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23.7.10

Campaign – It Likes To Party


I didn’t know anything about this Atlanta, GA outfit but looking at the cover I’m guessing they love their jeans and the color green. Available as a free digital download or on vinyl, “It Likes To Party” shows these guys have some serious feelings for the likes of Small Brown Bike and Hot Water Music.

The songs on here are gruff yet melodic and the guitars are as jagged as they are ambient. No idea how they pull that off but they do. When it comes to the two vocalists though, it’s as if there are moments in the songs where neither of them knows exactly what is expected to come next and so they kinda stumble all over each other. It’s a shame but at a show with a bunch of sweaty dudes yelling along, I doubt anyone will notice.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
no label
http://www.myspace.com/wearethecampaign

Scarlet Grey – Fancy Blood


Scarlet Grey are an up-and-coming band out of LA who just dropped a 6-song EP called “Fancy Blood”. Apparently they’re pretty close with the guys in AFI and so you’ll hear Davey Havok contributing guest vocals while Jade Puget produced the EP.

Sonically as well there’s more than a couple of similarities with AFI’s recent output. With opener “No Boys In The Ballroom” and the title track they’re off to a good start. Both songs have that energetic yet highly infectious sound that AFI is known for, right down the whoo-hoo moments in the chorus. Unfortunately they also felt the need to include a very cheesy ballad (“Naomi”) which just plain sucks the fun out of the EP.

Not very original but seemingly approved by the original… so who am I to say they’re no good! They should definitely drop the cheez though on a next release.
Score: 6 out of 10
no label
http://www.myspace.com/scarletgrey

Ride Your Bike – The Connection


Deep Elm is one of those rare labels that never signs bands that are already big or that are hyped, yet you always know that it’s going to be worth your time. That’s once again the case with Ride Your Bike’s “The Connection”. If The Get Up Kids hadn’t gone all mellow on us, I’m imagining this is what they would’ve sounded like. Think of “Stay What You Are” era Saves The Day or Death Cab at their most boisterous.

The songs on here are upbeat, come with catchy hooks and good lyrics and have a way of staying in your head for the rest of the day. My only qualm with this release if you can call it one is that it’s just six songs long. I want to hear more dammit!

If you are looking for some seriously rocking songs with pop sensibilities, look no further… “The Connection” is all you’ll need.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.deepelm.com
http://www.myspace.com/rideyourbike

The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang


The New Jersey natives that took the world and Bruce Springsteen by storm with “The ’59 Sound” are back with their follow-up. The new album is called “American Slang” and whereas “Sink Or Swim” and “The ’59 Sound” put these guys on the map, “American Slang” is all about consolidating their position.

Don’t expect anything new on here, just 10 extremely solid rock ‘n roll song that you can build a house on. The lyrics still deal with everyday life and Fallon still manages to deliver his lines about life, love, girls and cars with a sense of melancholy that a whole lot of other songwriters strive for. Like a young E Street Band with a bit of Replacements mixed in, The Gaslight Anthem quickly turns into a fullblown blaze when they launch into songs like “Stay Lucky”, “Boxer” or the title track. But they’re just as good when they slow things down. Just have a listen to “The Diamond Church Choir” or “The Queen Of Lower Chelsea”, one of the best songs they’ve written so far.

Things might sound a little slicker and more polished this time around and the band might be gunning for a bigger audience, that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that “American Slang” is a first class rock ‘n roll album.
Score: 9 out of 10
http://www.sideonedummy.com
http://www.gaslightanthem.com

Beneath The Sky – In Loving Memory


After these guys had broken up I threw a little party because one generic metalcore band less is …well, always a good thing. Unfortunately they decided to reunite which is how come I find myself now listening to “In Loving Memory”, Beneath The Sky’s third full-length.

They show that they’ve improved ever so slightly but with so many nudges and winks towards acts like Killswitch Engage that one could easily mistake them for a person with Tourette, it’s just not funny anymore. Yes, there are screams and clean vocals and yes, there are chugga chugga riffs interspersed with melodic riffage and yes, there are plenty of breakdowns. Sigh.
Score: 4 out of 10
http://www.victoryrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/beneaththesky

The Last Felony – Too Many Humans


Every day when I’m on the train to work or riding the subway, I’m thinking the same thing as The Last Felony… there’s too many humans. Luckily there aren’t a helluva lot of bands like The Last Felony because I doubt my nervous system could handle it.

With an all-out attack on your senses, these dudes dish out some deathcore sounds that share more than a couple of similarities with bands like Job For A Cowboy while seemingly borrowing all of their riffs from 80s death metal acts like Cannibal Corpse. It just goes to show once again that being brutal isn’t enough. You need to be able to write actual songs as well to keep things interesting. If not, it all just turns into one big blur by song number two as is the case on “Too Many Humans”. It’s something all of these deathcore acts should think about while combing their hair.
Score: 3 out of 10
http://www.lifeforcerecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/thelastfelony

In This Moment – A Star-Crossed Wasteland


The moment opener “Gunshow” bursts out of the speakers, I was intrigued. With a mix of metalcore and nu metal, these guys know what they’re doing with vocalist Maria Brink and her sick screams leading the way. Next up is “Just Drive”, a more melodic song that sounds like a pissed off version of Evanescence. It’s like they pulled a Soilwork since the release of “” and ended up sounding a lot more melodic and accessible. I know I shouldn’t like this but In This Moment is onto something here. If you can stomach a little bombast here and there that is. Brink is without a doubt a very capable vocalist and whether she’s screaming, singing, whispering, it always sounds good.

