National CD Reviews – January 2009

A. Armada
Anam Cara
Hello Sir Records
Street: 01.09
A. Armada = Explosions in the Sky + Red Sparowes + MONO
Post-rock seems to be gospel for some musicians and those few rarely become brave enough to break the long-running traditions that have sustained this vein of music. A. Armada stayed true to the basic fundamentals (such as having ridiculously long song titles) and put together a comfortable five-song album in the process. From the music wonderland that is Athens, Ga., the quartet shares members with Cinemechanica and Maserati. Fans of sympathetic, straightforward, guitar-heavy instrumental rock will be won over by this album. Unlike their contemporaries, A. Armada keep their songs short and accessible, only one of them clocking in at longer than six minutes, which makes Anam Cara a pleasant, facile listen. That song is the most dynamic track: the alluring “Into Days & Nights & Years & Months.” Unfortunately, the whole album being only 27 minutes in overall length leaves much to be desired and a lot of territory unexplored. –Ryan Sanford

The Ability
Be Still
Mediaskare Records
Street: 11.11
The Ability = Taking Back Sunday + Further Seems Forever
While The Ability have the actual ability to make good music, I don’t think they are quite there yet. Be Still showcases the bands’ talents, namely, the darkly orchestrated soft-to-heavy melodic singing and screaming backed by equally dark music. Don’t get me wrong, this is no goth album, but it is very somber and serious in its sound and overall vibe. These Chicago friends play well together and know how to arrange their tunes, but in the end, it’s just not enough to get excited about. Be still, The Ability show promise and could be a band to watch in the future. –Jeremy C. Wilkins

Street: 11.11
Adversary = In Flames + Arsis + At the Gates
I opened the mail and lo and behold, there was another release from Trustkill Records. It seems like the worse the label, the more albums I get from them. This is Hell aside; there isn’t anything else recently released by Trustkill that warrants a second glance. Well, color me surprised, but this album is solid. This is Adversary’s first release, but it’s a good metal record through and through. Some might not be fans of the clean vocals, but I like the way they fit; not sounding as forced or contrived as many of their peers. The music is straight-up Americanized melodic death metal and it works. Although fairly predictable, it’s free of hardcore crossover breakdowns and has some great dueling melodic guitar solos. It will be interesting to see if Adversary garners more attention than the typical metal band, being that they are on an historically hardcore-related label. –Peter Fryer

The American Black Lung
Good Vibrations 7”
1912 Records
Street: 10.02
The American Black Lung = old rock n’ roll + punk sensibilities
Imagine a basement crammed with 100 rowdy kids, a four-piece raging ball of raw rockin’ and kegs complete with empty party cups. Sound sweaty? Now imagine it in one of the most God-awful hellholes of the American armpit: southwest, Tucson, Ariz. The American Black Lung exemplifies that sweltering city of suburban sprawl with a dirt-smeared smile (chew and missing teeth included). The only problem with the offering is that it’s only three songs. As soon as the groove starts picking you up by yer boots, it ends. Hopefully, this is just a taste of what’s to come for TABL. The Good Vibrations 7” is the band’s 1912 Records debut, as their primary record label, Uprising Records (I Am The Ocean, Dr. Acula, Katsumoto) doesn’t seem to be doing much right now. The straightforward rockin’ of TABL is nothing new to the sonic landscape, but damn, it’s a sweaty kegger full of fun. –Nick Parker

Ghost of the Salt Water Machines
Black Market Activities
Street: 11.25
Architect = Hatebreed + Coalesce + Earth Crisis + Turmoil
Syracuse based New York fellows, Architect has a message chalked with political anarchy on topics of war, the government, faith and then some. They have the genre of epic East Coast hardcore down: relentless chaos of hard-driven riffs and cymbal-filled drums paved all the way through with backing vocals. The first song “Camelot in Smithereens,” starts off with politics of war: “Your rhetoric won’t bring our sons back from the dead …” There is no release on tiring political content until the third to last track, “The Dog and Pony Show,” a song about being on tour and its trials: “No money for gas/The last “promoter” really fucked us in the ass.” I found close to no interest in Ghost of the Salt Water Machine’s clich�d lyrics and sound. Architect know how to keep it real in the name of hardcore, but lack in anything crossing the line of original. –Nicole Dumas

Arliss Parker
Handsome Like a Lion
DAG! Records
Street: 11.25
Arliss Parker = Kaki King + Ok Ikumi
I’m pretty sure Parker is simply being sneaky. Each song has a familiar ring, but just before I figure out which song he may have swiped it from, he breaks off into something soothing, causing my mind to blank and fall into sleep mode. Each song plays as if it were an intro for the next song. With toy keyboards, random percussion mixes and possibly a captured cricket, there isn’t a climactic stage, just phases of calm. Add in a soothing voice—”Breathe in, breathe out”— a couple bird calls and the urge to pee from what could be water leaking from the tap in the next room, and yoga instructors will go wild. If nothing else, this is a pleasant mix for tuning out the blaring television down the hall while trying to take a quickie nap. –Jessica Davis

As Eden Burns
The Great Celestial Delusionv Willowtip
Street: 11.11
As Eden Burns = Abigail Williams + Dissection
Playing the debut album by these youngsters from Houston, I became concerned that perhaps I've become too cranky, too opinionated, and too eager to lump metal that pairs melodic guitars with harsh vocals into the “generic deathcore” category. So to test my neutrality, I inserted As Eden Burns into a shuffle with several other releases from the genre. Aside from the murkier production, it was difficult for me to distinguish this album from a recent release by Abigail Williams, and unfortunately for As Eden Burns, Abigail Williams was the more memorable of the two. Unfortunately for Abigail Williams, I'd rather listen to Necros Christos, Archgoat, or Cult of Daath than their overproduced Cradle of Filth crib notes. Once this melodic blackened death-metal trend bottoms out, I'm going to buy myself something nice. And that nice thing will not be another album by As Eden Burns. –Ben West

Napalm Records
Street: 01.13
�smegin = The Gathering + Mannheim Steamroller + (later) Unleashed
I get the same uncomfortable feeling from the sophomore album by these “Nordic folk metallers” as when I once walked my dog through Phoenix's Encanto Park while costumed medieval Live Action Role Players staged a mock battle. There's absolutely no danger involved; I'm just stunned by the earnest nerdiness of it all. On all fronts, I must proclaim this album mediocre. For folk metal, the production is far too sharp, the instrumentation more pedals and knobs than “lute by firelight.” While lovely, the female vocals are delivered by a pop minx instead of a beckoning Guinevere, and the harsh male vocals are delivered in an annoying nursery-rhyme singsong. No matter what you're looking for from your folk metal, Arv isn't going to satisfy the craving. Dig up some Amber Asylum, The Gathering or Ulver's Kveldssanger if you want fill your ears with gentle acoustics or elf-blood and shining steel. –Ben West

Six Years of Dormant Hatred
Moribund Records
Street: 11.04
Ayat = Imapled Nazarene (pre-Latex Cult) + Root + Beherit (black-metal era)
Beirut, Lebanon-based black metal act Ayat can truly say they’re treading where no black metal band has gone before in terms of lyrical substance, with highly anti-Muslim themes; i.e., album opener “Ilahiay Khinzir! (All Hail Allah the Swine).” It’s pissed off and noisy as sin; adding to the insanity is the sound of a pig squealing, which actually sounds pretty scary, in a Deliverance way. Six Years of Dormant Hatred is truly a disturbing work, either in its utmost foul anger and speed-driven tracks or the more doom-style songs reminiscent of a much darker version of Root. The album’s 10 tracks are all distinctly different, giving vibes and feelings that you might not want to feel. The production value is surprising not massively lo-fi, and does contain some fantastic guitar and vocal distortions. Add the history, location, lyrical content and sound of Ayat up and you have a unique piece of music. Creating this type of metal in the band’s environment alone is difficult, but dislike the ideals or not, respect is deserved for Ayat. –Bryer Wharton

Belle & Sebastian
The BBC Sessions
Matador Records
Street: 11.18
Belle & Sebastian = The Velvet Underground + The Smiths + Nick Drake
Ranging from recordings starting in 1996 through 2001, The BBC Sessions features a plethora of rarities and never-released gems. The rarities include altered versions of already released album tracks such as “The State I Am In” from Tigermilk and others, like “Stars of Track and Field” and “Like Dylan in the Movies.” The real treat for B&S fans are four songs recorded in 2001: “The Magic of a Kind Word,” “Nothing In the Silence,” “Shoot The Sexual Athlete” and (“My Girl’s Got) Miraculous Technique.” These four previously unreleased tracks are significant as well because they are the last studio recordings to feature band member Isobel Campbell. Stuart Murdoch’s vocals are magical as always, somehow soothing and piercing the very soul at once. The BBC Sessions is a no-frills and no overproduction masterpiece and some copies will also include a bonus live disc of a Christmas show in Belfast in 2001. –Jeremy C. Wilkins Blood Stained Dusk
Black Faith Inquisition
Moribund Records
Street: 11.18
Blood Stained Dusk = Limbonic Art + Dissection + Gorgoroth
Black metal and Alabama don’t often flow together in the same sentence, but Blood Stained Dusk has changed that for me. When vocalist Anthony Panter was killed in a car accident some time after the second album was released, Pest, better known as the vocalist for the first four albums of Norway’s Gorgoroth, joined their ranks to release this beast. The album flows well as a thinly veiled concept album complete with an intro and outro track, a few speaking parts, musical continuity, and even a moment of clean vocals. The songs are generally lengthy, typically exceeding the 10-minute mark, which seems necessary due to their adept use of the crescendo—which is built up and carried very thoughtfully by use of some quality synthesizer work. The track “Coven of the Dying Sun” sticks out as the pinnacle of 71 minutes of some truly excellent black metal. –Conor Dow

