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Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders – Red Light Fever

We all know Taylor Hawkins as the drummer for the Foo Fighters. He’s been working for some time on a solo album that has finally seen the light of day under the name “Red Light Fever”.

The songs on here sound exactly like what you’d expect to hear from someone who’s friends with Dave Grohl, Brian May and Roger Taylor... all of which contributed to this album by the way. Opener “Not Bad Luck” wears its Queen influences on its sleeves while “Your Shoes” sounds like a Foo Fighters leftover he scraped off of the floor in the recording studio.

Hawkins himself has been heard to say ‘Fuck it." I don't care if the record ends up sounding like me having sex with my record collection’ which pretty much sums it all up. Unfortunately he never even comes close to his influences make « Red Light Fever » a very unnecessary album that – let’s face it – probably wouldn’t even have seen the light of day if the songs weren’t written by the drummer for the Foo Fighters.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

Eyes Set To Kill – Broken Frames

Granted, the girls in Eyes Set To Kill (Alexia and Anissa) are easy on the eye, even though it’s kinda hard sometimes to tell the guys and girls apart in emo bands like this. Guess they invented dresses for some reason! The girls’ looks won’t exactly hurt Eyes Set To Kill because well, sex sells. I hope it sells extremely well in this band’s case because people sure as shit aren’t going to pick up a copy of “Broken Frames” for its innovative songwriting.

This is yet another album full of cliché-riddled breakdown-laden post-hardcore with the only exception being that the clean vocals aren’t delivered by a guy with a high-pitched voice but by a girl. Does that count as innovative? Not really. Oh, and the guy that does the grunting/screaming thing just plain sucks with his shrill voice.
Score: 3 out of 10

Bad Hands – Take The Money And Run

Fireside was already a band that cleverly threw indierock and electronic sounds together on albums like “Elite” and “Get Shot”. Drummer Per Nordmark is now doing something similar with his solo project Bad Hands on the album “Take The Money And Run”.

Nordmark wrote a collection of songs in the fine Swedish tradition of making a sound rock while being catchy as hell and then enlisted different vocalists for every single song. Not just anyone mind you but fine people like Nina Kinert, Nick Andersson (Entombed, Hellacopters), Howlin' Pelle, Linnea Jönsson (Those Dancing Days) and David Sandström (Refused). It makes for an album that might not be very coherent, but it still is a lot of fun to listen to. It will move you with some songs and make you move with others. For some reason I find Nordmark’s songs work best with the female vocalists (check out those first three cuts !) but then there’s « Kick You Out » with Howlin’ Pelle to fuck up that theory.

This won’t change your world but it will make things a lot more fun for a little more than 30 minutes.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Dan Sartain – Lives

On his latest album “Lives”, Dan Sartain rocks the words ‘twang’ and ‘reverb’. Sounding like all of his equipment was soaked in the mighty Mississippi before being set up in the studio, the songs on here have a murky sounds that suits them just fine.

Other words that come to mind are rockabilly, Southern gothic, blues, Elvis Costello and surf. You can clearly hear Sartain having a good time with this batch of songs. It’s all very easy on the ears, instantly memorable and it shows that you don’t need proggy math parts to make an album worth listening to. They figured out the basics for good songwriting a long time and when applied like Dan Sartain does on “Lives” they still lead to great results.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Life Of Agony – 20 Years Strong : River Runs Red – Live In Brussels

Back when “River Runs Red” first came out I was all over this band! I listened to it constantly, could sing along with all the songs, saw them live,,... The subsequent releases were still good but never as good as that first album. A couple years later they called it a day only to reunite another couple of years later. They celebrated that reunion with a new album (that you can feel free to skip) and a whole lot of touring. I mean, try and find a festival or venue where these guys aren’t playing!

Even though Caputo & Co have dropped several albums in the past, the majority of their setlist always seems to consist of material from “River Runs Red”. So for their 20th anniversary, these dudes decided they might as well play those other songs as well, which is how come “20 Years Strong” boasts an integral live version of that album on both CD and DVD.

