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Swingin’ Utters – Here, Under Protest!

After eight long years, Swingin’ Utters are finally back with a new album. It’s called “Here, Under Protest!” and it boasts everything that you’ve come to expect from this long-running San Francisco outfit, right down to the dollar signs in their logo.

They still know how to tell a good story with smart lyrics, upbeat rhythms and trusty chords like they have been doing for over two decades. The folky influences are still there as well but most of all these guys are rocking the old-school punk like it never went away.

Whether you’re freaking out to the rallying cry of “(You’ve Got To) Give It All To The Man” or bouncing around on “Good Things” or “Kick It Over”, the Utters get the job done and prove once more that they’re one of the longest-running relevant bands in our scene.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Foundation – When The Smoke Clears

These straight edge disciples get to call Atlanta home and like to destroy venues with their gritty as fuck hardcore that harkens back to the discordant sounds of Unbroken and Trial. “When The Smoke Clears” is a very aggressive and heavy affair that goes for the jugular and doesn’t let go except for a short sample at the beginning of “Never Stops Raining”.

They might not the cheeriest bunch out there but they do know how to write some very moshable breakdowns wrapped up in songs that relentlessly pummel your ass into oblivion.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Letlive – Fake History

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Letlive before “Fake History” or if I have, I didn’t make the effort of remembering them. In any case, this is their first release on Epitaph and their third overall and it’s one of the best post-hardcore albums I’ve heard so far this year. It originally came out on Tragic Hero Records in 2010 but is now being re-released with three additional tracks.

This band’s songs are like contortionists that twist and turn in every possible way while always maintaining a poppy and downright catchy finish. Much of this is thanks to a powerful and extremely versatile rhythm section who manage to hold it all together while vocalist Jason Aalon Butler proves himself to be one of the best new voices I had never heard up until now, taking both the screams and soaring clean vocals for his own account. Think of Glassjaw or the almighty Refused, it’s all there in a blistering mix of hardcore, punk, jazz and pure rock. “The Sick, Sick 6.8 Billion” comes with a solid groove while ripping your face off and “Enemies” takes a couple of cues from Deftones, which is never a bad thing.

I haven’t even mentioned “Casino Columbus” or the beautiful “Muther” or the balls-to-the-wall feel of “Renegade 86” but that would take me too long. Just take it from me that “Fake History” is a very exciting album and while it has been done before, it all still feels very fresh when these guys play it.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Dr. Acula – Slander

Dr. Acula has to be one of the worst band names in history but the band did manage to draw attention to themselves nonetheless with albums like “Below Me” and “The Social Event Of The Century”, two albums filled with party grind and movie samples. So much so that their new album “Slander” got released through Victory.

On “Slander” this Long Island sextet seemed to have slowed down a bit and end up sounding not unlike Emmure or The Acacia Strain with funny lyrics that aren’t really funny, tons of breakdowns and lame lyrics. The best song on here is “Cocaine Avalanche” which sounds like a lesser version of Every Time I Die.

I’m sure there’s an audience out there that can appreciate grindcore with synth sounds and some pop-punk influences but it ain’t me. I’d rather listen to that old KillWhitneyDead album again instead.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

Defeater – Empty Days & Sleepless Nights

The guys in Defeater like to tell stories that span entire albums. Not an easy feat when you’re in a scene where bands rarely stick around for more than one or two releases. These Boston natives however already succeeded in doing just that on “Travels” and “Lost Ground” and continue down the same road on “Empty Days & Sleepless Nights”, this time around even expanding the story with a 64-page booklet giving even more insight in the storyline.

Still charging ahead with the kind of emotional hardcore that Modern Life Is War or an “Aggression” era Verse excelled at, Defeater gives new meaning to words like ‘desperation’ and ‘catharsis’ on the first part of the album (“Empty Days”) with a story about a family where one brother kills his alcoholic father, where the mother finds solace in drugs and the other brother in alcohol. Sounds like a family feud episode on the Jerry Springer show, right?