Burning a Marvelous Life
Street: 10.08
Burning a Marvelous Life= Complete Failure + The Black Dahlia Murder + As Blood Runs Black
I miss Headbangers Ball in the late 80s and Burning a Marvelous Life feels a little like that. This three-piece band of dudes have birthed a decent, extremely DIY EP that is a basic example of grind metal infused with a little death and hardcore done well. This five-song quickie is less than 10 minutes and pretty satisfying. I felt like I didn’t need to be too picky with their music; there are enough ingredients to feed the little metal child within: loads of thrash and subtle Slayer-filled riffs. Sometimes that’s all it takes. All songs rock steady except for track three, where it slows down, leaving plenty of room for anyone dying to bust out pit moves. My only gruff is with the last song, where the backing vocals are crazy loud! BAML is memorable enough to want to check out if they ever come through town. –Nicole Dumas

The Capricorns
River, Bear Your Bones
Rise Above Records
Street: 11.25
The Capricorns = Tamerlane (- vox) + Philip Glass (Koyanisqaatsi era)
The Capricorns rarely miss on their third release and give new depth to the UK metal/hard rock catalogue. They blessedly do not stray too far from more well-worn construction patterns that have been mostly rejected by the sometimes scatterbrained songwriters of this style, yet they still manage a fresh take that I found better-than-decent every spin around. No vocals are needed (or used) to really shove this stuff in your brain, and it is a welcome change to the too-earnest lyrics you can find trawling through the depths of this genre. Opener “Broken Coffin of the Venerable King” is a perfect primer for this band and album. The whole work is stellar stuff to play as background music for some of your more devious adventures that don’t need lyrics busying things up. –JP

Cars & Trains
Rusty String Deluxe Edition
Circle into Square
Cars & Trains = David Bazan + Casiotone for The Painfully Alone + something Anticon
This album sounds like an old folk artist acquired a malfunctioning pacemaker. It seems like as the album moves forward, it becomes less and less analog. When it reaches its synth-fueled peak, Tom Filepp is joined by Anticon’s Sole, which takes the album in an unexpected direction, but I suppose hip hop is infiltrating every genre these days. The end of the album is comprised of remixes, most of which sound like old Her Space Holiday, which I found very enjoyable. Filepp really has this whole electro-folk thing down. Oh my, all the subgenres these days. –Cody Hudson

Circle Jerks
Group Sex (Vinyl Reissue)
Street: 11.06
Circle Jerks = Keith Morris-era Black Flag - Greg Ginn's ego + snotty sense of fun
In 10th grade, I wrote the following haiku titled “Ode to an Aging White Man with Dreadlocks”: “The world's up my ass/Got my back against the wall/Keith Morris gets it.” Now I'm not reprinting this work of literary genius to flaunt my poetic talents, but so you, SLUG reader, know just how big of an impact this album had on my 15-year-old mind. Now that Group Sex has been reissued on vinyl (and in pink and picture disc editions, no less), I'm rediscovering just how awesome this album is. “Deny Everything?” “Beverly Hills?” “Operation?” All fucking amazing. This reissue doesn't feature any new content, but Group Sex is 15 of the most perfect minutes in the history of punk rock, and if you don't like it, you should probably just quit life right now. –Ricky Vigil

Cobra Verde
Haven’t Slept All Year
A Scat Reord
Street: 01. 06
Cobra Verde = Fu Manchu + The Hives + ZZ –Top + Eels
If you walked into the room and this album was playing in the background, you would probably think that The Rolling Stones had decided to increase their amount of substance abuse (if that’s possible) and record a new album. Cobra Verde are as sloppy and as poppy as one band can possibly get, and it’s highly unoriginal garage music, but for some reason, the rawness and looseness combined with the candy-coated choruses just pull me in. Cobra Verde’s music is kind of like Boones Farm wine. You know it tastes gnarly and won’t get you drunk, but you drink it and like it because it’s hilarious. –Jon Robertson

One with Filth
Street: 11.08
Crowpath = Crossed Out + Ringworm – (the) Integrity
Crowpath is a band I’ve never fully related to, and this release doesn’t do much to help that. One with Filth comes across like an album by a powerviolence band who got heavily into metalcore and decided to meld the two genres—not the best idea. Oh, sure, there is no lack of heaviness on this disc, but it seems to have no actual purpose, and I’ve never been a fan of bands who are “crazy-go-nuts-for-the-sake-of-being-crazy-go-nuts.” Where the early powerviolence bands had a purpose for their light-speed attack, Crowpath seems to completely miss the mark. That’s not to say this release is bad, as it definitely has its merits … but it makes me want to tell these guys to trim the metalcore fat and stick with the heavy. –Gavin Hoffman

Cut Off Your Hands
You and I
FrenchKiss Records
Street: 01.20
Cut Off Your Hands = Bloc Party + Bredon Urie + Patrick Wolf on The Magic Position
It's apparent that this album was inspired by bands such as Joy Division and The Cure, but the result doesn't compare to these classic acts. The instrumentals swirl and pirouette and make for quite an enjoyable listen, but they aren’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before. The first song on the album, “Happy as Can Be,” really shows what they can do. The reverberation and fast-paced drumming makes for an excellent introduction, but it also sets the listener up for a bit of a letdown for what follows. Nick Johnston's voice is strong and distinct and it blends well with the surrounding whirlwind of music that carries throughout the album, but the sometimes sappy lyrics and overall repetition make for a finished product that sounds more like neo-pop boy bands like Panic! at the Disco rather than like the classic influences they're striving so hard to emulate. �–Erin Kelleher

Gutter Tactics
Street: 01.27
D�lek = El-P + Faust
How does a band sequence a beats/black leader political speech piece named “Blessed Are They Who Bash Your Children’s Heads Against a Rock” as track one and not pass out in a rage coma? Answer: the group is D�lek, and they’re just getting started. Though the duo (MC D�lek and okt0pus) claims this album isn’t “pummeling,” the difference from previous records is marginal—thank god. Murky feedback, distorted dive-bombs, virtuosic turntablism and stomach-rumbling textures run amuck as a sneering MC brings down the city like a recently muzzled Godzilla. For every “soft” work such as the major chord meets driving hi-hat “We Lost Sight” and the dubby, contrabass-thumping “A Collection of Miserable,” the group provides the drum-heavy “Thoughts Laced With Wit Los Moacheteros/Spear of a Nation,” “Atypical Stereotype” and effects-gone-wild “Who Medgar Evers Was …”, all songs in the key of apocalyptic demolition. D�lek still carries the biggest stick. –Dave Madden

Dance Club Massacre
Circle of Death
Black Market Records
Street: 11.11
Dance Club Massacre = Myspace + Facebook + Dillinger Escape Plan
Alright, I'm going to set aside this band's truly awful name, their hipster haircuts, their ironic thrift store shirts, and tell you why I fucking hate them based only on their music. First, Circle of Death is one song, repeated 10 times. That one song contains a) a short In Flames-inspired intro or bridge; b) sparkly and distracting Dimmu Borgir keyboards; c) monotonous screamo vocals that are too high in the mix; d) backing death metal vocals that are also too high in the mix; and e) an incongruous hardcore breakdown or doom-metal dirge. Second, draping screamo in black-metal keyboards doesn't make it metal, it just makes it even more awful. Deathcore is just confused screamo, and screamo was better when it was still hardcore. I'll take anything from Lickgoldensky or Guyana Punchline over this drek any day of the week. –Ben West

Death Set the Beginning of My Journey
Moribund Records
Street: 11.18
Dosferd = Venom + Lust (Canada)
I have a passing familiarity with this Greek one-man act, having received their split with Arizona's Ganzmord in a trade years ago. On that split, Dodsferd's sound was primitive, thin, and not dissimilar to a young Celtic Frost with Down's syndrome. Fortunately, Death Set the Beginning of My Journey shows marked improvement since those early days. Make no mistake, this isn't a black-metal masterpiece. And whoever decided to market Dodsferd as “Black n' Roll” ought to have an eye poked out. Dodsferd's sole member, Wrath, isn't breaking new ground by slowing down his songs. The results aren't “rock”; they're simply closer to the genre's origins, with Venom and Hellhammer. In fact, one suspects Wrath doesn't possess the musicianship to play any faster. Despite all this, I truly enjoy Death Set … . It's trebly, buzzy, and clatters as if the microphones of the four-track that recorded it were in a silverware drawer atop the amps. Easily the best release I reviewed this month, and perfect for apes like myself who like their metal raw and retarded. –Ben West

The Drones
ATP Recordings
Street: 02.17
The Drones = The Birthday Party + Tom Waits + The Dears
Ah, Australia. A throne hidden from humanity where Aussies perch on high, sometimes releasing beautiful albums. We've heard Nick Cave, Warren Ellis and Robert Forster, and now The Drones' frontman Gareth Liddiard uses his crackled accent and hungover, bluesy outback storytelling to create a helpless and homeless form of distraught rock. Havilah can be abrasive and frenzied, as shown in the album's closer “Youre Acting's Like the End of the World”. Other times, it's hushed and warm like whiskey on a Sunday. It shifts between night and day freely, while projecting tormented characters over their original breed of angular, agitated Australian rock. The intimate songs and lyrics are easy to identify with as he sings of a girl in New South Wales or calming nerves with a pack of cigarettes. Havilah, The Drones' fourth album, comes as a peculiar breath of fresh air and I highly recommend it. –Ryan Sanford

