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28.2.10

Nicolai Dunger – Play


Nicolai Dunger is a man who likes all kinds of music. He has already released a shitload of albums that range from cut-and-paste songs to jazzy ditties. On “Play” however he shows once again that he is very capable in writing cute pop songs with an alt-country feel.

Opener “Heart And Soul” is an immediate earpleaser and the subsequent duet with The Cardigans’ Nina Persson is one of my favorites on the album. He keeps this kind of quality a constant throughout the entire album, going out with three more solid songs in a row.

With just eight ‘real’ songs, this is kind of a short album though and it lacks one or two truly memorable songs to make a lasting impression. If you’re looking for an entertaining release that’s easy on the ears, go ahead and check it out. If not, you won’t miss it.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
Flesh Boat Recordings
http://www.nicolaidunger.com

Close Your Eyes – We Will Overcome


After having released a self-titled EP last year, this Abilene, TX based band got picked up by Victory Records and are now ready to unleash their first full-length, “We Will Overcome”. Playing what these boys dubbed Christcore, they like their songs fast, melodic and positive.

Basically this is beefed up popcore with a hefty breakdown here and there not unlike what acts such as A Day To Remember or Take It Back! Play. And then in comes a song like “Digging Graves” and it’s all Rise Against that I’m hearing.

These dudes aren’t treading any new ground on “We Will Overcome” but damn, they do know how to write energetic and engaging songs. Plus the artwork has robots on it and that’s always a plus!
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.victoryrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/closeyoureyesmusic

Jamie’s Elsewhere – They Said A Storm Was Coming


With a new album and new vocalist Aaron Pauley, Jamie’s Elsewhere is ready to take on the world with their sophomoric full-length “They Said A Storm Was Coming”. Imagine Taking Back Sunday’s choruses coupled to Underoath’s songs and Saosin’s sense of melody along with a shitload of keyboard sounds a la Enter Shikari.

It’s just a mess of influences that make for an extremely crowded album with screams, guitars, clean vocals, keyboards and thundering drums all tumbling and stumbling over one another. You know how something can be too much of a good thing? Well, this is simply too much… for ADD kids only!
Score: 4 out of 10
http://www.victoryrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/jamieselsewhere

Create Avoid – Heart Remains


“Heart Remains” is the name of Create Avoid’s album on which they mix metal with hardcore. That’s hardly original and I wish I could say that they add a new twist to an already overcrowded genre. But they don’t. They just play their songs with a lot of energy and while that is always a good thing, it doesn’t help make “Heart Remains” a memorable album.

Think Evergreen Terrace or Comeback Kid (they even cover ‘False Idols Fall’) and then make up your mind on whether or not you really need another album like that by a band that’s not nearly as good as the abovementioned acts .
Score: 4 out of 10
http://www.purenoise.net
http://www.myspace.com/createavoid

Dark Tranquility – We Are The Void


For over two decades Dark Tranquility has been setting the norm when it comes to the Gothenburg-sound, a sound that showed that the words melodic and death metal weren’t mutually exclusive. It also inspired a whole slew of American bands such as Killswitch Engage and As I Lay Dying to create what is now referred to as metalcore. “We Are The Void” is album number nine for this outfit and on it they do everything that is expected of them. Unfortunately they don’t do anything more than that.

Expect relatively fast songs with a lots of twin guitar riffage and Mikael Stanne’s typical vocals. To top it all off they injected the songs once again with lots of keyboards to get that goth feel as well. Oh, and don’t gorget the guitar squeals… duh!

It all sounds decent enough but it does make me wonder just how many times you can make the exact same album.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.centurymedia.de
http://www.darktranquility.com

At The Soundawn – Shifting


Italy’s At The Soundawn has a new album out called “Shifting” and I think the term progressive metal is in order here. No, don’t think Dream Theater. Think Isis, Neurosis, Pelican and Cult Of Luna. Only not quite as good. Sure, the songs on here are cohesive and fluid enough but I often get the impression that the songs are stretched out to seven - and in one case even nine – minutes because that’s simply the norm in the genre rather than the exception. It’s all executed well enough and more often than not, they come out wining with a decent song but as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t have that extra ‘wow’ factor that would make “Shifting” an impressive album.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.lifeforcerecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/atthesoundawn

Destinity – XI Reasons To See


France isn’t exactly the country you think of straight away when you’re talking about metal. Yet that doesn’t stop acts like Destinity from dropping releases at a steady pace. Their latest effort is called “XI Reasons To See” and what I can see is that these guys all know how to play their instruments and that they are capable of writing an engaging song.

Unfortunately I can see as well that they are very much into the Gothenburg-sound and – while doing a great job at playing melodic death metal – do not really show a face of their own. Not even for a second. And with so many other acts doing the exact same thing, I honestly doubt they are going to cause a lot of waves in the scene. Even if “When They Stand Still” is a fucking juggernaut of a song!
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.lifeforcerecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/destinity

Throwdown – Deathless


Remember when you could still call Throwdown a hardcore band? Been a while huh… at times “Venom & Tears” sounded more like Pantera than Pantera themselves back in the day. On “Deathless” they’ve gone even further and added even more metal sounds, ending up sounding like the missing link between Pantera, Killswitch Engage and Lamb Of God.

