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HIM – Screamworks : Love In Theory And Practice, Chapters 1-13

The Finnish dudes that make up HIM are back with another album filled with their lovemetal songs. They still sound gay as fuck and still write pop songs with a touch of goth and 80s-sounding keyboards to lure in the 13-year-old girls who like wearing black clothes but think that metal is too harsh and loud.

It’s those same girls who will probably get wet listening to vocalist Ville Valo as he squirms and wriggles through thirteen songs that all sound alike with his nasal castrato whining. Seven albums and these guys are still going? You're kidding, right?
Just look at the song titles… “Disarm Me (With Your Loneliness)”, “Shatter Me With Hope”… it’s once again those 13-year-old girls who usually write bad poems with titles like that, not grown up men. Fuck, Bam Margera likes these guys… doesn’t that say it all?
Score: 2 out of 10

Copykill – Fucking Restless

God, if these guys actually lived up to their name, they would have a lot of work cut out for them! Wouldn’t they? They would never even get round to recording an album like “Fucking Restless”. Maybe that is what they have been doing these last ten years since the release of “Victim Or Witness”. But even if they’ve been out killing copies, then they sure have missed a shitload of them.

Oh well, these Ruhrpott mosh originators are back with a new full-length on which they sound pretty much exactly like they did ten years ago. The production is a little better, but other than that things haven’t changed too luch. If at all. If you’re into hardhitting hardcore a la Merauder or Shattered Realm, then by all means check this bad boy out.
Score: 6 out of 10

Goldust – Destroyer | Borderlines

In the five years that these Germans have been a band, they’ve already released some stuff and played quite a number of shows. They did pretty much everything one asks or expects of a hardcore band. Now they’re here with a full-length on Let It Burn Records and they’ve gone beyond what one would expect a debut full-length to sound like.

On “Destroyer | Borderlines” Goldust sound more metallic and nastier than ever before. If they would’ve lived in the States, they’d be Cleveland’s hardcore heroes. Not that they’re a mere ripoff of Ringworm or Integrity but the sheer anger and piss and vinegar attitude they’ve’ injected into their songs are comparable.

As if that wouldn’t be enough yet, they mix it up with blastbeats, metal solos and some nice atmospheric parts. Couple it to some pretty cool artwork and a great production and hey, you’ve got everything you’re looking for in an a hardcore album!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

His Statue Falls – Collisions

Did we really need another band that sounds like Enter Shikari? Fuck no, because Enter Shikari is already pretty terrible and a clone of a terrible band is an even worse band.

And hey, just so you know… techno/dance and metal/hardcore just don’t mix… get it through your fucking skull for once and for all. It goes for hardcore bands with a sequencer and it goes for dance outfits who think it’s okay to incorporate a guitar. It’s not ok, it will always sound like utter shit.
Score: 3 out of 10

Denied – Prayer For The Enemy

Even though this NYC beatdown outfit has been around since 1995, it took them until now to drop a debut full-length. It’s called “Prayer For The Enemy” and listening to it, I think the prayer will be at least accompanied by a couple of missile launchers.

The opening track feels a bit out of place with clean guitars and female vocals but as soon as the title track kicks in, the place is ready to go off. The lyrics on this one are as blunt as the music with lots of chugga chugga riffs and the occasional melodic line. If you’re into All Out War or if you have a couple of Slayer CDs in your collection, then you might want to check this band out.

Oh, and congrats to Filled With Hate Records because “Prayer For The Enemy” marks their 50th release!
Score: 7 out of 10

Traces Of You – The Last Triumph

When I think of Italy, I think of good fine and wine, tons of culture and women like Monica Bellucci. I do not think of memorable hardcore bands. Other than To Kill I really can’t come up with any actually. And then there’s Traces Of You who have just released “The Last Triumph” through Belgium’s I For Us Records.

They play some adequate melodic metalcore that will please fans of Unearth and Killswitch Engage. But that’s also all they do. I mean, I don’t want to sell these guys short because they really are doing a good job. But they aren’t bringing anything new to the table and in a scene that’s already way too crowded with bands all sounding alike, I doubt there’s going to be a lot of room for an act like Traces Of You except for maybe opening for a couple of the bigger names in the genre.
Score: 6 out of 10

Hope & State – Grand Gestures EP

Hope & State is a young band out of London who have just dropped their first 4-song EP called “Grand Gestures”.

Opening track “London, Oh London” sets the tone with upbeat rhythms and solid guitar melodies. Unfortunately it also immediately exposes the band’s biggest problem, which are the vocals. While the rest of the band is doing its utmost best to play catchy songs, Imran Siddiqi is dragging the whole thing down with uninspired, flat vocals.

He does a better job on the next two songs though. Problem with “At The Sight Of You” and “The Ever True” is that Hope & State is sounding a little too much like The Gaslight Anthem and I doubt anyone is looking for a clone when the real deal has a new album ready to come out.
Score: 5 out of 10

Freya – All Hail The End

Goddamn, that is some ugly artwork! Seriously, if this was a German powermetal band in the 80s, it would’ve been okay. But this is Freya’s new album… you know, that other band around Earth Crisis’ Karl Buechner.

