Alkaline Trio I Lied My Face Off Asian Man Records This 4-song EP has great healing properties... fast and furious but melodic and emotional... when the four combine and live together in relative peace and harmony, there exists an equilibrium of soporific mirth. Um, at least there is for me. It's very cool and highly recommended.
American Football Self-Titled Polyvinyl Records These guys enjoy slow tempo, introspective tunes that feature a lot of string picking and intricate drumming. I can just picture them gazing at their shoes. They also enjoy interweaving cyclical patterns that create a trance-like musical background. You may recognize Mike Kinsella from his previous work with Joan of Arc and Cap'n Jazz.
American Heritage Why Everyone Gets Cancer Rosewoodunion Records Guitar, Drums, Bass. That's all you get with American Heritage. But you get so much more. You get hurried, fast paced experimental instrumental rock that defies convention. The songs don't even have names. Only numbers. And even then, the numbers are not in order! If you like Don Caballero or C4AM95, you should love this one.
Appleseed Cast/Planes Mistaken for Stars/Race Car Riot Split EP Deep Elm Records This seven song ep serves as a nice introduction to these three bands on the emo label Deep Elm. Planes Mistaken for Stars leads off with the previously unreleased "Staggerswallowswell." Race Car Riot follows with three songs, including the impressive "Racing California." But the EP's finest performance is by the final band, Appleseed Cast. The Kansas quartet's "Tale of the Aftermath" captures the band's raw power and Chris Crisci's stunning vocals. Their final track, "Remedios the Beautiful," is a quiet, haunting song punctuated by ghostly feedback. These are three excellent performances by some of Deep Elm's finest.
Archer Prewitt White Sky Carrot Top Records Archer Prewitt may be known to some as part of The Sea and the Cake or his comic book titled Sof' Boy. He was also a part of a proto-lounge act that went indy-rock a few months before lounge broke big. Curses! He's an accomplished musician, as this disc is testament. The music here verges on early 70's white R&B on "Shake." The other tracks are beautiful and mellow, perfect for lazy days when you need sonic decoration to liven, not overpower, the moment.
Arcwelder Everest Touch and Go Records Arcwelder is back from a three-year hiatus with their latest full-length Everest. The Minneapolis trio returns sounding better than ever with this impressive 15 song disc. Arcwelder are known for their aggressive, melodic rock, and they certainly don't disappoint this time around. But, one of Everest's finest moments is the acoustic-driven "Will You Stay?" one of many tunes that deserve radio airplay. Let's hope these guys won't take any more extended vacations in the near future.
Atom and His Package Making Love No Idea He's a one-man show, keyboard in hand, humor spewing from his mouth. The former member of the punk rock band Fracture has been delivering his quirky, much-cooler-than-Weird-Al style of music for a while now. If you've missed out on such great tracks as "(Lord It's Hard to Be Happy When You're Not) Using the Metric System" or "Son of Poop and George", or the classic "Hats off to Halford" (a tribute of sorts to Rob Halford's coming out). This CD is a compilation of 3 EPs and various other tracks with a grand total of 17 songs!
Atomsmasher Up & Atom Rock Room Immensely creative songwriting and unique blend of instrumentation intermingle with frontman Edward Marshall's captivating vocals. I get the feeling I'm listening to something groundbreaking... this underground NY band is going places the likes of which no god has ever seen.
Boxcar Satan Days Before the Flood Compulsive Records This trio from Texas "specializes in pouring a particularly ugly brand of self-loathing noise from the demon bottle." They also use and endorse "shitty, broken down equipment." Their influences range from post-punk noisemakers like Birthday Party, Scratch Acid and early Pere Ubu to Delta blues and free jazz. Featured on their full-length debut is a cover of Screamin' Jay Hawkins's "Feast of the Mau Mau."
Brandston Fallen Star Collection Deep Elm Records Cleveland rocks! First there was Drew Carey, now this Ohio emo foursome. On their sophomore effort Fallen Star Collection, Brandston adds some new elements to their sound. More upbeat, pop-influenced tunes and slower ballads fit in nicely with the band's aggressive, melodic rock. Myk Porter's expressive vocals are a highlight throughout the album. This is some good stuff, so enough with all the Cleveland jokes already.
Budhi Brown's Wicked Circus Some Kinda Liquor Green Room Records This album caught me by suprise. The vocals are similar to a restrained Guy of Fugazi, and the music lucidly driven by seductive basslines and saxaphone. It's an interesting jazz/lounge feel with the vocals bowling me over. This is definitely worth seeking out, particularly if you enjoy Fugazi, Morphine, or are craving a new sultry sound.
Bunjie Jambo Potty Karate Grappler Unlimited Their promotional material lists a whole slew of bands that these guys have been likened to, but frankly, I don't see much of it. It is decent funky, SKA with a few really good tunes, but for the most part , It is fairly standard issue music. They do cover an AC/DC tune, and they do it well, but as a diehard, lifelong AC/DC fan, I say leave it to them....
Buried Alive The Death of Your Perfect World Victory Records This is super fierce hardcore. The riffs are fast and furious. The songs are tight and well constructed. I'm getting a vague premonition that this is straight edge hardcore. I hope I'm wrong because I've had enough of that nonsense and it would spoil my high regard for these guys. The music is good and if you like hardcore you will definitely like this.
Capture the Flag Time and Again Conquer the World Records This Detroit area trio has been playing together since high school, when they went by the name the Ovenmitts. That experience together shows, as Capture the Flag sounds very tight musically. On Time and Again, they play an aggressive pop-punk style, with some more emo-style material. With this release, Capture the Flag should be capturing a new legion of fans as well.
Caustic Resin Trick Question Alias Records Names like Built to Spill, the Grifters, Mudhoney, Pere Ubu and the Screaming Trees pop up when listening to Caustic Resin. Lots of heavy guitars framed around a stoned out ambience with lethargic, echo-y vocals. This is one of the better albums I've heard in a while.
Cletus Horseplay Leads to Tragedy Johanns Face Records Cletus is at it again, laying down some catchy punk while maintaining their sense of humor. Starting off with "Christine's a Lesbian," about an ex's sexual exploration, Cletus sets a tone they will carry for the rest of the album. You'll probably like them if you're a fan of Guttermouth or The Queers.
Cleveland Bound Death Sentence self-titled Lookout! If you were wondering when Lookout would release another really great album, wait no longer. This is the best Lookout release in years, as far as I'm concerned. Featuring Dillinger Four co-vocalist Patrick playing bass and handling most of the vocal duties, Aaron (yes, Cometbus) on drums, Spitball on "just" guitars (as the CD sleeve states) and Emily doing a killer job on guitar and adding an awesome female vocalist touch, this is a band to fall in love with. The music is punk rock, the way it's meant to be. It definitely has elements of the D4 stuff that Patrick does. The melodies are constant but still allow the music to be rough and intense at times. The tracks keep coming, keep rockin' and keep me listening!