Many people out there will hate them for it, especially if you’re a big fan of albums such as “Haymaker”. I think it sounds pretty damn good. Vocalist Dave Peters uses his clean vocals for the first time and it works out great. As do the crunchy guitars and meaty drums. Are they original? Anything but. But do they have what it takes to make a moshpit go nuts? Definitely!
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.e1music.us
http://www.myspace.com/throwdown

Lighten Up – Absolutely Not


Philadephia’s Lighten Up does not waste any time on “Absolutely Not”. Opener “Invisible Checks” has an intro of exactly 6 seconds before the band gets into it at breakneck speeds and they never look back after that. With them tearing their way through 12 songs in a mere 17 minutes, I’m not sure if one should call this a full-length. But it sure is a lot of fun.

Influenced by the likes of Paint It Black, Kid Dynamite, Minor Threat, Bad Brains and lots of other big names, Lighten Up are living proof that hardcore music still rules when done well. All you need is a bunch of pissed off guys, loud guitars, thundering guitars and a couple of melodies and you’re there. It definitely makes “Absolutely Not” a great and raw hardcore album that you can sink your teeth in. Or knock someone else’s teeth out when in the pit. It’s all good.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.jumpstartrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/lightenuphardcore

Ludlow Lions – No Stories


From Brooklyn, NY come the Ludlow Lions. They originally released “No Stories” in 2009 as a donation-based digital download, but are now releasing the CD version on March 16th. Mark that day in your calendar so you won’t forget to pick up a copy of a very good album.

Started by primary songwriter and lead vocalist Brendan Coon when he moved to NY in 2005, Ludlow Lions don’t sound like a lot of bands out there. Coon is further backed up by guitarist and noise aficionado Jordan Melkin, bassist and former Nakatomi Plaza member Oscar Albis Rodriguez and a revolving cast of drummers.

“No Stories” is a solid collection of songs that I’d describe as indie rock with loads of 90s influences coming from acts like Pixies, Dinosaur Jr, Lemonheads, Guided By Voices and the likes. Then add a healthy dose of Elvis Costello and you’re getting close. I just really like the band’s ability to create a warm guitar sound along with Coon’s vocals and their firm understanding of mixing melody and melancholy.

Head over to the band’s site to download the album or pick up a copy of the CD in March!
Score: 8 out of 10
no label
http://www.ludlowlionstheband.com

Carnifex – Hell Chose Me


Carnifex is back with a new album and being a horror fanatic I have to admit that I kinda like the artwork on this one. Unfortunately I can’t say the same thing about the music even though these dudes went for a more straightforward death metal approach on “Hell Chose Me”. But even then it’s just not that convincing. And to make matters even worse, they still use those incredibly annoying one-note breakdowns. Every time they tap into that shit, I’m outta there… seriously, is there anyone over the age of 15 who actually likes deathcore?
Score: 4.5 out of 10
http://www.victoryrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/carnifexmetal

Atlas Losing Grip – Watching The Horizon EP


I like the concept of an EP. It usually means a band has written a bunch of new songs and wants to get them out to their fans real fast. The only downside is that they never last long enough. And that’s once again no different with “Watching The Horizon”.

After having thoroughly surprised me with last year’s “Shut The World Out”, Atlas Losing Grips picks right up where they left off and take me back to the 90s with their fast-paced punkrock that comes with tons of heart, melody and shredding guitars. Back to the 90s? Fuck yeah, they even got Satanic Surfers’ Rodrigo Alfaro to sing on these tracks and he lifts the whole thing to a new level. Very, very good release for all the fans of Satanic Surfers, Venerea,…
Score: 8.5 out of 10
http://www.shieldrecordings.com
http://www.myspace.com/atlaslosinggrip

In-Sane – Trust These Hands Are Worthless


This Slovenian outfit has been writing songs when they weren’t touring Europe in true DIY-fashion. When the songs were written they headed for the studio to record what would be their debut full-length, “Trust These Hands Are Worthless”. At least I think it was recorded in a studio but I’m actually not so sure. And with that we immediately come to this album’s biggest flaw… the production is really bad.

Other than that, no real qualms here. They write some pretty potent punkrock with a little bit of A Wilhelm Scream thrown in here and there. In-Sane still has some growing ahead of them, but with more time and a bigger budget I think good things will be coming their way.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.shieldrecordings.com
http://www.in-sane.si

The Fake Boys – This Is Where Our Songs Live


The first US signing for Shield Recordings is called The Fake Boys and the dudes in the band like to call Massachusetts home. After spending years in a variety of hardcore bands, they wanted to go back to writing songs with a little more melody to them. And so The Fake Boys were born. Their album is called “This Is Where Our Songs Live” and comes with artwork that is so overtly non-punk that it becomes punk again. Ya dig?

Anyway, imagine a mix of Jawbreaker and The Queers and you’re pretty much there. Pretty songs with not so pretty lyrics. Ya dig?
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.shieldrecordings.com
http://www.myspace.com/thefakeboys

Dropkick Murphys – Live On Lansdowne


Recorded over seven shows in six days, Dropkick Murphys are set to release the live album, “Live On Lansdowne”. Another live album, following 2002’s “Live On St. Patrick’s Day”. Personally, I would’ve preferred a new studio album with a fresh batch of songs. Then again catching the Murphys live is always a guarantee for a good time. I saw them again for the umpteenth time about a month ago and despite the shitty sound, it was a pleasure to see these guys tear it up.

