Best New Music

Push Ups - Grow Up or Try Dying (Cover)
Push Ups: Grow Up or Try Dying
You probably won't hear much people talking about Push Ups. So let me just say this is the point where you start spreading the word. In the arena of hardcore punk, this under-the-radar bunch has one of the most demanding, loud and in-your-face sounds today. Their 2013 EP, This Isn't Discourse was a perfect glimpse into the future and it's safe to say, all bets made were bets safely placed. Grow Up or Try Dying is a hard-hitter and that's saying the least. Tracks like "College Ruined My Life" help continue what they started a year or so ago. Frantic riffs and basement noise meant to mosh and break shit to. [more]
Lemuria / Mitch Clem - Turnstile Comix #3 [7-inch] (Cover)
Lemuria / Mitch Clem: Turnstile Comix #3 [7-inch]
Silver Sprocket
Lemuria has taken some novel approaches to releasing their music this year. First there was the surprise 7-inch bundle, a grab bag of rarities fans could pre-order. Then came the tour 7-inch, a record that could only be obtained by purchasing tickets for the band’s fall tour. Now comes the latest twist: Turnstile Comix #3, a comic book/7-inch split with artists Mitch Clem and Nation of Amanda. Previous installments for the Slow Death and World/Inferno Friendship Society were tops, and Lemuria’s issue is just as strong. Clem has gotten more comfortable with long-form storytelling. [more]
Stay Clean Jolene - Stay Clean Jolene (Cover)
Stay Clean Jolene: Stay Clean Jolene
Dead Broke / Drunken Sailor
For fans of Leatherface and Hüsker Dü, this is made for you. Fellow reviewer Rich got me into Stay Clean Jolene's 7-inch in 2012, and it's the last line in his review that stuck with me -- "My interest is certainly aroused from these three songs and I eagerly await a full-length from this band." Well, all expectations are met. It's a grueling punk-tastic album that kicks around themes such as romance, friendship and all good things Americana. The album's a frenetic, energetic kick in the teeth filled with big hooks and rasping solos. Rife with huge licks and heavy, dense, jaw-slapping bass lines, it's got a brilliant melody to it. [more]
Prawn - Settled [7-inch] (Cover)
Prawn: Settled [7-inch]
Topshelf Records
I've actually just covered a Prawn live show in which I said that a friend had described the band as a mixture of Brand New and Explosions in the Sky which I think is absolutely perfect. These two songs which form the Settled 7-inch are both in the same vein as the stunning full-length Kingfisher which was released earlier in the year and is sure to make a ton of album of the year lists across the community. On the title track, the band build at a steady pace throughout in typical Prawn fashion, before the horns kick in at the end and blow you away. [more]
The Brokedowns - Life Is A Breeze (Cover)
The Brokedowns: Life Is A Breeze
Red Scare Industries
To describe The Brokedowns as just another Midwestern pop-punk band would be to sell the Elgin, Illinois four-piece extremely short. Yes, they’re from the Midwest, and yes, there are more than enough hooks and sing-along choruses to check all of the pop-punk boxes, but there’s so much more too, from impassioned shouts to clever, pointed lyrics, and it’s all deftly assembled on Life Is A Breeze. The record shows a band that, after a period of evolution, has figured out a sound all its own, and is now making the most of it. [more]
Front Porch Step - Whole Again [EP] (Cover)
Front Porch Step: Whole Again [EP]
Pure Noise Records
In the game of folky acoustic acts, Whole Again proves to be one of the shortest yet one of the most profound pieces of music in recent years. Front Porch Step is the acoustic solo project of Columbus, OH's Jake Mcelfresh, and not only does it expose how broken yet talented he is as a singer/songwriter, but it shows that his past album, Aware, wasn't just a poetic one-shot of depression. He touches on the poignant notes of being human and once more, he drives these messages home with beautiful nails. "A Lovely Mess" is one of the most jarring, tearjerkers I've ever stumbled across. [more]
Chumped - Teenage Retirement (Cover)
Chumped: Teenage Retirement
Anchorless Records