Coal Chamber Chamber Music Roadrunner Records Though the first vocal track "Tragedy" owes a debt to Korn in it's rhyme structure, Coal Chamber have impressed me with their second release. The music intermixes synth sounds and rock for some really interesting textures ranging from new wave to mosh, with an emphasis on mid tempo structures. Though the subject matter leans on the angry side, they put out an good if brief version of "Shock the Monkey" featuring guest vocals by Ozzy Ozbourne. If you're in a bitter foul mood and want some well produced music to steep in, put this on your shopping list.
Combatwoundedveteran I Know a Girl Who Deveolps Crime Scene Photos 12" No Idea It hurts, my ears are bleeding. This is an audio assault - speedcore at its finest. Screaming, insane vocals coupled with rapid fire punk rock/hardcore. It comes on rad bluish vinyl with a great book/insert and has enough music to kill you. Beware!
Dan Potthast Eyeballs Asian Man Records This is a departure from Dan Potthast's work with ska favorites MU330. This starts with a ska-ish acoustic guitar driven track featuring Potthast's distinct voice. This moves towards upbeat and introspective acoustic guitar numbers accompanied by harmonica and bass. This truly embodies that saying "It's so crazy it just might work." That his first solo release would be fully acoustic would have many MU330 fan's scratching their heads, yet I'm sure any listener would much appreciate being in the audience singing along to these catchy songs.
Denver Zest Denver Zest vs. Peekskill Sizzle Zest Apparently these guys are having flashbacks to their early childhoods, or maybe this is an album intended for elementary school students. With songs like "I Don't Wanna Learn How to Swim" and "What Are We Gonna Be When We Grow Up?" it's hard to tell. There's even a song about forgetting one's homework. (I still have that nightmare, too, as well as the one where I've forgotten about the "big test", or I go to school naked; but enough about me and my neurosis.) This is cool garage pop, perfect for elementary school students through college grads.
DJ T-Rock Who's Your Daddy? Bomb Hip-Hop Records Atlanta's DJ T-Rock, part of the Citizenz DJ crew, claims to have fathered a turntable. His songs focus on a non-human turntablist who possesses skills so precise and advanced, they are bionic. If you enjoy scratch music, this release is for you. Mid tempo beats set the backdrop for DJ T-Rock's impressive command of the 1200s.
Double Agent DA2000CD Double Agent Records A compilation from Double Agent is always welcome. Full of various electronic tracks and some 80's new wave sounds that make a fantastic sample of the style of Double Agent. The first track from Unisex (They Do Feel Strange) is a quirky upbeat tune that is worth the price of admission. Don't miss the Double Agent web site at www.doubleagent.com..
Eureka Farm The View Loosegroove Records Eureka Farm describe their music as "homeopathic remedies for the sciencefictionally challenged." In-depth orchestration, complex melodies, thickly textured instrumentation, and beautiful vocal harmonies, comprise "The View." The album was recorded on and around the actual Eureka Farm, relying on little more than microphone placement to achieve the different sounds.
Fall Silent Super Structure Revolutionary Power Tools Fall Silent is a band I've heard of but never heard until now. This is quite an amazing release, rising above hardcore and metal standards. I'm partial to "Great White Death" and "What Should I do," as both deal the American tragedy of being part of the American workforce (jobs you hate) from the perspective of someone who actual works a shit job to support themself. That's one thing that seperates Fall Silent- the sincerety that belies the rage expressed in some tracks comes from age and it's experience, no longer content to ride on the angry young kid bandwagon. The twenty-something rage in effect here is all the more potent for it's optimism and self determination. Heck, check out there faithful cover of Journey's "Any Way You Want It." If that doesn't rock you out, nothing will.
Fastbacks The Day that Didn't Exist spinART Records Together for twenty years, the Fastbacks have consistently put out pop-punk music that continues to entertain. "The Day..." is somewhat of a concept album centered around (surprise) a day that didn't exist. Singer/Bassist Kim Warnick's voice, though soothing, has a quality that makes you feel she could belt out some powerful screams, if she wanted to.
Fatal Blast Whip Seduction Blacklight Records Included in this CD are four remixes of the title track and three other songs, all of the industrial type. The remixes are done by Battery, Pivot Clowj, Joshua Bourke and Scar Tissue. FBW features static-charged soundscapes, frenzied rhythms and duel vocalists layered atop an electro-cosmic foundation.
Filibuster Deadly Hi-Fi Cornerstone R.A.S./Skunk Records After a grueling tour schedule (including one through Europe with the Skatalites), Filibuster got back in the studio, under the guidance of legendary producer Steve Albini, to record "Deadly Hi-Fi." Their mixture of sounds, a style some call "streetsteady," blends rocksteady, ska, punk and even hip-hop throughout this 13 song CD. This time out, Filibuster sounds a bit more focused than their previous release, "The Means."
Fireball Ministry Ou Est La Rock? Bong Load Records If church was like this, maybe I'd be a religious fellow. It's nice to see some people doing the rock thing. This is straight ahead power rock in the Motorhead, Black Sabbath vein. Crunching power chords and bass heavy rhythm make this disc almost seem like something old. It is not. It is new. It is good.
Four Letter Word Zero Visibility (Experiments With Truth) BYO Records This is a cool disc full of rocking punk. The songs are aggressive sounding, but still have some melodic feel to them. Music has not taken a back seat to either speed or anger here. This is a twelve song disc and all of them are good.
Guy Smiley Alkaline Devil Doll Records I can see Guy Smiley making a lot of people happy. Straddling pop-punk and hardcore with darn good vocals, this group of Canucks speak out about male responsibility in unwanted pregnancies, keeping your dreams alive, and being a friend for those in need, as it seems they've lost a few friends to suicide. The only confusing items is "Seventeen Forever," which states "...growing old means nothing when you stay the same/I will not change, I'm going to stay the same." Though they havea faulty approach to growth, this is music for the kids by aging kids.
Hankshaw Nothing Personal No Idea Records This CD was actually first released on Network Sound Records in 1996. Then that label went under, so Hankshaw was left out in the cold. This is a reissue of "Nothing Personal," released by the Gainesville-based No Idea Records. Hankshaw plays some pretty punchy alterna-pop-punk. As I was listening to this the first time, I was commenting to a friend how much I enjoyed the female vocals, when he pointed out that the lead singer is a guy! I was fooled! Anyway, he's pretty good. I would definitely recommend picking this one up.
Hardknox self-titled Jive Electro Records British duo Hardknox combines the best elements of hip-hop, breakbeat, and hard rock to blast their way into your living room with their self-titled debut. Legendary rapper Schoolly D guest raps in the single "Come In Hard (I Don't Like Rock & Roll)." Over the top breakbeats, metallic riffs, and even sitar and harmonica samples are used to create a heavier-than-usual style. I hope your speakers can handle it!
Hot Water Music No Division Some Records Although I've never been a real fan of HWM, I'd heard plenty from the long-standing Florida fans I knew. But the music never grabbed me. Until now. This new album has gained HWM a new fan. There are many times this record reminds me of the best of FUEL, not the new mainstream radio band, but the punk rock one. The vocals are gruff (but not overly so), the music is lined with intricacies (you really want to listen to hear what's going on) and the lyrics are incredibly good. Melodies run thick, energy is high, singing along is a must!