And that’s no different on “Live On Lansdowne”. Listening to the 20 songs boasted on here, the band relies very heavily on their last three albums and it quickly becomes obvious again just how many outstanding songs these guys have written. This is simply one big party all the way from “The State Of Massachusetts” to “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” (with help from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones).
Score: 8 out of 10
Born & Bred Records
http://www.dropkickmurphys.com

The Wonder Years – The Upsides


Moving on and fighting back are the two main messages The Wonder Years are trying to get across on their latest album, “The Upsides”. Those messages are wrapped in excellent melodic as fuck poppunk songs that we’ve already become accustomed to from these guys.

This time around they’ve stepped up to the plate though and hit a homerun. Pretty much everything on “The Upsides” is exactly where it’s supposed to be and it’s got everything you’d want out of a poppunk album. Whether it’s singalong parts, loud guitars or lightspeed drums you’re looking for, The Wonder Years have got it all in surplus. Hell, they’ve even got time to mess around with a ukulele, a trombone and Zolof The Rock And Roll Destroyer’s Rachel Minton on the mellow and bouncy “Hey Thanks”. And on top of that these dudes sound tighter than ever. Guess moving into one house and working on the new songs every single day paid off big time!

If you’re into older Saves The Day or New Found Glory, this one is a no-brainer!
Score: 8.5 out of 10
http://www.nosleeprecs.com
http://www.myspace.com/thewonderyearspa

Ocean Colour Scene – Saturday


Ocean Colour Scene is one of those UK bands I’ve already heard a lot about, but I never actually took the time to listen to one of their albums. I thought they were just another Britpop band. Don’t get all riled up, it’s true… there’s a shitload of bands in the UK who all sound alike and it’s okay to miss out on a couple of them.

“100 Floors Of Perception” kicks things off and with its Baba O’Riley-style keyboards, a couple of cool riffs and Simon Fowler’s powerful voice, I’d say they’re off to a good start. “Mrs Maylie” is loud and abrasive until it breaks down to something Herman’s Hermits could’ve written back in the sixties. The band shows its gentle side with “Just A Little Bit Of Love” and the Beatlesque “What’s Mine Is Yours”. “Postal” on the other hand shows the band at its most angry, still not losing sight of the melody that seems to sneak in every single one of their songs.

In short, “Saturday” is a solid album that showcases British pop and rock in all its variaties from the sixties all the way to the present. Nothing you haven’t heard before, just a good album.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.cookingvinyl.com
http://www.oceancolourscene.com

Summer People – Good Problems


I know Summer People consists of 8 people. I only know their first names, no last name is to be found anywhere on the album or on their site. All I know is that these guys have been active previously in acts such as Fire When Ready, Mysterious Mysteries and the Trip Wilsons. None of these bands rings a bell with me. Is all the secrecy a way of saying the music comes first or is it some sort of a gimmick? If it’s the latter, it’s a good one since I just devoted the entire first paragraph of my review to it.

Anyway, “Good Problems” is Summer People’s debut full-length and was recorded completely live. That means there are no overdubs here and Pro Tools weren’t involved either. No small feat but they pulled it off with a great result. Opener “Two Hearted River” sounds like a rowdy alt-country singalong, but then “Shallow Water People” kicks in and it’s a whole other ballgame with its hard-driving yet melancholic urgency. Then the band crunches out “Broken Bones” and you find yourself in a bar punding away the whiskey bottle in front of you while a local band is cranking out some mean-sounding blues. By the time you’re ready to finish off the bottle and start feeling sorry for yourself, that’s when Summer People show themselves at their most gentle with “The Other Side”, a mellow acoustic track with dual male/female vocals.

It’s indie rock in its broadest sense and it’s really hard to explain. But I do like the album. The only negative thing I can say about it is that I have no idea where “” fits into the whole. It’s ten minutes of ambient noise and basically ten minutes of my life I will never get back. Other than that I can only recommend “Good Problems”.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.redleaderrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/summerpeople

24.2.10

Monsters Of Folk – Monsters Of Folk


When four of alternative America’s heroes get together, there’s bound to be expectations. I don’t think Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes, Jim James of My Morning Jacket and M. Ward of umm well, M. Ward even gave that a second thought. Monsters Of Folk grew from playing after shows while on tour together in 2004. Thanks to their busy respective careers, it took them up til now to finally get round to releasing an actual album. And lemme just come out and say it, it was well worth the wait.

Thank god they didn’t spend their time after shows watching movies or playing Band Hero… wait, that wasn’t even out back in 2004. Anyway, if they hadn’t been writing songs, we wouldn’t have been treated to the excellent mix of rockabilly and boogie that is « Whole Lotta Losin’ », the beautiful acoustic ditty that is « Temazcal » or the pedal steel enhanced « The Right Place ».