The “Sleepless Nights” part is something else entirely and finds the band exploring folky territory armed with acoustic guitars. Saying that it takes some getting used to is a bit of an understatement. And while there are way better singer/songwriters to listen to when you want to hear acoustic music , these songs are still pretty decent.

I’m not too sure they should keep on going with the storytelling next time around though. It’s starting to feel a bit forced in places and with the booklet they’re definitely overdoing it. If I want to read, I’ll buy another book. Still as solid a hardcore album as they come though.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Dropkick Murphys – Going Out In Style

Album number seven by the Murphys holds no surprises. “Going Out In Style” is just more of the same rebel-rousing Celtic punk that we’ve all grown to love over the years.

They quickly kick things into gear with “Hang Em High” and the title track, which comes with guest vocals by Fat Mike among others. Both of these are energetic affairs that show that these Boston natives still know what punkrock is about. With bagpipes, banjo, mandolin and tin whistle firmly in place, it is a good way to get the party started.

One thing that is a bit different this time around is that the album is something of a conceptual album. Some of the songs on here are about a local Boston hero called Cornelius Larken and chronicle a couple of crucial moments in the man’s life. There’s going to be a book as well later this year if I’m not mistaken to go with songs like “The Hardest Mile” and “Cruel”. Other than that they still like to stick it to the man (“Take ‘Em Down”) and they still like to show their sensitive side in songs like “Memorial Day” and “1953”, one of their best songs to date. And then there’s “Peg O My Heart” for which they got Bruce Springsteen to contribute to the song… not too shabby either.

Let’s just hope the album title doesn’t mean they’re getting ready to call it a day, because the songs on “Going Out In Style” shows that the Murhpys still have plenty of solid songs up their sleeves.
Score: 8 out of 10
Born & Bred Records


Murderer’s Row – The Bully Breed

Murderers' Row was the nickname given to the New York Yankees baseball team of the late 1920s but it’s also the name of this Troy, NY-based group of skins. On “The Bully Breed” they pick up right where they left off with the Sailor’s Grave release “Beer Fueled Mayhem”, which is actually a pretty apt description of their music.

With songs like “With Us Or Against Us”, “Hell Bent For Rock N Roll” and “Stupid Mother Fucker”, they leave no room for interpretation. They are a loud and in your face bunch of guys who like to drink and fight, but most of all they like to drink all night. That’s not my line, it’s actually from one of their songs. Think NYHC with some raw oi! punk and some good old-fashioned rock n roll that thrives on alcohol and fistfights in dingy bars.
Score: 6 out of 10

I Am Empire – Kings

I Am Empire is a relatively new and young band operating out of San Jose, CA. They got scooped up by Tooth & Nail who have now helped them release “Kings”. Both the band name and album title are kinda cocky but these guys get away with it because the songs on here deserve to be heard.

They cleverly mix the sounds of current bands like My Chemical Romance and 30 Seconds To Mars with the sounds of yore (think Mötley Crüe and Guns N Roses) making them sound like they’re ready to take on an arena. Too bad the lyrics are riddled with the clichés that make up most of the screamo scene but that’s something that can be fixed by growing up.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

The Hot Stewards – Ambassadors Of Love

A couple of years ago The Hot Stewards were providing good times with “Cover Up”, a collection of cheesy 80s hits in a fucked up rock version with even cheesier synths. These self-proclaimed ambassadors of love are back now with another batch of recycled songs so that we can get the party going again.

Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me”, The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”, Jermaine Jackson & Pia Zadora’s “When The Rain Begins To Fall”… they’re all given the Hot Stewards treatment and in some cases even end up sounding better than the original.

Not one for the history books, just a fun album by a bunch of guys who are all about having a good time.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Rival Schools – Pedals

Ten years after the release of their seminal debut “United By Fate”, Rival Schools is back with a new album. In this day and age that pretty much counts as an eternity. But after having listened to “Pedals” a bunch of times, I have to say that it was worth the wait. “Pedals” is not an instant classic, but Rivals Schools prove they’re still more relevant than most of the post-hardcore bands they inspired with their debut.

