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Save Ends – Strength Vs. Will

Featuring former members of No Trigger and Rotary, Save Ends is a Boston-based outfit that likes to play pop-punk tunes. They have this abundant sound that jumps at you and doesn’t let go. Not that it digs its claws in, they just hug you really, really tight sounding cute as hell on songs like “Sweet Defeat” and “Resurrection Hub”.

They might need to throw in a little more diversity but the dual vocal delivery courtesy of Christine Atturio and Brendan Cahill gives the material that little boost needed to take it to the next level. After having listened to “Strength Vs. Will” a couple of times, I’m thinking it’s not going to take them a lot of effort to find a decent label.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

no label

Blonds – The Bad Ones

Apparently Blondes and Blond had already been taken, the first being a New York City-based electronic duo and the latter being a Swedish boy band. Which is probably why Florida natives Cari Rae and Jordy Asher had to settle on Blonds. Following up last year’s “Dark Roots” EP the couple has now dropped their first full-length. It’s called “The Bad Ones” and I doubt they are talking about the songs on the album.

Blonds often get compared to Tennis and Cults because all of them consist of a boy and a girl making pop music. The thing that sets Blonds apart though is that there’s nothing cute about their music. Listening to “Amen” or “Mr E” conjures up images of an era that’s long gone and that we only get to relive whenever Mad Men is on. But the sound has been given a modern update and if there wasn’t such a thing as retro electro (electretro?) already, then there is now.

The songs on here ooze with sexy and flawlessly combine twang (“Run”), doo-wop, bluesy riffs and pop with  femmes fatales and 60s chic and make me want to use words like suave and enticing. Check them out now so you can be one of the first to create buzz around them!
Score: 8 out of 10
no label

Certain People I Know – Certain People I Know

Certain People I know features certain people I know. Not personally, but Bob Nanna and Damon Atkinson have been in Braid and Hey Mercedes, two bands you should know. Together with another guitarist, a bassist and a keyboard player – all three of whom I don’t know – they recorded an album called yes, indeed… “Certain People I Know”.

Opener “Neverlasting” will sound familiar to everyone who’s ever heard a Hey Mercedes song. It’s smooth sailing and the only difference I can find are the added keyboard sounds and the female vocals that pop up in the middle for a second. We hear more of those on “Our Lady Of Guadalupe” when Lauren LoPiccolo sings the verses and Nanna takes care of the chorus. Their voices go well together and I’m wishing there were more songs where they traded off vocals. “King Of Shots” is another highlight where we find Certain People I know rocking out.

There are however a couple of songs on here (“Make It Up” for example) that simply drift by without really leaving an impression. Knowing that Nanna can do better and considering the fact that there are only nine songs on here to begin with, it’s something of a bummer. All in all a pleasant enough release though.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Black September – Into The Darkness Into The Void

Summer’s almost over and if these Chicago natives get their way September is going to be a very bleak month. “Into The Darkness Into The Void” is a dark as fuck album where the death metal of their debut gets mixed up with a dose of black metal to make it all sound even more endearing.

Listening to tracks like “Rabind Hunger and “Unhallowed Ground” is like watching someone poke around in a festering wound… all kinds of nasty stuff is going to come out! If you’re into other wholesome, family-friendly acts such as Nachtmystium, Dissection or the mighty Bolt Thrower, you’re gonna go nuts over “Into The Darkness Into The Void”. Meanwhile priests everywhere are stocking up on holy water.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Down By Law – Champions At Heart

Wow, where the hell did this one come from all of a sudden? Seems like Dave Smalley got an energy boost from playing shows with DYS and just churned out a new Down By Law album while he was at it. Even better yet, the first Down By Law album since 2003 is a fun one and just what I need to get my Friday started.

“Bullets” gets to open the dance… it’s a vintage Down By Law song and along with “Popcorn & Coke” and “” it wouldn’t have looked out of place on any of their classic albums. “Knock This Town” comes with a Stiff Little Fingers vibe and the folky vibe that’s been introduced on “Fly The Flag” is still present in tracks like “Tiny Answers” and “Warriors United”. A couple of others on here aren’t quite up to par with the rest (“Crystals”) but all in all “Champions At Heart” is another solid addition to the band’s already impressive back catalog and a nice return to form after nine years of near silence.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Mean Jeans – Mean Jeans On Mars

Mean Jeans make things clear from the get-go… they are ready to rip it up ! And if that doesn’t make things clear enough, you still have “Hangin’ Tuff” and “Don’t Stop Partying” to let the sentiment really sink in.

With plenty of whoo whoo’s, songs that deserve to be started with a loud 1-2-3-4 and just a couple of chords, these guys show what pop-punk is all about. There are so many bands that try their hand at this kinda sound but few actually pull it off to keep things interesting for an entire album. Marked Men was such a band and Mean Jeans is another one.

So yeah, the Ramones aren’t dead… they’re wearing Mean Jeans and apparently reside on Mars.
Score : 8 out of 10

White Wires – WWIII

Canada’s White Whires are back with an album that’s bigger. They’ve always been good but here things just sparkle and will brighten up your day. Their latest batch of garage-y powerpop songs comes with more hooks, more bounce and a clearer sound that makes their songwriting skills stand out even more than before.