They aren’t quite this decade’s Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young or The Traveling Wilburys just yet, but they delivered one helluva album that clearly showcases their love of music in all its different colours.
Score : 8.5 out of 10
http://www.roughtraderecords.com
http://www.monstersoffolk.com

Langhorne Slim – Be Set Free


On album number three Langhorne Slim still does his thing. What that thing is then ? Well, he dabbles in folky songs, the kind that Guthrie and Dylan like to play as well.

While he doesn’t have any classics to his name just yet, Langhorne Slim knows how to write pretty and uncomplicated songs. The same can be said for his lyrics and while I doubt he’ll win any Pullitzers for lines like ‘what’s happened has happened, what will be we’ll see’, I like the sheer simplicity and honesty of it all.

His songs are folk songs at heart with an added pop sheen and frizzled up by the rest of the band with Wurlitzer, farfisa, flugelhorn and some pedal steel guitar among many, many other things. It makes for a fun album at the very least !
Score : 7 out of 10
http://www.kemado.com
http://www.langhorneslim.com

Lou Barlow – Goodnight Unknown

After two new Dinosaur Jr. Albums and a Sebadoh reunion, Lou Barlow found time to record a follow-up to 2005’s acoustic « Emoh ».

On « Goodnight Unknown » not one song sounds the same. That does mean that not every song is great. But not to worry, there’s plenty of good ones on here to justify a purchase. Just have a listen to opener « Sharing » which sounds like Sebadoh at its best.

With buzzing guitars, subtle samples and the help of Melvins drummer Dale Crover, Barlow succeeds in keeping my attention peeked throughout the entire album and with the beautiful « The Right » he has written at least one instant classic. It shows that the good man still has the chops to make an album that charms and stings at the same time.
Score : 8 out of 10
http://www.dominorecordco.com
http://www.loobiecore.com

Exile Parade – Brothel Ballet EP


Okay, so the cover looks kinda gay but the music is anything but. From Warrington in the UK comes this outfit and on « Brothel Ballet » they throw six barnburners in the mix. According to producer Owen Morris this is the best rock ‘n roll he’s had the honour of being involved with since working on Oasis’ first album. Of course he got a paycheck for his work.

But even this poor penniless reviewer has to agree that with songs like «Fire Walk With Me « and «Heart Into Suicide « these guys have quite a bit going for them. Kinda like a punked up Oasis without the studied and tiresome expression of boredom on their faces.
Score : 7.5 out of 10
http://www.suburban.nl
http://www.myspace.com/exileparade

Blitzen Trapper – Black River Killer EP


I was all over 2008’s « Furr »,especially all over the song « Black River Killer ». Apparently the band felt it was good enough to dedicate an entire EP to it and so I’m once again treated to new material from this rather productive outfit.

The EP opens with the title track about a killer who gets drawn into a downward spiral of violence. This murder ballad is still as amazing as when I first heard it and would make Johnny cash a very proud man. « Silver Moon » is a poppier song as is « Going Down », both of which wouldn’t look out of place on a Steely Dan album. The acoustic « Shoulder Full Of You » is a treat as well. Then in comes « Big Black Bird » and it’s like I’m hearing Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The only real downside to this EP is that it’s over too soon.
Score : 7 out of 10
http://www.subpop.com
http://www.myspace.com/blitzentrapper

Masters Of Reality – Pine/Cross Dover


Despite the double title and the dual artwork, there are no real differences between the ‘Pine’ and’Cross Dover’ parts of this album. So if you were hoping for a double album after 8 years of nothing, you’ll be in for a disappointment. Chris Goss and John Leamy just aren’t very productive it seems. Then again, the guy did produce a zillion albums in the meantime, released a solo album and another one with his other band Goon Moon.

Just like on « Deep In The Hole », Goss and Leamy combine their love of Sabbath, Cream and the Beatles and come out with a dozen songs that aren’t bad but which ultimately just don’t do it for me. Sure, there are a couple of great riffs on here («VP In It « ) but in the end the songs go on and on and on without leaving much of an impression.
Score : 5.5 out of 10
http://www.mascotrecords.com
http://www.mastersofreality.com

Editors – In This Light And On This Evening


Whereas I - along with probably everyone else – was expecting Editors to pick up where they left off with their previous album, the one that launched them into rockstar mode, Editors don’t sound like Editors on « In This Light And On This Evening ». Or at least, not like the Editors we know.

The title track immediately immerses you into their new sound. Hardly any guitars, just minimalistic synths and Tom Smith’s deep voice. It makes for a very dark and depressing song. Next up is « Bricks And Mortar », another song that sounds like these guys have been listening to Depeche Mode quite a bit. And then it dawns on you… what if the entire album sounds like this ?

Well, it does. Besides being a very bold and daring move, it’s also a very good one. With « In This Light And On This Evening » Editors prove they have a lot more going for them than we would’ve ever thought. Don’t believe me ? Just check out that magnificent single « Papillon » !
Score : 8 out of 10
http://www.kitchenwarerecords.com
http://www.piasrecordings.com
http://www.editorsofficial.com

Spiral Stairs – The Real Feel


Years ago Scott Kannberg was responsible for providing the soundtrack for a whole generation along with Stephen Malkmus and the rest of Pavement. Right when Pavement is reuniting, Kannberg squeezes out a solo effort with a little help from his friends in Preston School Of Industry.