Chumped was a band I tagged as a near-perfect blend of indie meets pop-punk, especially after their 12-inch. As time elapsed, I wondered if they could maintain this momentum. However, things changed a bit. It's hard for me to stick to this aforementioned tag now and this in itself is something that really doesn't bug me. Why? Well, because they've gone rougher, faster and entrenched themselves in making music with more attitude and a whole lot more spunk. Teenage Retirement breaks walls down and in doing so, it paints itself as a stroke of genius that'll no doubt end up paying big dividends. Anika Pyle's nasal vocals really set the album on fire, as expected. [more]
At The Gates - At War with Reality (Cover)
At The Gates: At War with Reality
Century Media
Whether either band likes it or not, the careers of At the Gates and their British colleagues in Carcass will always be connected. Both bands began their careers playing music much more brutal and less accessible than the melodic death metal they pioneered and ultimately became best known for. Both bands influenced an entire generation of heavy music, for better (Darkest Hour, The Black Dahlia Murder) and for worse (almost every modern metalcore band). Both bands spun off into more well known, but less essential groups (The Haunted and Arch Enemy, respectively.) Finally, and most importantly, both bands disappeared for nearly two decades, only to return with fantastic comeback albums. [more]
The American Scene - Haze (Cover)
The American Scene: Haze
Pure Noise
The American Scene made a confident and bold statement for the scene they often found themselves in with their "debut" LP (depends on who you ask, given the nine-track makeup of 2011's By Way of Introduction). 2012's Safe for Now was an excellent refresher in early 2000s emo rock, culling shades of the Jealous Sound and Hot Rod Circuit and using common but well-expressed themes of romantic entanglement to create a well-formed, formidable and often emotionally powerful record. [more]
The World/Inferno Friendship Society - This Packed Funeral (Cover)
The World/Inferno Friendship Society: This Packed Funeral
Alternative Tentacles
This Packed Funeral is World/Inferno Friendship Society’s comeback album. For those of you following the saga, the band’s last full-length, The Anarchy and the Ecstasy, was, by design, the band’s most melancholy release. Where they used to laugh with devilish glee as they ran from police and dallied with older women, they were spitting at old band mates and sitting at the side of the Raritan River, alone. There wasn’t any indication that the band was going to end per se, but as they withered down to a “paltry” five members, one did wonder if the sense of fun and mischief heard in their earlier releases have left the band in lieu of “growing up. [more]
Swingin' Utters - Fistful of Hollow (Cover)
Swingin' Utters: Fistful of Hollow
Fat Wreck Chords
Reviewing a Swingin' Utters record is not an easy task. The long-running band is constantly evolving, and in their 25-plus years they've moved from a heavily street punk-influenced sound to one that showcases more Irish folk influences to one that lends much to Americana and good ol' rock n' roll. On Fistful Of Hollow, the band continues to experiment, but maintains a foothold in the more rock-oriented sound that came to the fore on 2013's Poorly Formed. In doing so, the Swingin' Utters solidify the next evolution of their sound and show that growth is still possible for a band barreling toward the 30-year mark. [more]
Mischief Brew - O' Pennsyltucky [Cassette] (Cover)
Mischief Brew: O' Pennsyltucky [Cassette]
The Stone Operation, Mischief Brew’s last LP, bore a minor controversy. The album was a hard charging, kicking, electric anarcho-punk album (and their best release to date). It displayed both of the band’s core strengths. First, as always, song composition came first, and each of the songs were dynamic, shifting, and twisting as the band raced toward the end, and in several instances, even blowing up at the end like the earliest Greg Ginn tunes. Second, despite that the band kept the amps at 10, they maintained the knotty, shambolic nature of their identity. They blasted it out like the Subhumans, but there was a little bit of “O Danny Boy” in the edges. [more]
Mineral - 1994-1998 (Cover)
Mineral: 1994-1998
Arena Rock Recording Co.
