National CD Reviews

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!!!
Strange Weather, Isn’t It?
Warp Records
Street: 08.24
!!! = Liars + Hot Chip
Three years since Myth Takes and !!! (chk chk chk) is back, and they are unsurprisingly funky. It definitely sounds like a !!! album—it’s dark, it’s funky, it’s weird dance music. As far as how it compares to the other albums, though, it isn’t nearly as good. Listening to the album all the way through feels like having a really intense fever dream that takes place in a jungle: It is sort of sweaty, confusing, and disorienting. The album truly shines during the less synth-based parts, like the opening bass line of “Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass.” Sometimes the songs are a little too synth-heavy and end up sounding like a bad jungle-themed rave (“The Hammer”) with the bad synth lines and spider monkey-sounding backing vocals. (In the Venue: 09.11) –Cody Hudson


10 Ft. Ganja Plant
10 Deadly Shots Vol. 1
Roir Records
Street: 08.10
10 Ft. Ganja Plant = Toots & the Maytalls + the Abyssinians – vocals
This is my favorite kind of reggae: old, tight, two-step and horn heavy. The players of 10 Ft. Ganja Plant clearly have it down solid. But this record is also missing something and I think that something is a singer. Reggae has been blessed by fantastic artists like Toots Hibbert, Harrison Stafford, and of course, Bob Marley, and their distinctive vocal talents have always been one of its major draws. While you couldn’t imagine a more laidback vibe and good feeling than in the 10 jams on this record, I find them all blending together to form a uniform background. It doesn’t have enough personality to make it an addictive listen, but it’s pleasant and comfortable. Apparently, this group, partially comprised of members of John Brown’s Body, have produced records with vocals, and I’d be more interested in hearing those than seeing more of this. Oh well, at least it wasn’t another whole record about weed. Or was it? Buy this record to put on during a relaxed summer afternoon on the porch. –Rio Connelly

The Acacia Strain
Wormwood
Prosthetic Records
Street: 07.20
The Acacia Strain = Emmure + Meshuggah + Carnifex + Hatebreed
Traveling outside my usual metal comfort zone, I decided to dive headfirst into the new album from The Acacia Strain, a band I had only caught tidbits of a song or two prior to this album, but avoided because of its breakdown-based modern hardcore style. However, there are some elements of death, groove and even some math metal, so in its subtleties, it’s not fully outside my metallic brain. I just don’t really listen to much music like it. Thankfully, with Wormwood, there is a great focus on songwriting and continuing dark themes throughout the record. Yeah, there’s an assload of chugging breakdowns, but the guitar leads and hefty, Meshuggah-type vibe to the groove breakdowns do break up the monotony of the same-sounding chugging. The album also has a great knack for building momentums and then unleashing crushing assaults. If I had to listen to this genre regularly, Wormwood would be a highlight, and I think it may even stay in my listening rotation for a bit. –Bryer Wharton

Accept
Blood of the Nations
Nuclear Blast
Street: 09.14
Accept = Judas Priest + Motörhead + Saxon + Dio
I’m no Accept snob—in all honesty, the latest in the band’s discography I’ve explored (until now) is the 1983 classic Balls to the Wall. But the Internet trash talkers across the globe are already bitching that Accept isn’t Accept without their distinctive vocalist Udo Dirkschneider and if those bitchers are already not going to give a version of Accept without Udo even a chance, they’re complete dunces. Blood of Nations is a pure, true, awesome-as-all-hell heavy metal album that’s as memorable and primal-metal-shit-kicking as heavy metal gets, and they’re going to miss out on what easily is the best classic heavy metal record of the year. New vocalist Mark Tornillo of little-known Jersey band TT Quick got a break to be the voice of Accept and he, like Tim “Ripper” Owens, who replaced Rob Halford in Judas Priest, has risen to the occasion—actually, moreso than Owens. Buy this record, dissociate the fact that it’s not helmed by Udo, turn it up to 11 and get your metal on. –Bryer Wharton

The Anomalys
Self-titled
Slovenly
Street: 07.22
The Anomalys = The Sonics + The Murder City Devils + Link Wray
Two guitars and a drum kit is all that this band needed to create one of the most interesting, unflinching rock n’ roll records in a long time. The unabashedly reckless approach to “You Just Wanna See Me Bleed” is so refreshing, like a slap in the face to keep your attention. The garage-blues stomp and the craft harmonica playing of “Sex” cannot be denied. It makes perfect sense that these three boys playing no-rules rock n’ roll hail from the land of no rules: Amsterdam. Just the fact that a band can incorporate rockabilly, garage and punk and do so without a shred of doubt in the performance renews my faith in rock n’ roll. Only bad thing about this record is that it’s only nine tracks long, forcing me to listen to those nine tracks over and over again, and it’s just not enough, I want more. –James Orme

A.R.E. Weapons         
Darker Blue
Defend Music
Street: 07.06
A.R.E.Weapons = The Velvet Underground + Suicide
So is A.R.E. Weapons really an art-punk band or are they an electro band? Perhaps a little bit of both. Looking strikingly like some surreal early incarnation of the Pet Shop Boys captured by Robert Mapplethorpe on the cover of this, their fourth album, Darker Blue, it is hard to define their sound, exactly. And even though in reality, their music couldn’t be more dissimilar, they certainly share one thing with maestros Tennant and Lowe: a knack for writing and producing memorable tunes. There is a furiousness and punk energy to the album’s nine tracks, but there is a lot of melody and cohesiveness, too. Written, recorded, produced and performed by founding members Brain McPeck and Matt McAuley, the album infuses elements of punk, electro and even rockabilly. The grittier side of New York is clearly the centerpiece here, and while their lyrics inform and propel their songs, mainly they entertain. It isn’t explained who the eponymous Jeffrey Lee of the album’s opener is, but it is a wickedly good tune. A hilarious ode to a cockroach is the theme of the deliriously catchy “Subway,” where singer McPeck intones: “Hey you two now don’t cry/but I saw a cockroach in your french fries ... Mr. Cockroach are you for real/what were you doing in that Happy Meal?” as McAuley joins him in the repeated speak/sing chorus. “What The Fuck Do You Want” is equally memorable. Vigilante justice is the theme of the excellent “Street Justice,” whereas closer “Don’t You Die On Me” is pure rebel yell. –Dean O Hillis

Armagedda
I Am
Eienwald/Nordvis
Street: 09.06
Armagedda = Bathory + Funeral Mist + Setherial + Dissection
While Sweden’s Armagedda are now defunct, this lost EP, I Am, has opened a window to some great black metal to this fan. While I’m left to formulate my own theories of why this EP—recorded after the band’s first full-length, 2001’s The Final War Approaching and before their 2003 follow-up, Only True Believers—is just coming to light now, roughly five to six years after the group disbanded, I will state that this EP very much has the feel of a dusty tape someone discovered while cleaning house. As strong and deeply rooted in the bleak and melodic traditions of Swedish black metal as I Am is, the EP also has the glorious one-take live quality to it, feeling very improvised like the band is jamming and unleashing whatever their creative processes felt like brewing up at that particular moment. I Am is produced raw, but retains a crystalline edge. Its four tracks gallop along at a mid-pace, offering depressive and painful tones as well as majestic and darkly empowering ones. It’s all a wondrous excursion into a unique realm with a feeling of discovering something unexplored and untainted. –Bryer Wharton