Because let us be honest here for a second… Rival Schools is one of the bands that can be held responsible for taking post-hardcore out of the basements and making it more marketable and radio-friendly, causing a whole lot of shitty bands to harass us with equally shitty music. The band redeems itself quickly enough though with songs like “Shot After Shot” and “69 Guns” which are energetic enough to cause some serious rocking out at shows while being mellow enough to listen to when you want to zone out. The liberal use of guitar effects alongside Walter Schreifel’s raspy vocals still work wonders together and with “Eyes Wide Open” they even wrote one of their best songs to date.

“Pedals” feels more mature (eww, hate that word) than “United By Fate” yet equally inspired. And while it probably won’t be as influential as their debut, it’s definitely worth checking out. Let’s just hope that if there’s going to be a third album, it won’t take another ten years to make.
Score: 8 out of 10

Dripping Slits – Short Skirts & Long Nights

Google the words ‘dripping slits’ and you’ll get to see a lot of stuff that’s just as hardcore as what these Illinois natives deliver on “Short Skirts & Long Nights”. Think of New Bomb Turks, Turbonegro and the first album by The Bronx and you’re getting there.

It’s all very fast and raw, slightly melodic and the whole comes with a garage-y feel and a relentless pace that never takes a breather. Right down to the delightfully messy guitar solos and desperate vocal wails, these guys know how to keep things moving without ever disappointing. The whole could use a couple more memorable hooks but overall “Short Skirts & Long Nights” is a fun listen.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Diablo Blvd. – Builders Of Empires

Usually when a comedian writes songs, they’re funny. Or at least supposed to be funny. Just think of Adam Sandler. In the case of Alex Agnew and Diablo Blvd. however, music is no laughing matter. Along with his friends - who happen to be great musicians (they usually spend time in The Setup, Born From Pain, A Brand,…)- Agnew cranked out album number two, “Builders Of Empires”.

Just like on “The Greater God” they aren’t doing anything you’ve never heard before but these guys do kick ass when it comes to writing metallic rock songs in which they get to pay tribute to Danzig, Black Label Society, The Cult and the likes. There’s more variation this time around with the fury of songs like “Conquer All” next to the mellow “Saints Of Killers”, one of the absolute highlights of the album. It definitely helps to keep things interesting.

“Builders Of Empires” is basically an album for men who refuse to grow out of their teens. The kind you listen to with friends while drinking beer and talking about tits. It’s loud. It rocks. And the testosterone drips right out of the speakers. And yes, that is a good thing.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

The Scenic – Bipolaroid

The Scenic is one of those bands that is more than capable of writing a catchy song, destined to ride the airwaves for a little while. And if you manage to just listen to the song, sure… it’s pleasant enough. Fans of Weezer and All-American Rejects should be able to appreciate the familiar sounds.

But once you sit through an entire album and start paying attention to the lyrics, that’s when the cringe factor kicks in. Sure, Cuomo has written some bad lyrics over the years as well but I’ve never heard lines like ‘everything is tragic and we’re all faggots’ in a Weezer song. And then there’s a song like “Uh Oh” where the band didn’t even bother to come up with a decent title.

So there you go… catchy powerpop songs with some of the worst lyrics I’ve come across in quite some time. That’s “Bipolaroid” for ya in a nutshell…
Score: 5.5 out of 10

The Blackout Argument – Detention

Holy shit, these guys just keep on cranking out releases! 3 EPs along with 3 full-lengths in just five years is a pretty impressive output. Still holed up somewhere between BoySetsFire and Rise Against, these Germans like to combine aggression with a lot of melody.

Here’s what I had to say about their last full-length: nothing original… we all know what Rise Against and Boysetsfire sound like. But they do a pretty good job of keeping things interesting throughout the fourteen songs on here. Vocalist Raphael Schmid may not be Nathan Gray but once you get used to his voice, there is not a lot you can say against “Remedies”.

