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30.6.09

Heideroosjes – Ode & Tribute


20 Years of Heideroosjes has to be celebrated and since a greatest hits collection was too easy according to these guys, I am now listening to a double album called “Ode & Tribute”.

Disc 1 is all about Heideroosjes paying tribute to the bands that influenced them. Obvious choices are of course the Ramones and the Misfits but they just as easily cover Johnny Cash (yes, apparently we really did need another cover of “Ring Of Fire”), Doe Maar and Stray Cats. Hell, they even crank out a medley of Metallica songs. It’s pretty bad but it does show you exactly what these guys are all about. For twenty years they’ve been doing exactly what they wanted and they always get away with it.

On disc 2 there’s a whole slew of artists covering Heideroosjes’ songs and making them their own. Again, some acts on here are obvious choices (Peter Pan Speedrock, The Kids, The Apers) but Gorki covering “Embrace & Destroy” is odd to say the least. As is Jacqueline Govaert’s version of “Time Is Ticking Away”. Yet both of them work. As does Epica’s metal treatment of “Nothing’s Wrong”. And closing off this massive 30-song collection is Urbanus with “Ze Smelten De Paashaas”. Which makes sense because Heideroosjes got their name from one of Urbanus’ sketches.

Not everything on here is good but this is way cooler than a greatest hits collection would’ve been even despite the fact that Nailpin is featured.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.fairytalerecords.com
http://www.heideroosjes.com

Tranzmitors – Busy Singles


The Tranzmitors call Vancouver home and sure like their powerpop! “Busy Singles” combines the band’s four singles that are hard to find on one shiny disc alongside the songs from their most recent 12”. And as if that isn’t enough yet, there’s one bonus song as well. Not a leftover, just more excellent powerpop for you to enjoy.

Influenced by UK acts like the Buzzcocks, the drums on this one keep a strident pace, the guitars buzz, the hooks stick and the whole is just raw enough to still be called garage. There simply isn’t anything bad to say about this release… it’s simply a whole lot of fun!
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.derangedrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/thetranzmitors

Suffer The Living – War Is All I Know


As soon as the intro kicks in with something that seems to be lifted out of some kind of medieval movie, I thought I was going into a powermetal album. Which doesn’t make sense because Suffer The Living’s debut album is being released on Filled With Hate, a label not normally associated with powermetal. Power? Yes. Metal? Yes. Powermetal? No.

But then the band rips off your face with “Dirty Harry Stomp” and all is back to normal as Suffer The Living (who feature former Shattered Realm vocalist Chris) kick out some nasty New Jersey metalcore. Time to get your mosh on! And once these guys launch into yet another breakdown, you’re allowed to beat the shit out of anyone who comes near. Tell ‘em I said so.

Apparently these guys already broke up which is a shame because “War Is All I Know” is a solid album and I would’ve liked to hear more from these dudes.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.filledwithhate.com
http://www.myspace.com/suffertheliving

The Platoon – Like Hyenas In The Desert EP


The Platoon is a new German outfit featuring former Drift vocalist Marcel Ströter. On the 5-song debut the good man is spilling his guts just as he did with Drift while the rest of the band has absolutely no problems keeping up with him.

If metallic hardcore is your thing, you can’t go wrong with “Like Hyenas In The Desert”. They have plenty of mid-paced breakdowns on sale and pack enough groove to counter their sheer brutality. Throw in some sick singalong action alongside a great production job and you’re looking at a release by a band who are not reinventing the wheel… they simply wreck the whole frigging car.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.filledwithhate.com
http://www.myspace.com/theplatoon

For.The.Win. – The Black & The Blue


“The Black & The Blue” is filled with the kind of punkrock I’m addicted to. It’s fast and gritty yet still has more melody and hooks than you can wrap your head around. The guys in For.The.Win. call it Bay Area posicore, I call it punkrock.

From opener “Let It Begin”all the way down the tracklisting to “Die Young”, the songs move at a brisk pace and just when you think that wow, this is a pretty cool song, they’re already on to the next one seeing as most of them don’t even reach the two minute mark.

This is nothing you haven’t heard before but “The Black & The Blue” does prove that For.The.Win. knows how to play the shit out of a couple of chords and sturdy rhythms.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.asianmanrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/solidarityrecordings.com
http://www.myspace.com/bayareaposicore

CKY – Carver City


Everyone knows the story of CKY by now… CKY aka Camp Kill Yourself released a number of skate/stunt videos that later spawned the MTV show Jackass. They were actually more known for those videos than for their music but that’s not to say their music sucks. Far from it. Because just like there was nothing out there like their videos, there isn’t a single band out there that sounds anything like these guys.

“Carver City” starts off with “Hellions On Parade” (the third track in the band’s Hellview trilogy) and you are struck again right away by those typical riffs along with Deron Miller’s voice. I don’t know how they do it but you immediately recognize a CKY song when you hear one. Apparently they take death metal riffs and slow them down or something. Fuck it, it sounds amazing! As do the other tracks on here with “Rats In The Infirmary” and the more mellow “The Era Of An End” as my personal favorites.

Hopefully with a label like Roadrunner backing them now, they’ll gain even more notoriety in Europe because these guys earn whatever amount of success that comes their way.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com
http://www.ckyalliance.com

Pearl Jam – Ten

Along with Alice In Chains, Nirvana and Soundgarden, Pearl Jam was one of the bands that made grunge a familiar term all over the world. Guitarist Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament were already active in Seattle outfit Mother Love Bone prior to Pearl Jam but when their lead singer died of an overdose shortly before the release of their debut, they were stuck. One Temple Of The Dog album later, they started Pearl Jam and released “Ten”, one of the albums that sparked this writer’s interest in music and one left that left a profound impression.

And now there’s this new version of “Ten”. Disc 1 is the remastered version while disc 2 is the remix by Pearl Jam’s favorite producer, Brendan O’Brien. O’Brien brought the vocals more to the foreground and stripped the songs of some unnecessary layers. The result is an album that shines like a painting that’s been completely restored, finally revealing even the smallest detail. Now it truly is the classic that it actually already was if that makes any sense.

