: There are always things left to do and things to better. That is what keeps us going. I know we are a band that focuses on change and on progression. This is what keeps it exciting for us and hopefully for our fans. I hope we are remembered for being an honest band that never really fell into any bullshit scene or category but my greatest hope is to have our music outlive us. That would make it all worthwhile.

PRT: Quick one… is it true that you actually don’t even like the name Dredg anymore?

Gavin: That couldn't be more true but apparently, we are stuck with it.

PRT: What’s up next for you guys? I saw that you are going on a co-headlining tour with RX Bandits… anything else in the works as well?
Gavin: We are doing that tour with RX and then we are back overseas in the fall. I know we are working on playing a show with Salman Rushdie in NY sometime in October. Details to come.

PRT: Any last words for our readers?

Gavin: Be positive, relax, learn, and enjoy the universe.

Darkest Hour – The Eternal Return

Darkest Hour is back with a new album named after a concept straight out of ancient Egypt. According to Wikipedia, the basic premise is that the universe is limited in extent and contains a finite amount of matter, while time is viewed as being infinite. The universe has no starting or ending state, while the matter comprising it is constantly changing its state. The number of possible changes is finite, and so sooner or later the same state will recur. So does that mean that Darkest Hour made the same album again?

Well yeah, pretty much. Their particular brand of metalcore owes as much to thrash as it does to Swedish melodic death metal and on “The Eternal Return” that’s once again the case. Which isn’t a bad thing really. Darkest Hour has always been at the top of it game and the cuts that made the new album are still as potent as ever. Fast riffage, double bass rhythms and vocalist John Henry’s pissed off vocals put together still make for a spicy combo. As far as I’m concerned, these guys can keep on returning eternally.
Score: 8 out of 10

Our Lady Peace – Burn Burn

Canada’s Our Lady Peace have been around for quite some time and “Burn Burn” is already their seventh album. This time around no Bob Rock in the producing chair. Instead vocalist Raine Maida fiddled with the knobs himself. “Burn Burn” also marks the band’s first album that they released without the help of a record company, opting to release it through longtime management Coalition Entertainment instead.

Unfortunately their sound hasn’t changed since they set sail for a more mainstream course with 2002’s “Gravity”. And that’s no different this time around. This makes “Burn Burn” another middle-of-the-road affair. Most of the band’s quirkier moments that you could find all over their previous albums, have disappeared a long time ago and instead you get ten alternative rock songs that are radio-friendly enough yet lack the hooks necessary to lift them above mediocrity.
Score: 6 out of 10
Coalition Entertainment

The Love Me Nots – Detroit

I missed out on The Love Me Nots’s debut “In Black & White” which hit the streets in 2007 but if “Detroit” is anything to go by, I’m gonna have to get my hands on that one as well.

With fuzzed up, reverb-tastic and surf-influenced guitars over farfisa-drenched tunes, these two guys and two girls prove they have the whole seventies spy rock sound down to a T. “Detroit” sees these Phoenix, AZ natives teaming up once again with producer Jim Diamond (White Stripes, Romantics) and as I worked my way down the tracklisting song by song, I became more and more of a fan. Vocalist Nicole Laurenne has a voice that can be as soothing as it can be harsh while Michael Johnny Walker is laying out some perfectly good guitar riffs which are backed up by a very solid and hardhitting rhythm section.

Listen to songs like “Secret Pocket” or “I’m The One” once and find out just how lovable The Love Me Nots are.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls

I love Scottish accents… really. They never fail to put a smile on my face! So when there’s a band from Scotland with a name like We Were Promised Jetpacks, then I already consider myself a fan right off the bat. These guys were discovered through Frightened Rabbit’s MySpace page and were quickly signed to Fat Cat who are now releasing the band’s debut full-length.

Comparisons to Frightened Rabbit and fellow labelmatesThe Twilight Sad aren’t too far-fetched. The difference is that We Were Promised Jetpacks comes at it from a post-punk perspective. Those angular guitars and drums that make a lot of noise? Me likey.