“WWIII” is the kind of album you put on when you need to kickstart a party. Everything from the backing vocals to the loosely played melodies scream fun and if you’re into rock n roll there’s just no way you’re not going to like this album!
Score: 8.5 out of 10


No Motiv interview

 No Motiv released a new EP a couple of months ago on Siren Records. That same EP is now available on vinyl thanks to the fine people over at The Black Numbers. No matter which way you go... CD, vinyl or digital, "Winterlong" is definitely worth listening to. In my eyes No Motiv has always been one of the most underrated bands around and it's good to have them back. Read on to see what Roger Camero had to tell us.

PRT: First of all… glad to see you guys are back! Not really a question but I was seriously bummed out that there never was a sequel to “Daylight Breaking”!Roger: Well, thank you! Even though Winterlong was released last year, we are still very happy that the songs were able to see the light of day. Now that Black Numbers has teamed up with Siren to release it on vinyl, we really couldn't be happier. Those songs mean a lot to us, and we feel that musically, those are some of the best songs we've ever written. To have them available to the public is a special thing.

PRT: You guys called it a day after some tours that didn’t work out alongside your last album not living up to its full potential. Were those the only reasons?Roger: I don't think that the lack of success from the Daylight Breaking touring cycle was the only reason why we stopped touring. A lot of things came into play around that time. I think some of us were at a crossroads being in our mid 20's at the time. Having spent the past 10-plus years dedicated to the band, some of us felt it was time for a change. At that point, we realized that, musically, we had become a very different band from what we tried to establish ourselves as when we had our first release on Vagrant. There was some talk as to maybe changing our name and moving forward with the style that later ended up becoming Winterlong. I think the rest of the band was ready for a fresh start of rebuilding a fanbase under a new name. I personally felt that it was time for us to stop making No Motiv our life’s priority. My decision to go back to school basically was the end of our touring existence for No Motiv. I can't say that everyone felt that a break or hiatus was the best or right thing to do, but everyone was very supportive of my decision to call it quits.

PRT: I’m asking because I always felt you were one of the most underrated bands around. Looking back, is there anything you would like to have done differently?Roger: I think we were very lucky to have had the opportunity to tour with such great bands, and I believe we were part of a special era of indie music. Looking back, I think we let our personal lives have a big effect on our ability to persevere as a band. There were multiple times during our career as a band where we started to gain momentum, only to get burned out and unable to stay on the road. I think we took a lot of things for granted, such as the rise of the Vagrant era, as well as our ability to get on big tours. We had a lot of great people working hard for us, but we just couldn't muster up the work ethic to keep us a full time band year in and year out. So, looking back, my only wish is that we should have toured more consistently and been more prolific of a band. Having said that, I really do appreciate what we were able to accomplish. It was a great run.

PRT: The songs on “Winterlong” were recorded not too long after the “Daylight Breaking” sessions. How come it took so long for you to release them?Roger: We wrote most of those songs soon after the Daylight Breaking cycle. We actually recorded some of the songs twice. With the first session, the hard drive we recorded on ended up becoming corrupted and we lost all the files. Soon after that first session, we stopped playing and that’s when all of us got involved in new bands and endeavors. It wasn't until 2007 that we started re-recording the songs for fun. It took quite some time to complete the record, as we worked on the album when we could find the free time to do so. The record was finally completed in 2009 and was mixed and mastered by 2010.

PRT: Now that the EP has been out for a while, are there any plans to do more? Or do you still consider this a one time thing?Roger: Anything is possible, but at the same time, I can't promise or guarantee anything. We are all close friends, but these days our priorities are with our families, work, and present bands/projects. It's just not realistic for us to spend much time with No Motiv related endeavors. Even so, every time we play music together, we have a really good time. We still love playing songs for people. We are all constantly writing new music, and perhaps at some point, we can make time to work on new stuff. Given our current situations, we will have to find new ways of working on music together. I think it can be done, so I'm just going to stay optimistic about it!

PRT: You’ve done one reunion show when the EP came out and another one just now… you never really stopped playing shows because you had your other projects but were you nervous for those shows because you were playing as No Motiv again?Roger: Since the release of Winterlong, we have played 4 shows. Our first show back was a bit strange, but it was in our hometown with all our friends hanging out together, having a good time. It was definitely a special night, and once we were a couple songs into the set, I think we got focused and had a great time. I think we felt more pressure when we had two shows with recently reunited Hot Rod Circuit. Those were also great shows, but we felt there was a higher level of expectation. We just played a show last Friday, also in our hometown, as a pre-wedding party for one of our old friends. So, with these 4 shows that we played since our return, things seem to come together pretty easily and who knows, maybe we will find ourselves playing one or two more before the year is over. We're having a good time, so lets keep it going.
Thank you for the interview, and thanks to Siren and Black Numbers for making our EP see the light of day.

Spook Houses – Trying

What started out as a duo back in 2010 grew into a quartet of New York slackers who have now released a throwback to the lo-fi bands of the nineties. Unfortunately it’s not very good.

You can pick up on the band’s influences easily enough. Built To Spill, Dinosaur Jr, Pavement,… it’s all there. But whereas those bands actually sounded like they didn’t care about anything, Spook Houses most of all sounds like a band that’s trying really hard not to care about anything. Especially the vocals are annoying as fuck. The guy sounds like he’s suffering from sleep deprivation and when he mumbles that he’s afraid to sleep in “Family Plot”, that’s actually the first time I believe him. Oh, and I’m pretty sure the extremely grating opener “Try Pt. 1 & Pt. 2” is some sort of test you have to sit through in order to be deemed cool enough to hear the rest of the album.