« The Real Feel » deals with the last five years in Kannberg’s life and they weren’t his happiest including a divorce. There are no quirky pop songs to be found on here that burst at the seems with energy and nonchalance. No, this is all darker material that channels a little Neil Young here and there.

Sometimes a dark period in a songwriter’s life inspires him to write amazing songs. Unfortunately that is not the case this time around.The songs all start off okay enough but never build up to anything worth remembering. It’s a shame because I was honestly expecting a lot more from this one.

Let’s just hope he got it all out of his system now so he can go back to Pavement being his crazy slacker self.
Score : 5.5 out of 10
http://www.dominorecordco.com
http://www.myspace.com/prestonschool

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Up From Below


Some people are just too happy for their own good. You can see them leaving the house, or probably the commune in their case, with Birkenstocks on their feet, greeting all the trees on their way into town where they give everyone they encounter a big hug. Usually it’s a recipe for disaster when people like that start making music. Just think of The Polyphonic Spree and you’ll know what I mean. It’s a whole big bunch of nothing… some happy sounds, no songs.

On first glance Edward Sharpe and his friends, the Magnetic Zeros, are like that. But then you find out that there are actually well-written pop songs hidden underneath the hippie vibe that will put a big, fat smile on your face.
Score : 6.5 out of 10
http://www.roughtraderecords.com
http://www.edwardsharpeandthemagneticzeros.com

The Films – Oh, Scorpio


Whereas this band’s debut « Don’t Dance Rattlesnake » had more of an Arctic Monkeys vibe, The Films sound more like The Pigeon Detectives on album number two. Not that this is a bad thing in any way because the songs on « Oh, Scorpio » are catchy, melodic and danceable in an indierock kinda way. Producer Butch Walker might have had a hand in trimming the edges and the result is a fun album with bouncy tunes like « Holiday » or «Fingernails For Breakfast « on which they sound like an all-male 50s doo wop band. No matter which track you pick out of the batch, it’ll have you tapping your feet or bobbing your head in no time !
Score : 7 out of 10
http:///www.aliendogod.com
http://www.the-films.com

Hooghwater – Echos


Former members of Dutch acts The Spades, Transmission0 and Restless Youth got together in what they called Hooghwater. Now, Hooghwater (or high water) is the last thing they need in Holland, yet somehow I’m guessing that nobody will mind these guys passing by.

Whether they’re influenced by Queens In The Stone Age in opener « Electric Ghost », rock ever so coolly yet in a completely vintage way in « Chaos In Its Heart » or look up the meaning of the word grunge in « Humble Eyes », it always sounds pretty damn good. And that’s just the first three songs ! Still six songs to go after that never sound anything less than good.

They might not be the most original band out there but with a little jam session here and there, great riffs and a solid grasp on melodies, « Echos » is a helluva lot of fun to listen to. And sometimes that’ s all everyone can ask for.
Score : 7 out of 10
http://www.quadrofoon.com
http://www.hooghwater.com

Billy Wallace – The Road Spit Me Out


Armed with guitar, banjo, trombone, trumpet, harmonica, violin, viola, mandolin, flugelhorn and a whole slew of friends, Billy Wallace recorded his first solo album ‘in various living rooms, basements and bedrooms in several states ‘. Solo you say ? Yes, Wallace is the frontman of indie/folk band The Wading Girl and has also spent time in Tim Barry’s backing band. Don’t know that band ? That’s okay, neither do I.

« The Road Spit Me Out » I do know now however. It’s a very rootsy collection of tracks made up of equal parts country, Americana, ragtime and folk. Sometimes the word timeless gets tossed around, this time it really does stick. If you would have told me this was a collection of songs recorded somewhere during the Dustbowl, I probably would’ve believed you. And I mean that as a compliment because it entails an authenticity many acts might go for but fail to achieve.

If you’re into Tim Barry, Lucero or Chuck Ragan or Austin Lucas, you should give this one a spin !
Score : 7 out of 10
http://www.uneasyrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/billywallaceva

Get Back Guinozzi – Carpet Madness


Thanks to the wonder that is the internet, people can now be in one country writing songs while someone else in another country is writing lyrics to those same songs. That’s exactly how Eglantine Gouzy and instrumentalist Fred Landini worked on what would eventually become « Carpet Madness ».

Unfortunately this way of doing things doesn’t always work out great as is proven on Get Back Guinozzi ‘s album. With a plethora of simplistic-sounding songs and annoying Casio sounds alongside childlike vocals, there isn’t a single moment on here that makes this album worth listening to. Nope, not even a cover of « Polices & Thieves » can save this one from the garbage can.
Score: 3 out of 10
http://www.fat-cat.co.uk
http://www.myspace.com/getbackguinozzi

First Aid Kit – The Big Black And The Blue


First Aid Kit is what these Swedish sisters call themselves and while their album cover may not predict greatness, « The Big Black And Blue » contains a fun batch of indie folk songs. Well, minus the opener… « In The Morning » is a plain annoying song with an a capella start that simply drags on.