Mogwai is another name that comes to mind easily when most of your songs start off quiet enough before erupting into one big burst of noise. Main difference there is of course that well, Mogwai is mostly instrumental and We Were Promised Jetpacks have a very capable vocalist in the form of Adam Thompson.

Anyway, if this is the band’s debut, then we’re going to be in for a treat with later releases seeing as the band now has an average age of just 21. Check out “These Four Walls”, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. At the very least it will satisfy my Scottish needs until the new Biffy Clyro album comes out!
Score: 8 out of 10

After The Fall – Fort Orange

Here’s an Albany, NY trio that is trying to blow new life into 90s melodicore and is doing a pretty damn good job of it on “Fort Orange”. In barely 23 minutes they tear through 13 songs that are of the faster-than-fast variety with shouted vocals, straightforward lyrics and enough technicality to build you a house they can then blast to smithereens with bombshells like “Thomas Philbrick” and “Poor Excuse”. Think back to a time when it was all about Good Riddance, early Strung Out and Satanic Surfers. Yeah baby!
Score: 7 out of 10

Rose Kemp interview

Rose Kemp is the daughter of two of Steeleye Span's members so she literally grew up around music. She joined her parents onstage on an early age and has ventured out on a solo career since. Check out "Unholy Majesty" if you haven't already, it's a doomy, gloomy affair but it's worth the ride.

PRT: I had the hardest time describing your music (which is a good thing) so if you were the lovechild of two other bands, which acts would’ve had sex and which position were you conceived in? And you can’t say Steeleye Span!
Rose: I think it would have been some sort of forest floor orgy including Thorr’s Hammer, Earth, Iron Monkey, Dead Raven Choir (and a trillion other people) with commentary from Secret Chiefs 3 and orchestrated by Diamanda Galas…. That is, of course, if had to liken my sounds to a sexual act… which in all honesty, I have never been asked to do before, this is a first!

PRT: With your parents you grew up surrounded by music. Kids normally get into music to rebel against their parents… so I was wondering with what kind of options that left you with?
Rose: Well, due to being raised by musicians, I have always been an old head on young shoulders so in my younger years, the concept of rebelling seemed a tad juvenile and extremely cliché! Both of my parents were a huge inspiration to me both with their shows and their studio work. In our household, music was both a joy and a profession, so my aim was just to try to learn to be a consummate professional and get on with forging my way in matters of sound. Saying that, there were definitely things I took a large side step away from! The English Traditional Folk world, as was, was a very small and at times judgmental scene and there was always a strange underlying current of the people who followed it seemed to want to exercise some kind of unwritten ownership of the children of the 60’s revival due to some sort of one generational blood line. I opted out. My parents are innovators who pioneered a genre, but folk fans nowadays seem to only want me to sing pretty songs in a soft voice suitable for their Volvo stereos and if I don’t do what they unrealistically expect then they all line-up to express their disappointment in me. So I declined my title and abdicated as gracefully as I could and swiftly made my exit to find what I felt I had to offer music history. I am still working on it and I intend to still be working on it the day I die.

PRT: It’s already been a while since “Unholy Majesty” came out… are you already working on a new Rose Kemp album?
Rose: I am very excited, I know who I want to work with and I have been talking with them about how to make the record happen, I know where in the world it will be done we just need to sort out the small details like ‘when exactly it will happen’ and ‘where will we go for chips at 2am’. But the main thing is, I am going to be working with a producer I have had great respect for for many a long year and it shall be the stuff of dreams! I think we could produce something really special.

