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Not Tonight and the Headaches - Love ... And Other Weapons of Mass Destruction (Cover)
Not Tonight and the Headaches: Love ... And Other Weapons of Mass Destruction
Boss Tuneage / Anarchy Enterta
Back when I was in my mid to late-twenties I was pretty much obsessed with pop-punk. It probably accounted for 80 percent of what I listened to back then and some of the bands that tickled my fancy back then included the Hard-Ons, Chemical People, Green Day and Unwritten Law. Pop-punk has since gone through a number of changes over the years, many of which have left us with nothing more than limp approximations of what attracted me to the genre back then. Therefore, it's highly refreshing to hear something coming out that reminds me of that period around 25 years ago and which manages to do so without sounding sound dated either. [more]
Unwelcome Guests - Wavering (Cover)
Unwelcome Guests: Wavering
Dirt Cult Records
Let's do a show of hands on how many people like unwelcome guests, those people who drop in unannounced and get in the way of what you were trying to do? Hmm, I was right, not many of you. Now how many of you like Unwelcome Guests, the Buffalo, NY-based band? Ok, maybe not as many hands there as perhaps I'd like to see. Well, let me tell you something about the band's sophomore album, released by the excellent Dirt Cult Records, and see if I can pique your interest so that a second round will see more hands in the air. [more]
The Hold Steady - Teeth Dreams (Cover)
The Hold Steady: Teeth Dreams
Washington Square
It's the dream of every band to produce a record that's an instant hit and becomes a modern classic. But it's also a curse. The Hold Steady made waves with their sophomore release Separation Sunday, but it was their third, Boys and Girls in America that took the rock and roll world by storm. Craig Finn's previous band Lifter Puller had a solid following, especially in their birthplace of Minneapolis, but they were weird-odd time signatures, synths, Finn rambling on in a speaking voice about drinking, drugs and the music scene. [more]
Wisecrack - Whiskey, No Mixer (Cover)
Wisecrack: Whiskey, No Mixer
Self-Released
It's a tough (unpaid) job being a reviewer (I hate the word 'critic') because you are sometimes outfaced by a mountain of material that needs to be ploughed through but fortunately for the Staffers here at Punknews we're free to decide what we do, unless we've signed a pact with one of the two Reviews Editors (man, they're tough men to please!) to cover a particular release. Sometimes that mountain is topped by a band that comes along and kind of broadsides you, where expectations were minimal for whatever reason but they make an immediate, positive, impact: Wisecrack is one of those bands. [more]
We Live In Trenches - Life Crisis (Cover)
We Live In Trenches: Life Crisis
Farsot / La Familia
Norse mythology told of a hammer-wielding god who was associated with thunder, lightning and storms. That god was Thor, who, as part of his remit, was also responsible for the protection of mankind amongst other things. As a child I knew of Thor as the god of thunder, a natural occurrence which unnerved me to the point of hiding under bedcovers or behind furniture until I was old enough to know better. The roar of thunder and the weakness it caused it me is something I'm reminded of when listening to Life Crisis, the second album from Swedish quartet We Live In Trenches, as it proves to be as uncompromising as how I viewed Thor and his actions when I was a child. [more]
OFF! - Wasted Years (Cover)
OFF!: Wasted Years
Vice Records
Probably because OFF!'s music is so Spartan, when commenting on their output, people often reduce the band down to a single attribute. They rock. They're energetic. Keith Morris is angry. While all those descriptions are accurate, on their third LP, Wasted Years, OFF! reveals that despite their thunderous smashing, there is a great deal of nuance hidden between the shouted lyrics and roaring guitars. To be fair, Morris is angry here- maybe the angriest that's he's ever been. On "Void you out," he doesn't just want to beat up or kill someone, he wants to erase that person from existence. On "Mr. [more]
Donovan Wolfington - Scary Stories You Tell In The Dark [EP] (Cover)
Donovan Wolfington: Scary Stories You Tell In The Dark [EP]
Topshelf
