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Hatebreed – Hatebreed

It’s a busy and expensive year for all the Hatebreed fans out there. Having just released an album’s worth of covers (“For The Lions”), these guys are back already with a brand new full-length, the band’s fifth. Not only is it self-titled (which bands usually do when they change their sound or something), it also marks the return of original guitarist Wayne Lozinak. One thing’s for sure, Jamey Jasta and the rest of his troupe have always been a powerhouse and that hasn’t changed at all on the new album.

They still couple Slayer riffs to groovy hardcore and while many other are doing the same thing, they don’t come anywhere near what Hatebreed pulls off. Just check out killer tracks like “Not My Master” or “Every Lasting Scar” and be blown away by the amazing riffage and Jasta’s growls.

What is new is the addition of more melody than ever before. It’s still relative compared to other bands, but I for one had never thought I’d see the day when I’d hear a piano in a Hatebreed song (“Undiminished”). And how about them clean vocals in tracks like “Every Lasting Scar”? Some people will probably bitch about, I love it. It makes “Hatebreed” a more diverse album and it solidifies their position as reigning kings of the genre even more.
Score: 9 out of 10

How Dare You – Comfort Road

After vocalist/guitarist Justin Goldman traded Philadelphia in for Florida, he hooked up with three other dudes in order to start How Dare You. One of them is drummer Zach Swain who you might still remember from As Friends Rust. They recently released their debut full-length “Comfort Road”, which is out now on Fail Safe Records.

They excel at playing a gritty kind of poppunk with gruff vocals that works well for them. It’s nothing you haven’t already heard before, but they do a solid job nonetheless with songs like “Beacon St.” or “Eat At Charlie’s”. Even though it’s poppunk, it comes with plenty of bite and the choruses offer loads of singalong moments.

Comparisons with As Friends Rust are of course easy, but at the same time not that far fetched. Hot Water Music is another name that comes to mind with that typical Gainesville bark. I love both of those bands so you do the math!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Young Fresh Fellows – I Don’t Think This Is

The Young Fresh Fellows were college rock heroes in the late 80s and early 90s and helped put Seatlle on the music map before grunge was even born. Most of them settled down and started a family, ready to live a quiet life. That was not to the liking of Robyn Hitchcock who summoned the band into the studio to record their first new album in eight years, “I Think This Is”. It’s out on Yep Roc and now in Europe as well thanks to Munster Records. Only here it’s called “I Don’t Think This Is” and it comes with three different tracks from the US release, and different artwork.

These guys combine powerpop, rock and punk with a bit of comedy in a great way. It doesn’t sound too different from what a band like The Posies or Camper Van Beethoven do/did as well. Listen to songs like “Never Turning Back Again” or “Lay You In The Ground” once and be you’re ready to sing along the second time.

I for one am glad to hear they’ve still got it and am rooting that a next album won’t involve another eight years of waiting first.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

The Bomb – Speed Is Everything

‘he/she/it is the bomb’ was a popular expression for about one minute, but now no one uses it anymore. But fear not all you linguists! Jeff Pezzati’s latest project will blow new life into the words because yes, they are the bomb.

“Speed Is Everything” not only features Pezzati but can also count Jeff Dean, Mike Soucy, and Pete Mittler amongst its ranks, who have been involved in countless bands in the Chicago area. On top of that the album also boasts guest vocals by Bob Nanna (Braid, Hey Mercedes), Dan Yemin (Paint It Black) and producer J. Robbins. Together they make this a very charming album.

Most of the cuts on here are mid-tempo affairs that are chock full of melody and put together they rival some of the best work Pezzati has ever done with Naked Raygun.
Score: 8 out of 10


Slow Club – Yeah, So

Never heard of Slow Club before but this UK twosome apparently already released an EP and a couple of singles.

Yeah, so?

Umm well, the band exists of Charles Watson (guitar/vocals) and Rebecca Taylor (vocals / drums / some guitar).

Yeah, so?

Umm okay, the album starts off with “When I Go”, an acoustic affair with great vocal harmonies that could’ve been on the Juno soundtrack. It’s followed by the upbeat “Giving Up On Love” which plastered a smile on my face despite the title. The rest of the album moves between those two formulas as well. One song is just acoustic strumming with soft vocals while other arrangements bring Arcade Fire to mind.

Nothing? Oh, I thought you were gonna say ‘yeah, so?’ again but you’re intrigued now, aren’t you?

“Yeah, So” is a very enchanting album even though this boy and girl never rise above their influences. But is that really necessary in order to make a good album? Listening to extremely charming songs like “It Doesn’t Have To Beautiful” and “Because We’re Dead”, I think the answer is obvious.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

The Upwelling – An American Stranger

The Upwelling are a three-piece operating out of New York City. The band is built around the Ingber brothers (songwriter/singer/guitarist Ari and drummer Josh) and is rounded out by Conor Hefferman on the keyboards. On “An American Stranger” they play straightforward enough poprock that becomes wayt too sappy and high school-y for me thanks to the cliché-riddled lyrics (I’ve got everything I want / because you’re everything I’m not) and – for the most part - unnecessary keyboards.