PRT: In the middle of the album is the song “Flawless”, a piano ballad that kind of stands out in between the noisier songs. Can you tell me a bit more about that one?
Rose: It came to me at a time of great professional collapse during one of many steep learning curves people go through in the music world. It taught me to realise the difference between what people who work with me think that I am, and what I actually am, and realise when people are trying to change me, smooth out the crinkles and make me more acceptable for general consumption. It was a dark time indeed creatively but Flawless was a little piece I sang for comfort when I was experiencing serious self doubt (as is rife in the creative arts). So it was born out of necessity and not from a need to create, I think that’s why it sticks out more than anything. It worked it’s self slowly into song form eventually, so I sang it live and folks seemed to like it so I thought I’d put it on a record for them. Dan didn’t need much persuading to darken up the piano parts in the intro, I love what he did in the end.

PRT: I’ve read that you want to try new things with every single release. Aren’t you worried that you’ll scare off old fans if the changes are too drastical?
Rose: I feel I must congratulate you for beating me at my own game… the word ‘drastical’ is a word I wish I had invented. I make up words as a hobby. I also use the word ‘romantical’, which isn’t officially a real word but I love it so much. I inadvertently made up several words on the last album, like ‘blatantcy’ (which is like blatant latency). Drastical is my new FAVORITE WORD! So, back to the question… I think every good artist changes frequently, but if people are interested in what you do and they think your good then they will follow you and new folks will join them hopefully. It just means that you have to release a lot of albums for people to understand what you do, and I intend to do that. The way I look at it, if you have millions of fans and people who work for you are going to loose their houses if you release a totally stupid album then, yeah it’s worth considering staying consistent but I am not very likely to ever find myself in that position lets be honest. Luckily I don’t attract the type of music fan who needs 12 of the same songs every time. Without creativity, what the fuck is the point? There are plenty of bands out there who play it safe and cater for less adventurous music tastes. I want to do something else.

PRT: And what’s going on with Jeremy Smoking Jacket, your other project?
Rose: We did start the album last year but then myself and Sam both got very busy working on our own albums. Sam is known as S J Esau and recently released his last two albums on Anticon, which was perfect for the music he makes so he continues to tour Europe and do his thing. Jeremy Smoking Jacket will rise again though, some day. All the songs are there. Just need time.

PRT: I’ve seen that you also have a couple of shows coming up with Porcupine Tree in October. How did you end up with them?
Rose: It was completely unexpected really, Stephen Wilson just emailed me out of the blue one day a few months back, saying he really liked my records and asked if me and the band would like to do a bit of touring with them, so obviously we said yes and so we are doing 4 German dates and 1 in Poland in October. I had a brief chat with Stephen on the phone the other day and he seems to be exactly what everyone always says about him, a thoroughly nice chap! We are also going to do some other shows in Europe around that time too. It’s very exciting. We will be debuting some pieces bound for the next album for sure.

PRT: For people who haven’t seen you play live yet, what will they be in for at the Summer Darkness festival?
Rose: Like most heavy bands, we are a lot heavier live! We will be a three piece for Summer Darkness, James on drums, Joe on bass, myself on vocals and guitar duties. There is a lot of energy on our stage, lots of intensity, and just a sprinkling of dressing up! It will be a dark, slow powerful show hopefully with riffs and cackles a-plenty!

PRT: What’s the worst hype you’ve ever participated in?
Rose: My good friend Team Brick has always advised me to answer any questions I am unsure about or do not understand by simply putting, ‘Tori Amos’. So in answer to your question, Tori Amos! (He once also advised me that as I was touring for a total of two weeks, he calculated I would need no more than two shirts and one pair of socks.)

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Rose: Get some Deathspell Omega round your lugs, it’s reet good eh!


No Truce & Crucified split

No Truce and Crucified are two California hardcore bands that have teamed up for this split, which has been released on Escapist Records a while back.

First up is No Truce who hit you over the head with three songs of crunchy metallic hardcore. They know how to set the pace and don’t mind throwing in a couple of nasty breakdowns to maximize damage in the pit. I liked what I heard here… unfortunately these guys seem to have broken up recently. Head over to their MySpace page to download their full-length for free if you’re curious to hear more.