Oh, the redux version also comes with a couple of bonus cuts including “State Of Love And Trust”… absolute must-have for every fan of rock music.
Score: 10 out of 10
http://www.sonymusic.com
http://www.pearljam.com

Pearl Jam

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Greatest Hits


14 Years after his Greatest Hits collection, there is now a greatest hits collection of Bruce Springsteen with his trusty E Street Band. Kicking off with “Blinded By The Light” and “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” , then on to “Born To Run” and the glorious “The River” and then straight to “Glory Days”, “Dancing In The Dark” and “The Rising”… damn, this guy has written so many classics that a 16-song collection doesn’t even begin to do him justice! Nonetheless this is a great album to blast through your speakers when driving in your car on a sunny day!

Springsteen is always good but he’s never as good as when he’s playing with his E Street Band surrounding him. Rounding out this collection are two live cuts of songs he wrote for others… “Because The Night” is made infamous in Patti Smith’s version while “Fire” is more commonly known as that song by the Pointer Sisters. And while not essential to this collection, Springsteen more than adequately proves he can make them his own again.

As the man’s last album proved a couple of months ago, this is not a definitive greatest hits collection by far. But hell, it sure is a lot of fun!
Score: 8.5 out of 10
http://www.columbiarecords.com
http://www.brucespringsteen.net
Bruce Springsteen - Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Greatest Hits

Bomb The Music Industry! – Scrambles


Jeff Rosenstock is back with a new Bomb The Music Industry! album. Along with his friends he wrote another batch of songs that are simply too goofy to be taken serious. With a mix of folk-punk, noise, ska , powerpop and Atom And His Package-like keyboards and drum computers, “Scrambles” is a worthy follow-up to 2006’s “Goodbye Cool World”.

You never really know what’s gonna come next but that’s the cool thing about BTMI!. These songs are like kittens really… always fun and entertaining even if they can be a little exhausting at times. Rosenstock knows how to write a normal song but simply chooses to do his own thing with the formula rather than simply rehashing it and I can’t help but be dragged into his ADD-crazed universe.

Pick up a copy from Asian Man Records or download the whole thing over at Quote Unquote Records. Don’t forget to make a donation when you do!
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.asianmanrecords.com
http://www.bombthemusicindustry.com

25.6.09

Asphyx – Death… The Brutal Way


It’s funny to say that a death metal band came back to life but that’s exactly what happened with Asphyx. Since 2007 these Dutchies have been playing shows again and now they lash out with a new studio album.

“Death… The Brutal Way” lives up to its name as these guys plow through ten songs with the subtlety of a bulldozer. Except for a nice thrashy part or a doomy passage here and there, this is mostly midtempo death metal with a couple of solos in the right places. These guys know what’s expected of them and they stick to it.

But that’s okay because it takes a victim a lot longer to die when chopped up with a blunt machete. Sure, it gets a little repetitive after the first couple of severed limbs. But it’s a lot more fun than a couple of precise cuts with a razor-sharp scalpel and a lot of technical knowledge.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.centurymedia.com
http://www.myspace.com/officialasphyx

Double Dagger – More


The guys in Presidents Of The United States Of America thought it was cool to play with a couple of strings less on their guitar. Ha! What a bunch of losers! Here’s a trio from Baltimore that proves you can play angry pop/punk music and don’t even need a guitar to do so!

With just bass, drums and vocals they’ve already released two albums and now there’s “More” which is exactly that. More. Setting up shop in an old abandoned building scheduled for demolition in the dead of winter might seem crazy to some but – as everything with these guys – it’s something that they thought about first. It gave them the time to mess around with some things and allowed them to make the album they set out to make.

And it’s a noisy album. From the straight-up punkrock of opener “No Allies” to the feedback-laden “We Are The Ones” and to the glorious mess that is “The Lie . The Truth” with guest vocals by Future Islands’ Sam Herring, these guys have no problem keeping things interesting until the last blast of feedback blows out in “Two-Way Mirror”.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.thrilljockey.com
http://www.myspace.com/doubledaggersucks

PN – From What Rivers Have To Offer


Always expanding their sound, one never really knows what to expect exactly of a new PN album. Sure, you can always hear these guys have their roots planted firmly in the punk and hardcore scene with a metal edge and there’s also the emotional angle they always play out. But there’s always more. A lot more.

Check out the opening track of their seventh album, which comes with an atmospheric intro before evolving into post-hardcore with Johan’s clean vocals and his brother Bert’s growls playing off of each other until the song stretches out well into stoner territory. The second song picks up on that same groove with howling guitars and a strong sense of melody. Or how about the title track which features piano, violin and guest vocalist Annelies Tanghe? Shit, that could’ve been on a Lamb album just the same! There’s not a single song on here that sounds like the one before it yet you can always tell it’s PN.

No song really stands out on “From What Rivers Have To Offer” but that’s only because the album has such a nice flow that it would be a shame not to listen to it from start to finish. Oh, and the limited edition of this one comes in a nice wooden box with engraved artwork. That’s something you don’t get if you download this album kids!
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.funtimerecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/pn666

Cause Co-Motion! – It’s Time! – Singles & EPs 2005-2008


Cause Co-Motion! is a band with an exclamation mark… as if they need something extra to draw attention to them. Or because they want to express just how hurried they are. The songs on this singles and EPs collection further corroborate the second option. 14 Songs in under twenty minutes… that’s pretty hurried. Take some jangly guitars, a slap happy drummer, a sneering vocalist, three chords and an overall sound that’s seemingly held together by duct tape and you’re listening to Cause Co-Motion’s okay-ish garage pop. I’m sorry, I meant Cause Co-Motion!. Can’t forget the exclamation mark.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.slumberlandrecords.com
http://www.causeco-motion.com

Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster – III


The sons of Ma Barker finally managed to pull their asses out of the backwoods and headed for the studio to record some more songs about final judgement and redemption. Now, don’t go thinking about Bob Marley just yet… these guys bring Southern rock to the table and mix it up with big helpings of heavy metal and punkrock. Think lots of groove with squealing guitars and singalong choruses over pounding drums.