John Stuart Mill Forget Everything SeeThru Broadcasting John Stuart Mill features former members of Brainiac, whose promising career was tragically cut short by a fatal car accident involving keyboardist/vocalist Tim Taylor. The songs on Forget Everything are reminiscent of Pavement's early Drag City-era material, with touches of Sebadoh and Guided by Voices in the mix. Fans of lo-fi indie pop/rock should enjoy this debut effort.
Lonely Kings What If? Fearless Records This is a love it or hate it release. You'll either really be taken by the pop-punk melodies or you're pass on this. The vocals are extremely powerful, as are the melodies. The lyrics are a lot more mature than 99% of the other pop-punk groups, trading out goofiness for a realistic assessment of the world. The cool thing are the driving melodies that fuel the joy of escapism and lift you to happiness or to expel rage, allowing you to listen to the oft-serious lyrics at your discretion. This is the rare pop-punk record that has enough substance to become a personal treasure.
Luck of Aleia Six Songs EP Caulfield Records You remember that guy in junior high chorus? Not much of a voice, but it went to his head because he got the lead in Oklahoma' so he formed a garage band with his older cousin or something and kept everybody up nights trying to sound heartfelt? Somebody should have told him he sucked. Otherwise you end up with bands like this one. Six extremely plain songs of love and various higher emotions on a nicely-shaped CD that melts real good in a tire fire, I'll bet.
Luna The Days of Our Nights Jericho Records Dropped from Elektra after already having recorded their latest album, Luna found their way to this new label (started by Smiths producer John Porter and Andrew Lauder, ex-head of Silvertone Records U.K.), prepared to deliver their same brand of sweet and groovy indie pop. And they've succeeded. Although this doesn't match the quality of my favorite Luna album, Bewitched, it is still a damn fine piece of work, characterized by Dean Wareham's sensitive and personal vocals. The music goes from soft to poppy but never becomes anything you could call upbeat, and Luna is better off that way.
Matt Wilson Tambourine Girl Locked Groove Entertainment Wilson is a Central Florida musician who, on this 9-track record, delivers mainstream pop-rock ("adult contemporary") that will not amaze, but also won't bore you. It's got plenty of rhythm and pop-appeal in a Billy Joel way and shows that Matt Wilson is an above average singer/songwriter/pianist and more!
Metroschifter Strawberries Doghouse Records Unusual. Not in a bad way, but also not in a good way. Metroschifter puts together multiple samples and live instruments that fly from rage to softness to downright discordant. Highlight of the album is a remake of the Kentucky state song "My Old Kentucky Home". With only six tracks (some very long) this album gives you a good taste of this unusual Louisville band.
mij self-titled EP Caulfield Records Pretty damn impressive for a debut EP. The lead singer of this Midwestern trio has an understated but great voice that she wraps around some emotional guitar work, especially on the all-too-short last song, "this will end". Definitely the kind of band you'd love to check out live.
Millenium Kaos Theory House of Abdul I admit it, I picked this CD to review entirely by it's cover: Some beautiful acid art. I have never been so wrong. Hardcore rap was not what I was expecting, but once I got a few tracks in, I liked it. Anomaly (that's his name) is the best of the three rappers featured on this House of Abdul comp. Ease up on the pictures of your "posse".
Model American self-titled Sessions Records This is pretty good punk. It is a little on the aggressive side, but good stuff. There is almopst a hardcore feel to the disc and you can definitely tell that there are hardcore roots in this band. Some of the highlights that you will want to hear are Flthy and Ronald Raygun. This is a band that you will be hearing more of soon.
Muler motelbibleschool EP Carbon Records When Muler's album came out a couple years ago, I was so happy. They rocked! And then they vanished. Oh, blessed reappearance! This 6-song EP is another example of their quirky indie pop, loaded with melodies. The vocals are awesome, a bit whinny at times (which is ok), while the music is not the stale, typical emo-indie pop that everyone is playing...it has a charm all its own endearing and sweet without ever becoming wimpy.
Natas Cuidad de Brahman Man's Ruin Described amusingly by the promo as "perfect sex music," Natas gives us instrumental coolness that is definitely on the level of early Pink Floyd - it has the ability to create vivid pictures in the mind of thousands of worlds. A doob helps, too. This is really tremendous work. Set the controls for the heart of the sun, baby.
Nice Guy Eddie Past Modern Self-Released This Gainesville quartet gets its name from Chris Penn's character in Quentin Tarantino's film, "Reservoir Dogs." However, the violence that permeates the film is nowhere to be found on Nice Guy Eddie's "Past Modern." Their sounds are almost sweet, with harmonies and rhythms that are catchy and enjoyable. You might be tempted to call this pop-punk because of the electric guitar, but it's really just good ol' pop. Make that very good pop.
Nicotine Pleeeeeeez! Who are you? Tomato Head Records Someone stop these crazy punk rock kids from Japan! They've broken free and now they're rippin' it up on a new CD. The music is melodic punk rock with a fun, Digger-esque attitude (at Lagwagon speed). The vocals are solid and the lyrics are in English, in case you were worried you'd need to learn Japanese.
OrangeTree Fixing Stupid Jump Up! Ex-MU330 singer Jason Nelson fronts this new excursion into the vast, aging world of rock-ska and breathes fresh new life into it, as only an MU330 homeboy could. Every now and then, you gotta bring a little ska back into your life, and why not with a source you trust? And why not now? And why not with an album that will kick your ass until you can't sit down?
Outrider All In A Hard Day's Work JFG Records Blasting out of the San Fran Bay-area come this four-piece rock and roll band. These guys are the kinda of rock that made the airwaves happy in '80s, genuine, feel-good rock nothing that's gonna pierce your eardrums, but it also won't lull you to sleep. Add in the keyboards and the great rhythms and you'll be tappin' yer toes in no time!
Pope Factory Self-Titled Buffalo Fire Records This Canadian group are strong musicians without a singer. The music itself does everything right, nice pop melodies that flow together with surprisingly good production. The vocals are another story. This is where the production is just too much. Piling vocal effects on an average singer doesn't help. Sweet Killings (Track #3) is a gorgeous instrumental. Stick to that.
Quadrafacet/SpeedQueen split 12" Carbon Records Quadrafacet is a five-piece creating winding, surreal pop with fascinating sounds and slow-moving vocals. SpeedQueen is avant-garde music at its finest - noisy, abstract, meandering down a road that never ends.
Randy You Can't Keep a Good Band Down G-7 Welcoming Committee This Swedish four-piece is brought to us by the same label who puts out Propagandhi. So, you can expect that Randy is more than just music...there's politics here as well. And that's a great thing. The music is melodic as hell with a killer energy and a sweet foreign touch. The lyrics are in English and the vocals are super. The music is more than just melodic though. The style isn't stagnant, typical punk rock - it morphs from fast-paced punk rock to rock n roll to indie rock to pop. You'll be bobbin' your head and pushing harder on the gas pedal with every new track.