Somewhere between Arch Enemy and Paramore, there was a gaping hole in the female-fronted band department and with “A Star-Crossed Wasteland” In This Moment is here to cater to that audience’s need.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.centurymedia.de
http://www.myspace.com/inthismoment

Call To Preserve – Life Of Defiance


“Life Of Defiance” already marks album number three for this christian hardcore outfit out of Florida. With more punishing beats, crushing guitars and some hardcore growling, it’s got everything you’re looking for in a decent hardcore album. Don’t expect any surprises or unexpected twists, this is just straight-up, in your face, pissed off hardcore that comes with lyrics that prove they like to chill with the J-man. They sure as hell don’t sound like the type of guys that will turn the other cheek though… melody and aggression go hand in hand here and if you’ve got a problem with that they’ll rip you a new one with one of their bigass breakdowns. Solid!
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.facedownrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/calltopreserve

Acid Tiger – Acid Tiger


Acid Tiger is an outfit out of Brooklyn, the place where all the hipster bands come to be discovered. These guys are different though. No jangly indierock here with a vocalist that does his best to sound intense and bored at the same time. On top of that Acid Tiger is quite different from what you expect to hear on an album released by Deathwish as well. So now that you know what they don’t sound like, let’s talk a little about what they do sound like.

These guys (featuring Converge’s Ben Koller on drums) sound like hardcore dudes with a love of psychedelic music playing rock jams with some of that Southern flair. That pretty much sums it up and it’s what you get to hear on all seven songs. It’s both the album’s strength and its biggest flaw. Granted, these guys know what they’re doing with fingers flying all over the fretboard while the bass is laying down a thick groove and the production job by Kurt Ballou didn’t hurt things either. But more often than not I found myself skipping ahead to the next song pretty fast because of parts that should’ve been left on the cutting floor. The drum solo in “Big Beat”would’ve been a very obvious choice. That shit is lame even during a live concert!
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.myspace.com/acidtigermusic

I Call Fives – Bad Advice


From New Jersey (where else?) comes I Call Fives who let five fistpumping, barnburning poppunk anthems run free on “Bad Advice”, a digital release on No Sleep Records.

With plenty of vocal action and melodic riffage abound being propelled by a sturdy rhythm section, these dudes have no problem keeping you interested throughout all the songs featured on here. Everything is welded in place tight and while the material on here does sound familiar enough (I think we’ve all heard New Found Glory), they bring their songs with so much energy and enthousiasm that you can’t help but get sucked in.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.nosleeprecs.com
http://www.myspace.com/icallfives

Let Me Run – Broken Strings EP


With a new singer and a new EP, Let Me Run is back for another round. They already left a good impression on me with last year’s “Meet Me At The Bottom” but have improved even more since. With songs like “Brocomotive”, “Ruiner” and the slower jam that is “Corey’s Song” they do a pretty good job of cranking out rocking songs with catchy hooks that linger somewhere between The Ataris, Get Up Kids and The Gaslight Anthem. With plenty of whoo-hoo parts and a love for energetic cuts, Let Me Run is definitely a band to keep an eye on. With “Broken Strings” they prove that they’re moving up in the foodchain!
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.paperandplastick.com
http://www.myspace.com/babyletmerun

Kingdom Of Sorrow – Behind The Blackest Tears


After their banging 2007 debut, it’s good to see that Kingdom Of Sorrow wasn’t a one-time deal for Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta and Crowbar/Down’s Kirk Windstein. “Behind The Blackest Tears” is the name of the new album and it’s a matter of more of the same. Which in case of Kingdom Of Sorrow is definitely not a bad thing. Windstein cranks out some more kickass sludgy riffs and Jasta fucks shit up with his typical hardcore barks. Basically Kingdom Of Sorrow sounds exactly like what you’d expect from a collaboration between these two.

Okay, so some of the songs on here are a bit more melodic and accessible than before and the surprise has already worn off. I’ll give you that. But if you’re looking for some solid headbanging material, then you’ll be all set with “Behing The Blackest Tears” as long as you don’t go in expecting a metal classic.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.myspace.com/kingdomofsorrow

A Loss For Words – Motown Classics


On “Motown Classics” A Loss For Words deliver exactly what they promise with the album… a bunch of motown classics in a poppunk version. Sure, it’s fun for a song or two. Maybe three. Hell, even four. But it all sounds a bit too much like easy money and not very inspired. I doubt anyone’s really waiting for this. After all the Gimme Gimmes have already been doing for this over ten years and I’m not even talking about the Punk Goes… series. There’s only so much punkrock versions of popular songs one can listen to before the novelty has worn off completely.
Score: 5.5 out of 10
http://www.paperandplastick.com
http://www.myspace.com/alossforwords

Devil Sold His Soul – Blessed & Cursed


Devil Sold His Soul is a relatively young UK outfit who have just dropped their second full-length with “Blessed & Cursed”. They started out with an EP in 2005 after having been around for just one year and followed that one up with their first full-length in 2007 (“A Fragile Hope”). They already got some good reviews with that one but I’m thinking “Blessed & Cursed” will see them break through to a much bigger audience.

With an extremely potent mix of metalcore and post-rock, these dudes divide an hour’s worth of music neatly over ten songs that all ebb and flow together nicely. It’s like a mix of Oceansize and Neurosis. Not for the light at heart and definitely not an album that sits well with a sunny day. But goddammit, what glorious noise they make! Sure, it all sounds the same after a while but the way the guitars swirl around and feed off of each other is pretty friggin’ great. As are the vocals which switch perfectly from screaming to singing. It all makes “Blessed & Cursed” a solid album from start to finish.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.centurymedia.de
http://www.devilsoldhissoul.com

21.7.10

AM Taxi – We Don’t Stand A Chance


Featuring Adam Krier on vocals who you still might remember from Lucky Boys Confusion, AM Taxi is a relatively new band who unleashed their debut album last month through Virgin. It’s called “We Don’t Stand A Chance” and sounds surprisingly upbeat in spite of its gloomy title.

The spunky rhythm section makes sure everyone stays in place while the rest of the band does a solid job of creating full-sounding songs that are chock-full of melodic hooks and that rock just nicely. I would’ve liked things to sound a little rawer and grittier but producer Mike McCarthy obviously didn’t agree with me. Something tells me that it’s a different story though if you get the chance to see these guys live.

Songs like the Springsteen-esque “Fed Up”, the perky and upbeat “Charissa”, the Replacements-like “The Mistake” go a long way though and the echoes of The Replacements and The Clash that shine through in several songs only make things sweeter.