But when « Hard Believer » kicks in, yeah baby ! Call ‘em the more alternative version of the Dixie Chicks, I don’t really care. I just want to listen to « Sailor Song » or « Heavy Storm » again so I can enjoy those beautiful vocal harmonies work their magic over sparsely arranged songs.

PS : I honestly think this is the first time in ten years of running this site that I mentioned the Dixie Chicks !
Score : 7 out of 10
http://www.wichita-recordings.com
http://www.myspace.com/thisisfirstaidkit

Eels – End Times


There are a couple of things that are different about « End Times » compared to the man’s other releases. For one, Mark Oliver Everett aka E has always written and recorded his songs at home. But those are normally just demo recordings. This time around, that’s it. The home recordings are the album. If you’ve read his book, you know that’s how he first started out.

Another difference is that while E’s songs never came with the happiest lyrics, there was always a sense of hope or at the very least a dark sense of humour. The songs on here don’t have that, they show a man at his wit’s end after another relationship went down the drain. We’ve all been there and we know how much it can hurt. So - despite the beautiful songs - this is some pretty painful stuff to listen to. Lines like « I’ve had enough, I don’t need any more misery to teach me what I should be » cut right in there. And while « Little Bird » may be another pretty song, it’s awkward to hear E sing about a little bird being his only friend.

« End Times » is another breathtaking album by Eels (he’s just racking them up now, one after the other) and while I do enjoy the hell out of listening to it, I am rooting for the guy to find some happiness that will last for once. God knows he can use it .
Score : 8.5 out of 10
http://www.vagrant.com
http://www.eelstheband.com

Three Days Grace – Life Starts Now


For album number three Three Days Grace holed up in the studio with Howard Benson. This means you can count on crunchy guitars and an overall crystal-clear sound. It goes well with the band’s knack for writing arena-ready rock anthems.

The album kicks off with the especially vitriol-laced « Bitter Taste » and they carry that vibe right into « Break ». Unfortunately the album also has its Nickelback moments («No More « , «Last To Know « ) which kinda suck because… well, let’s face it, Nickelback is bad taste incarnate. But then there’s « Lost In You » and the ├╝berslick «The Good Life « with its instantly memorized chorus which make up for the crappier songs on here. I’ll just come out and admit that « Life Starts Now » is probably going to be one of this year’s guilty pleasures for this reviewer.
Score : 7 out of 10
http://www.jiverecords.com
http://www.threedaysgrace.com

Part Chimp - Thriller


For nine years already these guys have been causing a ruckus…. Call it noise if you will. One thing is for sure, they will make the fillings rattle out of your teeth once they start playing. Which should take them quite some time because they have to install that major pile of amps first.

Once they do get around to playing though, expect to hear a crossover between Sonic Youth and the Melvins. Yeah, it’s messy and noisy at the same time.

Despite having been around for nearly a decade, « Thriller » is only the band’s third album. They obviously didn’t spend all that time in between albums on coming up with song titles because you have to admit that «Trad « and «FFFF « don’t exactly display a high level of inspiration. And unfortunately neither do the songs.
Score : 4 out of 10
http://www.rock-action.co.uk
http://www.partchimp.com

Drummer – Feel Good Together


It has to be the best gimmick I’ve heard of in quite some time... a band called Drummer made up of guys who all drum in other bands. The most well-known among them would have to be Patrick Carney (Black Keys), the other dudes come from bands such as Teeth Of The Hydra, Beaten Awake, Six Parts Seven and Ghostman and Sandman. I know one thing... I wouldn’t have wanted to be the drummer in this band! Imagine the shit that guy would dumped over him if he messed something up!

Thanks to the distant vocals, keyboards that find a way into the songs and the wiry, fuzzed up guitars “Feel Good Together” sounds like a lost album by some 90s indie rock outfit whose members were raised on a strict diet of 70s rock. Okay, so the songs tend to blend together after a couple of them have rolled by but fans of Pavement and the likes should have a blast listening to cuts like “Every Nineteen Minutes” and lead single “Diamonds To Shake”. And you know what? The drumming is pretty good on this one.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.audioeaglerecords.com
http://www.drummercenter.com

Lost Department – Things Of Flesh And Blood


“Things Of Flesh And Blood” may be Lost Department’s debut full-length but these guys sound like they’ve been going at it for years. Picking up where they left off with their EP, they throw punk, hardcore, metalcore and even some proggy parts together in the blender and end up with a convincing batch of songs. The mix of screams and clean vocals actually works for them and they radiate energy. The guitarists know how to handle their instruments and the magical hands of producer Ace Zec do the rest.

The opening track is a bouncy, beefed up punkrock song, the title track (with guest vocals by Channel Zero’s Franky DSVD) is more metal and made me think of “The Sound Of White Noise” era Anthrax and “Sickface Sidesmile” is straight up nasty metalcore. It’s that variation that keeps things interesting all the way to closing track “A.F.B.I.A.”. Nice job!
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.funtimerecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/lodep

Massive Attack – Heligoland


Seven years after “100th Window” Massive Attack is back with a new album. An album that also marks the renewed collaboration between Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja and Grant ‘Daddy G’ Marshall who had drifted apart in the late 90s. Nice example of how time really does heal all wounds.

