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Jessica Lea Mayfield – Tell Me

Jessica Lea Mayfield already impressed me with 2008’s “With Blasphemy So Heartfelt”. While Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach’s production definitely had something to do with that, it was Mayfield’s frail yet dark vocals that did me in completely. Since changing a winning team is good for nothing except losing, “Tell Me” sees this Kent, Ohio native teaming up once again with Auerbach for the difficult sophomoric album.

Best compared to Cat Powers’ Chan Marshall, Mayfield weaves her voice through the eleven songs on “Tell Me” and proves once again that she knows how to write some mean lyrics. With the help of Auerbach, she expands on her output this time around by adding some poppier sounds (“Nervous Lonely Night”) and some loud rocking guitars (“Somewhere In Your Heart”) to her particular mix of rootsrock and American Gothic. The result is a varied album that comes with plenty of surprises and while the reggae vibe of “Grown Man” doesn’t manage to convince me entirely, a song like “Blue Skies Again” and the hauntingly beautiful “Trouble” more than make up for it.
Score: 8 out of 10

The Heat Tape – Racoon Valley Recordings

The Heat Tape is a band straight out of the trailer park in Makanda, IL after which they named the album. It features Brett Hunter (The Copyrights, Dear Landlord) along with some of his buddies. When they’re not out shooting at skunks, throwing some roadkill on the BBQ or engaging in whatever other cliché you can come up with, they’re writing catchy songs that linger in that vague space between punkrock and garagerock.

“Racoon Valley Recordings” is an album filled with lo-fi songs about winning the lottery, being a piece of shit, grandma’s guns and another track is made up entirely of quotes from a letter from White County Jail that Hunter found unopened when he bought his trailer. It’s not as if they’ve stumbled over this new thing no one has ever heard yet. But fuck, these songs are addictive! If you’re into the likes of Marked Men and Jay Reatard, you’re gonna love this.
Score: 8 out of 10

VRGNS – Manimals

Since releasing their 2008 debut “Miscarriage”, this Florida outfit had the drop the i’s from their name because another band was already using the moniker Virgins. Kinda sad when you think about it because hey, weren’t we all virgins at one point in time?

Anyway, VRGNS is back with another load of snotty punkrock songs that harbour more hooks than a tacklebox and they are as gruff as they are gritty. While admittedly not as core as Sam Johnson and Alex Goldfarb’s other bands (No Friends, New Mexican Disaster Squad), these guys definitely rock on “Manimals”. Short, sweet (well, not really) and to the point… can you really ask for more?
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Rise Against - Endgame

The coolest thing about Rise Against as far as I’m concerned is that they are a punkrock band that doesn’t shy away from speaking their mind while wrapping their messages in hook-filled songs that go down as smoothly and easily as Jenna Jameson in one of her movies. With albums like “Appeal To Reason” they pulled out all the stops, losing a bit of the aggression of their early days along the way but without trading in their ideals. It earned them the #3 position in the Billboard 200, which is not a bad place to be. Especially if you can get there without selling out.

These dudes began working on album number late last year after having just finished touring in support of “Appeal To Reason”. We’re barely seven months later and “Endgame” is about to be released. The least you can say about them is that they know how to keep busy.

If you were expecting Rise Against to go back to the sounds of “The Unraveling” or “Revolutions Per Minute”, you’ll be in for a disappointment. “Appeal To Reason” was no fluke. It’s simply the new direction the band is heading. Their punkrock roots are still over the album in songs like "Disparity By Design", "Broken Mirrors" and "A Gentleman's Coup"… no worries there. The arena-size choruses and slick melodies are equally omnipresent however. Take a song like “Make It Stop (September’s Children)” and you’ll hear the new Rise Against with a children choir coming up in the intro. It’s the kind of song that will not only do great on the airwaves, it will also severely kick the ass of the majority of music that ends up on the radio.

Listening to “Endgame”, I have no problem whatsoever with Rise Against growing up.
Score: 8.5 out of 10


Samiam interview

A little while back, No Idea Records dropped “Orphan Works”, an album filled with songs that didn’t find a home on any of the other Samiam albums. Seeing as I’m always a sucker for a good cause, I gave it a good review. Of course this had nothing to do with the fact that pretty much everything Samiam released is friggin’ amazing. No, this was just me and my big heart talking. But it didn’t feel like I was doing enough. So here’s an email interview with guitarist Sergie Loobkoff to top it all off. Enjoy!

