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Best New Music

Prawn - Kingfisher (Cover)
Prawn: Kingfisher
Topshelf Records
Prawn have always been one of those ensembles whose musical spread shimmered as a sound on the cusp of greatness. Their knack for rendering such organic, sincere tones in their storytelling while mixing up tenacious emo-based tunes really laid the groundwork for personal and emotive connection. Amid their dramatic commentary, they managed to come off instinctive in their sonic direction and as a band that really wasn't a copy of any other. Even better, their output helped build them as an entity that isn't anything too groundbreaking but still one that's hard to imitate. [more]
Chrome - Feel It Like a Scientist (Cover)
Chrome: Feel It Like a Scientist
King of Spades Records
Feel it like a scientist is Chrome's first album in 12 years but it feels like it was released right after 1979's classic Half Machine Lip Moves. So, that is to say, due to the band's sci-fi trappings and avant-garde nature, the album still sounds far ahead of its time. The classic 70's run of Chrome found founding member Damon Edge balancing his abstract, experimentations against the hard rumbling, proto-metal smashing of guitarist Helios Creed. Since Edge's 1995 passing, Creed has continued to Chrome mantle. [more]
Calculator - This Will Come To Pass (Cover)
Calculator: This Will Come To Pass
Count Your Lucky Stars
Calculator have taken lead from many influences yet they've always managed to add their signature flair and distinguish musical characteristics that ultimately prevail as their own sound. Harnessing leads from a wide array of genres, safe to say, they've found their sound and it's these traits that highlight how well they mix and mash (in dynamic fashion) threads of punk, hardcore, screamo and, of course, post-hardcore. This Will Come To Pass is by no means subtle and is in fact, one of their most rapid and angry outlays to date, but what it really signifies is that Calculator's stable has grown and more so, is ready to stand on its own as a band that's unlocking its potential. [more]
Various - A Comp For Mom (Cover)
Various: A Comp For Mom
No Sleep
No Sleep Records label founder Chris Hansen's mom recently passed away while he was prepping a comp to pay tribute. "A Comp For Mom is a special project I planned over the past month of my mom's life, to release in her honor and to help raise funds for her medical bills. Now it will be released in memory of her. 100% of the proceeds will be going towards any medical bills/other expenses incurred after her passing, after that 100% of the proceeds will go into a Linda Hansen Memorial Fund," he stated. First off, our extreme condolences to Hansen. Secondly, hats off for bringing together such a neat litltle cadre of musicians who embody so much heart and so much togetherness. [more]
The Dwarves - The Dwarves Invented Rock 'n' Roll (Cover)
The Dwarves: The Dwarves Invented Rock 'n' Roll
Recess Records/Greedy Records
The Dwarves Invented Rock n' Roll seems to be an instinctual reaction against its predecessor. As much as the band members argue that their lyrics and music come from a cerebral place, Invented Rock seems to be primarily a product of the gut and the balls. 2004's The Dwarves Must Die was the band's last album before an extended break. Sort of a daring exhibition, the band brought everything from Hip Hop to techno to pop into their mix to prove just how far they could stretch their sound- and to make the argument that punk rock isn't a method, it's an ideology. [more]
Autonomy / No Sir, I Won't - Split [12-inch] (Cover)
Autonomy / No Sir, I Won't: Split [12-inch]
Dirt Cult Records / Dead Broke
This split release features two bands both of which seem to be coming from an anarcho background but with slight variations as to the sound they employ to convey their respective messages. Up first is Autonomy, who open up with a very Fugazi like track in "Affect Heuristic" which has a melodic, meandering bass line that provides the backbone of the song over which the vocals remind me quite a bit of Guy Picciotto, adding to the comparison. [more]
The Muffs - Whoop Dee Doo (Cover)
The Muffs: Whoop Dee Doo
Burger Records/Cherry Red
The Muffs are back. I'm really pleased that The Muffs are back. I can't believe The Pixies treated Kim Shattuck like they did - that sucked and every time I hear Kim Shattuck growl and snarl on this record I believe it's aimed at that band. Just in case you have no idea who The Muffs are, they're a trio (originally a quartet) from L.A. and were responsible for a host of albums featuring a unique take on poppy and melodic punk rock and I'm kind of excited to have new music by the band. I apologise for that mini stream of consciousness but a new album by The Muffs elicits joy and breathlessness in me, almost to the point where I'm hyperventilating. [more]
Sleep - The Clarity [Digital Single] (Cover)
Sleep: The Clarity [Digital Single]
Adult Swim
It's been twenty years since stoner metal legends have written a new song. That's two decades. Chinese Democracy and Surgical Steel only took seventeen years a piece. As such, "The Clarity" their contribution to the Adult Swim singles series is kind of a big deal, and would have made Internet waves regardless of what it sounded like. However, the fact that it's actually an awesome piece of droning stoner doom makes the event all the more cause for celebration. One thing that will become apparent nearly right away upon first listen of "The Clarity" is that this is the best Sleep have ever sounded sonically. [more]
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]
Baby Ghosts - Maybe Ghosts (Cover)
Baby Ghosts: Maybe Ghosts
Drunken Sailor, Dirt Cult, Hip
There's a niche for cozy little indie-pop bands that are meant to take the edge off our hardened punk backs and that's where bands like Sweden's Makthaverskan as well as the likes of Now, Now and Tancred pop to mind (albeit because just recently I had them all in my player). Well, if you haven't heard of Baby Ghosts before, push them right to the top of that list. Coincidentally, these bands aren't out there coining any phrases for their genre a la fans who look to things like "The Wave" or "The Emo-Revival" to classify their blood, sweat and tears. [more]
Young Conservatives - Young Conservatives [12-inch] (Cover)
Young Conservatives: Young Conservatives [12-inch]
Obscene Baby Auction
Some groups like to work under a banner and/or manifesto and with a name like the Young Conservatives the band are no exception to that with theirs being as follows: "Not young. Not Conservative. An analogy for the modern state. The diluted mediocrity of 21st century British politics. Endless rhetoric and vitriol on what we are against because of our fundamental inability and unwillingness to actually define what it is we stand for." This is a grand statement indeed and one that really needs to be backed up with actions as well as words, which I'm happy to report, is the case here. [more]
"Weird Al" Yankovic: Mandatory Fun
Sony
"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]
The Victim Party - Getting To Know The Victim Party  [Book/LP] (Cover)
The Victim Party: Getting To Know The Victim Party [Book/LP]
Self-Released
Toronto's The Victim Party have decided upon a slightly novel approach to releasing their second album. There's no vinyl or any CD for Getting To Know The Victim Party. What there is though is a comic book, something that I know a lot of people involved with Punknews are really into. The music itself, nine tracks in all, is obtained via a download that comes on a bookmark which accompanies the book. I guess you could ask what came first the comic book or the music but to be honest who really cares? The book contains nine chapters, each one of which is like a loose pictorial version of the lyrics to the corresponding track on the album. [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]

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