Red Stars Theory Life in a Bubble Can Be Beautiful Touch and Go This reaches that lovely stratosphere shared by dissonant mood setters such as My Bloody Valentine and His Name is Alive. The music drives this atmospheric engine, with vocals and lyrics serving as ornamentation rather than necessities. The instrumentals are engaging and adventurous, so give this a listen, particularly if you loved the aforementioned bands.
Rising Tide Scholar's Word Eden Records Not normally a reggae fan, but this four-piece band is solid. The usual carribean steel drum sound has been replaced with electronic keyboards, a good substitute that takes some getting used to. The vocals are spot on, but with songs like Kings Music, Our Father and Fallen Angels they lay on the religious theme pretty thick.
Roger Docking Ravens & Angels self-released This is the first full-length release from Orlando-based singer/songwriter/guitar player Roger Docking. Step one: Solid recording. The entire release sounds good and one of the major downfalls of self-released "local" material is crappy recording, but this was done very well. Step two: Docking can write a great hook without hooking you into a song that turns out being simple and without value. Step three: The songs succeed in having a pop-sense without becoming candy-coated. Step four: Docking's songs are just sincere enough to make you care without making you say, "I've heard this before." Step five: The vocals are important (and very good), but unlike a lot of the recent "hit bands", they aren't the only focus. With all five steps done, Docking can now sit back and hope he gets to be one of the lucky ones who actually gets noticed.
Royal Trux Veterans of Disorder Drag City Records I had read quite a bit about Royal Trux before I actually heard any of their music. Given the amount of praise they received, I had built up tremendous expectations that could only lead to an equally tremendous letdown. But many years have passed and I've grown to appreciate Royal Trux. Neil Haggerty and Jennifer Herrema are masters at recycling rock's past and giving the genre's cliches a new twist, as Veterans of Disorder proves once again. Neil and Jennifer, I'm sorry I ever doubted you.
Sharks Keep Moving Self-Titled Status Records Somewhat mid-tempo emo stuff. This self-titled album by Sharks Keep Moving alternates between instrumental songs and vocal-driven ones. The instrumental ones remind me a bit of Tristeza, filled with melancholy. This same atmosphere is maintained with lyrics about loss, homesickness and death.
Small Brown Bike Our Own Wars No Idea SBB is a four-piece from Michigan pumping out energized, emotional punk rock that is anything but "emo". Although the extremely gruff, screamed vocals take a little getting used to, the music is a powerful, flowing, melodic force that makes up for any vocal shortcomings. Breakdowns, driving harmonies and intensity are what you'll find buried in these ten tracks.
Spank S'notra If You Are What You Eat... Salty Nub Records This is distortion driven guitar rock, with influences from 60's rock to 80's era Misfits. Always loud, Spank S'notra thunders their way through 10 tracks about love, cyber sex, masturbation and drinking. Just what every growing boy needs.
SpeedQueen Big Leaves On A Small Tree Carbon Records Since 1994, SQ has been creating unusual, "artsy," drum/guitar music. Normally consisting of two musicians (Marc and Joe), the band often invites others to join their improvisational jams. Often compared to other "drone" rock bands, such as DeadC or A Minor Forest, the music can be haunting, driving, soothing and unnerving within seconds of each other. This release came out in 1997. More recently, they released "monosite" (also reviewed).
SpeedQueen monosite Carbon Records This is SQ's first CD since their 1997 release of "Big Leaves..." and the drone keeps on. Sometimes, though, the drone goes on two long for my liking and becomes irritating. I didn't feel this way with their last record. This time around it's one-track, 19 minutes and, although it picks up here and there, it doesn't grab me.
Staring Back The Mean Streets of Goleta EP Lobster Records I've been longing for albums like this to come along. Catchy, fast pop-punk at its finest is what Staring Back serves and they have the power and emotion to serve it with force and make it stick in your brain. Ow!! Get this CD out of my skull!
Sunday Morning Revival self-titled EP self-released This Orlando-area band is formed from three parts of punk-greats Shyster (Mike, Spanky and Mickey) and one part Ralph. But don't expect anything like Shyster here. This is emotional soul with a country jangle. Going from slow to mid-tempo, SMR delivers sincere music with creative, intricate accuracy. There's a groove in each song that wraps around you. I'm particularly fond on the last track, which is the most upbeat of the five.
Swollen Members Balance Battle Axe Stop the presses...Vancouver knows how to flow, yo! Meet Prevail, Madchild and The Alchemist. The first two provide the flow and the latter delivers the turntable skills. All aspects are tight, tough and intelligent. The scratches come at the right time, the beats are flexible, from rough to smooth, and the vocal stylings are on-point. Lyrically, SM delivers rhymes that are anything but whack. This ain't no west/east coast copycat crap. This is 18-tracks worth of original beats and brains, another example of how indie hip-hop is where it's at!
Ted Leo Rx / pharmacists Gern Blandsten Records This is what happens when you give a band too much free studio time ... and I mean that in the nicest possible way. This guy does that psychedelic fuzzed-out guitar pop thing for a few songs until he gets bored, then throws in a couple tracks of sci-fi movie sound effects, and maybe a recording of the himself in the shower for laughs. Very Zen. You'll find some good, intelligent songs in here, but TeD Leo makes sure you get to know him along the way.
Teen Idols/Spread It Found A Voice Honest Don's I really like the Teen Idols. It goes well beyond the fact that their bassist, Heather is a babe. They play kick-ass rock. They sound like The Ramones meet Green Day meet The Queers, and dammit that's good. Spread is a Japanese punk outfit, none of whom I can figure out. They are definitely better than others I have been subjected to. They play well, but Teen Idols is a tough act to follow.
Teenage Frames 1% Faster Jump Up! Records For their second full-length album, the Teenage Frames enlisted the services of renowned indie-rock producer Steve Albini. Albini and fellow producer Mike Hagler did an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the Frames on tape. Their Ramones and New York Dolls-influenced songs have a very live feel--it's almost as if they're rocking out in your living room. Hope you've got rental insurance.
Telegraph Melts Ilium Absolutely Kosher Records This is an interesting release. Ilium contains six songs prominently featuring just the cello and an electric guitar. Telegraph Melts sounds similar to fellow indie instrumentalists Dirty Three. The interplay between cellist Amy Domingues and guitarist Rob Massey is quite impressive, as the duo melds elements of both classical and post-punk seamlessly. If you're looking for something a little different, this could definitely do the trick.
The Atomiks Superhonky 702 Records This 3-piece outfit features a stand-up bass that gives their rockabilly a little extra punch. Full of guitar licks and reverb, The Atomiks will have you believing it's the 1960's, when they were supposedly created by the U.S government to be Superhuman Soldiers. Something went terribly wrong, and now they may be the human race's only hope. If this is true, why the rockabilly music? Because it's good, that's why.
The Foxymorons Calcutta American Pop Project The Foxymorons are an experimental duo from Dallas who bring us cute, lighthearted, poppy folk songs. There's some real budding talent here, some vocals are seamless and some intentionally aren't it's all about making it fit, and these guys do it with a mellow and fun vigor.