PRT: You guys broke up in 2000 and then returned a couple years later, even releasing a new album in 2006. Since then you’ve been playing shows on and off. How does that work exactly?
Sergie: After doing several tours in 2000 in support of the 'Astray' album, our former guitarist, James, quit and Jason (singer) decided to bail on a few tours that were booked and advertised…so I, Serge, got a bit discouraged and quit…which effectively folded the band. The thing was that we had been going at it for over 10 years at that point and our popularity was sort of waning, particularly in America. So yeah, we broke up, I started another band and got focused on that, despite the fact that it went nowhere except for really fun trips to Japan and Europe. But, Samiam still got offers for tours and the very next year we toured Europe and in 2002 we went again and to South America…then pretty much a handful of US shows and a tour abroad every year since. The interesting thing was that every year our European tours got stronger and stronger…and in the last 5 years we've seen our US shows get better too. So, when we are on tour we are a band…and when we are at home it's like we don't exist…which is much different than most bands: who live and breathe their careers and work very hard to stay on people's minds. We were super shitty at that in the 90s but we tried very hard. Now in the 2000s, we try very slightly, if at all….so I consider us to barely be a band.
In 2006, we wrote what I think are some good songs and recorded them very poorly…it was sort of a disastrous experience, resulting in the album, 'Whatever’s got you down'. I think it gave a mixed-message that we 'reformed' or something, but truthfully, we were just into trying to make a record…not a 'comeback' or something. We are doing it again this year…but no…we are not thinking that it is the 'rebirth' of the band. Making music is a creative outlet for us and we can sometimes have quite a lot of fun doing it. I think we learned a lot about the band and each other in 2006 and will be able to avoid the mistakes that led that endeavor down the old toilet. Hopefully, ha.

PRT: It seems like Samiam now is just a fun thing to do for you guys, whereas before it must’ve been a full-time job. How do the two compare and would you like to go back to how it was before?
Sergie: Yeah, in the mid to late 90s, Samiam was definitely a full-time job. we had management, corporate record labels, booking agents, business managers, the whole schtick. I look back fondly at it as much as I can…we had some crazy times…but depending on what you love for a living is only cool if you are successful. I think to be 'successful' at something you love is like winning the lottery…you support yourself without really working, right? But, Samiam only had modest successes….so it was really stressful to be in a position where we depended on music to pay the bills. Truthfully, even at our peak, I still worked when I was home…but Jason and James, for example, lived of the band for a good 6 years. As much as I could say that in itself is a success story, the reality was just a lot of stress and anxiety when thinking about the band and bills. I haven't used the word 'success' this much in one sitting ever, yuk. We were so out of control of our destinys then…which wasn't the greatest feeling.
All that said, If I was in a time machine, I would definitely do it again..fuck it. But at my age, where I am at now, no. I'd have to put a Benjamin Button thing into effect. Really, rock music is for handsome guys in their teens or twenties…it would be silly of me to want behave like that now in my old age, ha.

PRT: Looking back, are there things you would?ve done differently?
Sergie: I think I would have nixed some of the tours we did…and thought more about how we were perceived…but we are so uncalculated and clueless at positioning ourselves amongst the cooler bands. We fucked up at things and we did some things right, what can I say? If I read into your question, perhaps what you are getting at is: would we still sign to major labels and shit. I got to be honest, I had a great time with that and we got to do a lot that I never dreamed of. Now it's all a moot point because the industry is dead and major labels are probably shittier than bigger indies, but yeah, I have no regrets with 'signing with the devil' or whatever. Perhaps if we had the option to go with Epitaph or Sub Pop but decided on Atlantic, I'd have regrets…but that wasn't the case.

PRT: You recently released "Orphan Works". How did that one come together?
Sergie: We had a great show at the Fest in Gainesville the year before last and reconnected with Var and Tony from No Idea…whom we've known for years. A discussion of rereleasing 'Clumsy' and 'You Are Freaking Me Out', our major label albums that are basically out of print for the last decade, came up and we underwent the ordeal of trying to rerelease those records. We knew that it was going to be a long drawn-out task, so we decided to put out that compilation of songs that delivered the outtakes and stuff from that era. Which was a good idea because as it stands now in spring 2011, 'Clumsy' is finally going to be put on itunes and the usual online retailers with the possibility of No Idea doing the physical release…but we still have not gotten ahold of the rights holders to "YAFMO'. So at least we got something out in 2010...

PRT: Why a compilation of B-sides rather than a new album? Or is that not an option at the moment?
Sergie: Like I said, we are recording a new recording the upcoming months…we have narrowed it down to 15 songs and we are just getting together every few months for the last year to shape them up to be as good as they can be. Two of us live in California and 3 in New York…so these things take time. It's not like we can rehearse twice a week or something.