Earth Crisis
Breed The Killers
I Scream Records
Street: 11.04
Earth Crisis = Earth Crisis
Seriously, an equation for Earth Crisis?. For me, this album re-release is nothing too exciting; however, revisiting Earth Crisis always is. I wasn’t interested in Breed the Killers when it originally came out on Roadrunner in ’98, so I had to re-familiarize. Breed the Killers is raw, melodic and heavier metal in contrast to previous albums that were full of anthems and pick-up-change breakdowns. This re-mastered version offers two live bonus tracks: “All Out War” and “Standing Corpses.” I don’t consider Breed the Killers a classic like I Scream Records do: it’s not as memorable as All Out War, or any other Earth Crisis album up to ’96. Breed the Killers may not be my favorite Earth Crisis release, but 10 years ago, they again changed the face of hardcore. –Nicole Dumas

Meteor City Records
Street: 11.11
Elder = Sleep + Electric Wizard + Iota + Clutch
Appearing barely old enough to grow facial hair, the Massachusetts natives of Elder have certainly wasted no time putting out a respectable amount of material in their roughly two years of playing. This self-titled debut has everything in all the right places for a fine 40 or so minutes of traditional, 1970s stoner-tinged doom. While I am generally someone who likes the production style of music dirty and low-fidelity, this album really finds a nice middle ground, making it accessible enough that you can hear all of the instruments clearly without feeling like a computer is playing them. Each song is fairly mid-tempo with the style of vocals you’d expect and many tasty guitar leads to carry the song direction. In short, if you like the style, you’ll like this. Do expect to crank this, and do expect to want more. –Conor Dow

Ephel Duath
Through My Dog's Eyes
Street: 01.09
Ephel Duath = The Dillinger Escape Plan + Maudlin of the Well + Cult of Luna
With every release from Italy’s Ephel Duath, you have a different sound, beginnings in Phormula’s post-black metal mayhem to a grindingly jazzy Painter’s Palette to the post-hardcore leanings of Pain Necessary to Know. With Through My Dog’s Eyes, we have a more mellowed style coming from the band, which may frustrate some longtime fans of the band’s chaotic moments. When I say mellow, the record isn’t all ponies and daisies; it uses plenty of discord-filled guitar melodies, with stunning jazz tempos and rhythms as well as the band’s most diverse vocal approach, from an angry Neurosis-type growl to just overall strangeness. Out of all the releases from the band, this one is definitely a grower. You’re not going to be blown away with the first listen, or even the fifth; it takes a great deal of time, mainly because of the disjointed flow of the attitude of the songs. Dog’s Eyes’ strong point is its outright amazing and original drumming by Marco Minnemann (Necrophagist and Illogicist). –Bryer Wharton

Ethan Rose
Street: 01.27
Ethan Rose = Eliane Radique + Ralph Vaughan Williams
Ethan Rose spent the last year at the Oaks Park Roller Rink. Skating while ogling the hem-lines of 14-year olds? No, he was learning about and collecting recordings from the 1926 Wurlitzer Theater Organ on the premises. Though Rose lists the gamut of organ pipes and sound effects used in this sonic narrative, his edits and manipulations respectfully remove the polka and hockey game associations of the instrument, pushing it into something otherworldly. Echoing flutes work a trio with backwards marimba hits as subdued cymbals Doppler across the stereo field (“Rising Waters”). Bursts of pipe air meet pulsing, drone-like chords and a whispered rhythmically-aleatoric percussion jingle (“Bottom”). Rose’s fusion is an album of placid bliss, a calming psychoacoustic wonderland that keeps you warm in bed as you watch the flickering snow against street lights from your window—in other words, comfort. –Dave Madden

Fire on Fire
The Orchard
Young God Records
Street: 12.10
Fire on Fire = Jack White + Beirut
It’s always amusing to hear Eastern European influence in new music. Fire on Fire, among bands like Gogol Bordello or Devotchka, help create the latest version of Comrad 2.0 jams. Gypsy guitar and an authentic accordion accompanied by a choir of revolutionary chants give The Orchard a musical advantage compared to all that too-good-for-acoustic, overproduced sissy shit that has come out this year. The multi-gendered vocals help prove that not every duet has to sound like Sonny and Cher or Donny and Marie; instead, it can be edgy and innovative. This album is an honest, straightforward dose of talent worthy of every Bolshevik vote. –Lyuba Basin

Franz Nicolay
Major General
Street: 01.13
Franz Nicolay = The Hold Steady + The World/Inferno Friendship Society + Mischief Brew
Not only is Franz Nicolay the keyboardist of The Hold Steady, a multi-instrumentalist for World/Inferno and a frequent collaborator with many other bands (Dresden Dolls, The Loved Ones, etc.), but he also maintains one of the most impressive mustaches in all of rock n’ roll. Major General is another impressive addition to his resume, as the mustachioed one emerges on his own as a talented lyricist and vocalist. Throughout the album, Nicolay draws influence from the straightforward storytelling style of Craig Finn as well as the theatrical delivery of Jack Terricloth to create something that is simultaneously familiar and unique. A few of the songs sound like particularly good Hold Steady B-sides (“Confessions of an Ineffective Casanova” ) or World/Inferno outtakes (“Hey Dad!”), but it's on the acoustic coffeehouse-cum-cabaret tracks that Nicolay really finds his voice. Varied songwriting and instrumentation make Major General interesting and prove that Nicolay is more than just some quirky guy who happens to have an amazing mustache. –Ricky Vigil

The Gonzo Tapes
The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S Thompson
Shout Factory
Street: 10.28
The Gonzo Tapes = drugs + mumbling + the raw material that created killer novels
This five-disc set was created for Gonzo enthusiasts. These discs contain the previously unreleased recordings made by Hunter S. Thompson, used to construct his most legendary pieces, like Hell’s Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72. The discs also contain some of his more famous Rolling Stone flops––like the Rumble in the Jungle story that never came to fruition. At many points, the tapes devolve into incoherent mumbles and listening to them for too long is likely to drive you mad. However, these digitally re-mastered tapes are artifacts and offer a window into the way that Thompson worked. The most exciting moments on these discs are the ones that made it to the books––like the Bass Lake Run, the Hell’s Angels party with the Merry Pranksters and attempting to find the American Dream in Las Vegas. I’d recommend checking these out if you’ve read numerous Hunter S. Thompson books––if you haven’t, the extraordinary nature of these tapes will be lost on you. –Jeanette Moses

Mean Man’s Dream/Hart Gore
Southern Lord
Street: 11.08
Gore = Melvins + Jesus Lizard + (early) Nirvana - vocals
Dutch trio Gore was a band that can truly be considered to have been ahead of its time. Formed in 1985, Gore set the table (20 years early) for the rush of instrumental bands that seem to be plaguing the indie/hipster circuit these days, but never actually got the respect they deserved. This double disc offering is a remastered reissue of the band’s first two studio efforts, which sonically have more in common with bands like Helmet and early Nirvana than Pelican or Red Sparowes. The remastering really lets the detuned guitar and bass shine through, and the drum sounds are such that are rarely heard on records these days. One of the best things about this release is that, although instrumental, the song lengths are palatable as opposed to pretentious, with no one song dragging on longer than necessary. Kudos to Southern Lord for this fine re-release. –Gavin Hoffman

o Hallway Ballers
Hallway Ballers
Street: 01.13
Hallway Ballers = Infectious Grooves + Kottinmouth Kings + Sublime Sometimes I wish that Bradley Nowell had never existed. While Brad was responsible for a couple of really cool Sublime records, his band has gone on to influence so many copycat unoriginal bands, a perfect example of which is Hallway Ballers. For some reason, bands like HB and others that have gone on to waste Sublime’s flavor have nothing important to say. They are just content with trying to remake 40 Oz. to Freedom over and over. Which sucks, because the more and more I hear bands like this, the more it makes me dislike Sublime. Damn you, Hallway Ballers, you’re ruining my life!! –Jon Robertson
Hammers of Misfortune
Fields/ Church of Broken Glass
Profound Lore Records
Street: 10.28
Hammers of Misfortune = Blue �yster Cult + Iron Maiden + King Crimson + The Moody Blues
Hammers of Misfortune have always been a curious machine, mainly the outlet of Jon Cobbett, who handles most of the guitar duties and some of the vocal duties. The band’s last three albums featured Slough Feg man Mike Scalzi. Hammers are definitely one of the few bands that fit that true progressive metal/rock form, being that none of their records sound exactly the same. The undertaking of creating two full-length records at the same time must have been a chore. At first glance, both Fields and Church of Broken Glass might sound the same, but deeper listening will give audiences different albums. Fields is the most accessible of the two distinct influences of 70s prog, and tons of jamming are more precisely executed on the album. Church, on the other hand, takes on some doom styles and more of a NWOBH feel. Either way you go, this isn’t the type of music that sinks in right away; it’s full-on mood music. I came to find both records a sort of soothing therapy, kind of a palette-cleanser of sorts, in transition from listening to different musical styles. The gist of it is, if you enjoy the jammy aspects of 70s rock bands and have the patience, both records will pay off big time. –Bryer Wharton

Hans Gr�sel's Kr�nkenkabinet
Blaue Blooded Turen
Resipiscent Records
Street: 12.01
HGK = Black Dice + Growing + The Black Forest
The concept behind Hans Gr�sel's Kr�nkenkabinet is as solid as they come—an oversized Hansel and Gretel playing games with their analog synth toys inside of a terrible and dynamic forest. The concept gives the music its identity—a place far away, full of mysticism and organic material. The music is thrown through a modern psychotic episode, full of epilepsy and trauma. The sounds aren’t always intense, but are related to how our brains make decisions. It is the point where the brain is at a standstill about which way is the best to go, with its back-and-forth motion. This is a world without emotion that creates a neverending positive feedback mechanism that spirals toward the sky and back through the trees. –Andrew Glassett