There’s no denying Life Of Agony are still good when it comes to putting on a show, but even I have come to the point now where they can just stop milking it as far as I’m concerned... it’s getting to the point where it’s just plain pathetic to be honest.
Score: 6 out of 10

Emarosa – Emarosa

Two years in the making, Emarosa is back with their self-titled album which sees former Dance Gavin Dance vocalist Jonny Craig finding his comfort zone ever more with the rest of this Kentucky-based outfit. On this album they play some solid rock tunes with some emo mixed in. The obviouys star of the show though are Craig’s vocals which is pushed to the front of the mix while the rest of the band is doing a pretty good job as well of backing him up with atmospheric yet driving tunes.

Too bad there are a lot of rumours about a nearing split... Rise Records finally signed a good band and they might already be about to lose them! Fans of Circa Survive, Isles & Glaciers and the likes should check these guys out.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Gatorface – Wasted Monuments

With former members of New Mexican Disaster Squad and Polluted Youth and current members of VRGNS and No Friends among their ranks, I already figured Gatorface’s “Wasted Monuments” was gonna be a good listen. What I didn’t expect was a near-perfect octane-driven poppunk album that’s rough around the edges when it needs to be and melodic everywhere else.

Taking cues from luminaries such as Descendents, Adolescents and Screeching Weasel, these dudes claim Orlando back from Disney with one single album. They’re snotty but you gotta love them, highly contagious and they’ve apparently tapped into an energy source so powerful that BP is looking green with envy they weren’t there first. Picking a favourite song is really not necessary but when hard-pressed I would go for “Not Scientists”... amazing track!

This band alone is worth the admission price to The Fest 9... the other zillion bands are just a bonus as far as I’m concerned.
Score: 9 out of 10

Murderdolls – Women And Children Last

When Slipknot was on a break in 2002, Joey Jordison got together with Wednesday 13 from Frankenstein Dragqueens From Planet 13 to crank out some fine horrorpunk tunes. With solid riffs and a sick sense of humour, they managed to amuse the hell out of me and I’ve been hoping for a sequel to “Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls” ever since. Sure, Wednesday 13’s solo output was a lot of fun as well but still...

It took them eight long years to get back together to write some more songs about demons, ghouls and other creatures of the night but it was well worth the wait. On “Women And Children Last” you are treated to more of the same with furious asskickers like “Chapel Of Blood” and “My Dark Place Alone”. “Nowhere” on the other hand is one of the best songs Alice Cooper never wrote and yes, that is Mötley Crüe’s Mick Mars you’re hearing on “Blood Stained Valentine”. It makes “Women And Children Last” an all-round fun time for the whole family... if your family consists of a bunch of sick and twisted degenerates.
Score: 8 out of 10

36 Crazyfists – Collisions And Castaways

36 Crazyfists have been around for quite some time now, consistently releasing solid albums and touring their asses off. It paid off with them being one of the most noteworthy metalcore bands around. And what makes it even more special, is that they’ve managed to do all that with a relatively consistent line-up that still boasts three of the original members.

Another thing that never changes though is their sound. They still employ shredding riffage, the occasional breakdown hasn’t been overlooked either and Brock Lindow still mixes up his sick screams with his trademark clean vocals. It’s one thing to be consistent but too much of a good thing is still too much in the end.

On “Castaways And Collisions” things haven’t changed. Songs like “Death Renames The Light” are blistering while single “Reviver” comes with that typical anthemic chorus Killswitch Engage is equally known for. There are the odd ones out though. Like “Caving In Spirals” which comes with nothing but clean vocals and “Waterhaul II” where the band builds on its sound by adding more ambient parts. It shows they’ve got more up their sleeves and I’m hoping more of it will show on future releases before these Alaskans get stuck in a rut completely.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Kvelertak – Kvelertak

With artwork by Baroness’ John Baizley, a production job by Converge’s Kurt Ballou and guest contributions from JR Ewing’s Andreas Tylden and Silver’s Ivar Nikolaisen, the guys in Kvelertak made sure they had a couple of things going for them to get people’s attention focused on their debut album. They were sure their songs would keep them interested. And they were right on the money.