PRT: I read somewhere that you’re not too fond of your first albums. While I agree that they are not your best, I do think they definitely have their merits and a couple of strong songs. How come you don’t like them that much?
Sergie: Well, first of all, I have to admit, I don't listen to Samiam…so my opinion doesn't really matter, but it's not like I hate those records. To be honest, although I consider Hot Water, Alkaline Trio or Jawbreaker to be some of my favorite bands, I'll go a year without listening them either, ha. Anyway, to your point…I think I would say the same thing as you about our first 3 albums: each has a couple of good songs and they have their moments. I think, though, we learned so much while making the next album "clumsy'. Suddenly we were aware of playing for the 'song' and thinking about 'songwriting' in general…whereas on those first 3 records, we were more interested in spitting out whatever we were feeling at the moment. We really didn't edit ourselves…if we made up a song, it was written and we recorded it as is…no editing or rethinking it and definitely no judging it and dumping bad ideas. We sort of felt like musical ideas were valid just because we thought them up…no matter how lame they ended up being. So yeah, there were some good ideas… but there were a lot of shitty ones and all of them were executed pretty poorly.

PRT: With you guys being spread out over both coasts, how hard is it to get things going when you’re writing songs or planning a tour?
Sergie: Besides making a record, we are doing Krazyfest, playing shows here and there on each coast and will probably do Europe in the fall. There are a few other things we want to do, like the midwest and the fest but we are sort of ramshackle…we aren't the smartest guys at mapping out the band. Plus this is supposed to be fun, not a career, so we try to take it as it comes rather than being so mercenary about plans.

PRT: What can people expect from Samiam in 2011?
Sergie: A record that we worked hard at and did our best…you'll be the judge as to whether our best is shitty I guess. I'm pretty confident that it will be something that I'm personally proud of.

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Sergie: If you haven't stole any music lately, I commend you….I haven't done that in years either….pretty much after the novelty of downloading was over and I realized it was fucking up a lot of people's livelihoods. But if you were going to do some thieving electronically…I would suggest picking up "You Are Freaking Me Out" by Samiam, ha. At least until you see that No Idea finally re-released it…if that ever happens. Also, we finally made a Facebook page…maybe you could say hello…


Dear Landlord interview

One of the better punkrock bands I came across last year was Dear Landlord. Half Rivethead, half Copyrights... they were rocking out severely on "Dream Homes". Check it out if you haven't done so already, it's out now on No Idea Records. To make things even sweeter, they're coming over to Europe in a little bit where they will play at the Groezrock festival among loads of other shows. Read on to see what drummer and songwriter Brad had to tell us

PRT: What is it exactly that you would like to tell your landlord?
Brad: More than anything, I would like to say that I am sorry. I know that it is a big hassle to take the pile of checks they get every month for doing nothing to the bank and it’s probably even more draining to figure out a way to spend that money on stupid bullshit when they already have so much more than they need. The point is, some of us understand and we feel your pain.

PRT: For the people out there who haven’t heard you guys yet… if Dear Landlord was the lovechild of two other bands, which acts would’ve had sex and which position were you conceived in? And don’t say The Copyrights and Rivethead!
Brad: Yikes, a sexy question! We don’t talk about that kind of stuff here in the Midwest but I guess I have to, right? Let’s call it a craigslist hookup between Pinhead Gunpowder, Screeching Weasel and Swingin’ Utters in a highway rest area bathroom. A series of unspeakable acts regretted by all parties involved takes place and we are the unwanted result.

PRT: Can you give me the history of the band written in one minute or less starting… now!
Brad: About one million years ago Rivethead went on tour with The Copyrights, it was awesome. Rivethead broke up. Zack and I moved from Minneapolis, MN to Carbondale, IL. I don’t know why we did that. We started Dear Landlord in the disgusting, flooded basement of the lost cross house. We played once or twice around town and recorded some songs that ended up on 2 different split 7”s. There were a few pretty long US tours that fucking ruled. Our van broke down a lot and we got drunk with our friends all over the country. I ended up back in Minneapolis. Zack went on tour with Off With Their Heads. We made a full-length on No Idea Records. We played some punk fests, went to the UK and Europe, Brett lost his shoes. It was really great! We recorded some new songs that no one has heard yet, they are dub step… and that was a few weeks ago.

PRT: You guys are in more than one band, you live in different places… how does that affect Dear Landlord?
Brad: It just means we don’t do the things most “local bands” would get to do which I see as both good and bad. We don’t play shows when we are not on tour and we don’t practice or write as a band really. At the same time, we don’t get sick of the band or each other and all that. When we can do shit, it rules and it’s a really good time.

PRT: Is it hard to choose which band a certain song you’ve written will go to? Or does that just come naturally?
Brad: No, it’s not hard. I think it helps that when we get together to write songs for this band there’s the intention that they are Dear Landlord songs so it’s never really an issue.

PRT: Your full-length debut “Dream Homes” came out a while ago. Are you happy with the overall response?
Brad: Yeah, for sure. I have been obsessed with punk records since my early teens and I’ve always wanted to be a part of making a record that I was happy with. It’s really cool to hear positive things about a record at a time when music seems so temporary.