Hooray For Earth
Dopamine Records
Street: 01.13
Hooray for Earth= The Revolution Smile + Muse + Abandoned Pools
Hooray for nothing (sorry, that was too easy). These guys are so-so. A band like this may transform live, but this release is a little too bad/poppy for my taste. Hooray for Earth’s staccato drumming and song style gets wearisome fast. And the grungy guitar on tracks like “Want Want Want” doesn’t do anything to hide the fact that the electronica in this group is the overriding player in the musical equation and no amount of distortion will hide that and make it fly. The vocalist’s whiny delivery rubbed me raw, like a dry raincoat after two hours of exploratory “body working” on tweak. Sounds like a great idea on paper, but unless you have buckets of KY, this shit won’t lubricate your ears proper. The exception is the superb third track, “Heartbeat,” which has nothing much to do with the rest of the album. –JP

Sanojesi ��relle
Debemur Morti Productions
Street: 11.08
Horna = Darkthrone + Katharsis + Legion of Doom
Everyone’s favorite corpsepainted Finnish horde (and champions of umlaut use in song/album titles) returned late this year with Sanojesi ��relle, a double album that does not disappoint. The songwriting has become much more interesting than their last few efforts, thus proving Horna to be amongst the cream of the crop in a genre that has become more watered down than gas-station coffee. The first disc is a “full speed ahead” 10-track affair, containing more blastbeats than you can shake a stick at, while the second disc is comprised of four longer tracks and dares to at times venture into almost ambient territory. The album is best listened to from start to finish without disturbance, and undoubtedly will further separate the posers from the “tr00.” –Gavin Hoffman

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan
Sunday at the Devil Dirt
Fontana International
Street 11.18
Campbell & Lanegan = Belle and Sebastian + Screaming Trees + Leonard Cohen
As a fat kid listening to rock music in the early 90s, the Screaming Trees were a revelation. Two fat members and a hard psychedelic sound made for a band that I actually felt like I could be in. The gravelly, deep voice of singer Mark Lanegan also made the band stand out, and helped create the foundation for everything that came out of Seattle just a few short years later. Almost two decades further out, and with cigarettes rendering his voice deeper still, Lanegan is lending his pipes to Belle and Sebastian’s songwriter and vocalist Isobel Campbell. And even though some of the music sounds like it was cribbed from a forgotten Ennio Morricone spaghetti Western score, that really isn’t a bad thing. Campbell takes a vocal backseat to Lanegan’s channeling of an I’m Your Man-era Leonard Cohen, and the result is a uniquely listenable set of songs. And where Cohen’s music has the tendency to depress you to the point of suicide, these smoky murder-ballads will only inspire you to listen to them over and over again. –James Bennett

Jimmy “Duck” Holmes
Gonna Get Old Someday
Fat Possum
Street 11.11
J.D. Holmes = Skip James + Jack Owens + Mississippi
As blues music is tethered very much to the areas around the Mississippi river delta, it can be difficult to see outside influences still shaping its sound today. I mean, really, how can one hope to improve on perfection? But consider the “Bentonia style” of the blues—a mixture of traditional blues jams and bizarre guitar tunings picked up by black soldiers in WWI. Duck Owens is one of the few bluesmen still working this style of blues. Having played casually for years, and mostly at his own cafe/juke joint, Owens started committing his music to record only a couple of years ago. And where this music is derivative in nature and stereotypical in its content, it is still very easy to listen to. Hell, it might even inspire you to slum it just a little, because everyone knows that good blues and good BBQ always come from places with hand-painted signs. –James Bennett

Kenneth Pattengale
Storied Places
Milan Records
Street 01.27
Kenneth Partridge = Jeff Buckley + Cat Stevens
Mr. Pattengale fits into the “Fabio” of the male vocals category, along with similar local artists like Jay Henderson (Band of Annuals) and Brinton Jones (The Devil Whale). His album is subtle and seductive, riding the folk wave into our ears. His love songs are far from pathetic; they capture the romantic essence of a classic time, free of booty and hos. Storied Places is like taking a bubble bath filled with sweet melodies and the aroma of lyrical passion. Pattengale shows us that modest is the hottest. –Lyuba Basin

The Knux
Remind Me In 3 Days …
Street: 10.28
The Knux = Outkast + Skillz + N.E.R.D. + Wyclef Jean
Brothers Krispy Kream and Rah Al Millio are The Knux. These two rappers/producers/singers were raised by a single mom in New Orleans, but like many New Orleaners, fled the South after Hurricane Katrina. After moving from New Orleans to Houston, then to Los Angeles, The Knux were particularly inspired by nightlife in L.A. Many of the tracks on this album encompass the lights and glamour of Hollywood along with the heart and soul of the South. Relationships seem to be a frequent theme. A perfect example of their relational rap is found in the track “Cappuccino.” The hook and beat on this song are flawless, just screaming for radio play. If you didn’t like N.E.R.D.’s, Seeing Sounds because of all the guitar beats, then you won’t like this. These siblings play all their own instrumentation and this includes both electric and acoustic samples from all genres. As far as genre-bending modern hip-hop music goes, The Knux do a pretty good job. –SUPeRB

Kottonmouth Kings
The Green Album
Suburban Noise
Street: 01.20
Kottonmouth Kings = Everlast + Uncle Kracker + Kid Rock
If you live in Utah and you like to ride Moto Cross, you are probably extremely obsessed with the Kottonmouth Kings and every six months, you cruise out to Salt Air with all your buds to see your favorite band perform. The Kottonmouth Kings and 311 have been hugely popular in SLC for some time now. This band, much like 311, have made the same album nine times and The Green Album is no exception. Every song has a reference to marijuana. These guys do not deviate from their brand of watered down folk–hop—wait, sorry, “rip-hop” (my bad). Long story short, if you like the Kottonmouth Kings, you’ll prolly love the Green Album; if you don’t, this album will not convince you to change your mind and cruise out to Salt Air in six months. – Jon Robertson

Hordes of Chaos
Street: 01.13
Kreator = Destruction + Sodom + Exodus
It’s been six long years since thrash maniacs had an original offering from Kreator. Hordes of Chaos is the best of the modern era of Kreator, hands down. Some of that quality I attribute to the process of live recording that went into the album’s creation, which ultimately gives it the feel of an actual live sound. The album’s 10 tracks come at you quick and for the most part’ unrelenting’ although there are some melodic interlude-type moments, thankfully brief because they are the most lackluster portions of the album. Like any signature Kreator, the songs have vocal chorus chants or one-word chants that will leave you screaming them upon the first listen of the record, and within the first two and last two tracks of the record especially. It’s faster than sin, probably the most refined-sounding thrash from the German giants, yet still retaining a raw feeling that any thrash act would love to have. Kreator fans won’t complain about this one, and there’s plenty of new blood to tap into. –Bryer Wharton

Lana Rebel
All I Need
Street: 08.16
Lana Rebel = Patsy Cline + sadness + Carter Family + depressed
I hate it when there is so much promise to an idea, but the actual execution meets nowhere near your expectation. Let me tell you what I’m talking about. Here we have a female singer-songwriter influenced by vintage country artists like Lefty Frizzell and working in a moderate alternative slant. Sounds great, right? But after I listened to All I Need, I knew I needed something else. Each song drags on to a rhythm slower than human ears can handle, and halfway through a song, you can actual hear the skip button calling your name. Slide-steel guitar and other guitar work is wasted here because each song goes nowhere and any interesting musicianship along with it. Wanda Jackson, Loretta Lynn and Brenda Lee can’t keep you awake, much less jumping. To anyone attempting a classic county sound, better remember this music gave birth to rock n’ roll and it certainly shouldn’t be boring. –James Orme

Long Live the Smoking Gun
We Build Empires
1912 Records
Street: 01.27
Long Live the Smoking Gun = Dead Guy + Cursive + Guns N’ Roses
LLTSG have many flame-licking riffs that buttered me up, but I spent more time trying to figure out what their story is, aside from the metal. With sloppy sincerity, the bass, guitars and vocals all couple quite well. The transitions remind me of old L.A. metal with a pinch of grunge, but it went back and forth frequently, making the album something you can’t lump into any genre easily. I feel the best tune on this five-song EP is the acoustic blues-esque track, “Good Men”; I’d have been more interested if all the songs were along those lines. Since this is my first experience with LLTSG, I’m wondering what style they’ll go with when they release a full-length album. With that, We Build Empires is comparable to a cloud of smog rather than a breath of fresh air. –Nicole Dumas

The End
Street: 10.28
Lordi = Kiss + Lizzy Borden + W.A.S.P. + European influences
Finland’s Lordi are definitely starting to make a name for themselves. With the 2006 album The Arockalypse getting a worldwide release and a slot on Ozzfest 2007, American audiences were witness to the phenomenon known as monster rock. I fell into the costumed-rockers spell around the same time. The songs were catchy and just plain fun. Well, with the year closing, we have Deadache, which offers up more of the same ultra-catchy power chords with gruff vocals and harmonic clean choruses, all played with an upbeat feel, just as hard rock has always been. Lyrical themes are focused on horror, but they’re played out in the style of Alice Cooper, with plenty of humor. It took me a couple spins of Deadache to get completely hooked, but damn, I’ve been singing “Bite it Like a Bulldog,” “Man Skin Boots,” and “Raise Hell In Heaven” in my head for days. Oh yeah, and rent the movie Dark Floors, which features Lordi as the mysterious and violent creatures terrorizing the film’s protagonists. –Bryer Wharton

