Clenched Fist Records
SE has definitely improved their sound after their Clenched Fist records release "For the Incomplete". Although that wasn't a bad CD, this new album on Solid State Records has better production and they have started to set themselves apart sound-wise. While they still wear their influences on their proverbial sleeves, they've definitely mixed things up to be less redundant. The best description would probably be Living Sacrifice with some In Flames thrown in, not surprising considering 2 of the band members are in LS. The guitar riffs while still nice and chunky also include more use of melody, harmonics and lead breaks and solos. To quote a friend, they could be best labeled as "Melodic Deathcore" ha, this genre thing is getting stupid. My biggest complaint with this CD is that the vocals are recorded in a way which make them sound quieter then the other instruments and more difficult to hear sometimes. On the plus side the singer makes more use of growls, rasps and yes, even clean vocals that fit the songs nicely. This album shows good signs of improvement from this band, and definite hope for the evolution of future releases. Check it out if you're a fan of Living Sacrifice, Meshuggah or even In Flames.
Grade - Headfirst, Straight to Hell
If you're a fan of Grade's older material like "Under the Radar" then you should continue to enjoy the emocore sounds of these Canadian rockers. Mixing melodic punk sounds with great screamo vocals that often transform into emo vox, then back to hardcore screams in mid sentence (heck, mid-word), Grade create some instantly loveable music. Every track is enjoyable on this album and the death metal mockery on the cover is well done too, my only complaint is with the mixing on the CD. The low end is almost non-existent, they could have beefed it up a little more. Check out the track Little Satisfactions.
Dashboard Confessional - The Places You Have Come To Fear the Most
Simply put, this is probably the best emo I've heard to date. Chris Carrabba formerly of Strongarm and Further Seems Forever has written some of the most heart-stabbing acoustic tunes these ears have ever heard and despite not having many relationships to bemoan the results thereof, the songs make you feel like someone tore out your soul and stomped on it. Lush melodies and tear-inducing lyrics mixed with soul-wailing vocals make this the most emotional emo CD I've yet to hear and I can't stop listening to the thing! If you have a chance pick up a copy. My fave track is The Best Deceptions.
Converge - Jane Doe
Equal Vision Records
Converge definitely isn't what you'd refer to as 'emo-core'. These lads blaze a path of ferocious and chaotic metalcore destruction, the likes of which has rarely been seen. While most of the songs lean to the crazier and noisy side of things, some of the tracks or just portions of some of the tracks experiment with interesting melodic dissonances. The vocals are unlike anything I've heard in the realm of hardcore previously, very high pitched and screamy, but also raspy. The guitars create literal walls of sound, the songs reek of passion and each track has repeat listening value. The last track which happens to be the title track is probably my favorite, clocking in at a generous 11 and a half minutes. Definitely the best metalcore CD I've heard in...maybe forever. Very unique and proves that there can still be interesting things done in the genre.
Sixty Stories - Different Places to Sit
Painted Thin - A Loveless Kiss Split EP
Small Man Records
Sixty Stories includes some contemplative keyboard sounds starting off the album with their enjoyable contemplative rock songs. The vocals borderline femenine and masculine tones as noted by a few who have taken a listen, and the rest of the aspects are handled well, bringing out the best of what can be heard of their sounds. Painted Thin, an almost too similar reflection of At the Drive mostly from vocal and general sounds, is more aired out and hyperactive- a fine treat I'm sure if you're fond of that are these days. -Stu
Soulphoenix - Eloquent At 3am
Simplicity and stereotypical style is good at times, but I can't say it's helping this band who is trying out the overly cliche emotional pop rock thing for themselves. An improvement on the vocals would be the first thing needed if these guys are expecting much of a success from any albums that may follow up this 4 song collection. -Stu
Razor Noise - Manifest
The mood of mutilated fright and industrial experiments of of darkness would be this album's brand of electronically derived and sampled production. Surely a grand proportion with 16 tracks, filling the innocent mind with this medium of contrastic reality, staggering in front of you in a non-functional matter. The ambience is better produced than that of the strong beats, which there isn't a whole lot of anyways, so not much to complain about. -Stu
The Doubt Machine - Controlled Confusion
Electronica, sampling, contived sounds... it's all layered down in a followable pattern, coming off as thrown together quickly. Mostly not too steady or held together, resembling a dark trance or jungle that would easily be computer generated. The different styles among the album twist different ways, presenting a not entirely bland collection of techno music. -Stu
Toys That Kill - The Citizen Abortion
Damn witty kids coming out with actually decent punk music to kick you in the ass that you've covered up with Sum 41 and New Found Glory patches. Somthing to sing along to that won't make you cringe; something to rock the kids out of the house with. The Attitude is there, the music is great, now let's go waste some energy. -Stu
The (international) Noise Conspiracy - Capitalism Stole My Virginity EP Single
G7 Welcoming Committee
Having been sent this 3 song put-out by the ever popularizing T(i)NC, and a few listens over, the decided pop outlines set themselves in place, singing along and rocking out for a short distance. A nice listen, but how long until the fashion dies to support their politics? -Stu
Nukee - Are You For Real
Em_goo, Itx and Mous are the official agents of Nukee's electronically generated rock and funk jams. It's all mostly weak- the vocals need something, maybe less of the attitude it tries to have; the riffs are great, but need that rawness of actual instruments. This album is interestingly full of quirkiness and its own personna, but not much of an enjoyment. -Stu
Julie Doiron - Désormais
Almost an extreme presence is the softness that lies about on the first track and even for the rest of this album of Julie Doiron's vocal and guitar work, previously being entitled a juno award fpr these exceptional talents. Her experience leading to this album includes involvement with Sub Pop's Eric's Trip and Tragically Hip's Gord Downie. This being her first french recording, her intimate performance , sometimes accompanied by backing drums, bass, keys and/or electronically programmed percussion, is a great treasure for those seeking something real and unique from an outstanding solo act. -Stu
Readymade - On Point and Red
