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toyGuitar - In This Mess (Cover)
toyGuitar: In This Mess
Fat Wreck Chords
If you were looking for a record to bring the summer to you a bit early, this is it. If you're in the NYC snow and you need something to cheer up with to a bottle of whiskey...this is it. If you're craving anything -- anything at all from One Man Army, Dead To Me and Re-Volts -- then this is the perfect substitution. Jack Dalrymple does no wrong. Every Swingin' Utters fan can testify to that. And In This Mess justifies that statement. toyGuitar finally unchain their beast and if you found their EP to be anything close to awesome, then you're in for a big treat. Most of the album is packed with breezy, beach vibes. [more]
Napalm Death - Apex Predator - Easy Meat (Cover)
Napalm Death: Apex Predator - Easy Meat
Century Media
It’s difficult to review a new release from Napalm Death in the same way that it’s hard to review a new release from Motorhead, Slayer or AC/DC. While they may try a few new things out here and there, you know what you’re going to get going on, and you have a pretty good idea of whether you’re going to like it or not. Apex Predator - Easy Meat, the latest release from the British grindcore pioneers, is no exception. While adding a few new flavors to keep things interesting, after three decades of melting faces, Napalm Death know what the people want and they deliver. One of the albums sonic experiments comes in the form of the album-opening title track. [more]
The Sidekicks - Runners in the Nerved World (Cover)
The Sidekicks: Runners in the Nerved World
Epitaph
Change appears to be the only constant in the world of the Sidekicks. The Ohio group have never shied away from taking risks and as such their artistic evolution has been absolute joy to follow. The uber-melodic Sam EP was a massive step up from their more traditionally punk rock debut full-length So Long Soggy Dog. Weight of Air was a significant evolution from there, simultaneously establishing them as one of the most exciting acts in punk scene as well as shedding the limitations of that scene and truly carving out their own sound. Awkward Breeds just pushed things further, demonstrating a masterful approach to melody and a stylistic flexibility unseen on their previous works. [more]
Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love (Cover)
Sleater-Kinney: No Cities to Love
Sub Pop
It’s been ten years since the last Sleater-Kinney release (2005’s The Woods) and nine years since their unexpected hiatus was announced. There was no public blowup nor stints in rehab, just three musicians going on their own paths after over a decade together. When their reunion was announced late last year, it was met with great enthusiasm if not slight trepidation. After all, ten years is a long time, and while the three ladies of S-K have stayed active musically (The Corin Tucker Band, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Wild Flag), the band as an entity has a certain legacy to live up to, somewhat magnified by their time away. [more]
Franz Nicolay - To Us, The Beautiful! (Cover)
Franz Nicolay: To Us, The Beautiful!
Silver Sprocket
“To us, the beautiful! And to those who disagree, may their eyes fall out,” declares Franz Nicolay in the first seconds of “To Us, The Beautiful!,” the title track of Nicolay’s fourth solo release. The line, taken from a Ukranian toast, sets the tone for a boisterous 12-song collection, the latest from the former Hold Steady and World/Inferno Friendship Society multi-instrumentalist. Recorded in six days, To Us, The Beautiful! shows Nicolay leading a guitar-driven band on what is Nicolay’s most accessible solo album to date. [more]
Atlas Losing Grip - Currents (Cover)
Atlas Losing Grip: Currents
Creator-Destructor / Revelatio
Rodrigo Alfaro was the main reason I got into Atlas Losing Grip. His vocal strength's the driving force behind the band and fits the amazing musicians this Swedish group boasts. I hope the transition is smooth for new vocalist Niklas Olsson, and from the little I've heard so far, well, it's very optimistic. But if it's one thing Currents does is re-emphasize that this closing ceremony, this curtain call for Alfaro is more than a farewell. It's their mission statement done in the most majestic manner and no doubt a huge contender for the best record they've ever done. [more]
Crazy and the Brains - Good Lord [EP] (Cover)
Crazy and the Brains: Good Lord [EP]
Baldy Longhair
The thing that makes Crazy and the Brains so compelling is that they are nigh impossible to define. Existing within the amorphous plane known as punk, the band has garage rock tendencies- what with their rowdy, jagged, messy riffs- but they’re not a “garage rock” band. The AV Club once compared the band to Rancid and while the pair share a frenetic, almost zany energy (the Brains perhaps more than Rancid) the group is far from Armstrong’s street-punk-meets-ska. Heck, there’s a xylophone in the band, but it’s applied with such force and enthusiasm, the band isn’t “Avant-garde punk.” They just rock. The previous LP, Let Me Go, established the band’s persona. [more]
