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Drive-By Truckers – Go-Go Boots

- By Thomas

Patterson Hood announced “Go-Go Boots” as a film noir whereas “The Big To-Do” was more of an ‘action adventure summertime flick (albeit with some brainy and dark undercurrents)’. While there are in fact not too many differences between both albums, “Go-Go Boots” does sound a bit more restrained and comes with a slightly different atmosphere. But it’s still that typical mix of country and Southern rock that we’ve come to love about the Drive-By Truckers, that is still omnipresent here with an additional twist of soul.

That soul influence is owed largely to the two Eddie Hinton covers you’ll find on the album. Hood delivers a pretty good take of “Everybody Needs Love” but it’s Shonia Tucker who steals everybody’s heart with her cover of “Where’s Eddie”. Spoiler alert: she doesn’t find him and so she goes out after another man in “Dancin Ricky”, not an album highlight if you ask me.

Cooley and Hood, the other two songwriters in the band, are still my favorites though. The score between them is 3 – 8 on “Go-Go Boots” with Cooley’s material sounding more optimistic than Hood’s rather depressing take on life.

Whatever though, with three songwriters in one band you get to hear a lot of different vibes. It makes for yet another damn fine Drive-By Truckers album.
Score: 8 out of 10

Deep Sleep – Turn Me Off

- by Thomas

Whatever you do, don’t take the album title to heart. At 13 minutes “Turn Me Off” won’t take up too much of your time anyway! After releasing a couple of 7”, the band was ready to release a full-length on which they really haven’t changed a whole lot about their sound. Expect to hear short slabs of melodic hardcore punk that are reminiscent of Dag Nasty and Descendents with a little of Black Flag thrown in. It’s a pleasure to listen to… all thrills, no frills.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Stay Ahead Of The Weather – We Better Get Goin’ If We’re Gonna

- by Thomas

Stay Ahead Of The Weather is a Chicago-based troupe with members of Into It.Over It, Native and Castevet who got together to play some tunes along the lines of some of the best the Midwest had to offer in the 90ies. Think Braid, The Promise Ring and Piebald… roughly hemmed out melodies alongside harsh harmonies backed up by a whole lot of powerful rhythms do the trick just fine.

I like everything I heard on “We Better Get Goin’ If We’re Gonna” and the only flaw I could find is that 12 minutes isn’t enough. Here’s to hoping that their other projects don’t take up all of their time so that maybe a Stay Ahead Of The Weather full-length isn’t all that far off in the future.
Score: 7 out of 10

Afficionado – When It Comes To Creation

- by Thomas

With seven people in a band, things can easily become a mess. Luckily Afficionado seem to have a pretty good idea what they’re going for and found just the right person in produce Don Fury to execute everything flawlessly on their 5-song EP, “When It Comes To Creation”.

With three guitars, both male and female vocals, keyboards, trumpet and a flute, there is a whole lot going on and it makes their carnivalesque yet rocking take on post-hardcore sound like early At The Drive-In getting it on with Rusty in a very nasty way while Cursive is filming the whole thing. Kinda spastic at times but wholy engaging… When It Comes To Creation, Afficionado is pretty damn good at it.
Score: 7 out of 10

The Felix Culpa – Sever Your Roots

- by Thomas

The Felix Culpa are a bunch of Illinois-based proggy post-hardcore/indie rockers who dropped an ambitious album called “Sever Your Roots” a little more than a year ago. Originally self-released, the band later got in touch with No Sleep who re-released the whole thing in February. It takes quite a lot of time and effort to sit through the whole thing in one listen and it’s easy to see why it took them so long to make it.