Did you get blindsided by Stop Breathing? I caught wind of it too late last year and couldn't slip it into my year-end list but thankfully, Donovan Wolfington offer a second chance at making it right. This time around, what they do with Scary Stories You Tell In The Dark is flesh out an EP that not only surpasses its predecessor but one which manages to create something binding several influences together to churn out a jarring, loud and evocative outlay. It glosses over bits and pieces of the old but mixes up new punk dimensions to give arguably their most assertive record. [more]
Chuck Ragan - Till Midnight (Cover)
Chuck Ragan: Till Midnight
Sideonedummy
I've always believed that you can measure the quality of an album by how many different things you think about that album being a potential soundtrack to. "I can't wait to listen to this while I'm driving." "I'm definitely gonna throw this on when I'm fixing up the porch." "This would be great to listen to when we're fishing tomorrow." There could be any number of different ideas, but the commonality is how much more enjoyable they'd be with those rhythms and melodies swimming through your head. How much more enjoyable they'd be while you sing along and completely ignore how terrible you sound doing so. [more]
DeeCRACKS - Beyond Medication (Cover)
DeeCRACKS: Beyond Medication
Monster Zero Records
The influence of The Ramones has clearly been felt around the world for many years and DeeCRACKS are one of thousands of bands that have found themselves paying homage to the six bruddas who struck a handful of chords with so many people. However, these Austrians throw a bit of a curveball on their latest release, the band's second original long player, as they open up with a surf instrumental that took me completely by surprise. "Todo El Mundo Estį Enamorado" (which approximately translates to something like "This Worldwide Love" according to the internet) is a punchy, riff-driven track that nicely sets up "Dead End Mission," a song that is much more in line with my expectations, i.e. [more]
Fucked Up - Year of the Dragon [12-inch] (Cover)
Fucked Up: Year of the Dragon [12-inch]
Tankcrimes
Perhaps it's overstated in the name of journalistic sensationalism, but the conflict between various members of Fucked Up has always seemed to manifest itself in their music. Thinking back to the band's earliest tracks like "Police" or "Litany," even when the band snapped together into a unit composed of a single riff created by merging the instruments with vocalist Damian Abraham's voice, near the ends of those songs, guitarist Mike Haliechuk and Abraham would fly apart, each off on their own agenda. This disconnect seemed to grow across their LPs, culminating with David Comes to Life where at times it felt like the pair were recording two completely separate albums. [more]
Manchester Orchestra - Cope (Cover)
Manchester Orchestra: Cope
Favorite Gentlemen
Manchester Orchestra aren't that big of an enigma music-wise. They usually play off the strengths of Andy Hull's life-dramatics with bits of fiction strewn in here and there. They often manage to put out a hyped and great all-round product with their stylistic delivery coming off more cinematic than anything else. Amid these much welcomed theatrics, it always appealed to me how much they stay true to the artistry in their lead's mind. It's a powerful synergy and on top of the camaraderie among them, their dynamic goes a long way. [more]
Daisyhead/Have Mercy - Split [EP] (Cover)
Daisyhead/Have Mercy: Split [EP]
No Sleep Records
If you're a fan of Daylight or Balance and Composure, then you'd dig this. Two tracks apiece from bands which pivot around genres of grunge, post-hardcore and emo and which manage to come off pretty powerful with a mainstream appeal. It's a sound piece of contemporary rock which shows these bands have a great deal of promise, in the least. Daisyhead proved to be the biggest surprise on this split. Didn't know much about them but they complement Have Mercy so well on this record. "Dishonest" revels in a gritty, melodic aura built around crunching guitars and a screeching musical feel. [more]
BUZZorHOWL / Chestnut Road - Split [7-inch] (Cover)
BUZZorHOWL / Chestnut Road: Split [7-inch]
Brassneck Records / Boss Tuneage
Liverpool, England meets Toulouse, France, on this split 7-inch, and although being separated by approximately 706 miles as the crow flies over land and sea, both bands bring a love of bands like Husker Du, Leatherface and Dinosaur Jr. to the fore, with songs laden in a fuzzy quality that has quite a nostalgic feel to it. That's not to say either band is eagerly looking back in time for inspiration but they acknowledge what has pushed them to where they find themselves now. First up is BUZZorHOWL, made up of former members of Drive and Jailcell Recipes, bands that were popular back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. [more]