From Vancouver, complete fullness of acoustic guitar and synth melodies which may conjure ideas of a shoegazer mould (of which the band has been known to in the past), yet leans even more into ambient new wave or an indie space pop rock. Through endlessly ethereal echoing layers of these compositions, the music that swells into long and sistant shapes and sounds is a comfort that comes from such creative inspirations. While it all gets as full as it can at times, it will turn upward and spill dream coated voices along its way, or even invite you to dance. -Stu
Spicolie - 2001 EP
Spicolie is a 5 peiced emotionally and energetically powered rock act that has their bearings well in place, proven by this 4 song demo of sounds from melodic to screamy. More of a clean tightness would be a help, though, as well as more of a distinct sound and a progression of something a bit more unexpected as to what's heard these days from this genre. -Stu
Societa Anonima - The (51) Torpedos
Andy Crump's new formation since the quiet close of Lugsole is this: the sounds of mod rock and new wave belching interests of experimenting and highly rhythmic capacities, as the formerly mentioned group was certainly a growing master of. This two man acts seems almost ahead of the rest, with Andy on vocals, guitar, bass and keys, and Brad on drums, percussion and keys as well. A multi-talented aspect, it brings out unexpectedly wonderful results. -Stu
The Sweaters - The Kick Me Generation
With such a name for this age, the expected weezer-punk and bopping silliness is just what is heard from these Vancouver BC boys. Some rockin quality comes out of a lot of these songs, if you're into the sing along ballad punk sound that leaves out any aggression and attitude. -Stu
Jason Rubenstein - Cathedral
Given its utmost praise from some circles in the music community, this monumental album of piano-driven ambient-acoustic-synth-jazz instrumentals takes Jason Rubenstein's promising future to far extents. Though having limitations as seen from some in reaction to out of date textures or synthy cheesiness, it only takes a well learned ear to discover how precisely classic these sounds are inclined to being. The fusion of several well played on styles keeps skeptical heads up, looking to see possibly where the roots of this all could've came from. Even some electro-industrial tinkering brings out altered effects of this project's extensions into areas of exploration and experimantation, and never burdening the ever so prominant melodic leading. -Stu
Clive Holden - Trains of Winnipeg
Here's something that made me want to throw out all my music, find a quiet corner and never stop listening to this brave collection of expressed thoughts. Taking you through the warm, the cold, the minds and the living stories of Canada. Such colourful words and moods that have been felt only by a few shiver through the body inconstistantly and free. -Stu
Pariah - Social Disease
Retro industrial classic electrofied rock with a melodic intention that breaks barriers of experimentated noises. Layered in the background and in between, this work is crystalized with ethereal synth for an anthem of mythical proportions. -Stu
Blaspheme Compilation Vol 1 - The 600 Recordings
Jam rock indie lo-fi, and oh here's some wuss emo now as well. Who's this.. Pretty When You Smile, by Ghost Tour. They're listing the band name after the song title, so it was confusing me seeing Carcass playing a song called Old Man... but that's not the case here. Violins and acoustic guitar come about nicely in Basil's Ohio, he's got a great voice too. Unique and quite the little masterpiece of songwriting this track is showing. After some more bluegrass, country rock and punk, Ben Gunsberg's acoustic folkish musical tale is a capturing pleasantry of an instrumental. Continuing through, another of this album's shining moments can be given credit to Tim Mad Dog's rustling twangy train tappin diddy, putting a definite touch to this mind expanding compilation. -Stu
Erik Jay - Heart & Mind & Soul
Boy I've never heard an actual lounge act stuck in Las Vegas circa 1988 of such astounding qualities that the bass slapping is kept so clean as to not even interfere with widely varying and self-harmonizing guitar/singer Erik Jay's specialties. Some aspects could be labeled a soft rock selection, yet more of a fluffy plastic substance comes to mind, even partially transparent with the smell of some sort of fresh herb. From dearing ballads to even the most provocative melodies that topple a tight bossa nova groove, you'd think this package has it all, and it does. -Stu
Dropped on the Head - Volume 1
I'll tell YOU who was dropped on the head. Any of these cow-rock-psycho-punkabilly cats could tell the story of farm life in ways you'd dub insane if the accompanied music wasn't even more so. Gather the kids now, it's time to watch grandpa slobber on his harmonica and banjo on the back porch. -Stu
The Getaway - Self Titled CDEP
WoW. What a fancy case this disc came cuddled in. Why don't they just call themselves Fancy Case? Well it's sure gimmicks like that that will get you places in today's ever so dynamic power-pop-punk-rock marketing, I mean underground, scene. -Stu
Mr Goldfish - Hello Doll
Who knows how to have fun in a cardboard box? Well, I'd be to first to conduct the idea that this record is more than an electronic fancy machine. It's alive, so kill it while you can, or your appliances will keep you up all night. Thank you Mr Goldfish for this, something to play for the folks when you're feeling like their little princess. That's quite the horn sounds you have there driving them little funky beats up the wall. -Stu
Raw Knowledge - Nemesis to Silence
Take interest deep into this electronically energetic spoken word compilation voicing spoors of women hood, feminism, sexism, and anti-religion among the many. Calling out, or endlessly exhorting, these reactions to what is... changing what is, often preaching and becoming it's own regurgitation, though revealing what isn't being looked at point blank, as close as these voices press against your face. -Stu
Live at the Complex 2 & 3
What a bunch of freaky technotic implants these tracks become when you lay down beside them and expect to float away but become paralysed by voices of discontent. How is it that you can become lost with yourself while sitting in your own living room alone... not it's fine, just listen.. why they say what I don't know they say in ways I've heard everyday. The everyday part is comforting, but not to my content. The live quality trance is something else too, and why the neural coating static is even worth more than a bargain. -Stu
The Juliana Theory - Music From Another Room EP
Tooth and Nail
The emo lads are back with a new ep of soothing and rocking tunes for all those who want to draw a hot bath and cry about their silly lives. Detar and crew have created another staple for the emo kids composing 6 more mature sounding diddies with more expansive use of melody and electronic flavor. Brett's vocals hit even harder with their passionate searing drawl and the lyrics continue to smack of "we don't need you" emotion. Definetely recommended for fans of emo/indie rock and especially Juliana fans.
System of a Down - Toxicity
Sony Music Entertainment, Inc.