PRT: How important is a dream home for you? Or is travelling most of the time more gratifying?
Brad: I wish I could afford a house or property but honestly, it’s not a priority for me. I care more about traveling and playing music than where I live when I am in Minneapolis. For me a “dream home” would be a building with a wood stove that the bank couldn’t take away.

PRT: What are your plans for 2011?
Brad: We are planning to go back to Europe in early April. After that we are doing some shows in the US and Canada. Hopefully we can make a new record in there somewhere also.

PRT: What were for you personally the best and worst moments of 2010?
Brad: Going through with the plan to dress up as juggalos at Gainesville Fest was easily the best moment but being dressed up as a juggalo at Gainesville Fest was the worst.

PRT: Your European tour will also bring you to the Groezrock festival in Belgium. Excited to play there or is that just another show for you guys?
Brad: Yes, we are incredibly excited about playing Groezrock! I think that fest is the exact opposite of “just another show” for us.

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Brad: Keep on keeping on.


Vreid – V

Whereas predecessor “Milorg” was a concept album about the resistance in Norway during World War II, these dudes are more about shredding like maniacs on “V” than about telling a story. Well, they do quote Sartre and Kierkegaard as influences this time around so maybe there is more to it than I thought. I never know with black metal bands because I don’t understand a fuck of what they’re shrieking about to be perfectly honest.

Fact is that Vreid is very good at what they do. What that is? They like to mix up black metal with a bit of rock ‘n roll. And this time around they injected the songs with some thrash metal as well to top it all off. The bleak sounds and repetitive guitar lines are countered nicely by some warmer acoustic parts that rear their ugly head all over the album, making it easy to sit this one out.

My only problem with “V” is that the vocals are mixed way up to the front, taking away from everything else that’s going on and which deserves to be heard just the same. Other than that, perfectly fine black metal album for a Sunday afternoon filled with Satan worshipping!
Score: 8 out of 10

Most Precious Blood – Do Not Resuscitate

After a short intro with that brings spaghetti westerns to mind, it’s right back to the grimy streets of New York as Most Precious Blood rips right into it after five years of absolutely nothing. Do you still remember how riled up you got after having listened to “Merciless” non-stop for a while? How you wanted to hit every man, woman and child who got in the way of your mosh moves? How badly you wanted to kick that Chihuahua to the other side of the street?

Well, prepare to get reacquainted with pure and unbridled fucking rage because that’s exactly what you get on “Do No Resuscitate”. Once Rob Gusco and co kick it into high gear on opener “A Danger To Myself And Others”, they don’t look back until the last note of the title track rings out. Being angry and blaming the whole fucking world isn’t exactly a novel concept. Not in hardcore, not anywhere else. But when your ass is being pummeled into oblivion as hard as Most Precious Blood does on “Do Not Resuscitate”, it’s time for a Jamey Jasta quote… I don’t endorse violence but for this next song I fucking demand it.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Donnybrook – The Beast Inside

After what has to be one of the most pointless intros I’ve heard in a long time, Los Angeles’ Donnybrook is back at it spitting venom and angry riffs like they did five years ago on their debut, “Lions In This Game”.

On “The Beast Inside” they still sound like they’re from the wrong coast, playing raw and hard-hitting 90s hardcore with tons of groove that brings Madball and Death Threat to mind with a bit of Biohazard. No freaky haircuts, no gimmicks… just straight-up pissed as fuck hardcore that goes for the jugular in cuts like “See Me No More” and “Soothsayer”.
Score: 7 out of 10

V/A – Californication Season 4 OST

Showtime’s Californication is without a doubt the best TV show around these days. Sure, it’s over the top at times, it’s sordy and seedy, there’s a lot of rock ‘n roll and even more sex. But that’s kinda like life, right? Well, if you’re lucky it is.

Onto the soundtrack then… opener “Fuck You I’m Famous” comes courtesy of Shooter Jennings who sounds like a poor man’s Kid Rock. Luckily one can always count on the Eagles Of Death Metal to come up with a great song. In this case it’s a cover of Stealer Wheels classic which is called “Stuck In The Metal” here. After that there’s a whole bunch of other solid acts contributing material such as Cracker, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Monster Magnet, Warren Zevon, Better Than Ezra and Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee with an acoustic version of “Home Sweet Home”.

Season 4 of Californication is also the season in which Moody’s daughter Becca joins the band Queens Of Dogtown, fronted by Pearl (played by singer and actress Zoë Kravitz). Logically they’re featured on here as well with three covers: Alice In Chain’s “Would”, The Misfits’ “Last Caress” and Skid Row’s “I Remember You”.

