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The Get Up Kids - There are rules

By Christophe

I was pretty stoked when I heard The Get Up Kids were gonna get back together, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the brilliant "Something to Write Home About". The shows were well worth my time and money.

After all, the band seemed to have a whole lot of fun on stage, playing old songs and pleasing fans like yours truly.

With this new found enthousiasm, the band returned to the studio. First, a 7". Which, honestly, wasn't all that good.

Now there's a new full length, "There are rules". And with the first two songs I honestly thought the guys had returned to their succesful roots, rocking like never before. Both "Tithe" and "Regent's Court" are awesome songs.

What follows, however, is a relatively strange half an hour, where The Get Up Kids expand their indie rock, or emo if you will, with a whole bunch of electronic sounds. It's weird.

Now, I'm okay with bands experimenting a little. The problem is that they don't get away with it on every song., resulting in mediocrity at best. Also, it creates a somewhat sterile sounding, eighties-like environment.

It's not all bad, of course. But it's a little different than expected. I'd never thought I'd mention Gang of Four (or Bloc Party, for that matter) in a review of a Get Up Kids album.

Obviously, TGUK had fun writing this album. It shows in every aspect. Alas, I didn't have fun listening to each and every song. I know they can do better.
Score: 6,5 out of 10
Quality Hill Records

Mighty Sphincter - Resurrection

By Christophe

These two songs mark the return of the weird punk/goth/metal/...-band Mighty Sphincter. These guys have been around since the early eighties, and have been playing a very odd, unsettling and uncomfortable kind of music on a pretty consistent basis.

Call it some kind of punk/goth version of Alice Cooper.

Which is exactly what you can experience on side A, the title track of the 7".

Side B is a 6 minute bit of weirdness, that sounds like a horror movie with an acoustic guitar, an accordeon and creepy whispering vocals.

In all its freakishness, "Resurrection" is a fascinating EP. But you'll have to be a fan of theatrical, horror-themed antics to fully appreciate this.

... And no...Watching "Twilight" won't do the trick.
Score: 7 out of 10

Creepout / Integrity - Love is... the only weapon

By Christophe

It's quite possible you'll have to look hard to get your hands on a copy of this split EP. The 7" is limited to only 340 copies, the cd is limited to 666.

Nevertheless, it's well worth looking for.

The three songs Creepout contributed are highly moshable bits of classic NYHC, spiced up with some Clevo-style variations within the songs. Very aggressive stuff indeed. Which, of course, is the essence of hardcore. My guess: if you like bands like, say, One Life Crew, you'll be into this easily.

Next up is the almighty Integrity. They actually only recorded one song for this split record, but with around 6 minutes of mayhem, you don't really need any more songs. After a clean intro follows a very slow, sludgy first part, before shifting into gears for some good old-fashioned angry and fast-paced Integrity. The recording quality is pretty shaky, but that doesn't matter. The intensity is there, as is the violence and menacing growls. And a heavy metal solo. Yeah, really... What's up with that?
Score: 7,5 out of 10

Seven Sisters of Sleep - S/T

By Christophe

I tend to find doom/sludge pretty dull. The sheer repetitiveness of the riffs, the lengthy songs, it doesn't do to me what it's meant to do to listeners: hypnotize and carry along on a headbanging trip into the dark abyss of the human mind.

But what if you'd compress those lengthy songs into freaky and intimidatingly heavy bits of, oh, say, 1 minute and 49 seconds?

Basically, that's what Seven Sisters of Sleep do. They took a very punkrock approach to an otherwise somewhat or sometimes boring genre.

And gosh darn it, this website is called "punkrocktheory", isn't it? With 8 songs in just under 20 minutes, this is more of an EP than a full-length. But the stoner riffs, gnarly vocals and straight-forward approach take no prisoners. Fans of Melvins or Sleep or Amen Ra or Neurosis with a short attention span, as well as the guards at Gitmo Bay, will be very happy to feel miserable listening to this gut-wrenching piece of ear-candy.
Score: 8 out of 10

The Composure – Strings Attached

When members of one band start a side-project, it’s very hard not to start comparing the two of them. It becomes even harder when the side-project’s sound is not all that different from its members’ main activity. Such is the case with The Composure, whose Paul Menotiades and Cory Muro are also part of Punchline. To make the link between both acts even stronger, they chose to release “Strings Attached” on Modern Short Stories, Punchline bandmates Steve Soboslai and Chris Fafalios’ label.

So is this basically another Punchline album? Well no, the songs on “Strings Attached” tend to stay within the mid-tempo range, touches of keyboard further embellish most of the songs and they put the emphasis on the first part of the word pop-punk. Oh, and the lyrics all seem to deal with girls.

What The Composure do have in common with Punchline are the ridiculously catchy and slick songs. While I don’t think that all the Punchline fans will automatically like The Composure (it is very sugary at times), there will definitely be a lot of other people who will like “Strings Attached”.
Score: 7 out of 10

Infernaeon – From Genesis To Nemesis

After a seemingly endless keyboard-driven intro that goes absolutely nowhere, Infernaeon dishes out a mix of death and blackened metal. It all feels terribly uninspired and bland and the keyboards that seem to force their way into pretty much every song, never add anything to the material at hand.