Although not a big fan of many "mallcore" bands out there these days I can not resist the bizzare "Gypsy Polka Metal" of System of a Down. Their new album Toxicity makes for a very fun, high energy listen and the System lads have enough creativity to appeal to even the most cynical and jaded indie fan. (except Jason) For anyone who is actually listening though they should see that System lives above and beyond the ridiculous rap-metal tripe being mass produced by record companies these days. key tracks include: Prison Song, Needles, X, Chop Suey!, Atwa and Aerials.
Neurosis - A Sun That Never Sets
If you've never heard Neurosis then you're missing out on some of the most unique and interesting music made in the past decade at least, and perhaps ever. Neurosis' latest release can not even be pegged as a certain style of music, mixing many elements like hardcore, rock, emo, doom, electronic and then throwing their own special touch into it all, the band creates one eclectic listen here. I highly doubt that there are any bands one could compare Neurosis to and any serious fan of orignality in music should give them a good listen. I myself am now in search of their older albums.
Nightwish - Wishmaster
As I've become more and more addicted to metal, and specifically metal of an extremely melodic nature, my search for bands with a distinctive sound has broadened. Thus I found a copy of Nightwish's Wishmaster album and promptly purchased it after a brief demo session at my local record emporium. Nightwish have a euro-power metal sound musically, attacking with melodious guitars and loads of atmospheric synth. What sets Nightwish apart from other bands of a similar disposition is defientely their vocalist. Singer Tarja Turunen sounds different then most metal bands because she is a she. Yes, a girl fronting a metal band. And it works beautifully here. Her full soprano vocals lend a fair amount of credence to a band that might otherwise be considered mundane among competitors. The music is good but the vocals take this album to a whole new level.
Shadows Fall - Of One Blood
If not for specific elements utilized by Shadows Fall their metal-core would likely fall into the "bland" catergorization. Thankfully they create a very nice dynamic mixing strong flavors of "gothenburg" or melodic death metal along with emo!!! This is the first time I've heard a band mix death metal and emo into their music, and before I heard this cd I probably would have thought that such a marriage would result in a bitter divorce. Shadows Fall somehow create a seamless combination moving from chugga-chugga metalcore to melodic lead breaks and finally into acoustic bridges and interludes with nice clean emo vocals. If asked to decribe Shadows Fall via band comparisons I would have to say Meshuggah meets In Flames with some Dashboard Confessional thrown in for good measure. An odd list of ingredients that somehow work for this band.
Honeysuckle Serontina - Fireworks and Fur
After recently attending a fun night of emo I was so impressed by the Honeysucklers that I had to purchase their newest release of Emo and Roll. Featuring 8 tracks, the new cd doesn't have the thickest production but you could easily do worse, there are many bands out there with far worse recordings for sale at their shows. Honeysuckle Serontina serenade/rock their way into your conscience with great harmonized vocals and raucous guitar blitzs that round themselves out with sweet melodic intros and breaks. Lead vocalist Jode Shortreed sings distinctively enough to be set apart from carbon copy emo vox without alienating those same sources. Guitarist Paul Kovach's backing vocals are so beautiful and passionate they definetley put the band in contention for label attetion. Hey Deep Elm, look over here!
Ruins - The Brad White EP
East End Industries
I was scared when I found that this ska-punk band had a dj in thier band and feared a ska version of Limp Bizkit. Instead I found a incredibly energetic Op Ivy influenced ska band with rap undertones and minimal scratching. Though sometimes leaning to the cheezy side, these guys are a pleasure to listen to and seem like the kind of band that would put on a great live show.
Hot Water Music - A Flight and a Crash
Signing to Epitaph is a big step for any band, but I don’t think it would make much a difference to Hot Water Music considering they are one of the most well known and respected punk bands of our time. Everybody has something good to say about these boys from Florida and so do I. Even though this album took a few listens to grow on me (and so did Never Ender) I now really love these guys and their rough but gentle punk rock that is intricate and beautiful as well as emotional and energetic. This is the kind of band that will be remembered in years to come.
Jersey - Definition
Fueled by Ramen
Wow, this album, for lack of a better word, rocks! This kind of punk is THE reason why I got stuck on the aforementioned genre of music. With some resemblance to the early Rancid sound, these guys just make you want to dance around alone in your room while singing along loudly. It’s that good emotional music that when you sing, you feel like you’re getting something out, even if it’s something different than what the lyrics say. If you asked me straight out what I thought of Jersey’s music, I’d say "It’s not too complicated, but it’s not totally simple either. It’s just damn good punk rock. That’s all."(Matt)
The Screemin Seamen - The Suckin’ Factor
These boys use the word ‘sucks’ alot throughout their cd and I think I will use it too, The Screemin’ Seamen suck. At some points they almost sound like a band that you might wanna listen to, that is if you like simple ska/punk. Anyway, these young punks have taken up enough space in my zine for today, so to sum up the S.S. experience I say this CD is rated EUUUCCCHH!
The Red Light Sting - Rub Em Down, Rub Em Out
What can I say about the best new-new wave band in Canada? This stuff is fun with out being cheezy, spaztic and friendly, catchy and totally unforgetable. The four tracks on this 12 inch ep are all stunning, my favorite being "Dirt Eating Zombies" which is about as long as the other 3 tracks combined and takes up the entire "Out" side. Starting out with a simple piano being plunked at, a synthesizer all of a sudden kicks in and makes some wonderful noises that make you wanna shake your fanny and gyrate your hips. "Princess, princess, your cowboy’s coming home, and it’s not how you remembered." The lyrics don’t make sense. They didn’t make sense whether they were sung nicely (by either male or female) or screamed painfully. Strangely depressing, i always go back for more. Purchase this album immediately or else you will amount to nothing in life!
Plea for Peace Take Action - various Artists
Sub City Records
Wow. This is an amzing comp. Hot Water Music, Cave In, AFI, Atom and his Package, At the Drive In, Boy Sets Fire, Shai Hulud, Dillinger Escape Plan, The Ataris, Link 80, Thursday, Good Riddance and a whole bunch more, all for a good price. Plus a part of the money goes to supporting a suicide hotline. So now your consumerism will go to a good cause. Oh yeah, I forgot to say that a majority of the tracks are all unreleased, rare, or live. With such a wide variety of artists (check out Zero Zero, mellow synth pop compared to the fury or Dillinger) I found this to be more of a pleasant listening experiance rather than your avergae sampler/comp made up of bands trying to be heard. This is a comp that everybody should listen to!