If you’re a fan of the series or of sordid and seedy rock ‘n roll, you’re free to check this one out!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Generation 84 – S/T EP

Generation 84 is a new Belgian band, started by a bunch of dudes who previously served time in Victims Of Society, Not That Straight and Break Of Day. They’ve been making a name for themselves rather quickly and I don’t see that changing anytime soon with the release of this 6-song EP.

Opener “Colonist” is a good indication of things to come… fast-paced melodic punkrock with socially aware lyrics. Does that sound familiar? That would be because Ignite, No Fun At All and especially Rise Against have already been doing the exact same thing for years. These guys might not quite be up to those bands’ level yet, but they sound like they’re well on their way in cuts like “Ghetto Backyard” and “Your Suit, My Bodybag”.
Score: 7 out of 10

Hellbound Glory – Old Highs & New Lows

What kind of music do you need to nurse a hangover? Outlaw country obviously! Hellbound Glory gets to call Reno, Nevada home and on “Old Highs & New Lows” they sound exactly like what you’d expect to hear drift out of a pickup truck in Alabama.

Songs like opener “Another Bender Might Break Me”, “Getting’ High And Hitting’ New Lows” and “Too Broke To Overdose” tell you what the lyrical matter is all about while “Hank Williams Records” tell you more about the band’s influences. Armed with pedal steel guitar, piano, banjo, organ, loud guitars and a rocking’ attitude, Hellbound Glory managed to distill an album’s worth of songs out of their booze-fueled lives and misery that never disappoint.
Score: 7 out of 10

Buffalo Tom – Skins

Back in 2007 Buffalo Tom resurfaced with “Three Easy Pieces”, a perfectly fine album that followed nine years of nothing. This time around we only had to wait a measly four years. Released on the band’s own Scrawny Records, these Boston natives return with album number eight, “Skins”.

Opener and first single “Arise, Watch” feels like home with that trademark guitar sound and those warm melancholic vocals. From there on the band simply keeps on running with it in “She’s Not Your Thing” and “Down” before getting some help from Belly’s Tanya Donelly on the mellow “Don’t Forget Me”, easily one of the album’s highlights.

They crank up the tempo once more in “Guilty Girls”, a rocker that shows that even after 25 years these guys still manage to sound fresh and relevant and what’s more, they keep the momentum going throughout the remainder of the album. If you were into alternative rock in the 90s, you’ll know what to expect of Buffalo Tom and I can tell you that you won’t be disappointed by their new album.
Score: 8 out of 10
Scrawny Records

The Boxer Rebellion – The Cold Still

London-based The Boxer Rebellion have been going at it for several years now and while hardly a household name yet, that’s basically just a matter of time. Their last album - 2009’s “Union – was the first self-released album that broke into the Billboard top 100 based solely on digital sales, they got to play themselves in the romcom “Going The Distance” (featuring Drew Barrymore and Justin Long) and landed Ethan Johns (Kings Of Leon, Ray Lamontagne,…) as producer for their third album.

“The Cold Still” opens in a great way with the slightly haunting “No Harm” before taking a trip down The Smiths’ highway with “Step Out Of The Car” and the even more haunting “Locked In The Basement”. If you like those first three songs, you’re a shoe-in for the rest of the album which lingers comfortably between Elbow and The National. Good stuff!
Score: 7 out of 10
Absentee Recordings

Gang Of Four - Content

More than 30 years after the band’s inception and 16 years since their last album, Gang Of Four is back with a new album called “Content”. Are they still as relevant as they were back in 1979? Fuck no. They might have influenced everyone from LCD Soundsystem to the Peppers with their white groove, the songs on “Content” are average at best.

Time for Andy Gill and Jon King to throw in the towel once again (this is already their second reunion) and to let their legacy live on in the bands they influenced rather than becoming a shadow of their former selves with no sense of urgency left in them whatsoever.
Score: 4 out of 10

The Hours – It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish

To introduce themselves Stateside, UK’s The Hours combined the best songs of their first two albums (“Narcissus Road” and “See This Light”) on one album and called it “It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish”. So while it’s not technically a new album, it will all sound new to a lot of people out there. Well, you might already know the song “Ali In The Jungle” from the ‘human chain’ ad Nike did a while back.