Get these guys on some uppers or better yet, get them a dose of emotions so at least they won’t sound like they’re stuck in a coma anymore.
Score: 3 out of 10

Elenora – Avant-Garde EP

Elenora is a band I found next to nothing about online so I can’t really tell you a lot about them. They’re this emocore outfit that’s technically proficient without losing sight of making accessible and melodic tunes that pack plenty of punch. I especially like the guitar leads that occasionally pop up out of nowhere and the equally unexpected more atmospheric passages.

If you ask me they’re a couple years late with this kind of music because the heydays of bands such as Saosin and Senses Fail have already come and gone, but they do a pretty solid job nonetheless on songs like “An Open Book” and “Lost In The Sea” even if the songs start to sound alike towards the end.
Score: 6.5 out of 10 

Years In The Making – Prevail

Years In The Making is still a couple of years away from living up to their band name seeing as they only started out last year. But they’re already showing some decent skills on “Prevail”, their first 5-song EP. They play the kind of pop-punk that New Found Glory introduced us to and that is still being churned out by the likes of Four Year Strong.

So while the material on here is not exactly original, they do everything you’d expect them to. Melodic riffs and lyrics about girls stand right alongside breakdowns and gang vocals. They do sometimes try to mix it up a little by introducing an electronic beat in “All Your Friends” but those elements are negligeable.

All in all a decent debut EP for all the pop-punkers out there who haven’t grown tired of this sound yet.
Score: 6 out of 10

Throw The Fight – What Doesn’t Kill Us

I was not at all convinced by Throw The Fight’s previous album but they seem to have pulled together nicely on “What Doesn’t Kill Us” and while they were at it, they toned down the screaming… good thinking!

While they still lay down some pretty heavy riffage, the keyboards and vocals bring a more poppy atmosphere that suits these guys. I’m thinking I’m a little too old too still be enjoying this to the fullest but hearing these songs did put a little more bounce in my step and the cover of “I Just Died In Your Arms” made me smile. Granted, it’s an easy way to score but they do it pretty good nonetheless.
Score: 6 out of 10 

Paper – Sunbeam

When drummers move up to the frontman position, it’s usually the right time to get worried. Just think of Taylor Hawkins’ solo album… yikes! Mike Marsh is best known as the guy behind Chris Carrabba in Dashboard Confessional but he also has his own project called Paper. And now he has an album out called “Sunbeam”. Sounds like a psychedelic pop album, right?

Well, that’s actually not too far off the mark. It’s a whole lot of poppy but not so much psychedelic as it is proggy. Not unlike what Genesis used to do back in the day. Marsh’s voice even sounds a little like Phil Collins’ at times. And just like Collins proved that a drummer becoming the frontman doesn’t always have to be a bad thing, so does Marsh with songs like “Turn Your Radio Off”, “Everybody Talks” and “Shine”.
Score: 7.5 out of 10 

Daytrader – Twelve Years

Rise Records is on a roll, finally signing some bands worthy of attention like the Bouncing Souls, Hot Water Music, Make Do And Mend,… And now there’s the debut full-length of Daytrader, a band I had never heard of up until now.

“Dead Friends” gets to kick off the album and does so with a Marcy Playground vibe before launching into Jimmy Eat World mode in the chorus. “If You Need It” and “Firebreather” are two more energy shots that bring Brand New, Saves The Day and Taking Back Sunday to mind. But not in a copycat kinda way.

All of the songs on “Twelve Years” flow into one another nicely with guitars swirling one moment and making a ruckus the next while the rhythm section provides a solid backbone. Vocalist Tym (last name unknown apparently) has the kind of voice that fits the music to a T, going from powerful to introverted in seconds.

All in all, “Twelve Years” is a very good debut that should find a place in your collection right between “Bleed American”, “Tell All Your Friends” and “Deja Entendu”.
Score: 8.5 out of 10 

Teenage Bottlerocket interview

Teenage Bottlerocket is well on its way to become a synonym for quality pop-punk as they just proved once again with "Freak Out!". Check it out if you haven't already but not before you read this email interview we did with Miguel.

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?Miguel: I'm Miguel I play bass in Teenage Bottlerocket and I enjoy candlelight dinners and long walks on the beach

PRT: For the people out there who haven’t heard of Teenage Bottlerocket yet… if you were the lovechild of two other bands, which acts would’ve had sex and which position were you conceived in?Miguel: Maybe if the Ramones and Descendents did a rusty bike pump they would produce us

PRT: I like how you have had the same kind of sound ever since you started out but always change things up enough to keep it exciting and fresh. Is that just the way songs turn out or do you sometimes abandon ideas because they don’t fit your sound? Miguel: We don't ever abandon songs because they don't fit a sound. We don't necessarily set out to write songs that sound a certain way, we just try and write songs that are good.

PRT: You’re always being coined as a pop-punk band… do you ever find yourself wanting to yell ‘there’s more to us than that’?  Miguel: I think we're just stoked people are calling us anything at all, it means people are listening. We think of ourselves as a punk band, but are fine with being called pop punk too.

PRT: I think that what sets you apart from other bands are the vocals. Is that what you spend most of your time on when writing?Miguel: Definitely. Songs in our band sort of start with lyrics and vocals and everything else builds around that structure.

