Best New Music

Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again (Cover)
Joyce Manor: Never Hungover Again
Epitaph Records
Joyce Manor is straight to the point. Always were. Always will be. Never Hungover Again doesn't deviate from that plan. It sticks to their stylistic guns but also decides to foray into new avenues fans were intrigued to see them wander in, and also into even more surprising little nooks and crannies -- all of which end up wowing much more than first expected. If you felt their previous records were the best short bursts of energy they had packed in their punk armada, well, guess again. This album comes off as the most definitive and most complete that Joyce Manor have to offer. [more]
Arnocorps - The Greatest Band of All Time [Reissue] (Cover)
Arnocorps: The Greatest Band of All Time [Reissue]
Alternative Tentacles
The beauty in Arnocorps is that their message is actually much deeper than their bombastic fašade suggests. At face value, the group's album The Greatest Band of All Time seems to be 14 songs paying tribute to the classic period of Arnold Schwarzenegger cinema. There's a song about fighting a Predator. There's another that has the refrain "Get your ass to mars!" Another pays tribute to the great Barbarian God-king, Crom. But, if you ask the band (which includes six members, two of which play bass), they'll rebuff such an accusation. [more]
"Weird Al" Yankovic: Mandatory Fun
"Weird Al" Yankovic and I go way back. When I started becoming interested in breaking away from my parents' music and getting my own cassettes -- 3rd grade, 1989/1990 -- the first things I got were MC Hammer's Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and "Weird Al" Yankovic's Even Worse. I went backwards to buy the rest of his albums, and I bought each new one as it came out all through my youth. Don't tell Al, but I never bought Straight Out of Lynwood or Alpocalypse but I did listen a few times streaming or with nerdy friends who owned it. [more]
Swearin' - What a Dump [EP] (Cover)
Swearin': What a Dump [EP]
Salinas Records
While it's been available on Bandcamp for years (and cassette, if you could find it), Swearin's debut EP What a Dump has only just recently received a wider physical release, courtesy of Salinas Records. Housing six tracks on a single-sided 12-inch, Dump captures Swearin' in their infancy. It's lo-fi even by the band's grainy standards (Besides "Subterranean," I can't find the clam-flamming bass guitar). But the band's knack for hooks was still very much present in this early form. [more]
United Nations - The Next Four Years (Cover)
United Nations: The Next Four Years
Temporary Residence
Sometimes, it's good to let loose. Not like Pianos Become The Teeth need to be taught anything about that. Their screamo/post-hardcore work has pushed The Wave along nicely - throaty, driven, powerful and emotive - but, as with any fire, you channel more fuel into it, it'll grow. This ensemble of musicians do that with United Nations. They grow - incandescent, raging, uncontrollable, disturbing and in this album's case, more direct. The Next Four Years is just that as it surpasses how loud and distinct United Nations sounded before. [more]
Dead Ending - DE III (Cover)
Dead Ending: DE III
Bridge 9
If you're familiar with Dead Ending, then you know how much punch as a hardcore/punk supergroup they pack. Hardcore vocalist Vic Bondi of Articles of Faith is on vocals leading the way for The Bomb's Jeff Dean (guitar). Rise Against's Joe Principe (bass) and Alkaline Trio's Derek Grant (drums). Once more, they manage to show just how well they mix, bringing their respective punk characteristics to the fold, but working together, and fine-tuning well, to merge a sound that's easily distinguishable as their own. The predecessors to DE III all set the stage for them to light a bigger fire and it's a task nicely undertaken. [more]
Braid - No Coast (Cover)
Braid: No Coast
Topshelf Records
Recently, I was part of an interesting discussion that tagged bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Braid, among others, as throwaway bands -- meant for a certain time and place -- which isn't "now." In the truest sense of the word "debate," many of the personnel involved had a mutual musical respect and high admiration for the bands but still touted them as something arcane; a souvenir if you will. Now, I'll jump to making the point that No Coast isn't a typical Braid record. [more]
Plow United - Delco [7-inch] (Cover)