Anyway, The Hours specialize in the kind of uplifting pop anthems that Coldplay seems to have down pat. There are your upbeat cuts like “Big Black Hole” and “Narcissus Road”, but they’ll just as well turn things down a notch in tracks such as “Back When You Were Good” and “Come On”. Whatever they do, you can count on them building up momentum with the help of some sweet piano lines and the earnest vocals of Anthony Genn. If you’re a fan of Britpop, I’m sure you could be a lot worse off than listening to “It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish”.
Score: 6.5 out of 10


Cülo – Military Trend 7”

If I would’ve been listening to hardcore when I has three years old, this is what I would’ve heard. Just take a look at the cover and you know what you’re in for… 4 slabs of 80s-inspired hardcore played by this Chicago-based outfit who seem to be stuck listening to Direct Control or Necros in a time warp.
Score: 7 out of 10

No Class – Keine Klasse

Lemmy already once said it, but these guys have no problem repeating it. They’re called No Class and on their self-titled album they ram their way Black Flag-style through ten songs without wasting any time. It’s hardcore punk that hits you as loud as it is obnoxious and as barren and desolate as the Midwest that they get to call home.

These members of Pinkeye and Wound Up basically are living proof that growing up in the bible belt is good for shit. Unless you want to play in a band called No Class.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Averkiou – Wasted & High

Averkiou might be from Gainesville, Florida, yet you’d be hard-pressed to lump them in with the majority of bands from the area. Instead of playing gritty punk-rock and growing a beard, these guys went shoegaze on our asses. Okay, so they stay on the more rocking side of the genre but still… it’s shoegaze. A genre I associate more with the dreary weather in the UK than the near-tropical climate of Florida.

Fuck it though… they’re pretty good at what they do. That fuzzy lead guitar in the title track is pretty kickass while the swirling guitars in “No One’s Holding A Gun To Your Head”mix nicely with the fragile male/female vocals. That’s it for the 7”… download the thing and you get an acoustic extra called “Jersey”. It’s good… different but good. It makes them sound less depressed ?
Score: 7 out of 10

Nazca Lines – Nazca Lines EP

Apparently these Seattle noisemongers have already been around for a while, yet their self-titled EP is the first thing I’ve heard of them. It’s a good introduction though that comes with a production job by Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Isis,…) and that is being released on the label of a member of Therapy?. With big names come big expectations of course. Yet Nazca Lines have no problem whatsoever living up to those.

Opener “This Crippled Devil” has more than a couple of things in common with post-hardcore legends At The Drive-In, “This Little Island” comes at you with a Fugazi vibe and “From The Bottom Of A Crevasse” is a more catchy song that just keep on building up more and more energy before taking off.

These guys are out to prove that post-hardcore isn’t lost on us just yet and they already have me looking out for their full-length which is scheduled for later this year.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Jonesin’ – The Dream Is Dead EP

When the guys in Jonesin’ said they were going to call it a day after their show at The Fest two years ago, the band’s label lost interest in releasing their debut EP. A couple of other folks didn’t, which is how come ”The Dream Is Dead” got a release after all. And it’s good. So good apparently that it had to be released by four labels at the same time.

Expect to hear some East Bay-influenced pop-punk as played by a couple of dudes from Long Island with very gritty voices. I’m liking this and I’m guessing you will too. There isn’t anything not to like about it as far as I can see.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

The Sky Life – Roots And Wings

Canada’s The Sky Life dropped their second full-length a little while ago. It’s called “Roots And Wings” and you’ll find plenty of airy indie pop songs on it that are all chromed up and pimped out with subtle electronic touches. It’s actually not that different from an act like Owl City. And while these dudes do know how to paint some nice soundscapes, things never really take off for the sky but rather get tangled up in the roots. See how I used part of the band name and album title? Pretty smart huh?

It’s not like these guys are absolute crap at what they do, but none of the songs stick. They just kinda breeze by sounding all nice and shit without making much of a lasting impression. Better luck next time I guess?
Score: 5.5 out of 10

The Future Now - Hazy Orange Sunday

Never heard of these guys before but they sure dish out some tasty jams on “Hazy Orange Sunday”. I’m thinking these guys never really gave up their flannel shirts and if you get a chance to rustle through their DVD collection, I’m pretty sure you’ll find a copy of Singles there. Yup, these guys sure like their grunge and have no difficulty of putting that love on display through ten songs.

I’m not talking about the Bush or Silverchair kind of grunge here. Think more gritty and rough… more like Paw, Tad or other bands from that era that came with a 3-letter name. At their most mellow though (“Driving”), they sound not all that different from early Stone Temple Pilots. While it’s hard to call this original, they sure do a good job of ‘keeping that shit real’ like kids today would say. Word!
Score: 7 out of 10

Captain We’re Sinking – It’s A Trap!

Following up 2008’s “The Animals Are Out”, Captain We’re Sinking is back with a four-song 7” called “It’s A Trap!”. Not sure what the trap is exactly, but these guys heed to the warning and race away from the threat throughout four songs of upbeat, gritty punkrock that’s well worth listening to. While the vocals are a little too shrill at times, their enthusiasm and the fact that they take cues from the likes of Latterman and The Menzingers sure make up for that.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Summer Hours – Alone Together

Formerly known as La Pieta, New York City’s Summer Hours recently dropped their first full-length. I think the name change was a good idea… none of the images that La Pieta might trigger have much to do with the band’s tunes. No, Summer Hours sums it up way better. Mellow indie pop songs that float by at a pleasant pace like a good summer day.