Definitely their most accomplished work to date, “Sever Your Roots” takes you on a musical journey that will not end with a smile on your face. Unless you are a masochist. With influences abound from 90s Midwest emo acts, there is a lot to be said for The Felix Culpa’s sound. If you don’t know any bands that fit into that genre, then think Brand New or even Thrice and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

There’s a whole lot of pathos and sombre sounds on here with the band using a lot of dynamics to introduce the drama. Take “Our Holy Ghosts” for example, a six-minute highlight where the band runs though pretty much everything they have to offer, including ambient sounds, soft-to-loud vocals and gang shouts towards the end and a fair amount of rocking.

Maybe 67 minutes is a bit too long but it does paint a very clear picture of what this band is capable of exactly. They’ve been largely flying under the radar but if they compress their material more on their next album, then I see no reason why they shouldn’t take off.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Close To Home – Never Back Down

- by Thomas

Ohio isn’t exactly close to home for me but it is for this outfit. On “Never Back Down” Close To Home combine pop-punk and hardcore in a way that has already been done countless times before. Which on its own isn’t a bad thing at all.. let’s face it… punkrock and hardcore all kinda sounds alike. But it is a bit of a shame when other bands in the same genre as you have not only done it before you, but better at it as well.

A Day To Remember is what Close To Home sound like most of all… maybe the involvement of former ADTR guitarist Tom Denney had something to do with that… and well, A Day To Remember already wasn’t that great to begin with if you ask me. Think clean-sung choruses, brutal vocals during the verses with plenty of breakdowns in between. Good effort but I’ll take Set Your Goals over these guys every time.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

All That Remains – For We Are Many

- by Thomas

Check out All That Remains’ 2006 album “The Fall Of Ideals” and you’ll hear a very pissed off metalcore band. Listen to 2008’s “Overcome” and you’ll find a more accessible sound that lacks a little in intensity. Now get a load of “For We Are Many”, a solid mix between the first two All That Remains albums.

There’s some fine shredding going on in this batch of songs where they combine melodic death metal and hardcore in a way that is not all that different from what Killswitch Engage is doing. Hell, vocalist Labonte even stepped in for Howard Jones on a recent tour and Adam Dutkiewicz produced “For We Are Many”. Need more similarities? Double bass drumming, very heavy parts versus more melodic bits and plenty of screaming juxtaposed against clean vocals. It’s all present and accounted for.

Is there a downside? Yes, there is. There is not a whole lot of variation going on in this album and the same can actually be said about the whole genre. All That Remains is definitely good at what they do but it’s all been done before countless times. And then some.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

The Hawaiian Islands – Live Fast Get Tropical

- by Thomas

With songs about drinking, girls,a tropical theme and songs that are catchier than most STDs, The Hawaiian Islands are a treat to listen to. Opener “Vomit On My Hands” is a nice indierock jam with a punky vibe and comes with the kind of screams that you’d normally associate with The Bronx. These guys take a mellow and laidback approach to their music that I can appreciate. I don’t know how they manage to sound mellow and rock at the same time but it works. And sure, some of the songs on “Live Fast Get Tropical” sound alike but hey, they’re fun!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

The Sleeping – The Big Deep

- by Thomas

Definitely one of the more interesting bands to watch on the Victory roster, The Sleeping drops another winner called “The Big Deep”. Right off the bat opener “Dark Days” kicks things off with a frantic riff, before whipping you into a frenzy only to then slow things down before building up again towards a great finish. The lush instrumentation, great vocals and excellent melodies make it a real treat to listen to.

There’s an abundant use of keyboards all throughout the album and it’s that electronic pulse that helps build a lot of the atmosphere and instant grandeur on “The Big Deep”. These guys don’t shy away from playing whatever feels right, even if it tears them out of their comfort zone. At times they don’t sound all that different from what a band like Dredg is doing. The result is an engaging and more than pleasant post-hardcore album by a band that has been largely overlooked for way too long if you ask me.
Score: 8 out of 10

The Reaganomics – Lower The Bar

- by Thomas

I’ve honestly never heard of Ryan’s Hope but apparently it was something of a metallic punkrock band. Not sure what they sounded like but now it’s too late to find out anyway seeing as they started a new band called The Reaganomics. There is no metal in sight here… just pop-punk the way it was meant to be played alongside cheesy yet funny lyrics.