I guess it says something when the best song on an album is a Metallica cover? Yup, these Floridian metalheads cover “Creeping Death” with a little help from Gwar’s Oderus Urungus yet forgot to include something of themselves. Without that, what’s the point in covering a song? Unless you want to make sure you’ve got at least one decent song on the album. In that case, mission accomplished. For everything else, “From Genesis To Nemesis” has ‘failed’ written all over it.
Score: 3.5 out of 10

Antagonist – World In Decline

These dudes may be from Southern California, there’s nothing mellow about them and judging from what I heard, I doubt they like to chillax. Instead they’re out to prove to the world that they know how to shred. They expertly do so by combining metal with hardcore on album number four, “World In Decline”.

The bleak lyrical matter goes hand in hand with the Gothenburg-inspired metalcore that was all the hype a couple of years ago. Hell, they even throw in a couple of old-fashioned Kirk Hammett-style guitar solos. Gasp!

You’d be hard-pressed calling Antagonist innovative and while they aren’t as good as some of the other bands that spearheaded the genre (Darkest Hour, As I Lay Dying), you could do a lot worse if this is your kind of music.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Mixtapes – A Short Collection Of Short Songs

Mixtapes is one of those bands that seemingly come out of nowhere and are then being hyped like you wouldn’t believe. Yet up til now I had never heard one of their songs. And so the band’s new EP “A Short Collection Of Short Songs” served as my introduction to the Ohio phenomenon known as Mixtapes.

I can see why they would be hyped but I can also imagine why some people would hate this band. They play pop-punk that is heavily influenced by the power pop and indie rock of the 90s… that’s three genres I love in one sentence and guess what? These guys and one girl combine all three of them flawlessly. Sometimes they get dangerously close to sounding cheesy or a bit too cutesy, but it never really becomes embarrassing.

Where does that leave me? Part of the hype machine I guess…
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Annabel – Here We Are Tomorrow 7”

Following up their full-length “Each And Everyone”, Ohio’s Annabel are back with a 5-song 7” called “Here We Are Tomorrow”. They pick things right up where they left off and dive headfirst into some more of that indiepop we’ve grown quite fond of over here at PRT headquarters.

“Here We Are Tomorrow” starts off with “The Forgetting Of Names And Faces”, which contains all of their trademarks… great melodies, bouncy rhythms, a warm glow and that punky energy that is channeled through poppy songs. It’s like a paper plane that dreams about taking off for the moon while it coasts around on a hot summer breeze. No idea where that just came from… maybe I should stop writing reviews and get into bad poetry.

Just do yourself a favor and pick this one up. The rest of the songs are equally good and rocking as the opening track and while the digital only bonus track “The Secrets Of Learning” is a bit different from the rest and heads more for Death Cab territory, it’s pretty friggin’ solid as well.
Score: 8 out of 10

Your Memorial – Atonement

All the way from Minnesota comes Your Memorial. They self-released their debut album a year or two ago, toured, got picked up by Facedown and are now dropping the big number two, “Atonement”.

Yes, it’s time for some more metalcore… growled vocals, chugga chugga riffs, one-note breakdowns, the occiasional melodic riff… it’s all present and accounted for and it’s all so goddamn predictable. Gotta hand it to these guys though… they at least try to spice things up with three instrumental, more atmospheric parts that are actually worth listening to. It’s just the songs in between that bore me to death. We’ve already had a band called Misery Signals, don’t need another one. Guess we can’t really hold it against them though. That whole scene basically consists of nothing but clones.
Score: 4 out of 10


Wax Phantom – Don’t Fool With A Phantom

Named after a Scooby Doo villain, Wax Phantom recently released the 6-song “Don’t Fool With A Phantom” EP, which is named after the first episode in which the Wax Phantom appears.

So much for the trivia… this band comes with members of Iron Chic, Small Arms Dealer and Jonesin’ all throwing their weight behind it. You know what that should sound like. Gruff vocals, great melodies, loud guitars and I'm willing to bet that one of them is sporting a beard… that’s what I’m talking about! Fest material!
Score: 7 out of 10

The Carmines – Older, Fatter, Wider

From the sunny shores of Southern California come The Carmines. Right off of their surfboard and into the studio they went to record “Older, Fatter, Wider”. Expect to hear ten songs full of distorted guitars, poppy melodies, plenty of Beach Boys-like ooh’s and aah’s. Yup, these guys wear their Ramones, Screeching Weasel and Queers influences on the sleeves of their leather jackets.

It’s not like they’re doing anything remotely new but they are pretty good at this kind of pop-punk. If you like any of the abovementioned bands, chances are you’ll dig The Carmines as well.
Score: 7 out of 10

Iskald – The Sun I Carried Alone

On album number three, Norway’s Iskald continue to dish out some dark as fuck traditional black metal. The only differences are more complex arrangements and a better production, which only helps the album make its point more clearly.