On “All Hail The End” they don’t stray too far from the metal(core) pack with Lamb Of God’s thrashy riffs, pounding drums, Buechner’s booming vocals and an overall Killswitch Engage-ish vibe. They do however incorporate more melody than a lot of other bands in the genre.

It all sounds pretty decent but unfortunately the songs are a little too long for their own good. Plus they all kind of sound alike after a while. There’s no doubt that the guys in Freya have got the basic recipe down pat, now just reign it in a little and mix it up a tad more… it would go a long way!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

A Hero A Fake – Let Oceans Lie

Following up the very weak album “Volatile”, A Hero A Fake is back with another attempt at sounding original, barely a year after the release of their debut.

This progressive metalcore outfit out of Charlotte, NC has some cool parts going on this time around. Guitars go from chaotic bursts of shredding to beautiful melodic passages in the blink of an eye and everyone in the band is technically very skilled. The problem is that the growls are monotonous and the times they do try to mix it up, they do so with whiny clean vocals.

Although there is some definite improvement over last year’s debut, they still aren’t all too convincing on “Let Oceans Lie”. But hey, if they keep on evolving at this pace, they will have outgrown the ‘Between The Buried And Me clone’ moniker in a couple of albums.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

Pianos Become The Teeth – Old Pride

Wanna know what screamo really is? Check out Pianos Become The Teeth and compare it to whatever Hot Topic is offering up as flavour of the month. Big difference, no? One is pop music, the other is the real deal.

On “Old Pride” this Maryland-based outfit plays screamo but mix it up with elements of post-rock as well making it even more of an adventure to listen to. So when they aren’t busy churning out this elaborate moody instrumental soundscapes, they burst out in frantic, angular riffage and ear-shredding, intense screams. Good stuff with just the right amount of grit and rawness to accompany the underlying beauty of it all. Shit, any album that makes me all poetic about the music on it is bound to be good. Check it out!
Score: 8 out of 10

Post Harbor – They Can’t Hurt You If You Don’t Believe In Them

After holing up for a year to work on what would become the follow-up to 2007’s “Praenumbra”, these Seattle natives have now emerged from the shadows with “They Can’t Hurt You If You Don’t Believe In Them”, a brooding post rock album.

Opener “Ponaturi” builds up tension and plays with the soft/loud dynamics the way Mogway does it oh so well. The same thing can be said for “Cities Of The Interio” until two minutes into the song when suddenly these vocals come out of nowhere that reminded me of Sunny Day Real Estate’s Jeremy Enigk. And by the time the song reaches its finale with waves of guitar sounds washing over one another, I became a fan. And just when you think you’ve figured out this band’s sound, they start playing “Caves, Hollow Trees And Other Dwellings”, a song that Death Cab just hasn’t come around to writing yet.

These guys believe in playing instrumental songs with vocals, writing loud music and then playing it quietly. And the other way around as well. I don’t really care, I’m just here to tell you that “They Can’t Hurt You If You Don’t Believe In Them” is one of the most enticing post-rock albums I’ve heard in quite some time.
Score: 8 out of 10

Bettie Serveert – The Pharmacy Of Love

Holland’s favorite indierockers are back with what is already their ninth album. As if they want to prove that they still know how to rock, they open with first single “Deny All” which comes with relentless drums, a one-note guitar solo and Carol Van Dyk’s addictive vocals. Hello Bettie!

From there on they deliver a flawless album with sunny, poppy songs that a la Pavement are always blessed with contrary guitar lines. The odd bird out would have to be the almost 10-minutes long “Calling”, which starts off with 3 minutes of feedback and weird noises before slowly transforming into yet another great track that keeps on building momentum all the way until the end.

With “Pharmacy” Bettie Serveert proves they still have what it takes to record an energetic, powerful and direct album just like they did all those years ago with titles like “Palomine”. I hope they will never stop.
Score: 8 out of 10
Palomine Records

High On Fire – Snakes For The Divine

Two and a half years ago High On Fire stunned everyone with “Death Is This Communion”, a furious sludgemetal album that rocked your world from start to end. The new chapter in the band’s history is called “Snakes For The Divine” and on the album they pretty much repeat themselves.

The only differences are that this time around the songs are a little longer, which means there’s more room for the occasional detour rather than the straightforward plowing from before. The other difference is the production… it’s a little more polished and the wall of sound is a little less impressive because of it. They also placed Matt Pike’s vocals more in the picture and I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

Other than that High On Fire still sounds like Mastodon playing Motörhead covers with Lemmy contributing guest vocals. Ain’t too much wrong with that.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

50 Lions – Where Life Expires

This Aussie band hits you hard right from the start with “Redefine”. From there on 50 Lions never look back and keep on bringing the pain for 26 minutes. There’s really nothing that makes these guys stand out but they do everything that is expected from them…
Short, fast songs with pissed off lyrics and dito vocals. Check.
Groovy rhythms with the occasional breakdown. Check.
Meaty chugga chugga guitars. Check.
Frequent use of gang vocals. Check.