Modest Mouse - Moon & Antarticta
Katherine says: not the best of their work but it’s still worth a listen. four turtles out of a hundred and six.
Cutoff - Hats Off To Evil
East End Industriess
This is the kinda punk that leans to the poppy radio friendly side, but is definetly better than a majority of the crap out there. Sounding similar to Good Riddance and other Fat bands these guys know what they are doing and mix in enough Hardcore to keep it from sounding bubblegummy and hokey.)!
The Thriftshop Junkies - Dead Mean Tell No Tales
Red Tag Records
This album contains 12 Pirate songs and 7 non pirate songs thrown in for good measure. The Thriftshop Junkies continue with thier legacy of silliness with funny lyrics and songs like "Ugly as a Ramone" (which coincidentially is a Party Poopers song as well.) If you’ve never heard these guys, they play simple fast punk rock with ska tossed in tastefully. When it comes to fun punk rock, these guys are experts.
The Blackjacks - Self Titled
Rampage Records - 350 B Seymour St. Kamloops, BC. V2C 2G2
Containing an almost identical line-up to thee Pirates (RIP) I figured that they would sound pretty much the same after a couple songs and a Pirates cover song ("Blow This Town") the Blackjacks come into their own as rocknroll powerhouses, honing their own sound and blowing my expectations for such a new band. This is good stuff.
Cataract Falls - The Sound of Your Breath Still
Idols of the Marketplace - PO Box 50138, Ft. Wayne, In 46805
Some of the most emotional screamo I’ve ever heard. At some points the guy even sounds like he’s crying the words out. It seems to be layed on a bit thick for me. The work put into this cd is great considering it is essentially a demo with a photocopied lyric booklet. The guys incorporated saxophones and female screaming into the mix and even took themselves lightly enough (briefly) to laugh at the end of one of the songs. I think these kids will be the part of something great in the future, but for now, lighten up!
The Blamed - Isolated Incident
Sounding similar to earlier Refused, combining Punk, Hardcore, some metal with jazz influences and a creative mind returns the Blamed. Even though they have been around for many years, and changed their style and members several times, their sound from days of old still shines through. I believe the Blamed are becoming a real force to be reconed with in the world of Hardcore and I think more people should listen up. This album is definitely recommended.
The Temper Tantrums - Throw a Fit
Bettie Rocket Records
I remember when I reviewed these girls self released album I said that they were going to be big some day. Well that day came very soon. Now on the quite large Bettie Rocket Records, the Temper Tantrums are touring full time with other large bands and having their album in stores everywhere. You heard it here first. Anyways, this album contains a few songs off the first album, re-recorded with better sound, packaged with a bunch of new fast paced punk rawk action to keep all you happy. Much like their debut, the 18 tracks are over really quickly and aren’t insanely complex, but still are some of the most fun punk rock anthems I’ve ever heard. I’m happy they’ve made it, it couldn’t have happened to nicer people.
Somehow Hollow - Self-titled
East End Industriess
Somehow Hollow plays poppy Punk that somtimes falls into the emo-ish file. Though somewhat generic there are hints of originality, but what turned me off was the last track that was so incredibily cheezy that I though I was gonna hurl. It seemed to be a token epic "emotional" song which I think was just overdone and came off as a radio heartbreak song.
Outspan - Self-titled
East End Industriess
Pretty good ska-punk in the vein of Less than Jake, some songs with horns, some without. Nothing to really write home about except for a good cover of Op Ivy’s ‘Jaded’ that incorporates horns to make it sound more chaotic, crazy and energetic.
Tension Wire - Explicits
When my friend Ryan asked me to take some of the reviewing load off of his back I said, "Sure thing, Buuuuuuuuuddy!" He handed me two CDs and told me to listen to them and write down what I thought. Of course I had every intention of listening to them immediately and reviewing them with my utmost discretion. However, it has been more than a couple of weeks since those discs changed hands, and I’m only writing the reviews just now. Well I popped in this CD by the Chicago based band called Tension Wire that plays mostly punk with a pinch of grunge mixed in, and it’s just great! It’s not the most energetic punk rock out there but the lyrics are interesting and the riffs are just plain fun. On top of the good music, my friends in the industry tell me that the founder of Tension Wire, Frank Ciampi, actually went into the studio and started recording before he even had a drummer or guitarist. Now that’s determination, kids, that’s good strong American determination! So if you see their debut album "Explicits" in the punk section of your local record store, pick it up and make one of the employees open it up so that you can hear it. You won’t regret it. (Matt)
The End - Transfer Trachea Reverberations from Point False
Creative mathcore getting out of Ontario are these sounds that fans of Dillinger Escape Plan or Strongarm would appreciate. Oddly melodic and mixed up through intertwining poetism and scarey and surrealistic chaos. Non-stopping post-math metal core. All these descriptive paraphrases are the attempts of catagorising what has given me visions of poking stringed puppets in attempts to annoy something inanimate in a most complicated manner. It hardly stops, hardly breaths and feeds on its own energy through self sufficiency, somehow channeled through the air that it chills. -Stu
Bakunin's Bum - Fight to Win
A Benefit CD for OCAP
This OCAP CD was put together by 'beets and strings' musical activists One Speed Bike (Godspeed You Black Emperor! & Exhaust) and Norman Nawrocki (Rhythm Activism & DaZoque!). While subtle drum and bass dominant electronica plays the background for excerpted sessions of speeches against poverty issues from activists Shawn Brant and Sue Collis. The final layer of melodic insertion is supported by Nawrocki's violin, viola and cello contributions. Often extended and experimentally epic, and most usually a relaxing tone filling the inspiring words being spoken with intent and motion. Overall, the exposed issue of poverty in Eastern Canada is shed onto by new light and perspective for those willing to take time and enjoyment by listening to this great musical accomplishment. -Stu
Motorplant - American Postcard
Such a radio-friendly production of modern rock structure and overly familiarized musical position. Comparing every song to a random tune-in to your local mainstream modern bar-rock radio station, a collection of rock critics would come up with not much more to beckon other than trying to dress them up with some sort of acclaimed potential. -Stu
The Fauves - Raw Heart Sound
All that came with this disc from Redwood pretty much was a finely designed cardboard piece with a few hand written lyrics and band info. Surrounding the months of delay that I have been led into with the reviewing of this album, it has come to the point where these amazing moments of sound must become distinguishable as a descriptive paragraph form.