Mute Corporation
Street: 04.18
M83 = Slowdive + Brian Eno + Air
There's so much to say about Saturdays=Youth, the fifth album from M83 (the brainchild of French musician Anthony Gonzalez). It's turned a corner from their past sound without shunning the roots entirely or being illogically driven down new roads. Sometimes shoegaze, ambient, electronica, synthpop or arctic dreamscapes, S=Y begins with bold, ostentatious pianos, falsetto singing and synth swells that M83 have trademarked for so long before bleeding into the second track, “Kim & Jessie,” which is deeply rooted in 80s pop with all the bravado and perfect catches posed flawlessly, including a Roxy Music-sounding guitar solo. My favorite track was the stirring yet insipid “Graveyard Girl.” The album reminisces the era of 20 years ago that Gonzalez was born into, but leaves the trite love songs and cheeky overproduction in its dust, instead painting something that looks like Cocteau Twins colliding with Eluvium, leaving only broken teenage hearts. –Ryan Sanford

Man at Arms
A Waste of Time And Space
Joyful Noise
Street: 01.06
Man at Arms = Daughters + The Conformists + Fugazi + Modest Mouse
The first full-length album from Man at Arms is refreshing … if refreshing means having your brain scrambled by some original-sounding genuine punk math-rock pop business. I love these guys. It’s like XTC on steroids or The Locusts covered in glue or maybe even early Talking Heads with more aggression. It’s great. All the songs are traditionally structured, yet the tones of the parts and rhythms played are dissonant and offtime. The vocals are sparse yet seem to be placed in exactly the right spots. This band is so amazing I am going to name my fistborn child after them. I hope Man at Arms Robertson grows up to as badass as this band is. – Jon Robertson

Matthew Reveles
We’ll Meet Halfway
Independent Freedom Tribe
Street 08.27
Matthew Reveles = The Felice Brothers + Conor Oberst
This album has put me in quite an interesting dilemma. On one hand I feel like I could make my own maple syrup with how much sap Reveles put into his songwriting. I wish the pity party would stop already. On the other hand he packs the album full with banjos, harmonicas and pedal steels, all that make it one worth listening to. So I’m left at a fork in the road, one leading to Negative Nancy town and the other to a genuine appreciation for obvious musical talent. I think this time I’ll take my cynicism somewhere else and appreciate the record for what it is—a great small-town folk hit. (The Woodshed 01.08) –Lyuba Basin

Vapor Records
Street 11.27
Megapuss = Devendra Banhart + Priestbird + Little Joy
I really think Devendra Banhart really did something great with this one. The new project is a playful, more alternative version of his previous solo works. The band name, album photo (a tasteful black-and-white nudie of Banhart and founding member Greg Rogove), and tracks like “Crop Circle Jerk ’94,” “Duck People, Duck Man” and “Chicken Titz” all may seem like one big under-the-influence joke. On the contrary, this record is a solid representation of serious talent while never failing to instantly put a smile on your face. Whatever funky monkey magic goes on in Banhart’s cabin while recording, him and his team make sure to give it to the people in their music. –Lyuba Basin

The Creative Process/Berlin
Flightplan Records
Street: 10.07
Memorial = Staind + Nickelback + 3 Doors Down + Buckcherry + Daughtry + Creed + Papa Roach
When I think of bad music from recent years, there are many bands that come to mind; however, if I’m thinking specifically of rock music, Staind and Nickelback always plague my mind first and more recently Daughtry, and now Memorial. The ironic aspect of Memorial’s new album, The Creative Process/Berlin, is that there is nothing that even remotely resembles creativity to be found on this record. Originally crafted as two EPs to be released on Revelation Records, many have praised this release for its post-hardcore influences, but I won’t be that guy. I don’t care to whom they are being compared and the credentials or legendary status of that band—I just plain don’t hear anything of value here. Call it post-hardcore, hard rock, arena rock or punk-infused, it doesn’t matter because it still doesn’t sound good. –Jeremy C. Wilkins

Street: 10.23
MIRROR = Massive Attack + Mono
The best life-lesson (via Beavis & Butthead) is this: you can’t polish a turd. Sure, someone can disguise the meaty, reddish-brown middle with a decent sheen, but the coat is fleeting and, soon, that shit stinks. Mirror main-man Thomas Anselmi is a good example, as the songs he push, wrapped in terrific production (courtesy of Vincent Jones) and featuring guest stars as stunning as Dave Gahan and keyboardist Mike Garson (David Bowie), lack originality and anything particularly memorable at the core. Swirly, down-tempo synth-pop meets moody soundtrack orchestration, melancholic Romanticism and Classical harmonic language—a mix that would be great were it attached to interesting songwriting (and the year was 1988 when I hadn’t already heard it 5000 times). In the end, I would rather put on Mirror’s influences (Twin Peaks soundtrack, Mezzanine, Recoil, etc.) and forget this ever happened. –StaciQ

The Modern Age Slavery
Damned to Blindness
Napalm Records
Street: 01.13
The Modern Age Slavery = Carnifex + Stigma + Illogicist + Meshuggah
Italy-based The Modern Age Slavery formed mostly from members of a hardcore act and apparently decided to take on deathcore. Surprise, surprise, how many stinking bands are doing that nowadays, considering real hardcore is becoming increasingly dead? I’ve been listening to Damned in Blindness in utmost frustration. Aside from the drummer and the vocalist (death gurgles and annoying higher-ranged screams), the members do have talent: There are some fun little stop-and-go rhythms, interesting solos and guitar leads and some speed-driven riffing, possibly influenced by the truly astounding Italian technical death-metal act Illogicist. Alas, the goodness doesn’t come in full force, and the band has to ruin the music by throwing in cookie-cutter hardcore breakdowns, and man, do I mean cookie-cutter; it’s basically the same breakdown repeated song after song. The trend of any kind of metal with “core” tagged on the end is getting really bothersome. �–Bryer Wharton

The Modern Society
The Beat Goes On
Original Signal Recordings
Street: 02.10
The Modern Society = Sahara Hotnights - female vocals + The Pink Spiders + Jackson United
Hailing from Atlanta, The Modern Society’s brand of rock n’ roll/pop n’ punk is upbeat, catchy and yet it still misses the mark, though not by much. Tracks like “Matinee” and “Mona Lisa” urge a sing-along and some good ol’-fashioned hand-clapping, while tracks such as “Paper Moon” offer a foot-stomping beat to rock to. So what’s the problem then, you ask? It’s hard to pinpoint exactly, because the ingredients are right and everything flows well, but there’s still something missing. Maybe it’s that some songs are too polished and clean instead of raw and edgy, or that the choruses float around in your head for too long and are too simple. On the surface, The Beat Goes On succeeds, but it fails in its lack of overall depth and originality. –Jeremy C. Wilkins

Drone Trailer
Discristina Stair Builders
Street: 01.20
MV & EE = Hush Arbors + The Blithe Sons + Devendra Banhart - the Venezuelan mysticism
I've said it before and I'll say it again—never judge an album by its first track. “Anyway” launches into a guitar-and-drum combination, along with vocals from Erika “EE” Elder, and the result sounds like something from The Donnas with even more noise. This was a little heavy for my taste, but I was up for giving it a try. The first song came to its screeching close and took an unexpected turn as it floated softly into “The Hungry Stones,” which begins with soft acoustics and the gentle voice of Matt “MV” Valentine. This song has a much folksier feel, with its consistent strumming and occasional harmonica overlays. The rest of the album continues to surprise as it drifts between experimental electric sounds and soft folk space-outs, which create a perfect blend. Each song flawlessly fuses into the next as it twists and swirls through a world of raucous guitars and gossamer-like acoustics and southern twangs. –Erin Kelleher

Peel Sessions
Cargo Records
Street: 12.09
Nebula = Jimi Hendrix + Black Sabbath + lots and lots and lots of weed
Nebula is a stoner band that either takes itself way too seriously, or is so fried out of its mind that it thinks it’s actually Jimi Hendrix. Sure, the musicians are pretty tight, the recording quality is top-notch (what do you expect from the BBC, though?) and the riffs groove well to the sight of ganja smoke against a lava lamp, but could this band seriously be trying to invoke the ghost of ol’ Jimi through Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler’s playbooks? The songs are very Hendrix, but the tones are 100�aster of Reality and Paranoid. Even the almost metallic opening guitar riff of “Carpe Diem” gives way to a “woo ooh” that seems like an homage to the left-handed Woodstock legend’s “Crosstown Traffic.” Skip this and pop in Are You Experienced? or Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath instead. –Nick Parker

Destination: Nulle Part
Agonia Records
Street: 11.15
Necroblaspheme = Bloodbath + Six Feet Under + Behemoth
Well, you don’t normally hear death metal or much of any metal of any renown coming from France, so when you come across it, hopes are high. Unfortunately, about the only thing Necroblaspheme have going for them is a drummer that spent some time in Anteaus (yes, a French black-metal band) and MkM of the same band doing some vocal parts in three songs on the album. Necroblaspheme’s style of death metal relies much on groove-oriented riffs, and some speed. There are virtually no guitar solos, although there are some decent leads. In fact, the best thing about the record is the drumming and MkM’s vocals; they add a teensy bit of black metal into the mostly mid-paced, down-tuned droning. The band’s vocalist has this terrible bark-like growl that doesn’t change ever, and gets pretty damn annoying. The end result is a boring death metal record that all you have to do is hear one song of and you get the whole picture. –Bryer Wharton