“The Sun I Carried Alone” opens with an instrumental intro that sets the mood before the demons are unleashed. I don’t like it when things turn into one big blastfeast afterwards and I’m happy to say there are plenty of tempo changes to be found, which only makes things more interesting. While maintaining that frosty sound they’ve become known for, these dudes are not afraid to throw in some melodies either. In some parts they even head for Opeth territory with some fairly melancholic parts.

Overall Iskald deliver another damn solid album that is very consistent throughout. Nothing more but definitely nothing less either.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

V/A – Jackass 3D Soundtrack

With a new movie comes a new soundtrack that runs the gamut with a selection of genres that’s as out there as the dudes that make up the Jackass collective and their exploits.

Opening the album is the operatic remix of the Jackass theme by NASA’s Squeak E. Clean, which is quickly followed by Weezer’s new single “Memories” and Yeah Yeah Yeah’s frontwoman Karen O’s twangy rendition of “If You’re Gonna Be Dumb, You Gotta Be Tough”.

Also included are classic punk cuts by the Smut Peddlers, Gang Green and Cock Sparrer alongside Twisted Sister’s “The Kids Are Back” and they bluesy “I’m Shakin’” by The Blasters. Melanie’s folk hit “Brand New Key” may seem out of place but it actually blends in nicely between Sassafras and the abovementioned Gang Green contributions. Rounding out this collection is the Jackass family band CKY with the song “Afterworld”.

When you add it all up, the Jackass soundtrack is about as much fun as the movie. So I guess it all depends on whether you are a fan or not.
Score: 7 out of 10

Fisherking – Forget It

Looking for a nice slab of classic 80s hardcore punk? Well, look no further because that’s exactly what you get on Fisherking’s six-song debut EP “Forget It”. It’s not that they’re bringing anything new to the table but they do what they do with a lot of energy and passion. Or like they say on their MySpace page… just three dudes doing what they like.

The songs on here are faster than fast and come with highly effective riffs and lots of angrily shouted vocals that should get a circle pit going in no time. Think early Suicidal Tendencies and you’re not that far off. Forget it? Don’t think so.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Shaking Godspeed – Awe

You might still remember guitarist/vocalist Wout Kemkens from his previous band, The Bloody Honkies. This time around he’s tearing it up under the Shaking Godspeed moniker along with his partners in crime, Maarten Rischen (drums) and Paul Diersen (bass/keys). Barely a year after their first EP, they’re already dropping a full-length. And it’s a good one!

“Godspeed” opens with a frantic organ before exploding right from the get-go. And it’s not just the first song. “Awe” is filled with driving rhythms that hypnotize you, organ sounds that will get you moving and crazy, guitar sounds that will make this trip even more of a psychedelic adventure. It’s like listening to The Hives on acid with a bad case of the blues.

“X-Ray Eyes”, “High Hopes / High Times”,… . They’re all pretty friggin’ amazing songs that never cease to amaze with “Don’t Have Time” as the absolute album highlight. If this is a debut, shit… just imagine how good that next album will sound like!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Paceshifters – One For The Road

Paceshifters is a Dutch rock ‘n roll outfit that consists of three dudes who aren’t even 20 years old. Despite their young age they have already achieved quite a lot including a split with the Supersuckers, shows with Nashville Pussy, Peter Pan Speedrock and Triggerfinger and now a record deal with Suburban Records and a debut full-length. All that in just two years… just to point out that these guys are moving fast. Kinda like their songs.

“One For The Road” is all foot on the gas rock ‘n roll, slowing down just once for the rather neglectable “Dad”. Other than that they dish out a rather nice mix of (Peter Pan) speedrock, punkrock and some rather obvious Supersuckers influences.

While “One For The Road” is a decent enough album, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. The vocals sound forced at times, the lyrics are rather juvenile and it’s hard to tell the songs apart except for a couple of memorable cuts like “Age Of The Millennails” and “Starting Over Again”. It’s like listening to a diamond in the rough… the energy and talent is there, they just need a little more time to reach their full potential.
Score: 6 out of 10

Weezer – Hurley

“Hurley” is already Weezer’s third release that I’m covering in a very short period of time and their first for Epitaph. It’s okay guys, we forgive you for “Raditude”. That album sucked, the new one doesn’t. You’ve redeemed yourself. How’s that for a review?

They named the album for the only character in “Lost” I gave a damn about and who was always good for a laugh while the rest of the cast was looking all serious trying to make sense out of the bullshit plot lines the writers were throwing at them. Kinda like Weezer dropping these cute and irresistible songs in a music industry inhabited by bands who take themselves way too serious.

So much for the philosophy part of the review… “Hurley” opens with “Memories” which features the Jackass cast and immediately sets the mood for things to come… a lot of catchy hooks, loud guitars and quirky yet sincere lyrics. “Ruling Me” is vintage Weezer, “Trainwrecks” is all nice and bombastic and “Unspoken” comes with an acoustic guitar and a flute before blowing wide open in the chorus. A flute? That’s right, a flute.

Of course there has to be an album clunker as well which comes in the form of “Where’s My Sex”… who thought that song was necessary? Oh well, on to “Hang On” which comes with backing vocals by Michael Cera (the actor who excels at playing geeks in great movies) before moving onto the rather unremarkable “Time Flies” that rounds out the band’s new album.