Authority Zero
Stories of Survival
Suburban Noize Records
Street: 06.22
Authority Zero = Pennywise + Sublime + 311 + The Offspring + '90s Bad Religion
Authority Zero has the right idea in putting what they consider their catchiest song, “The New Pollution,” at the beginning of Stories of Survival. Unfortunately, its self-declarative rally call, “Here we are! Here we are!/We’re the new pollution,” is not quite that memorable, and the banal lyrics of the following “A Day to Remember” detract from the band’s artistry. The chorus of “Brick in the Wave” boils on the cheese-o-meter scale, so by the time they reach their should-have-been opener, “Get it Right,” you know to start sifting through good and bad songs rather than concentrate on the band’s musicianship and versatility. Authority Zero redeem themselves with concrete, graspable lyrics in “Big Bad World,” a deft use of rhythm in a reggae-punk blend entitled “Movement,” crisp ska guitar in “The Remedy,” and driving and furious dynamics in “No Way Home.” The lyric-writing, however, is too abstract and memoir-like to be taken seriously beyond a high school creative writing class. –Alexander Ortega

Automelodi       
Automelodi
Wierd Records
Street: 07.15
Automelodi = Serge Gainsbourg Takes An Acid Trip
I am a sucker for vocals sung in their native tongue; especially when that tongue is not American. When it is French, well ooh la la, watch out! Enter singer/songwriter Xavier Paradis (Arnaud Lazlaud, Echo Kitty) and his new French “minimal wave” Montreal band, Automelodi, and their eponymous debut. Combining synths with guitars and real drumming behind the drum machines, the band (including Mauricio Lobos on guitars and Guillaume Éthier on drums) creates a surprisingly warm sound (circa 1981) as much as it is experimental and minimal-sounding. The awesome sounding “Schéma Corporel” is a nice, pulsing beginning and on my first round listen, I skipped through the one English sung track, “Airline,” which I found initially a bit of a misstep compared to the rest of the French-sung tracks, but on repeat spins, have found its charms. The inclusion of the lyrics in French seems a bit odd, but as I read the lyrics for the trancelike “Rose A.D.” and see familiar names there, I had to translate them: “Et je me perds dans les voiles de Stevie Nicks/Dans un ciel Ä?étoiles qui brillent comme Elvix” which read “And I get lost in the veils of Stevie Nicks in a sky of stars that shine like Elvis,” which I find extremely cool. The previously released “Buanderie Jazz” is truly a highlight and overall, the album is consistently pleasant with those French lyrics just adding to the mystique. C’est magnifique! –Dean O Hillis

Bad Cop
Harvest the Beast
Reachout International
Street: 09.14
Bad Cop = Kings of Leon – The Rolling Stones
What do you get when you take the lewd swagger of the blues out of classic rock? You get Harvest the Beast. It’s an album full of guitar riffs that are more fun to play than to listen to, talent-show displays of musicianship, and cock-rock posturing dressed up in Guitar Center Stratocaster tone. Bad Cop removes classic rock too far from its blues roots. There are a couple of token diversions from pentatonic riffing, the first being the puzzling U2-esque coda on opening track “Amores Perros.” A prog-rock nod on “Time After Time” made me want to hear them ditch the Southern rock and dust off their Rush records, at least until I heard the last track, “Control.” It’s easily the most thrilling song on the album, making the rest of the songs on the album sound like the bloodless imitations that they are. Singer Adam Moult delivers a raspy, single-note yell and sounds like he means it. If they could do an album of songs like that, Bad Cop would be an entirely different band. –Nate Housley

Bad Liquor Pond
Let the River Come 7”
MT6 Records
Street: 11.25.09
Bad Liquor Pond = the Doors + the Grateful Dead
Bad Liquor Pond was formed, like, 30 years too late. No frills, jammy, 70s-esque psych-rock is the name of the game for these four Baltimoreans. Let the River Come is just two tracks––“Let the River Come” on Side A, and “Electric Splash” on Side B. Both tracks use the same formula: repeating guitar pattern, unexcited vocals, guitar/key solo, then the occasional new chord will be introduced so that the main theme can bring it on home. Don’t get me wrong, this 7” is rad. I love how they channel a vibe and stick with it until it wears out its welcome. Either of these tracks would be the perfect accompaniment to any of Jenny’s acid montages in Forrest Gump. Let the River Come is a great start, and if Bad Liquor Pond develop their own stamp, they will really have something worth noticing on their next release. –Andrew Roy

Bambara
Dog Ear Days EP
Emerald Weapon
Street: 08.03
Bambara = HEALTH + 31Knots + Numbers
When it comes to all the bands worshipping HEALTH’s 2007 debut, Bambara have the start-stop-scream, noise-terrorism of HEALTH down to a science. But what Bambara have in histrionic squalor, they lack in any sort of real threat. This lack of real, physical menace that HEALTH sweats from every pore actually helps the Athens trio in the listenability department. Every track on this EP has a catchy pop tune submerged somewhere beneath the waves of caustic noise and wall of feedback-drenched nü-shoegaze guitars. As breathless and meandering (especially in the soft middle) as Dog Ear Days seems, it never completely abandons a reference point in modern popular music, and that might make it even more dangerous. –Ryan Hall

The Black Pacific
Self-Titled
SideOneDummy
Street: 09.14
The Black Pacific = Pennywise + Bad Religion + The Offspring
For reasons I still don’t fully comprehend, I was excited to hear this new project from former Pennywise vocalist Jim Lindberg. Even though Lindberg is basically a poor man’s Greg Graffin, his simple brand of punk rock sloganeering speaks to the 14-year-old in me (“Fuck Authority” was my favorite song for a pretty embarrassing amount of time). While The Black Pacific doesn’t sound exactly like Pennywise, they aren’t incredibly unique, either. These songs could’ve been created by any number of late 90s punk bands floundering to retain their audience in the new millennium. The Black Pacific is a bit more melodic than Pennywise and throws in some weird screams every once in a while for some reason, but not much else sets them apart. “The System” is plagued by the vague, over-simplistic lyrics one might expect from such a title, and “Kill Your Idols” is an encyclopedia of punk-rock clichés come to life. If nothing else, The Black Pacific are competent musicians comfortable within their chosen genre—and at least they got an album out before the newest incarnation of Pennywise. –Ricky Vigil

Blood Revolt
Indoctrine
Profound Lore
Street: 08.03
Blood Revolt = Revenge + Conqueror + Primordial + Axis of Advance
The only thing you need to know is that Blood Revolt is a collaboration of A.A. Nemtheanga, C. Ross and J. Read, members of Primordial, Revenge and Conqueror. If you call yourself an avid fan of extreme metal, you don’t just need to hear this album, you need to own it. Indoctrine mocks the normal channels of extreme metal, as Blood Revolt digs deep and pull pure, unabashed hatred and madness into this audio assault of every inner sense of mind and body. Sticks pound on drums with raw, intimidating speed and hellish tempos to create a war that not only physically but also emotionally tears at your aural senses. String distortions pulsate and rapidly change from unrelenting, primal forces to twisted chords of chaos, ensnaring and dragging you down into complete insanity. A tale of complete madness, vengeance and full-on violent delivery crushes and embattles your soul. The voice penetrates your mind, rings in your ears, and what could’ve been a calm, meditative state of mind is transposed into your own maddening spiraling lack of control. Once Indoctrine is heard, your soul is scarred—it is not just something to be listened to, but a mind-altering drug that shatters your thoughts and leaves you to deal with your own demons. –Bryer Wharton