Moribund Records
Street: 11.04
Necronoclast = Leviathan + Katatonia (pre-Discouraged Ones) + Xasthur
One-man UK project Necronoclast melds current US black-metal sounds with European influences. Haven is roughly 50 minutes of music, yet upon listening to the record, it feels as if it ends quickly and abruptly. In that statement lies the biggest strength of Necronoclast—replay value. While I’ve come across many BM bands that give that repetitive feeling within songs, Necronoclast’s Haven leaves you stranded in the dark with no way out, yet quenched for more. The songs at times have that familiar wall-of-sound vibe wherein guitars, vocals and drums are pummeling simultaneously, yet the music is mid-paced at best. Then there are the moments lurking to break up those sound walls: The way that artists can take a melody and give it a terribly dreadful hopeless feel still perplexes me. Necronoclast beckons you in with its evil tones and then envelops you into pure blackness, the kind you would experience in the middle of the woods, with no stars and no moon. –Bryer Wharton

The New Monarchs
Soup Bowl Records
Street: 10.28
The New Monarchs = Daft Punk + Hellogoodbye
This is another overly repetitive attempt at trying to get people to dance, or more so, cringe. With a whiny voice not quite robotic enough and not quite human enough to possibly sound good, the only thing to make Blueprints worse are the lyrics. Sean Hogan is brilliant at taking awkward words such as “cellophane” and “meddling” and placing them in horrid places. By doing this, he produces a whine similar to that of a broken-hearted pop-boy, in an out-of-timing way, to destroy what could have been good programming and electronics tinkering in the background. It all makes me feel “sick but not ill,” and if I say this 10 more times, I can be just like them. –Jessica Davis

Only Thunder
Lower Bounds
Bermuda Mohawk
Street: 10.28
Only Thunder = The Blackout Pact + Small Brown Bike + Love Me Destroyer
I'm pretty sure that in 10 years, people are gonna look at the Denver punk scene the same way they regard the Gainesville and Richmond scenes today. The Mile High City has become known for producing a signature style of punk rock that relies as much on technical prowess as reckless energy, and Only Thunder proudly carries on this tradition. Utilizing three guitarists, Only Thunder seamlessly weaves intricate guitarwork with chunky riffs, raw vocals and just the slightest bit of twang. Even more notable is the band's use of Mogwai-esque atmospheric post-rock in the middle of their aggressive onslaught on tracks like “Airwolf” and the all-instrumental “I'm a Witch, Burn Me.” Though the band's musical formula is complex, Only Thunder manages to retain a gruff grittiness throughout Lower Bounds. Keep your eyes open for these guys. –Ricky Vigil

Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition
Street: 12.09.08
Pavement = Pavement
How does Pavement affect you or meld into your everyday life? Maybe Stereo was your wake up song on your CD alarm clock, or you “dutched” your friends as you drove down to the Sandy Starship while stealing each others “oh my god’s”. After school did you crank up Brighten The Corners and run around kicking the cushions off the couch, knocking the cereal spoon out of your little sisters hand while screaming “We Are Underused”? Maybe BTC was just an awesome baking soundtrack back in 1997. A decade later and the uneven years of this century have kicked ass because of the Pavement reissues. –Cinnamon Brown

Peter Grummich
Dinner Music for Clubbers: Peter Grummich Plays Staubgold
Street: 10.14
Peter Grummich = Pole + Savath and Savalas + Kit Clayton
DJ mixes are similar to art galleries; neither does much but showcase other people’s talents. We’re supposed to admire 1) the DJ’s taste; 2) the ability to press start and stop on his decks/laptop; and 3) the ability to blow your mind as he ironically follows up Acid House with Sonic Youth (note: people such as DJ/rupture and Prefuse 73 and others who actually tweak the tracks are exempt from this critique)? All bias aside, Peter Grummich is a terrific crate-digger and an atypical DJ who does a magnificent task of culling Berlin-based Staubgold’s archives. A fascinating journey, Grummich takes us on a tour of the city, avoiding the club to show the dubby glitch (To Rococo Rot’s “Jackie’s Dream”), Spanish/Indian architecture (Alejandro Franov’s “Micerino Tema”), microtonal Gamelan influence (Sun’s “Make It (Mapstation Remix)”) and Balinese imprint (No-Neck Blues Band and Embryo’s “Wieder Das Erste Mal”). –Dave Madden

Plastic Crimewave Sound
Street: 10.28
Plastic Crimewave Sound = a bad trip
No structure. No direction. Raspy, unintelligible vocals. Mind-numbing amounts of reverb and feedback. Yep, you're listening to a Plastic Crimewave Sound album. After struggling for quite some time trying to figure out how the sounds of hell somehow made their way onto a commercially available CD, I turned my search to the Internet. There, I found a wonderful suggestion on a fan-made review of PCR's other release, No Wonder Land: “Turn out all of the lights, smoke a joint, and then listen to this album.” So I gave it the old college try. Nope. Album still sucked. Next! –Ross Solomon

PPP (Platinum Pied Pipers)
Street: 01.20
PPP= Georgia Anne Muldrow + Erykah Badu + Omarian + John Legend + Lifesavas + Funkadelic
Abundance will be a refreshing dose of hip hop for any J Dilla fan as the New Year begins. This second album by PPP personifies the Platinum Pied Pipers’ unique style of amazing electro-soul music while introducing new hip-hop sound. The group consists of Waajeed from Slum Village, Saadiq, and a handful of talented vocalists. Contributors to the album include Coultrain, Karma, Jamila Raegan and Dabrye. One of the most impressive tracks on the album, “Ain’t No Ifs or Maybes,” throws the listener for a soulful bounce through Detroit sound. If you begin to think of Dilla while listening, then you’re right on track. The combination of Waajeed and Saadiq brings out some of the funkiest sounds to date. The group is able to grasp the soulful sounds of Motown while raising the bar on modern music. The last track on the album, “Goodbye,” features an electronic introduction by Dabrye followed by one last soulful ballad about self-realization. –SUPeRB

No End in Sight
Regain Records
Street: 10.14
Pro-Pain = Crumbsuckers + Agnostic Front (old) + Pantera
Pro-Pain always have a certain consistency with their records that has helped amass a following of diehard fans. While the lineup is ever evolving, Pro-Pain has mainly been the brainchild of Gary Meskil, and their records from 1999 to 2005 have all been basically the same thing. Last year’s Age of Tyranny brought some welcome changes, mainly in the form of attitude and, well, those changes are more prevalent than ever on No End in Sight. While the band has typically been a thrash/hardcore/groove hybrid of sorts, Meskil and Co. have brought a bit more metal into the mix, with some interesting solos and leads and some varying vocal changes, and probably the most clean singing the band has ever used. There is a good hunk of songs that have a fantastic attitude that rile up that traditional hardcore spirit that’s gone from many of the crossover bands today; it’s a nice change. Pro-Pain aren’t alienating their fans with the new record, and they just might bring some fresh meat in for the kill. –Bryer Wharton

Sick Room
Street: 01.06
Push-Pull = Hoover + Dis + Tar + Trenchmouth
I think when Push-Pull were trying to write this album, they must have put a picture of my face up in their band practice space and just thought about what kind of songs I wanted to hear. These guys did an OK job. While I appreciate them trying to make me happy, they didn’t have to completely adhere to the old-school indie post-punk formula of the early 90s. This album is good but, lacks a bit of originality. The vocals are very cool and creepy, with a lot of call-and-answer and varied back-ups. The instrumentation is solid and crunchy, yet there is just something missing. I think they if they would have worked on varying the dynamics of the music I bit more, I would have wet my pants with pure gratitude. Thanks for the effort, though, Push-Pull. –Jon Robertson

Quatre T�te
Art of the State
Sickroom Records
Street: 01.09
Quatre T�te = The Mars Volta + The Jesus Lizard
Quatre T�te: 100�rogressive rock, no question about it. Track after track is full of heavy guitars, dragons, rattlesnakes, and all other sorts of fun things you might be able to find in some obscure country's black market. Musically, the band members possess a clear togetherness that shows throughout the album. While this certainly hints toward some musical potential in the area of prog rock, the album just never felt pleasurable to listen to. The overall package was just too much. Even as I gave the album several more tries, no single song ever proved to differentiate itself from the others. Fans of obscure progressive rock may wish to check Quatre T�te out, but for everyone else, this album is just a tad too mediocre to care about. –Ross Solomon

Young Tree Records
Street: 06.17.08
Rockamovya = Groundations + Soul
Reggae is an amazing genre and these guys sure know how to keep up the positive vibes for the most high. All the artists met on a tour with the band Groundations in 2006 and the rest is history. Their smooth jazz undertones would make Haile Selassie swing in movement and the world would be irie if they could listen to these jams even for a moment. “No matter what’a people say, I and I lead the way” is a quote from one band member as he opens up the song “Horse Dance,” which has a very unique and original sound that gets your body moving and mind rolling to new dimensions as your ears listen in to the sweet sounds of Zion. Definitely worth your time to check out if you are wanting some smooth reggae to jam out to. –Adam Dorobiala

Ross the Boss
New Metal Leader
Street: 01.13
Ross the Boss = Manowar + Judas Priest + Accept
Have you ever found yourself enjoying the balls-to-the-wall rocking portions of Manowar, but got annoyed every song or two when the epic ballad keyboard type stuff changes the rhythm and mood? Well, Ross the Boss, intentionally or not, has tackled that notion. Ross “The Boss” Friedman played in Manowar from 1980-88, after which he played in a Manowar tribute band, and now he has started his own outfit. New Metal Leader is like a time capsule into the 80s world of great battle-worthy hair metal; everything on the album is what you’d expect, with classic metal, power chords galore, ripping solos and �ber falsetto vocals. If you enjoy the image of a bunch of mullet-headed-type dudes in tight pants, all ugly as sin, then you will enjoy Ross the Boss. For me, it’s a fun record, but unlike those classic 80s records with songs that permanently stick in your head, Ross the Boss offers up nothing memorable other than the mood of New Metal Leader. –Bryer Wharton