With two new guys in the band, these Alabama boys pulled out all the stops and went for an even bigger sound on their third album, which is simply titled “III”. Both of the new guys (Kelly Scott Nunn and Matt Clark) have previously played in an early incarnation of Underoath which is how vocalist Dallas Taylor got to know them. They all mesh well on album number three as you can hear on “” or “”, two kickass songs.

It is more of the same but then again, why change a winning team? Oh no wait, they did change the team. Oh well, these songs will still kick your ass while you’re yelling along!
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.ferretstyle.com
http://www.myspace.com/mayleneandthesonsofdisaster

Southerly – Storyteller And The Gossip Columnist


Southerly is a one-man project and that one man is Krist Kreuger. He started out in 2001 by releasing an EP, relocated to Portland and put together a full live band in 2006. Then it was time to record this full-length debut in 2007. And then it took another two years for it to finally be released in Europe. The guy sure took his sweet time!

Anyway, “Storyteller and the Gossip Columnist” is a collection of songs that are obviously written by a singer/songwriter. All of the tracks on here start out with just Kreuger and his acoustic guitar. Sometimes they stay that way, at other times he keeps on adding additional layers to the song. On a track like “A Coarse Design” this leads to something pretty decent while at other times things just fall apart like a house of cards (“Taking Stock”).

I’ve listened to this album a bunch of times now and still can’t get into it. It just doesn’t touch me in any way. Fans of Bright Eyes or Sufjan Stevens might want to check this baby out though. Southerly has something of both those acts in it without being a mere copycat.
Score: 5 out of 10
http://www.arcticrodeorecordings.com
http://www.southerlysongs.com

19.6.09

Bury Your Dead – It’s Nothing Personal


On album number five, Bury Your Dead have changed their sound quite a bit. With a new vocalist firmly in place it was obviously time for some change. And so while it still rains single-note breakdowns, chugga chugga riffs and double bass drums on “It’s Nothing Personal”, things have gotten decidedly more melodic. The choruses now come with clean vocals Killswitch Engage-style and the whole now has a lot more in common with nu metal rather than the punishing metalcore they were known for. Not sure it’s a good thing but while listening to “Hurting Not Helping” I could’ve sworn that I was listening to Slipknot and acts like Fear Factory and Mudvayne came to mind more than once as well.

The songs on “It’s Nothing Personal” are hard and catchy enough though to make something of an impression but overall there are so many bands that have tried this sound before that it’s really hard to come up with an album that stands out. And I think that’s where they failed… doesn’t really matter whether it’s by Bury Your Dead or another band, everyone has heard this album before.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.victoryrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/buryyourdead

18.6.09

Yesterday’s Ring – Diamonds In The Ditch


Alt country from Canada? Sure, why not! If members of The Sainte Catherines play in the band, it can’t be all bad. Just out of curiosity though… would this make them the millionth punkrock band that goes country or are there already more?

Seriously though, “Diamonds In The Ditch” is a solid album that’s been two years in the making. Not only do they rock out with some country twang, they also know how to write a ballad or two. Well, five actually. That still leaves ten louder songs though because with 15 songs, this is quite a whopper!

Opener “Moving Out (To Florida)” and “Quebec City Blues” could’ve been Mad Caddies songs while the Flogging Molly gang is jealous they didn’t write “Sad Songs”. Oh, and these guys rival Swingin’ Utters at their best with “Moving Back (To Montreal)”. A couple of the slower ones on here don’t feel completely right but other than that this is a great album.

And to all the naysayers out there… vocalist Hugo Mudie says it best in “Sad Songs”… ‘some folks they tell me / you just can’t play country / you’re a stupid young punk and you’re from Montreal / but I’ll still make you cry with that song’.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.suburbanhomerecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/yesterdaysringmtl

Mike Hale – Lives Like Mine


Mike Hale made a name for himself in Gunmoll and In The Red (whose second album came out a couple of months ago). Both of those acts were loud fire-breathing monsters while “Lives Like Mine” is more like a small hummingbird. This time around it’s just him and an acoustic guitar. And the occasional piano. And Allyson Seconds doing an amazing job with the vocal harmonies.

Opening track “Lives Like Mine” and “When She Loved Me” simply floored me. All of the songs have an incredibly intimate feel about them and with Hale’s heart-on-his-sleeve lyrics, it’s hard not to be moved by them. It’s beautifully depressing and depressingly beautiful at the same time and if you go to http://liveslikemine.suburbanhomerecords.com now you can download the whole thing for free.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.suburbanhomerecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/mikehalemusic

God Fires Man – Life Like

Arthur Shepherd has been a busy man since starting Mind Over Matter in the nineties. Since then he’s been involved with Errortype:11, Instruction and the band that nobody wants to sign, Gay For Johnny Depp. But it still wasn’t enough so he started God Fires Man who are now ready to unleash their second album through Arctic Rodeo on June 26th.

“Life Like” is as powerful a post-hardcore statement as I’ve heard in quite some time. From opener “Kill The Pundits” right down to the final track “Let ‘Em Burn”, Shepherd along with Joseph Grillo (Garrison), Drew Thomas (Into Another, Bold) and John Wilkinson comes at you relentlessly, armed with big hooks. The production by Alex Newport (At The Drive-In, Death Cab) didn’t exactly hurt things either and allows the songs to breathe before they explode and blow you right back into the nineties.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.arcticrodeorecordings.com
http://www.myspace.com/godfiresman

17.6.09

Riverboat Gamblers interview

The Riverboat Gamblers have been one of my favorites for quite some time now and that hasn't changed with the release of their new album "Underneath The Owl". Simply put, it kicks ass! Here's an email interview we did with guitarist Fadi El-Assad. (photo credit : Gary Copeland)

PRT: Suffered any fresh injuries lately?
Fadi: I tore a ligament in my knee last fall during a show in our hometown of Denton, TX. Other than that.....mostly emotional pain.

PRT: You once said about the way you guys work that you keep going forward by being beat up. does it still feel like that?
Fadi: I don't remember saying that, but if one of us did i would have to retract the statement. i think we move forward by writing and writing and writing. always coming up with new stuff has really been the impetus for propelling the band forward.

