Pos Tapes The Album
One League Entertainment
BPOS = Blackalicious + Dilated Peoples
The Bay Area’s BPOS hip hop collective is a refreshing slap in the face with their crime-fighting antics, fast-pitched verses and wild agility on every note. Can you keep up? Because I couldn’t. With bionic speed ripping up every track, you don’t get a second to breathe. Mangling your ears with their eloquent verbage on tracks like “I’m High,” they spit power on perspective and society: “I feel high from the info/I ain’t gotta lotta time/I know my life is just a window/I know I rather have a clue/It’s time to open the mind to find a panoramic view.” Vibrant and adrenaline-packed from superhero throw-downs to the apocalypse, the plot thickens with every track, graphically and linguistically plastering your brain with comic strips. On this tape there isn’t room for sidekicks—get on that super level. –Meera Masud
Brandi Carlile = KT Tunstall + Josh Ritter
Don’t let the overwhelming country sound of the opening track “Hard Way Home” fool you into thinking that this is what the rest of the album sounds like, because it isn’t. Carlile weaves through different styles, ranging from alt-country to pop folk, but her strong voice allows her to pull it off seamlessly, albeit not altogether memorably. The second track on the record, “Raise Hell,” changes gears in a heartbeat, with a driving tempo mixed with a gritty blend of folk and country. Other standout tracks include the piano ballad “That Wasn’t Me” and the upbeat tune “100.” Clocking in at just over 50 minutes, there are some hits and misses among the 13 new songs that make up the album, and by the time you reach the final tune, “Just Kids,” it may feel like you just finished a daunting task, but it was pleasant nonetheless. –Jory Carroll
This Is Oi!
Broken Heroes = Combat 84 - overt right-wing politics + The Templars
With perhaps the most apt album name I’ve seen this year, Jersey’s Broken Heroes don’t try to evoke any artsy fluff in this album. Plainly and simply, this is straight-up Oi! with three chords and rock beats at a mid-tempo, with an occasional double-stop guitar lead. The eponymous opening track features vocalist Scotty Violence cataloguing what Oi! is and is not with an aggressive, froggy bellow. He continues with classic Oi! themes like drinking, the working class, anti-racism and what a real skinhead is. The songs don’t vary much from each other for the most part, but Broken Heroes’ passion definitely shines through with every track. The last half of the album, such as “Oi! Don’t Pay The Bills,” features some solid rock n’ roll guitar work, and “From You” exhibits Oi!’s penchant for gang choruses—“We’re not gonna take it from youuu!” It may not be virtuosic, but, damn it, it’s honest. –Alexander Ortega
The Cheats = Ducky Boys + Electric Frankenstein + Roger Miret and the Disasters
There is something about punk rock that is full of rock n’ roll tropes like Chuck Berry guitar jacked to 11, and infectious rhythms that pull you right in. The Cheats have nailed their third album with working class rock n’ roll that’s steeped in late ’70s punk and tells the stories of these five malcontents from Pittsburgh. “Better than the Rest” is a catchy rocker tune that showcases Todd Porter’s (ex-Silver Tongued Devil) guttural vocals against a backdrop of catchy yet ripping guitar work. The sweat and the dirt just pours out of the speakers with this band, and the enjoyment they get out of playing together is stamped on each track. The Cheats aren’t going down in history as innovators, but what they lack in originality they more than make up for in truly fun, hard as hell rock n’ roll. –James Orme
Manic Children & The Slow Aggression
The Lumiere Label
Cinema Cinema = Black Flag + Babes in Toyland + Hella
Manic Children & The Slow Aggression is a more than fitting title for an album traveling without pause between noise, delicately picked acoustic guitar and melodies bordering on pretty. “Pretty” is my adjective of choice, because referring to any element of Manic Children as “pop” would put me in fear of being slapped with a snare drum. On the subject of drums, Paul Claro’s playing is monstrous yet intricate, and my favorite aspect of Cinema Cinema’s sound. The duo’s musicianship is solid. Ev Gold’s lyrics can be rather unsettling, as can his scream, but you don’t turn to Cinema Cinema for comfort. If Lemmy started a knife fight with The Stooges and punched Kim Thayil in the face as a warm-up (don’t know why Kim’s there, but it’s happening), it might sound like Manic Children & The Slow Aggression. The sight would be just as disturbing, yet intriguing. –T.H.