It all still applies to “Detention”, right down to the number of songs. Not bad at all!
Score: 7 out of 10

Sick Of Sarah – 2205

“2205” is not the year the world will come to an end. It is instead the house number where the ladies of Sick Of Sarah lived while honing their skills. Real estate prices must have gone way up in that Twin Cities neighborhood because who wouldn’t want to live next to five rock chicks who know how to write kickass songs?

The material on here is just angry enough to be considered rocking, yet at the same it’s mellow enough to be poppy as well. At their best they bounce all over the place with some extremely catchy melodies firmly in place. Like in “Kick Back” for example… solid song and once those moans kick in, I was won over completely. But there’s plenty of goodies to listen to like “Overexposure” and “One Night Stand” among others.

The punkrock spirit runs deep in this band yet they know how to dress it up all cute and stuff, making this a great noisy powerpop album that will appeal to all the fans of Babes In Toyland, Tegan & Sara and The Donnas.
Score: 7 out of 10

Hellmouth – Gravestone Skylines

Fronted by former Suicide Machines vocalist Jay Navarro, Hellmouth is a relatively new band who have released a pretty fucking brutal album with “Gravestone Skylines”. Mixing punk, metal and thrash is nothing new (Municipal Waste comes to mind there) but Hellmouth isn’t exactly making a mess of things either.

There are some very promising parts on here along with some badass breakdowns and if you feel like getting your mosh on for a song or two, then “Gravestone Skylines” can help you out. However, 15 songs of the same is a bit much to take and a bit more diversity wouldn’t have exactly hurt things.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

Farewell Continental – EP #2

When not busy fronting Motion City Soundtrack, Justin Pierre likes to call himself Richard Kimble while writing fuzzed out indiepop songs for Farewell Continental, a side-project he started with members of other Minneapolis-based bands such as Small Towns Burn A Little Slower and Trace The Skyline.

On “EP #2” these guys sound like a 90s indierock band getting in a massive fight with a pop-loving outfit in some dingy garage. Sounds weird? No, it doesn’t. It’s a treat to listen to and comes with big hooks and dual male/female vocals that work well together. Whether you’re listening to the ridiculously catchy “Son Of A Bitch / Son Of A Whore” or the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young cover of “Our House”, Farewell Continental does a pretty banging job of making this EP worth a couple of spins.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Lecherous Gaze – Lecherous Gaze

Remember Annihilation Time? I sure do. Well, they’re kinda back with Lecherous Gaze. On their first and self-titled release they like to rock out as if there’s no tomorrow. Wanna know what that sounds like? Kinda nasty actually… think of your favorite 70s rock bands, inject that with some punk influences and a whole lot of grit and you’re there. With the raw vocal delivery of Lakis Panagiotopulos (I used copy/paste for that guy’s last name) and more solos than you can shake a stick it, this is pure and unadulterated rock ‘n roll that should go down well along with that bottle of whiskey.
Score: 7 out of 10

Benton Falls – Ashes And Lies

2003’s “Guilt Beats Hate” was the last I heard of Benton Falls. They were a pretty cool emo band that just stopped writing good music. Until now that is. Well, not really… “Ashes And Lies” is a ‘new’ album that features five previously unreleased songs along with a cover of “Angel Of Hiatus” with the help of labelmates Clair De Lune.

If you were into Mineral, Sunny Day Real Estate and American Football, you’re gonna want to hear this. Especially when it’s dark outside and you’re at home alone. Maybe with just a slight bit of rain outside. Anyway, with songs like “Tell Him” and “These Lies” it once again becomes painfully clear how much this band is missed. Let’s hope that this release is the precursor of something else?
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Killing The Dream – Lucky Me

On “Lucky Me” Killing The Dream once again expand their horizons, making them even more of an easily recognizable band in the hardcore scene. While this album’s predecessor was focused on expressing a whole lot of anger, this time around there’s more. They are still very much a hardcore band so expect a lot of aggression, loud guitars and thundering drums. Yet the string section that pops up out of left field in opener “Blame The Architects” hints towards something else as well.