On “Heligoland” they prove that they still know how to create dark and twisted soundscapes like no one else. Whether you like your songs busy as fuck or minimal and bare, Del Naja and Marshall cover all the bases. It’s not as surprising anymore as it used to be, but when you have the two of them fiddling behind the knobs and add guest vocals by the likes of Damon Albarn, Elbow’s Guy Garvey, TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe and Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, there’s really not a whole lot that can go wrong.

“Heligoland” might not be a classic like “Mezzanine” or “Blue Lines”, but if you’re into triphop you do not want to miss out on this release, which was well on its way of becoming the “Chinese Democracy” of the electronic music scene.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.emimusic.com
http://www.massiveattack.com

Dick Black – The Lion And The Cheetah


After amusing themselves onstage for quite a while already, the first full-length by Dick Black is a fact. Yes, the band name could be funny when you’re 12 years old but that’s okay, there are loads of bands out there with crappy names.

These guys don’t mind incorporating a little bit of surf, boogie, punk or rockabilly. But basically this is alcohol-fueled, sweat-drenched rock ‘n roll. Too bad it’s just not memorable at all with way too many weak songs for one album.
Score: 5 out of 10
http://www.funtimerecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/dickblack666

17.2.10

Star Fucking Hipsters – Never Rest In Peace


Leftover Crack and Choking Victim were pretty solid bands spreading the message of crust in as nasty a way as possible. Both were acts led by Scott Sturgeon, better known as Stza. With Star Fucking Hipsters – yet another band that sprouted from the man’s creativity – he’s back with a new album.

On “Never Rest In Peace” you never know what they’re going to hit you with next. You’re just as likely to encounter dirty as fuck punk songs with Stza shrieking like crazy as tunes you can skank to. It could be a poppunk song as well. Or metal… yeah, get those horns in the air! Pretty much the one thing they are consistent in is sticking it to the man. Yup, ideals never fade with these guys and when they are wrapped in catchy songs with dueling male/female vocals you are not going to hear me bitch about it.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.alternativetentacles.com
http://www.starfuckinghipsters.com

Borknagar – Universal


Borknagar, the band around ├śystein Brun, is back with album number eight. They’ve already been spreading their progressive black metal since 1994 but their previous album already dates from 2006. So it’s been quite the wait for Borknagar fans. Luckily they won’t be disappointed by “Universal”.

Opener “Havoc” starts off with an acoustic intro and takes about a minute to build up to a fierce song dominated by thunderous bass drums and Vintersorg’s typical vocals. His howls are impressive and while his clean vocals aren’t exactly pretty in the traditional sense, they do suit the music perfectly.

They often slow down to make room for folky passages which rely heavily on synths. Most of the time they add something a little different to the song but it doesn’t take away from the fact that towards the end of the album, you get the impression you’ve heard it all before. Nonetheless all the Borknagar (and Vintersorg) fans can rejoice and add this album to their collection without thinking twice about it.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.indierec.no
http://www.borknagar.com

The King Khan & BBQ Show – Invisible Girl


On “Invisible Girl” King Khan and Mark “BBQ” Sultan are back with another tribute to 50s and 60s garage rock, real r&b and doo wop. Yup, the force of Bo Diddley and Sam Cooke is strong in this one. Yet they are so much more than just a tribute. For that the songs are just too good with tons of great melodies.

I wish I could be just as in awe of their lyrical qualities but you don’t have to look for any pearls of wisdom here. Nope, this twosome would much rather sing about a girl called Anala or about the joys of oral sex (“Tastebuds”). But it’s exactly that combination of juvenile joking and great songwriting that makes “Invisible Girl” so much fun to listen to.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.intheredrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/thekingkhanbbqshow

Daylight – Sinking EP


This Pennsylvania-based band knows how to open an EP, that’s for sure. “Enough” storms out through the gates with loud guitars, fast drums and gritty vocals. Comparisons with Hot Water Music are quite simply inevitable. Of course when done right, this is more a good thing rather than a problem. And the guys in Daylight do it well.

During the other songs you still hear some HWM influences, but there’s some Jawbreaker and Polar Bear Club going on as well. On songs like “The Best” and the title track they pull their sound open a bit more, the first being a darker, more restrained cut and the latter being their loudest and most pissed off song out of this bunch. The dual vocals work especially well on this one.

All in all I’d say that this EP are fifteen minutes well spent and I wouldn’t mind hearing more from these guys!
Score: 7 out of 10
Get This Right Records
http://www.myspace.com/daylightpa

Failure’s Union – In What Way


Back in the 90s there was an explosion of alternative rock that I – just getting into music – devoured. Acts like Lemonheads, Gin Blossoms and Buffalo Tom were often being played at loud volume on my bright red tape deck. Yes, a tape deck and yes, bright red. Obviously I missed out on some bands (Superchunk, Seaweed,…) because back then it wasn’t possible yet to download an entire band’s discography with just a couple of clicks and Wikipedia didn't exist yet so information wasn’t as readily available as it is now. Sure, there were magazines but they cost money. Kinda like what I imagine medieval times to have been like… only without the plague.

But I’m digressing… one band I couldn’t have missed out on is Failure’s Union. Quite simply because they weren’t around yet back then. They do however play the same kind of fuzzed out melancholy-drenched rock tunes that I used to sing along to back in the day.