Again and again, the sound of this act plays perfectly within the boundaries that it does not hold. From the contrasting rhythm sequences, holding several riffs in each song that extend them into other dimensions, the sheer brilliance is commonly aware that this band is not your average too-hard trying indie rock getup. Instrumental pieces have hardly spoken as much elsewhere as they do here, with intricate design of this stable yet experimental indie art rock sound. When the distantly screamed vocal inclusions find their place finally, they do all the better at adding the emotion and post-rock frequency that has unexpectedly impressed us all. -Stu
Time Spent Driving - walls Between Us CDEP
More from a melodic emotional rock band that rooted of from hardcore styles. It's as if half of the hxc scene has become jaded and followed the trend of forming these all too cliche soft-boy bands. The first song on this record is great though, with a nicely sounding charging but gentle intro, no words as it starts off speaking for itself, then the vocals softly appearing for each verse. As again with the verses of the fourth track, Silhouettes and Pictures, this group's calmer moments are an unsparingly great aspect, yet when they get into it with their brand of intensity it just doesn't seem to go far. -Stu
Fury 66 - Giant Red Evolution
Hxc-style punk rock befriends melody, rhythm, attitude and energy in most provocative and impressive ways as displayed encouragingly through Fury 66's album on Sessions Records. The recording quality seems odd on this disc, but not to fret, for it's all crystal clear and captures what it can of Fury's rampage and outcry. Almost a post-AFI, if I may go that far, type of relevant music for us all, dwelling even heavily still with old-school presence. Not much is left to say of these legends. -Stu
Turned Down (self titled) CDEP
A great record for anyone trying to follow the parade of the hxc scene that is turning pop. More lyrical cliches and overly standard structure that you're able to follow before you've even given it a listen, and vocals that are lead aimlessly that follow closely each melodic conception. Through five songs of this all, not much progresses out of anything as it seems a contemplation of what they'd like to be but aren't: an original emotional post-pop-rock band. -Stu
Sloe - Inexact Replica
This melodic post-punk formation, being mentioned to a mimicking of early 90's San Diengo's Drive Like Jehu and such of the likes of Samiam and Texas is the Reason, seems to have found something inspirational with their music. From the beginning, they had no choice but to invoke my listening ears with pleasures of their outright capabilities. Through twelve songs you'd think blandness would surface itself indefinitely... but it doesn't at all. -Stu
Thoughts of Yesterday... vol. 1 - A One Moment Records Compilation
One Moment Records
Certainly a reflection of yesterday's musical composition, with some exceptions of original content presented by the likes of Stavesacre and others revealing themselves along the way. While ridden with more of the pop punk that can become unbearable due to its presence of pop blatancy, the set of tunes takes an uptune swing with the calming Jars of Clay breathy-typed of acoustic wishfulness of The Wishful Diaries. After the more interesting power popness of Brinderson their is a releaving contrast that bringeth forth an array of melodically drenched new school metal by Saved by Grace, slower and slowching itself back and forth through walls of noise and other assorted beatings. The Sunny Test is nice, in yet again a poppy melodic way, and emotional, spitting out lyricaly poetic cliches that can be expected. Another screamy hardcore band, Love is Red, and then some more of some other bands, including Sick of Change a power pop emotional collection of interestingly more enduring melodic ballads. Ending the 14 tracks of mentioned highlights is Featherweight's calming melodic new rock radio sensationalism. And that ends that, a collection brought to us all by One Moment Records. -Stu
Dogwood/Inclomplete - The Split EP
One Moment Records
California's melodic punk scene is no best led through than by these two acts of this EP's feature. While getting technical and a bit more progressive, it's a happy moment to see bands that are making a difference in the genre they play that so many others tend to make a cliche out of. Dogwood forefronts from the beginning with an unreleased track, and followed by two more from their Tooth and Nail ties. The third of theirs, My Best Year, is the song with attitude ridden riffs and accompanied background shouting that gives its harmonizing an adventerous ride. Ventura, CA's now defunct Incomplete bids farewell with the last four energetic bits of contrived pop songs that mix light vocals into heavier progressions that are also played with by maidenesque solo tapping. Some new ideas and sounds are altogether given into the light of new school punk and are left to be enjoyed. -Stu
Chi - Anywhere But Here
From Kamloops, B.C., a very promising group self-described as "intense, emotional, dynamic, guitar driven" and "a cross between emo and heavy alternative". While very close to all of that, the alt-rock reveals itself the most, bordering the very trendy mall-rock sounds. In between some of the songs are interludes of computerized experimentations of electronically programmed noise; interesting enough, but they disrupt the mood of the album in a tacky way. Most of the vocals are thoroughly drenched with effects, still not enough to hide their slightly more than occasional weakness though. As well, the repetitive structure of a soft chorus building into an intense chorus with the help of a distortion pedal has been over done a many times and again. The upside to the record? That would be the over all positive listening qualities. None of the previous discrepancies mentioned have a drastic take away from any credit Chi has gained as a touring band, and each song is different enough from the others that one listen is certainly not adequate. -Stu
The Sky Corvair - Unsafe at Any Speed
Throughout a dozen tracks of a post-emo, vocally non melodic, and quite cute stages of composition (in unexpecting ways, many would probably disagree) there is a brink of an adventure, only it has been purposely crumpled up and soaked with cold water. The poetically abstract lyrics are fitting, and a personal favourite moment of the album is the cold and lonely almost distant screamed intro to Dinky Rope Dog, the song then continues to lead through dull and subtle slopiness of original sounding riffs, then accelerates once more into an exciting aggrivatingly chaotically outro. Everything is done to avoid the presence of any hint of a pop or standard rock reflection. -Stu
Rollo Tomasi - He Who Holds You
Neil and Craig from Caulfield Records' Traluma have reformed into Rollo Tomasi, sounding somewhat DC post punk influenced. Twangs and distorted storylines complement the success of a featured basic catchy post-rock underlay, feeling the 5th track, A Room Alone sway back and forth leading to interludes of compressed and cut up timing. It's a surprisingly high quality production of original and legitimate music. -Stu
Hero of a Hundred Fights - The Remote, The Cold