Crucified is up next with four more cuts with pretty much the same take on metallic hardcore as No Truce. Their vocalist has more of a sneer and they like to pitch in some more mid-tempo parts but make no mistake, they’re still as hardhitting as No Truce.

Pretty good stuff if you’re into acts such as All Out War or Ringworm with very nice artwork.
Score: 7 out of 10

Title Fight – The Last Thing You Forget

“The Last Thing You Forget” is available as a 3-song 7” or as a 12-song CD with the additional songs being everything the band has recorded up ‘til this point. Title Fight has this whole post-hardcore meets poppunk thing going on and pull it off well enough. They cite influences such as the almighty Jawbreaker, Texas Is The Reason and Hot Water Music which is pretty much the trinity of good taste. And true enough, the guitars are chugging, the vocals are gritty and the rhythms are upbeat and have a tendency to change every 15 seconds. They never lose sight of the melody though while kicking around wildly. Think early Saves The Day, Polar Bear Club or labelmates Transit.

The older songs sound a lot poppier than the new material with the three new cuts being a lot more in-your-face and more abrasive. If they forge ahead in that direction, I’m pretty sure we’re gonna hear a lot more from these Kingston, PA natives in the near future.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

All Smiles – Oh For The Getting And Not Letting Go

Next to having played guitar in both Grandaddy and Modest Mouse, Jim Fairchild also has a solo project called All Smiles. It’s under that moniker that he has now released his second album “Oh For The Getting And Not Letting Go”. At the same time he also recorded an EP called “Fall Never Fell” which should come out later this year. His co-producers Solon Bixler and Nik Freitas not only fiddled with knobs, they also helped out with the songs along with Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer.

Enough about the line-up though, what do the songs sound like? Well, they are all tunes with poppy qualities and distorted guitars. Kinda reminiscent of Grandaddy but then again, not quite. The man’s vocal harmonies along with the guitar provide a solid foundation which he then builds upon by adding the sweet sounds of a xylophone, a piano and an acoustic guitar.

Fairchild has a knack for writing beautiful melodies and an ear for detail and arrangements that you can easily pick up on because all of the songs trickle along at a gentle pace. The whole just sends out mellow vibrations yet has a sense of loneliness hanging over it as well. Maybe the move from the sunny state of California to the cold city of Chicago had anything to do with that?

Anyway, I’m really digging this album that manages to combine elements from pop and rock from a singer/songwriter point of view in a smart way. So maybe I should settle for Grandaddy meets Elliott Smith?
Score: 7.5 out of 10
no label

Never Shout Never – The Summer EP

Behind Never Shout Never hides 18-year-old Christofer Drew who has a mop of hair that rivals even that of Amy Winehouse. Yes, he looks like an emo kid who sings about girls with a girly voice on his Summer EP. At least I think he is… looking like that you could very well swing both ways. “Hummingbird” sounds like a bad cover of some middle-of-the-road ballad that you’ve already heard a thousand times on the radio by a thousand other bands. And that is pretty much as good as it gets on this EP. No way almost 350 000 people (according to his MySpace) actually like this crap! That or I’m giving kids way too much credit.

Maybe you’ll like this if you’re a goody-two-shoes girl whose room is plastered with Jonas Brothers posters. Oh shit , is that guy really playing the ukulele in a sad attempt to sound original? Christ, I’m getting too old for this shit.
Score: 2 out of 10
no label

The Che Arthur Three – Like Revenge

Che Arthur makes a living as the live sound engineer for bands such as Minus The Bear, Shellac, Pelican and Sparta. But he also likes to make music of his own. First as a member of Atombombpocketknife and later on as a solo artist.
That solo project then turned into The Che Arthur Three, which brings us to “Like Revenge”, the good man’s third album. Yes, the album artwork looks like the new August Burns Red album but the similarities end there. In a song like “Fall From Grace” Che Arthur sounds like restrained rage one second and then bursts out into a post-punk tantrum that will get you all riled up before bringing you under his spell with the acoustic “Me, As The Passenger On That Same Rainy Sunday”.