The best thing about a Weezer album is that you always know what it will sound like. The only question is if it will be a good one or not. Rest assured, “Hurley” is a return to form even if it won’t be a classic.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Daniel G. Harmann & The The Trouble Starts – Risk

On his sixth album singer/songwriter Daniel G. Harmann called in the troops who came to the rescue in the form of The Trouble Stars. Their help and that of Long Winters’ Eric Corson in the producer’s chair makes “Risk” a more rounded out album compared to the man’s previous efforts.

Sure, the material still kinda floats out there with a folky twist to boot, but The Trouble Starts pull it out of the stratosphere and make it all sound a bit more down to earth. It’s like listening to Band Of Horses mate with Gravenhurst… well, I’m actually not sure I would like to hear that. I do however enjoy the whole post-rock vibe these guys have going on. “Risk”? Not really.
Score: 7 out of 10

The Cold Beat – Get Safe

The Cold Beat is at it again. This time around they’re dropping their debut full-length called “Get Safe”. If you’re into later Replacements or the 90s rock sounds of acts like Buffalo Tom, then these guys will probably appeal to you. Okay, so the production could’ve been a little better but overall these guys did a pretty good job.

Songs like the horn-infused opener “Play To Win” or “Copper Green” are a lot of fun to listen to and highlight the band’s punk-infused rock ‘n roll sounds. They do fumble the ball on “The Ditch” which comes with awkward-sounding backing vocals, but immediately set things straight again with the one-two combo that is “On The Way Down” and “Hook, Line And Sinker”.

“Get Safe” does get a little repetitive in places and could’ve used a lot more punch production-wise, but overall it is a fun album by a band who knew how to write a good hook. Get them in a good studio with an equally good producer and we’re probably looking at the next Gaslight Anthem.
Score: 6 out of 10
no label

Atlantic/Pacific – Meet Your New Love

Straight out of the city that never sleeps comes a band that will at the very least help those busy New Yorkers relax. On “Meet Your New Love”, Atlantic/Pacific hesitantly steps into your living room with acoustic guitars, touches of piano and subtle synth sounds… sweet alliteration, right?

I love how gentle and relaxed the material on “Meet Your New Love” sounds. And when they do blow out a distorted guitar solo in a song like “One By One”, it only makes it all the more effective. The drums shuffle, the guitars are picked and strummed ever so lightly and it suits the vocal harmonies just fine. In short, “Meet Your New Love” is the kind of album you want to hear when you’re driving at home in the middle of the night.

In case you didn’t know yet, Atlantic/Pacific is the new-ish band around Texas Is The Reason’s Garrett Klahn and House & Parish’s John Herguth with additional help from Rival School’s Ian Love.
Score: 7 out of 10

Coke Bust – Lines In The Sand

Straight out of Washington DC comes Coke Bust, a band made up by a couple of straight edge dudes who contrary to all the politicians that dwell the same streets, are not afraid to take a stand. And they sure as hell don’t take as much time to get their point across.

“Lines In The Sand” consists of 17 short blasts of thrashy hardcore that are bound together by an unrelenting wall of feedback. As a bonus you get another shitload of songs from the “Fuck Bar Culture” 7”, compilation contributions, unreleased covers and the band’s 2006 demo. All added up that’s a whopping 33 songs … which is kind of a problem. Because no matter how short the songs may be, 33 uppercuts is a bit much to take at once. Nevertheless these guys do nail the whole early 80s hardcore sound even if they don’t feel the need to add anything new to it.
Score: 6.5 out of 10


After The Fall – Eradication

Following up last year’s “Fort Orange”, New York’s After The Fall already has another assault on your ears prepared. “Eradication” is the name of the game and the 14 slabs of hardcore punk on it are likely to floor you.

Right from the get-go they grab you by the throat with “Soldiers” before headbutting you in the face with “Ruins”. Needless to say there is a lot of energy going around on “Eradication” and plenty of melody to go with it. Think of Rise Against playing 80s hardcore songs with Propagandhi and Kid Dynamite nodding along approvingly from the side.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Social Distortion – Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes

A lot has happened since the release of “Sex, Love & Rock ‘n’ Roll” back in 2004. Governments have been toppled, the economy has collapsed and entire wars have been fought. All the while Mike Ness couldn’t be bothered though, he was too busy writing nursery rhymes about hard times. Or having a hard time writing nursery rhymes. The latter of which would better explain the slab of pure, unadulterated rock ‘n roll you get to hear on the new Social D album.

There has been a lot of talk about this album coming out. Some of it going back to as early as 2006. Was it going to be the acoustic album Ness was talking about? Or would a new solo album come out first? None of the above…in the end ”Hard Times” turned out to be another trademark Social D album.

“Hard Times” hits off with the instrumental “Road Zombie”, which immediately sets the mood for things to come. Next up we get to witness Social D in full Exile-era Rolling Stones worship mode in “California (Hustle And Flow)”. They pull it off flawlessly, right down to the backup gospel vocals. “Gimme The Sweet And Lowdown” and “Diamond In The Rough” are two vintage Social Distortion songs, followed by the outlaw anthem and first single “Machine Gun Blues”.

