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Ceremony - The L-Shaped Man (Cover)
Ceremony: The L-Shaped Man
Matador Records
Let's get this out of the way: Ceremony's sound has evolved. If you thought Zoo was a departure from Rohnert Park, or that Rohnert Park was a departure from Still Nothing Moves You, you'll surely think The L-Shaped Man is another departure, and you'd be correct. While opinions about the band's evolving sound are many and varied, in the final analysis, the key question is whether the music is good, rather than whether the next album sounds like that last, and the answer to that question is a clear yes. [more]
Tau Cross - Tau Cross (Cover)
Tau Cross: Tau Cross
Relapse Records
It’s fitting that Tau Cross’ self-titled debut opens with a track called “Lazarus.” In more ways than one, the band itself is a rebirth, or, return from death, for frontman Rob Miller. When his previous band, punk legends Amebix, suddenly ended in 2012 following their excellent Sonic Mass reunion record, it was unclear if it was the end of the line for Miller, who hadn’t released music for decades preceding Sonic Mass' arrival. Little did we know, the whole time something was growing from Amebix’s ashes. [more]
Delinquints - Punish The Wicked (Cover)
Delinquints: Punish The Wicked
Self-Released
Toronto, Ontario’s Delinquints have been rockin’ the Canadian punk scene since 2002. For you Kenny vs. Spenny fans, you may have seen the band perform an hilarious hardcore song with Kenny Hotz in the episode “First Guy To Stop Singing Loses” (skip to 14:48). After a two-year hiatus, the Delinquints reformed in 2014 and on April 27, 2015 they released a digitally re-mastered version of their Punished the Wicked release, which was originally out on May 28, 2010. Of the seven tracks on this EP the most standout one is the song “Holidays. [more]
Pianos Become The Teeth - Close [7-inch] (Cover)
Pianos Become The Teeth: Close [7-inch]
Epitaph Records
It seems that fans have adjusted to the transition made by Pianos Become The Teeth from their old post-hardcore/screamo sound to a calmer, ambient, post-rock vibe. Keep You harnessed the content aspects of Kyle Durfey's life as love crept in allowing him to be happier and let go the angst that death and loss brought in the past. The harsher notes were seen on records like The Lack Long After and honestly, it was a shock to take in what PBTT's new sound shifted to but nonetheless, in its melody this new aura possessed something beautiful. [more]
After the Fall - Dedication (Cover)
After the Fall: Dedication
Bridge 9
Albany, NY’s After The Fall are one of the most tight-knit and prolific acts melding melodic hardcore and skate-punk together currently. They feel like a genuine mash-up of two bands I adore in A Wilhelm Scream and Richmond's This Is Your Life in terms of how free, expressive and creative they get -- not to mention how earnest they ply their craft. Dedication is a great follow-up to Unkind, laced with some of the speediest and technically sound riffs I've heard in some time. What's even more appealing is the vein of honesty it represents as a tribute/eulogy to fallen comrade and ex-bassist, Brian J. Peters, who died in October 2013, ergo the record's title. [more]
Jello Biafra  and the New Orleans Raunch and Soul All-Stars - Walk on Jindal's Splinters (Cover)
Jello Biafra and the New Orleans Raunch and Soul All-Stars: Walk on Jindal's Splinters
Alternative Tentacles
In 2011, Bill Davis of Dash Rip Rock challenged punk legend Jello Biafra to fly down to New Orleans for Jazz Fest and perform a set of New Orleans classics. Jello accepted the offer and on May 8, 2011, Jello, backed by a 10 piece band directed by Davis, ripped though two handfuls of roots, soul, blues, garage rock, and frat tunes. The resulting album, credited to Jello Biafra and the New Orleans Raunch and Soul All-Stars, and titled Walk on Jindal’s Splinters, showcases Jello and crew at their rowdiest and most celebratory. [more]
Brand New - Mene [Digital Single] (Cover)
Brand New: Mene [Digital Single]
Procrastinate! Music Traitors
“We don’t feel anything!” is the new “Die Young and Save Yourself!” Brand New have finally returned with “Mene,” their first new material in six years (twice the group’s usual album cycle.) Each of Brand New’s four albums has is its own sound, its own character, but for the first time ever, the Long Island band have written a track that feels like a greatest hits compilation of everything they’ve done before, and while that style songwriting can easily go south, the results are surprisingly awesome. [more]