I imagine this is what Neurosis would’ve sounded like if they grew up on a strict diet of Hüsker Dü. Pretty good stuff!
Score: 6.5 out of 10


Mariachi El Bronx – El Bronx

The Bronx have never been about following the rules. Always doing whatever the fuck it is they wanna do, it’s no different this time around. Rather than continuing the tradition of calling every album The Bronx, their fourth full-length is dubbed “El Bronx” and they’ve traded in their hardcore punk for mariachi music. Which really isn’t that far-fetched when you think about it because just like punkrock, mariachi music is something these LA natives are likely to get in touch with in that melting pot of theirs. Let’s just hope a gangsta rap album isn’t next on their list!

As these guys first started whipping out the guitarrón, they also enlisted Vincent Hidalgo (son of Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo) and started writing songs for El Bronx all over the world as they toured with The Bronx. They then headed for the studio with Jon Avila (Oingo Boingo) and on August 17th “El Bronx” will finally be released.

The album starts off with “Cell Mates” and from there on it’s one big orgy of trumpets, those typical guitar sounds and a string section (who aren’t credited because of contractual obligations) while vocalist Matt Caughtran proves that he is just as capable at singing as he is at screaming. Other highlights include the waltzy “Despretador”, “Quinceniera” and “Silver Or Lead” which starts off sounding like a Mad Caddies track before climaxing with a beautiful solo halfway through.

I don’t know how they do it but these guys did it again. Amazing album!
Score: 9 out of 10

This Is Hell interview

This Is Hell is a kickass hardcore band who already have two very solid full-lengths out. They always seemed to feel at home over at Trustkill but now there’s the “Warbirds” 7” which will be released on August 18th on Think Fast! Records. Time for an update with the band…

PRT: First of all, thanks for releasing "Warbirds" on my 30th birthday. You shouldn't have done that you're too kind!
We just couldn't resist, you're welcome!

PRT: You've always changed your sound a little with every release and that's no different on "Warbirds"? where you sound a bit thrashier. Is that change something you talk about in advance or is it just the way the songs come out?
Hmm, I think we wanted to take it in that direction a bit beforehand , when we record our new full length I think it'll be even more in that direction. I'm very excited and refreshed about the songs.

PRT: You already have a whole bunch of 7"? out. Is that your format of choice?
I don't have any certain preference, but 7 inches are rad to collect and stuff. A lot of labels are leaning in that direction these days and that's okay with me.

PRT: Now I can see where the Warzone cover comes from but how come you decided to cover INXS' "Never Tear Us Apart"??
Haha, I think we are going to get that question a lot. Our guitar player Rick came up with the idea. Deep down he's a sensitive fella and has a soft spot for INXS. I think it came out great, it was cool to have strings and a tambourine and such. We had fun recording it.

PRT: It's your first release on Think Fast!. What made you go with them and what exactly happened with Trustkill?
Ryan from Think Fast has been a friend of ours for years. When we left Trustkill we were looking for a label to do a quick short release to hold people over until we found a new label to do a full length on. We left Trustkill on good terms but we didn't think they did a very good job of promoting our “Misfortunes” album and it seemed like they weren't interested in the band anymore. So we asked to leave and they let us. No major drama or beef.

PRT: Right now your'e on the 10 for 10$ tour"| how's that working out for you?
Yeah it's going pretty rad, I got to watch Madball everynight for three weeks and that was sick. I'm a big fan of almost every band on the tour so it’s a blast.

PRT: Why did you pick that tour over say, the Warped tour?
Umm we didn't get offered to play Warped Tour. I think we would've done that for sure. It would be a lot of fun despite the heat and long drives. A handful of our friends’ bands are on the tour. But the 10 for $10 tour is an amazing idea and a perfect fit for us, we are pumped about it.