The Raveonettes - Pe'ahi (Cover)
The Raveonettes: Pe'ahi
Beat Dies Records / The Orchar
Released suddenly on July 22nd of last year, Pe’ahi came as a joyous surprise for this admitted fanboy. But let’s try to be objective here, greg0rb. After digesting it for 6th months, Pe’ahi is up there with my favorite Raveonettes albums but behind 2008’s Lust Lust Lust and 2009’s In and Out of Control. [more]
Jetty Boys - Singles Collection (Cover)
Jetty Boys: Singles Collection
Urban Pirate Records
Sheboygan, WI’s finest pop punk act Jetty Boys have been feeling nostalgic. The group released their impressive full-length, named after their beloved hometown, Sheboygan on vinyl for the first time last year. Then they compiled all of their songs from previous splits into one convenient package on Urban Pirate Records. To sweeten the deal they threw four unreleased songs into the thing. [more]
Legendary Wings - Do You See (Cover)
Legendary Wings: Do You See
Dirtnap
I like Legendary Wings because they are populist. Do You See carries on the ideas that are at the core of the first wave of punk bands- that you do not need expertise to make meaningful music, that anyone with even the most basic tools can create something, that this could be, and should be, you. If there is any mystery in the album, it is in how Legendary Wings continue to find magic in straightforward chords and melodies. Writing a pop song is hard. Writing a pop song that sounds new while using tones, progressions and rhythms that are well-worn seems like it wouldn't make the process any easier. [more]
Alvvays - Alvvays (Cover)
Alvvays: Alvvays
Polyvinyl
Of any new band of 2014, Alvvays won me over the quickest (though I definitely did not write this review the quickest since this came out last July…) and their self-titled debut made the #6 spot on my unofficial personal Top 20 of 2014. I love me some '80s twee/indie pop, and this Toronto band is, knowingly, deeply indebted to that scene of K Records and UK’s Sarah Records. They clearly have studied NME magazine’s '80s cassettes like the legendary C86 comp that introduced much of North America to the Jesus and Mary Chain, The Pastels, The Wedding Present, Primal Scream and more. But falling in love with a band or album immediately can lead to burning out just as fast. [more]
Antemasque - Antemasque (Cover)
Antemasque: Antemasque
Nadie
It feels good to have Cedric Bixler Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez heal their wounds. Putting their differences aside is something that I honestly wouldn't ever bet on to last but at first glance, the reward seemed huge. Why? Well, because Antemasque sounded (or at least, teased a sound) like the lovechild of At The Drive-In and The Mars Volta. Well, that's just on the surface and on the first sip. Without getting too much into the checkered history of both bands, let's just say that both these guys do pretty well to cut ties from the old days by laying out something unconventional by their standards, and mapping out a record heavily draped in '70s and '80s influences. [more]
We Were Promised Jetpacks - E Rey Live In Philadelphia (Cover)
We Were Promised Jetpacks: E Rey Live In Philadelphia
FatCat Records
We Were Promised Jetpacks have been monstrous in the past. These Four Walls and In the Pit of the Stomach are two records I felt deserved much more attention than they garnered. But the Scotsmen have more than done their brand justice, popping up in films like "Hall Pass" and also, on soundtracks to the CW11 shows -- and if that's not making it, then really, what is? This live album doesn't set a fire though. What it does, is add a truckload of fuel, to a sound that's been burning silently and emotively for quite some time, and this beckons well for when their next record drops. And it better fucking be soon. [more]
Kicker / Submachine - Split [7-inch] (Cover)
Kicker / Submachine: Split [7-inch]
Inimical
As a bit of a teaser for their upcoming second full-length, Kicker has teamed up with Submachine. Kicker gives us a taste of what's to come while Submachine, who release materially rarely these days, serve to remind us what they do best. Kicker's side opens with the brand new track, "Shit at Kicker." Both a mission statement and re-introduction, the song demonstrates the band's hallmarks. Of course, right off the bat frontman Pete the Roadie spits out a diatribe about how he's bad at foosball in his gloriously thick English accent. As always, he's at once pissed off and hilarious. [more]
Push Ups - Grow Up or Try Dying (Cover)
Push Ups: Grow Up or Try Dying
Painbridge
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]

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