The Frantic Flattops Rock-n-Roll Murder Get Hip Recordings On their third record, Rock-n-Roll Murder, the Frantic Flattops continue to develop their rockabilly sound. Having opened for the likes of Brian Setzer and the Reverend Horton Heat as well as headlining numerous club dates, the Flattops have honed their skills on the road by playing over 250 dates a year. The result is a record that has a very live and immediate feel. If you like your rockabilly sleazy and nasty, this is the way to go my friend.
The Freshmäka I am the Freshmäka Moonshine Records You might have thought to yourself at some point, "I wonder what happened to the DJ from New Kids on the Block after they broke up?" Well, after trying out his luck with some movie soundtracks, and composing songs for the Tae Bo video and MTV's Real World in Seattle, he was discovered while playing at a bar-mitzvah by a record exec. Nowadays, Samuel von Freshmäka , teamed up with producer/percussionist Duke Mushroom, is spinning some of the craziest party music this side of the boy band invasion. Particularly appealing is "The Freshest," with guest rappers Chubb Rock and Tarsha Vega commanding the microphone. Don't be fooled, though. This ain't no bubblegum music. This is serious, sample-heavy, drum loop infused dance floor tunes.
The Get Up Kids Red Letter Day EP Doghouse The Kids are back and fans will be happy. This 5-song EP is a great piece of work, tighter and far better than the Kids last full-length album. Welcome James Dewess, the newest member of the now-quintet band. Dewess was in Coalesce and joins the band to play keyboards (duly noted in this release) and provide backing vocals. If you're looking for hooks, emotion and a creative, unique energy, you'll find it all here.
The Get Up Kids Something To Write Home About Vagrant Records As the review of their EP states, this too is better than their last full-length. But it goes one step further...it's also better than the new EP. Although the new EP is great, this is just that much better. The newly added keyboards are used more effectively; the tunes are absolutely absorbing, sucking you into the hooks, the energy, the drive, the music. I found myself constantly rocking to tune after tune, feeling the emotional crescendos building in me with every song. Unlike the first album, the songs on here give me something new each time, not the same good song, but a new great song each time.
The Irving Klaws The Pervasonic Sounds of . . . Get Hip Records More rockabilly goodness from the Get Hip roster. The Irving Klaws get pervasonic on your ass with their blend of rockabilly and surf rock. Apparently, the long cold winter nights of their native Buffalo have warped their minds, much like their hometown brethren the Goo Goo Dolls. Fortunately for us, the Klaws have been warped in such a fashion that prevents them from releasing over-produced, adult-contemporary ballads to appear in any weepy Meg Ryan flicks. But when Meg finally stars in a b-movie about monsters, aliens, and/or 50-foot women, the Klaws will be ready for the soundtrack.
The Ivy Crown After So Much Red Wine Systematic Labor Records This is the first full-length album for this Michigan quintet. The Ivy Crown's indie rock sound recalls bands such as Ranier Maria, Hum, and the Promise Ring. The album's standout track, "Sleeve" features great vocal harmonies from Keith Babiasz and Andrea Fontana as the music builds and swells around them. After So Much Red Wine is a promising debut.
The Ladderback "Honest, I Swear it's the Turnstyles" Bifocal Media The only fault on this CD is the repetition of chord progressions on a few songs, but otherwise this is a stand up release. "Broken Wings" are about the two most dreaded words in poetry, yet this song flies despite its title. The guitar work throughout is really catchy and accomplished, and the lyrics are well written though in some songs the themes are so overly emo to the point of cliche. The vocals don't gel well with the songs unless they are at a screaming pitch. All these points are exemplified in such great songs like "A boy and his first paper airplane." If you're a fan of emo, give this a listen.
The Lawrence Arms A Guided Tour of Chicago Asian Man Records This record should be re-titled: "A Guided Tour of the Best Punk Album of 99". But that's just my thoughts. Up from the ashes of the great The Broadways come The Lawrence Arms, who may be even better. The vocals are still the gruff, dedicated, honest ones you got from The Broadways and the lyrics are equally intelligent going from social to political to personal. The music is uptempo, loaded with tempo changes, creativity and punk rock crunch. This is one of those albums that can be played for days straight and still is amazing. This is one of those albums that is so good that I feel a review can't do it justice.
The Lures When I was Broken Ten 23 The Lures are a pop-rock band from Athens, Georgia who play an incredibly diverse mix of power pop and soft, flowing soothers. There is a very large rift between the influences of the members which pushes them in myriad directions. Very emotional rock, and well worth it.
The Mercury Program self-titled Boxcar Records I hate to call this stuff "soundtrack music"; but I can't help thinking of some guy running across fire escapes in an obscure German film, being chased along by these songs. Eight tracks of spooky, meandering jazz-rock backed by a very tight rhythm section. This CD sits right there with John Coltrane in my moody section. Definitely see these guys the next time they come to town.
The Panoply Academy Glee Club What We Defend Secretly Canadian This is the second effort from the sonic artists of the PAGC. The music is a collage of sounds, invoking fragments of art punk, math rock, and noise rock, among other genres. The PAGC has opened shows for Joan of Arc, and at times sounds reminiscent of the headliners. This is certainly isn't for those who like concise, pop hooks in a verse-chorus-verse structure, but the musically adventurous will find many pleasures in this album. What We Defend is an interesting release that gets better with repeated listens.
The Parka Kings Where's The After Party? Live Jump Up Records If you enjoyed the Parka King's earlier albums, you'll want this. If you've never heard any of their recorded output, well, a live album is always a curious way to start. This ska outfit has called it quits, and this CD is their final show. The quality is spotty in sections with the horns suffering the most. I didn't get into it a whole lot, though the intention was to preserve the moment rather than surpass "Frampton Comes Alive" in record sales.
The Peacocks In Without Knocking Jump Up! Records Billed as "Switzerland's most notorious rockabilly/ska band", the Peacocks have garnered much attention opening for the likes of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the Voodoo Glow Skulls, and the Toasters. Their songs are energetic, punk-influenced tunes with an underlying rockabilly beat and some ska thrown in as well. Think the Reverend Horton Heat with a dose of ska. This is some good stuff.
The Softs 1901 Silly Bird Records From Austin, Texas rises up The Softs, a five-piece with a slow growl and a big bite. The pace is slow to mid-tempo, painful, uneasy, and drooling along is a way that may frighten you while it sucks you in. 1901 is ten tracks of painful ecstasy.
The Statue Factor A Mission of Five Nebulon Community Records Unfortunately, much of my potential appreciation of this release is marred by my prior knowledge of R&B/Soul influenced The Make-Up. The Statue Factor seem to be influenced by The Make-Up, minus the mastery of their instruments and the reckless passion towards R&B that makes The Make-Up so vital. The similarities in clothing, attitude, and mod-influenced sound are too much to ignore. However, if you are able to look past this, The Statue Factor have some pretty solid rock numbers on this disc, and an organ that is put to good use. Give it a listen, and judge for yourself.