When they’re good they’re good though. Like on “Wanderlust” which thrives on the higher tempo and tight bass sounds. Could’ve been on a Gaslight Anthem album if you ask me. “Ladder 116” works as well and reminded me of Third Eye Blind.

If these guys work a little harder, write better lyrics, scratch the mushy keyboards and add another guitarist, I can see them going places. If not, they’ll probably end up on the scrapheap along with the million other could’ve beens.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

Kiss Kiss – The Meek Shall Inherit What’s Left

When Kiss Kiss frontman Josh Benash was forced to keep his mouth because of a vocal polyp and vocal node, he wrote the songs for “The Meek Shall Inherit What’s Left” without knowing if he’d ever be able to sing again. I can imagine it must’ve been a very frustrating period which is why the man obviously poured everything he had into this batch of songs. It’s sort of a marriage between emo and avant-garde music that leaves me with somewhat mixed feelings.

Diving into specifics about songs is pretty much impossible because they all twist and turn from slow to fast, from epic to chaotic and from loud to quiet in a matter of seconds. I don’t know how they did it but they do manage to keep everything together and run a tight ship. Some might call it eclectic, other will say it’s schizophrenic. The jury’s still out on this one but after the first couple of songs, it’s obvious that “The Meek Shall Inherit What’s Left” is not for everyone.

Imagine The Dresden Dolls and Fall Out Boy performing a soundtrack that Danny Elfman wrote and you might have an inkling of an idea of what Kiss Kiss sounds like. It’s nothing like anything I’ve heard before but the thing is, I’m still not sure I want to hear it again.
Score: 6 out of 10

Lewd Acts – Black Eye Blues

Deathwish has already been the go to label when it comes to nasty as fuck hardcore and with Lewd Acts’ “Black Eye Blues” they’ve got another winner. This southern California outfit starts opener “Know Where To Go” off with the lines ‘I was born with soapbox shoes/ Raised with morals that I chose to lose/ And when I've seen the evil that people do/ That’s when I learned to sing the blues’ and then take the blues to places that Robert Johnson had probably never thought of in “Wide Black Eyes”.

With the help of a drummer who’s kicking the shit out of his drums like they’re Rihanna and he’s Chris Brown, guitars that blow every single dust particle out of the amps and a vocalist with a PhD in exorcising demons, these guys mean business. They simply keep on going with songs that range from one to five minutes but always burst from the seams with unbridled aggression. And then in comes closer “Nowhere To Go” which sees the band diving straight into SST territory.

“Black Blue Eye” is one intense motherfucker of an album made by a bunch of pissed off guys who don’t give a fuck what you think. Whoever dares to stand in their way, will be blown away by Lewd Acts’ wall of sound anyway.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Saosin – In Search Of Solid Ground

When Saosin released the “Translating The Name” EP back in 2003, they immediately created a lot of waves. They hit a bump in the road when vocalist Anthony Green left the band the year after but he was soon replaced by Cove Reber. Some say Saosin ceased to be the day Green left. Those are the same people who missed out on an amazingly catchy self-titled album in 2006. We’re three years later now and Saosin is back with the follow-up to an album many thought could not be topped. It’s called “In Search Of Solid Ground” and well, I don’t like repeating myself but it’s amazingly catchy.

The album features a couple of songs that are rearranged versions of tracks you could already find on the band’s “Grey” EP (“I Keep My Secrets Safe”, “The Worst Of Me”). But the improvements are massive so I’d hardly call this a flaw. These guys have a real knack for writing solid songs with hooks aplenty and Reber’s voice floating above it all and while things do sound similar at times, “In Search Of Solid Ground” is simply too much fun. Just check out the bigass choruses in “Keep Down” and “Say Goodbye”!

If looking for solid ground means writing songs like this, I hope that just like Gilligan these guys never find land.
Score: 8 out of 10

Iron Age – The Sleeping Eye

If you already liked what Iron Age did on their 2006 debut “Constant Struggle”, wait ‘til you hear “The Sleeping Eye”. Holy fuck!

These Texas natives harken back to classic hardcore and 80s crossover/thrash yet still manage to keep things sounding relevant and modern. The riffs on here are simply insane, reminding me of both old Metallica and Black Sabbath. All the while the drummer keeps spurring the rest of the band on to keep on going. And keep on going they do throughout all eight songs, the last of which lasts eleven minutes. It shows Iron Age at its broadest and while not given to many, Iron Age somehow pulls it off to keep things sounding interesting. I could’ve done without “Materia Prima” though, a sort of instrumental interlude/soundscape thing in the middle of the album that’s unnecessary.

