Last Response
Have You No Sense of Direction? EP

Last Response = AFI + Taking Back Sunday + Sunny Day Real Estate

Yes, I never thought I’d put AFI and Taking Back Sunday in the same equation, either, let alone Sunny Day, but once you hear Last Response, you’ll hear what I mean. Sanguine anthems saturated with big, juicy melodic hooks, reverb, choice guitar-plucking, perfectly-in-tune harmonizing and some punk overtones make this slow-paced emo offering palatable, with no annoying pretentiousness and whiny vocals to give your mind a nice case of shingles. For someone who despises emo, that’s saying a lot. Their big, washy-ish sound is probably due in large part to lead guitarist Gregg Hale, who used to be a guitarist in Spiritualized—(yes, that Spiritualized; he lived in England for four years in the late 90s). I’m excited about what Last Response will have to offer in their promising future. Don’t miss their CD release Oct. 29.

Aaron Cole - Aorotica

Aaron Cole

Aaron Cole = The Prodigy + Clover


With Aarotica, Aaron Cole, who has been involved in local projects for over a decade, blends repetitive electronic beats with dub and drum and bass with soft alt-rock and world music, resulting in an infectious dance mix for a party of monstrous proportions, or maybe just something to lose yourself in while soaking in Calgon. “Yesterday’s Darling” is the best track due to the great beats, followed closely by “Seduction,” “Bite Me” and The Prodigy-ish “On Drugz.” Gritty is better than pretty.

Tragic Black - The Sixx Premonitions

Tragic Black
The Sixx Premonitions

Tragic Black = Cinema Strange + The Cadavers

Sociopolitical death rock never tasted so good. Tragic Black is back with this six-song EP, recorded at Arrogant Hipster Studios, which is tighter, crisper and boasts more cohesive production than Articulate Lacerations. The songwriting has also progressed a lot; the guitar riffs seem chunkier, more intricate and interesting while the drum programming has become more complex and intense. Through pure passion, the band, in true punk fashion, appeal to your gut instinct and ability to think. That passion and sincerity is what sets them apart, and what has given them their international underground cult status. Believe this: Tragic Black will continue to change the world.

The Second Opinion - Flesh Except DustThe Second Opinion
Flesh Except Dust

Second Opinion = Mayhem + Burzum + Aodl + Ramsses + Skullflowers

I think with a name like Second Opinion, I was expecting West Valley nü-metal crap trying to redeem itself with second-rate female vocals. O how far from the truth. Open your arms to chilling industrial/noise that seems to extract the essence of the soul of blackest black metal then mixes it with strangely beautiful background keys, distorted Labyrinth Ludo vocals and plenty of fizz and dripping static. Burzum would be proud, but then again, so would Ministry. “Bleed, Burn & Break” is my favorite


Eden’s Watchtower
DulceSky = The Cure + Violet Run – Nirvana worship

Once again, DulceSky have delivered a glazed-honey concoction of dense, multi-layered goth-tinged shoegazer; a smooth, dark glide down a river with no reflection, like Ophelia’s ride to her final resting place. The female harmonies are especially potent on Media-Luna, and the naked piano breathes a melancholy caress into the atmospheric clouds of floating music that cling to your skin with all the tenderness of oscillating dewdrops. The feline yowling on “The Cats are Sleeping” is priceless. DulceSky’s fondness of EPs makes sense—they can say more in five songs than most bands do in 10. Media-Luna is gorgeously packaged and designed via digipack, and the title track is sung in Spanish and English, so you can choose your flavor. However, there’s one thing that requires no decision: DulceSky.

Ryan Boud - Falling Stars

Ryan Bound
Falling Stars

Ryan Boud = Jade Tree + acoustic guitar + Gathering Osiris


Ryan Boud probably wants to be signed, but he already sounds like he’s on a label—the packaging, production and delivery of his music is pretty much Pollyanna perfect. Bitterness against perfect-aspiring people aside, Ryan Boud’s songwriting is quite impressive if generic. Melancholy emo-folk fleshed out with acoustic guitar strumming, laid-back drumming and simple bass brings to mind Dashboard Confessional without all the whining. This basic backbone is garnished with a touch of The Elected alt-country and a tickle of Sunfall Festival’s Provo Mo rock. The best part of Falling Stars is the instrument arrangements which include chimes and strings, and are like, better than any I’ve heard locally.

 Gigi Love - Turning to Gold

Gigi Love
Turning to Gold

Gigi Love = Gina French + Lucinda Williams + Sheryl Crow

You know, it’s always nice when people write old-fashioned handwritten notes. Thanks, Gigi. Bittersweet alt-country goes down smooth as warm buttered rum, or better yet, buttered rum Lifesavers. Everything on this album is so perfectly written, executed and produced that there’s nothing left for me to criticize. Gigi is touring Europe this spring and was featured on Mountain Dew’s latest compilation. Dan Thomas from Tolchock Trio played drums on Turning to Gold, and I heard a crazy rumor that Bill Frost played some of the guitar parts. My favorite tracks are “Baja Blue,” “Dali on Fire” and “Goodbye Arcata.”Gigi Love

Victrola - 5-Song demo

5-Song demo

Victrola = Mission of Burma + Pinback


SLUG got 5-Song Demo by Victrola for a Sabbathon demo in June but it’s so hot I took the liberty of reviewing it anyway. Down-home original indie rock like Dinosaur Jr. blends with a pinch of modern indie-rock jangle like Trail of the Dead, Pinback, or even Sleater-Kinney (maybe cause o’ the intriguing female vocals in track #2 and #4). A hint of the intense, accessible moods of Sugar are here too.


Invisible Rays
Black Hole Dynamo

Shit Hot Records
Invisible Rays = Melvins + War of the Worlds + Thee Soda Jerks


Invisible Rays, formed from members of Ogden nemeses The Debonairs and The Igniters, strip down to drums, keyboards and bass; nakedly harking back to a dirtier, dronier version of Girls Against Boys mixed with a tadpole amount of Melvins punk heaviness and spirit of non-compromise, especially in “Scorpius X1.” The droning is the best part—choppy, non-changing keys switching off with choppy, non-changing bass kind of reminds of locals The Horns and new major-label investment The Zutons. Invisible Rays have the space-themed B-movie eclecticism of certain old garage bands but with a modern sound. “Illuminator” is my least favorite song; aforementioned “Scorpius XI” my favorite.

Thrashcorps - Self-TitledThrashcorps

Thrashcorps = Danzig + Apocalypse Theater + Carnaval + Ichi the Killer

There’s something really untamed, scary, twisted and sick about Thrashcorps’ (formerly Absinthe) brutal take on the world, and I don’t scare easily, señors. Lo-fi metal combines with hard rock to make a crusty, blistery, bubbly poison potion that will fry your skin off and slowly bore through your bones. Crunchy, chunky riffs with grapeshot drumming will make you feel like you’re debarking at Normandy. Quiet guitar-picking spells quell the battle with resigned despair.