Quite the plethora of distractions this EP starts off to be. By that what exactly is meant is the math-rocked out oddly harmonizing variations of every element, yet the still manageable coordination of everything else. Confinely structured technicalities that do well at maintaining balance of the diverse extremities. In all four songs the mention of each's vocal partition mixes screamo backgrounding with the lead's comparisons from Tool to Danzig, yet distinctly 'emo'. Rhythm twisting is subtle and only selectively comes once in a while, as the last songs drag you low along the ground, forcing to refuse their unknown beckoning. When they scream you say thank-you. -Stu
Herb Wilks - I'll Treat You Right
Contemporary R&B that makes no compromise seems to be the destined specialty of Herb Wilk's recent establishment. The sensuously delicate funk style that penetrates during Stick To It let's you know straight up how it is and how it's gonna be, backed by electronic production of percussion and synth. Wilk's vocal flexibility and urban influence breaks out clean in Turn Me On, sided by more of the soft sounding hit theme sound that makes the ladies 'ooooh'. Following the nine original r&b-synth-funk serenades are several instrumentals of three of the tracks and one other remix. Watch out... Herb Wilks is out to get you if not your girl. -Stu
Living Sacrifice - The Hammering Process
Solid State Records
There will hardly be a moment with this album where the drowning technicality of tightly intensified thrash metal does to you what you would expect from any other band even close to this genre. This fifth of the always revolutionary albums from LS presents a new wave progressing as usual from their latest work before this one. Some of the contraptions scare you out of unexpected suprise, which is a contrast from the surprise of such untouchably melodic riffs. -Stu
Luti-Kriss - Throwing Myself
Solid State Records
Spooky sounding metal-core kids... I'm constantly reminded of their amazing live set, and hope to one day experience for myself, since this record doesn't seem to live up to some of the hype. The largness is apparent. Huge waves of thick riffs capacitate the generalness of what's being heard when they are present and slowly sludge themselves a pathway through stone. The demonstrated style itself seems unique and is alone a pleasure, but may be overdone through 13 tracks of the same demonstration. Not to be too brutal with the review of this new young band's handiwork, I would commend them on their talents to generate something outstanding for their peers -Stu
Soapbox - A Divided Man
Solid State Records
Let's sound like Refused because we're from Sweden. Some of the songs have a more thrashed or old-school hardcore reverberation. Most of it reminds me of what was being listened to five years ago. -Stu
D.B.S. - Forget Everything You Know
Take me with you... My first listen to a local sensation happens to be their farewell gesture to the scene, and I am left waiting for more. With the contemplative declaration that is found along the lines read with these compositions, a careful listen will lead to the intimate memories that this band has experienced during their nine year expedition. Emotional intesity that is brought up through progressive rhythmic switchovers and more of the same from tangling melodies has this act's polished reputation proving itself yet again, and as well willing to lead any sort of dreams with echoed encouragement. -Stu
Royal Star Music - Sampler CD
Royal Star Music
A Royal Star Music compilation filtered through apropriately by different acts of new indie music for fans of unexcusable variety. Some DIY quality electronica is presented by Fisher, Ganglia and Phaser 500; representations of darker moods of thrash, spazz and death metal come forth through the tracks from Edify, Orcrist and Denote the Apex; even some great 80's wave hard garage rock by The Janitors adds itself as a top of completion. One more track is included, by Chuck Venn, which is simply spoken word accompanied by lo-fi keyboard percussion and melodic chord progression. -Stu
Kid 606 - GQ on the EQ
This listen of electronic murmuring may propose to be likened to a walk through a magically hi-fi reactive swamp. With each step or movement made, odd noises protrude from out of nowhere, drowning your head and causing aimless stumbling, sometimes even bearing marketable rhythm. Backgrounded at times by repetive real life chatter, these compulsions are uncdecisive and rudely cutt off on a constant basis, leaving memories confused as to whether there are still sounds playing or what is being heard is actually just noises in the head. In the end, either give up during the first few moments or alternatively surrender to the crawling static-ridden non-rhythmic melodies that caress from the ears into the skin. -Stu
Poison the Well - Distance Only Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
A current release on Undecided that features some new and brutal tracks, and as well, two live songs from Poison the Well's Opposite of December album. While he new feature of dual vocalists one of the noted changes that is a nice surprise since the last album, there aren't too many surprisingly new techniques from the 5 new tracks of deathly emotional metal. Basically just more of the same material that is undoubtedly an appealing provocation of positive energy. -Stu
Treadwell - Pour It Into Our Bodies 6"
This short bit includes two quick songs by this group managing to play with interesting spazz intesity. The flavours are alright by me... Keyboard, dual emotional yelling, calming breaks; it's really all in your face, then in your pants, then tauntingly running away in slow motion. Not for quite for the interests of a melodic ballad seeker, this sample is rather surreal. -Stu
Kill Sadie - A New Make 7"
Two songs, A New Make and A Remake, brought forth by a bundle of screamy energetic rock music. Their complexity is in the diversity of direction as discovered in the first track which converts itself several times with a colaberation of riffs and interludes in the one song itself. The flipside is an assembly of more experimental noise with sampling of sounds and such. Spooky. -Stu
Mara'akate - 3-7-77 7"
A discovery of such great noise-death-spazz in sporadic one minute segments of pain and confusion that the recent news of this band's break apart is worthy of a complaint or two. As eerie as the softly leading introductions and rests become, full of repetitious taunts that batter the retina, the counter of insanity is only more discomforting yet can only make one smile. -Stu
Vermillion - Bo Jackson 7"
Two songs of an instrumentally epic indie style of music which is an inspiringly great listen. The tempo and rhythm frequents delicately and even grooves so nice to some good use of the wah. The inward structures of each of these two songs can compare to the mathrock of some very accomplished acts, with mood swings from excitement to astonished curiosity. There is much more to be described about such a short recording, most of it should rather be easily enjoyed as the second track concludes in a dreamy provacation, experimenting with noise and horns. -Stu
Botch - American Nervoso
This isn't Botch's latest material, but it's a collection of their insanity that I recently came across. The odd sensations of guitar and rhythmic interventions on this record certainly create an impressionable mood of high quality hard-metal-post-core. In the middle of monotonous chaos and mental anguish there will resurrect overlapping interludes of melodic cacophony that tends to thwart with even expected reactions. While not loosing the rhythmically challenged listener for the most part, the structures presented in these songs do well at handeling the concepts of stability and chaos is one hand and your mind in the other. -Stu