Other than that, I have no qualms about “The Sleeping Eye”, an album with which Iron Age that hardcore can be a lot more than simply stacking up breakdowns.
Score: 8 out of 10

Paint It Black – Surrender 7”

Paint It Black follows up the “Amnesia” EP which they released on Bridge Nine earlier this year with “Surrender” and it out’s on… Fat Wreck. Nice! Does that mean they changed their sound? Fuck no! On these here four songs, Dan Yemin is still foaming from the mouth while the rest of the band dishes out some more thrashy yet still melodic and always irresistible hardcore tunes.

Opener “Sacred” comes with a nice Kid Dynamite feel while “Worms” might very well be one of the nastiest songs Yemin & co. have ever recorded. The other two cuts on here (“Cipher” and “Surrender”) could’ve been lifted straight off of “New Lexicon” and that is a compliment as far as I’m concerned.

Guess this means that “Surrender” is yet another fine addition to the band’s flawless discography.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Moneen – The World I Want To Leave Behind

One of Canada’s finest is back again with a new album. And no, I’m not talking about a Bryan Adams comeback. “The World I Want To Leave Behind” is the pessimistic title of Moneen’s fourth full-length and rather than letting it drag me down, I’m nothing but optimistic about it.

With a new drummer and a slight change in sound, this is the Moneen I’ve been wanting to hear ever since their debut came out. You’ll never know what they will come at you with next and that’s okay by me. They’re as likely to crank up the pace with loud distorted guitars (“Great Escape”) but they’ll whip out a piano just the same. The result is an album where post-hardcore is traded in for more gentle songs in a heartbeat.

Heart, that’s basically what it all boils down to and these guys have plenty of it. Couple it to great songwriting skills and catchy hooks and you have yourself an album that can easily compete with the band’s previous album, “The Red Tree”. While that album saw Moneen finally coming into their own, “The World I Want To Leave Behind” shows a band that is not only comfortable with their sound but also not afraid to build upon it to reach new heights.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Thrice – Beggars

Never content with making the same album twice, it’s always exciting to see what Thrice will come up with next. Some people can’t wait for the album to come out and will throw it on the net three months before the actual release date. Unfortunately this was without the consent of the band, causing them to swear a lot and release the album digitally at an earlier date.

Anyway, “Beggars” sees Thrice following up their experimental 4-disc release known as “The Alchemy Index” with a more straightforward rock sound that does still contain some rougher edges here and there. It pretty much combines everything they’ve done over the years, the hardcore of their debut excluded.

Whether it’s a piano-drive song, atmospheric soundscapes or an assault on the eardrums, Thrice has something for everyone with Kensrue’s thoughtful lyrics tying the whole thing together over great melodies and playful rhythms.

Maturing is an ugly word most of the time but as Thrice keeps reinventing themselves, they also keep getting better with every single release.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Miss May I – Apologies Are For The Weak

Miss May I may sound like a 13-year-old going for the crown in a beauty pageant, it’s actually the name of a metalcore band who have just released a metalcore album called “Apologies For The Weak” and yes, it’s filled with metalcore songs.

Swedish melodic death metal riffage? Check!
Double bass drum action? Check!
Breakdowns? Check!
Clean vocals in the chorus versus screams in the verses? Check!

And guess what? They never deem it necessary to waver from the path once. Not for even one second.

Score: 4 out of 10

Burden Of A Day – OneOneThousand

What do you do when your vocalist runs off to be with God and his wife (not necessarily in that order)? Well, you either call it a day or find a new vocalist and run the risk of being the subject of ‘I liked them better with their first singer’ kinda comments. Burden Of A Day went with the second option and have just released “OneOneThousand” featuring new vocalist Kyle.

The music is of the typical screamo variety… absolutely no surprises there but the singalong parts are plentiful and these guys know how to write a mean hook. Downsides? It’s way too predictable and the clean vocals are sometimes a bit too high-pitched to be taken seriously. But other than that, Burden Of A Day did a pretty solid job and released a fun album that all the fans of Sense Fail and Saosin should enjoy the hell out of.
Score: 7 out of 10

Rapid Cities – Machinery Saints

Let it be clear, Rapid Cities is a band that takes its music very serious. They’ve got those kind of songs where every instrument seems to veer off in another direction and I imagine them onstage to all be off in their own little world without a smile on their faces and moving around in a way that’s normally only reserved for those with seizures.

There’s pounding bass lines, spazzed out, jangly guitars, a fair amount of noodling and a vocalist who seems intent on tapping into every single aspect of his vocal range within fifteen seconds. Think of Fugazi and Hot Cross and figure out for yourself if this is something you’ll be into.

It’s probably all very exciting and challenging for some of us out there but to be honest, “Machinery Saints” is completely wasted on me.
Score: 5 out of 10
Look Again Media

Emmure – Felony

Throw some moshcore and metalcore together in a blender along with Korn’s leftover nu metal riffs and you’ve got Emmure. Vocalist Frankie Palmeri sounds like a rabid dog who deserves to be put down while the rest of the band seems to have made a sport out of stuffing as many breakdowns as possible into one song. There are some clean vocals on “I < 3 EC2” and “Don’t Be one” to make things more diverse, yet they will make your toes curl.