Meanwhile Krier is doing his thing with a slightly gritty, scratchy voice. It’s really hard not to draw comparisons to The Gaslight Anthem and while “We Don’t Stand A Chance” is not quite this band’s “The ’59 Sound”, it sure could pose as their “American Slang”.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.virginrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/amtaxi

Stephen Egerton – The Seven Degrees Of…


Six persons is all that stands between us and any other person on the world according to a theory thought up by some guy with way too much time on his hands. I seriously doubt it really took the seminal ALL/Descendents guitarist seven degrees to get in touch with his friends to contribute on his solo album which features different vocalists on every single song seeing as Mr. Egerton isn’t particularly blessed in the vocal department himself.

As always Egerton provided a solid musical backdrop and the vocalists got to do their thing with the lyrics. As it turns out it’s a fun album that sounds more like a compilation thanks to the different singers rather than like a cohesive solo album. Oh well. Listening to Chad Price in “Funny Face” or hearing Tim McIlrath roar in “South For The Winter” makes up for a lot of things.

The best song on the album would have to be “” though. Incidentally it’s also the only song that Egerton wrote completely on his own as a present for his wife. It also sees him reunite with Milo Aukerman and while it’s amazing to hear the two of them complement each other, it also makes me long for a new Descendents album.

All in all this is a rather incohesive but nonetheless fun album that has no lows and a couple of definite highs that reads like a who’s who of punkrock.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.paperandplastick.com
http://www.stephenegerton.com

Junior Battles – Junior Battles 7”


All the way from Toronto come Junior Battles who managed to impress the hell out of me with this self-titled 7”. Think of everything you liked in 90s poppunk. You forgot what that sounded like? Listen to these guys then! They’ve got the sound down pat. From the frisky drums and sparkling yet edgy guitars to the layered vocal patterns, it’s all here spread evenly over four songs with great titles like “Major Label Bidding War” and the Back To The Future throwback that is “Roads? Where We’re Going, We Definitely Need Roads”. Think Jawbreaker and the likes… it’s simply a guarantee for a good time!
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.squareuprecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/juniorbattles

Soulfly – Omen


On album number seven Max Cavalera does exactly what is expected of him. He once again delivers a kickass album that may or may not be as good as predecessor “Conquer” (their best album so far) but is still more than worthy of your time and money.

Soulfly has had a very recognizable sound from day one and that has never really changed (instrumental Soulfly song? Check… lyrics that read like slogans? Check). The biggest difference on “Omen” is that Cavalera seems to have shifted things to a higher gear which only makes for more headbanging pleasure. The guests have always been a big thing on Soulfly albums and with contributions by Prong’s Tommy Victor (“Lethal Injection”) and Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato (“Rise Of The Fallen”) that is once again no different on here. Hell, it’s two of the coolest songs on here.

Cavalera has been going at it for 25 years and if he proves one thing with “Omen”, then it would be that there’s simply no slowing this man down. Still can’t get enough? The new Cavalera Conspiracy album has already been recorded and will be out early 2011.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com
http://www.soulflyweb.com

Veara – What We Left Behind


I had never heard of Veara before but listening to “What We Left Behind”, I immediately realize that I have already heard their songs before. Only back then the band was called New Found Glory. Or was it A Day To Remember? Or was it Set Your Goals? I get so confused sometimes.

Anyway, this album is filled with the kind of poppy hardcore albums that is jam-packed with catchy choruses, melodic hooks and singalongs. Couple all that sweetness to snappy rhythms and crunchy guitars and you’ve got yourself a pretty solid album. If you are into this kinda sound that is. I’ve always been and always will be a sucker for a well-written melody so I’m kind of having a good time with this one.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.epitaph.com
http://www.myspace.com/veara

Off With Their Heads – In Desolation


Following up “From The Bottom” and a two-year stint on the road, Off With Their Heads is back with a new batch of punkrock anthems with more pitch black lyrics. They may have had some people frowning after signing to Epitaph but believe it or not, at one point in time this was actually a label that released great punkrock releases. But I can understand the confusion, you’d be more inclined to expect these sounds on a CD that comes with the No Idea or Fat Wreck logo stenciled on the back. Seriouslythough… do we really care which label releases an album as long as the tunes are good? And “In Desolation” is definitely good.

These Minneapolis natives may sound a little less aggressive on than on “From The Bottom” but it all still sounds pretty friggin’ amazing! Like a gloomier version of Against Me! these dudes wrestle their way through the dozen songs on here with thumping bass lines, fast guitars and faster drums. So what if the guitars sound slicker than before? Every song on here is a winner that comes with a chorus that begs to be belted out loud by a crowd that’s slamming into one another during the verses.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
http://www.epitaph.com
http://www.myspace.com/offwiththeirheads

Rodeo Ruby Love – This Is Why We Don’t Have Nice Things


I had never heard of this Indiana outfit before but listening to “This Is Why We Don’t Have Nice Things” it’s quickly dawning on me that I have been missing out.

While they threw me off with the stripped down and acoustic opener “Elizabeth” (I thought it was a singer/songwriter type of thing), they switch gears going into “America’s Funniest Home Videos”. All of a sudden there’s this outburst of upbeat rhythms , sun-soaked harmonies and jangly guitars that is the perfect soundtrack for the next summer barbecue. Sure, it’s a little cheesy at times. But hell, they sound so vibrant and fun-loving during most of the songs that you can’t help but want to give their cheeks a squeeze.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.crossroadsofamericarecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/rodeorubylove

The Atom Age – Kill Surf City


Following up their split with The Queers, The Atom Age dropped their debut full-length called “Kill Surf City” on Solidarity Recordings a couple of months ago. First thing I saw was the cover which immediately appealed to me. I mean, how many times do you get to see a monkey in a space suit? Not nearly enough would be the right answer!

Musically these guys do have a thing or two in common with Rocket From The Crypt with a couple of nudges and winks towards Voodoo Glow Skulls (“One Minute To Midnight”). So expect to hear these dudes fuse punk and rock ‘n roll together along with some sweet sax sounds. I especially liked “Baby Says”, “Look, Watch And Listen” and the title track in which they add some nice surf sounds to the mix.