The songs on “Alone Together” are pretty much your basic indie pop songs. It’s not like you’re going to hear anything you haven’t heard before. But the songs have a nice flow and come with some rather fetching hooks. And then there’s Rachel Dannefer’s voice which definitely helps lift things to another level. It’s kinda like listening to a cross of Belly and Pavement. Or just think of the all-girl action… uh, out fit that was Plumtree.

I’m not sure they’re already realizing their full potential. A couple of the songs on here could be a lot better. Or could’ve been left out entirely. But if “Alone Together” is a sign of things to come, then we’re definitely in for something good further down the road.
Score: 7 out of 10

The Get Up Kids interview

When The Get Up Kids release a new album after a couple of years of silence and we have the chance to do a short email interview with them, who are we to say no? Read it quickly (did I mention it's short?) and check out the band's new album "There Are No Rules" which is out now. Luckily the album is longer than the interview.

PRT: Hello. Who are you and what would you like to tell us about yourself?
Jim: My name is Jim. I am a dad. I play guitar in The Get Up Kids. Other then that I am not that interesting.

PRT: You guys have a new album out, called There Are No Rules. Anything particular you'd like to share about it?
Jim: I think it's the best album we have ever made. Some people aren't going to get it. That's OK. People didn't get "On a Wire" when it came out, now they loudly sing the songs at every show.

PRT: What are there no rules for?
Jim: I don't know? There are rules every where.

PRT: What do you think is the stupidest and lamest rule ever invented?
Jim: Any rule that in the end involves stoning. The rock kind not the bong kind.

PRT: Since getting back together, you recorded a 7" and now this album. What was the experience like to be back in the studio with The Get Up Kids?
Jim: It' been fun. We really enjoyed working with Ed Rose again. We have been doing this a long time so it felt quite normal getting back in the studio.

PRT: On There Are No Rules, there is an obvious shift to using more electronics. Why?
Jim: Why not? We are always willing to try new things. The record has electronic elements but it is not a pro-tools album. It is live and raw. Recorded to tape.

PRT: Your reunion was focused on Something to Write Home About. How did you feel playing the same ten year old songs every night, and fans continuously asking for those songs after all that time?
Jim: We never stopped playing them before we broke up. We don't mind playing old songs. That's what got us here.

PRT: Do you see that album as somewhat of a curse or a blessing? Or both?
Jim: A blessing. We are proud of all our records.

PRT: What struck me at the live shows, when you guys got back together, was the fun you seemed to have on stage. Would it be okay to say that this element was sort of lacking at the end of your first run?
Jim: The lack of fun is why we broke up in the first place.

PRT: Are you approaching things differently this time?
Jim: We seem to be taking it one day at a time and not over thinking everything.

PRT: What's TGUK's priority in 2011?
Jim: Tour, tour, tour.

The Measure (SA) – Notes

After a whole slew of 7”s, New Jersey’s The Measure is back with their second full-length. The shiznit is called “Notes” and is out now on No Idea Records and comes with 14 songs that always linger around the 2 to 3-minute mark.

If you like loud, distorted guitars, bouncy rhythms, great melodies and plenty of grit, then these guys and one girl are just the thing for you. It’s just solid pop-punk with some folk influences that should appeal to fans of Fifth Hour Hero, Discount and the likes.
Score: 7 out of 10

Monument – Goes Canoeing

Remember a time when emo was still a quirky offshoot of hardcore? When the scene wasn’t taken over yet by guys in girls’ jeans and girls with piercings in places that even the makers of the Saw franchise deemed too freaky? The guys that make up Monument sure do and want to share it with us on their debut full-length, “Goes Canoeing”.

With angular and jangly riffage and melodic vocals, these Washington DC natives pay tribute to the sounds of the past. If you still remember bands like Braid or Mineral, there’s nothing on here that you haven’t heard before. Yet it’s still pretty damn refreshing to listen to.
Score: 7 out of 10
no label

Hour Of The Wolf – Decompositions (Volume 1)

After three EPs and one split with Lewd Acts on three different labels in just four years, the people over at Think Fast! thought it would be a good plan to make a collection so that all of the songs are readily available. This is the first volume of the collection and after having heard it a bunch of times, I can only hope that volume 2 will follow soon.

The guys that make up Arizona’s Hour Of The Wolf excel at mixing up punk and hardcore with rock ‘n roll swagger, making it a true pleasure to listen. Picture older AFI (the vocalist reminded me more than once of Davey Havok) as part of the Gearhead family if you will. All of the songs on here are catchy, energetic and powerful as fuck. There’s also a bunch of covers to enjoy including Black Flag’s “Fix Me”, Nerve Agents’ “Fall Of The All American” and The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. It might help shine a light on some of the band’s influences.