They go at it in a more subtle way this time around, giving a song the time to breathe before erupting in a messy explosion of noise and anguished howls. At 20 minutes “Lucky Me” is kinda short but fuck me, what a powerful album! If you’re into the likes of Defeater and Trap Them, you’re gonna love this.
Score: 8 out of 10

Leather – Sterile EP

Throw a stone in the city of Philadelphia and you are as likely to get your ass kicked as you are to hit a good hardcore band. Leather is one of those bands and on “Sterile” they sound nothing like the title would led you to believe. This is hardcore that still manages to sound dangerous.

The four songs on here come off like Pissed Jeans getting it on with Cro-Mags and vocalist Alex Agran manages to sound downright creepy at times. “Sterile” is short, to the point and will get you to hit that play button more times than your neighbours will be able to bear. I learned that last one the hard way.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

We Are The Ocean – Go Now & Live

UK’s We Are The Ocean follow up their 2010 debut with another full-length. It’s called “Go Now & Live” and it’ll be out later this month. While “Cutting Our Teeth” was already pretty solid, the new album sounds a lot more mature and playful. They’ve mastered the art of writing catchy and slick post-hardcore anthems that never stop rocking. Admittedly, they sound like Alexisonfire. A lot actually. But seeing as Alexisonfire is pretty badass, having another band like them and who are equally good, is not a bad thing at all.

Opener “Trouble Is Temporary, Time Is Tonic” is a really nice way to kick off an album and it promises a lot of good to come. We Are The Ocean has no problem living up to the expectation as they run through tracks like “What It Feels Like”, “Runaway” and “Godspeed”.

These guys have really grown a lot in a year and it shows on “Go Now & Live”, one of the better post-hardcore releases I’ve heard in the last couple of months.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Musth - Padjelanta

By Christophe

Did you know "Padjelanta" is a national park in Sweden? And that it's also the name of the debut album by Musth,

And did you know Musth is, according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, a condition that male elephants suffer from. A increase in reproductive hormones causing very aggressive behavior.

So, a natural park full of horny elephant bulls... Imagine what that would sound like....

Are you imagining anything slow, steady-paced, heavy and brutal?

Then you're right.

Musth has been around for a couple of years, releasing in EP in 2007. But this debut is going to get them a whole lot more attention.

The Belgian quintet has managed to keep their songs rather accessible, which is a noble thing to do in a sludge/postrock-genre that generally tends to be as inpenetrable as the pussy of a 93-year old nun.

I would suggest a little more layers and intricacies in the dreamy, Mogwai-ish postrock parts. Maybe add some more keyboards, or some extra guitar parts.

But the brutal simplicity of the heavy, droning sludge-elements in the songs are definitely something that will appeal to the fans of the genre.
My guess is that, if Musth succeeds to elaborate the sound even more than they did now, they could become a powerhouse in a scene defined by bands like Neurosis, Isis or Pelican. Keep an eye on these guys (and the bass-playing girl!).
Score: 7,5 out of 10

The Spinoffs - Stayin Alive

By Christophe

When a poppunk band kicks off the new 7" with a Bee-Gees cover, you know you have a ballsy bunch on your record player.

Even more so, the cover is also the title track for the 7".

That's crazy. Imagine John Travolta dancing to this! What wer eyou guys thinking?

The five tracks on this EP are only good for about 6 minutes. And that's okay. The Spinoffs sound different than other poppunk bands, also drawing influences not just from Screeching Weasel or The Riverdales, but also from other legends like Dickies or the Buzzcocks. And the short tracks keep the energy pumping.

Needless to say, I dig this.
Score: 7 out of 10

Miles Away - Endless Roads

By Christophe

For some reason, there aren't too many Australian hardcore bands reaching Euroland. Except for Parkway Drive and some others.

One of these others is Perth's Miles Away. Their fourth full length is called "Endless Roads" and was recorded with Dean Baltulonis. That dude was also responsible for recordings of Sick of it All, American Nightmare and Modern Life is War, just to name a few.