Normally I tend to cut debuts some slack seeing as it’s a band’s first release. But that’s not even necessary here. “Kill Surf City” is just a solid listen by a new band that you should keep an eye out for.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.solidarityrecordings.com
http://www.theatomage.net

Mighty Midgets – Raising Ruins For The Future


From Denmark come the Mighty Midgets who manage to throw together a tasty cocktail of fast-paced punkrock and melodic hardcore. It’s a helluva good time to listen to and took me right back to when I first discovered bands like Bigwig, NOFX or - to stay closer to these guys’ home - Satanic Surfers.

“Raising Ruins For The Future” may not be very original, these guys play with so much energy and obvious fun that you can’t help but get sucked in by their enthousiasm. Throw in some socio-political lyrics a la Strike Anywhere and you’re looking at a decent album that will definitely appeal to fans of the abovementioned or A Wilhelm Scream. I especially like how they only seem to know two speeds, fast and faster. Check out “Ruins For The Future” and “Freezing Factory Floors” and thrash your living room. You know you want to!
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.5feetunder.com and a shitload of other labels
http://www.mightymidgets.dk

Isles & Glaciers – The Hearts Of Lonely People


Isles & Glaciers comes with a three-headed vocal attack courtesy of ex-Chiodos front man Craig Owens, ex-Dance Gavin Dance and current Emerosa singer Johnny Craig and Vic Fuentes from Pierce The Veil. That line alone will probably already tell you whether or not you’ll want to give this band a chance.

Backed up further by guitarist/keyboardist Brian Southall from The Receiving End Of Sirens, drummer Mike Fuentes from Pierce The Veil, guitarist Nick Martin of Underminded and Chiodos bassist Matt Goddard this is sort of a supergroup for all the emo chicks out there.

I honestly do kinda like how the three voices swirl around each other and the songs are decent enough, especially considering everyone wrote their parts separately and then puzzled them all together during a one-week recording session. There’s a couple of mellow cuts on here like “Viola Lion” and “Cemetery Weather” along with two instrumentals that are okay but it’s with an upbeat track like “Empty Sighs & Wine” that they really manage to draw the attention to them. At the very least it made me wonder what this could lead to if they managed to find more time together in the studio.

Recommended for fans of Saosin or any of the abovementioned bands.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.equalvision.com
http://www.myspace.com/islesandglaciers

Sky Eats Airplane – The Sound Of Symmetry


First of all, can you consider something an EP if it comes with just three songs? That’s more like a single, isn’t it? Guess these guys really needed a release to let the fans know they’re still around. You can’t even call it a teaser for an upcoming full-length because as far as I can tell there isn’t even a release date in sight for Sky Eats Airplane’s second album.

Anyway, on to the music… as soon as “The Contour” kicks in you know that they still like to concoct a strange cocktail of sounds. It’s kinda poppy with some screaming and technical parts mixed in with all the electronics. The title track is a bit heavier while the last track is more of the same but more mellow and piano-based. Three slightly different sides of a band that in the end doesn’t really manage to surprise. Kind of like a Hot Topic-friendly version of earlierThrice. The only difference is that here none of the songs stick after you’ve heard them.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.equalvision.com
http://www.myspace.com/skyeatsairplane

Bettye Lavette – Interpretations : The British Rock Songbook


A couple of years ago Bettye LaVette reclaimed her place in the spotlights with 2005’s “I’ve Got My Own Hell To Raise” and 2007’s “Scene Of The Crime” and impressed the hell out of everyone. No Drive-By Truckers backing her up this time around, but she’s back nevertheless with an album full of interpretations of British pop classics. Story goes that the idea for this album came to life when Pete Townsend told LaVette that he was truly moved after having heard her rendition of “Love Reign O’er Me” at some gala in 2008.

I think it’s pretty common knowledge that American blues and soul had a profound influence on British pop and rock so it’s cool to hear what an American can do with songs by The Beatles (“The Word”), The Rolling Stones (“Salt Of The Earth”) and Elton John (“Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”).

Apparently a helluva lot because this lady has no problem whatsoever transforming all of those songs in soul cuts, completely making them her own in the process. Hell, even The Animals, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd get the LaVette treatment on here. It all sounds pretty impressive. If you’re looking for some sweet soul sounds, don’t hesitate to pick up your copy of “Interpretations”.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.anti.com
http://www.bettyelavette.com

17.7.10

The Menzingers interview


One of the bands that I find myself listening to a lot these days is called The Menzingers. They just released a new album called "Chamberlain Waits" and it once again kicks ass. Read on to see what Greg had to tell us.

PRT: For the people out there who haven't heard you before... if The Menzingers were the lovechild of two other bands, which acts would've had sex and which position were you conceived in?
Greg: Hmm lets go with The Clash getting hot and steamy with The Replacements while Mountain Goats frolic in the backyard.

PRT: When you guys released "A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology" you were still very young and - from what I've read in other interviews - you didn't really know what you were doing. How have things changed for you in those couple of years?
Greg: Well first, we learned what to do! To put things in perspective, I was 18 years old when we recorded that record. We had to get Messy, the engineer, to buy us beer during the session! We had never previously went on tour and at that point I think we were all living at our parents houses. Also, It seems like most bands gradually find there way into all of this and learn the ways from previous bands etc. This is our first go at being a full time band. We're still trying to figure everything out.

PRT: It's not the same thing but I remember when I started my zine ten years ago, I didn't have a clue either (or a single contact for that matter) but it was all new and exciting and a lot of fun. Then before you know it, there's a routine and it sometimes feels like work. Fun work but still... is it the same for you guys?
Greg: Yeah for sure. There's obviously something special about finally doing something you've only romanticized about before. I think the important part is to make sure everything stays fresh. Hotels are boring every night. Sometimes its totally worth taking up the offer for the "friend of Jimmys cousins girlfriends"- type of house party. That's usually your best chance to shoot some guns in the backyard and teach everyone cowboy shotguns.