PRT: Riverboat casinos are typical for the South of the US which is where you guys are from. do you think you would sound any different if you were say, from New York?
Fadi: well i don't think that we sound like a riverboat casino or the bands that play riverboat casinos. rarely do they invite punk rock bands to play in riverboat casinos. everyone is a product of his/her environment and i think a band is no exception. i mean there's a lot of great inspiration to be drawn from Texas bands, past and present. but it's an awkward question to answer. i mean, we love the Big Boys (Austin), but we have more in common with the Ramones (speaking of new york) than we do with say....Pantera (arlington, tx).

PRT: What's up with the album title 'Underneath The Owl'?
Fadi: there are dark forces assembling. they gather in secret locations all around the world. one such place exists in Austin. the tallest building in the city is in the heart of downtown. a monolithic edifice created in the likeness of the Pagan Owl God known as Moloch. it is linked to a secret society of world leaders, bankers, multi-millionaires, and Industrialists. they convene in a place called Bohemian Grove in Northern California. the album title is meant to convey the severity of the situation in which we find ourselves. alone in darkness, moving as mice along the foliage as the owl fixes his gaze upon us. suddenly he swoops without warning and grabs us in his talons, carrying us to a branch high atop the forest floor to enjoy his meal. we have to remember to not be the mindless consumer or the obedient citizen.....and to remember that we can bring ourselves to be out of the darkness of the forest floor by thinking freely and educating ourselves.

PRT: The song title "Pilgrims In An Unholy Land" made me wonder... how big of an Indiana Jones fan are you?
Fadi: Huge. especially the first two. nothing beats short-round.

PRT: And how exactly do robots break your heart?
Fadi: well, it's a metaphor. so they don't "exactly" break your heart. sometimes having no emotions seems like a much better alternative to going through the turmoil that tends to just tear you up inside. maybe if we exorcise emotion we can avoid heartbreak, pain, and a lot of convoluted thoughts. you know....embrace logic so as to forget why life is a huge kick in the balls sometimes.

PRT: Can you give me three good reasons why people should spend money on the album, especially now that there's an economic crisis going on?
Fadi: 1. I
2. am
3. broke

PRT: In your online store you have four different packages for the new album... does it work offering people an extra incentive to buy rather than just download the album by adding a poster, a 7", bonus songs and the likes?
Fadi: im not sure....i suppose we'd have to set up some sort of control group to find out. maybe you can help us with that!!! are you good at statistics? i'm terrible with them. it seems like people would be inclined to buy the package if it's what they're looking for. for instance, if you want a tshirt, 7" single, and CD....why bother buying them all separately? you can still download the record alone as well.

PRT: Suburban Home Records just released Mike Hale's new album that they are giving away for free. Is that something you would ever consider? Being the tour maniacs that you are, i could see it drawing more people to your shows.
Fadi: i don't think we're in a positon to do that right now. but you never know what the future holds. the digital age has brought a lot of new things to the table, including the ease and convinience of instant gratification with music. we've given away singles and EPs for free. so maybe one day we'll find the kindness in our dark, miserly hearts to offer a free full length. the future is unwritten.

PRT: You're going out on tour with Rancid and Rise Against... does playing with big bands like that make you go for it even harder when you're onstage?
Fadi: honestly not. i think we have to reevaluate our approach to the stage set up and set list, but we hit just as hard as any bar show we've ever done.

PRT: How hard is it to snap back to 'normal life' when you get back from tour?
Fadi: aaaahhhhh.....there's definitely a period of post tour depression. but for me its linked to feeling idle. if im busy with stuff i like to do when i get home, it certainly eases the blow. you just have to avoid the "grass is always greener" mentality. enjoy the moment. have fun touring and playing crazy shows. then when you come home....have fun with your friends, family, and wife/girlfriend.

PRT: You'll be playing Reading and Leeds in August... is it going to be coupled to a full European tour with maybe finally a stop in Belgium?
Fadi: yes we are definitely working on that!!!! nothing is confirmed yet but we are making sure that we tour Europe again. we've played belgium about 3 times and it's always a blast. can't wait to get back

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Fadi: GFFG! keep coming to the shows and we'll keep playing!!! keep your eyes open and your hearts hungry. see ya soon.

Emery - … In Shallow Seas We Sail


After 2004’s “The Weak End”, 2005’s “The Question and 2007’s “I’m Only A Man”, there is now “… In Shallow Seas We Sail”. Yes, these guys don’t like to waste any time. Fueled by the lord, they immediately start off with the very noisy intro to “Cutthroat Collapse”. A riff that will tear you a new one along with some of those piercing screams the band is known for are all that’s needed to make us forget about their terrible third album.

On to the rest of the album then! Emery brings us more of the heavy with cuts like “Curbside Goodbyes” and “The Smile, The Face” while “Inside Our Skin” is way more melodic with mostly clean vocals, a catchy chorus and some nice guitarwork. These dudes also play the midfield well with the ready to rock “I’ve Got A Way” and “Open Hands, Closed Eyes”.

Nice to see these guys back on top of their game with an album that will please old fans while having plenty to offer to draw in some new ones as well.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.toothandnail.com
http://www.myspace.com/emery

Outbreak – Work To Death 7”


Three years after their last album there is finally another sign of life from Maine’s Outbreak in the form of this 7”, out now on Think Fast! Records. In barely three minutes they tear through two new songs.

First up is a cut called “(Work)ing Dead” and it’s as nasty as it gets. The main riff is very rock n roll, only sped up with vocalist Ryan doing his thing over it. The backing shrieks are pretty friggin’ cool as well! Next up is “Don’t Want To Fade (To Death)”, a short 38-second blast to the head.

Short but sweet… really short… too short… bring on the new full-length already!
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.thinkfastrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/outbreak

The Blackout – The Best In Town


“The Best In Town” is the name of The Blackout’s new album and throughout ten songs they have no problems liing up to the expectations. While opener “Shut-The-Fuck-Uppercut” prepares you for some generic screamo clichés right down to the sing/scream thingy, the rest of the tracks here vary from Lostprophets at their most mellow (“Silent When We Speak”) to New Found Glory (“This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”).