And it shows. Instead of the Aussie approach to Ten Yard Fight, which was basically what Miles Away did in a not-too-distant past, they have evolved to a more modern hardcore sound, which fits in perfectly with the current call for bands like Have Heart, the aformentioned MLIW, Defeater and so on.

But altogether, Miles Away did retain some of the old school, youth-crew-ish influences. So you get a pretty cool mix of early nineties old school, and the naughties modern approach to hardcore.

Conclusion: a pretty fresh sounding record. Nothing shocking, but good enough to keep yours truly entertained for a good 25 minutes. Either on record, or live on stage.
Score: 7 out of 10

High Tension Wires - Welcome New Machine

By Christophe

Did you know that I, yours truly and humble reviewer, is actually quite keen on bands like The Sultans, The Marked Men and other poppy, slightly punky garagerock?

Yep. I'm a sucker for cool melodies and catchy tunes. I like my garagerock very fuckin' poppy. So sue me...

Or better yet. Hear me out. Because there is a new High Tension Wires-record out. It's called "Welcome New Machine". But I would call it a "Welcome New Record".

Oh sure,that joke was lame. But this record isn't. It isn't so much poppy, punky garagerock, but garage-y poppunk. That's pretty much the same thing. But whatever. It sounds exactly what you might expect from people who are/were in The Riverboat Gamblers and The Marked Men making an album for Dirtnap Records.

The twelve songs are exactly what a sunny spring day needs. Open the window, cruise around, sporting your most awesome sunglasses and bob your head with a wide grin on your face.

Get the picture? Now go get it, and enjoy it.
Score: 7,5 out of 10

The Creeps - Follow You Home

By Christophe

Let's start off with being brutally honest: The Creeps do nothing that hasn't been done before.

Now let's continue with the upside of that statement: there's nothing wrong with sounding like the better poppunk bands of this world.

"Follow You Home" is a 4-song 7" by a Canadian band that draws heavily from The Riverdales and The Queers or other Ramones-like bands. And as they claim themselves, have been influenced by Stephen King books and booze.

Well, there are worse influences, for sure. So let's keep it at that, and if you're into booze-driven-sci-fi-horror-poppunk-melodies, well, you know what to do: click the link under this review.
Score: 7 out of 10

City of Ships - Look What God Did To Us

By Christophe

Why am I reviewing an album that came out in 2009? Maybe because it's, well, good.

I can already tell you that this June, there should be a new City of Ships-record out. And if it's gonna be of the same quality as "Look What God Did To Us", all you post-hardcore fans are in for a real friggin' treat.

So, post-hardcore huh? Yup. There still seems to be some kind of market for this kind of music. It didn't die with the emergence of crabcore, or other, ehm, crap.

You like Thrice? Then go check this out. Especially the vocals are quite similar. But musically? Hell, even Cave In or Pelican-fans might be up for City of Ships.
Score: 7,5 out of 10

Antillectual - Start from scratch

By Christophe

Did you know that the Netherlands actually have more than Amsterdam, Heineken, a lenient softdrug policy and a passion for cheese?

Anyway, the Dutchies also have a rich tradition in quality punkrock. Ever heard of Funeral Oration? NRA? Undeclinable Ambuscade? I Against I? Travoltas? They ware all really good bands. And that tradition is still going strong. And with The Real Danger, Brat Pack, This Routine Is Hell and Antillectual, this tradition is still very much alive.

The band started out in 2000, and has been touring like maniacs. And this culminated in an incredibly tight sound on their third full-length, "Start from Scratch". But in spite of that title, the band hardly started from scratch. Instead, they built on their own musical proficiency. And as a three-piece using dual vocals, playing very technical punkrock, and belting out political themed lyrics, it shouldn't really come as a surprise that Antillectual builds on the sound of "Today's Empires"-era Propagandhi.

There's no shame in that. First of all: it's damn hard to get on the same level as the Canadian legend. And it's even harder to make it interesting, easily accessible, fun to listen to and not to sound as a blatant copy altogether.