PRT: You have a new album called Chamberlain Waits which is out now on Red Scare. So far all the reviews I've seen vary from positive to raving. What does that do with a guy?
Greg: It stokes a guy! We're really proud of the album and its rewarding to see positive press for it. Just dont talk to the dude from Absolutepunk about it. He'll go on some nonsense tangent.

PRT: I read somewhere that you wrote the majority of the songs in the two months before entering the studio. Are you guys procrastinators and do you need to feel some pressure in need to get it all done?
Greg: Haha I'd say we're pretty big procrastinators, but we found its much easier to write in a shorter block of time than a longer one. 9 outta 10 times Tom and I will come in with a super basic structure for the songs and then we'll build from there. Some of the songs were roughly structured a while back. I remember playing a recognizible version of "Timetables" at a pool party a week before we first moved to Philly, 2 years ago. I know Toms been kicking around Male Call for a while too.

PRT: You have a lot of literary references in your lyrics. Which one of you guys is the avid reader? And why should kids read more books rather than tweeting all day long?
Greg: I'd say we're all avid readers. I lucked out pretty hard with being the only person who can read while in the van though. Everyone else gets car sick. Maybe they should start tweeting less.

PRT: Another band that has literary references abound is The Lawrence Arms. Musically as well you have a thing or two in common with them. So I'm guessing they have been an influence for you . What's it like to know that you're pretty much in the same place as those guys now?
Greg: The Lawrence Arms are definitely a big influence on us and I'm really glad we can call them all friends. I still remember driving up to Scranton and buying "The Greatest Story Ever Told" on a complete wim, without ever hearing of TLA before. I must have listened to that record 10 times before I got home. Its still one of my all time favorites. We're definitely not at the same place as the Lawrence Arms but Brendan seems to think we will be soon. I think hes been drinking too much.

PRT: I heard something about an acoustic EP that's in the works. Is that really going to happen? Is it going to be all new material or acoustic versions of older songs?
Greg: It is going to happen! In fact, Tom and I played an acoustic show last night and the new songs went over pretty damn well. Hopefully we can get it out this fall.

PRT: You're touring quite a bit these days. Is The Menzingers now a full time job for you?
Greg: Pretty much. By the end of this year we'll have spent 6 months touring. so I guess its right in the middle.

PRT: Is there a European tour in the works? You guys should definitely come over!
Greg: It is! November? Dont quote me on that though. Yeah, lets go with November.

The Audition – Great Danger


With their third album in three years, The Audition is quickly building up a respectable back catalog. If you’ve already heard one of their previous albums, then you’ll know what to expect of “Great Danger”… more radio-friendly pop-rock with some cute harmonies.

The album starts off well enough with cuts like “Let Me Know” or “You Ruined This”. Once you start working your way further down the tracklisting though, the songs all start to blend together and you will most definitely find some traces of filler. These guys even went with the obligatory acoustic track this time around (“Runaway”), a song that no one would’ve missed.

“The Great Danger” is a fun poppy album that won’t hurt anyone. It does however drag in some areas and generally doesn’t sound very inspired. Maybe next time they’d be better off breaking through the routine of an album a year and spending some more time sifting through their material.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.victoryrecords.com
http://www.theauditionrocks.com

Thee Wylde Oscars – Right, Yeah


While the lyrics on here would’ve made Oscar Wylde frown more than a little bit, these dudes do know how to rock. It’s as basic and uncomplicated as rock ‘n roll can get with bass, drums, guitar and a vocalist. But they have tons of energy going on along with the occasional organ and harmonica which makes it a lot of fun to listen to.

There’s not a whole lot more to say about this album… this is Wylde rock ‘n roll that will make you want to shake your hips. Plus it includes an energetic cover of The Velvet Underground’s “White Light, White Heat”. Energetic? Yes. Because if there’s one thing these guys don’t do then it’s taking their foot off of the gas.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.offthehip.com.au
http://www.myspace.com/theewyldeoscars

The Frowning Clouds – Listen Closelier


I never even heard of the town Geelong in Australia and maybe I’m not alone. Maybe nobody has ever heard of the town! And those who had at some point heard about it, just forgot all about it. That might be how come they’re stuck in some kind of timewarp over there that started way back in the sixties. Yeah, that would explain a lot actually. It would sure as hell explain how The Frowning Clouds managed to capture that era’s pop sounds so well. It’s not that they’re simply ripping off other acts or paying tribute. Nope, it sounds more like they’re living the damn thing with tons of reverb, simple harmonies and equally simple yet effective riffs and a whole lot of song titles that contain either the word ‘I’ or ‘me’.

Yup, this is how the Stones used to rock back in the day before they needed oxygen bottles onstage. Whether it’s a gimmick or not, it doesn’t make “Listen Closelier” any less fun to listen to.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.offthehip.com.au
http://www.myspace.com/thefrowningclouds

Taproot – Plead The Fifth


With new releases by Korn, Deftones and Linkin Park, it’s as if the sounds of the late nineties are staging a comeback. Other bands from that era all seem to turn to Victory Records with the label acting as some sort of haven for these almost forgotten bands. After Otep, it’s up to Taproot now (and Ill Nino next month) to let their nu metal flag fly with “Plead The Fifth”, their first release on Victory.

It’s a pretty solid offering. I’m just not sure how many of their fans are still around waiting for this. Opener “Now Rise” immediately sets the tone with nice riffage, Stephen Richards’ vocal work and tons of groove. With other tracks like “Fractured (Everything I Said Was True)”, “Release Me” and “No View Is True”, these guys manage to keep it up for most of the album. Unfortunately there’s a couple of clunkers on here as well with “Words Don’t Mean A Thing” as the album’s absolute low. It’s just way too poppy for their own good!