Bonnie “Prince” Billie & The Cairo Gang
The Wonder Show of the World
Drag City
Street: 03.23
Bonnie “Prince” Billie = Howe Gelb + Paul Simon + Cass McCombs
Will Oldham’s 2010 release and third album with guitarist Emmett Kelly is a sober look at estranged love and hard-won spirituality cloaked in a light, breezy summer album full of laidback strummers with exquisite guitar work and choral-sung choruses. Wonder Show is essentially Kelly and Oldham in a room together creating music, linking jazz, Spanish, and country-inspired guitar lines to Oldham’s mellowed, near-perfect voice. Mr. Oldham’s discography has been a slow crawl out of darkness and into the light, ever since the nightmare-inducing There is a Darkness. When compared to 2008’s hyper-positive Lie Down in the Light, Wonder Show’s contented assurance feels much more organic and relatable, and it shows when it comes to picking collaborators (barring the Brave and the Bold debacle with Tortoise). Oldham knows how to pick them. –Ryan Hall

The Books
The Way Out
Temporary Residence Ltd.
Street: 07.20
The Books = Prefuse 73 + Do Make Say Think + Decomposure
Imagine a tape recorder and an acoustic guitar making sweet, sweet love, producing offspring, that each attempt to write vast works of literature—philosophical and emotional, real human-condition-type stuff. Then try to imagine these bizarre creatures attempting to read these wistful tomes to you like a bedtime story. Yeah, that might be The Books.  Aurally lush constructions of found-sound percussion, vocals, and chamber-music-esque guitar and string arrangements, The Way Out is another volume of the continual masterpiece that is the career of this duo.  As per usual, the greatest attention has been paid to how this album feels to your ears, and where other, similar music can sometimes be jarring and harsh, The Books are soothing.  The record almost becomes another of the old self-help and hypnosis tapes it samples.  But it’s far too dancey this time around to get too comfortable.  The song duo of “IDKT” and “I Didn’t Know That” are an orchestral swell of an introduction for a jazzy, electro-funk jam.  “Free Translator” is a quiet little folk tune with the group’s typical penchant for strange lyrics, while “The Story of Hip Hop” forgoes them completely for samples of a children’s story over schizo beats.  This stuff is not for the casual listener, but a blast if you’re into it. –Rio Connelly

Carl Broemel
All Birds Say
ATO Records
Street: 08.31
Carl Broemel = Lyle Lovett + Jack Johnson
All Birds Say, the debut solo album from My Morning Jacket guitarist Carl Broemel, seems tailor-made for sipping iced tea on your porch on a summer evening.  Where My Morning Jacket plays electric Southern rock (lately tinged with electro and funk), All Birds Say is a mostly acoustic affair accented with Western swing flourishes and orchestral instrumentation.  Broemel makes a bigger splash as a stylist than as a songwriter—the songs contain inventive arrangements with jazzy chords, but the lyrical matter at times borders on the schmaltzy (“There’s a lot of different kind of people in the world”).  “Carried Away,” one of the album’s highlights, contains a chord progression that’s been done a thousand times before, but it’s still a great listen. From the laidback vibe Broemel emanates, I get the sense that focusing on anything but having a good time with this album misses the point. –Nate Housley

City of Fire
City of Fire
Candlelight
Street: 08.24
City of Fire = Alice in Chains + A Perfect Circle + Fear Factory + Black Sabbath
City of Fire began from a chance reunion of the Vancouver band Caustic Thought, which included bassist Byron Stroud (Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad, Zimmers Hole), drummer Bob Wagner (Econoline Crush), and guitarist Ian White. The reunion sparked the creations of songs and recruitment of Fear Factory vocalist Burton C. Bell and another guitarist, Terry Murray, and the band became City of Fire, named with Vancouver in mind. The result of the reunion and broadening of members has lent itself to this self-titled full-length that easily blurs metal and rock genre boundaries and is a truly worthy musical experience. At times, the songs are simply melodic, densely heavy or whisperingly ethereal. Rarely do you come across albums of any genre that are more driven by its bass guitar than its guitarist, but City of Fire captures a side of Stroud I’ve never heard before, as well as putting Burton C. Bell in a higher state of creativity with his vocal styles. City of Fire do an astounding job at crafting an album that doesn’t sound like so many other records you’ve heard. Anyone that likes honest, good music can find something to enjoy with this record. After repeated listens, it still manages to blow me away every time. –Bryer Wharton

Cloudland Canyon
Fin Eaves
Holy Mountain
Street: 09.07
Cloudland Canyon = Women + Stag Hare + Caboladies
Cloudland Canyon make finding an accessible entrance point into their latest sprawling drone-pop opus a difficult task. Choosing to bury harmonized Beach Boys sub-melodies and pop song structures well below a landslide of analog tape hiss and hazy, reverb-drenched guitar drones, Cloudland Canyon make you work for it. Your patience is rewarded, however, by an absolutely stunning B-side on Fin Eaves. The four-song stretch, starting with “Mothlight pt.2” and ending with “Yellow Echoez,” bring the fully formed pop songs they hid a mile underneath the fuzzed-out audio bath of guitar drones to the surface, still dripping in the shimmering aural warmness that makes the A-side of this magnificent and addicting album. –Ryan Hall

Cristal
Homegoing
FSS
Street: 07.19
Cristal = Stars of the Lid + The Wind Up Bird + Fennesz
Sharing your name with the hip-hop’s champagne of choice makes your band name virtually un-Googleable. On the other hand, having no exposition to mitigate the music makes the listening experience feel like an exclusive, individual pleasure. This cloak-and-dagger mystery behind the ambient-drone quintet gives a certain sense of emotional weight to their elusive compositions. Cristal work with spacious and elegant tones that explore dissonance as much as they do radiant, shimmering guitar and synth drones. “Mirror,” with its jet-engine roar and siren-like chimes, sounds as if it is coming from within the abscess of a busted eardrum, all muted and pregnant with unreachable sound. But where Homegoing shares a similar noise palate, the album often feels like a collection of singles rather than a cohesive picture of sound, eliminating the ability to completely get lost under wave-after-wave of noise. –Ryan Hall

Crocodiles
Sleep Forever
Fat Possum
Street:  09.14
Crocodiles = Black Rebel Motorcycle Club + The Byrds
Sleep Forever, the second album from Crocodiles, is a garage psych epic that pools together a variety of influences into a meditation on escaping the mundane details of life by dying.  What sounds morbid actually plays like a tie-dyed nirvana.  Singer Brandon Welchez, wanting to forget the suburban decay and narrow-mindedness of his native San Diego, effortlessly turns weighty topics into fodder for psychedelic escapism.  The album successfully flits between styles while maintaining its skuzzy coherence—it starts off with the Cheap Trick-gone-krautrock “Mirrors” before heading into the hungover lurch of “Stoned to Death.”  Welchez sings cheerfully over Casio pop on album closer “All My Hatred and My Hexes are For You.”  It’s tough to tell if Crocodiles’ biggest achievement is marrying so many disparate influences or turning thoughts of death into something so enjoyable, but either way I’m hoping they have a long life ahead of them.  –Nate Housley