Antillectual succeeded in all of these aspects. By which they earn their spot as one of the best European punkrockbands around.
Score: 8 out of 10

Brutal Knights - Blown 2 Completion

by Christophe

Canada has a lot more to offer than just bacon and ice hockey players. Some time ago we reviewed Trigger Effect's latest effort, being an album of the "blow me away"-category.

Now the new Brutal Knights has reached us. And once again, Canadians show us they can blow.

People away, that is, even despite them being such a relatively peaceful bunch.

Twelve songs, 18 minutes of raging fast thrashy punk rock 'n roll laced with humor and a lot of viciousness. You know you love it, eh.
Score: 8 out of 10

The Bouncing Souls/Hot Water Music split

by Christophe

How about The Souls playing Hot Water Music's "Wayfarer", and Hot Water Music playing The Bouncing Souls'"True Believers"?

Now close your eyes and imagine how awesome that would sound. Pretty good eh?

Now go get this split EP, because it really is that awesome. Even though it's only two songs.
Score: 8 out of 10

None More Black - Icons

by Christophe

You know what? It's always a pleasure to hear Jason Shevchuk's gravelly groans. Personally, I would kill to see Kid Dynamite for once in my life.

But I'd be happy enough with seeing None More Black again too. Especially after they put out this awesome album called "Icons". Never has the band released such an amazing collection of songs. Dare I say this might even be the best record Jason Shevchuk ever sang on?

My guess is the hiatus NMB went on, did them a lot of good. "Icons" is more than just a punkrock record. There's a lot of 'twang' in the guitarsound, giving me a certain Below the Bible Belt Americana vibe. And at certain points, the melodies are quite moody, giving a Seattle-in-the-nineties idea. And a certain Mississippi Gospel-feeling in some of the rhythms. I'm puzzled, but maybe NMB has made the most complete American punkrock album.

And despite those different vibes, the album is focussed, challenging and very... ehm... very very very good.
Score: 9 out of 10

Cobra Skulls - Bringing the War Home

by Christophe

After the relatively awesome album "American Rubicon", the Cobra Skulls got signed to Fat Wreck, the record label that has succeeded in guaranteeing quality punkrock since the nineties.

Admit it: how many terrible Fat Wreck albums have you ever heard?

So yeah, "Bringing the War Home" is the Cobra Skulls first EP on Fat, and it's quality. Pure quality. All five tracks just continue where the band left of, and amuse the listener with a very cool mishmash of Gainesville-ish punkrock and The Clash-esque punk.

My guess: their next full length is gonna be awesome, and will lift this band to the next level.
Score: 8,5 out of 10


Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Yup, the Foos are back with another album. Their latest is called “Wasting Light” and while it was announced as being a return to their roots, being all rough and garage-y… well, that was basically bullshit promo talk. Because “Wasting Light” sounds like every other Foo Fighters album. And if I didn’t know that Pat Smear, Butch Vig and Krist Novoselic contributed to the album, I would have never even noticed. Are those bad things? Fuck no! Because the Foo Fighters’ business as usual is still worth a helluva lot more than what most other bands put out.

You already know the single “Rope” from TV or radio, but “White Limo” is really where it’s at. It’s definitely one of the best songs Dave Grohl has ever written and it’s basically the only song on here from which you would believe that it was written in a garage. With “Arlandria” they added yet another song to that greatest hits album that they will someday release. You like things more mellow? Listen to “I Should Have Known” and get instantly soothed. Or not… they lyrics aren’t really that soothing. Or please do check out “Dear Rosemary”, a duet with Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould that belongs on every Itunes playlist you’ll ever make.

So while “Wasting Light” was not the album I was expecting to hear based on what I read before, it’s still another worthy addition to the band’s discography. So there’s that and the fact that it proves that all press people are basically full of shit.
Score: 8 out of 10

Coffee Project – Moved On

Coffee Project is an acoustic poppunk duo featuring Less Than Jake’s Buddy Schaub and lead singer Jake Crown (Rehasher). On “Moved On” these two display a knack for writing catchy songs about love and friendship and the drinking that ensues when the abovementioned doesn’t work out.

