Author: R.G.B. Robb

matt vanaria matt vanaria album cover

matt vanaria matt vanaria album coverMatt Vanaria
Self-Titled

Self-Released
Street: 02.25
Matt Vanaria = Goo Goo Dolls + Hinder + Fuel

After listening to Matt Vanaria and his self-titled E.P. of rock music, I had the strangest feeling—ambivalence. I don’t hate the record, but it’s not that I exactly love the record, either. The talent level there is needed for this brand of rock (which is pretty commercial) the guitar playing fits well within the style, the rhythm section is solid and although Vanaria’s voice does have power behind it, there are points where it does become suspect. I know he’s in the right key, but there’s something “not right” about it—however, this doesn’t happen all that often. The one thing I know for sure is that there are moments where Vanaria showed signs of trying to break out of the realm of music that you have probably heard on the radio before, but he always seems to stop short of realizing those directions. Follow them. –R.G.B. Robb

Ossatura – Self-Titled

Ossatura

Ossatura
Self-Titled

Self-Released
Street: 03.13
Ossatura = Motionless In White + Iron Maiden

Ossatura’s self-released, self-titled EP is the epitome of bad production wrecking an otherwise good album. Musically, with what they are trying to accomplish, they have all the trademarks needed to be a good representative of their sound, which is a somewhat melodically progressive metalcore unit. Their musicianship and songwriting isn’t the issue here. It’s the fact that the mix and production are off. One guitar is barely audible, the bass comes in loud at times and then disappears into the abyss, and the clean vocals are so loud that they sound out of place—I could go on, but why? Having seen the band live previously—and knowing that when the mix is right and dense, these guys have an extremely heavy sound—and then listening to the release where everything sounds sterile is heartbreaking. Perhaps a live release wouldn’t be a bad idea at this point. –R.G.B. Robb

Sick of Sarah Anthem EP

Sick of Sarah Anthem EPSick of Sarah
Anthem EP

Self-Released
Street: 06.30
Sick Of Sarah = Blink 182 + Josie and the Pussycats

Anthem by Minnesota’s Sick of Sarah is easily the most appropriately titled album of the year so far. Every one of their songs has an upbeat tempo with feel-good riffs that would have been HUGE in the late ’90s. Well … this isn’t the ’90s, and to be honest, upbeat is the ONLY emotion you will get on this album. Every track sounds like a derivative of every mediocre band putting out bland, safe rock tunes. The music contains the anthemic choruses that sell and follows such a “paint-by-numbers” formula that if the emotional content of the music were paint, then the completed artwork would be monochromatic. Overall, this is an album that would work wonders for a spoiled teenager who ran out of anti-depressants … or those who are enamored by the generic. –R.G.B. Robb

Six-Feet-Under-Crypt-Devil album cover

Six-Feet-Under-Crypt-Devil album coverSix Feet Under
Crypt of the Devil

Metal Blade Records
Street: 05.05
Six Feet Under = True Carnage–era Six Feet Under – Ice-T + Cannabis Corpse + Anata

When it was revealed that the Six Feet Under album Crypt Of The Devil was written entirely by vocalist Chris Barnes and Phil Hall from Cannabis Corpse (with Hall playing all rhythm guitars and bass on the recording), I was extremely excited. I am pleased to say that all of my lofty expectations were met AND exceeded. Although Six Feet Under have crafted a definitive sound in the death metal genre over their 20-plus years, which is still present as the base musical construct of their pieces, this album is far and above more technically proficient than anything they’ve done before. Fusing chugging tempos that carry a heavy groove with arpeggios that lift their unyielding brutality to new heights, Crypt of the Devil is an album that fans of death metal (even those who have never really liked the band before) cannot afford to miss. –R.G.B. Robb

I Capture Castle – Daydreamer

I Capture Castle
Daydreamer

Self-Released
Street: 06.06
I Capture Castle = Cavalera Conspiracy + Blood On The Dance Floor + Danny Elfman + Leaves’ Eyes

When bands fuse different musical genres together, it’s always a mixed bag. Sometimes it can be utterly amazing (like some of the jazz/rock fusion songs penned by Frank Zappa), or sometimes it’s dubious at best (like rap/metal à la Limp Bizkit). Daydreamer has moments of both grand declaration, and others that should have been left off. Musically, the best elements on the record happen when they are able to fuse brutal, groove/thrash–influenced metal with pieces that are very cinematic and sound like they could appear on any number of Tim Burton films, along with certain melodic structures that fit with many bands of the male/female vocal juxtaposition variety. Really, the only songs on the album that don’t fit are the ones with heavy electronic elements, especially the song “Paradox Personified.” This is an album for the metalhead looking for something definitely not “run-of-the-mill.” –R.G.B. Robb