All in all “Felony” lives up to its title and should be locked up if there was such a thing as a prison for crappy albums. It’s a terrible album that only 15-year-olds who want to show off their karate kicks in the pit, will enjoy.
Score: 4 out of 10

Sparks The Rescue – Eyes To The Sun

With “Eyes To The Sun”, Sparks The Rescue has released the kind of album that is the perfect soundtrack for all you mall kids out there. You can play it in the background while declaring your love to the girl you met on MySpace just a couple of hours earlier. Hey, light some candles while doing so… it helps set the mood. Make sure your hair doesn’t fall into the flame though. That dye will catch fire really fast and you’ll be all over Youtube before you can spell ‘emo’. Just swoop it back across your head in the most manly of ways like you always do. But hurry, otherwise “My Heart Radio” will already be over, she’ll lose interest because she hasn’t taken her Ritalin yet, has like, zero patience and dump you. Then again if she does dump you, it’s good to know you can find solace in “American Blues”.
Score: 4 out of 10

Jeniferever – Spring Tides

From Uppsala, Sweden comes Jeniferever. When you say Sweden, it’s either garage rock or post-rock. And with a name like Jeniferever, it’s more likely to be the second, right? Right. On “Spring Tides” you get to hear ten songs that curl, swirl, swell and then swell some more towards the end.

It’s a well-proven recipe but it still works when done the right way as Jeniferever more than aptly proves. It’s not the easiest album to get into, but give it enough of your time (I’ve seen your schedule, you’re really not that busy) and you will be rewarded.

“Spring Tides” is at is most interesting when they don’t follow the tried formula though. Like in “St. Gallen” which doesn’t explode but simply smoulders all the way through. The horns in “Nangijala” and the catchiness of “The Hourglass” are two more songs that make “Spring Tides” a more diverse offering and it only contribute to its replay value. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but it is still worth hearing.
Score: 7 out of 10

Man Must Die – No Tolerance For Imperfection

Scotland… home to haggis, kilts and extreme metal. The latter is proven by Glasgow’s Man Must Die who have just dropped their third album, “No Tolerance For Imperfection”. If you’re thinking technical death metal with additional grindcore influences, you’re right on the money. These guys will feel right at home being lumped in with the likes of Origin and Neuraxis.

Basically that means that this is a whole lot of sheer noise with blastbeats, supertight riffs and a vocalist who grunts and screams like there’s no tomorrow. After seven songs, it’s time to catch a breath with “What I Can’t Take Back”. Other than that this is an all out assault on your ears. Don’t bother fighting back, these guys will level you regardless of your futile resistance!
Score: 7 out of 10

Burnt By The Sun – Heart Of Darkness

I’ve been a fan of these guys ever since they dropped “The Perfect Is The Enemy Of The Good”. That is why “Heart Of Darkness” left me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth. It’s an amazing album but it’s also their last one seeing as they’ll be disbanding once the tour for the new album is over. Well, at least they’re going out with a bang. One big, long bang drawn out over ten songs.

Rather than including interludes like they did on their last album, “Heart Of Darkness” sees these guys harkening back to their debut with sheer, unbridled aggression executed in a mostly mid-pace tempo. Dave Witte and Mike Olender rejoined the band to record this last album and it’s a pleasure to have them back. Witte (Human Remains, Municipal Waste) is still kicking the shit out of his drums while defying gravity in the process and Olender is still managing to bark, growl, grunt and shriek his smart lyrics in one and the same breath.

It’s impressive to say the least and it’s good to see the original line-up back for one last album and then not only living up to the expectations, but even surpassing them.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Port O’Brien – Threadbare

On “Threadbare” Port O’Brien throws a batch of beautiful songs our way that are so riddled with loss and despair that you actually feel the pain behind them. Chronicling the passing of a loved one, “Threadbare” features fragile cuts that are juxtaposed with songs that see the light at the end of the tunnel with a renewed sense of identity and purpose.

Opener “High Without The Hope 3” comes in softly with gentle humming over light percussion and acoustic guitar. It’s as enchanting as it is haunting. “My Will Is Good” is not only the forthcoming single (out October 5th), it’s also a little bit more upbeat with a string section lightening up the whole song. The band manages to maintain this level of high-quality songwriting whille tugging at the heartstrings throughout the entire album with the six and a half minutes long “Calm Me Down” as the centerpiece with its desperate plea to find somebody to help calm them down.

I have no idea where City Slang keeps finding these bands but they have another winner on their hands with Port O’Brien. I’ve never heard their debut “All We Could Was Sing” but if this one is anything to go by, then good things are bound to happen for this band.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

The Dodos – Time To Die

What started out as a solo project for Meric Long called Dodobird, turned into a band with the addition of drummer Logan Kroeber. They surprised everyone with the release of last year’s “Visiter” where Long’s fingerpicking was the talk of the town. They’re back already with “Time To Die” which sees them teaming up with producer Phil Ek (The Shins, Fleet Foxes) and new Dodo Keaton Snyder who helms the vibraphone.