If you’re into the likes of Terror and Madball, then 50 Lions will look just fine in your collection.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Raintime – Psychromatic

Anybody looking for some modern powermetal from Italy? No? Neither am I.

On album number three Raintime sounds like the retarded brother of In Flames’ last couple of album… not a good thing.
Score: 4 out of 10

NAME – Internet Killed The Audiostar

After having been around for a couple of years and still being unable to come up with an actual name, the band NAME is dropping its debut full-length “Internet Killed The Audiostar”. On it you’ll hear everything from bluesy moments to freejazz to metal to bursts of noise. Most of these genres can even be found in one and the same song. Pretty much the only genre you won’t find on this album is bluegrass.

Other than that these guys use up all the clichés of the genre, from the offbeat and trying to be haha funny song titles to the jazzy interludes on a fretless bass and the one-note breakdowns. And this for a band who has a credo that says ‘repetition is the death of art’. Yeah, whatever.

Fans of Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge might want to check this out but these guys aren’t going to bring the audiostar back to life.
Score: 3 out of 10

Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Deluxe 2

You’d almost forget that before making movies like the Halloween remake and The Devil’s Rejects, Rob Zombie made music as well. First with his band White Zombie, then under his own name. He finally found some time in between Hollywood projects to return to his first love and comes bursting out the gates with the follow-up to 2006’s “Educated Horses” and a not so direct follow-up to 1998’s “Hellbilly Deluxe”.

As soon as you pop in this album, good times will follow. The drums plow on song after song while being supported by some beefed up guitars and a wide variety of weird sound effects and sound samples. Of course Rob Zombie himself throws in some exploitation-type lyrics about werewolves, vampires, witches and women in short skirts sporting pompons. Or maybe that last one was just my imagination kicking in.

Basically, Zombie wrote the soundtrack for a thrashy Tarantino movie that Quentin hasn’t made yet. Hell, he even wrote a track around his fake Grindhouse trailer “Werewolf Women Of The SS”! It’s not a great album but it sure is fun!
Score: 7 out of 10

Seraphim – S/T 7”

From the banks of the Mississippi comes a total sludgefest called Seraphim. They just dropped a self-titled 3-song 7” that clocks in at 13 minutes. The songs on here are vile as fuck and sound like they popped out from between the same legs that gave birth to Mastodon and Baroness. At times they clean up their act a little and let in some cool atmospheric parts before rattling the fillings once again out of your teeth. Or in the case of “Broken Teeth”, just clean chopping off your head.

Wanna hear more? I know I do. Well, apparently there’s a full-length in the works that should see the light of day later this year.
Score: 7 out of 10

Gluttons – S/T 7”

As if one side-project isn’t enough (Holy Ghosts), Ringworm’s Human Furnace plays in another band as well called Gluttons. They have recently released a self-titled 7” and the four songs on it (five if you go for the digital download) hit hard. Don’t expect to hear Ringworm, after all there’s a reason why it’s a side-project. Instead we are treated to some pretty straight-ahead punk-infused hardcore that occasionally packs some nice rock ‘n roll swagger. A band like Entombed comes to mind making this a release definitely worth your time and your money. Head over to A389 to order some of that clear vinyl… looks pretty sweet!
Score: 7 out of 10

Seasick Steve – Man From Another Time

On “Man From Another Time” Seasick Steve sings about his tractor (“Big Green And Yeller”) and about being in jail (“That’s All”), plays on a wooden board with one string while backed up by a Bo Diddley beat (“Diddley Bo”), boogies like he’s 20 rather than 70 (“Seasick Boogie”) and plays a most convincing version of the country classic “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”). In between he shows he still knows what it’s like to have the blues in cuts like “Just Because I Can” and “The Banjo Song”. On the first he does a fine impersonation of John Lee Hooker while he transforms into Howlin’ Wolf in the latter.

It sure took him some a while before being discovered but Seasick Steve is quickly making up for lost time by cranking out another standout album. Check out “Man From Another Time” and prepare to be taken for a ride on a freight train to a country most of us know only from the movies.
Score: 8 out of 10

White Light Parade – House Of Commons

White Light Parade is another young UK band that seemingly pops up out of nowhere with a debut full-length. “House Of Commons” is a cross contamination between indie rock and punk and while being all slick and catchy, the band’s influences are a little too obvious.

Take some of Oasis’ rock and roll swagger, throw in some The Clash influences, a bunch of Kinks melodies and a vocalist who sounds a lot like that dude from The Living End and voila, White Light Parade. It’s nothing too shabby with songs like opener “Burn It Down” and “Wake Up”. But further down the tracklisting, the songs sound too much alike for their own good. It makes “House Of Commons” a fun album that’s nothing out of the ordinary.
Score: 6 out of 10


Carolina Chocolate Drops – Genuine Negro Jig

Boom! What was that? Oh, that’s the Carolina Chocolate Drops blowing up the gap between today’s music and African American string band music from the 1930s. String band what now? You know, the kind of music played with banjo, fiddle, jug, harmonica, guitar, snare drum and kazoo that calls the southern Appalachian Mountains home. It’s a mix between blues, jazz, bluegrass, country and ragtime and imported Celtic folk played by three people who not only switch vocal duties but who on top of that trade instruments with the same ease fat British tourists trade underaged Thai hookers.