Cruel Hand
Lock & Key
Street: 07.27
Bridge 9 Records
Cruel Hand = Terror + Trapped Under Ice + Madball
For being a band that gets repped hard on T-shirts at shows, I was out of the loop. Cruel Hand somehow has escaped my playlist for the past couple of years—Lock & Key was to be my introduction. I’m always surprised about which bands catch on the most. Sure, Cruel Hand are proficient at what they do, but they’re not coloring too far out of the lines. Lock & Key marks their third full-length release and straightforward tough-guy hardcore is what you can expect. The singing and guitar solos make the songs more interesting, as opposed to laying on the cheese factor, since they are motivated by the musical direction rather than being shoe-horned in. Overall, Lock & Key is a good, tough record—no spectacle or razzle-dazzle here, but it’s light years away from being a coaster, either. –Peter Fryer

Defiance, Ohio
Midwestern Minutes
No Idea
Street Date: 07.13
Defiance, Ohio = Ghost Mice + New Year’s Revolution - husky vocals
Defiance, Ohio have been kicking the bums of the “folk-punk” scene since the early 2000s. Their songs have always been easy to sing along with, laced as they are with cello, violin and upright bass, fronted by acoustic guitars, piano and a mean percussionist, while still maintaining a punk sound. Their latest album, Midwestern Minutes, however, strays slightly towards a more put-together sound than the average folk/punk noise. Their songs are mostly up-beat tunes about living life with a fire in your belly, and doing everything in your power to keep that fire going. This is the most solid Defiance, Ohio album to date. The band has done some tremendous growing up from their first few albums, and are seemingly settling down. “Dissimilarity Index,” a song about segregation of the different aspects of one’s life, shouts, “I’m shaken, I’m tired!” while keeping the overall feel of the album super-positive. “You Are Loved” is a feel-good song relating to the best kind of friendships, singing, “It sure scares the hell out of me when my friends think they have nobody to lean on.”  Old and new Defiance, Ohio fans alike will appreciate this new effort, so go take a listen! –Kyla G.

Devil’s Brigade
Self-Titled
Hellcat
Street: 08.31
Devil’s Brigade = Rancid + Asmodeus + Anti-Nowhere League
After teasing fans for years, Rancid bassist Matt Freeman is finally releasing a full-length of his pyschobilly-geared side project, Devil’s Brigade. Along with longtime songwriting partner Tim Armstrong on guitar, Freeman entered the studio with DJ Bonebrake of the legendary punk band X and banged out a vicious punk rock n’ roll record. The opening track, “I’m Movin’ Through,” lets you know you’ve entered Matt Freeman’s world of dark, harsh vocals accompanied by equally ominous yet furious guitar work and rhythms. Half this record is the fruit of a musical that Armstrong and Freeman have been working on about the history surrounding the building of the Golden Gate Bridge. “Bridge of Gold” stands out because of its folk arrangement and light-hearted bounce. Freeman moves seamlessly from electric to upright bass and pulls back on his instrumental virtuosity to let the songs take center stage. A must for any Rancid fan, this record will also appeal to psychobilly fans and punks alike. Check ’em out live on the inaugural tour with the Street Dogs, which hits town Oct. 22. –James Orme

Early Graves
Goner
Ironclad Recordings
Street: 06.22
Early Graves = Cursed + Minor Threat + Behold
Goner is the grievous final statement for vocalist Makh Daniels.  On August 2, he was tragically killed in a van accident while driving from Oregon to Nevada.  Fortunately, we have Goner to remember/acquaint ourselves with the man behind the snarl.  From the punk/thrash brevity of “Rot” and “Bastard Tears” to the more deliberate and crafted “May Day” and “Wraiths,” Early Graves has given us an album’s worth of un-skippable tracks.  Listening to Goner is like being willfully pummeled––when you listen to it, you’re just asking for an aural beating, and Goner will make a masochist out of you.  I’m sure the irony of the band’s seemingly prophetic name isn’t lost on the band during this dismal time.  If you’re able to help with the funeral costs, donations to the Daniels family can be made through PayPal under ripMakhDaniels@gmail.com. –Andrew Roy

El-P
WEAREALLGOINGTOBURNINHELLMEGAMIXXX3
Gold Dust
Street: 08.03
El-P = Lazerbeak + eDit + Blockhead
El-P may be best known as head of Company Flow and founder of Definitive Jux, but he’s mostly focusing on this solo career these days, and it shows in his latest release. This instrumental compilation shows the swarm of ideas that must be mashing around inside this man’s head all the time. These songs are dark and brooding, anger seething under a surface of slick production. Car-alarm melodies, distorted fuzz and evil-robot-digital blips combine over chest-thumping beats. Aside from a remix or two, including Kidz in the Hall’s “Driving Down The Block,” all this music is original and never-before-released. The album sounds like the Fight Club soundtrack, but meaner and set really far in the future. “How to Serve Man” is a frenetic, video-game-esque buzz, while “Honda Redux” is a bombastic booty-shaker complete with laser guns. Fans of solo producers will enjoy this fine example of beats made for beats’ sake. –Rio Connelly

Electric Sunset
Self-titled
K Records
Street: 09.12
Electric Sunset = Miike Snow + Palace of Buddies
I never thought I’d get tired of this style-pulsing, reverberated-to-all-shit-dance-electronica with pop hooksand I’m still not, but it begins to grate a bit. Take this self-titled release: with the advent of easy-to-use music production software, we’re beginning to lose some necessary “real” instrument touches. But Electric Sunset walks that very thin dividing line between real guitar and real keyboards, and the new reality of everything being made in a magic electronic box. 80s synthesizer sensibilities emerge on tracks like “Morning City,” where this San Francisco group’s synth alternates with the sounds of a clean guitar, and that is where this album walks that line the best. I could do without so much vocal reverb, though. Unless you’re very high, it hurts, and the pulsing bass begins to nauseate. Nine tracks isn’t too much, though—glad to see a tight release with concise, precise ideas. –JP

Eternal Summers
Silver
Kanine Records
Street Date: 09.28
Eternal Summers = Au Revoir Simone + Beat Happening
In the middle of what feels sometimes like a weirdo indie-pop season, Eternal Summers lives up to their name with hazy guitar and minimalist drums alongside dreamy vocals best for lazy-ing around the house and soaking up some rays in the backyard. Cheerier than Beach House and less rock n’ roll than Avi Buffalo, Eternal Summers falls somewhere near Fossil Cities' dim guitars and Belle and Sebastian's vibrance. The duo have been compared to indie darlings Beat Happening and the newer Dum Dum Girls with their lo-fi, consistent sound. The title track is solid rock, while tracks like "Salty" and "Eternal" feel like you're floating in the warm ocean without a care in the world. Nicole Yun's voice fills your ears with sugary vocals that carry you gently from song to song, contrasting with the dynamic guitar and punchy drums. They've joked in recent interviews at their "dream-punk" classification, but that's almost an accurate description. More dream than punk, although there's something very punk about their simple, albeit beach-y sounds. The bouncy, sweet songs of Silver are sure to carry you through the rest of summer and help settle you nicely into fall. –Kyla G.