PRT: You seem to be on the road pretty much all the time. What are some tips to keep your sanity when stuck in a van for a long period of time?
Read a book, watch a movie, masturbate furiously.

PRT: For the people out there who haven't seen you guys live yet"| what are they in for?
A 30 minute guitar solo if you catch us on a good night.

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Thanks for checking out the interview, pick up a copy of “Warbirds” and come to a gig.

Sleeping Giant – Sons Of Thunder

Sleeping Giant is back with the follow-up to “Dread Champions Of The Last Days” and in case you didn’t know they are a christian band, they start off the title track with a verse from the gospel of Matthew. One thing I’ve always wondered about that whole turning the other cheek thing… does that work with butt cheeks as well?

Anyway, these dudes still use breakdown-laden hardcore to pummel the words of the good lord into us and they actually play okay hardcore with plenty of chugga chugga riffs and vocalist Thom’s voice screaming over it.

But then there’s “He Will Reign”, a piano-driven ballad about the man upstairs. Suddenly all pretense about being a hardcore band is thrown overboard and Sleeping Giant turns into a bunch of wankers that try their hand at an uninspired ballad. Well, fuck that… I’m not into hardcore to pray. I don’t care what people believe in and sing about but there are limits to what I can take… keep that shit for church.
Score: 4 out of 10

Higher Giant – The First Five 7”

Member of this outfit have previously played in… get ready for this… Token Entry, Kid Dynamite, Grey Area, Lifetime, Black Train Jack, Paint It Black, None More Black, Good Riddance, Warzone and so on. And yet there’s only four of them in the band. Impressive, right?

Anyway, “The First Five” is what it claims to be… it’s the band’s first release and it has five songs. Unlike what you may expect, these cuts don’t have a lot to do with hardcore but sound more like something the Bouncing Souls would’ve come up with back in the day with “The Dealer” and closer “” as my favorites.

Nothing you haven’t heard before but a fun and solid release just the same. Look forward to their next 7” to come out next month on Black Numbers.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Devildriver – Pray For Villains

With “Pray For Villains” we’ve already reached the fourth chapter in Devildriver’s history. This band around former Coal Chamber frontman Dez Fafara has consistently been releasing a new album every two years and every single time things sound a little bit better.

That’s no different on “Pray For Villains” on which the band is once again refining their take on modern American metal. Throw in some thrash influences and more melody than ever and you’re looking at a solid and diverse album by a band that never seems to stop improve. That does mean that there are no surprises on here but hey, why change a winning team!
Score: 8 out of 10

Madina Lake – Attics To Eden

Admitted, it seems that this time around these Chicago natives put some more effort into their songs compared to their debut. They offer danceable poppunk with plenty of catchy choruses and a very, very slick sound. When vocalist Nathan Leone’s voice takes off however, things become whiny and as I was working my way down the tracklisting, I had the hardest time telling the difference between the songs.

Cuts like “Never Take Us Alive”, “Let’s Get Outta Here” and “Criminals” are nothing but teen angst wrapped up in commercially viable pop songs with a terrible nu-metal coating and I doubt this will appeal to anyone above the age of 14.
Score: 4 out of 10

Killswitch Engage – S/T

Just like their 2000 debut, the new Killswitch Engage album is a self-titled one. On it they do everything you’ve come to expect from this metalcore powerhouse, even if they sound more melodic than ever on these eleven songs. Vocalist Howard Jones swears however that this is the darkest album they’ve recorded so far. Lyrically this may be true but you wouldn’t know it listening to the soaring choruses.

Producer Brendan O’Brien provides the band with a crystal clear sound and might have something to do with the fact that all of the songs are rather compact with only “The Return” and “This Is Goodbye” reaching the four-minute mark.

Other than that these guys are sticking to their guns and pummel the listener with razorsharp dual guitar riffage, powerful drumming and of course, Howard Jones’ booming voice that commands your attention. Another solid album that fits right in with the rest of their already impressive body of work.
Score: 7.5 out of 10