Here’s to hoping that with this release they will finally gain the exposure they deserve. Check it out and if you like it you can even order an Hour Of The Wolf coffee mug. Hell yeah!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Cake – Showroom Of Compassion

Confession time. I have always been something of a Cake fan. I still listen to “Fashion Nugget”, “Prolonging The Magic” or “Comfort Eagle”. A lot. So I was seriously looking forward to their new album “Showroom Of Compasion”, which offers the band’s first new material in nearly seven years. It was recorded in their solar-powered studio and comes in a case made of recycled paper and non toxic vegetable dyes. Yes, Cake has gone green on our asses!

Has anything else changed? Not really, the songs are still very much equipped with quirky twists, random shouting, McCrea’s singing/talking and that cool trumpet that always pops up at the right time. And yes, they still like to rock but will just as easily switch to mellow in the blink of an eye. Yet they are always funky as hell! Oh, and they managed to maintain that sense of humor I loved so much. They did however inject their songs with some subtle electronic sounds this time around. It adds just another layer to Cake’s vintage sound and blends in nicely.

“Long Time” is one of the album’s highlights with that tight rhythm and sweet backing vocals. The same thing can be said about “Sick Of You” or “Mustache Man (Wasted)” though. The latter of which starts off sounding a lot like “It’s Coming Down” before throwing in a trumpet on fire and veering off in another direction.

All in all “Showroom Of Compassion” was well worth the wait. It is yet another solid Cake album that longtime fans will definitely like and one that will hopefully introduce them to a whole bunch of younger kids who never had the pleasure of experiencing the sheer sense of joy that come from listening to “The Distance” or “Short Skirt/Long Jacket”.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Upbeat Records

The Brokedowns – Species Bender

Following up 2007’s “New Brains For Everybody”, The Brokedowns are back with a new album called “Species Bender”. Still sounding not all that different from Dillinger Four or Off With Their Heads with a Fucked Up vibe, these Chicago natives burn through thirteen songs in just twenty-six minutes.

Never one to hide their frustrations, these guys vent it all on here. The lyrical matter seems to deal mostly with the media and all the celebrity worshipping that people can’t seem to get enough off, but there’s room for a couple more annoyances to be dragged out in the light by melodic guitars and gruff vocals.

If you’re into the sweet, sweet sounds of Midwestern punkrock or if you like men with beards, you should definitely check this out. Hell, even if you just like the woolly mammoth on the cover, you should pick up your copy of “Species Bender”. Any reason you can think of is valid here!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

The Damned Things – Ironiclast

The Damned Things is a new band featuring an all-star cast that consists of Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano (Anthrax), Andy Hurley and Joe Trohman (Fall Out Boy) and Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die fame. What that sounds like? Like a fuckin’ good time apparently!

Opener “Handbook For The Recently Deceased” doesn’t convince entirely just yet. But once “Bad Blood” kicks in, the liquor has been poured, the strippers have arrived and the party is off to a very good start. So good in fact that by the time Buckley sings ‘all I want is another good time’ in the next track, you can only add an earnest ‘fuck yeah!’.

Take the big choruses of Fall Out Boy and Anthrax’ kickass riffage and channel it through Thin Lizzy’s bluesy streak and Motley Crue and Guns ‘n Roses’ take on glam rock. That’s what The Damned Things sound like on “Ironiclast” and I’m loving every second of it. I never thought I’d like anything the Fall Out Boys touched but this is a fun and rockin’ album so more power to them! Hell, they even make a ballad rock in “A Great Reckoning”!
Score: 8 out of 10

Only Thieves – Heartless Romantics

Apparently it’s not just Creed who know how to rock Tallahassee, Florida. Only Thieves already made a pretty solid impression on me with the “Greetings From Levy Park” EP and they simply repeat that with eleven new jams on “Heartless Romantics”.

Well, this time around they leave an even better impression. Yet they don’t make it any easier to tell you what they sound like exactly. The guitars flirt with poppy sounds yet manage to retain plenty of grit. The same can pretty much be said about the vocals. And all the while the drums just keep rolling on.

It should definitely be classified under the moniker rock ‘n roll but not the ‘rock out with your cock out’ kind. It’s more restrained and when they do dial up the noise, you can feel the outrage coming through the speakers. It’s simple, straight-forward, honest, pure rock. Kinda like Gaslight Anthem playing tunes out of the Replacements songbook. Basically “Heartless Romantics” is one of those albums that deserves to be enjoyed very, very loud. Someone get these guys a label… quick!
Score: 8 out of 10
no label