Fake Problems
Real Ghosts Caught on Tape
SideOneDummy
Street: 09.21
Fake Problems = Cursive + The Gaslight Anthem + Against Me!
Ever-willing to evolve and expand their musical style, Fake Problems are back with a new album only 18 months after the release of It’s Great to Be Alive. Real Ghosts Caught on Tape showcases the band as a tightly oiled machine, focused and with a more coherent sound. The delicate, reflective style of Cursive melds with the Springsteen-infused punk of The Gaslight Anthem on opener “ADT,” and it’s the different aspects of those two acts that Fake Problems evokes the most throughout Real Ghosts. The highlight of the album is “Soulless,” which, weirdly, sounds like a long-lost song from a ‘60s girl group, and even more weirdly features backing vocals from Mae Whitman and Alia Shawkat from Arrested Development. Even though Real Ghosts is the most consistent FP release so far, it feels a bit repetitive and lacks some of the excitement and unpredictability of past albums. Even so, I’m still excited to hear everything this band has to offer. (The Depot: 09.16) –Ricky Vigil

Filth
Live the Chaos Reissue
Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club
Street: 06.10
Filth = Submachine + Bullet Treatment + Crass
If there are two things that I’m a sucker for, they’re anarcho-punk and colored vinyl. If you’re anything like me, you know that there seriously is nothing sexier than the pop of dropping the needle onto a fresh, spinning, green slab. Even if this record completely blew, I’d have to give it a positive review just for band’s politics and the color of the wax. Luckily, it definitely doesn’t blow. Originally released on Lookout in 1990, Filth’s debut EP is fast as hell and has that great Bay Area howling sound to it, complete with detuned guitars, charging bass, and plenty of noisy feedback. The lyrics are pretty juvenile, as should be expected (“Do you know what else you can do with that bottle?/You can recycle it/I’ll show you how to do that since you obviously don’t know how”), but it’s pretty endearing, plus Jesse Michaels of Operation Ivy did the artwork. –Nate Perkins

Fleshwrought
Dementia/Dyslexia
Metal Blade
Street: 08.03
Fleshwrought = Animosity + Job for a Cowboy + Meshuggah
This record actually quite surprised me, because I don’t care much for either of its collaborators’ bands—guitarist/drummer/bassist Navene Kopperweis of the defunct San Francisco grindcore crew Animosity and vocalist Jonny Davy of Job for a Cowboy. Fortunately, all Davy lends to the project is his death-grunting, which is nothing really new or fantastic, but it fits with the crunchy tunes that Kopperweis has crafted. Fans of proggy math/tech death metal with some deathcore going on will definitely dig this record—its production is near perfect and the instrumentation is tightly played. It does remind me of the majority of the stuff that Sumerian Records has been churning out, but more challenging of a listen and less tech for the sake of being tech. For as produced as the album sounds, it has a nifty way of delivering some songs with improvised feelings in the lead guitar realm—the jazz-inspired type. Dementia/Dyslexia is stop-and-go rhythms galore and lots of tech guitar work with plenty of electronic experimentation and spacey meandering that adds extra elements, making the record just a tad more unique than the usual suspects. –Bryer Wharton

Frazey Ford
Obadiah
Nettwerk
Street: 07.20
Frazey Ford = Indigo Girls + The Be Good Tanyas
I confess freely that I’ve heard of Canada’s The Be Good Tanyas, but I’ve never actually heard them before. So when band member Frazey Ford’s solo album was received, I was intrigued, but hadn’t actually heard her sing. She is definitely an acquired taste for the uninitiated, and it has taken me a while to warm up to her voice—which is by turns part alt-country, part folk, part bluegrass, part soul—and its uniqueness. Her solo debut has a definite “handmade” approach and appeal to it and at first listen, appears good, but nothing special. Banjo-based lead track, “Firecracker,” is fairly low-tempo and musically, one of the fastest tracks here. “Blue Streak Mama” is highlighted by Ford’s soulful vocals, where she seems intentionally to be matching them with the subtle drumming, intoning “I can’t get used/to the change in you,” her voice slightly overdubbed on itself. At times, the album’s many slower cuts threaten to overwhelm the whole thing, but there are still a few highlights, including the gorgeous “Hey Little Momma” and “Goin’ Over.” Ford’s voice is an acquired taste for certain, but one worth investigating. –Dean O Hillis

Git Some
Loose Control
Alternative Tentacles
Street: 07.20
Git Some = Kyuss + Jesus Lizard
Git Some absolutely dominate. Formed by a couple former members of Planes Mistaken For Stars (who broke up right as they were getting recognized), Git Some makes their break up OK by jumping right in where PMFS left off and improving on their vibe. These pimps make some unbelievable, complex, heavy, dirty music. Loose Control, the band’s second album, makes me want to go to a dive bar, make out with the raunchiest chick I can find, punch the biggest dude in the bar in the face, slam a gallon of whiskey out of a plastic bottle and on my way home, wreck my bike. I love this band. –Jon Robertson

Grand Lake
Blood Sea Dream
Hippies Are Dead
Street: 06.01
Grand Lake = Port O’Brien + Pixies
Oh man, what a fucking waste. All of these potentially awesome songs ruined by this radio-friendly voice and cheesy love lyrics, obviously selling himself to Death Cab For Cutie fans as they open shows for OK Go. The Pixies-esque guitar really paves the way for awesome, catchy-sounding instrumentation, but this Caleb Nichols guy seems really motivated to turn that into a bunch of shitty, polished love songs. It was hard to distinguish whether or not I liked or disliked this album. After a couple of listens, it became clear that the catchy guitar riffs wouldn’t be enough to bring me back to this album. –Cody Hudson

Grass Widow
Past Time
Kill Rock Stars
Street: 08.24
Grass Widow = Neo Boys + The Go-Go’s
Punk rock is not a hard sell to my ears.  The energy alone can be electrifying and exciting, even when the vocals and lyrics are not. Even The Go-Go’s initially were classified as punk before they learned to play and harmonize, and they’ve always carried the “punk” spirit throughout their successful career, proving this genre wasn’t for the boys only.  So why is this release from San Francisco’s all-girl post-punk trio Grass Widow so underwhelming? Bland comes to mind first, followed by repetitive and finally grating.  I’ve spun this album twice and each song sounds exactly the same to my delicate ears. I’ve listened to Stereogum’s recommended track, “Shadow,” and I’ve watched the cool-looking hand-drawn video for “Fried Egg,” but again, they both sound just like the album’s other eight tracks.  Bassist Hannah Lew, drummer Lillian Maring and guitarist Raven Mahon all share the vocal duties and therein lies the biggest problem: None of them can sing very well.  This would be OK if the music was at least memorable, but regrettably, it isn’t.  It is too lumped together to differentiate it track by track and the girls sound like they are still in junior high and have just decided to start a band, but don’t have any talent to match their ambition.  Sorry ladies, but big dreams and instruments do not a successful band make. –Dean O Hillis