Plow United: Delco [7-inch]
It's Alive Records
Plow United recently announced their debut album would be reissued, and that they'd be releasing a new EP in 2014. Delco is the new release by the band, a four-song blast of melodic, catchy, poppy punk rock. The EP is around eight minutes long and barely lets up or slows down for a second. The songs are simple and catchy, but rarely repetitive and manage to each leave their own impact. "That Was Awesome" is a 50-second affair which starts with a proclamation of "that was fucking awesome" before continuing into a fast chant-along track. [more]
Plow United - Plow United [reissue] (Cover)
Plow United: Plow United [reissue]
It's Alive Records
While 2011's Sleepwalk: A Retrospective did an admirable job of reintroducing Plow United to a younger audience, the band's run of vinyl reissues certainly goes a step further. Going in reverse chronological order, the band has finally remastered its self-titled debut, with assistance from Stephen Egerton of the Descendents and It's Alive Records. It's a frills-free pop-punk masterpiece reborn. Plow United opens with three of the band's catchiest songs ever: "Tour Guide at the Alamo," "Spindle" and "Reason." Huge hooks, frenetic drums and a whole lot of open honestly spill out as the band plays as fast as they can. [more]
The Down House - Low [7-inch] (Cover)
The Down House: Low [7-inch]
Broken Hatre
The Down House is a band for you if you're looking for the next Dads. That's what rang through my mind for the duration of this record. In just four songs, there's a lot of emotion and a lot of deep-layered drivel to latch onto, all in a good way. Low has a nice, cynical tone to it and sets the stage for a bout of shoegaze that really leaves you anticipating the magic this band could make and the potential lingering with a prospective full-length. The record shifts from low to mid-tempo at most, but it has a dramatic characteristic to it that feels like Interpol, but taking a more modern post-hardcore route. [more]
Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else (Cover)
Cloud Nothings: Here and Nowhere Else
By the time you read this review, summer will be over. That's not really true, of course. It's early July. We're barely into the best season the oft-cruel calendar has to offer, but most know all too well that just as soon as the days are longest and the beers the coldest it's damn near time to get sweaters out and circle football Sundays on the calendar. How a propos, then, that a band making music so perfectly fitting for a season has dropped an album that serves as a perfect parallel. Just as the weddings, road trips, sunsets and baseball games blur like a photo album you can never quite keep up with, so does Cloud Nothings' finest album to date. [more]
Needles//Pins - Shamebirds (Cover)
Needles//Pins: Shamebirds
Dirt Cult Records
When someone tells you that a particular record is the best thing a label has released it's often worth ensuring that you're carrying a pinch of salt, especially when the label in question is Dirt Cult Records, home of far too many great releases for me to mention here thus making such a claim rather grandiose and potentially false. However, the fact that this was said about a Dirt Cult release, in the form of Needles//Pins' Shamebirds, was enough to make me sit up and actually get quite excited about hearing the record. Therefore, I approached Shamebirds with a mix of excitement and trepidation. [more]
ACxDC - Antichrist Demoncore (Cover)
ACxDC: Antichrist Demoncore
Melotov Records
Since their very inception, ACxDC have been criticized by a small, but extremely vocal sect for being "false grindcore," (Just visit any of their facebook events to see the bizarre and hilarious non–ironic attacks on their status as a band.) Well, you know what– ACxDC isn't "true grindcore" and thank God for that. If you look at the grindcore originators– Siege, Repulsion, Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror, and Carcass– each of them saw grindcore as way to break the rules. [more]
Jack White - Lazaretto (Cover)
Jack White: Lazaretto
Third Man
Yes, I bought this record initially for the vinyl trickery. This "Ultra LP" –– as Jack White and his Third Man Records label have dubbed it –– is crammed to the brim with weird little features that I've never seen on a record before. They had a NINE MINUTE demonstration video of how to play the record and after watching I immediately pre–ordered it. I'm a sucker. Now, was it worth it– Since the White Stripes broke up due to Meg's crippling anxieties and stage fright, Jack has kept busy. [more]