The band isn’t afraid to rock out slowly either. Just check out “Bakersfield” or “Writing On The Wall”. After that you are treated to a solid rendition of Hank Williams’ “Alone And Forsaken” after which the band blasts out two barnburners in the form of “Can’t Take It With You” and “Still Alive” which round out another damn fine Social D album.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Smoke Or Fire – The Speakeasy

“The Speakeasy” is already album number three for Smoke Or Fire. Honestly, they have never been my favorite Fat Wreck band and after having listened to “The Speakasy” a bunch of times, I’m afraid that won’t change right away.

They’re off to a good enough start though with “Integrity”, a barnburner with galloping drums, loud guitars and vocals that made me think of Against Me. But after that the album starts to fizzle out already… it’s not for lack of trying. They’ve got all their bases covered, everything that normally makes for a solid punkrock album is present and accounted for on songs like “Monsters Among Us” and “Porch Wine”. Yet somehow it just doesn’t click. Not even the folky “Honey I Was Right About The War” can make “The Speakeasy” better than just an okay-ish album.
Score: 6 out of 10

Messengers – Anthems EP

Messengers is an outfit from the Lone Star state that will pummel your ass with thrashy riffs, vicious barks and drums that will run you down, then back up and run you down again. While “Anthems” is just their first release, they already sound like a band that’s been around much longer and one who can almost shred with the best of ‘em.

Heavily influenced by acts such as Cro-Mags and Agnostic Front with a twist of Pantera, these friends of Jesus are not a mere copycat. It’s more like a tribute with a modern sound. While calling your first release “Anthems” might sound a bit too confident, they are pretty good at what they do even though there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Like showing a face of their own.
Score: 6 out of 10


Iron Chic – Not Like This

Iron Chic gets to call Long Island, NY home and features former members of Small Arms Dealer, Capital, Get Bent, Jonesin' and the almighty Latterman. Sounds good ? Fuck yeah !

“Cutesy Monster Man” is the song that kicks off Iron Chic’s debut full-length. As soon as the rolling drums gain momentum and that heavily distorted bass line starts going alongside a 90s emo guitar line, I am sold. The band then proceeds by adding great melodic hooks to the mix and finish things off with a soaring chorus. And it’s not just the first song that hits the spot, it’s the same with every single song on “Not Like This”.

"Time Keeps on Slipping (Into the Cosmic Future)" is possibly even better, especially when the song whittles down to just bass and vocals before building up to a climax that is guaranteed to have everyone in the crowd sing along. The good tracks just keep on coming after that, all the way up until closer ”Every Town Has An Elm Street”.

If you were a fan of Latterman or think that Dear Landlord is the bomb, then you are going to shit your pants when you hear the gruff yet melodic pop-punk tunes these guys sling your way.

And wait, it gets even better because you can download the whole thing for free by clicking here.
Score: 9 out of 10

Millenial Reign – Bones Dust Nothing

Millenial Reign is Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham and Terror/No Warning’s Jordan Posner’ tribute to Integrity, Ringworm and all the other Clevecore bands. As a result the four songs on here come with a lot of chugging guitars, crushing drums and apocalyptic vocals. It makes for a fucking impressive 7” that unfortunately looks like it won’t get a sequel. After all, the songs that make up ”Bones Dust Nothing” are already five years old. Thank you A389 Records for giving this puppy the release it deserves after all.
Score: 7 out of 10

Gray Ghost – Succubus

Album covers with titties on them… gotta love them! Your band can suck as much as they want to, but you’ve already got my attention. Guess it comes with having a dick.

Atlanta, GA’s Gray Ghost deliver three songs on this 7” that all segue into one ugly hardcreo mess of sludgy riffs and a dark as fuck atmosphere. If you could watch a serial killer going about his business in slow motion, this could be the soundtrack. Think Integrity meets Isis.
Score: 6 out of 10

Underoath – Ø (Disambiguation)

With not a single original member left in the band, Underoath simply keeps on going. It’s a feat that not even a single boy band succeeded in to my knowledge and if there’s one genre where members are interchangeable, then it’s got to be boy bands. So kudos to them I guess!
« Ø (Disambiguation) » is the name of the new album and on it they still do the whole post-hardcore routine for which they have become known. Things sound a bit more chaotic and dark this time around and there’s some fooling around with electronics, but other than that not a whole lot has changed. Except for a couple more band members probably.

Anyway, if you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll probably already think that anything Underoath does is the best thing since bread came sliced. Personally, I had the hardest time distinguishing one song from the next and found the whole thing just plain boring and uneventful.
Score: 4 out of 10

Tweak Bird – Tweak Bird

The brothers Bird – Ashton (drums) and Caleb (guitar) – who make up Tweak Bird, must love their drugs. There’s no other way to explain the weird and slightly psychedelic songs that reign on their eponymous album. While part of their sound could be described as poppy, there are also plenty of hard-rocking stoner influences to be found. Which – again - can probably be attributed to the massive intake of illegal substances.

A side effect of most drugs is a short attention span. Which is a plus when it comes to writing stoner songs. These guys don’t end up losing themselves (and their audience) in long, elaborate jams. They’d much rather let one riff explode before moving onto the next one, all the while making sure that they keep the structure of a good pop song intact. And they like to have fun… something that isn’t hard to pick up on either.