Metz - II (Cover)
Metz: II
Sub Pop Records
As of II, Metz have been added to my "anger" playlist. This includes Refused, Drive Like Jehu, Fugazi, Ceremony and At The Drive-In. You can sense the pattern, right? It's all about bands -- pissed off, revolting yet making painfully beautiful music. At the core of this heartfelt chaos, these bands have something genuine about them and that's what struck with Metz in 2012; and furthermore, that's what carries over into this album. The opening riff of "Acetate" is the template for this record. Musically, it lays the groundwork for almost every single beat laid down, all well-differentiated of course. [more]
Downtown Boys - Full Communism (Cover)
Downtown Boys: Full Communism
Don Giovanni Records
Life in 2015 is in many ways a study in contradictions. We're told that we're living in a post-racial society in which all are treated as equals and the problems of the past are just that -- in the past. Yet a simple flick of the TV remote or a few minutes spent reading the latest headlines or browsing social media tells a very different story, one about a society where little has changed, progress is blocked at every turn and old wounds not only remain open, but have salt poured in them on a daily basis. Thankfully, there are bands like Downtown Boys, who spend much of their debut record, Full Communism, loudly reminding us how far we still have to go. [more]
Hop Along - Painted Shut (Cover)
Hop Along: Painted Shut
Saddle Creek Records
If you're an indie-rock fan who hasn't heard Get Disowned then you're probably living in a rocky labyrinth more intricate than Bin Laden's. Or Crete's Minotaur. Hop Along became strong contenders for the poster-band for the indie genre with the release of this masterpiece in 2012 - unheralded but quickly found to be one of the most unrelenting opus of the past five years. If there was ever any doubt to them staking claim as top dog, Painted Shut quickly removes those concerns and reinforces the band's place atop the pyramid. [more]
The Mountain Goats - Beat the Champ (Cover)
The Mountain Goats: Beat the Champ
Merge
I haven’t watched pro wrestling since I was in middle school, maybe younger. And now, John Darnielle, head honcho behind the Mountain Goats, has got me researching wrestlers. I would follow this man to the ends of the earth, obviously. To the uninitiated, this might seem like an odd topic for an album by an indie artist who many outsiders may deem a “heavy” lyricist, perhaps hearing things about Darnielle writing fictional tales of doomed couples who eventually divorce, tweakers who just can’t help ruining their lives, and the death of his abusive stepfather. [more]
Twinsmith - Alligator Years (Cover)
Twinsmith: Alligator Years
Saddle Creek Records
Omaha's Twinsmith are the next Vampire Weekend. In terms of retro-pop and a consistently eccentric yet catchy energy, well, these guys are bursting at the seams and prove to be one of 2015's biggest and most pleasant surprises. Their sophomore LP, Alligator Years is nothing short of infectious as it rattles off as a diverse, spellbinding bout of indie/pop/rock. It's a record that'll be in my player for quite some time because let's face it, we all could do with buoyantly playful pop jams soaring from our speakers as we're stuck in two-hour traffic every day. Just to clarify, I'm not exaggerating on the Vampire Weekend comparison. [more]
Thin Lips - Divorce Year (Cover)
Thin Lips: Divorce Year
Seagreen
On first listen, Thin Lips vaguely sounded like Hop Along demos. Ironic given they're Philly neighbors and that they're actually opening for Frances Quinlan's band. There are a lot of similarities between the two so it makes sense to link them but that doesn't take away from how powerful and moving Thin Lips come off in just four short tracks. Divorce Year is a raw-vocal powerhouse wrapped with a crunchy power-pop blanket that leaves you relating to Philly souls once again. Why? Well, because everything encompassing them seems based on the precept of family - from their craft to their surroundings. [more]
Millencolin - True Brew (Cover)
Millencolin: True Brew
Epitaph Records
Millencolin fans are always waging wars, pitting so many of their records against each other. You'd expect no less regarding a band that isn't ever really afraid to mix things up. They always create waves and buzz as they continually shake their modus operandi and play outside their comfort zone. Millencolin love to explore and take risks; and whether you like their style or not, in jumping in and out of these sandboxes, there's a certain level of respect to be gained. What True Brew represents however is a band that's managed to reconcile the best snippets off each album and bombard you with nothing short of punk goodness. [more]