PRT: Something I always wondered about… how did you come up with the idea of always using the same cover? Miguel: A lot of our favorite bands have very similar record covers. For example the Ramones first albums all featured them standing together in leather jackets and Descendents have Milo on almost all of their covers. That's kind of what we go for, a familiar but slightly different cover on each album. We want the skull and cross rockets to be associated with us the same way the DK logo is to Dead Kennedys or Milo to Descendents.

PRT: The new album is called “Freak Out!”.. .what are some of the things you freak out about?Miguel: I don't know if too many things make me freak out anymore, but I am into some freaky stuff. Let it suffice to say that song "Mutilate Me" was written about me.

PRT: You threw a heavy metal party to record the video for “Headbanger”. Was that a fun thing to do? Miguel: Yeah we drank keg beer and had a bunch of friends over to party. People were skating, doing keg stands and getting weird, it ruled!

PRT: Your past releases came out on Red Scare and this is now your second album for Fat Wreck. How has being on a different label changed things for you? Miguel: There are similarities in we are friends with everyone we've worked with at Red Scare and Fat. One difference is that Fat has more people working, because they are a bigger operation. This gives us the ability to do more with the band and reach a bigger audience. Both labels definitely work really hard for us, we just reached a point with Red Scare where the band and label had gone as far as they could together and it was time to move on. So we went to Fat and they have been great to us. We are stoked to be part of the family!

PRT: What’s up next for Teenage Bottlerocket? Any plans to come back to Europe? Miguel: We've got a lot of US dates coming up and we're heading to Asia in November.  We're hoping to get back to Europe early next year, we love it over there!

PRT: I work for the Groezrock festival and when I saw you guys there last year it seemed like you were having a blast. Does it make a difference for you whether you’re playing a club show or at a festival? Miguel: We love playing them all. We try to give every show 110% whether it's in front of 10,000 people or 20. We just love playing together and feel fortunate that people come see us.

PRT: Last question…  do you have a specific date in mind when you want to be bigger than Kiss? Miguel: Yesterday


Shane Gamble – Shane Gamble

Shane Gamble calls himself a neo-country crooner which is a first for me. But listening to the man’s self-titled album, I can see where it’s coming from. The songs on here are an amalgam of pop, country and indie rock which gives him credibility with both the Nashville crowd and the New York hipsters.

Take “Bleeder” for instance where Gamble sounds a bit like Jack Johnson singing over a tune that could’ve been written by Jakob Dylan. “Turn My Way” and “One Balloon” on the other hand seem to be written for the radio. The album has a nice flow to it and while the arrangements are lush with layered guitars and vocal harmonies, things never feel cramped but instead allow the song to breathe.

If you’re into John Mayer, Pete Yorn or Josh Ritter’s “Hello Starling”, Shane Gamble is a safe bet!
Score: 7 out of 10
no label

I, Omega – The Ravenous

From Los Angeles comes I, Omega. They’re a progressive metal band with a mission: playing technically proficient metal that is widely accessible. This results in the kind of nerve-numbing riffs that Protest The Hero annoyed me with coupled to the macho metal of Avenged Sevenfold. In my eyes not a winning ticket but hey, I’m not young and hip anymore so what do I know!
Score: 2 out of 10

Red Collar – Welcome Home

Bruce Springsteen has influenced a whole mess of artists with his working man’s take on rock ‘n roll. Take The Gaslight Anthem or The Hold Steady for example. And Red Collar who dropped a great second album with “Welcome Home”.

Think of everything you liked about The Gaslight Anthem before they got too slick and clean… it’s all here in these ten songs. I love how they have the hooks and melodies down pat and deliver them with plenty of passion while sounding just sloppy enough to make it even more charming. Opener “Orphanage” and “The Old Piano Roll” are the kind of songs you want to be blasting in your car with the windows rolled down and even when they slow things down on “This House” or “Losing My Accent”, they simply nail it. Welcome home indeed!
Score: 8 out of 10

State Faults – Desolate Peaks

I’m willing to believe that this band is worth checking out if you’re into Pianos Become The Teeth, La Dispute or even Thursday but I couldn’t hear any of the music because I was so distracted by the vocals. I’m all for being passionate but the guy’s voice is so insanely shrill, high-pitched and out of control that it becomes laughable and makes “Desolate Peaks” pretty much unlistenable. It’s like listening to a hysterical kid throwing a tantrum in the supermarket. I seriously hope he has a day job to go back to because as a singer he most definitely falls short.
Score: 2 out of 10

Loyal To The Grave – Against The Odds

The only remarkable thing about Loyal To The Grave is that they are from Japan. Other than that this sounds like every other over the top beatdown hardcore band out there with no sense of originality or diversity whatsoever. Against the odds? If it refers to the odds of them standing out, then they’ve sorely lost already.
Score: 3 out of 10

The Keystone Kids – Things Get Shaky

The Keystone Kids sound like everything cute and cuddly on the planet on their “Things Get Shaky” EP. This collaboration between Carly Comando and Yo Man Go’s Ryan O’Donnell consists of seven indie pop songs that are mostly driven by Comando’s piano and sweet voice. O’Donnell does get his turn behind the mic as well on “What They’re Saying”but it comes with a more electro touch that doesn’t charm as much as the other songs on here.

If you like your indie pop with a whole lot of sugar on top, check this out… it might make you giggle.
Score: 6 out of 10

Accents – Growth And Squalor

I had never heard of Accents before but with “Growth And Squalor” this two-man band has released one of the most inviting and warm albums I have heard in a long time. Every single song somehow already rings familiar. And I mean that in the best of ways.