The songs on the new album don’t sound as restless as before, except for the occasional oddity such as “This Is A Business”. But when you hear “Fables” or “Acorn Factory” a comparison with The Shins is not far away. Even after the summer of love, San Francisco apparently still is home to dreamy individuals who like to combine pop with folk.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

The Woggles – Tempo Tantrum

Apparently The Woggles have been around for two decades already but until now I had never heard of them. They’re an outfit that operates out of Georgia and won’t stop until they’ve seen you shake your hips to their Dixie-fried garage rock.

“Tempo Tantrum” is a fun collection of all of the band’s instrumental tracks and it takes you all the way from their early material right to their newer recordings. If you’re into instrumental music with plenty of organ sounds and surf guitar riffs, then “Tempo Tantrum” will be right up your alley. Hell, they even play an outstanding version of The Monkees’ “Valleri”.
Score: 7 out of 10

Wisdom In Chains – S/T

Wisdom In Chains was started a couple of years ago when Krutch was on tour in Europe. Mad Joe and Richie ran into this guy called Maarten from Holland who played in Daredevil and decided that it would be a fun idea to start an old school band heavy on Oi! and street influences. They went in the studio, recorded an album and released it on Gangstyle.

Due to the distance between its members, Wisdom In Chains never got to play more than one show until Maarten told them to find local members and keep the band going in the States. Mad Joe and Richie found these in The Ninth Plague’s Tony Meltdown, Out To Win’s Shannon Sparky and Big Show Greg. And there ya go, that brings us to today and to the re-release of their self-titled album on Universal Warning Records.

The recordings on this one are pretty raw and in your face which suits the fast and pissed off songs perfectly. Things are unexpectedly catchy though and there’s plenty of chances to sing along over the buzzing guitars. Nice job!
Score: 7 out of 10

Assassinate The Scientist – Naked Bingo 5 On The Moon

Opener “Garfield” starts off with a nice acoustic intro before being rudely interrupted by distorted guitars, snotty vocals, bellowing drums and yes, a harmonica. It’s a short track that is immediately followed by “Roses Are For Funerals”, another fast-pounding track. And on it goes…

These Gainesville, FL natives live up to their town’s reputation with a gritty, distorted sound. I’m hearing a mix of influences ranging from Hot Water Music to A Wilhelm Scream and everything in between… but not quite as technical or good as either.

But hey, they’ve only been a band for a year and with “Naked Bingo 5 On The Moon” they’re off to a good start. Sure, the production could be a lot better, the songs could use finetuning and they’re still looking for their own sound but it’s an okay album nonetheless.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

The Rank Deluxe – You Decide

I think the idea here is to play some typical British indiepop but with a more grimy flavour attached. Unfortunately it doesn’t work at all. What you get on “You Decide” is a collection of angular guitar riffs that are thrown together in a seemingly haphazard way while there’s some guy whining over them. It all sound very anxious and angsty but most of all, annoying as fuck. I honestly doubt we’ll be hearing a lot more from these guys in the future.
Score: 3.5 out of 10

V/A – Up End Atom – A Tribute To Atom And His Package

I’ve always had a soft spot for Atom And His Package. Not only did the guy have some of the funniest song titles ever, he also had a knack for writing solid melodies. The fact that he lent being a nerd a certain cool and charm didn’t exactly hurt things either.

Listening to “Up End Atom”, I quickly found out I was not the only one who thought it was a shame when Atom hung up his Package and called it a day. Acts like Steinbeck, The Zambonis (with a little help from Atom himself), MC Lars and Zolof The Rock & Roll Destroyer all thought it worthwhile to devote an entire tribute album to the man. Is that tribute album worth listening to? Hell yeah!

mcchris comes out winning with a hiphop version of “Punk Rock Academy” that rivals the original in greatness while Yidcore does a great job of punking up “Avenger”. Like I said before, Atom himself contributes vocals (and obviously the song) to The Zambonis’ version of “Goalie” claiming that he’s doing it just cuz he’s friends with the guys, not because he thinks he’s the bee’s knees or anything. Whatever, it works and it’s the goofy kind of move that made us love the man in the first place.

Both Locas In Love and The Golden Bloom both do a pretty good job as well with their cute as hell versions of respectively “I Am Downright Amazed At What I Can Destroy With Just A Hammer” and “Lying To You”. There are only two not so good covers on here that I could’ve done without and they come from Math The Band and The Emotron, both of whom don’t do the original songs justice.

Other than that this is a tribute that fans of Atom And His Package should have a field day with.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Hartless Hind Records


Gray Young – Firmament

Unlike what I first thought, Gray Young is not a solo artist but a trio from North Carolina. They’re a post-rock outfit and from what I can hear on “Firmament”, they very much have their shit together.