If you’re a longtime fan, you’ll definitely dig “Plead The Fifth” a helluva lot more than its predecessor but it isn’t the ultimate Taproot album either.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.victoryrecords.com
http://www.taprootmusic.com

Far – At Night We Live


As “Deafening” comes crashing through the speakers, it’s clear that Far is back and it’s as if the ten or so years between “Water & Solutions” and “At Night We Live” never happened. Not to cash in on their reputation from back in the day like some other reunited bands, but simply to rock. Don’t go in expecting an album that will blow you clean out of your shoes, “At Night We Live” is just a solid release by an equally solid outfit.

There’s a couple of songs on here that hit hard and there’s a couple of mellow cuts. You’ve got your soaring choruses, nice riffage and catchy hooks. The production – courtesy of guitarist Shaun Lopez - is as solid as everything else on here with a clear and warm sound as a result. It’s got everything you’re looking for in a rock album but nothing more. Which is probably its only ‘flaw’. After so many years of silence fans might be expecting an album that tops Far’s other releases and “At Night We Live” did not turn out to be that album. But yes, their take on Ginuwine’s “Pony” is included as well.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.arcticrodeorecordings.com
http://www.myspace.com/far

Deadline interview

Deadline is a cool punkrock band that has been around for quite some years already and that has been consistently dropping releases that are worth listening to. An interview couldn't wait any longer so we got in touch with Herve, one of the driving forces behind the band and husband of vocalist Liz.

PRT: You’ve started an extensive European tour a couple of days ago… how’s that working out for you so far?
Herve: It worked out well, we finished the tour last month and we have had some great dates on it. Germany rocked as usual but we also played some cool shows in Zagreb, Bratislava, Prague and Budapest.

PRT: Half of the band lives in England, the other half in France… are you guys able to go on tour together during the World Cup?
Herve: Aahah, we don't care about football, the French team is rubbish anyway, and England is not much better, they are all over-paid crybabies who complain for nothing. They should send them to bootcamp and strip them of all their privileges! Take'em all!

PRT: Your new album is called “Bring The House Down”. Is that a kind of band motto?
Herve: Yes, kind of, we always try to have a good time on stage and we love it when the gigs are big parties and everyone goes nuts. We would like to take the credit and say WE bring the house down... but sometimes it's up to the crowd to make a good show an exceptional one!

PRT: On every album you have a couple of songs that could’ve just as well been on your first album. But over the years you guys have become a little poppier with every single release as well. Do you catch a lot of flack from older fans about that?
Herve: Some old fans complain about it but that's the way it is. We cannot keep writing and recording the same album every time. I don't think we have gone any poppier, we just know how to write and produce catchier songs and we are using Liz's voice to its full potential now.

PRT: You’ve been with People Like You for quite some time now. Have you ever thought about switching labels that might let you reach a whole other and even bigger audience?
Herve: If Sony or Columbia music knocks on our door we'll ceratinly consider the offers, but I don't think it will ever happen, we're not young pups anymore, being with People Like You is just the right balance for us I reckon.

PRT: One thing I’ve already read a couple of times is that people consider the Nancy Sinatra cover the weakest song on the album. Why did you decide to cover that specific song?
Herve: Liz loves that song, very girl power, she thought it'd make a nice cover. It's not as powerful as the other songs but it was fun recording it.

PRT: I read somewhere that you take care of everything that has to do with the band yourself. Why did you decide to work that way?
Herve: Well, Liz and I take care of everything, this way there's no-one to blame if things go wrong, See, we have more motivation than the other guys in the band. They just wanna be in it for the free beers!

PRT: Is Deadline a fulltime job for you now or do you all still have dayjobs?
Herve: We all have day jobs (or night shifts), I am a teacher!

PRT: I don’t know too many bands with a married couple in them… how’s that working out for you?
Herve: Not too bad, we take care of each other, it's like being on holiday all the time.

PRT: Is it true that you never really rehearse prior to going on tour?
Herve: True, we never rehearse. We didn't even rehearse the new album!!! All done through mp3 exchanges on the www. The only way we get away with it is because everyone is on top of their game when it comes to playing music... if nothing else.

PRT: What’s up next for Deadline after this tour?
Herve: Playing some big euro fests this summer and taking it easy in autumn!

8.7.10

Anew Revolution – iMerica


Anew Revolution is made up of former Slaves On Dope and Unloco members. Based on that you can pretty much already guess what you’ll hear on “”iMerica”… slick modern metal with a very accessible sound. But you can just as well pass it off as nu metal or hard rock if you’re so inclined.

This Texas-based outfit knows what they’re doing on songs like “Head Against The Wall” and “Crucify”. It all sounds angry enough but there’s no real edge here. And of course there’s the obligatory ballad as well which comes in the form of “Take Me Over” here.

If you’re a fan of acts like Sevendust or Drowning Pool, this is pretty much a no-brainer. People who aren’t a fan of modern rock stations should refrain.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.e1entertainment.com
http://www.anewrevolutionband.com

V/A – Punk Goes Classic Rock


The Punk Goes… series was fun at first until it became an excuse for shitty bands to play shitty covers. Unfortunately “Punk Goes Classic Rock” is not an exception to the rule.

Then again, I’m probably not part of the target demographic here. I always thought that “We Are The Champions” was a crap song to begin with and I sure as hell was not waiting to hear Mayday Parade’s take on it. Neither did I want to hear Hit The Lights cover the godawful “More Than A Feeling”.

There are always a couple of songs on these comps as well where the original version is great and the cover version is just fucked. In this case that’s “Paint It Black”, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” and “All Along The Watchtower”. Just leave those songs alone, there’s absolutely nothing a mediocre band can add to the original version.

Pretty much the only redeemable songs on this mess are The Almost’s version of “Free Fallin’” and I See Stars’ “Your Love”. Other than that this is just one shiny auto-tuned pile of shit. I mean, a poppunk version of “Bohemian Rhapsody”? Come on!
Score: 2 out of 10
http://www.fearlessrecords.com

Streetlight Manifesto – 99 Songs Of Revolution : Vol. 1


The first installment of what will eventually become an eight-part series of cover albums has finally been released by Streetlight Manifesto after a couple of tentative release dates. Both Streetlight Manifesto and their other project Bandits Of The Acoustic Revolution will release two albums each as will two as of yet unnamed projects.