“Genuine Negro Jig” is made up of equal parts traditionals alongside own work written by this trio who have also included some prime covers. Those covers are Tom Wait’s “Trampled Roses” and a most excellent version of Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style” in which they combine traditional music with beatboxing. It’s a song that would feel at home pretty much everywhere and it’s the highlight of a great and highly original album that burns a candle for traditional music… and then sets the whole place on fire.
Score: 8 out of 10

Day Of Fire – Losing All

I still think Christian rock is kinda like basejumping from the hood of a parked car. It always seems to be lacking the element of danger. Not that a lot of today’s music is dangerous but there’s still the possibility. And that’s something that always seems to be lacking with Christian rock outfits.

On “Losing All” Day Of Fire sounds as uninspired as the album’s artwork predicts. Sure, they go through all the motions with loud guitars, a gritty vocalist and a handful of choruses that are easy enough on the ears. Opener “Light ‘Em Up” is even an enjoyable song with its Southern rock tendencies. But things go steadily downhill from there, resulting in a batch of songs made for radio consumption, sounding as safe as can be. I’m sure Nickelback fans will disagree with me here… then again, who really cares about their opinion?
Score: 5 out of 10

Empire! Empire! (I Wish I Was A Lonely Estate) – What It Takes To Move Forward

Empire! Empire! (I Wish I Was A Lonely Estate) won’t win any prizes for having the catchiest band name around, but they could pick an award here and there in the Mineral or American Football Appreciation category.

On their debut full-length “What It Takes To Move Forward, an album that was two years in the making, they run around with crips rhythms and nicely floating guitars that occasionally throw a fit. That’s unfortunately also when the otherwise soothing vocals will sound more like wailing than anything else, a trait I’m not really looking for in a band. Other than that Benton Falls fans from all over the world should rejoice and pick up this album.
Score: 7 out of 10

Bloom – All That Is

Checking out their MySpace page I saw that these guys describe themselves as a mix of Pearl Jam and Kings Of Leon. Listening to “All That Is” I can see where they’re coming from… musically things are Kings Of Leon-ish while the vocals have that Eddie Vedder thing going on with drawn out words at the end of every line.

While I’m not seeing any arena shows in the band’s immediate future, I’m sure they’d put on an entertaining rock show in a small sweat-drenched venue. Nice album that would’ve scored a lot better during the alternative rock explosion of the late 90s.
Score: 5 out of 10
Big Fish Records

We Are The Ocean – Cutting Our Teeth

We Are The Ocean is comprised of a bunch of young wolves UK who are doing a pretty solid job on “Cutting Our Teeth”. With some nice riffage, a dual vocal attack (which works pretty well for these guys) and an overall fairly standard post-hardcore meets screamo sound, they aren’t doing anything new. But they are pretty good at writing songs that are easy enough on the ears. Alexisonfire is a name that comes to mind more than once, especially during the parts with clean vocals.

One of the only downsides to an otherwise enjoyable album is “All Of This Has To End”, a song of which the intro seems to be lifted straight off of a Staind album. Which also happens to be another band plagued by ‘nobody likes me’-style lyrics, a flaw that can be found all over “Cutting Our Teeth” as well.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

The Peacocks – After All

Like their countrymen, these Swiss guys are pretty punctual and well organised. Which is how come we’re once again treated to a new album filled with their punkabilly songs. “After All” kicks off nice enough with the title track and they simply keep on running after that. With tight rhythms, those warm stand up bass sounds and a handful of simple enough melodies, The Peacocks never fail to charm and rock at the same time.

They’re not unlike The Living End, just a little less punky. And yes, this album sounds pretty much like the one before it… but hey, why change a winning team?
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Deadline – Bring The House Down

England’s streetpunk outfit Deadline lets itself be heard again. In 2008 they dropped a live album with four new songs on it to keep the fans hungry for more. And more of the same is exactly what you get on “Bring The House Down”.

With vocalist Liz Rose they have that special something that makes them stand out. Without her cute and luring voice adding that something extra, lifts Deadline up from being just another punkrock band. Musically everything sounds like you’d expect it to… a little guitar solo here, a ska song there and one big singalong orgy in the title track. Oh, and you get a fun little cover of “These Boots Are Made For Walking” to boot…. Ha!
Score: 7 out of 10

Our Time Down Here – Live. Love. Let Go

Southampton’s Our Time Down Here makes itself known with a debut full-length called “Live. Love. Let Go”. With songs that hardly ever last longer than 120 seconds, it’s pretty obvious that these guys play hardcore. Melodic hardcore that is. Expect to hear breakneck speed rhythms, crashing guitars, hoarsely shouted vocals and lots and lots of gang vocals.