If you’re into heavy riffage coupled to poppy melodies, then you’re most likely to be swept off your feet by this Welsh outfit. They’re not very original but even this cynical editor has to admit that they’re really good at what they do on songs like “Save Our Selves (The Warning) and “Said And Done”!
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.epitaph.com
http://www.myspace.com/theblackout

16.6.09

NOFX – Backstage Passport DVD


Tired of the safe tours through the US and Europe and hungry for an adventure, NOFX set out to play shows in a bunch of countries where they’ve never been before. Sounds easy enough but as this documentary shows – and as is common with NOFX – everything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Alcohol, fights, drugs, crews that are kept hostage, insulting a Muslim crowd, a visit to a Japanese S&M club and a moment or two of silent contemplation … it’s all part of a day’s work if you are with these guys. Oh, and of course a whole lot of bad jokes!

This 2-disc DVD set boasts eight hilarious episodes plus 2 hours of bonus material where we get to follow the band through China, Chili, Israel, Russia and South Africa among others. “Backstage Passport” is one of the funniest road movies I have ever seen and even if you’re not into punkrock, you should definitely check this out.
Score: 9.5 out of 10
http://www.fatwreck.com
http://www.nofxofficialwebsite.com

Witch Hunt – Burning Bridges To Nowhere


From the city of brotherly love comes Witch Hunt, an anarcho-punk outfit that has already dropped a significant number of releases since their inception in 2001. “Burning Bridges To Nowhere” however is their first release on Alternative Tentacles, a label where they fit right in among all the other political punk bands.

With a raw and gritty sound that harbors a lot of hooks, they have no problems keeping me glued to the speakers for all twelve songs, even making things more diverse by alternating between male and female vocals. From the balls-to-the-wall opener “Blind Eyes, Blind Lives” to the more downpaced “Void”, this is one crust band you do not want to miss out on!
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.alternativetentacles.com
http://www.witch-hunt.cjb.net

Wavves – Wavves


With the opening track - which consists of nothing but synth noise - Wavves aka 22-year-old Nathan Daniel William succeeds in thoroughly pissing me off in less than one minute. Granted, it’s not given to many but this guy passes the test with flying colours.

From there on things get slightly better with songs about being bored (“So Bored”) and goth girls (“Goth Girls”, “Summer Goth”, “Beach Goth”) and demons (“Beach Demon”, “Killr Punx, Scary Demons”). Yup, the guy apparently has heaps of inspiration when it comes to naming songs. The songs themselves are basically pop songs with sunny hooks buried under layers of noise and then further fucked up by a lo-lo-lo-lo-fi production that brings Sebadoh’s first albums to mind.

Shitgaze they call it. It’s not pure shit but it does make me wonder why this guy can’t record like normal people. A lot of it is posturing and doing it for the sake of coming across as artsy I guess. But hey, remember the things we did to come across as cool when we were that young?
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.bellaunion.com
http://www.myspace.com/wavves

Faust Again – The Trial


Faust Again is a Polish outfit that likes to play death metal with some core influences here and there. There’s nine real songs on “The Trial”, all of which are preceded by short soundscapes that serve absolutely no purpose and sound positively dreadful. Their vocalist has a very monotonous grunt that gets old after two songs and the clean vocals are more terrifying than the grunts. But… the band does know how to play some serious metal, they have some more than decent riffage and plenty of groove. So other than cleaning ladies, Poland apparently has some good metal to offer as well!
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.bastardized.net
http://www.faustagain.com

The Audition – Self-Titled Album


The Audition promised that their new album would be a mix of their previous releases and they were right. This basically means that half of the album is really good while the other half is way too sugary and danceable.

After a very enjoyable debut (“Controversy Loves Company”), I was disappointed by follow-up “Champion” which sounded all over the place. And listening to “Self-Titled Album” is a mix of the two. On one hand you have the hopelessly danceable and poppy songs like “Over My Head” and “Everybody Is Someone Else’s Secret” and the hopelessly derivative balladry of “It’s Gonna Be Hard (When I’m Gone)”. Even though I know I shouldn’t like them, they’re just so slippery and slick that you can’t help but nod along.

“Los Angeles” on the other hand sounds like the song Sugarcult hasn’t written yet (oh wait, they already have a song called “Los Angeles”) and opening track “The Running Man” is as solid as K2. Mark Trombino (Blink 182, Jimmy Eat World) works his magic as usual and makes everything sound amazing.

I just wish that these guys brought a little more rock and a lot less of the cuddly, danceable stuff. There’s already hundreds of bands out there doing the same thing but there aren’t nearly as many who are able to write great rock songs the way The Audition could if they set their mind to it. Until they do that they will simply have to remain one of my guilty pleasures along with the All-American Rejects.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.victoryrecords.com
http://www.theauditionrocks.com

Radio Moscow – Brain Cycles


There is one thing more boring than a drum solo at a live show and that is a drum solo on an album. Yet that is exactly what Radio Moscow does in “No Good Woman”, a song off of their second album “Brain Cycles”. Other than that there is some pretty crazy psychedelic bluesrock on here that Marty McFly brought back from the seventies with his DeLorean.

Think Sabbath riffs, a sturdy rhythm section and the holy power of the wah-wah pedal. There are a couple of times when The Black Keys come to mind (coincidentally the band was discovered by Dan Auerbach). “Black Boot” for instance comes with a nice blues stomp. Other than that these dudes sound like Cream on meth. It says “best played very high” on the back of the album… I’ll leave it to you whether that means turning the volume all the way up or listening to “Brain Cycles” with bong placed firmly in hand. I don’t doubt for a second though that both will make this album rock even harder!
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.alivenergy.com
http://www.myspace.com/radiomoscow

Sarandon – Kill Twee Pop


Until recently Sarandon was singer/guitarist Crayola and a revolving cast of bassists and drummers. Now there finally seems to be some form of stability with Big Flame’s Alan Brown on bass and Tom Greenhalgh on drums

After five EPs, this South London trio thought the time was right for a full-length. And even though I’ve never heard one of their EPs, they were right in doing so because “Kill Twee Pop” never bores. Nor does it outstay its welcome with 12 songs in 26 minutes.