Now's a great time to be a Mineral fan. Hopefully you're catching them on their reunion shows. If you can't (like me) then what's the next best thing? A reissue with bonus tracks of course. No matter what revival or new bands come around these days, as awesome as they might be, there'll always be the ultimate and untouchable records that are The Power of Failing. and EndSerenading. What makes this collection even more pertinent, is not only does it act as a brilliant jumping on point for newbies and the unexposed, but it's a deep breath of nostalgia for fans of the '90s who were lucky enough to catch Chris Simpson's words. [more]
Black Clouds - Dreamcation (Cover)
Black Clouds: Dreamcation
Collect Records
When the most melodic post-rock ambience and experimental shoegaze clash with thundering guitars and smashing drums, you get something that shakes you to the very core. You get something that fits in right up there with bands like Deafheaven and Nothing. You get something that ingrains itself in your mind and wraps its hand around the very fibers that make you what you are. You get Black Clouds. Everything Is Not Going To Be OK set the stage and raised the curtains. Dreamcation now takes this spotlight and in doing so, it leaves you further mesmerized. This album's as guitar-centric, solo-draped and as intricate as you'd expect it to be. And then some. [more]
Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out (Cover)
Exodus: Blood In, Blood Out
Nuclear Blast
Metal purists will always insist that Exodus' finest hour is their 1985 full-length debut, Bonded By Blood. It's a monster of a record that has earned it's legendary status to be sure. There's even a retro-thrash band named after it. However, for this listener, Exodus' truly shining moment is 2004's Tempo of the Damned. In the last decade and a half of thrash metal, Testament's The Gathering is the only thing that even comes close, and that record will be turning sixteen before too long. With the return of vocalist Steve "Zetro" Souza, the true followup to Tempo of the Damned has finally arrived in the form of Blood In, Blood Out. [more]
Whirr / Nothing - Split [12-inch] (Cover)
Whirr / Nothing: Split [12-inch]
Run For Cover
When bands follow up more-than-solid LPs with an epic split within the course of a year, I'd call that a big bonus. You'd think one win would be enough for each, right? Not with these bands. They're hungry. And that's where Whirr and Nothing strike hard again. Not only do their dual contributions feel like new material, but they feel like amazing offshoots from a 2014 that's been more than kind to them. Feels like a perfect growth in sound and nature running its course. It's music deserving of its own spotlight but still, there are more than enough remnants of the old songs to keep you attached to the stuff you loved from both ensembles. [more]
Pianos Become The Teeth - Keep You (Cover)
Pianos Become The Teeth: Keep You
Epitaph Records
Kyle Durfey's always written gut-wrenching and emotionally turbulent songs to cope with his father's death. He's given me some of my most connective tunes to date. In essence, Pianos Become The Teeth have been therapy sessions not only for their lead but for fans like me as well. 2011's The Lack Long After was the record that got me through severe depression over the last few years and it still holds up as one of the best post-hardcore/screamo records I've ever heard -- which had me tentative about the shift in direction that Keep You takes. [more]
Guerrilla Monsoon - Big City Plans [10-inch] (Cover)
Guerrilla Monsoon: Big City Plans [10-inch]
Paper + Plastick
A good punk rock band from Birmingham? Yep. Thank God, it's about time something changed. Guerrilla Monsoon, who formed in December of last year, signed to Paper + Plastick earlier this year which was followed by the release of a split with Gameday Regulars. Now, Big City Plans is the band's latest offering. A 10-inch, eight-track EP -- four songs new and four songs old. Let's start with the new. The record kicks off with "Flock the Nest," showcasing instantly the band's recognisable brand of emo-based melodic punk rock. Melodic guitars, a combination of emo/gruff vocals and an impressive rhythm section. [more]
Lagwagon - Hang (Cover)
Lagwagon: Hang
Fat Wreck Chords
If you talk to anyone in the late 20s to late 30s demographic that is a fan of the offshoot genres of punk music, most will probably have a favorite band from the golden years of Fat Wreck Chords. NOFX would probably be the most common answer, followed by Strung Out who have always maintained a ravenous fan base. No Use For A Name certainly deserves mention as well. For me, and I’m certain thousands others, it was Lagwagon. I won’t drone on about the band’s history; they’ve been around a long time and have made some very memorable records. [more]
Restorations - LP3 (Cover)
Restorations: LP3
Side One Dummy
Restorations pretty much established themselves with LP2 in a bigger and more expansive way. This was the album that announced them in the way most bands want to be viewed or defined. As someone who took a while to get into them, I boast this about that record because it was the one that really won me over. In spades. Few bands can pull off such an assured sound, and they did. Their music dips in and out, varying from conventional to intricate to wandering to intense. A deep range, indeed. But what makes Restorations click is that when they traverse these forks in the road, they do so with an extra edge and a bit more conviction. [more]

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