Everybody Row - The Sea Inside [7-inch] (Cover)
Everybody Row: The Sea Inside [7-inch]
Comadre lives on. Well, at least a portion of it in Everybody Row. This quartet subverts bits and pieces of its main components while maintaining the jazzy, indie and spastic punk influence that Comadre (especially) fine–tuned to a near post–hardcore perfection. Everybody Row has members of No Babies and Know Secrets to add rock and roll value for good measure to The Sea Inside and I'll definitely raise my hand to say I'm fanboying hard on Comadre (withdrawal symptoms and all), but in essence, all the members help mold the punk/indie aspects of the record very relevantly and more so, to give a nice distinct feel of their own. [more]
The Fur Coats - The League of Extraordinary Octopuses (Cover)
The Fur Coats: The League of Extraordinary Octopuses
Drunken Sailor/Dirt Cult/Artis
The Fur Coats are the trio of Marc Ruvolo (No Empathy / Das Kapital and head honcho of Johanns Face Records), Devon Kay (Devon Kay & The Solutions / Direct Hit!) and Davey Houle (Das Kapital). The Fur Coats are a funny band; not funny in a side–splitting way but more of a wry way that raises a grin as one listens to the lyrics. On top of that The Fur Coats provide some of the finest power pop you're likely to hear this, or any other, year. The band's debut album opens with a raucous fanfare in the form of the title track which contains a slight ska influence created by the use of horns and Kay's expansive bass lines. [more]
Earth Girls - Wrong Side of History [7-inch] (Cover)
Earth Girls: Wrong Side of History [7-inch]
Drunken Sailor / Grave Mistake
I do wonder sometimes if bands/labels etc. deliberately schedule releases for certain times of the year. It's glaringly obvious on occasions that particular releases just fit in with a season or period of the year and this debut single from Chicago, IL's Earth Girls is one of those that gives me cause to consider that my theory actually has some veracity. The four songs featured on this 7–inch just scream out spring and summer to me, such is the light and breezy quality they all contain and which must be considered as the signature sound of the band . [more]
Abolitionist / Rubrics - Split [7-inch] (Cover)
Abolitionist / Rubrics: Split [7-inch]
Different Kitchen Records / 18
I always find it intriguing as to how some bands come to be brought together on a split release. Of course there can be myriad of reasons for Band A and Band B to hook up and decide to work together, but on the face of it I'm not sure I would ever have put Portland' OR's Abolitionist together with Greenville, SC's Rubrics, but then what do I know– I've heard most, if not all, of Abolitionist's previous material and consider myself a fan whereas with Rubrics the only thing I have by them is the Sow Your Seeds EP and my initial recollection was that it was ok. This release actually changes my view on both bands. [more]
White Lung - Deep Fantasy (Cover)
White Lung: Deep Fantasy
White Lung's Sorry was majestic and a work of art in its own right, but Deep Fantasy takes them to a whole new level. It never ceases to amaze how they fit metal riffs into templates of hardcore, skate or thrash punk. Each song is so concise, high–octane and grating – all perfectly mapped into an unpolished and grainy sound. Every word from Mish Way just has an elegant ring of badassery to it and once more, they never waver. "Drown With The Monster" and "Face Down" are prime examples of this. So many influences and musical elements combine, which shouldn't surprise any White Lung fan, but you're still in a bit of disbelief. [more]
The Chantey Hook - Underground [7-inch] (Cover)
The Chantey Hook: Underground [7-inch]
Razorcake Records / ADD Recor
It's quite unusual these days for a band to release a 7" single with only two songs on. However, I'm of an age when I fondly remember the days of grabbing a 7" and not expecting anything other than two songs. Hell, three was consider exciting and four was something exotic, and when these began being called EPs ('extended play' for anyone unaware of what that stands for) I always felt I was getting a huge bonus. Therefore, I'm very much behind Chantey Hook's latest release which follows the two track format of my youth if only because it reminds me of a simpler time. [more]

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