Songs like “This Is The Sound Of Me Getting Over You In Two Or Three Chords” are what these guys are all about… short and to the point songs that come with honest lyrics, while at the same time proving that you don’t need a huge studio budget to make a solid album. Good songwriting and an acoustic guitar will suffice every single time. That and the occasional trombone.

At 19 songs “Moved On” is admittedly a bit long, but these guys keep things interesting simply by writing songs that are both fun to listen to and earnest. Kudos!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

D.S. Yancey – Salt The Earth and Fill Your Hands

Lately there’s been a surplus of singer/songwriters worth listening to. Just think of Tim Barry or Chuck Ragan. Unfortunately when something good pops up, there’s bound to be a bunch of others who jump on the bandwagon, more often than not with mixed results.

Listening to opener “To Be Your Man”, I was afraid that D.S. Yancey would belong in that last category. At the very least that song proves that you need more than an acoustic guitar and shaky vocals to be noticed. Luckily he kind of redeems himself with “Eli Merchison” and a handful of other songs that are strewn throughout this compilation of two EPs. Yet nowhere does it become truly engaging, making me fear that we won’t be seeing D.S. Yancey on the Revival Tour anytime soon.
Score: 5 out of 10

White Lies – Ritual

Do you know the bands Interpol, Editors and Depeche Mode? Shit, then I seriously don’t need to tell you anything about White Lies’ second album “Ritual” because you already know what it’s going to sound like. They even got Alan Moulder to produce the album and most likely asked him to do exactly what he did while he was working with Depeche Mode.

Do you know the band Rammstein? Well, White Lies doesn’t sound anything like them. But just like those Teutonic gods of thunder, these guys love to insert grand gestures in their music. And just like those German noisemongers, these guys sound as if they traded in their sense of humor for one more hook.

It’s weird… on the one hand there is so much wrong with this album that it’s not even funny anymore. Even the artwork on the album is fuckin’ hideous! Yet listen to these songs once and you’ll have the damn chorus stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
Score: 7 out of 10

Matterhorn – Vol. 1 The World Began Without Man

Formerly known as The Great Redneck Hope (now that’s a band name!), Colorado Springs’ Matterhorn just dropped their first release in what will become a diptych. While “Vol 1 The World Began Without Man” comes with just five songs, it does span over 30 minutes of metal. Ominous metal.

Describing the end of the world is fitting subject matter for a metal band and so Matterhorn go on their not so merry way doing just that. It’s all instrumental mind you, they let the strings and drums do all the talking. Which works out nicely for them. It also makes that comparisons to acts such as Mastodon, Baroness, Pelican and Isis are never too far away.

While they arguably haven’t chosen the easiest genre, they do manage to compel throughout the duration of the album with a barrage of riffs and plenty of unexpected twists. I do however think it was a smart move on their behalf to keep things around the half hour mark. An hour of this would be a bit much… there’s only so much ‘end of the world’ drama one can take… yes, Roland Emmerich, I’m talking about you and “2012”!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Evolett – For Your Consideration

From Montgomery, Alabama comes Evolett, a poppunk band that features the very cute Haden Brightwell on vocals. Now, if you’re a poppunk outfit and have a female vocalist, there are bound to be comparisons to Paramore. Shit, it’s already a genre that’s not exactly known for its originality to begin with so my laziness is not to be blamed this time around.

Produced by Terrible Things’ Andy Jackson and his former Hot Rod Circuit bandmate Mike Poorman, “For Your Consideration” sounds pretty good. Whether Evolett is going all out on songs like “Circles” or displaying a gentler, poppier side of themselves in “Genetic Makeup”, this is a band that knows what they are doing. Unfortunately there are also cuts like “The Portrait”, which sound like something even Evanescence wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole and as you work your way down the tracklisting, things do become a bit of a blur. I kinda have mixed feelings about this one… guess it all depends on their next move.
Score: 6 out of 10