Produced by the Deaf Nephews (Melvins’ Dale Crover and Big Business’ Toshi Kasai), Tweak Bird’s self-titled album sounds like the album cover looks… it’s fun, carefree and it rocks like Ween getting it on with Queens Of The Stone Age in a dinghy.
Score: 7 out of 10

Senses Fail – The Fire

“The Fire” is already Senses Fail’s fourth full-length and on it they do exactly what is expected of them without adding anything new to their sound. You could say that the songs on here are a tad more aggressive this time around but that’s about it. Senses Fail still like to churn out aggressive yet melodic post-hardcore that comes with big choruses, courtesy of vocalist Buddy Nielsen.

Simply put, the band is sticking to what they know with only a track like “Landslide” standing out because of its sheer catchiness. As you work your way down the tracklisting, it does become ever harder to distinguish the separate songs. Safe is as good a word as any to describe “The Fire” I guess. And while I doubt they will be winning over new fans anytime soon, longtime fans should be satisfied by the band’s latest offering.
Score: 6 out of 10

Trigger Effect – Versitis Maximus

I had no idea what to expect of these guys when I went to see them at this year’s Fest but fuck me, they simply blew me away! And what’s even cooler, they’ve managed to capture that same frenzied, crazy energy on tape so I get to relive it again and again from the comfort of my home.

“Versitis Maximus” is already the band’s second full-length and it’s pretty much flawless from start to finish. The band’s mix of punkrock, hardcore, metal and plenty rock ‘n roll swagger makes them sound like The Bronx’ evil twin and the effects will hit you harder than a six-pack of Red Bull. The fact that they have a songs made up entirely of Rambo quotes (“Leave Me Stallone”) just makes the whole thing even better.
Score: 9 out of 10
no label

The Chariot – Long Live

When you have a band that is led by a former Norma Jean member, you know you’re in for something heavy. But heavy doesn’t do justice to the controlled chaos that is “Long Live”, The Chariot’s fourth release.

These christian dudes are all about spontaneity (they recorded their previous album in one take) and are hellbent on making a lot of ruckus. Something that opener “Evan Perks” shows right from the get-go. Think equal parts Coalesce and Every Time I Die and you’re getting there. You can expect a lot of twists and unexpected turns… I don’t know if it’s meant to be funny but they sure got a laugh out of me when they interrupt “Calvin Makenzie” with part of some country song before lunging right back into their insanity. And anyone who can tell me what that harp is doing towards the end of the album, gets a free beer from me.

One of the definite highlights is “The City”, another song that gives the words ‘unbridled aggression’ a whole new meaning, before building up to some melodic gang vocals at the end. It’s like watching a flower grow out of a slab of concrete if you’ll allow me to get poetic for a moment. The band sure as hell won’t mind, they crank out a couple of lines themselves on “David De La Hoz”!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

First Blood – Silence Is Betrayal

Fuck the metrosexual man! Tough guys are still alive and they’re all a part of First Blood. After five years they’re back with a new album and on “Silence Is Betrayal”, the band’s second full-length, they sound even heavier and darker than on “Killafornia”. Expect a lot of uptempo moshcore with breakdowns in the right places. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before and there isn’t anything particularly clever about the way they smash your face into the ground but it gets the job done just fine.
Score: 6.5 out of 10


Wolves And The Radio – Wolves And The Radio

Wolves And The Radio is a relatively new band from Allston, MA who have just released their self-titled album on Anchorless Records. With driving rhythms and loud, jagged guitars they propel themselves through nine post-punk songs, only taking time out to kick back and have a drink towards the end. The dual gruff vocals are a natural fit and make the comparison to Hot Water Music something of an open goal.

While there are a couple songs on here that simply breeze by without leaving much of an impression, the band is at the top of their game in songs like “The Other Shoreline” and “Minus One”. These are the kind of songs with which they should have no problem at all getting the crowd worked up in a frenzy while belting along with the chorus.

Rounding out the album are two acoustic cuts (“One Sitting” and “Adelaide”) that sound surprisingly good. All too often acoustic songs are nothing more than filler but these guys manage to keep the energy intact without their distortion pedals at hand in “One Sitting” while “Adelaide” is pretty convincing as well. It makes this album a fun listen from a band that I think has a lot more up their sleeves.
Score: 7 out of 10

The Roman Line – Morning Portraits

Produced by Joe Queer, The Roman Line’s debut is filled with the kind of uplifting pop-punk songs that I can never get enough of. Nothing too sugary or too heavy on the cheesy side of things. Instead these guys are all about rocking out with just the right amount of grit and pop sensibilities worked in there.

“Morning Portraits” starts off with a short intro before heading for the stratosphere with “Dawn After The Wreck”. After that they never look back and keep on cranking out one anthem after the other. Melodic and energetic as fuck are words that come to mind when describing The Roman Line’s sound. Throw in big hooks, singalongs and thumping bass lines and you’re about there. Think The Menzingers with Mike Ness on vocals… yeah, that would work.