The Swarm Parasitic Skies 10" No Idea I feel like I'm being physically abused by my record player every time I listen to this. It's a ten-inch slab of gray vinyl that is as forbodding in looks as the music sounds. The Swarm (aka Knee Deep in the Dead) are ferocious musicians, intent on putting out infectious hardcore/screamcore. The music has enough breaks and creative changes to separate it from the middle-of-the-road hardcore bands - leaving The Swarm standing in a class of its own.
The Union of a Man and a Woman The Sound Of... Jagjaguwar An impressive aspect of "The Sound of..." is that it was recorded live in the studio, with only vocals receiving the overdub treatment. The Union... will rock you with their brand of art-rock, and will make your ears bleed (in a good way) with their static-y, noise filled guitars. Some songs are sprinkled with silence, a technique that should confuse even the most seasoned headbanger. Oh, and by the way, these three musicians are still in High School.
The Unseen So This is Freedom? A-F Records "What Are You Gonna Do" starts off this punk disc in the right way. The fast paced delivery make it an instant anthem. The Unseen play punk without the nihilism, which is a nice turn. Perhaps my favorite song is their hidden track 14, which is a cover of "Beat It." This CD is worth the price for that cover alone.
The Wunder Years Pitstops On The Road Less Traveled Tomato Head Records An ability to mix hooks, emotion, pop, rock, punk with an innocent charm are the reasons The Wunder Years' new album is a damn good album. The pace of the tracks swings from track to track and within tracks. The vocals are really astounding, allowing the music to go from sweet and sincere to intense and angry without leaving the lead singer behind. A solid debut, with as much heart as skill.
Three Finger Cowboy Hooray for Love Daemon Records This is what you expect a band to sound like if they're considered a "local band." "Hooray for Love" is a pop album with minimal guitar distortion, but catchy tunes. They would fit perfectly in a coffee house or an open mike night at a local bar.
Various Aritsts Start Your Engines Side One This is a kick-ass mix of all the beerswillin', assgrabbin', shitkickin' cow punk that you could ever want. Imagine ZZ Top with mohawks. 28 furious songs, 28 super charged bands and not a lemon in the bunch. Includes Teen Idols, El Diablo, The Nobodys, Custom Made Scare and all sorts of other wonderful bands. Buy this, raise the stars and bars and rock out.
22 Jacks Going North Side One This is cool pop-punk. It seems almost more pop than punk but it still has enough of an edge to make it good. Twelve songs including Medicated, On My Way and Highway make this a cool disc to include in you collection.
The Mopes Accident Waiting To Happen Lookout Records What do you get when you mix some ex-Queers with some ex-Screeching Weasels? You get out your punk party hat because you are listening to The Mopes and you are going to like it a lot. This is punk with a definite Green Day/Queers/Beach Boys feel to it. It is rocking and rolling and one of the better pop punk discs that I have heard in many a month. Buy it.
Nora self-titled EP Trustkill With 5 songs on it, this disc is more of an EP, but it is a good hardcore disc. In an already crowded genre, it is difficult to stand out. Nora seems to have blended skill and genuine love for music into a really good hardcore outfit, which will hopefully throw them to the forefront of their game.
Endeavor Don't Die With Your Eyes Closed Trustkill Records Hardcore, man. Hard-f'ing-core. These guys are intense. I looked at the cover and saw titles like "Wanna Play Cards, Rowdy Roddy Piper's Pot Pie, Famous Potatoes" and "Luke Perry And The Sweatlodge" and thought it was going to be harmless. Never judge a book, right? Exactly. This band is pure power.
Integ2000/Fear Tomorrow Split CD East Coast Empire Shredding with a hint of metal on here, especially Integ2000. It's not bad stuff but It's not great either. The guitarist for Integ2000 is pretty wicked, if you're into that kind of thing.
Brother's Keeper/Disembodied Split CD Trustkill Records Brother's Keeper has been around for a while now, I think this is the second disc of theirs I've reviewed. They haven't changed a bit good ole hardcore with just an extra touch of funk to getcha movin'. Disembodied only has one song on this CD and, frankly, I'm OK with that. This is basically psychedelic metal for the 90's (or is it 2000?). Overdone harmonies, screeching vocals...no thanks. By the way, track seven is endless answering machine messages that you don't think you'll listen to but you will. You'll keep trying to turn it off but you won't be able to. I'm still listening to it right now.
Racetraitor/Burn It Down Split CD Trustkill Records OK, I need some help. What's the difference between hardcore, grindcore and metal again? Both of these bands have blurred the line. It's loud, hard to understand the lyrics and generally hyper-aggressive. Wait, maybe that's the new title: hyper-aggressive. Six song EP that makes your ears bleed.
Chalkline In The Present Tense Shandle Records I've seen Chalkline's name around so they're not newbies. This is the first time I've heard them though, so I'm the newbie. My take: not bad. They mix it up a lot. They have some punk in there, hardcore, even alterna-pop. It's not too bad. A little garage-ish sounding, so if you're into that you'll dig it.
Dehumanized Problems First New Red Archives Punk from the Bay Area, plain and simple. It's pretty good and the vocalist makes it fun to listen to. He's not Mr. Angry Punk Singer I've grown to avoid. I like this disc.
The Loudmouths Get Lit! 702 Records I just got done watching VH-1's "Women of Rock" special and I'm wondering why the Loudmouths aren't in there. This two chick/one dude band kicks ass. They're a little faster and angrier (sounding) than the Donnas but you get the idea.
Autobody Hotbody Silly Bird Records A HA! THESE were the bastards playing in the apartment for the past three years! This is noise pop. There are a lot of weird sounds and mixing tricks in here so prepare to get spaced out. This was obviously recorded in someone's bedroom. Maybe you and a couple friends could chip in and buy this for fun.
Tricky Woo Sometimes I Cry Sonic Unyon Records OK, this is my sleeper pick of the month. At first you might not like this band, I didn't, but give it a listen and I think you'll come around. It's parts psychedelic rock and punk, and is really addicting. I don't know what it is about this, even now as I listen to it again, but it's catchy, dammit! Really cool stuff.
Hilkka The Beautiful Aesthetician Carbon Records Hmmm...I think this would be filed under Emo. It's faster than Emo though, maybe it's more power-pop. Yeah, let's go with power pop. But, wait, they're slowing down again. OK, look, if you like Emo or power pop, you should check this out. Oh, and don't even read the song titles, it makes no sense when you hear the songs.
Bitchy Black Socks And Happiness Thick Records Punk stuff from this foursome. It's not bad, pretty tight and some nice twangy guitars in there. By the way, the cover tells you right there "Chaz Linde; yelling, guitar." Be warned.
The Desert Sessions Volumes V & VI Man's Ruin Records Uh, well, ummm...this is going to be tough. I really hope some of you have heard this stuff before because I can't classify it. It started off with crunching rock but then went into some piano and drums thing that I still haven't figured out. It's mainly rock and punk but it's by no means straight-ahead. If you're looking for something different, your search is over.