With a blistering mix of (black) metal, hardcore, punk and a ton of groove they grab you by the throat with opener “Ulvetid” and don’t let go until the last notes of “Utrydd Dei Svake” ring out. If you think that those song titles are a bit weird, then you’re right. These dudes get to call Norway home and like to sing in their native tongue. Sure, it makes singing along at their shows nearly impossible, but it was doubtful in the first place that you would be heard over their triple guitar attack, the occasional blastbeat and the maniacal shouting that’s reminiscent of At The Gates’ Tomas Lindberg. Kudos to Kvelertak on kicking my ass all over the place with their self-titled album.
Score: 9 out of 10

Tokyo Police Club – Champ

Tokyo Police Club’s debut EP “A Lesson In Crime” was short, to the point and had energy pouring from every single song. On “Elephant Shell”, the band’s first full-length, they showed a more contemplative side of themselves but tried a little too hard. It resulted in a not so impressive album. Which brings us to album number two, “Champ”.

This one is a bit of a mix of the abovementioned releases where these Cannucks will get up right in your face with their post-punk in one song while silently brooding in the corner for the entire duration of the next track. Everything is embellished with keyboard sounds in the right places which - musically at least - places them ahead of the post-punk pack. At times they even come close to their countrymen in The Weakerthans. Their biggest problem however is their singer who sounds like he’s bored out of his mind and can’t wait to get his sorry ass out of the studio. The result is a slightly disappointing album that sounds like a missed opportunity.
Score: 6 out of 10

Dead Confederate – Sugar

Dead Confederate released a decent debut with “Wrecking Ball”, a post-grunge rock affair that came with its highs and lows. At its best it showed raw passion and some kickass riffs. This time around they don’t just go for the chunky guitars, they like to tone it down just the same. Quiet is the new loud, ya dig? The album may open with the scorching “In The Dark”, a song in which the band proves itself ready to exorcise some more demons. But it’s quickly followed by the almost Beatlesque “Run From The Gun”. Another highlight is the anthemic “Giving It All Away” with none other than J Mascis plugging in his guitar.

Sure, there are still some Nirvana influences lingering around… “Semi-Thought” comes to mind. But overall these dudes seem to have gone through some serious growth spurts and have an album to show for it with “Sugar”. If you like Band Of Horses but would like to hear them at their most angry with a bottle of scotch running through their veins, try Dead Confederate on for size.
Score: 8 out of 10

Tony Rettman - Why Be Something That You’re Not

While American Hardcore already took a swing at detailing the history of hardcore in the US (yes, the title is pretty self-explanatory), there were certain scenes that maybe didn’t get as much attention as they would’ve liked. Take Detroit for example. Luckily there was one man who not would let this injustice go by unnoticed.

Named after the Negative Approach song “Why Be Something You’re Not”, this book is writen by freelance music journalist Tony Rettman who did a pretty good job of getting all of the key figures to contribute and who then poured everything in a readable book that consists of everyone’s oral recollections strung together.

Like I said, “Why Be Something That You’re Not “ tells the story of hardcore punk in Detroit and the whole Touch and Go scene featuring among others The Fix, Necros, Meatmen, Negative Approach and Bored Youth. Not only does it talk at great length about the bands, stories about clubs, tours, zines, recordings and so on are featured as well. Sometimes it feels like the only thing missing is what a certain someone had for lunch but in the end this book paints a clear picture of what can happen when a couple of bored kids decide to start make music. Strewn throughout the book are countless photos and flyers and towards the end you’ll find a thorough discography of all the bands involved.