This album is pretty damn decent but some of the mid-song turns they take feel awkward. A sudden shift in rhythm, the switch to acoustic folk music in “You Fucking Tragedy”… it takes some getting used to. Other than that “Live. Love. Let Go” is a good times guarantee if you’re into acts as diverse as Shook Ones (“Flip Up Caps And Crew Neck Sweats”) and Comeback Kid (“Sympathy Pains”).
Score: 7 out of 10

Biffy Clyro – Only Revolutions

Biffy Clyro has always been a pretty damn good band but it wasn’t until “Puzzle” came out two years ago that a lot of people seemed to notice. They’re back now with “Only Revolutions”, the band’s fifth album and the one that will only help them to further solidify their position as one of Europe’s finest arena rock acts.

Okay, so opener “The Captain” is kinda weird with its marching band rhythms and horns and over the top string sections. But after that it’s all vintage Biffy with songs like “That Golden Rule”, the extremely catchy “Bubbles”, the danceable “Born On A Horse” and the rockin’ “Shock Shock” and dito “Boooom, Blast & Ruin”. Not only do they let the guitars rip just the way we like it, these Scottish lads never forget to inject their songs with memorable melodies and singalong choruses.

With their bigass rock sound it’s easy to go overboard (like in “The Captain”) but it’s in songs like “Many Horror” and “Know Your Quarry” that Biffy Clyro show their way with big emotions. Yes, these are ballads but I believe what they’re singing and that helps keep the tracks from drowning in cheese.

“Only Revolutions” sounds pretty much exactly like “Puzzle”. There isn’t a single surprise to be found on here but I wouldn’t really have it any other way. If you haven’t gotten to know these Scotsmen yet, go for it now because this has to be one of the most fun rock albums I’ve heard in the last couple of months.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Lostprophets – The Betrayed

Originally Lostprophets’ new album was supposed to come out a long time ago. These Welsh dudes went to LA, spent a shitload of money recording it with John Feldmann and then decided it wasn’t what they wanted and scratched the whole thing. So that’s how come we had to wait four years before they dropped “The Betrayed”.

They do however deliver once again with a very polished album. “Dstryr Dstryr” is a foray into Rage Against The Machine’s territory with some angry-sounding funkmetal while “Next Stop Atro City” is vintage Lostprophets. It could however also very well be a lost Papa Roach song. A song like “Where We Belong” lays on the cheese a little too thick but overall these dudes pulled off another rocking yet catchy album that’s big on distorted riffs and slick choruses.
Score: 7 out of 10
Lostprophets - The Betrayed

Tim Barry – 28th & Stonewall

On album number three, Avail’s former frontman picks up where he left off with 2008’s “Manchester”. The result is another batch of songs that hold their own between country, Americana and folk.

“Things Of The Past” is a lively opening song that makes you choose between either reflecting on the lyrics or getting those legs into motion. “Bozeman” is a mellow country song that precedes a dive into a piece of Viriginia’s lesser known history with “Prosser’s Gabriel”, a 5-minute long tale about an attempted slave uprising. It features just Barry and his acoustic guitar, yet it doesn’t fail to keep your interest piqued all throughout the song. It stands in shrill contrast to “Will Travel” where Barry is backed up by the No BS Band who add their Nola-styled horns to the mix. And then there’s still “(Memento Mori)” to discover, one of the album’s most powerful songs almost hidden away at the end of the album.

“28th & Stonewall” is a pretty diverse album and knowing that the good man wrote most of the songs in barely three weeks, is just more proof of his songwriting skills. If you’re into the likes of Chuck Ragan, Drive-By Truckers or Lucero, you need to get this album.
Score: 8 out of 10

Every Time I Die – New Junk Aesthetic

The follow-up to “The Big Dirty” starts off nasty enough with “Roman Holiday”. From there the guys in Every Time I Die don’t ever take their foot off of the gas, they just press it a little harder from time to time. They still like to throw hardcore, metal, punk and southern rock in the blender and come out with a batch of songs that sound like they were written by someone who recently stopped taking his medication and who is now confronting his own delusions and paranoia.

While offering plenty of variation throughout the album by combining Black Flag’s flair for menace, thrashy yet groovy riffs and a couple of surprisingly catchy melodies, no single song really sticks except for the opening track. Songs like “Wanderlust”, “The Marvelous Slut” and “Organ Grinder” are short blasts though that show a sincerely pissed off band. It makes “New Junk Aesthetic” something that should put a smile on all the ADD kids’ faces.

The deluxe edition of the album comes with two bonus songs (‘Buffalo 666” and “Goddamn Kids These Days”) and a DVD about the band before, during and after the making of the album. While the songs fit right in with the rest of the album, the DVD is just a nice extra.
Score: 8 out of 10


The Weakerthans – Live At The Burton Cummings Theatre CD/DVD

To me The Weakerthans are one of the most underrated bands around. They’ve already released some pretty damn impressive albums and are now gearing up to unveil “Live At The Burton Cummings Theatre”. Normally I’m not a live album kinda guy but this one comes with everything you could wish for in a live album.