Typical for me though to come across this band just as they are breaking up.
Score: 8 out of 10


The Sainte Catherines – Fire Works

The Canadians that make up The Sainte Catherines are back with another album. Whereas 2006’s “Dancing For Decadence” was still being released through Fat Wreck, these Cannucks have since moved on to Anchorless Records.

Still sounding like the younger cousin of Dillinger Four and The Larry Arms, The Sainte Catherines plow through 13 songs worth of Midwestern pop-punk on “Fire Works”. While the songs certainly aren’t a dud, they never quite manage to live up to the album title either. There’s just this sense of urgency that seems to be lacking. It’s only when they kick off a song like “Chub-E & Hank III – Vimont Stories Part II” that things start to get truly exciting.

These guys have got it in them to write a truly memorable album. No doubt about that. But for now “Fire Works” isn’t it. Hopefully next time!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Affiance – No Secret Revealed

“No Secret Revealed” starts off with some dude talking about it being a recession. It immediately shows what Ohio’s Affiance wants to talk about. But just when I was expecting the dramatic string arrangement that accompanies the soundclip from the movie “Network” to make way for some tired old metalcore, out comes this refreshing sound.

These dudes play a mix of melodic metalcore with rock leanings and end up sounding not unlike “Tomorrow Come Today” era BoySetsFire. It’s especially the dual guitar work and singer Dennis Tvrdik with his soaring vocals that end up stealing the show. That does however not mean that the drummer is a slouch because he’s kicking the living shit out of that drumkit.

Sometimes they’re a bit over the top dramatic (the falsetto vocals in “The Hive”) and maybe more diversity wouldn’t have hurt things either but that doesn’t take away from the fact that “No Secret Revealed” is as solid a debut as I’ve heard in quite some time.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Rosaline – The Vitality Theory

Rosaline is another one of those post-hardcore/screamo bands who think they’ve got a reason to exist. From everything that I’ve heard on “The Vitality Theory”, I beg to differ. This is just the somanieth act that sounds like everyone else in the scene without contributing even a shred of originality.

Silverstein, Underoath, half of the Victory roster,… they all sound alike. They all use the catchy choruses, the screams vs the clean vocals…. You know the ingredients too. They’ve been shoved down your throats way too many times as well. Do we really need another band doing the same thing? Don’t think so.
Score: 3 out of 10

Poison My Blood – The Great Northern

For album number two, Belgium’s Poison My Blood signed with Let It Burn Records and together they are now unleashing “The Great Northern” upon the unsuspecting masses. Yes,these guys play metalcore and yes, normally I can’t be bothered because I’ve grown so tired of the genre over the years. But Poison My Blood know all the tricks and they went for a more organic sound that’s dark and gnarly as fuck.

The vocalist has the kind of bark that is utterly convincing while the rest of the band is banging away at their instruments as if their lives depend on it while injecting the material with plenty of groove. The result is one brooding motherfucker of an album that will appeal to all the fans of acts like Misery Signals, Norma Jean and Poison The Well.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Astpai – Heart To Grow

Astpai is an Austrian punkrock band who have apparently been working for three years on what would become their third album. It’s called “Heart To Grow” and with all the work they’ve supposedly put in, you’d expect at the very least a less hideous cover.

Anyway, onto the music… Astpai plays some middle-of-the-road punkrock that never gets truly crappy, but they lack the melodies and hooks to make it stand out in the genre. The accent of the vocalist doesn’t exactly help things along either.

“Heart To Grow” is pretty much an unremarkable album in a very crowded scene that won’t be causing any waves, unlike what the album cover would like to suggest.
Score: 5 out of 10

Angel Eyes – Midwestern

Following up their 2009 split with A Fine Boat, That Coffin (how's that for a crappy band name?), Angel Eyes is back with a new full-length called “Midwestern”. The four songs on here are not unlike a storm that engulfs you completely as the band hits you over the head with their their post-hardcore sludgefest.

Like the hardships many of us face every day, “Midwestern” is ugly and bleak yet at the same time it always leaves a shimmer of hope burning bright. It’s equal parts Godspeed You! Black Emperor post-rock and Neurosis sludge and the throat-shredding vocals fit the atmospheric guitar lines to a tee while the drums keep on leading the way through the wasteland.

It’s a pretty fucking intense album that won’t leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. But it’s executed in such a way, that you can’t help but go back to the beginning to endure it all over again.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Gifts From Enola – S/T

On album number three, Virginia’s Gifts From Enola still plays post-rock but they attack the genre with a metallic mindset. Meaning that the tasty soundscapes they dish out on their self-titled album are heavy as fuck. And I’m loving it.

The drummer on here sounds like he’s out for revenge and his drum kit is the culprit. The rest of the band assists him in executing the gnarly task at hand by swinging every heavy riff they’ve got at it, yet they never forget to inject the whole with a little melody or at the very least some cool sounds. The material on here is mostly instrumental but once the vocals do kick in on rare occasions, they simply round out the song. My one and only problem with them is that they are mixed way too far in the background.