Into the Labyrinth
Street: 01.13
Saxon = Iron Maiden + Accept + Mot�rhead – Lemmy’s vocals + Blind Guardian
It has been a while since I listened to the lone Saxon record I own, Strong Arm of the Law. Going into listening to this new offering from the classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal band formed in 1977, I was pretty excited. Well, Into the Labyrinth embodies that classic metal feel in the majority of its songs—“Live to Rock,” “Demon Sweeny Todd,” and “Slow Lane Blues” sound like they could’ve came straight from the band’s older era. Songs such as “Battalions of Steel” and “Valley of the Kings” have more of a modern power metal feel, though Saxon stays true to their roots, remaining as straight-up classic metal as you can get. There are some truly fantastic hard-rocking riffs, speedy Maiden-style riffs, and a great range on the vocals, adding another great chapter in a classic band’s history and a critic that will be seeking out more classic tunes from Britain’s Saxon! –Bryer Wharton

Severed Savior
Servile Insurrection
Street: 11.25
Severed Savior = Morbid Angel + Odious Mortem + Cynic (jazz interludes only)
As a death metal junkie, it’s a shame to see the scene dwindling and being invaded by the “core,” trendy, cookie-cutter crap. Well death-heads, I found it—the best death-metal record of the year! Severed Savior is as about as brutal as brutal death metal comes, brimming with technicality, speed in every aspect of the songs, an unparallel intensity and most importantly, innovation. There is the current death-metal syndrome going around where so many bands sound like every other schmuck. Severed Savior suffers none of that. Servile Insurrection does a great job at not over-blasting their audience with the same down-tuned chords, and therefore, said audience will keep coming back for seconds. This offering from a relatively new band (this is their sophomore record) conjures up memories of Altars of Madness-era Morbid Angel slaying with old-school attitude and fresh songwriting. It’s a win-win situation; can’t go wrong with members of Odious Mortem and Gorgasm in your band! –Bryer Wharton

Severe Severe
Beyond the Pink
Bad Archer Records
Street: 02.01
Severe Severe = The Cure + Love and Rockets+ Joy Division + The Cult
Severe Severe’s latest album, Beyond the Pink, was a delightful surprise; definitely not what I was expecting. I was taken away by the smooth transition between tracks and how each individual track was put together so well within the CD in a whole. There is definite talent with this band, and the melodramatic style of this album. A very heavy and lethargic sound comes from the instrumentals, with vocals sounding very similar to that of Robert Smith from The Cure. Reminds me of something my mother would listen to back in the 80s at new-wave night. Gloomy acid rock, as she would call it. Severe Severe employs rhythms that sometimes require acclamation by the listener, but the reward is great. Way to go, guys. Keep on living the new-age goth-rock dream! –Alexandra Harris

Crash and Burn
Street: 01.13
Sinner = Primal Fear + Savatage + Judas Priest
Sinner’s tunes are more based in hard rock than in metal, which means with Crash and Burn, you know within the first few tracks what you’re getting and you know if you will enjoy it or not. The band’s been around since ’83, so they have the skills to kill. The guitar work is bordering on fantastic at times, with some of the more outlandish and fanciful guitar solos peppered throughout the album. There are some ballad-type songs lurking about, though, which disrupt the flow of the album, yet this being my first experience with Sinner, I’m assuming those songs are something fans have come to count on and enjoy. Personally, I’ll stick with the full-on rocking tunes—they have an underlying speed and attitude that spice up the normal drudgery and monotonous style some classic metal acts have been peddling for years. –Bryer Wharton

Solid Gold
Bodies of Water
Street: 11.07
Solid Gold = The Postal Service + Yacht + Shiny Toy Guns
This album is damn good. There seems to be an increasing demand for techo-rock these days, and fortunately, Solid Gold is doing their part in this genre community extremely well. The beats are pulsing and catchy, mixing real instrument with synthesized ones to create songs that sound half video-game-esque and half alternative rock. Mix in some techno beats, and the combination is a perfect match. The vocals lean more toward Postal Service, which matches their sound perfectly. The recording quality is amazing, considering the group released the album on their own. At times, Bodies of Water sounds more professional than many indie-label releases. Everything on this album just fits together perfectly, and it’s an amazing release. –Kat Kellermeyer

The So So Glos
Green Owl Records
Street: 11.04
The So So Glos = Dead Kennedys + The Shins + The Clash
The So So Glos are a happy-sounding punk band. Apparently, they’re pretty political, as they’ve removed the “w” from “Glows” in their name to protest Bush’s fucked-up-ed-ness (way to stick it to the man, right?). But you wouldn’t know they have an agenda without listening closely to the lyrics or reading the album jacket: the punk rock has an upbeat, feel-good tone to it. This reviewer happens to be mildly allergic to politics, but thankfully, the album satisfies of its own accord, with or without the issue-oriented messages. The So So Glos have a positive energy that, on their best tracks, is pretty contagious. It’s easy-listening contemporary punk rock. Go check it out. –Jesse Hawlish

The Streets
Everything is Borrowed
Vice Records
Street: 10.07
The Streets = Dizzee Rascal + Ty
Mike Skinner, also known as The Streets, has again transformed his style in what comes together as a very pleasant fourth release. Everything is Borrowed is much more light-hearted than his previous works. This lends itself to an overall feel that is noticeably less grander and darker than his other albums, especially Original Pirate Material. Still, many positives are exemplified throughout. An amazingly varied and engaging set of samples and beats are consistently employed, and this is one of several elements that creates such gems as “I Love You More (Than You Like Me)” and the title track “Everything is Borrowed.” The lyrics tend toward love, life and death in the philosophical sense, which is another notable departure. Still, it all fits nicely with the overall feeling the album presents. The end product is a bit different than in the past, but it still deserves a chance from both previous fans and newcomers alike. –Ross Solomon

Stuck Mojo
The Great Revival
Napalm Records
Street: 01.13
Stuck Mojo = Body Count + Lynyrd Skynyrd + Kid Rock + Zakk Wylde
Stuck Mojo formed in 1989, did the rap-rock thing well before the style took root in the mid 90s and ultimately became a musical scourge upon metal and rock. Well, Mojo reformed in 2005 with a new frontman whose hip-hop stylings mixed with guitarist/founder Rich Ward’s Southern-style rock brought new life to the band, mainly in Europe. While the band’s reformed debut album, Southern Born Killers, was decent for what it was, The Great Revival throws too many styles into the established sound that Mojo had and it fails miserably. The album has some funk, soul and country elements tossed in and none of them work. The album sounds as if it was going for a more upbeat feeling than the previous angst on other records, but in the end, the songs fall terribly and horribly flat and disjointed, with way too much filler in between songs. This album is enough to make a Linkin Park or Kid Rock fan cringe. –Bryer Wharton

Terminal Function
Measuring The Abstract
Street: 11.11
Terminal Function = Meshuggah + Cynic
With Terminal Function’s debut album, one must be patient for the album to take root. The first three tracks will test you, in an unintentional way, with its “duduh, duduh, dudduh, dum,” scattered-type rhythms and riffs with ambient synths and jazz tempos that don’t fit anything. The fourth track is basically a minute’s worth of synth filler. Then by the fifth track, “Room 101,” it’s as if Terminal Function had a switch and turned it from bland, unorganized music with no feeling into a feverous assault on one’s mathematical senses. A smorgasbord of precise, technical progressive death metal with hyper-speed stop-on-a-dime guitar riffs are unleashed, all in tune with organic yet robotic-sounding drumming. The overall satisfaction in listening to Measuring the Abstract may have gone better if the songs were arranged differently; splitting the precise, pulsating tunes with the spaced-out scattered tunes just might have made the record completely solid; alas, I’ll just be pleased listening to those last four songs. –Bryer Wharton

Too Pure to Die
Street: 01.13
Too Pure to Die = Pantera + Throwdown + n�-metal
Mom always said if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. So, in all truthfulness, this should be the end of the review, but since I have to put something on the paper, let’s talk about what a dismal and asinine release this drink coaster is. Imagine cookie-cutter moshcore mixed with n�-metal. Recipe for awesome, right? The vocal style is just terrible and the lyrics are just as poor. And how about some awful soulless singing on the choruses? Check. The guitar tone is abysmal; it overpowers the rest of the band and is so hyper-produced that it might as well have been programmed. Plus, do they really only know one note?! I know these guys being from Iowa is a selling point, but instead, it serves a preemptive strike to disarm haters by saying they just “don’t know better.” There’s just really no excuse for something this loathsome. –Peter Fryer

Trap Them
Seizures in Barren Praise
Deathwish Inc.
Trap Them = American Nightmare + Converge + Discharge
Trap Them quickly made it onto the quick list of bands that are not only OK to like, but are a beacon of what is still good in hardcore punk. Seizures in Barren Paradise is their most recent release, and their first full-length on hardcore behemoth Deathwish Inc. Seizures opens with the unorthodox “Fucking Viva,” which lets itself stew in its despondent guitar tone and pounding drums and builds to a wall-shaking climax in its brief 1:40 and never caves into the urge to speed up. This is why Trap Them is on that list. They make songs built on attitude, not convention. There are so many bands claiming to have their “heart” in the game, but are working within the confines of how they think they “should” sound as opposed to how they “do” sound. This is where Trap Them has it over the competition. –Peter Fryer