The Status - It's Really Quite Manic
Hard to Say Records
Another local outfit that has been rocking our local scene with their own conception of toughed-out guitar rock. The energy on this album is brought together mostly through the desperate screams of Jordan Eshpeter that are brought up to speed with the growly and never loud enough guitar riffs. Listening to this collection, their debut album, there is easily picked out some live favourites such as the ending track A Rock & Roll Night, as well as the fast paced I Like the Way You Look Tonight, and the new hit title track. These ballads of broken hearts and the rock & roll life are to be likened as an entertaining recognition of The Status' upcoming sounds that are being awaitened. -Stu
The Witness Protection Program - The Revolutions That Never Was and Never Will Be
Boot to Head
Rock and Roll's new local advocates give us all a new perspective on energetic and musical combustion. Despite the frantic capacity of this punk-rock-noise-core record, a majority of the tunes are catchy and provoke a sing along. The addition of Phaedo's Crazy Dave on keys is a masterpiece, although he warns that his contribution on the record is not as major as his current involvment. Remeniscent of Ninety Pound Wuss' 'Where Eager Die...' era, The Witness Protection Program's first full-length is a surprisingly high quality disc. As well, their mature capabilities should be reckoned as experimentally successful. -Stu
the pAper chAse - Young Bodies Heal Quickly You Know
"In the next war, we shall bury the dead in cellophane." I was excited to see these guys come out with a full length so I went and got it like the snicker I am. The pAper chAse is talented when it come to creating unique moods with experimentation of guitar work and lyrical content. There is piano playing on the album that adds to the effect as well, along with the guitars creating melodic catastophies that melt when touched. The vocals, sometimes distant and reverberated for a nice atmospheric tone, are strong when sung and balanced with the high quality of these tracks' production. Including electronic fiddling, the album is filled with fun filled interludes only to provoke insanity. -Stu
Amon Tobin - Supermodified
I find that this album is a discovery of mysteriously talented work in electronically structured music. This genre is unique, sampling mostly original sounds of varied musical instruments and composing jazz flavoured and epic creations that you would swear belong only in your private conceptions of a dream-like world. The instrumental works of Tobin are literal masterpieces of an electro-classical-experimental-jazz fusion. Check out Amon Tobin's amazingly bedazzling flash website at www.amontobin.com. -Stu
Frodus - And We Washed Our Weapons in the Sea
Fueled By Ramen
Definitely a more emotional outlook by one of DC's highly contributing rock bands; and as an unknowing farewell to the scene, this album was recorded well before its release earlier this year. Lead guitarist and vocalist Shelby Cinca has toned down his definitive spazz-core screams for several of the pieces, yet his creativity in the stringed instrument flawlessly leads the new Frodus sound into its own world of melodic jambouree. The instrumental communication both within each song's interludes and throughout the instrumental tracks themselves is a continuing build of inspirational musicianship between the members of this talented band. As well, tracks such as Out-circuit the Ending and 6/99 have extremely passionate vibrations that capture the intentive listener; written with purpose in mind, the depth of Frodus' new material exceeds in maturity. They will be missed. -Stu
Raft of Dead Monkeys - Thoroughlev
If you've heard or even heard about RDM's previous album, DBM, you will be somewhat surprised at the quality of this newer sound and its whole all around feeling. While citing such influential similarities as U2, the tracks are cluttered with more instrumental rock and deeper emotional appearance. The vocals have taken a turn in that direction as well; other band members taking turns at the vocal front, the songs run at a diverse pace. There's an obvious tone difference in hardcore intensity, since a lot of the songs are focused melodically in presenting what seem to be odd pop-rock sensations. If you're concerned about the content topics of the lyrics, they have stayed much the same subject-wise. One of my favourites, 2 Year Lease, cleverly sings, "You're not the only whore in town / You're just the best fuck around". I haven't figured out any theme or concept from the album, but the instrumental preludes and outros have stated this act's musical maturity to an acceleratingly higher point. -Stu
Zao - Self Titled
The fifth full length from metal-core heroes, Zao, is sure to get even more reactions from a wide variety of scenesters as this band has always done. Dan Weyandt is still present since Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest to contribute his tributed growling, and along the record's play there are also plenty of new apporaches on the vocal aspect of Zao's sound. Jesse Smith has written some of the lyrics for some songs on the album as well, and noticeably some tracks use an electronicly generated drum track which is a first for this outfit's usual raw and cut open noises. The energy on this release seems to vary, as compared to earlier material it comes out as thicker and spookier. -Stu
Coven XIII - Book of Shadows
This record is great. Gothic emotional 80's influenced rock that is enjoyably saturated with poetic and magikal enchantment. I am drawn to this album's unfamiliarity and melodical interpretation of dreams and beliefs. The vocals are outstanding; in Fallen Angels they are srongly harmonized in demanding desperation of mystical exhortations. As well, the experienced piano playing is an inclusion that adds nicely a move away from the cliche of gothic synth .Though the quality of some of the material lacks in production, with noticable level deficiencies in the migration of electronic elements. The passionate honesty and mystery is the breakthrough though that gives this album a memorable status in the imagination of an everlasting musical journey. -Stu
Promonium Jesters - The Promonium EP
This cold list of tracks was mailed to me recently; recorded just earlier this year, it's a collection of earlier sounding influenced industrial and somewhat experimental harder electronica. The vocals were the appreciative aspect that kept me interested as I listened, as a lot of the programming and level sequencing sounds amateur. Yet tracks like Wangbuster 420 and Hard have a good level of professional sound and melodic structure. -Stu
Weezer - The Green Album
Reviewed By Dustin
At first listen, or even second, the newest offering from Weezer might sound stale when compared to the glory of the Blue Album or the more melancholy Pinkerton, but Green ends up delivering the goods. Weezers brand of poppy/surf/grunge/emo/indie/college/geek/punk/whatever the hell it is/rock sinks it's hooks (get it?) into you and doesn't let go until you've hummed along to every 50's sockhopping moment. It might not measure up to the perfection that was the Blue record but in the long run it's another Weezer album and I believe it was worth the five year wait. Check out tracks like: Photograph, Island in the Sun and Knock-Down, Drag-Out.