First of all it boasts excellent audio and video quality. Well, I guess that’s not so special anymore these days. But the fact that it features a whopping 18 amazing songs played by a band who so obviously wouldn’t want to be anywhere else at that moment while they are being clapped on by an audience that wouldn’t want to be anywhere else either, is captured extremely well here. Never have songs like “Midnight Windows”, “Sun In An Empty Room” or “Left And Leaving” sounded as good as they do on here. Is it because they have great melodies or smart lyrics? Is it because they can rock and give you goosebumps in one and the same song? Or is it simply because they are Canadian? I have no idea but something makes these songs irresistible. Normally a live album isn’t the best place to start when discovering a new band, for The Weakerthans it’s the best place to start.
Score: 9.5 out of 10

Plasticines – About Love

The Plasticines are an all-girl French outfit and look like they just stepped out of a fashion magazine. Hey, I already gave you three good reasons to like this band… why are you still reading? Oh, you’re one of those people who actually want to know what they sound like?

“About Love” is filled with songs that could’ve been written by The Libertines messing around with Ramones songs after just having seen a documentary about Françoise Hardy that really impressed them. Whether these chicks are coming at you in English (“Bitch”, “I Could Rob You”) or in French (“Camera”, “Pas Avec Toi”), the songs always sound catchy as fuck and sexy as hell. The guitars buzz along nicely and none of the songs on here fail to put a smile on my face. “From Friends To Lovers” is very much a la Libertines and they play a nice cover of “You Are No Good”… it’s pretty much all very oh la la and I like it!
Score: 7 out of 10

The Reveling – 3D Radio

Brooklyn is home to a lot of hipsters who sure as fuck won’t be listening to The Reveling. No, to them The Reveling would be just another punkrock band. To me, The Reveling is just another punkrock band who happen to be doing a solid job on their self-released 4-song EP.

Their vocalist has the kind of voice that is just gritty enough yet can still be considered as melodic. The bass lines rumble along nicely and the distorted guitars rock pretty hard. As for the drummer, Jay Weinberg bangs away nicely behind his drum kit. Of course, nobody would expect any less of him being the song of the one and only Max Weinberg.

Anyway, nothing new on here… just 4 songs of honest and energetic punkrock a la The Gaslight Anthem and The Loved Ones. Ain’t absolutely nothing wrong with that!
Score: 7 out of 10
no label

Sleep Bellum Sonno – Judge Us By How We Lived Our Lives Not By How We Made Our Living

Sleep Bellum Sonno is a trio out of New York who right off the bat win the prize for this year’s longest album title. While is it quite a challenge to memorize the album title, sitting through the entire thing proves to be even more challenging. But hey, I find that the case with most concept albums!

And yes, a concept album this is telling the story of a man who leaves his family as told by twelve different characters. All this could still work but this is just a case of too much. The songs drift in and out of focus with bursts of noise, tied together by moody passages in which a wide variety of instruments is used. It’s really hard to find any anchorpoints here that help you find your way. Add some rather terrible screams and on top of that clean vocals that sound like the guy is already preparing to croon in some lounge bar when this band calls it a day and you’ll know that I’m not that impressed with Sleep Bellum Sonno’s album.
Score: 4 out of 10
no label

Die Aeronauten – Hallo Leidenschaft!

To be honest I had never even heard of these guys but as it turns out “Hallo Leidenschaft!” is already the band’s ninth album!

Anyway, this Swiss outfit sings mostly in German and uses a wide variety of styles to get their message across. What that message is? No idea, my German isn’t that good. But I can definitely appreciate their poppy mix of rock, punk, Motown, country (and I’m sure I’m forgetting a couple of styles here). I’m actually pretty easy to please… give me some catchy melodies and a horn section and I’m all set for an hour of fun. And that’s exactly what Die Aeronauten do on “Hallo Leidenschaft!”.
Score: 7 out of 10

The Radio Dept. – Clinging To A Scheme

A labrador is known to be a very soft and kind dog so it’s not really a surprise that Labrador Records deals almost exclusively in mellow and dreamy indiepop. Take The Radio Dept. for example and their follow-up album to 2006’s “Pet Grief”.

Not counting “Domestic Scene” (which is basically a short intro), “Heaven’s On Fire” starts off with a sound clip telling us all how about how the world is going to shit because the youth culture is being taken over by big business. It sounds like it should go straight into some pissed off hardcore advertising DIY ethics but instead it moves into shoegazer meets electronics-enhanced indiepop. It works well for them and for a couple of songs they manage to sound like the missing link between Cocteau Twins and the Pet Shop Boys. “Never Follow Suit” is the album’s highlight for me with it’s reggae-like rhythms.

But then songs start to blend together and it’s harder to stay focused. It’s not that this is a bad album, not at all. It could be a lot better though if they would just spice things up a little every now and then. With a couple more songs like “Never Follow Suit” and “Memory Loss”, this would’ve been a very different review. For now though things are a little too hazy, misty and dreamy for me.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Tony Sly – 12 Song Program

The voice behind No Use For A Name isn’t new to the acoustic guitar seeing as he already released a split with Joey Cape a couple of years ago. But new there’s “12 Song Program”, a full-length album with… well, 12 songs.