Cataract Falls The Sound Of Your Breath Still self-release Holy shit. This is the angriest music I've ever heard. This guy makes Aloneness Morisette look like Winnie the Pooh. I kid you not. Without music this guy would have blown his head right off. Oh yeah, the review Emo punk? Emo hardcore? Whatever, it's emo and it's pissed off.
Dharmachine Bang! self-released This is cool. I really like this CD. It's kind of a slow Filter thing, maybe not as hard though, but with a progressive edge. Confused yet? It's definitely rock but it has some cool textures that make it different. Especially track three, which is altogether different from anything I've heard.
The Renovators Rhythm and Blueprints Berger Platter This is a solid album for those with a weakness for the blues. The band is musically tight and the vocals are just rough enough to give it a smoky bar feel. While the country influence is noticeable it is not strong enough to detract from the album. Check it out.
Radar Bros. The Singing Hatchet See Thru Broadcasting Two bands immediately came to mind: Son Volt and the Beatles. Not bad company, huh? I didn't say these guys are that good but they're pretty darned good. This is VERY mellow. If they got any mellower they'd pass out. I like it though. It's a very welcome change to the ball-busting punk and hardcore I've been listening to lately. Check it.
Thrill Show Highway 13 Get Hip Recordings "Highway 13" will satisfy your Rockabilly cravings with 17 new tracks by Thrill Show. It's been a while since this trio recorded, but they wanted to take their time writing material to follow up their successful debut "Been Up To The Devil's Business." The quality of "Highway 13" is a great improvement over "Been Up To...," since they actually used a recording studio instead of frontman Woody Bond's living room.
Tilt Viewers Like You Fat Wreck Tilt should need no introduction, but I know they do. Damn you people... this is only one of the greatest bands and the greatest vocalist in the world of punk rock. Their latest offering has a great power and energy to it, and Cinder Block is singing more gymnastically than ever before. Tilt whales, and there just isn't any argument to be had.
Tom Daily Happily Deceiving Culture Thick Records No longer the pop-punk guitarist of The Smoking Popes and Not Rebecca, Tom's solo debut has him on all the instruments, pumping out great, creative pop-rock. It all has a simple feel, but the music isn't simple. Sometimes it reminds me of Material Issue, but it's not that one-dimensional. It's personal, heart-felt and hook-filled.
Torn Skin Mislead Blacklight Records This CD features the track "Mislead," plus seven remixes by Fatal Blast Whip, Pivot Clowj, 16 Volt, Culture Whore, Colossal Spin, Jan Carleklev and Fish Tank 9. Also on the disk are two additional tracks, "Addiction" and "Shame." These two, along with the title track, are pretty good industrial songs, infused with a touch of electronic sounds that any KMFDM fan will appreciate. All the remixes differ in sound and tempo, so you won't feel like you're listening to the same song seven times.
Total Chaos In God We Kill Cleopatra Records You have not lived until you have seen the hair that these guys sport. They have the most beautiful punk heads that the world has ever seen. It is happily that I also note that the music is good too. 19 fast hard-hitting punk rock tunes that really kick ass. This is old school meets new school and the mix is just right. Get it.
Type O Negative World Coming Down Roadrunner Records As soon as the thundering guitar and funereal organs kicked in during the open of "White Slavery," I knew that the latest album by Type O Negative was well worth the wait. "World Coming Down" is by far TON's best work to date. Get ready for down tempo songs with harmonic choruses. Peter Steele shows that indeed he has a vulnerable side in songs like "Everyone I love Is Dead," as well as the title track. More often do we hear the bottom end of his amazing vocal range (something that was underused in previous albums, in my opinion), giving the songs a particular darkness. In fact, there seems to be a certain kind of sadness that permeates the entire recording. Gone are the sexual references and overtones of the past, giving way to a more mature and introspective themes, like death and chemical dependency. Any true TON fan will enjoy "World Coming Down," if anything because they are not afraid to change their direction without compromising their sound.
U.S. Bombs The World Epitaph I have nothing but respect for U.S. Bombs. This punkest of bands is also the most musically capable. They refusal to recycle the history of punk in favor of channeling what they have to say into a rough and tumble rock and blues format and feel. Each song is it's own narrative, with Duane Peters essentially now in the role of the crazy punk uncle who spins wild yarns that would be dismissed if you couldn't shake the sense they were experienced first hand. So pick this up. It'll expand your musical definition of punk rock.
Unida Coping with the Urban Coyote Man's Ruin Records John Garcia, former lead singer for Kyuss and Slo Burn, has assembled a new crew that will rock you right off of your ass. If you're a Monster Magnet or Solarized fan, you definitely will like the balls-to-the-wall sounds of Unida.
Unruh Setting Fire to Sinking Ships Pessimiser Records For the first 50 seconds or so, I thought this would be some instrumental guitar album. Boy, was I wrong! Soon after, the barrage of heavy guitar and machine-gun drumming that is the centerpiece of any death-metal album makes its presence known. They print the lyrics on the inside booklet, but they may as well have not bothered. I tried to follow along with the singer, but lost my place immediately. I'm sure you'll love it.
Various Artists Before You Were Punk 2 Vagrant Records This CD has a number of popular punk rock bands covering 80's tunes. Unfortunately I didn't know nor like some of the new wave bands covered, though the Top 40 stuff is tops! The Suicide Machines cover "What I Like About You," The Hippos run through "Our Lips are Sealed," and The Get Up Kids do a nice cover of the Cure's "Close To Me." Other bands include All, NOFX, Bouncing Souls, and others. Well worth it!
Various Artists Big Fish Music Sampler Autumn 1999 Big Fish Music Big Fish Music has put out yet another compilation of independent artists from Japan. Musical styles range from ska to punk, from industrial to trance, and from folk to alternative. The lyrics are sung in both English and Japanese, and most are really good. One track that stood out was "Oxygen Starvation Doggie-Woogie," by Steve Eto, a fast paced trance number featuring a sample of a heavy breathing person that gives the track a very hurried pace.
Various Artists Contents Under Pressure Bomb Hip Hop Records If you're interested in what's going on in the underground of S.F. hip hop, get hold of this disc. I really enjoyed the selections here though I had never heard of any of the DJs. The only downside is the lack of DJ information or the compiler's take on hip hop and what these tracks might have to do with the hip hop culture's future. This CD is short on content, but long on good tracks.
Various Artists Jock Jams 5 Tommy Boy This compilation is made worthwhile by the inclusion of Madonna's "Ray of Light," "Feel It" by Tamperer, and "Suavemente" by Elvis Crespo. There's also a remix of "All I have to Give" by the Backstreet Boys, and about 14 more tracks that make for a good party CD.
Various Artists The Spirit Lives On Hate Core Records This is a tribute to Raybeez and Warzone, featuring 27 hardcore and Oi! bands Though I'm not overly familiar with Raybeez, it's quite apparent his music and death have touched a significant number of bands and fans. This CD is more a showcase of human compassion than anything else. Sure, some of the bands have a take no prisoners approach, but their hearts are still with their heros. A worthwhile investment, as you get the classics of Warzone interpreted by some of the soon to be important hardcore and Oi! bands.