Twothirtyeight - Regulate the Chemicals
I liked Twothirtyeight's last album, All Matter has a Breaking Point, but this is a lot better. The songs are more powerful, and more intricate. All of the tracks are well done, some on All Matter... seemed forced, liked they had a deadline and they needed a few more songs. This album also has more of a pop feel to it as well, like weezer was involved. I think that is due to some line up changes though. They say they are not emo, but they are. This is one of the best emo/indie pop rock albums I have ever heard though. All I can say is keep up the good work.
The Aquabats - Myths, Legends, and Other Amazing Adventures
This is a collection of the Aquabats B-sides, Rarities and demo stuff. Sometimes albums like this are just all the bands crap put onto a CD, but this is great. It even rivals The Fury of the Aquabats. The songs are all very humorous and downright catchy. Some of the songs, the first times you hear them, will have you rolling in the aisles, then be stuck in your head for the rest of the week. The Aquabats have got to be one of the most talented bands around these days and it shows through the wide variety of music on this disc. There isn't that much ska anymore, but I forgive them cause this stuff is great. There is cheezy techno, rap, pop, and a song called "Worms Make Dirt" that sounds like something off Sesame Street. One of my favorite tracks though is "I Fell Asleep On My Arm" which mocks all the rapcore crap such as Korn, Rage, Limp Bizkit, and Kid Rock. I was kinda scared to buy this album because I knew that ska was not their main genre anymore, but I must say this album is great. In an era where music is stale and rock is dead, these guys are a welcome change.
Stairwell - Pacific Standard Time
Stairwell is made up of ex- members of Bloodshed, so you know this is going to be good. There are also ex-members of the Supertones, so I suppose this is where the talent went. Their album is a great trip through emo, punk, and indie rock. They don't play really sappy emo (except for "Don't Let it End") to the untrained ear it would pass off as pop punk. Lots of songs about girls, lots of good vocals, strong pop... it's kinda like Saves the Day, but they aren't a rip off of every other emo band out there. I think if this was on a major label and had regular radio play, it would be everybody's favorite band. It's catchy and melodic, sweet and comforting.
Witness Protection Program - The Demonstration That Never Got Off the Ground
Local Rock Records
The Program is pure mayhem! Imagine if 90Lb Wuss and Frodus merged. But don't think for one second that they are a rip off band, they certainly have a style of their own, including 3 part vocals and powerful and haunting keyboards. Blistering fast and completely chaotic, this is only a teaser for their full length that is out now (which I don't have because I'm a retard). Four great songs from a band that should be getting a lot more coverage. Please forgive me for not going into more depth, It's just to hard to put this band into words.
Underoath - Cries of the Past
This is great metal. Visions of Extol sprung to mind, pounding drums, guitar solos, growled vocals topped off with glam howls and tortured screams, but wait! Underoath beautifully incorporates a synthesizer that adds to whole effect making the band scarier, and epic. Although in a few spots the growled and groaned vocals seemed somewhat cheezy and forced, all together this album is solid and downright rockin! When I got it I saw there were only five songs. In true metal spirit the songs last an average of seven minutes each and the cd clocks in around 40 minutes long. Lots of metal for your buck.
Various Artists - This is Solid State Vol. 2
Solid State Records
I was excited to see this, seeing how the vol. one was so great. But I was disappointed because there are hardly any new songs. I have most of these songs because I own the bands albums. Not that the music is bad, I just wanted new stuff. Anyway , If you have never heard of the bands on this thing, I would suggest you pick it up because there are some rockin tunes on this thing. Some of my favorites are Living Sacrifice, Extol (simply amazing), Blindside, Stretch Arm Strong, Selfmindead, Spitfire as well as old stuff from Strongarm and Focal Point. I believe the main selling point of this sampler is the absence of rap-core. Just good solid hardcore and metal.
Narcissus - Newwave Techno Homicide
I don't like having to try to cram every band into a nice neat little genre or stereotype, but since most of you people out there probably haven't heard Narcissus before I just might have to just to help you imagine. Hmmm... I think I could classify this as metal influenced spazzcore. Maybe. Narcissus are crazy though, heavy, fast, with high screams that sound as though the singer is possessed and about to bite somebodies head off. Then the vocals are contrasted by a more harmonious gentle voice. This is very innovative stuff, definitely not your garden variety hardcore band.
The Thriftshop Junkies - Lament of the Oompa Loompa
Red Tag Records
When I think of the Thriftshop Junkies I think of fun. These guys are just fun guys, fun to listen, watch or talk to. This particular cd is a single of Lament of the Oompa Loompasand One-Eye Willie. The subject matter is great and the music is punk/ska ala Operation Ivy. I like that somebody is still having fun with their music.
Fewleftstanding - Regeneration of Self
These guys seem to know what they are doing. They sound like a compilation of every Christian Hardcore band. I could see influences of Stretch Arm Strong, Overcome and other older bands. I know some kids would go nuts for this album, but I find it just a little to generic for my liking. Some of their label mates are doing such amazing things, it almost seems as though these guys are being left in the dust.
The Buffys - Self Titled
Staking Boys through the Heart Publishing
8518 N. Matisse LN, Mt. Vernon, IL 62864
This is a solid all girl pop-punk trio. The four songs on this ep are all catchy and have strong vocals. For me, vocals can really set a band apart. These girls aren't terribly original, but if you just like good pop-punk with lyrics about boys and being in love, then give them a try. It's only a matter of time before these girls get signed.