I’m seriously digging the songs on “In What Way” and even though this is probably just a fun side-project for members who otherwise serve their time in acts such as Lemuria, The Exit Strategy and The Grail, I think Failure’s Union has the potential to overshadow their other acts. And those are some seriously good bands as well.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.paperandplastick.com
http://www.failuresunion.com

Defeater – Lost Ground EP


This Boston outfit made quite an impression on me with their full-length debut “Travels”. Now they quite simply come out with a release with an even bigger impact. As if it’s nothing to them. This EP is once again a concept album, telling the story of a WWII veteran who comes home only to be confronted with disillusion and despair. Yup, there’s still no light at the end of the tunnel for these guys.

They only thing that has changed is that these guys have slowed down a bit on “Lost Ground”. They still sound mighty intense though and know how to write engaging and touching lyrics. With the recent demise of Have Heart and Verse, it’s good to know that there are still equally good bands to fill the void.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
http://www.bridge9.com
http://www.myspace.com/defeater

Foo Fighters – Greatest Hits


With six studio albums under their belt, a greatest hits album is a pretty obvious and easy release. And so you get 13 of the band’s biggest hits thrown at you with cuts from all of the Foo’s albums. The tracklisting is hardly surprising with “Best Of You”, “Everlong”, “My Hero”, “Big Me” and “Long Road To Ruin” among others.

The album also comes with three previously unreleased tracks, those being two new songs “Wheels” and “Word Forward” and an acoustic version of “Everlong”. If you already own all of the band’s albums, you might just want to download the two new songs and call it a day. If you’ve been living under a rock and never heard of the Foo Fighters, this is going to be one huge treat.
http://www.rcarecords.com
http://www.foofighters.com

Expatriate – In The Midst Of This


From Australia to Jakarta, back to Australia only to then end up in Berlin. Yup, vocalist Ben King didn’t have to look far for a fitting band name. Although “In The Midst Of This” already came out back in 2007, it took Expatriate until now to give the whole thing a decent release in Europe.

So thank you PIAS for giving this album a second lease on life because I have to say that this is a pretty fine rock album that holds its own between The Killers, Editors and the hugely underrated The Sheila Divine. Not all of the songs are as strong as “Get Out, Give In” or “Gotta Get Home” but “In The Midst Of This” is definitely a worthy addition to any rock collection. Okay, so you’ve already heard their sound before, but it also happens to be one of those sounds you can never have enough of in your collection.
Score: 7 out of 10
Expatriate Music / PIAS
http://www.expatriateband.com

Outcry Collective – Articles


Somewhere in between bands like The Bronx, Every Time I Die and Suicide File is Outcry Collective to fill in the gap any one of those bands might have left. Oh, and a little bit of Pantera is apparent as well, especially in a song like “Dead In The Water”. Or is that more Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster that I’m hearing there?

Anyway, all this to point out that the UK outfit known as Outcry Collective isn’t very original. But they’ve got some nice and dirty rock ‘n roll riffs with vocalist Stephen Sitkowski’s shrieking his way throughout all ten songs. Okay, so his shouting is kinda monotonous and after a couple of songs you get the impression you’ve already heard it before. But overall these guys aren’t going about it the wrong way considering this is a debut.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.visiblenoise.com
http://www.myspace.com/outcrycollective

Take It Back! – Atrocities


Wow, what the hell happened to these guys? Where they still sounded more akin to Set Your Goals and Stretch Arm Strong on their debut album “Can’t Fight Robots”, “Atrocities” sees them chasing Have Heart.

Is it the line-up changes? Next to losing and replacing their lead singer, they also snagged up a new guitarist and bassist in the process. It can destroy some bands, but as it turns out it only made these guys stronger. With huge guitars, pounding drums and Nick Thomas’ piercing shouts, they go for the jugular in that typical slow burn fashion perfected by acts such as the abovementioned Have Heart and Modern Life Is War. Check out a cut like “Lost Generation” and be impressed.

Their previous poppunk meets hardcore fusion still pops up from time to time though. No worries there. You’ll be serviced by the faster than fast “Hollow Eyes” and “A Reason To Scream” among others. And then there’s the insanely fast 54-second blast that is “Minneapolis”.

I already particularly liked Take It Back!’s debut, but “Atrocities” sees the band taking a few steps forward. Remember this name, they are bound to turn a whole lot of heads.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.facedownrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/takeitbackar

Kenai – Hail The Escapist


Another relatively new band out of the UK this month is called Kenai. After two EPs they felt the time was right to go at it with a full-length. It’s called “Hail The Escapist” and on it you’ll find eleven songs.

Even though the band members themselves like to use words such as post and hardcore, I mostly heard emorock and poppunk and a little bit of screamo. Kinda like what Buddy Nielsen and his friends do in Senses Fail. And I’m also hearing some Funeral For A Friend. Nothing to be ashamed of, but not very original either.

The screams sound kinda out of place and they’d be better off without them if you ask me. Of course I don’t really have a say in this but with all those busy guitar riffs and busy synth sounds and busy drum fills, I doubt anyone would really even miss them.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.redfield-records.de
http://www.myspace.com/kenaiuk