I’m In You
I’m In You
Mean Records
Street: 08.02
I’m In You = Past Lives + This Heat + Black Black Ocean
After taking stock of my emotions after listening to this incredibly limp post-punk trio’s sophomore album, I couldn’t decide what I hate the most about I’m In You. It could be the endless waterfall clichéd phrases that spew from singer Chris McHenry’s nasally warble. Incredibly lame phrases like “Blood in our hearts/love on our hands,” and the whole casual violence-as-aphrodisiac thing is a trope that even the lamest screamo bands are growing out of. Horns, which are meant to broaden and deepen the tired post-punk urgency of I’m In You’s boilerplate Wire riffs, only add to the overall grating quality of the music and speak to the group’s “I’m from New York, I can do whatever I want” attitude. I’m In You reach high but fall hard when they attempt the minimalist disco-jam segue. In fact, so does the whole album. –Ryan Hall

Icarus Himself
Mexico EP
Science of Sound
Street: 05.25
Icarus Himself = Spindrift + Neutral Milk Hotel + Palace of Buddies
This is Icarus Himself, the mainly two-piece SOS (Madison, Wis.) group’s follow-up to their 2009 debut full-length Coffins and keep-it-real, kosher, South-of-the-border style. The group keeps the theme of the album humming with organ and mariachi horns. These may sound contradictory, but they jive quite smoothly. The Midwest/folk/psych infusion they supply in only five songs beats the shit out of local and national imitators with their too-long full-lengths. I dig this EP not only for its conciseness, but also the great cover photography/artKarl Christenson’s childhood trip to Mexico (courtesy of what I’m assuming were his father’s photo archives) where Karl excels at a) buying Chiclets from “the natives” on the front cover and b) looking dour/spoiled on the back. This was a great musical morsel. Cheer up, Karl, you made a great album! –JP

Kataklysm
Heaven's Venom
Nuclear Blast
Street: 08.24
Kataklysm = Amon Amarth + Impious + Ex Deo + Hypocrisy
Yep, this is Kataklysm alright. The Montreal-based, self-dubbed “Northern Hyperblast,” groove-based death metal act has definitely gotten comfortable doing what they’re doing. If you like what the band’s been doing since, oh say, the year 2000, you won’t skip a beat with Heaven’s Venom. Actually, you might be more enamored with this than the band’s last couple releases, Prevail and In the Arms of Devastation. There are plenty of deathcore acts that owe Kataklysm some dues because they’ve ripped the band off again and again. I take solace and a lot of satisfaction in the fact that the band has made a success of utilizing crushingly heavy, death metal-style breakdowns, not the silly hardcore ones. Sometimes I want something that is cleanly heavy and not overly intricate—not saying Heaven’s Venom is simple at all; it just resounds in your head easily and is definitely something worth going back to (the two aforementioned albums weren’t). Where those albums seemed to tread a bunch of water with really similar-sounding tracks, Heaven’s Venom disperses a nice amount of melodies and much faster speeds, harkening back to the days of Epic and Shadows and Dust. –Bryer Wharton

Knights of the New Crusade
Knight Vision
Alternative Tentacles
Street: 08.24
Knights of the New Crusade = Lamps + 13th Floor Elevators + The Clearways
I’m gonna knock Jello Biafra in the kisser the next time I run into him. First, Alternative Tentacles charges twenty-two dollars for the latest Star Fucking Hipsters LP right when it comes out, and now they’ve gone and signed these morons. Knights of the New Crusade are a bunch of fundamentalist Christians famous for their controversial songs about the immoral evils of homosexuality and the near-certainty of scorching hellfire sometime in the not-so-distant future. Although musically this is some great garage/psych (minus the vocals, which are constantly off-key and plagued by some weird speech impediment—an allusion to Moses, perhaps?), I absolutely hate everything these assholes are doing, all of which they do without even the slightest hint of irony. With constant Bible-quoting and song titles like “He Stands and Knocks at the Door” and “God is Not a Mushroom,” this album is entertaining, sure, but I would die before I called it “good.” –Nate Perkins

Magic Kids
Memphis
True Panther
Street: 08.24
Magic Kids = Barbaras + Rubinoos + Ronettes
I was pretty worried that Memphis, the first full-length album by the Magic Kids, wouldn’t measure up to the catchy greatness of the “Hey Boy” single that came out on Goner Records last year, but it very much does. Every song is flawless (or close to it—there are a couple weird synth bonks in there), and recorded in a style heavily influenced by Phil Spector. Actually, just to say that Magic Kids are influenced by Phil Spector doesn’t convey the level of worship that’s happening here. The album is a wall of poppy, garage sound filled out not only by the usual guitar/bass/drums, but also by strings, sleigh bells, flute, piano, keyboard, and layers upon layers of heart-melting harmonies. The ending track, “Cry With Me, Baby,” has my vote for one of the best songs of 2010. Singer Bennett Foster very truthfully and humbly described the album when he said, “It sounds pretty magical.” (Kilby: 09.13) –Nate Perkins

Menomena
Mines
Barsuk
Street: 07.27
Menomena = Born Ruffians + The Beta Band  + The Flaming Lips
Mines is the eagerly anticipated follow-up to Menomena’s 2007 record, Friend and Foe.  While the same density of layers, attention to dynamics, and creative approach are there, the record feels less cut-and-paste and a little more bluesy than the last.  Bass, drums, guitar, keys, and sometime saxophone all play in the making of walls of sound that suddenly become sparse, echoey vocal breaks with dreamy melodies. This record doesn’t shimmer, it thumps and crashes while still remaining both vast and intimate.  “Dirty Cartoons” is reminiscent of the best of the last record and “TAOS” is pretty straightforward rocker complete with self-conscious swagger and snarling guitar.  The songs on this record are all a little more cohesive than the last, being less a collaboration of ideas than a focused writing effort.  These guys take complete control of their music, playing, recording and mixing every part—even designing and producing most of the album artwork themselves.  I can only hope more bands like Menomena spring up, creating new sounds and techniques instead of just more of the same. –Rio Connelly

Mondo Topless
Freaking Out
Get Hip Recordings
Street: 07.31
Mondo Topless = The Seeds + The Cynics + The Animals + Iggy Pop and the Stooges + Ramones + The Rolling Stones
Freaking Out lives up to its name and ignites our innate, spastic, rock n’ roll dance firebug. “Magic Potion” emits a certain minor-mode evil, yet retains the garage rock boogie germ, as its chorus line evinces: “How do you feel?/I feel fine.” Mondo Topless shines with their varying tempos and rhythmic sensibility—drummer Steve Thrash’s tom-drumming in “Get Me to the World On Time” gets that booty bumpin’ just as easily as “Get Low,” and the double-time speed-up in “Gonna Find a Cave” propels the song’s momentum thrillingly forward. The album does kind of get off to a slow start with the first two tracks—the opener sounds somewhat like a late-80s family sitcom theme, and “I Ain’t Dead Yet,” although good, doesn’t deliver the initial speed we’re looking for. Pound for pound, though, Mondo Topless have put in the man-hours to get your party movin’ and a’groovin’. –Alexander Ortega