If you have a song about Robocop being down to party, Teen Wolf or Ed Hardy shirts, chances are I’m going to like your band. And if you wrap those lyrics in catchy yet fast songs, then I’m sold. It’s kinda along the lines of Teenage Bottlerocket, The Vandals or Screeching Weasel minus the assault charges. Red Scare really is on a roll here with yet another solid release!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Haste The Day- Attack Of The Wolf King

- by Thomas

If you ask a bunch of Haste The Day fans, 2008’s “Dreamer” was a rather disappointing album. Listening to the new album, it seems the guys took their fans’ opinion to heart and now come out swinging on “Attack Of The Wolf King”, which by the way is a very metal-sounding title if there ever was one!

Anyway, the more experimental and melodic side of Haste The Day that we got to know on “Dreamer” is still present, but they brought back the heavy crunch of their earlier work. The result is one of the more diverse and accomplished metalcore albums I’ve heard in quite some time. Sure, it’s been beaten to death by now but if you still haven’t given up on the genre, then “Attack Of The Wolf King” is an album worth listening to with some nice riffage, nasty screams and clean vocals that for once don’t annoy.
Score: 7 out of 10

Rocky Loves Emily – American Dream EP

- by Thomas

Rocky Loves Emily is a Detroit-based band who have recently released an EP called “American Dream” in a time where the US is bordering on bankruptcy. Talk about being optimistic! The EP is filled with five uplifting poppy rock songs that sound like a cross between John Cougar Mellencamp and The Maine. It’s a bit too sugary for my taste but I’m sure that people who love Glee will dig Rocky Loves Emily.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

The Dead Trees - WHATWAVE

WHATWAVE is full of folksy indie pop, just like so many things you hear on your radio these days. Well, I suppose… Never been much of a radio-person, I just don't like other people deciding what I should listen to.

Enough about me and back to The Dead Trees. Once the first song is over, the tempo is cranked up a little notch, and you get a fun record. All in all, this album has a great beat, lots of reverb and a lazy feeling about it. It's kind of a soundtrack to a summer picnic.
Score: 7 out of 10

Aiden - Disguises

- By Jan

Aggressive, loud, offensive & punk as f@*!k, a seething, slavering beast of an album. Well, that is what the sticker on the jewel case claimed.

When I started playing the record, iTunes crashed within the first two minutes. I am not a superstitious man, but I don't think that was just a coincidence since it happened again the second time I tried.

The guys (well, you know what I mean) in Aiden aren't bad musicians and melodically speaking, Disguises actually sounds nice every now and again. Enter the lyrics and the act to fuck it all up. (Take that, stupid sticker, at least I can write fuck in full if I want to!)

So let’s see how the description on the sticker matches up with what one hears while listening:
- Aggressive: the singer’s sad and angry, the drums are fast-paced, so yeah, maybe ‘aggressive’ could cover it, although I’d go with ‘mad’.
- Loud: that really just depends on how much you turn up the volume, like with every other record. If you don’t mind being ridiculed, then yes, you can play it loudly.
- Offensive: chances are very real you will be offended while listening to Disguises playing loudly, at least by those who catch you doing it.
- Punk as f@*!k: not punk at all, so I spent fifteen minutes coming up with other English words that start with an f and end with a k. Apart from ‘folk’ I failed to think of any. I did however find a town in Wisconsin called Francis Creek and the British molecular biologist Francis Crick. Both don’t seem punk at all, so maybe that’s what they meant. But in that case, why not write it in full? Why trick people into buying an album they think is going to be punk as fuck?

If someone’d ask me to redesign the sticker on the album, it’d be something like this:
Melodramatic, sad, embarrassing & gay as f@*!k, ideally listened to while reading Twilight books.
Score: 3 out of 10