The album is off to a very good start with “Divide”, “Way Out” and “The Fog” and while the rest of the album is not equally consistent, things never really go downhill. They just have a knack for writing good hooks and know how to wrap those in warm arrangements.

This is indie rock at its finest with a folky touch that wouldn’t look out of place next to Nada Surf, Death Cab or Kevin Devine. And while they’re not doing anything new (how else could it already sound so familiar?), “Growth And Squalor” is most definitely a very solid album.
Score: 8 out of 10

The Bouncing Souls – Comet

On their first album for Rise Records, the Bouncing Souls keep it short with just ten songs. So I’ll try and do the same with this review.

Opening track “Baptized” is not their best song ever but it does a good job of waking you up in time for “Fast Times”, another instant Bouncing Souls classic. Next up is “Static”, a slower and more moody track that does not convince entirely. That one is followed by “Coin Toss Girl” which is one of those poppier, lighter songs that can be found on later Souls albums. And it keeps going up and down from there with “We Love Fun” as an absolute low and “Infidel” as another high.

I’m not sure what to make of “Comet” to be honest… there’s a couple of great songs on here that I’d love to hear live but they’re right alongside filler, making this their most uneven album to date.
Score: 7 out of 10

Hot Water Music – Exister

Eight years is a really long time in between albums, especially in punkrock. Since Hot Water Music called it a day (even though they never really went away) back in 2004, entire trends have come and gone. But these Florida favorites are back now and as soon as “Mainline” bursts out of the speakers with plenty of whoo’s in the chorus, order is restored and all is well in the kingdom once again.

These guys have grown a little older and possibly a little wiser since 2004’s “The New What Next” and it shows on “Exister”. Still with the gritty dual vocal attack, still with the great riffs and the amazing rhythm section… it’s all still present and accounted for but they have mellowed out a bit resulting in songs that smoulder rather than explode like “Drag My Body”, arguably one of the best songs they have ever written.

While I do hope I won’t have to wait another eight years for a new album, it’ll be worth it if it turns out as good as “Exister”.
Score: 9 out of 10

Riverboat Gamblers – The Wolf You Feed

I’ve been a Riverboat Gamblers fan ever since I first heard opener “Let’s Eat” on their 2003 album “Something To Crow About”. They are one of those bands who consistenly crank out good tunes that are always high on energy and melody. Couple that to their infamous live shows and you’ve got an unstoppable force on your hands. It’s a mystery to me why these guys aren’t any bigger!

“The Wolf You Feed” is their latest full-length and they immediately kick things into gear with “Good Veins” and “Bite My Tongue”, two explosive cuts that will get every crowd in a frenzy. The same can be said about “Soliloquy” and “Blue Ghosts”. But then there are also songs like “Gallow Bird” which show a different and more restrained side of these Texas natives. Along with “Comedians” these tracks are a little darker with “Gallow Bird” sounding downright bluesy.

One piece of advice… if you like punkrock, buy this album and check them out when they come to party in your town!
Score: 8 out of 10


Thick As Blood – Living Proof

Graduated from the school of Hatebreed with a major in Madballism, these Florida natives pound out heavy as fuck metallic hardcore on “Living Proof”, which I guess is something of a statement about themselves seeing as everyone thought they’d call it a day after a whole bunch of line-up changes.

Guess we were all wrong though because these guys throw it down on “Living Proof”… the songs on here come with lots of bounce and groove and they are really good at doing that thing where there the drums come in bits and pieces while the guitar keeps on shredding? You know? Yeah, it’s cliché but I still like that shit. “Living Proof” has nothing to offer that you haven’t heard a lot of other angry bands do before but they do it well and it works. Ready to draw first blood in the pit? Go!
Score: 7 out of 10

A Hero A Fake – The Future Again

Even though “Let Oceans Lie” was slightly better than their debut, I’ve never been a fan of A Hero A Fake. And that’s putting it mildly. Now there’s another album from this progressive metalcore outfit that I have to sit through.

This one’s called “The Future Again”… “The Past Again” would’ve been a better title though with them simply rehashing what’s already been done. Can’t really blame them because the whole metalcore scene is one big exercise in repetition. But saying that this is better than most other metalcore outfits is like saying that one pile of shit smells a little less bad than another… in the end it’s still a pile of shit.
Score: 4 out of 10

Dr. Acula – Nation

This is a productive bunch! “Nation” is already Dr. Acula’s fifth full-length since 2007’s “S.L.O.B.” and they don’t show any signs of slowing down… they dub themselves partycore but it’s basically a collection of all kinds of somethingsomething-core all thrown together.

They’re good at what they do and know how to mix it all up with chugga chugga guitars, tons of breakdowns, sharp guitar sounds,… But it’s not like they’re making much of a lasting impression. Honestly, I was able to enjoy this more than some of the other metalcore crap I have to listen to. It’s something but that doesn’t mean it’s very good either.
Score: 5 out of 10

Primate – Draw Back A Stump

Primate is a new band with Brutal Truth’s Kevin Sharp and Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher, who was originally asked to record the band’s demo and then decided to simply join the band. I think this album was already out there since last year before Relapse decided to pick it up and give it the attention it deserved.

“Draw Back A Stump” is filled with songs that are raw as fuck, gritty as fuck and loud as fuck. Most of all loud as fuck. There’s no room for subtlety here whatsoever and it seems they use melody like Paris Hilton uses her talent… everyone’s heard about it but nobody has seen it. This is a hardcore punk album with grindcore aspirations that puts a big fat smile on my face.