It opens very strongly with “Capo, 4th Fret” which is pretty much the best song on the album as far as I’m concerned. In “Keira” Sly shows off his love for his daughter while “Love Sick Love” shows off his love for The Beatles and in which he’s helped out by Dance Hall Crasher’s Karina Denike. There’s a bunch more of guests contributing and not surprisingly, they all hail from the Fat Wreck roster. Swingin Utters’ Darius Koski helps out with violin and accordion on a couple of tracks as does Fat Mike with his bass. And then there’s his pal Joey Cape who pitches in his two cents on “Amends”, another album highlight.

“12 Song Program” may not be the best singer/songwriter album around and Tony may not have the perfect voice for the genre. But every single song on here is melodic, kinda catchy and more importantly, honest. That’s gotta count for something, right?
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Killing Time – Three Steps Back

“Three Steps Back” is the follow-up to 1996’s “The Method”. If you want to go back to the album before that one, you’d have to look back another decade. You should though because “Brightside” is a classic. But I guess it’s fair to say that Killing Time has to be one of the least productive hardcore bands ever. When they do drop a new batch of songs, they make damn sure it was worth the wait. And that’s no different with “Three Steps Back”.

With their classic mix of punk, metal and hardcore still intact and still being bellowed over by Anthony Comunale and his gnarly NYC barks, these guys race through 12 songs in 28 extremely energetic minutes. Opener “Flight Plan” begs for a circle pit at a live show and “Half-Empty” is the perfect time to sing along. So crank up the stereo, move the furniture and get ready to destroy your living room to some classic NYHC!
Score: 8 out of 10


Tim Barry interview

With already an entire career behind him with Avail, Tim Barry has since moved on and now has his own singer/songwriter thing going on. He just released album number three which is called "28th & Stonewall" and if you haven't heard it (or his previous albums) then you are seriously missing out on some damn fine Front Porch Stories!

PRT: You’re in the middle of what seems to be a neverending tour… how’s it going so far?
Tim: So far so good. Did portions of Canada, then supported Against Me! in Florida. Now I'm on a headlining run - 36 shows in 40 days in the US. Then it's straight to Australia with Chuck Ragan, Ben Nichols and Frank Turner. After that there will be more US dates, Europe and so on. Never ending indeed.

PRT: I read somewhere that you started playing acoustic when Avail wasn’t available for this one show. Did you ever doubt for a second about going onstage on your own?
Tim: Yes, AVAIL was unwilling or unable to do a show down in Asheville, NC many years ago and I went down and played my own songs just for fun. It became addictive, because standing there alone scared the shit out of me. And it still does today. I suppose when it doesn't I'll just stop, or switch it up.

PRT: You just released “28th & Stonewall”. Congratulations and thank you for writing and recording it. It did make me wonder though…if I went there, what would I find at 28th & Stonewall?
Tim: If you went to the corner of 28th and Stonewall you'd probably find nothing but a quiet, peaceful neighbor hood. It's not so exciting.

PRT: Tim Barry and Avail pretty much go hand in hand with Richmond, VA. and you write songs like “Prosser’s Gabriel”… do you ever feel like an ambassador of the South telling these stories?
Tim: Nah, I'm ambassador of nothing. And Richmond, VA is too far north to really be south. I write songs about the area though because it's what I'm closest to. A lot of songs show up when I'm at home, so there will often be references, although it's not exclusive.

PRT: You wrote pretty much the whole album in just three weeks. How the hell do you do that?
Tim: I did write MOST of the album in a few weeks, but I also wrote a couple songs on 28th & Stonewall on 2008's Revival Tour, and one song on there a couple years back. I wrote mostly in January, which is a great time at home to focus. I do a seasonal job November / December every year. The money I make at that affords me to take January's off to just work out music. It's cold out so I just hole up in my shed and write all day and night. That January in particular I had a huge creative burst and started recording by the summer. In fact I had around 30 songs for the album, but only recorded those that are on there. I still have plenty left for the next one and am continuing to write right now.

PRT: 3 albums in 5 years... that’s quite an output for someone who spends most of the year on the road. How do you keep up?
Tim: I don't really think much on it. And I have a huge life outside of music. I think keeping a good balance, knowing lots of different kinds of people and experiencing many aspects of life makes music easy to write. Josh Small once wrote "writing songs ain't pushing boulders, it's more like talking instead." To me that's the best way to sum up song writing.

PRT: With other artists like Mike Hale, Chuck Ragan, Jon Snodgrass and yourself among others, there’s a whole bunch of artists going with a more rootsy sound, all coming from a punkrock background. Do you think it comes with age?
Tim: I have no idea. I can only speak for myself when I say that I like playing acoustic guitar more than being in a loud punk band.

PRT: You also recently released a 7” with Frank Turner, another singer/songwriter who belongs in that list… how did you hook up with him?
Tim: Frank and I met on the Revival Tour a couple years back. We bonded instantly. Great person, amazing song writer all around stand up guy. That's the kind of person I like sharing a side of vinyl with.

PRT: Is it going to be all touring for you for the rest of 2010? And will we get to see you in Europe as well?
Tim: Europe is going down in July. Hopefully the dates will be confirmed and announced soon! Thanks for the interview.