Finch - What It Is To Burn X (Cover)
Finch: What It Is To Burn X
Tragic Hero
What It Is To Burn was one of my high-school records that would rarely leave the player. I distinctly recall Finch, Taproot and Glassjaw being the thing of dreams back then - the bands that had us wishing we could play instruments. They ruled our high-school. There was something for everyone in their music. Melodic-punk, nu-metal, hardcore and even screamo. This live record proves not only nostalgic but also, a stark reminder that some bands do have that magic in them to come back years later and pay proper tribute to an album, which in my arcane era, was considered a landmark. [more]
Makthaverskan - II (Cover)
Makthaverskan: II
Run For Cover
Make no mistake with how dark Makthaverskan's II is. Yes, they're a Swedish indie-pop-rock ensemble. But their musical content lies very much on the darker side of life. After hearing a couple tracks from them a while back, they never pegged me as anything that stood out but this record catches you. It follows a simple model with indie-music as cool as a breezy summer but amid the distorted guitars and hazy riffing, the themes they play on are as cathartic as they can get. Maja Milner's candor takes the Gothenburg outfit to new heights with an outlay that is as honest and as scary as can be but the fact that it's such a lovely-sounding musical novel makes it hard to ignore. [more]
Nightmares For A Week / Banquets - Split [12-Inch] (Cover)
Nightmares For A Week / Banquets: Split [12-Inch]
Black Numbers
To say Banquets and Nightmares For A Week packed epic quality into this would be one of the biggest understatements. Both bands cook something up that float neatly into the realm of The Get-Up Kids, Gaslight Anthem, Red City Radio and Restorations with a diversely emotional, catchy and rock-steady sound that has a mainstream, radio-friendly vibe to it yet you can tell it's a sound both bands crafted by roughing it through their respective scenes. I'm still torn between Civilian War and Don't Die as to what's NFAW's best sound. I love their direct approach to things and how they managed to refine their sound. [more]
Posture and The Grizzly - Busch Hymns (Cover)
Posture and The Grizzly: Busch Hymns
Broken World
There's something phenomenal about this record. I had to open like that because it fucking deserves no less of an opening statement. Such energy, such a brilliant fusion of musical styles really draw me in and Busch Hymns has the passion, balls and don't-care punk charisma that you can't help but feel drawn to. Accidentally stumbling onto this may well be one of the biggest positives thus far in 2014. Think melodic punk with a screamo edge. That's more or less what the opener "No Brains" signifies. It's brash and recklessly good, like so much of the record. [more]
Muncie Girls / Great Cynics - Split (Cover)
Muncie Girls / Great Cynics: Split
Specialist Subject Records
Here you have a match made in Devon: both bands have members who reside in the premier county of the Southwest region of England, all the tracks were recorded in Devon and finally, Specialist Subject Records operates out of Exeter, the county town of Devon. For a non-Devon coincidence, both bands are trios with female bassists. So, after that little aside I suppose it's down to the music. First up its Muncie Girls: if it was possible to marry a band then this would be the band I'd propose to. [more]
Toadies - Rubberneck [Reissue] (Cover)
Toadies: Rubberneck [Reissue]
Kirtland

August 1994: Ft. Worth, Texas four-piece known as the Toadies drop Rubberneck, their seminal LP that-though not marketed as a concept album-narrates like the sinister soliloquy of a Southern sermonizer, awash with sin but assured of salvation.

April 1995: Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, in conjunction with DC Vertigo Comics drop their iconic Preacher, the warped story of a Texas minister possessed by an angel-demon union on the hunt for morality and a God who has abandoned heaven.

Coincidence?

Probably...but they invoke remarkably similar imagery. [more]

La Sera - Losing to the Dark [Digital Single] (Cover)
La Sera: Losing to the Dark [Digital Single]
Hardly Art
Apparently, for her third La Sera album, Katy Goodman "didn't want the [the album] to be another record of me sad, alone in my room." Well, this certainly isn't a boo-hoo-is-me kind of record, even though the lead single, "Losing to the dark" is about breaking up with a drug addict. The track opens with some buzzing feedback before La Sera guitarist Todd Wisenbaker rips out face-shredding licks. [more]

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