The Morlocks
The Morlocks Play Chess
Popantipop
Street: 08.24
The Morlocks = The Sonics + Los Saicos + Howlin’ Wolf
This is probably the greatest idea ever. Take a whisky-soaked garage outfit that’s been honing their craft for a solid 25 years and record them playing 12 of the grittiest, most terrifying tunes to ever shape the face of rock n’ roll. I mean, these are songs by Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, and the rest of those Chess Records dudes. (Aah! Get the title now?) Absolute classics. I mean, don’t get me wrong. This thing isn’t flawless. The production is a little too goofy to let these songs meet their potential bad-assery, and of course you’d be better off tracking down and listening to the original recordings, but this is a fun record. The band is good, and the songs are simple and fast. This is American blues and rock n’ roll at its wildest and most dangerous. –Nate Perkins

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band
Where the Messengers Meet
Dead Oceans
Street: 08.03
Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band = Evangelicals + Crystal Antlers + Wolf Parade (2008-2010)
I joined my first and only band at age 16. I played a Casio keyboard called the rapman and tried to play some primitive riffs on a guitar. Needless to say, I was pretty proud of myself. By the time Seattle’s MSHVB’s second album will be released on Dead Oceans, drummer Marhall Verdoes will be 15. This kid can destroy a drumset. In fact, his steady backbeat and occasionally thrilling triplets form the backbone of MSHVB’s swirling, classic-rock inspired pastiche of dueling-guitar/Moog organ psychedelia and grandiose chamber-pop. Kind of makes you feel like you’ve wasted your life, huh? Just keep in mind the age disparity between Marshall and 28-year-old bandleader and older brother Benjamin Verdoes is more than a decade. Where the Messengers Meet is full of twisting, turning melodies and start-stop song dynamics that sound endlessly assured, confident and playful, yet a little sad. (Urban: 09.11) –Ryan Hall

NYMPH
Self-Titled
Social Registry
Street: 09.28
NYMPH = Gang Gang Dance + I.U.D. + Spell Talk
Any intro to an album that contains tambourines, bells, primal screams and Hendrix-inspired guitar like this deserves many late-night listens. Some might discount this music as some sort of shit “noise rock,” but isn’t all rock noisy? Rhetorical/uninspired questions aside, the vocalizing on intro track “ii-Yo” (the Romanization of the aforementioned “primal scream”) is so well-complemented by the guitar and tribal-inspired drums on this track that more traditional lyrics are easily forgotten—all you need is one phrase, apparently. A certain mind frame makes all music of this sort go down easier—specifically, for tracks over seven minutes long (three out of the five total on this album). And thank holy fuck there are some longer cuts here—the jazz saxophone exploration on “Reeds of Osirion” needs at least the six minutes allotted. This label is one of Brooklyn’s finest, and their pedigree of bands, like Gang Gang Dance, Sian Alice Group and Pyschic Ills, is only improved by the addition of NYMPH. –JP

Profanatica
Disgusting Blasphemies Against God
Hells Headbangers
Street: 08.31
Profanatica = Sarcofago + Blasphemy + Black Witchery
New Profanatica, three years in the making—is it worth the wait and praise? Shit, yes, DBAG is over the-top blasphemic and pissed-as-shit, not only in its raw black metal glories, but in its huge, bottom-end bass guitar and drum assault that pierces ears like a sewing machine relentlessly running over them. There are purposely many moments of the album’s songs that make a point to crap all over what could be considered a melody. Not to mention the album has songs titled “Smashing Religious Fucking Statues,” “Fuck the Blood of the Lamb,” and “ Pious Piece of Shit,” to name a few. It’s purposely raw and intense, and while lyrically, it may seem a bit silly, the man behind Profanatica at the moment, Paul Ledney, doesn’t sound like he’s trying too hard to deliver his utmost hatred and anger right smack in your face. Said anger is one of the main points of Profanatica—to offend not only the mainstream, but offer listeners the chance to say fuck it all and just blast it the hell out. Profanatica are already underground heroes and DBAG is one massive, brutal overdose of raw negativity in audio madness: Own it. –Bryer Wharton

Queens of the Stone Age
Rated R 10th Anniversary Reissue
Interscope
Street: 08.03
QOSTA = David Bowie + Tool + Stone Temple Pilots
Reissued in a two-disc deluxe edition with such dandy bells and whistles as live tracks from the Reading Festival and some sweet B-Sides, frontman Josh Homme’s tracks still hold up 10 years later.  My introduction to QOTSA came with Songs For The Deaf, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear the darker and more widely branching musical reach of Rated R.  The Reading Festival tracks are all right, but they didn’t exactly leave me crying for more.  I found them difficult to listen to, since there are better-quality mixes of the live tracks on the first CD (although “Better Living Through Chemistry” stands out in the live tracks once the crowd decides to stop trying to keep a beat). The true gems of the bonus second CD are the B-Sides.  Covers of the likes of Romeo Void’s “Never Say Never” and The Kinks’ “Who’ll Be The Next In Line” caught my attention right away.  Homme’s vocal style is interesting and fun, while the QOTSA-driven riffs add an unexpected intensity to the songs that I wouldn’t have expected. Rated R combines an older-sounding jam sound with heavy, repetitive riffs. The two are melded together to create an insane climactic build that is hard not to take note of. –Ben Trentelman

Rakaa
Crown Of Thorns
Decon
Street: 07:20
Rakaa = Dilated Peoples + The Roots
This is Rakaa's first solo venture and with time put into it and a plethora of guest spots, it’s extremely well executed. The guest appearance list boasts Mad Lion, KRS One, Evidence, Fashawn, Aloe Blacc, Chali 2na, Defari, and Krondon. With a list like that, you will not be getting any number of repetitive songs or any lack of fresh. I really enjoyed the down-to-earth feel on songs “Human Nature” and “Aces High.” Surprisingly, I had a few people complain to me about this record, saying they expected more from it. The record is solid and gives variety to the masses, while holding a clean base of beat guests and flow. Whether or not that suits the needs of the ferocious, egotistical hip-hop-heads who think they know better, it really shouldn't matter. It’s a pretty all-around dope record with bounce meaning and stability. My hats off to Rakaa on this one. –Bethany Fischer

The Reactionaries
1979
Water Under the Bridge
Street: 02.20
The Reactionaries = The Minutemen + San Pedro, Calif. + a different singer
I remember the first time I heard the Minutemen. I couldn’t figure out how they were playing their instruments so fast. I wasn’t sure that what they were doing was even punk rock. I wasn’t alone in my confusion—this was a common reaction when the band crawled out of San Pedro in the early 1980s. They seemed to arrive fully formed, completely different from everyone else, and without a single misstep. This record by the Reactionaries is an incredible historical document, and it fills in some of the early musical story of the Minutemen. The only personnel difference between the two bands is the Reactionaries’ addition of singer Martin Tamburovich. This disc is 10 songs taken from a practice tape made in the shed behind George Hurley’s house in 1979. The sound is rough, but we are able to see the early, more traditional punk leanings of the future Minutemen. After Tamburovich left the band to take a more managerial position at New Alliance Records, the band became the Minutemen. Having already fulfilled their punk rock fantasies, the band proceeded to branch off into classic 70s rock and even John Coltrane-style jazz, all the while keeping up a punk vibe. After D. Boon’s death in 1985, Hurley and Mike Watt went on to form fIREHOSE. In addition to the remastered 10-track demo, the disc also includes newly recorded versions of the songs by Watt and other musicians who are or have been important to San Pedro. The players represent bands like the Secondmen, Black Flag and Saccharine Trust. For upstart Pedro record label Water Under the Bridge, this is one hell of a first release. –James Bennett