Vocals are used only sparsely in half of the songs, not so much to convey a message but rather as another layer in what are already richly layered soundscapes. Bands like Appleseed Cast and Explosions In The Sky are sure to be found in their top three of influences, yet they don’t sound like a rip-off for a second.

On what is a great album, I especially took note of “First Perennial Fall” with an excellent piano in it, and the title track which whips up a nice storm towards the end. But even when they are using distorted guitars, these guys always manage to sound gentle and warm.

If you are a fan of post-rock or instrumental music, take note of these guys and check them out. They haven’t found a label yet but I’m sure you can pick up a copy of their album through their MySpace page.
Score: 8 out of 10
no label

Otep – Smash The Control Machine

After what seems like forever (until I found they actually released another album in 2007 which I never read anything about), Otep is back with a new album. It’s called “Smash The Control Machine”. It’s their first for Victory Records and it sees Otep reuniting with former members Mark Bistany and Rob Patterson.

They finally got rid of the clutter that thoroughly fucked up their previous albums. About time, right? I mean, nu metal was declared dead ages ago. That doesn’t seem to stop Otep from cranking out some nasty nu metal tunes though with her typical vocals which range from singing, screams, shrieks to spoken word parts and death metal grunts.

All of the tracks on here are enjoyable enough but I honestly don’t know who is still waiting for this kinda sound. Especially when there is still one flaw they haven’t been able to fix… retarded lyrics. Which I could still forgive seeing as half of the time you don’t understand what Otep is singing about anyway. But by the time the spoken word song “Kisses & Kerosene” comes around with its flatout moronic lyrics, it’s simply inexcusable.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

Muse – The Resistance

Muse’s new album starts off normal enough with “Uprising”, a new anthem for the revolution (they will not control us/they will not be victorious). Well, it’s normal for them… for any other band other than Queen, this would be too bombastic. But that’s Muse. They had finally won me over with “Black Holes and Revelations”, which was almost impossible to top and then they go on and make me think of them as a bunch of wankers once again.

Because rather than playing it safe and rehashing that album, they’ve gone all the way with this one and unfortunately that’s a bit too far. By producing the album themselves there was no producer present to reign them in, which is how come you end up with a 3-part classical symphony at the end of the album. Yes, symphony… and it does nothing but annoy me. Same thing with “United States Of Eurasia”… it’s so over the top that if you’d dig up Freddie Mercury, you’d find even him frowning.

The opener is okay, the title track is really good and “Undisclosed Desires” is the perfect example of how you can fuse electronics and guitars together to one irresistible song. Unfortunately that’s the first three song on “The Resistance” and it’s all downhill from there.
Score: 6 out of 10

Brett Dennen – Hope For The Hopeless

Brett Dennen is back with a batch of new songs to inspire all the losers out there. “Hope For The Hopeless” is an upbeat lovefest from this soulful singer/songwriter who is not only John Mayor-approved (he toured with him several times), he’s also just very good at what he does. Just have a listen to what he does with Femi Kuti on “Make You Crazy”. He’s at his best though when he shakes out a moving ballad like “Heaven” or “So Far From Me”.

Dennen is from California and you hear that laidback nature all over the album. If you couple that to great melodies and a nice voice, then you’re looking at one helluva feelgood album.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Brendan Benson – My Old, Familiar Friend

“My Old, Familiar Friend” is Brendan Benson’s first solo album since he enlisted with The Raconteurs. It’s hardly his first though. The man has already dropped three solo albums which were all filled seventies pop and soft rock a la Wings or ELO (shudder!).

One might think that Jack White’s influence might’ve rubbed off a little and prompted Benson to rock a little harder. But alas, “My Old, Familiar Friend” is filled with the kind of mellow tunes that don’t hurt the ears but don’t have much going for them otherwise. Except for a couple of songs like the Moody Blues-inspired “Feel Like Taking You Home” and “Poised And Ready“, this is an album you can skip out on without having to feel guilty. And if you do happen to feel a stab of guilt, just listen to the string-infected schmaltz of “Garbage Day” and you’ll be good to go again.
Score: 5.5 out of 10


Candy Now! – S/T

When I think of Blag Dahlia, I think of a whole bunch of things including naked midgets, kinky sex and perverted manners. Not that I fantasize about the man, it’s just what he usually sings about when he’s in the studio with The Dwarves.

So when I get a solo album from the good man containing duets with ‘normal’ lyrics, I’m somewhat confused. After hearing the album again, I was pleasantly surprised. And after the third spin, I was hooked. Along with vocalist Angelina Moysov (Persephone’s Bees), Blag cranks out some loungy pop, garage and country songs that are light on the ears. Guest vocals Nash Kato (Urge Overkill) on two songs complete this album and make me write the lamest pun in years… Candy Wow!
Score: 7 out of 10
MVD Audio

Electric Owls – Ain’t Too Bright

After his last tour with The Comes, frontman Andy Herod needed a break from being in a band and moved back to North Carolina to spend some much-deserved time with his friends and family. Of course, once there he started playing music again, writing songs and starting a new band called Electric Owls. With the help of fellow Comas member Jason Caperton, Matt Gentling (Band Of Horses, Archers Of Loaf) and Cully Symington (Gutter Twins), they recorded “Ain’t Too Bright” and so the vicious cycle of being a musician continues.