The songs these guys have picked come from all over the place and span multiple decades. You’ll find Bad Religion (“Skyscraper”) and NOFX (a most excellent acoustic version of “Linoleum”) covers that go hand in hand with Simon & Garfunkel (“Red Rubber Ball”), Radiohead (“Creep”) and the one hit wonder that was Cyrkle. There’s even room for some jazz with a cover of Louis Jordan’s “The Troubadour”.

The coolest thing about “99 Songs Of Revolution” is that Streetlight Manifesto obviously spent a helluva lot time on making these songs completely their own. It can’t have been an easy task to transform some of these songs into skapunk anthems but I have to hand it to them. They did a great job. If you didn’t know any better, one could easily mistake this for a new Streetlight Manifesto album. And yes, that’s meant as a compliment.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.victoryrecords.com
http://www.streetlightmanifesto.com

Campus – Oh, Comely!


Campus already managed to mildly impress with their 2008 debut “We Are The Silence” but what they’re doing on “Oh, Comely” is something of a whole new level. They upped the intensity, got rid of most of the clean vocals only using them when it really suits the songs and came out with an album that’s a solid mix of post-rock and metalcore that you don’t really hear that often in Belgium.

Right from the opener you are caught off guard by the powerful production job as “Kings Of Yore” bursts out of the speakers. It makes it clear right from the start that this is an album that goes boom. These manage to keep things interesting throughout the entire album (something that was lacking in its predecessor) by experimenting with post-rock soundscapes. Check out a cut like “Swindler I” and be amazed by a whole different side of this band. They even keep one of the best songs for last and as “Whiteout” rings out, there’s nothing left for me to but congratulate the guys in Campus on a job well done.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.funtimerecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/campusbe

Refused – The Shape Of Punk To Come


People always claim that it’s better to burn out than fade away and that’s exactly what Refused did. They released a splinterbomb of an album in 1998 and called it a day only a couple of weeks later. Twelve years after its initial release, there’s now a re-released deluxe version and if you don’t already have a copy of the original in your collection, there is no longer an excuse not to go out and pick up “The Shape Of Punk To Come” now.

This release not only includes the album (duh!) but also a live disc (featuring more straightforward material from earlier releases alongside cuts like “New Noise” and “Refused Party Program”) and the 2006 documentary “Refused Are Fucking Dead”. But even without these extras, you should own this album if you’re even remotely interested in punkrock or hardcore. The Shape Of Punk To Come? God, looking at all those crappy emo bands that call the shots these days, I can only say ‘I wish’. Classic album!
Score: 10 out of 10
http://www.epitaph.com
http://www.myspace.com/refused

The Tower Of Dudes – Earl


The Tower Of Dudes get to call the beautiful city of Prague (that’s in the Czech Republic for all you nitwits out there) home and claim to be not just another accordion-laced cow-punk band. Yet they play a kind of folkified punk with a lot of Eastern European influences and yes, there’s an accordion involved.

But you’ll get to hear mandolin, banjo, melodica, glockenspiel, washboard, cello and a trumpet just as well. Musically the songs things are pretty upbeat and along with the humor they display both in their lyrics and the in-between songs banter, it makes for a pretty entertaining album. I have no idea who else to compare them to so I’m gonna have to go with a slightly less rebel-rousing version of Gogol Bordello. Which is still pretty good I guess.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.dovetailrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/thetowerofdudes

Refuse Resist – Socialized


Refuse Resist from Boston doesn’t offer any Sepultura-like sounds on “Socialized. Instead they like to throw some simple yet effective hardcore punk at you and hope it sticks. Think The Bruisers, A Global Threat and you’re not too far off the mark. The music on here is as straight-forward as the lyrics which linger somewhere between personal and socio-political.

It’s one of those albums where I’m not sure whether or not I really like it. One minute I do, the next it all seems a little of almost but not quite. Plus the vocals of frontman Shawn Refuse (he sounds kinda like Slapshot’s Choke) can become kinda tedious after a couple of tracks. But at the same time it’s quite a lot of fun to listen to.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.iscreamrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/refuseresistband

Anarbor – The Words You Don’t Swallow


Following up their “Free Your Mind” EP, Anarbor recently dropped their debut full-length “The Words You Don’t Swallow”. It is filled with the instantly forgettable kind of poppunk songs that seem to be written with the specific purpose of being included on as many of soundtracks of TV shows featuring teen drama as possible. Clich├ę-riddled hooks, lyrics and vocals make this an album to shy away from unless you’re one of those people who like their TV shows as bland as possible as well. So who was I talking about here again?
Score: 4 out of 10
http://www.hopelessrecords.com
http://www.anarbor.net

Framing Hanley – A Promise To Burn


Framing Hanley is a band I had never heard about and listening to “A Promise To Burn” I quickly found out that I hadn’t really been missing out on much. With a mix of post-grunge, emo and modern rock they wrestle their way through thirteen songs, none of which are memorable.

Most of the songs here are mid-tempo affairs that all pretty much sound alike with the too ballad-y for their own good duo of “Weight of the World” and “Fool with Dreams” as an absolute low. I guess it makes Framing Hanley one of those bands you wouldn’t mind too much when you heard them on the radio, but who otherwise will forever remain anonymous as hell.
Score: 5.5 out of 10
http://www.silentmajoritygroup.com
http://www.myspace.com/framinghanley

Danko Jones – Below The Belt


By now everybody knows that Danko Jones is a one trick rock ‘n roll pony. But it was a very good trick so who are we to complain? But than the Canadian brawler dropped “Never Too Loud” in 2008 and the love was instantly less. So the big questions is... can Danko Jones redeem himself with “Below The Belt”?