True Window
End Sounds Records
Street: 11.11
True Window = Catherine Wheel + Logh + Failure
True Window's native land of Texas had some influence on their music, and it is there it is in all its somber, droning glory. It rears its lazy head throughout the rock trio's debut album. Ten tracks of Dallas inspired lethargy. Singer Dan Phillips has apparently matured quite a bit since his last band (which were emo's unsung heros Slowride), penning ten tracks for this. The tracks tend to blend together with not much to separate them. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. It's actually quite pleasant and allows room for the album's gem, “Duelist”, featuring bassist Nicole Estil's shy vocals over that low rumble of distant thunder and the repetitive, hushed, crunchy guitars, which then goes into the Catherine Wheel sounding “KR”. They've thrown in a dash of shoegaze and stoner rock to make a decent album. What's next? –Ryan Sanford

Twisted Sister
Live at the Astoria
Demolition Records
Street: 11.18
Twisted Sister = KISS + Alice Cooper + Quiet Riot + New York Dolls + your 13-year-old sister’s makeup
A little metal, a touch of rock n’ roll, some makeup for good measure and a raucous live show and you’ve got the self-proclaimed SMFs known as Twisted Sister—a hodgepodge of metal and glam rock from the 70s and 80s. After 35 years, Dee Snider and the Twisted Sister clan have released a live CD/DVD from a 2004 show at London’s Astoria. With Snider and the band getting up there in the years, the real question is: can they still rock? As they say: “You Can’t Stop Rock ’N’ Roll,” and you can’t stop Twisted Sister from rocking … hard. While the live recording comes across a bit flat, the live footage somehow sounds much better and shows that the band’s passion for performing is still there. While this release will be mostly appreciated by longtime fans, there are classics for all, like “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” “I Wanna Rock,” “S.M.F.,” etc. –Jeremy C. Wilkins

Various Artists
Arriba La Cumbia
Crammed Discs
Arriba La Cumbia = Buena Vista Social Club + Ozomatli
Cumbia, a Colombian take on the styles of South American music, gets a supercharge of R&B (rhythm and bass) on this release, and makes for awesome mole-making tunes. This compilation features a slew of old- and new-schoolers representative of this style. World music lovers will recognize Basement Jaxx and Pernett & The Caribbean Ravers on some of the more banger tracks. If you have ever salsa-ed at a club (or thought about it) DO NOT PUT THIS ON, or you will be looking to find some hot shit to dip or be dipped by. All the classic hallmarks of Central and South American music are here: horns, Spanish lyrics, accordion—but with a little more spice courtesy of some DJ scratches/samples, electronic keys and pumping, sometimes reggaeton, beats. It’s muy, muy bueno. –JP

Various Artists
Irish Hip Hop Vol. 1
80 Million Records
Street: 03.17.09
Irish Hip Hop Vol. 1= Irish Accents (Jurassic 5 + Skinnyman + Roots Manuva + Ladybug Mecca)
If you were pondering where hip hop is headed next, you probably never would have guessed it would be through the tongues of the Irish. The Irish and Irish American artists on this album speak to the working class all over the world. A majority of the featured MCs have accents as thick as Mickey O’Neil’s in the movie Snatch. They rap about gettin’ pissed at the pub, loving their lassies, and being Irish. Many artists nail the Irish aspect and miss the hip-hop bit, but there were a few songs that grasped both. One of these beats without bagpipes was the piano-driven “Stop Fantasizin (DJ Flip Mix).” This standout track by the world-famous DJ Flip has scratched samples from Guru’s “In Memory Of” and strong coherent rhymes by the O’ Liffey Cousins. Another impressive track was “Wake Up,” a soulful journey narrated by the Infomatics. Overall, very interesting and worth the chance at hearing someone rhyme “shit” with “tight.” –SUPeRB

Various Artists
Punisher: War Zone Soundtrack
Street: 11.25
Punisher: War Zone Soundtrack = A new track from Rob Zombie + released and unreleased tracks from Slayer, Rise Against, Static X and Slipknot
General consensus on modern rock-movie soundtracks: the whole idea is just a marketing ploy by film studios, etc. to garner attention to the film by making a soundtrack with popular bands. That said, this soundtrack is worthless. It features a brand-new track, “War Zone,” from Rob Zombie, made exclusively for this release, which isn’t anything astounding, but if you’re a fan of Zombie’s music, you’ll want it in some form. Then you have plenty of tracks that were on the recent full-lengths of Slipknot: Seether, amongst others. Then there are the B-sides from bands like Static X, Rise Against, Senses Fail, Hatebreed and other artists not even worth mentioning. The B-sides are exactly that, the stuff that didn’t make the cut for the band’s actual records. If you like shitty modern rock, then by all means waste your cash on this turd of a typical action-movie soundtrack. –Bryer Wharton
Various Artists
REPO! The Genetic Opera
Lionsgate Studios
Street: 01.20 (w/DVD)
REPO! The Genetic Opera = Rocky Horror Picture Show + Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem + Bikini Kill + NIN + Korn
REPO! settles into the rock-opera vein with other cult classics such as Rocky Horror, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Doctor Horrible, while completely reinventing the genre. REPO! combines not just rock, but rap, industrial, metal and opera into one massive musical horror. Set in a future where organ failure runs rampant, a biotech company called GeneCo finances organ replacements. But miss a payment, and the company’s nasty repossession clause goes into effect, and a Repo-Man will be sent to collect your organs … even if it kills you. The story centers around a sheltered teenage girl, Shiloh (Alexis Vaga), and her father (Anthony Stewart Head), who is secretly a Repo Man. The cast features a broad spectrum of celebrity performers, including Phantom’s Sarah Brightman, Buffy’s Anthony Head, OhGr, and even Paris Hilton (that’s hot). Never thought I’d say it, but Hilton is amazing. Cast as Amber Sweet, the daughter of GeneCo’s founder, Hilton’s voice is perfect for the sultry, spoiled brat who is “addicted to the knife.” A little early for those cities who don’t get the limited theatrical release (i.e., SLC), but if you’re a fan of musical-horror, you’d best be streaming this now.� –Kat Kellermeyer

Viking Skull
Doom Gloom Heartache and Whiskey
Candlight Records
Street: 11.25
Viking Skull = Black Sabbath + Clutch + Mot�rhead
Viking Skull is one of those bands that will get by on cajones vs. musical chops. Doom Gloom Heartache and Whiskey proclaims loud and clear, “We love Sabbath! We love booze! We love boobs! Rock!” With that being your mantra, you won’t be too concerned with innovation. Viking Skull is pure, sped-up Sabbath riffs and shredded vocals. They’ve come for your women and to rock with a capital R. So, if that’s your thing, Viking Skull is your band. Tracks like “19 Swords” deviate a bit from the formula and hint at the epic tendencies you would expect from a band with a name like Viking Skull but overall, this is a rock n’ roll record meant to drink booze to. They don’t get trapped in gimmick, which is nice, well, except for the last song, where it is so eloquently proclaimed that Viking Skull will indeed be drinking until they shit their pants. –Peter Fryer

Infernal Command
Selfmade God
Street: 07.10
Voetsek = Death Angel + Napalm Death + Vio-Lence + Agoraphobic Nosebleed
Voetsek are a fine example of what neo-thrash bands should be doing instead of just copying styles that came before them. There are 17 cuts on the Infernal Command album with a replay value high in all aspects; other neo-thrash acts should take note: adding their own originality to the mix pays off big time. The band’s pacing and speed are manic at times; there is high- to mid-speed, thrashing riffing going on, and then, as if the band is literally egging the audience on with that speed and more traditional thrash style, like a ton of bricks to your face comes Voetsek’s grinding blastfests. It is within this style of pacing and arrangement of the album wherein lies the power of Infernal Command. The raw aspect of the tunes leaves no room for disappointment. This latest offering, just in raw power alone, can spiral any thrasher/grindhead into a mayhem-driven frenzy. –Bryer Wharton

The Welch Boys
Drinkin’ Angry
I scream
Street: 11.21
The Welch Boys = Dropkick Murphys + Agnostic Front + the Business
Ready to join the pantheon of great street punk bands from Boston comes the Welch Boys. Influenced by both 80s hardcore and English oi-style punk bands, these boys have packed one hell of a wallop into this record. Lead singer Ed Lalli has got to have the biggest voice in punk rock; this guy sounds like he could bring down walls with his gravelly voice. Each track is a hard-hitting sing-along anthem, and themes like being proud to be working class and finding yourself on the wrong side of the law ring so true on this record that I can tell these boys have really lived it. Working in a brilliant Anti-Nowhere League cover, “Let’s Break the Law,” shows impeccable taste. There are hundreds of punk records released every year and only a select few contain this kind of truth and honesty; these boys are from the streets and their music can only reflect that. –James Orme

Yahowa 13
Sonic Portation
Prophase Music
Street: 01.20
Yahowa 13 = Pink Floyd + Tomahawk (Anonymous) + Moody Blues
These dudes are bananas. Imagine if the The Byrds had continued with the sound the crerated on The Fifth Dimension cut out the vocals and you would have Yahowa 13. While their sound is a bit dated Yahowa 13 make some seriously trippy music. My favorite aspect is all the backwards-looped guitar tracks featured in every song. Also included in the booklet is a map through their auditory psychedelic journey explaining the numerology and sounds featured in the album. Think of it as a way for the band to be there for you in case your LSD trip starts to go bad. I wish bands with a newer sound put the same kind of spirituality and passion into their music like Yahowa 13 does, because if they did their music would be a lot more meaningful. –Jon Robertson