Nevermind the few awkward attempts to rock, most of the album is comprised is poppy folk songs with some country twang and classic rock references sprinkled over Herod’s mellow vocals. It works wonders, making me hope that The Comas’ hiatus will last at least a little longer so I can enjoy more songs like “Us Weakly” and “Haint In The Holler” in the future.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Eels – Hombre Lobo

After several albums full of songs of misery and sadness, a documentary (Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives) and an autiobiography (Things The Grandchildren Should Know), E is finally ready to turn the page. With beard again. Probably to get in character because “Hombre Lobo – 12 Songs Of Desire”, is an album telling the story of a werewolf looking for his loved one. This still being Eels, obviously he doesn’t find her.

As good as songs as “Prizefighter” or “Tremendous Dynamite” may be with their distorted riffs and E’s screams, I’ve always liked the man at his most mellow and once again, he doesn’t disappoint with “That Look You Give That Guy” and “In My Dreams”. Heartbreakingly beautiful are words that come to mind.

Honestly, I absolutely love this band. They have never released anything but great albums and while “Hombre Lobo” may fall just short of being a masterpiece such as “Blinking Lights And Other Revelations” or “Souljacker”, you really do need to own this album.
Score: 8 out of 10

Exeter – Grey Noise, White Lies

From Austin, TX comes Exeter, a space rock outfit that hurled itself on the scene four years ago. With “Grey Noise, White Lies” they just released their debut full-legnth, out on Pop Up Records in the States and Engineer Records in the UK.

They offer a batch of fierce rock songs, spacey riffage and ambient parts and end up sounding like a crossover between Gravenhurst and Cave In with opener “Bittersweet Vanity”, “Shadowboxing” and “Red Dress” as my personal favorites. Vocalist J. Michael Parker has a good voice for this type of music, sounding a bit nasal but with a wide range. In “Red Dress” he even sounds a little like that dude from Muse.

While there is still room for improvement (more hooks, bigger climaxes), “Grey Noise, White Lies” is a solid debut offering that should garner them some more attention.
Score: 7 out of 10

Biestig – Nebenan

Biestig are two beautiful 16-year-old girls called Anne and Jule. They call Germany home and sing in German as well. The things they sing about however are problems teenagers worldwide can identify with. Problem is that teenagers worldwide probably don’t have a clue what the hell these girls are singing about because they don’t understand German.

But even if they don’t understand the lyrics, they can still rock out as these girls churn out a bunch of poppy punkrock songs that are as basic in instrumentation (guitar, drums and vocals) as they are in structure. It’s all in good fun but I think that the boys who turn up at their houses and are then turned down by their dads, are probably there more for their looks than their songwriting capabilities.
Score: 6 out of 10


Helmet tour diary

After having met Page Hamilton a couple of years ago and having decided that he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve met in all the years of doing this site, I thought it would be a great idea to tag along for a couple of days when I found out Helmet was coming back to Europe. So I sent an email to Page, he said yes and then I started thinking whether or not it would really be the smartest thing to go on tour which I’ve never done before with a bunch of guys I’ve never met before to go to places I’ve never been before. A phone call to my mom and one to my pastor confirmed that it would indeed be a very bad idea because according to them sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll are not a good combo. So I sent Page another email saying ‘sweet!’ and arrived all packed up at the Graspop festival site three months later.

Page tearing it up at the Graspop Metal Meeting

DAY 1 : Graspop, Dessel, Belgium

When I arrived at the festival, tour manager/live sound engineer Brian was already waiting for me with my passes. We then headed for the bus where I dropped off my stuff after which we went to get breakfast. I got to meet everyone in the band except for Page who was out and about. Everyone being guitarist Dan (the man with the smelliest cap this side of the Southern hemisphere), bassist Jon (the quiet one… until you get to know him) and drummer Kyle (unfortunately stuck behind the drum kit onstage seeing as he has the coolest walks of ‘em all).

Brian is quite the character as well. After he fell through a chair in Vienna, his apology consisted of the words ‘sorry, I’m just your typical fat American’. And while he is a big guy, he has an even bigger heart. Rounding out the crew is guitar tech Brandon who found out around 3AM that he in fact wasn’t the only black person at the festival. And then of course there’s Page (the man who needs no introduction).