Secret Colours
Self-titled
Self-released
Street: 07.13
Secret Colours = Stone Roses + The Dandy Warhols
I am pretty sure that the psychedelic Brit rock revival happened about 14 years ago and when that revival happened way back when, it was annoying as hell. But apparently, in Chicago, where the Secret Colours are based, it doesn’t matter that you re-hash some shit-ass revival that was bogus in the first place. Secret Colours sound like The Brian Jonestown Massacre took a kaleidoscopic poop and called it a cover band. This band should have only been invented as a joke for the Austin Powers movies, but sadly, they are a real band and it kind of makes me want to cry. –Jon Robertson

Street Dogs
Self-Titled
Hellcat
Street: 08.31
Street Dogs = Swingin’ Utters + Billy Bragg + Slapshot
The Street Dogs always manage to build from great record to great record, and without fail, outdo themselves with each one. Mike McColgan and the boys have put together an 18-track punk rock epic, which ranges from the heavy folk elements of “Harpo” to the hardcore attack of “Too Much Info,” but at its core, this record is pure punk rock exemplified by the ‘77 sounds of “In Stereo.” The fifth record in seven years, the Dogs aren’t wasting any time, showing a bold new maturity to incorporate different genres without losing an ounce of energy. The message, as it has been from the beginning, is the struggle of the working class, of ordinary people who face difficulties forging a life for themselves. Songs like “Up the Union” make a call for those who go to work everyday to stand up and reclaim their rights in this country. Easily the best entry to an already exemplary catalogue, the Street Dogs are at the top of their game. The Street Dogs will be bringing their live show to Club Sound Oct. 22, and fans of punk rock need to be there. –James Orme

Sundowner
We Chase the Waves
Asian Man
Street: 08.10
Sundowner = Chris Wollard + Mike Hale + Frank Turner
I’m generally pretty supportive when the members of a band I like embark on side projects, but goddammit, The Lawrence Arms haven’t toured for three years and haven’t made a new album in four years and it’s starting to piss me off. With that out of the way, I must admit that I’m really enjoying the new album from Sundowner, the acoustic alter-ego of TLA’s Chris McCaughan. As the more introspective vocalist of the Midwestern masters of gritty pop-punk, McCaughan’s songwriting is well-suited to the stripped-down style employed on We Chase the Waves. The first Sundowner album, Four One Five Two, never quite clicked for me—not sure if it was the slightly unorganic production or the complete lack of Cormac McCarthy and Happy Days references—but McCaughan sounds like he’s genuinely having fun on We Chase the Waves. Highlights include the relaxed, swaying style of “Araby,” slow-burning opener “In the Flicker,” and “Jewel of the Midwest,” which better show up with amps a-blazin’ on the next Lawrence Arms album. This is strictly for fans, but if you like the Larrys, you’ll eat this up. –Ricky Vigil

Trigger the Bloodshed
Degenerate
Candlelight
Street: 08.24
Trigger the Bloodshed = Decrepity + Vader + Job for a Cowboy + Nile
For the sake of this album, it’s a good thing I’ve actually listened to and reviewed every record the UK’s Trigger the Bloodshed have put out since their 2008 debut, Purgation, and its follow-up, The Great Depression, because the growth of the band is strongly heard. The first two albums were decent brutal death with deathcore instances, but nothing ever fully memorable. Degenerate ditches any notion of the deathcore and comes out all guns blazing brutal death, basically doing the turnabout that Job for a Cowboy did, and if you like what that band did, you’re going to like this a lot better. Degenerate digs its heels in from the get-go; this is easily the band’s best album yet. The songwriting is much more diversified than on previous efforts, which just felt like blasting for the sake of blasting, with no direction. Degenerate has direction and some technicality intermingled. My main gripe is the death growling stays a bit redundant and reluctant to push more power than it truly could. If you like your death metal produced and polished, Degenerate is a safe bet. –Bryer Wharton

Tristania
Rubicon
Napalm
Street: 08.31
Tristania = Theatre of Tragedy + Sirenia + Trail of Tears
Norway’s Tristania may not have come up with the idea of the beauty-and-the-beast style (operatic beautiful female vocals and gruff, growled male vocals) of gothic metal, but they sure perfected and made it popular. Rubicon is the band’s first album in three years, and the last two, Ashes and Illumination, kind of skidded by below my radar. I listened to them, but they were fairly forgettable in comparison to the greatness of their debut and 1999’s Beyond the Veil. Rubicon is a fair culmination of all of the band’s explored styles; it’s definitely more focused in the standard guitar/bass/drum structures than utilizing lots of keyboards. There’s quite a bit more diversity displayed on Rubicon as compared to prior offerings—the songs feel fresh and awesomely new to explore, and they stick in your head well after the album is done. The band and vocalists feel very much in tune with each other, all playing off one another’s strengths, crafting layered melodies as well as some darkened and heavy portions. It’s all very intoxicating and attention-engrossing. I had passed Tristania off years ago as a has-been act, but this album has renewed the spark of enjoyment I initially had for the band. –Bryer Wharton

Wavves
King of the Beach
Fat Possum
Street: 08.03
Wavves = Black Lips + Blank Dogs + Ariel Pink in fast-forward + Brian Wilson
King of the Beach is the Ramones’ End of the Century for the Internet age. Both albums resulted from an accomplished producer taking a much-lauded sophomoric punk band under his wing and into a fancy studio to polish the band’s rough edges and produce a classic pop album. The vitriol between Wavves’ Nathan Williams and Beach producer Dennis Herring (who produced Modest Mouse, The Hives, etc.) wasn’t quite as acidic as that between Phil Spector and Johnny Ramone, but it was there—Williams has said there were some “wring-your-neck-type moments.” Unfortunately, unlike Century-era Ramones, Wavves doesn’t have four albums under their belt, and Williams’ writing abilities aren’t ready to be exposed from under the bong residue caking the laptop on which he recorded previous albums (which are really great). Beach will introduce plenty of new listeners to Wavves, but it’s a bit of a sissy letdown for fans of raw punk rock. –Nate Martin

Women
Public Strain
Jagjaguwar
Street: 09.28
Women = Caribou + No Age
This album does a great job of making you love an ugly song. Each track a different shade of gray, every indie-pop song is hidden under a sea of static next to a forest of fuzz. The songs are really well written and the white-noise aspect of it makes the songs more endearing and turns the flaws (droning voice) into interesting and enjoyable characteristics. Most of the noise-rock bands I have heard are far more aggressive than this, which makes these slow fuzz-pop songs that much more enjoyable. Nobody likes No Age the first time they see them—this album is sort of like that, but worth a few listens to get past it. –Cody Hudson