Catholic Girls
Distant 7” E.P.
Crown and Throne Ltd.
Street: 02.07.14
Catholic Girls = Scum + Black Flag + Sonic Youth (early ’90s) 

Distant is a complete whirlwind of insanity that will satisfy anyone with an adventurous appetite for all things which are filled with chaos and rage. Denver-based Catholic Girls and their E.P. Distant take the extreme, and sometimes blackened-metal elements of Scum and add a hardcore element to the songwriting you could find in early Black Flag albums. On the tracks "Sorry City," and "1996," the songs pick up a slowed tempo reliant on dissonance and odd chord pro-gressions that has the flavor of Dirty-era Sonic Youth. The album certainly ends on a high note with the track "Piston." A song that is able to combine all the aforementioned elements into one ball that definitely leaves the album lingering with you for a while after listening to it. To be honest, the only complaint I have about the album is its length. I really wish there was more. –R.G.B. Robb

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Suburban Birds – Self-Titled

Suburban Birds – Self-Titled

Suburban Birds
Self-Titled

Self-Released
Street: 05.20
Suburban Birds = Radiohead + Tame Impala + Smash Mouth

To say that Salt Lake City’s Suburban Birds and their amazing self-released, self-titled EP is just a heavily shoegaze-influenced indie-rock album would be fairly accurate. However, that basic description leaves out so much more. You could also include the entire Time Life’s Sounds Of The Sixties collection as an influence on their music—portions of their songs have a distinct Hawkwind feel (“Awakening”), with some tracks adding a bit of The Beatles flavor (“Losing Your Senses”), while others include elements of ’60s R&B (“Goodbye Goodbye”). Yet, at the root of all of their songs are spacey, dreamlike effects funneled through modern alt-rock. Look, I could make comparisons all day, but if you like music that’s a modern take on dreamy ’60s rock, then just go out and buy it … today. I’ll wait. –R.G.B. Robb

Liturgy 
The Ark Work 
Thrill Jockey
Street: 03.24
Liturgy = Fantômas + Mannheim Steamroller + Merzbow + Marilyn Manson + Sisters Of Mercy + Deep Purple + Philip Oakey
 
Wikipedia states that Brooklyn’s Liturgy are black metal. Although, on the song “Reign Away”—coincidentally the best track on the album—there are moments that hint at that genre, their album The Ark Work, as a whole, barely resembles any of the traits shared with other bands that would be considered black metal. With that said, I found the music on The Ark Work to be incredibly interesting. A majority of the album sounds like what I call “Christmas in Hell.” Musically, it combines Delìrium Còrdia–era Fantômas with Mannheim Steamroller and noisescapes reminiscent of Merzbow using bagpipes and horns. Other tracks range from that of Deep Purple–type organ, to Sisters Of Mercy new-wave gloom, all with a Philip Oakey–type vocals. Overall, it’s a great record (except “Vitriol,” which is really out of place here), and one I highly recommend for those looking for a new musical adventure. –R.G.B. Robb
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The Adarna
How Perceptive 
Soundgate Records
Street: 04.24
The Adarna = Flickerstick + early ’80s U2 + The Killers
 
Although most permutations of pop music are not a main construct of my wheelhouse, I must say the tasty slabs provided by Seattle’s The Adarna are pop enough to provide for at least one or two sing-along moments for EVERY SONG, but never go so sugary as to make their album How Perceptive unpalatable after a few listens (which was evident by the fact that I spun the album six times in a row upon first examination). There are rock elements from early ’90s Seattle found on songs like “Sugar” and portions of “Superman,” which are found in two different forms on the album—both “rock” and “acoustic” versions—each of which sound different enough to not make the listener feel they’ve been subjected to “rehash.” Considering the fact that How Perceptive is a debut, I am hoping that my only complaint about the album (not enough music) will be rectified the next time around. (Kilby: 07.17) –RGB Robb
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Hollow Tongue
Time/Death
Crown and Throne Ltd.
Street: 10.03.14
Hollow Tongue = Napalm Death + Cult Leader + Extreme Noise Terror
 
Time/Death by Hollow Tongue is a grindcore album that I have formed a very strong love/hate relationship with. With five songs and a total running time of a little over nine minutes, it hits you hard and fast. From blast-beat metal to doom-like dirge, this album is extreme in every sense of the word. But these extremes do provide a double-edged sword. Although the time and tempo changes are very abrupt, they do follow a distinct pattern: Going from fast to slow, to fast to slow, a little dirgey riff, then it starts over and never really branches out from this equation. The only song that breaks the pattern is "Absolution." It’s a song that starts with eerie soundscapes, then leads to some amazing riffs which shows that when this band breaks out of its pattern, it can come up with something really intense and amazing. –RGB Robb
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