This is a very solid read that belongs in your collection right beside “American Hardcore” and Henry Rollins’ “Get In The Van”.
Score: 8.5 out of 10


Better Left Unsaid – Only The Dead To Witness

Yay, another metalcore act that thinks they are the best new thing to happen to the scene in quite some time. Well, they’re not. “Only The Dead To Witness” is filled with the kind of tunes that the likes of Killswitch Engage have been advocating for the past ten years and they add absolutely nothing new to the mix. I have to say that they are pretty good at what they do but after having heard over a 1000 albums that sound just like it, I think it’s fair to say the novelty has worn off for me.Only for the diehard fans of the genre!
Score: 5 out of 10

The Slummers – Love Of The Amateur

After an early retirement, Dan Stuart decided he still had some songs left to write and so he reunited with Green On Red (with Chuck Prophet), Danny & Dusty (with Steve Wynn) and an all new band called The Slummers.

It’s with that last outfit that Stuart recently released “Love Of The Amateur”, an album filled with everything from well-arranged ballads and melancholy country to riveting rock ‘n roll tunes that bring the best of the Stones to mind. Along with producer, songwriter and vocalist JD Foster and an Italian connection called Diego Sapignoli and Antonio Gramentieri, Stuart dishes out a bunch of songs that will sweep you right off your feet.

The diversity in songs may make for a not so logical sequencing on “Love Of The Amateur” but there’s no denying these guys know how to write solid songs that will either make you want to move your hips or grab ahold of the person standing next to you. This will make their live shows a fun experience that could also be a bit awkward depending on who’s standing next to you.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Mother James – Brute Noir

Following up their 2008 debut “Stomping Grounds”, Mother James is back with another album filled some of that blues stomp, pop hooks, warm horns, shouted vocals and a raggedy piano. It’s all you need to create an album that sounds great and that welcomes you in. Two songs later it feels like you’re having a beer with dudes you’ve known for most of your life. It’s nothing you haven’t already heard before but I’ll be damned if the songs on “Brute Noir” aren’t a helluva lot of fun to listen to!
Score: 7 out of 10

Ceremony – Rohnert Park CD

Paint It Black, Fucked Up, The Bronx, Cloak & Dagger,… and now Ceremony. All bands that play hardcore but in a way that makes it sound fresh again. And while what they’re doing really isn’t that new, it just seems like a breath of fresh air in between all those ultraheavy metal/deathcore bands with their boyband choruses.

No, all these guys need are drums, bass, guitar and an extremely pissed off vocalist. It all sounds kinda stripped down but danmn, does it sound good! “Rohnert Park” opens with an instrumental surf song that sounds a bit creepy. The kinda song that makes you wait for the bomb to drop. That bomb comes in the form of “Sick” in which Ross Farrar lists everything he hates… which is basically everything.

They’re not just about picking up the furniture and smashing it though. Wih a song like “The Doldrums (Friendly City)” they show they feel just as comfortable sneaking up on you and just staring at you for a couple of minutes straight without blinking once. Less menacing, equally uncomfortable.

“Rohnert Park” is not your typical hardcore album but if you like the bands I mentioned in the first paragraph or if you’re old enough to remember Black Flag, you’re gonna love this one.
Score: 9 out of 10

In Fear And Faith – Imperial

After selling over 20,000 copies of their previous album, these California natives decided not to waste any time and headed back to the studio with producer Brian McTernan and recorded “Imperial”.

With McTernan in the control booth, you know things will sound stellar and he definitely succeeded in giving the band a bigger sound than before. As for the band, they write some capable metalcore song that are unfortunately cliché-riddled right down to the whiny high-pitched clean vocals, balls-in-a-vice type screams and one-note breakdowns. And they’re a bit too heavy on the use of keyboards that seem to be thrown at every song with the hope they’d stick somehow. But compared to other artists on Rise Records, this is amazing stuff!
Score: 4 out of 10


Mall’d To Death – Can’t Make A Living

Guess what? There is actually a punk band in Minneapolis. Ha, I know! While you’re still recovering from your initial shock, I’m already listening to this album and am busy nodding and tapping along. The tapping is kinda hard though with my bum knee playing up again.