Various Artists Mailorder Is Still Fun!! Asian Man/Tomato Head This 28-track, 28-band CD has a suggested retail price of $3.99. No lie! So buy it! It features such bands as Less Than Jake, Korea Girl, Slapstick, Tuesday, The Jamons, The Wunder Years, Mike Park and many other pop/punk/ska bands. You really can't go wrong with this.
Various Artists Nowcore! K-Tel If everyone owned a recordable CD player, this compilation would mean nothing, because it's all previously released stuff. But, since I don't own one and not many others do, this is a really great collection of some of the newer sounds coming out, not just emo and not just punk rock - the bands that fit in-between. The bands featured on here include The Promise Ring ("Why Did We Ever Meet"), Seaweed ("Start With"), Braid ("New Nathan Detroits"), At The Drive In ("For Now We Toast"), Burning Airlines ("Wheaton Calling") and eleven others (Unwound, Knapsack, Jawbox, etc...). K-Tel did a great job of selecting some of the better songs by each band.
Various Artists City Rockers: A Tribute to the Clash Chord Recordings This is the second Clash tribute album to be released in recent months. The first was a decidedly mainstream affair, as radio darlings such as Third Eye Blind and No Doubt paid "tribute" with bland, boring versions of some of the Clash's finest tunes. The artists appearing on the City Rockers compilation do a far superior job of capturing the spirit of the original songs. Hot Water Music, Dropkick Murphys, and Skinnerbox are among the many bands who turn in great performances, helping to make this the true Clash tribute album.
Various Artists Pedal Faster, Bicycle Rider Holiday Matinee/Accident Prone This is the first release for Holiday Matinee, a small, independent publicity company from San Diego. The compilation features a variety of artists, covering everything from emo to indie pop to spoken word. There's a little something for everybody. Standout tracks include Tristeza's instrumental "Beige Finger" and Tugboat Annie's "Contact".
Various Artists The Wasted Years Ace of Hearts Records Long-time producer and Ace of Hearts head honcho Rick Harte presents a collection of rare and unreleased tracks from the label's archives. Mission of Burma, the Del Fuegos, and the Lyres are among the Boston area acts who make appearances on this compilation that spans the 20-plus years of Ace of Hearts existence.
Wheat Hope and Adams Sugar Free Records How can I describe this record??? There are elements of indie pop, with hints of Yo La Tengo, Sebadoh, and Smog. Maybe there's a little No Depression alt-country in the mix. There are no real standout tracks on the album, but the songs flow together in a seamless, almost perfect order. Everything has its place, resulting in a beautiful album that is greater than the sum of its individual songs.
Where Fear and Weapons Meet The Weapon Revelation Records Their debut ep made a solid impression upon release near a year ago. This follow-up full-length from Miami's finest does not disappoint. They pound out hardcore better than the "old school" that influences them. Once you think hardcore is on its last leg, out comes a band that plays the music better than it used to be, with better sing-along parts and breakdowns and a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and energy. Might as well get this CD now- everyone will be clamoring for it tomorrow.
Will Haven WHVN Revelation Records This is a far better record that 1997's El Diablo. Whereas that record was a sonic mess, WHVN shows Will Haven to be a more capable and powerful musical entity. The songs are heavy, the vocals still a throaty grownl, and the experimental forays into sonic abstraction make me happy that Willl Haven is willing to push the boundaries of hardcore. This is an addictive thrill, so scream along and bask in the glory of a record that hits the mark.
Wolfpac Something Wicked This Way Comes Chord Records You might remember a group called The Bloodhound Gang. Then again, you might not. Anyway, one of the group's founding members, Daddy Long Legs, left the group and formed Wolfpac. The result is angry rap-metal. The vocal style is not too original with the rest of the band chanting the last word of every verse on a lot of the songs. All in all, though, "Something Wicked This Way Comes" might be good enough for you, especially if you're an ICP fan. Check out their cover of Digital Underground's "The Humpty Dance."
Anti-DomestiX This Demon Called Love Cheetah's Records Five guys, five songs and a Face to Face kinda sound. And they're damn good. Mid to uptempo melodic punk rock with plenty of tempo changes, solid vocals and thick melodies.
Dexter self-titled 702 Records The record is labelled 33 1/3 RPM, but Iım reviewing it at 45 RPM, cause I think thatıs the correct speed. The music is rock and roll, straight up, no gimmicks. And itıs great. The guitar work is jazzed up, wild and perfect while the vocals fit into the mix perfectly. Thereıs a 60ıs feel and a bluesy attitude that I just love.
Habituals/The Lexingtons split release No Idea Distro The Habituals and The Lexingtons share two of the same members and both bands come from Gainesville. So it's fitting that they share space on this piece of vinyl. The Habituals play drunk, speedy punk rock with a real attitude. The Lexingtons have a snottier lead-singer and Vindictives kinda sound. Four songs total, two by each band.
Luckie Strike Have You Seen Me? Tomato Head Records Characterized by sincere female vocals, this punk quartet would have a really great four-song 7" if it weren't for the punk rock version of "Sloop John B," which really sucks. The next song is great melodic punk rock in the vein of Tilt or Discount. Side B features a pretty solid instrumental and a live punk/hardcore track that is also way-melodic and very cool. Bonus: It's on clear red vinyl.
Muler self-titled Carbon Records Muler is a killer indie-rock band from New York. The vocals are sincere, heartfelt and right on time while the music dances around a sweet, poppy melody that has just enough noise and feedback to keep it from becoming candy-coated. This is the kind of band that can get the most out of place person to dance at the live show. Oh, it's on clear vinyl.
Panthro U.K. United 13 Goleta No Idea Records Outta the mean streets of Gainesville, Florida comes this four-piece of furious, punk intensity. The music is thick with aggression and melody while the vocals are solid and support the songs throughout. They cover Naked Raygunıs ³Rat Patrol² and they do it damn well. Lookinı for another reason to get it: clear green vinyl.
Radio 4 self-titled Gern Blandsten Radio 4 features three fellows, ex-members of Garden Variety, Sleepasauras, Milhouse and Long Distance Runner. The music has a rock sound that bands like The Jam and The Clash made cool. Itıs rock and roll with a punk attitude. All three tracks have great vocals and music with a killer bounce and intricate melodies.
Redrum self-titled 702 Records Do you remember DRI? Not DRI that was metal, but the DRI that all the kids skated to back in the mid-80's. Redrum has captured that same intensity and sped without forgoing a sense of melody. This is straight-ahead, punch you in the face punk rock - 8 songs worth.
The Basicks self-titled Lookout! Records Outta south Florida comes this four-piece delivering four tracks of melodic, uptempo punk rock. All of the songs rock hard, have a true punk rock feel and a genuine attitude throughout. It reminds me of a cross between old Social Distortion and The Bolweevils.
The Pottyshots No Longer Building Beeshu Records These three Milwaukee cats put forth four tracks of instrumental rock, featuring tight, searing guitar work, a non-stop beat and basslines to pull you along. Iım not a big fan of instrumental music, but Iıll make an exception for this slab.