The Menzingers - I Was Born [7-inch] (Cover)
The Menzingers: I Was Born [7-inch]
Red Scare Industries
Believe it or not it has already been five years since Red Scare Industries released I Was Born as a digital EP on March 16, 2010 and Chamberlain Waits on April 13, 2010. Since then The Menzingers have released two excellent albums on Epitaph Records, toured extensively all over the world and exploded in popularity. In celebration of the five year anniversary of the I Was Born EP’s release and Record Store Day 2015, Red Scare Industries has decided to get this EP the pressing on vinyl that it so rightfully deserves. On the A-side there is the title track. [more]
OFF! - Live from the BBC [10-inch] (Cover)
OFF!: Live from the BBC [10-inch]
Vice Records
Without question, the initial spark of excitement surrounding OFF! had to do with their “hook,” if you will: Four punk rock veterans getting together and blasting out first/second wave West Coast inspired punk rock, many songs of which are about how the frontman hated a certain former bandmate. That’s a great way to get people interested, but it all would have amounted bupkis if the band didn’t destroy live. In fact, the band likely faced a higher barrier to acclaim because of their pedigree and because they were older dudes. Punk is, after all, often considered a young man's game. (I disagree with that, mind you). [more]
The Decemberists - What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (Cover)
The Decemberists: What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
Capitol
2015 is a big year for indie rock, with the returns of Modest Mouse and Death Cab For Cutie, as well as strong showings from The Mountain Goats and Arcade Fire’s Will Butler. Surprisingly however, they’ve all been completely outclassed and outshined by the Decemberists, who have just crafted one of, if not their best album ever a full decade and a half into their career with What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. The album opens with the aptly titled, fourth-wall breaking “The Singer Addresses His Audience.” It’s a fun, tongue in cheek way to begin an album that hides some surprisingly dark lyrics behind its cheery facade. [more]
All Get Out - Movement [EP] (Cover)
All Get Out: Movement [EP]
Bad Timing Records
Nathan Hussey's one of my favorite frontmen in modern rock. His delivery, earnest lyrics and vulnerability as a storyteller/singer all remind me of Andy Hull from Manchester Orchestra. The way his words comply with life's tragedies was what made The Season in 2011 and All Get Out's 2008 self-titled resonate. If All Get Out's music focused on a single overarching theme, it's the process of growing up: fumbling for connection, finding oneself, feeling out the ways human beings do and don't settle into their own skin. [more]
Red City Radio - Red City Radio (Cover)
Red City Radio: Red City Radio
Staple Records
To start, Red City Radio has gone through some significant changes as a band since Titles came out. They played their first headlining tour last year, Paul Pendley left the band on amicable terms, and they switched from Paper + Plastick Records to Staple Records to release their new self-titled album. Now I have always maintained that Red City Radio has some of the best guitar solos, use of guitar octaves, and backing harmony vocals in the punk scene (comparable to that of Bad Religion). You still get a lot of those aspects of that “older” Red City Radio sound with this new album as well as their big build-ups to anthemic and powerful choruses. [more]
Burning Love - Down So Long [7-inch] (Cover)
Burning Love: Down So Long [7-inch]
Deathwish
Burning Love have a dynamic trait that draws you in and lets you vent. They're always playing with the right amount of hardcore fireworks and in doing so, they end up unsurprisingly producing albums which evolve and progress by the release. Each the more explosive than the last. This 7-inch is no different and offers yet another premiere look into what Burning Love do best. From this perspective, it's another blinder of an album, albeit one that's too short. Too shor,t but indeed, too sweet. And one which fits perfectly into their discography. Take for example, the opening track, "Down So Long", which is a great punk/hardcore mash-up. [more]

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