Fatal Recoil – Stigmatizing The Backslider

With a nice mix of mostly American death metal and a little bit of hardcore, Belgian outfit Fatal Recoil release an album that is worth listening to. It doesn’t add anything new to the genre but the brutal as fuck guitars, sick vocal work and relentless drums make “Stigmatizing The Backslider” a worthy addition to your CD collection. Provided of course that you’re a fan of brutal music a la Cannibal Corpse and Carnifex.
Score: 6 out of 10

Folsom – Hammer Lane

With a name like Folsom and a Townes Van Zandt sample in the opening track, these Las Vegas natives don’t hide the fact that they sure do like their country music. On “Hammer Lane” it’s all tough-as-nails hardcore though. Not that I have a problem with that, I like both styles. And when they throw in a bit of mouth organ at the end of “Better Days”, I’m all for it.

Mixing up metallic hardcore with a bit of street punk, Folsom sounds a bit like Death Before Dishonor and Blood For Blood. Not the worst bands to be compared to I can imagine. And they’re onto something with that country angle, I’m really digging the little references and stuff. Pretty solid stuff… honest, passionate and energetic as fuck!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

François And The Atlas Mountains – Plaine Inondable

François is a French guy from Bordeaux (where they make the wine) who moved to Bristol (where they make triphop). It was there that he hooked up with a couple of other musicians which he dubbed The Atlas Mountains (where you can find a lot of silver, copper and natural gas).

Together they have already made a couple of albums, the latest of which is called “Plaine Inondable”. François doesn’t mind starting one sentence in French and ending it in English. In between he helps himself with a sort of Franglais that I find endearing. Normally it would sound like shit but it somehow fits with the mix of bossa nova, dreamy pop and French chanson that he uses. Check out “Be Water (Je Suis De L’eau)” or “Pic-Nic” and get endeared with me. Yes, even punkrockers have a soft spot.
Score: 7 out of 10

Colin MacIntyre – Island

You might know Colin MacIntyre better under his pseudonym Mull Historical Society. His latest album though is being released under his own name and saw him returning to his roots on the island of Mull. It was in his hometown’s arts centre An Tobar that MacIntyre recorded the songs that would make “Island”, songs he had written while residing in the United States.

All of the songs are built around MacIntyre singing and picking an acoustic guitar with a little help from his friends. It all sounds a lot more stripped down than his Mull Historical Society’s albums and a lot rootsier as well. Just have a listen to “The Long Road To Me” or “No Ordinary Queen”. Now before you start thinking about joining him in a campfire version of “Kumbaya My Lord”, check out “The Wrath” which sounds like the perfect marriage between a string section and a clarinet or “Ned’s Song” on which MacIntyre is joined by a choir who help him take a solid album all the way home.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Future Gods Recordings

State Radio – Let It Go

State Radio is a Boston-based band whose latest album (“Let It Go”) can be divided roughly into two sorts of songs. One is the ska/reggae kind while the rest of the tracks on here are straight-up alternative rock. No wait, that’s not entirely true because “Blood Escaping Man” sees ska being mixed up with some alt-country flavours. Which could’ve very well ended up sounding like shit but it actually works wonders for the band.

I just wish I could say the same for the rest of the songs on here but other than for the occasional hit (“Mansin Humanity”, “Knights Of Bostonia”), the songs on here are stretched out a little too long and miss that something extra that makes a song memorable. They get really close all the time but somehow things just don’t click for me… better luck next time!
Score: 6 out of 10


Frank Turner – Poetry Of The Deed

Frank Turner’s latest album is his first on Epitaph and armed with a full band he brings us more of his rebel-rousing tunes. It’s called “Poetry of The Deed” and on it this punkrocker channels his energy through thirteen folkpop songs. He might very well still be mad at the world but his urgency to express some positivity is larger.

Turner’s lyrics are still pretty damn good, the man knows his way around a melody and in his shouted vocals there is still enough edge that would even put some hardcore bands to shame. Songs like “The Road” and “Live Fast Die Old” tell all about the man’s lifestyle while his take on everyday life (“Sunday Nights”, “Dan’s Song”) is a pure pleasure to listen to. It’s mostly Turner’s ability to turn seemingly little events or actions into something almost magical that’s his biggest quality and when poured into catchy songs, they are damn near irresistible.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Johnny Cash – American VI : Ain’t No Grave

Hearing Johnny Cash sing about how no grave is able to hold him down seven years after he joined his wife, is exactly the kind of humor the man in black himself would’ve appreciated. It’s with those lines that he opens his sixth and final American Recordings album. Rick Rubin already said there was still enough excellent material left for one final album and he was right on the money.

The shadow of death looms largely over the album with titles like “Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound” and “I Don’t Hurt Anymore” and of course the title track. Keeping in mind that these songs were recorded shortly after Cash lost his wife and knowing fully well that his time was coming to an end as well, only makes it more painful to listen to the man work his way through songs by Sheryl Crow, Kris Kristofferson and Tom Paxton. Also included is a Cash original (“1 Corinthians 15:55”) and the Hawaiian classic (“Aloha Oe”) among a couple of others. Heartbreaking yes… and also heartbreakingly beautiful. Ain’t no grave to hold him down indeed.
Score: 9.5 out of 10