Just check out “Drinking And Driving”, the anthems that are “Pride” and “Wasted Youth” or the awesomely titled “Get The Fuck Off My Lawn” and go completely apeshit!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Dying Fetus – Reign Supreme

For the longest time Dying Fetus has been cranking out some of the most brutal metal around and listening to “Reign Supreme” it’s obvious that they’re not about to completely sever the umbilical cord just yet.

“Invert The Idols” is an opener that not so much kicks down the door, it kicks down the door and then rapes, maims and kills everyone inside and then sets fire to the house. With a mix of death, grind, thrash and jazzy parts, these guys pull everything through the meat grinder and come out with a concoction that’s not pretty to look at.

I like the groove they’ve got going on in their songs and musically things are as tight as they can be, but I’ve never been a fan of cookie monster vocals. And there’s loads of those. I just can’t take anyone serious who sounds like a muppet… so while “Reign Supreme” is a quality death metal release, it’s not one for me.
Score: 6 out of 10

Zebra Tracks – Collective Guilt

All the way from Greece comes Zebra Tracks to follow up on their 2009 debut full-length “A Family Picture From…”. This indie rock outfit dabbles in post-punk and shoegaze and they dabble well. Songs like “Bicycles” bring My Bloody Valentine to mind whereas “Party Is Over” comes with a danceable beat that suggests the exact opposite of the title.

With the help of bouncy rhythms, wavering guitars and a versatile vocalist, these guys have got a lot of goodness going on and managed to make “Collective Guilt” an introvert yet rocking album that stays engaging until the last notes of “Natalia Please Go Die” ring out along with Natalia’s last breath if all goes according to Zebra Tracks’ plan.
Score: 7 out of 10

Sunday Driver – Across The Sunshine State

Sunday Driver is back… but not really. “Across The Sunshine State” is an EP with four previously unreleased tracks that were recorded back in 2004. This melodic rock outfit out of Miami never quite made it to the big leagues like Jimmy Eat World or even the semi big leagues like The Juliana Theory (whatever happened to those guys?), but I can still remember rocking out to “A Letter To Brison City” when it first came out.

Listening to these songs, I’m thinking it’s a shame they never got to make more of a name for themselves. “Pack Your Bags” and “Can’t Turn Back Now” are solid tunes, both of them catchy, energetic and easy on the ears. One for the nostalgics!
Score: 7 out of 10

Pedals On Our Pirate Ships – A Place To Stay

When I was a kid my parents once thought it was a swell idea to give me a keyboard for Christmas. You remember those fire red Yamaha keytars? Yeah, one of those. Not that I had ever asked for one but you know, they must’ve thought it was a good idea. It wasn’t. I messed around with it for a bit and then forgot all about it. What I ended up playing though kinda sounded like the synth sounds on Pedals Of Our Pirate Ships’ album, “A Place To Stay”. Believe me when I say that this is not a compliment.

Apparently this used to be an acoustic act but they went with electric guitars this time around. So there’s that alongside drums and a vocalist who can’t seem to choose between singing or just plain reciting the lyrics and so he ends up doing something kind of in between. When done right, this could be funny (think Atom & His Package). This one’s quaint, it’s cutesy… but other than that I can’t seem to find a lot of redeeming features about this one.
Score: 3 out of 10

Silver Snakes – Pictures Of A Floating World

“Pictures Of A Floating World” originally came out through Siren Records in late 2011 but has now gotten the vinyl treatment thanks to Animal Style Records. Produced by RX Bandits’ Steve Choi and mixed by Roger Camero (No Motiv), the least you can say is that Silver Snakes keep good company.

I’m thinking At The Drive In and Fugazi are two bands that have been in heavy rotation on these guys’  iPods but Thrice is just as well a band that can be found nodding along in agreement at one of their – no doubt sweaty – shows. With songs like “New Light”, “Echo Eyes” and “Dear Midnight” they prove they know how to write gritty post-hardcore tunes that channel the spirit of 90s rock perfectly. More importantly even, rather than just borrow from the abovementioned bands, they managed to create something all their own and ended up with a great album.
Score: 8 out of 10

Luther – Siblings & Sevens

Luther decided to open “Sibling & Sevens” with their only acoustic track, only to break it off abruptly and dive headfirst into the distortion and pounding drums of “This Is Like Fight Club”. Odd choice but hey… why the hell not? The rest of the songs on havemore of a natural flow and linger between punk, alternative rock, indie,…. There’s actually a bit of everything going on here in just seven songs and so it may take a while to sink in. But once it clicks, it sticks.

Just think of older Gaslight Anthem if you will or go a little south of the Menzingers (and not just because Tom May helps out on “There’s Always Money”). Not all of the songs on here make an equally lasting impression but overall this is a welcome release that shows a lot of raw, untapped potential.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Belle Histoire – Dreamers

If you haven’t heard of Belle Histoire yet, don’t feel bad. They haven’t been around that long. But at the rate they’re going, things seem to be picking up pretty fast for them. Since first starting out, these guys (and girl) have already released an EP, signed with a label and now there’s the band’s first full-length, “Dreamers”.

Belle Histoire dabbles in indie pop that at times is a little more to the cheesy side than I would’ve preferred (“Without You” even brought the Cranberries to mind) , but they’re pretty good at what they do nonetheless. With Jane Smith’s voice taking center stage, the rest of the band does a solid job of backing her up with mostly perky, upbeat tunes. Opener “Don’t Run Away” and “Kids” are two of those album highlights. They get a little more dramatic in “See You Again” and “Home” is another track that feels a bit overdone… kind of like a Regina Spektor leftover.