With erratic rhythms and spastic guitars (check out “Good Working Practice”), I’m sure Sarandon will drive a lot of people mad. Listen closer however and you’ll find a fair amount of melody and some poignant lyrics which in no small amount add to the listening pleasure of “Kill Twee Pop”. If you’re into distortionless (is that actually a word?) punk a la Minutemen or Futureheads, you should have a field day with this one.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.slumberlandrecords.com
http://www.sarandon.net

15.6.09

Dredg – The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion


Dredg has always been somewhat of a strange outfit combining art rock and experimental music with a bunch of other genres including nu metal (yikes!). Four years after “Catch Without Arms”, it’s now time to forget what you thought Dredg sounded like and listen to “The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion” with an open mind.

Inspired by the Salman Rushdie poem “A Letter To The Six Billionth Citizen” and made up of a whopping 18 songs, this is not an album that you will soak up in just one listen. Opener “Pariah” starts off cute enough with a bunch of kids singing before turning into a Maroon 5-like song. Next up is “Drunk Slide”, one of many instrumental parts on this album where the band combines electronics with guitar, before “Ireland” kicks in. It’s a solid tune with some great melodies and just enough power to keep it from being sappy. And the band has no problem keeping people interested as they wade through Southern rock with “Light Switch”, the Coldplay-esque “Information” or the rocking “Savior”.

It’s really hard to classify these guys… they share their love for experimentation with Thrice, the more danceable, poppy parts seem to come off of a Maroon 5 album and at their most epic they come very close to sounding like Muse. It sounds las if it shouldn’t work but the guys in Dredg pull it off nearly without flaws making “The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion” one of the contenders for best album of the year for me.
Score: 9 out of 10
Ohlone Recordings
http://www.dredg.com

The Saint Alvia Cartel – S/T


Throw former members of Jersey and Boys Night Out together and what do you get? A new band apparently. The Saint Alvia Cartel’s self-titled debut is filled with poppunk, ska and a little new wave. And guess what? It’s a lot of fun. Melodies that are nice on the ear flash by yet they maintain enough grit to avoid sounding cheesy. It works well and on some songs you could compare them to the “Sink Or Swim” era Gaslight Anthem I guess. Check out “Time To Go” for that comparison to make sense.

You can already pick up this band’s sophomoric release if you live in the right continent. Unfortunately us Old World dwellers will have to make due with the band’s debut for now. Which arrives just in time for the summer to have a fine soundtrack!
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.myspace.com/gunnerrec
http://www.myspace.com/saintalvia

Pulley – The True Story Of An American Punk Band DVD


I seriously like Pulley when they play music but after having seen “The True Story Of An American Punk Band” I discovered they still have a lot to learn about making documentaries. They don’t get much further than ‘we started the band to have fun with this and this guy and then he left when we recorded that album but then in came that guy and then we recorded another album’ along with some live footage and that’s basically it.

Lately these guys haven’t been on a label and so they released this DVD and the recent EP “Time Insensitive Material” on their own. While the EP might help them get signed again, I doubt this DVD will do them much good. Only for the diehard fans who thought “Die Hard 4.0” was a great movie!
Score: 5.5 out of 10
no label
http://www.x-members.com

Rancid – Let The Dominoes Fall


Six years after “Indestructible”, the fortysomethings that make up Rancid are back with another full-length. Their seventh for those of you counting. It’s not like these guys have been sitting on their asses for six years though. Lars dropped “Viking” with his Bastards, Tim released a second album with Transplants and a solo album and Matt released a 12” with Devils Brigade and helped out with Social D. Plus there was the Rancid compilation “B Sides And C Sides”. Fans sure knew how to spend their money!

Back to the new Rancid album… 19, songs, 45 minutes, three vocalists and a whole lot of punkrock. Doesn’t really matter whether it’s with blazing guitars (“The Bravest Kids”) or a little more soulful like The Clash, Rancid are good at both styles. They also throw in some ska bounce as usual (“Up To No Good”, “Liberty And Freedom”) and a folk tune or two (“Civilian Ways”) and even some rockabilly swing (“LA River”). “Civilian Ways” was actually the biggest surprise for me, a song about a soldier coming back to the US only to find out that he can’t leave the war in Iraq behind as easily as he had thought. “The Highway” on the other hand is another acoustic cut but one that should’ve been left on the cutting floor… it’s just a crappy song.

Anyway, after six years it’s good to have a new Rancid album and while they will never record another album as good as “… And Out Come The Wolves”, this is still better than a lot of stuff out there give or take a couple of songs.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.hell-cat.com
http://www.epitaph.com
http://www.rancidrancid.com

14.6.09

Alexisonfire – Old Crows / Young Cardinals


When opener “Old Crows” kicks in we hear the line ‘we are not the kids we used to be’ right off the bat. And as you work your way down the track listing of “Old Crows / Young Cardinals”, the band’s fourth full-length, the more you find out they’re not bluffing.

For a while it seemed like there wouldn’t be a fourth album. Band members were all doing their own thing in side-projects or other bands (City and Colour, The Black Lungs, Hunter, Bergenfield Four, Fucked Up) and it became real quiet around this Canadian outfit. Luckily though a breakup didn’t occur. Instead we get what is at the very least their most daring album yet but also their best so far.

Largely ditching the screamo sound and going for a decidedly punkier, more rock n roll feel with the gravely shouts coming from both George Pettit and Wade MacNeil now, there is still a plethora of great melodies to be floored by. And of course there’s still Dallas Green’s clean vocals to lift the whole thing to the next level. Going from straight-up barnburners like “Accept Crime” over “Sons Of Privilege” with its extremely catchy chorus and the more mellow “The Northern” to vintage Alexisonfire post-hardcore gems such as “Born And Raised” and “Heading for The Sun”, they have no problem rocking out from start to finish while still offering a very diverse album.