I ran into some friends, hung out and met the people from Rock Tribune who wanted Helmet to do a signing session. I helped set things up only to see things get fucked up because it wasn’t announced anywhere. The rest of the day I didn’t see anything special with Kiss as the absolute low. Luckily Helmet played an amazing show and saved the day. The new line-up sounds amazing and with hits like “Unsung”, “Wilma’s Rainbow” and “Meantime” you just can’t go wrong. I’ve hardly ever heard a band play as tight and with so much groove as these guys.

After that it’s drinking time and the guys decide Pulp Fiction-style that it’s nasty that Belgians drown our fries in mayonnaise. I have no idea what time it is but we were asked to leave and head for the bus. It’s my first night ever on tour and what do we kick things off? Watch “This Is Spinal Tap” of course! I think they just wanted to let me know that just like Fufkis, I deserve to be kicked in the ass after fucking up that signing session. It’s the first night on a bus for Dan as well but I doubt he noticed seeing as he passed out in the lounge area.

Rules for living on a bus: you clean up behind you, you always lock the door, liquids only in the toilet and you sleep with your feet towards the driver so you don’t snap your neck when something happens.

me and the rest of the guys in Bavaria

DAY 2: a tiny town somewhere in Bavaria

Sleeping on a bus... not that obvious! That’s something I learned that first night after waking up every five minutes after hitting another bump on the road. After what seemed like forever we finally arrived at our hotel in the middle of nowhere in Bavaria. I had just enough time to take a refreshing shower before getting a few hours of sleep.

After I woke up in the afternoon, I joined the band for a beer after which we went for a walk, had dinner and spent the night watching soccer in a gas station that also served as the town’s only bar. Sounds exciting huh? Well, I had a great time. And it’s true what they say about Bavaria. They have huge beers, huge pieces of meat and waitresses with huge… umm eyes.

DAY 3 : Zagreb

After another long ride we arrive at the university campus in Zagreb and meet the promoters, Yvan and Mario. They take excellent care of us and I find out that the food on tour is even better than what I get at home. Another thing I find out is that the girls/guys ratio in Zagreb is 2 to 1. And all of the girls are lookers!

Helmet plays another tight show and it’s fun to see them communicate onstage. Page’s banter in between songs is among the best I’ve heard as well. After tearing through the setlist, they simply keep on going seeing as it’s Helmet’s first time ever in Zagreb. Later that night Jon tells me he was about to pass out. The least you can say about these guys is that they go all out. Half a year later I saw them play a 2,5 hour show somewhere in Germany. Amazing!

After the show we head for a bar and on the way over our tour bus is transformed into a sightseeing bus as a girl who’s driving with us to the bar shows us some of the city’s highlights. Later that night she’ll be showing Dan another highlight. Well, half a highlight actually.

At 3AM we have to leave but we simply move the party to the bus and keep on drinking. When I wake up, we’re in Budapest. I finally figured out the secret to sleeping on a bus… you simply have to drink until you pass out.

Jon, me and Kyle in Budapest

DAY 4 : Budapest

Seeing as we were having problems locating the hotel, we drove straight to the venue only to find out that it’s on a boat on the Donau… nice! It comes with a private bar for the band and good food in a restaurant above the venue. Just when I was getting used to good food, they take it to the next level. Now I was thinking about a lot of things going on this tour but cold strawberry soup wasn’t one of them.

We walked around a little in Budapest but there is hardly any time for sightseeing. I used to think that bands could go out and see the sights but you quickly realize that even though doesn’t last that long, there are always things to do and that in between those things there’s a lot of waiting.

After the show we head out for a weird bar except for Dan, Brian and Brandon. The bar’s an open air affair and it looks like an arcade with a whole bunch of drunk teenagers hanging around. Kyle, Jon and myself are equally wasted. As soon as they start cranking out a Nickelback song, we decide it’s time to go to bed. Wise decision because even though it’s only four days, it’s already weighing on me.

Brian striking a pose

DAY 5 : Vienna

After a full six hours of sleep, I wake up in Vienna. Seeing as it’s my last day on tour I have to go and check in to my hotel. The rest of the band head for their hotel and we all go our separate ways with Page being excited about being back in the city of Mozart. We all meet up again at the venue which is the weirdest one so far. It’s a bigass complex with four different stages and it used to be a slaughterhouse. In other words, the perfect setting for them to play “See You Dead”.

I get to see Helmet play yet another great show (no off days for these guys), meet their webmaster Glynn who’s tagging along from there on (sorry if my bunk bed smelled bad!) and somehow end up back in my hotel after a gay black opera singer helps me find a cab. And you know what? After five days on the road, that seems like a perfectly normal thing.


I learned that being on tour is a very tiring affair and even though it offers a lot of fun times, there’s also a lot of waiting and hard work involved. I also learned that if these guys are ever playing a show near you, you should not hesitate to walk up to them after the show for a talk. And don’t forget to ask Kyle about the tar/bathroom incident or Kyle about his Canadian border adventures. They’re the nicest guys around and even if I would’ve had other options, I couldn’t have asked for a more fun band to tag along with for a week.