Anyway, Mall’d To Death is made up of a former Off With Their Heads member and Tyler Barrett, a reviewer from and two other dudes. They do a pretty good job of playing poppunk while having a good time, all the time with tongue planted firmly in cheek. I mean what’s not to like about a line like ‘From DOA to RKL / DI to TSOL / He knows the letters well / But he don't know what they spell’ from the song “Young Man On A Downloading Spree”?

“Can’t Make A Living” won’t assure these guys of a steady monthly income but it’s worth checking out if you’re as heavily into poppunk as I am.
Score: 6 out of 10

Hytest – Dishing Out The Good Times

Australia’s Hytest most certainly do a good job of dishing out the good times on their album. With crunchy, sped up stoner riffs and a punchy rhythm section, they grab you by the arm and start running as soon as opener “9 Volt” kicks in and never look back.

While the riffs certainly qualify as stoner material, these dudes actually have more to do with rock ‘n roll and punk than anything else. Whatever you want to file them under, “Dishing Out The Good Times” is simply a guarantee for a fun time with songs like “Goodbye” and “Crazy For You” which shows an obvious appreciation for Queens Of The Stone Age. Good stuff!
Score: 7 out of 10

Stone Temple Pilots – Stone Temple Pilots

Nearly a decade after their last album, Stone Temple Pilots are back with a new album. Why it took so long? Because vocalist Scott Weiland was too busy doing drugs, being in prison and singing in Velvet Revolver.

Anyway, he has now reunited with his old croonies to record this self-titled album. If you’re still waiting for them to go back to the grunge sound of their early days, you’ll be sorely disappointed. From riff-heavy songs like “Take A Load Off” to more mellow tracks like “Cinnamon”, this one has classic rock written all over it. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing if it weren’t for the fact that these guys don’t manage to surprise for one second. Hell, “Dare If You Dare” is a straight Beatles rip-off. It all seems to be written with radio airplay in mind and that’s probably the best thing you can say about this album. Perfect example of a band that doesn’t know when to quit.
Score: 4 out of 10

Continuance – Carry Ourselves

Continuance is the continuation of Means and Saints Never Surrender which were - as far as I can remember – two decent melodic hardcore bands. So it’s only fair that you’re expecting to hear something worth listening to. And with the intro they’re off to a good start. But then in come the vocals and the fun is thrown right out of the window.

I don’t know what they did with this guy exactly but it may be that they removed his balls right before locking him in the recording booth. Sounding just like a whiny little bitch, this guy does something with his voice that’s like a combination of shouting and a high-pitched wailing. It sounds plain awful if you ask me. If the dude that handles the backing vocals in “The Greatest Need” was the lead singer, “Carry Ourselves” would’ve been a way better album.
Score: 3 out of 10

PM Today – In Medias Res

From Arkansas comes PM Today consisting of the three brothers Connor, Ryan and Cuinn Brogan along with bassist Jerrod Morgan. They bring a kind of emo/alternative rock with proggy influences that brings back a lot of memories of Brand New’s earlier work. Now I don’t know about you but that’s some memories I don’t mind reliving.

At times things turn a little too poppy (“I Am Wrong”) but overall things rock pretty sweetly on “In Medias Res”. Just check out cuts like “Goodbye, Blue Monday” or “Sad World”, the latter of which comes with some rather nice jazzy breaks. Call it Brand New revisited or The Mars Volta lite… both comparisons will fly and give you a pretty good idea of what these guys sound like.

“In Medias Res” is not a perfect album but it should get their name out in a good way and I’m pretty sure we’ll be hearing more from these guys in the future.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Piebald – I

This is the first installment in a 3-part series of really sweet-looking digipacks with Piebald’s first three releases, appropriately titled “The First Ten Years”. On volume 1 you will find the band’s first full-length “When Life Hands You Lemons” along with the “Geek Of The Week” demo and the “Sometimes Friends Fight” EP along with assorted tracks from splits and demos. The one thing all those songs have in common is that they were recorded between 1995 and 1998.

If you’re into emo – new or old – you should have at least one Piebald album in your collection… so why not go with this one?
Score: 8 out of 10