For the most part “Dreamers” is a fun album to kick back to but it would’ve been better without the sugary ballads. If I want to hear those, I’ll watch an episode of Gossip Girl.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

The Fake Boys – Pig Factory

“Pig Factory” might not only be a reference to Snooki’s house, it’s also the name of the new Fake Boys album. Following a string of EPs, this full-length saw the light of day a couple of months ago on Animal Style and it’s a doozy.

The band’s brand of pop-punk (Descendents,…) meets 90s alternative rock (Dinosaur Jr),… still works pretty good. You’ll be able to tell if this is something for you just by listening to the opening track, aptly titled “This Is Our Band”. It’s a strictly mid-tempo affair with loud guitars and gritty, scratchy vocals. I doubt The Fake Boys will ever become a household name but as far as writing edgy pop-punk tunes, these guys are doing a fine job.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Reactions – Archetypes

I found out that when you google a band named Reactions, you find a whole lot of stuff not relating to the band. And when I did find a hit that was about them, it didn’t offer a whole lot of information and it came with a photo of the band with their heads chopped off. Guess they like their anonimity…

As it turns out they took this approach because they’re all in ‘well-known independent bands’ and wanted to ‘give up the individualized attention typically desired by musicians’. Since then they have revealed themselves (guess they’re attention whores after all) and they apparently play in Sound The City, Of Salt & Swine and RadioDriveBy… three bands that I have honestly never ever heard of.

But hey, I guess you have to do something to stand out in today’s scene and listening to “Archetypes” I doubt it’ll be with their music. Reactions mix rock with post-hardcore and sound like every other band in the scene with their typical riffage, typical screams vs. clean vocals and a typical breakdown here and there to break up the verse/chorus/verse monotony. Oh yeah, they sprinkled some synths over it all that don’t contribute much. It’s not that they’re bad, it’s just that they’re so damn… typical! I’m thinking “Stereotypes” would have been a better name.
Score: 3 out of 10
no label

Purified In Blood – Flight Of A Dying Sun

I thought these guys called it a day a couple of years ago but apparently they’re back and while you can still hear the hardcore influences, these Norwegians have gone all black metal on our asses this time around. Simply put, “Flight Of A Dying Sun” sounds amazing and puts these guys right alongside other Norwegian greats such as Immortal and Kvelertak.

The gloomy intro does a good job of setting the mood and after that we’re off.. drums rattle like crazy, they shred like there’s no tomorrow and the vocalist sounds like he’s been chain-smoking since before he learned how to walk. It all leads up to songs like “Mot Grav” and “Mind Is Fire”, which will melt your face off, tear you a new asshole or any other cliché you can come up with that involves nasty things being done to one of your body parts.
Score: 7 out of 10

In Remission – The Great & Shallow EP

In Remission is a UK-based band who have just released their second EP. It’s called “The Great & Shallow” and comes with six songs. Opener “Fractions” is the kind of song we’ve already heard a million times complete with chugga chugga riffage, a misplaced breakdown that makes for an awkward transition. Think of Finch if you still remember those guys. The rest of the EP is more along the lines of LostProphets… swirling guitars, big choruses yet heavy enough to induce a modest mosh pit.

These guys obviously have skills and know how to write a song. It’s a shame though that they chose a sound that’s not only been beaten to death, it’s also been stabbed, shot, bludgeoned, hung and run over.
Score: 4.5 out of 10
no label

Heartcakeparty – Mock Heroics

Heartcakeparty… seriously? Every time I think I’ve heard the worst band name ever, someone else comes along and seemingly trumps it. And as if that isn’t bad enough yet, they call their style ‘heartcore’… yikes! Apparently that’s a synonym for ‘extremely generic metalcore’. But hey, at least they are really good at connecting with their fans according to their biosheet.
Score: 2 out of 10

Marriages – Kitsune

Marriages is a new offshoot from the Red Sparowes family who immediately establish themselves with the “Kitsune” EP. Six songs of atmospheric post-rock is what you get with the swirling guitars and slow buildups to a climax that we’ve come to love from Red Sparowes intact. The biggest differences are that the songs are more focused and come with vocals.

Striking just the right balance between introspective shoegazer tunes and a monstrous guitar sound is not an easy feat yet Marriages has no problem pulling it off. The way the songs all segue into one another flawlessly makes “Kitsune” all the more appealing. The songs do stand on their own two feet but when put together they really suck you in and don’t let go until the final notes of “Part The Dark Again” ring out.

If you loved Red Sparowes or if you think Mogwai is the shit, you’ll have no problem getting your groove on with Marriages.
Score: 8 out of 10

Kabul Golf Club – Le Bal Du Rat Mort

Kabul Golf Club is a relatively new Belgian band consisting of four dudes who are out to annoy the fuck out of you. In a good way. Opener “Bits Of Freedom” is a glorious noisy mess that sounds like the entire band was caught in the throes of an epileptic seizure from the moment the producer pressed ‘rec’. The producer here being former El Guapo Stuntteam drummer Micha Volders.