Right from opener “Think Bad Thoughts” you know the answer to that question is a wholehearted yes. Gone is the all out flirting with the airwaves, it has made way again for some sweet sounds you can rock and roll to. And that’s even before you’ve heard the Kiss tribute that is “Active Volcanoes” or the ├╝berawesome riff of first single “Full Of Regret”. The rhythm section sounds tighter than ever, the production is all nice and krispy and Jones himself is his nasty self. Now all he needs are some new stage moves and he’ll be right back where he was before “Never Too Loud”.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.badtasterecords.se
http://www.dankojones.com

All Time Low – Straight To DVD


I’ll come right out and say it... All Time Low is one of my guilty pleasures. Hell, it’s not even that guilty come to think of it. If you’re into the likes of Sugarcult, you are sure to approve of All Time Low’s take on poppunk which is full of melodic hooks, big choruses and nice upbeat songs. Just listen to cuts like “Lost In Stereo” or “Stella” and find out what they’re all about.

Why they would want to release something like “Straight To DVD” is beyond me though. This CD/DVD combo features a documentary where the band talks about their history and in between you’re treated to a whole lot of dick jokes. Not really a necessity in my book. There’s also a live performance filmed in New York at Hammerstein Ballroom in December 2009. The band plays songs spanning their ‘entire’ career with guest appearances by Juliet Simms of Automatic Loveletter, Andrew Goldstein of The Friday Night Boys and Travis Clark of We The Kings.

I guess if you’re a diehard fan, you might want to pick this up. Everyone else is better off with the studio albums where at least you don’t have to endure the seemingly endless screaming of teenage girls in between songs.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.hopelessrecords.com
http://www.alltimelow.com

7.7.10

Jack Johnson – To The Sea


Up until recently writing a Jack Johnson album review was a matter of simply copy/pasting the review of his previous album and replacing the song titles. This surfer gone songwriter has a lot of things going for him but innovation isn’t really one of his biggest characteristics.

Same thing once again with “To The Sea”… it’s an album filled with campfire songs that become a logical option once you’ve all joined in on that 10-minute rendition of “Kumbaya My Lord”. It’s the type of songs that make you want to put on your board shorts and go chill in a hammock with a mojito. Nothing wrong with that especially during songs like “Only The Ocean” and the title track. But some of the songs on here make too little of an impression to really be noteworthy.

This album is a first for me though seeing as it was recorded entirely with the help of solar energy. Which is kind of a cool thing to do.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.brushfirerecords.com
http://www.jackjohnsonmusic.com

Band Of Horses – Infinite Arms


PunkRockTheory favorites Band Of Horses are back with a new album called “Infinite Arms”, their first for a major label. And honestly, we couldn’t be happier about it. Even more so than on its predecessor “Cease To Begin”, this one sees them going back to the folkrock sounds of the seventies which leads to heartwarming songs like opener “Factory” and “Blue Beard”. In other words, even more Neil Young and even less The Shins. Vocalist Ben Bridwell found a way to sound even more yearning, the arrangements have become even richer and the melodies are as beautiful as ever. And then I haven’t even mentioned “Laredo”, which is the best song Wilco didn’t write.

The band produced the album mostly themselves with additional production from Phil Ek (The Shins) who seems to specialize in giving bands an melancholic and warm sound. Mission accomplished! “Infinite Arms” is an album that sees Band Of Horses going for a broader sounds while staying true to their roots and I’m pretty friggin’ sure that they’ll be playing in the big leagues in no time.
Score: 9 out of 10
http://www.columbiarecords.com
http://www.bandofhorses.com

Hands Like Glass – With Unveiled Faces EP


Hands Like Glass is the latest in a line of recent bands who try to combine electronic dance music with loud guitars. And just like their peers, they fail miserably.

There’s just no way a combination of trance and chugga chugga guitars, double bass drums, guitar squeals and a vocalist who sounds like that dude from Saosin will ever work. It only leads to crappy music and people looking like idiots while trying to dance to a misplaced mishmash of styles.
Score: 3 out of 10
http://www.authentikartists.com
http://www.myspace.com/handslikeglass

Jakob Dylan – Women + Country


It can’t be easy to follow in the musical footsteps of your father, especially if your father is Bob Dylan. Yet that didn’t stop Jakob Dylan from releasing a couple of great albums with his band The Wallflowers before going solo. He has now released his second album, “Women + Country”, and just like its predecessor it’s filled with gentle songs that get under your skin.

With the help of fine people such as producer T Bone Burnett and Neko Case, this is a very mellow affair with lyrics about serious subjects such as spirituality, hope and love. Which makes sense when your album is called “Women + Country”.

This leads to heartbreakingly beautiful songs such as “We Don’t Live Here Anymore”, the Tom Waits-like waltz that is “Lend A Hand” and most of all, “Everybody’s Hurting”. As Dylan shuffles through the dozen songs assisted by muted percussion, strummed acoustic guitars and some steel guitar sounds, I can honestly tell you that this is very, very good.
Score: 9 out of 10
http://www.columbiarecords.com
http://www.jakobdylan.com

Audra Mae – The Happiest Lamb


Meet Audra Mae who just dropped her first album “The Happiest Lamb”. While she may be the grandniece of Judy Garland, musically she’s more akin to Nancy Sinatra, Leslie Gore and Wanda Jackson. And I’m not just saying that as a comparison. No, the songs on “The Happiest Lamb” can very well stand on their own two feet next to those other women’s material.

The well thought out arrangements and warm backup vocals are very good but ultimately only serve to make Mae’s voice shine even more. Whether it’s the upbeat title song or the gently trickling country shuffle that is “The River”, this is an album that comes highly recommended if you’re even remotely into the sound that is Americana.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.sideonedummy.com
http://www.myspace.com/audramae

Everyone Everywhere – Everyone Everywhere


Remember how emo once upon a time wasn’t a synonym for crappy music for teenagers who like to twist their nuts into vice-like jeans? Well, meet Everyone Everywhere out of Philadelphia who on their self-titled full-length offer you a refresher course of what the fuzz was all about back in the day.

Their playful and melodic songs brim with energy and when strung together form the perfect summer album with a sound that takes me right back to the days when The Get Up Kids, Promise Ring, Braid and Texas Is The Reason provided the soundtrack to my life.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
http://wwwtinyengines.net
http://www.everyoneeverywheremusic.com