Following up an album like “Crisis” might not seem like an easy thing to do, but rather than ‘simply’ writing “Crisis II”, “Old Crows / Young Cardinals” shows a band that is not afraid to alter the sound that got them where they are today. And hey, in the end it got them an even better album!
Score: 9 out of 10
http://www.vagrant.com
http://www.theonlybandever.com

Detournement – Screaming Response


When dudes from Lifetime, Ensign, Bigwig and Worthless United get together to start a band, it’s only fair that you expect quite a lot from them. And they don’t disappoint on the “Screaming Response” 7 inch.

Like on opener “Focus… Explosion” and “Stand Firm” or “Men and Maggots” where they sound exactly like a hardcore band playing streetpunk tunes. Then in comes “No Están Solos”, a Rancid-like track with a ska bounce… it’s good but it’s not what I was expecting. But when the chorus kicked in, I was won over completely.

Then it’s back to four more short one-minute blasts that establish Detournement’s sound some more and once “Odessa” rings out, I’m already hoping to get to hear more soon.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.chunksaah.com
http://www.myspace.com/detournementband

Jungle Rot – What Horrors Await


Jungle rot is what the soldiers in Vietnam called it when your feet got infected because you didn’t keep your feet dry. The horrors that awaited between your toes if you stumble dacross this (haha!) were no surprise. Same can be said about these guys… Jungle Rot has been a band for fifteen years now, “What Horrors Await” is their sixth album and they haven’t changed a damn thing since they started.

Which is a good thing because death metal these days seems to be more about technicality and mathematical precision than it is about giving your neck muscles a good workout. If you like Cannibal Corpse or Six Feet Under, there’s no reason you should shy away from Jungle Rot. It’s mostly mid-tempo except for the occasional thrash excursion (“Straightjacket Life”) and all the songs come with plenty of groove.

Nothing spectacular, just solid old school death metal!
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.napalmrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/junglerot

Darkness Dynamite – The Astonishing Fury Of Mankind


“The Astonishing Fury Of Mankind” comes courtesy of Darkness Dynamite, a band that likes to call la douce France home. There’s nothing ‘douce’ however about their songs as they present a mix of modern metal a la God Forbid meets the metalcore aesthetics of As I Lay Dying.

It’s not bad at all… I especially love the way a song can jump from melodic death metal to a solid heavy metal guitar solo with the rest of the band thrashing away. The choruses are mostly very melodic which they have in common with a band like Soilwork.

I’ve already been throwing some pretty big names around here to which Darkness Dynamite unfortunately can’t live up to just yet. But considering they’ve only been around for two years and this is their debut, I think it’s fair to say we’ll probably hear a lot more from these guys in the future. Hopefully without acoustic interludes then… they’re a complete waste of space and of my time.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.metalblade.de
http://www.myspace.com/darknessdynamitemusic

11.6.09

Dope – No Regrets


With five albums to his name and a legion of fans called the Dope army, chances are slim you’ll still see Edsel Dope slinging his shit on the streetcorner. Yet he doesn’t seem too sure of the fact that he’s got enough money to go round. So to keep the fans happy he hans’t changed a damn thing about his sound since “Felons And Revolutionaries” first came out. After all his fans need to keep buying his albums to keep Edsel off the streets.

Bit of a bummer though because it means that “No Regrets” sounds just like his other albums with only “My Funeral” and “Dirty World” jumping out thanks to their extremely catchy choruses. The other ten tracks on here are not making much of an impression, just more of that typical nu metal that was popular ten years ago with a little industrial thrown in. Oh, and another cover of “Rebel Yell”… are you kidding me?
Score: 5.5 out of 10
http://www.kochrecords.com
http://www.dopearmy.com

The Cold Beat – Dumbwaiter


Sounding like mid-period Replacements, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this 6-song EP. I don’t know the first thing about The Cold Beat other than that they feature current members of Where The Land Meets The Sea and former members of Lock And Key, The Call Up, inblackandwhite and The Murder Mile but I can tell you that they sound like they’re having the time of their life cranking out tracks like “Watch And Ward” or – my favorite on here – “Antiquing”. You know the kind I’m talking about… where it’s hard to tell whether it’s punk or rock but you simply don’t care anymore once the chorus kicks in so you just call it punkrock.

As fun as it is to get the new album from a band you already know is good, this is so much better. Just honest and passionate music made by a bunch of dudes because they love making music.
Score: 8 out of 10
no label
http://www.myspace.com/thecoldbeat

Taking Back Sunday – New Again


With Fred Mascherino leaving the band to pursue a solo career (check out the awesome album he released under the name The Color Fred), I was wondering what the guys in Taking Back Sunday would be up to. After all, Mascherino was responsible for much of the band’s layered guitar sound. Turns out he apparently wasn’t irreplaceable because “New Again” is another vintage Taking Back Sunday album.

You have probably already heard “Sink Into Me”, a great track with an explosive chorus. But songs like “New Again” and “Summer, Man” are equally slick. There’s a little dip in the middle with “Where My Mouth Is” and “Cut Me Up Jenny” where the band made it a little bit too easy for themselves but then in kicks “Catholic Knees” and all is well again.

If you’re a girl and you’re hoping to someday be vocalist Adam Lazzara’s girlfriend you might want to reconsider after having heard “Swing” and “Cut Me Up Jenny”. Both are kinda creepy with lines like ‘I’ve been watching you, most times you never knew’ and ‘open the gate to your apartment complex, you’re not getting off that easy / I climb the fence, the one that you’ve been sitting on’. Prime stalker prose if you ask me! Other than that there’s not a helluva lot wrong with “New Again”.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.warnerbrosrecords.com
http://www.takingbacksunday.com

Faith No More – The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection


Following “Who Cares A Lot?”, “This Is It : The Best Of Faith No More”, “Epic And Other Hits”, “The Platinum Collection” and “The Works”, there is now a new Faith No More greatest hits comp available which they titled with tongue firmly planted in cheek, “The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection”. It means that Faith No More now has to their name the same amount of greatest hits albums as they have actual studio albums.