There’s just five songs on here which clock in at a very respectable 37 minutes, yet the music on here doesn’t get tiring or boring for a second. If you’re into the likes of Pelican or Mogwai, you’d be doing yourself a favor by picking up a copy of this one.
Score: 7 out of 10

Tera Melos – Patagonian Rats

Tera Melos is a trio that consists of Nick Reinhart, Nathan Latona and John Clardy. They have just released album number two. It’s called “Patagonian Rats” and it comes with lots of weird sounds and more time signatures than you can shake a stick at. Math rock meets psychedelic pop as interpreted by a couple of schizophrenics and a drummer with ADD. I’m sure there’s a market for this kind of music… you know, the kind that gets on your nerves immensely… but it isn’t for me.
Score: 2 out of 10

Last Days Of April – Gooey

Last Days Of April is one of those bands that has been going at it for years, but who have never really gotten picked up on by the masses. This despite some solid albums like “Angel Youth”. Must be frustrating as fuck, which probably explains why in the last couple of years there has been an ever-revolving cast around vocalist Karl Larsson, the only remaining original member.

“Gooey” is the name of their latest album and once again I don’t think the masses are going to swoon all over this. Larsson and co. try their hardest to create an atmosphere filled with melancholy and a world of hurt in their indiepop songs, yet never really get further than an attempt. You already have to wait for the third song to hear something decent. “America” comes with some country influences and it gives the track just that little extra to make it stand out. After that it’s down the hill again with “I Can’t Control It” where one line is being repeated over and over… it’s a mistake they make more than once on “Gooey”.

“All The Same” comes with guest vocals by Evan Dando and it’s another good one but by then you’ve already made it halfway through the album. Not even the guest vocals Tegan and Sara’s Tegan Quin in the closing track can save this album at that point.
Score: 4 out of 10


Teamkiller – Bound To Samsara

Teamkiller’s debut “Bad Signs” came out in 2006 and they made a pretty good impression on me at the time with their energetic take on NYHC. Four years later they’re back with “Bound To Samsara”, an album that sounds like a German tribute to the likes of Leeway, Agnostic Front and Cro-Mags.

It’s pretty solid in terms of songwriting and it comes with enough diversity thanks to plenty of tempo changes, the use of clean vocals, melodic guitar lines and some hiphop influences . It’s especially the tempo changes that make “Bound To Samsara” a more dynamic release compared to “Bad Signs”, which was just fast from start to finish. I’m not too crazy about the vocals… not sure if it’s power or conviction that they’re lacking, but something is missing in that department. But hey, if you’re into groovy, aggressive hardcore and you’re not too picky, then Teamkiller’s final release will suit you just fine.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits - F

Dan Abbott and Corbett Redford aka Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits first started writing songs about death, animals, poop, girls and whitey in 1996. They’ve been tearing it up with their psychedelic/punky folkpop ever since, only taking a breather to start a label and organize Geekfest. “F” is the band’s first album in 10 years and it’s a good one.

Basically it’s social commentary in a funny jacket. But sometimes it really is just about farting. All this is wrapped up in catchy melodies and acoustic guitars and makes for good songs like “Sweet Shit Of Christ”, “Sandwiches & Ammunition” and “Time Is Crawling”.

There aren’t too many acts out there that manage to combine a sense of humor and biting social commentary with solid songwriting, but Bobby Joe Ebola shows that it is indeed possible. More power to them!
Score: 7 out of 10

Fucked Up – Year Of The Ox

The latest installment of Fucked Up’s 12” single series in celebration of the Chinese Zodiac is out and it’s called “Year Of The Ox”. Just like its predecessors, it sees Fucked Up stretching the fabric of hardcore like a fat chick dressed in lycra. You keep on expecting that it will burst at the seams, but something everything stays contained.

The 13-minute epic that is “Year Of The Ox” starts off with a string quartet before erupting into some loud riffage topped off with vocalist Pink Eyes’ typical bark. Halfway through the song there’s a very dramatic climax after which Zola Jesus' Nike Rosa Danilova gets to wrap her vocal chords around Pink Eyes’ for the remainder of the song. Pretty cool stuff.

Next is up is “Solomon’s Song” which is – only – twelve minutes long. It’s a little less accessible than its predecessor. Described as a gothic vampire love tribute to Twilight, it’s a little too experimental for my taste buds. I think it’s the five-minute saxophone solo courtesy of the Bitters' Aerin Fogel that finished me off in the end.

It’s all nice and well but when is that new full-length finally coming out?
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Alpha & Omega – Life Swallower

The band already hints towards it with their name, but Los Angeles’ Alpha & Omega are indeed influenced by both the old and modern sounds of hardcore. Taking cues from Leeway, Cro-Mags (whose third album was called “Alpha Omega”) and Biohazard, these guys claw their way through eleven songs on their debut full-length “Life Swallower” and end up sounding not too different from other current acts such as Cruel Hand and Blacklisted.

They do everything that is expected of a NYHC-influenced band (thrashy riffs, groovy mosh parts,…) and even throw in a couple of decent guitar solos. On top of that they have a vocalist who is equipped with an especially gnarly bark that fits the music to a tee. When you put it all together, you’re looking at an impressive debut by a band that I’m pretty sure we’ll hear a lot more of in the future.
Score: 7.5 out of 10