They then proceed to up the psychotic behaviour and channel their love of Mr. Bungle, Today Is The Day and Primus through “Minus 45” and “Fast Moving Consumer Goods”. And in case you were ever wondering why it’s necessary to heavily medicate mental patients, please check out “5 Minutes 2 Midnight” and “Demon Days” which round out this fine EP.
Score : 7.5 out of 10

Empowerment – Gegen Kult

Empowerment is a German hardcore band that does not sound like Caliban or HeavenShallBurn but one that get its influences from 80s/90s NYHC acts. You’ll hear a lot of regurgitated metallic riffs and some pissed off lyrics. At least I assume they are pissed off because with the lyrics being in German, I don’t know what the fuck they’re going on about most of the time.

Oh yeah, not only can you find the lyrics in the booklet, the band is also nice enough to explain the lyrics separately. That’s how I learned that the song “Blanker Hass” is about how nazis are bad. Gee, what an original concept! I don’t think any other band has ever written about that…
Score: 3 out of 10

MXPX – Plans Within Plans

Twenty years into their career and five years after their last full-length, MXPX comes out of nowhere with a new album called “Plans Within Plans”.

Don’t expect anything you haven’t heard before. After all, you’ve already had twenty years to get used to their sound. One thing you won’t hear though is a bunch of burn-outs repeating themselves because they need the money. Instead MXPX sounds as youthful as ever as they work their way through thirteen upbeat and catchy pop-punk tunes. The only downside is that Mike Herrera still writes lyrics that read like diary entries… other than that “Plans Within Plans” is one of their best albums to date.
Score: 7 out of 10 

Aeges – The Bridge

What do you get when you put members of post-metal powerhouse Pelican and the sludgemeisters of 16 together in the studio? Apparently a poppy album. Who would’ve thunk it! It’s true though, “The Bridge” is surprisingly catchy, straight-forward and hook-laden while still rocking hard. Very hard.

Aeges doesn’t knock politely on the door, they just kick the thing right out of its hinges with opening track “Wrong”. Drums are being pounded like crazy, the guitars are fuzzy yet heavy and the vocals are delivered with plenty of passion and grit. And well, the same can be said for all the other songs on here. I love it when aggressive music is melodic yet still comes with a raw edge and that’s exactly what these guys went for.

Taking cues from 90s acts such as Helmet, Far, Quicksand and Handsome and incorporating the kind of wavering guitars that Cave In had going on for a while, these guys obviously had a good idea of what they were going for and walked out with the most accomplished debut album I’ve heard in a really long time.
Score: 9 out of 10

Crucified Barbara – The Midnight Chase

The four ladies that make up Crucified Barbara are back with their third album, “The Midnight Chase”. They play nasty rock n roll and do a pretty good job of it. Opener “The Crucifier”, “Shut Your Mouth” and “Into The Fire” is an opening trio that hits hard with crunchy guitars. Songs like “Rules And Bones” and the title track are a little less in your face but still sound pretty raw.

“The Midnight Chase” is a decent hardrock album that’s predictable but still fun enough to listen to… they wouldn’t have looked out of place on the Sunset Strip in the 80s when even their male counterparts looked exactly like these ladies.
Score: 6 out of 10


Retisonic – Robots Fucking

The last time we heard from Retisonic was way back in 2006 when they released the “Levittown” EP. Guess life got in the way there. But they’re back now with the album “Robots Fucking”… an album title that uhm… describes their sound? What do you guys sound like? Like robots fucking. Ha!

With jagged guitar lines that harken back to late 80s DC punk, the guys in Retisonic create an urgent sound that’s still plenty melodic. The songs are mostly mid-tempo yet they rock from start to finish. Dancing to them might prove a bit tricky though with all the start/stop arrangements they threw in the mix. It all leads to a very calculated sound that still sounds warm enough and it’s contradictions like that that make “Fucking Robots” a fine album.
Score: 7 out of 10

Angus Stone – Broken Brights

If you’ve already heard of Angus Stone it was most likely with the name Julia right next to it. He and his sister have released a number of well-received albums together, making them one of Australia’s better export products. They’ve since taken a break from one another with Julia first releasing “By The Horns” and now there’s Angus’ solo debut, “Broken Brights”.

And it’s a nice debut. Well, if we overlook the Irish flute solo in “The Blue Door” that is. What the fuck is that about? But okay, we were going to overlook that one. This album is basically Angus Stone paying tribute to his heroes without simply copying them. Opener “River Love” and “” made me think of Bob Dylan whereas “Only A Woman” brings seventies era Neil Young to mind. More influences? “It Was Blue” is a complete ripoff from The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” but hey, it’s a good one so fuck it.

Angus might not be bringing anything new to the table but he has written a damn fine collection of songs in which he fools around with all his influences and ends up sounding all the better because of it!
Score: 8 out of 10

Gaz Coombes – Here Come The Bombs

Gaz Coombes is one quarter of Supergrass (we are young! / we are free!... remember that one?) and former Britpop wonder. While recording a new album in 2010 Coombes pulled the plug, quoting creative differences as the reason for the break-up. Two years later the man is releasing his first solo album and it sounds less carefree and festive than what he wrote during his Supergrass days. With the help of drum computers and synths, this does at times end up sounding more like Radiohead than Supergrass. Take opener “Bombs” or “Whore” for exampe and tell me you don’t hear some Thom Yorke there!

While there’s a good idea in every single song, things just don’t click for me. Songs like “Hot Fruit” and the abovementioned “Whore” are probably the best on here but other than that this album doesn’t leave much of an impression. Or if it does it’s a slightly depressing one.
Score: 6 out of 10