But is it fun? Of course it is! Who can get enough of tracks like “Epic”, “Midlife Crisis”, “A Small Victory” or the easy listening pastiche of “Evidence”? No songs from their debut “We Care A Lot” but other than that all of the band’s albums are reperesented on here. Especially “Angel Dust” with a whopping 7 songs. Admitted, it was when the band was at its creative peak

Of course, like with any greatest album there are songs missing that should’ve been on here (“Surprise You’re Dead anyone?) while others look a little out of place (“Ricochet”) but all in all it’s a great way to get to know the band if you’ve been living under a rock for the past twenty years.

There’s a bonus disc with some B-sides and rarities as well which make this release interesting for the diehard fans out there. We especially took note of the killer track “Absolute Zero” and “Sweet Emotion” and “New Improved Song”, both of which date back to the “Real Thing” recording sessions.

Nice compilation even if it’s kind of unnecessary and a good way to get reacquainted with these songs so you can sing along when the recently reformed band plays a show near you!
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.warnerbrosrecords.co.uk
http://www.fnm.com

Enter Shikari – Common Dreads


Two years ago Enter Shikari were everywhere all of a sudden. Seemingly out of nowhere this St. Albans quartet dropped a splinterbomb called “Take To The Skies” which was basically a trance/post-hardcore mashup. Equally all over the place were the songs on the album which seemed to be written by a bunch of ADD kids who seemed unable to stay with one idea for longer than 10 seconds.

They’re back now with “Common Dreads”, an album that shows some growth but hardly enough. Their sound is even more all over the place with vocalist Rou Reynolds going from singing to screaming to doing his best Mike Skinner impersonation in less than 30 seconds. All that comes out though are cliché-riddled lyrics that try and stick it to the man like in “Fanfare For The Conscious Man”.

Occasionally something actually works and when it does, things sound pretty good. Like in “Wall” where they slow things down long enough to show they can actually write a song before going off again in the chorus with screams that are completely uncalled for. Personally I think they’d better focus on making moody electronic music rather than letting the bleeps clash with loud guitars, which in the end only sounds extremely childish. Then again, I don’t belong to the generation that has to pop a couple of Ritalins a day to stay calm. So maybe I’m just too old for this!

They’re undoubtedly the best in the genre though. But that’s only because they’re pretty much the only band crazy enough to make this kind of music.
Score: 5.5 out of 10
http://www.warnerbrosrecords.co.uk
http://www.entershikari.com

9.6.09

Boozed – One Mile


I can be really short about this one… if you like straight-forward, balls-out, sweat-drenched, gasoline-fueled rock n roll anthems that combine vocal harmonies with angry shouting and wicked guitar licks then you should definitely check out Boozed’s “One Mile”. It’s nothing more but certainly nothing less than solid rock n roll.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.chorusofonerecords.it
http://www.boozed-rocks.com

The Nerves – One Way Ticket


The Nerves were a powerpop band before I was even born and I was born in 1979 (yes, I’m turning 30 this year… gifts are welcome). Guitarist Jack Lee, bassist Peter Case and drummer Paul Collins barely stuck together long enough to record a 4-song EP before moving on to start bands such as The Breakaways, The Plimsouls and The Beat.

One of the songs of the EP later became a hit for Blondie when they covered “Hanging On The Telephone” and was later covered some more by acts as diverse as L7 and Def Leppard. “One Way Ticket” features the remastered version of the EP along with a whopping 16 other tracks (mostly live material and demo takes) that were all previously unreleased.

As far as powerpop goes this is pretty damn good stuff with a song like “When You Find Out”, which still has the spirit of The Beatles resonating firmly but could easily be seen as a precursor to The Police as well. Not a ‘huge’ band by commercial standards but definitely pioneers in their own right.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.alivenergy.com
http://www.myspace.com/thenerves

Only Thieves – Greetings From Levy Park T.L.H.


Recognize the cover? On their 5-song EP this Tallahassee, FL outfit might mimic The Boss when it comes to their artwork, musically they don’t have a lot in common with Springsteen. Instead these guys rock out with some nice riffs and a pounding set of drums. Powerpop that’s a little rough around the edges always sits well with me and “Greetings From Levy Park T.L.H.” is no exception with “I Got Left Behind” as my personal favorite.
Score: 7 out of 10
no label
http://www.myspace.com/onlythievesfla

The Vaselines – Enter The Vaselines


The Vaselines won’t ring any bells with a lot of people… hell, people never even had a proper chance to discover this band who only released 2 EPs and one full-length in the late 80s! If you are a Nirvana fan though, you have heard already heard a couple of their songs. Kurt Cobain once called Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee his favorite songwriters in the whole world and not only covered three of their songs (“Molly’s Lips”, “Son Of A Gun” and “Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam”) but even named his daughter Frances Bean Cobain after Mckee.

The Vaselines broke up in 1989 shortly after the release of their full-length but reformed a bunch of times and are now playing a series of shows that coincide with the release of this discography. “Enter The Vaselines” was originally released back in 1992 but is now re-released in a deluxe edition. It comes with remastered versions of both EPs (“Son Of A Gun” and “Dying For It”) and their sole full-length (“Dum-Dum”) along with a bunch of demo takes and live performances.

Definitely worth hearing because while Cobain’s versions of their most well-known songs were faithful renditions, they don’t live up to the original versions by a band who fitted right in with The Pastels and Shop Assistants of the world.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.subpop.com
http://www.myspace.com/thevaselinesband

8.6.09

Hoods – Pit Beast


These guys have been going at it for a long time already but somehow never truly got the respect bands like Madball received. Has to be kinda frustrating, but hey… frustrations are good when you play in a hardcore band, right? Keeps you inspired!

After they finally got out of their difficult relationship with Victory, they signed with Eulogy and now appear to have found a new home over at I Scream Records where they just released “Pit Beast”.

Once again there are no surprises to be found on the new album. Mike Hood and his buddies drop eleven new bombs (including a cover of Madball’s “Friend Or Foe”). Their brand of NYHC (even though they’re from Sacramento, CA) is loud, obnoxious and violent. Not sure your mom would approve but we at PRT definitely do!
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.iscreamrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/sactohoods