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Chumped - Teenage Retirement (Cover)
Chumped: Teenage Retirement
Anchorless Records
Chumped was a band I tagged as a near-perfect blend of indie meets pop-punk, especially after their 12-inch. As time elapsed, I wondered if they could maintain this momentum. However, things changed a bit. It's hard for me to stick to this aforementioned tag now and this in itself is something that really doesn't bug me. Why? Well, because they've gone rougher, faster and entrenched themselves in making music with more attitude and a whole lot more spunk. Teenage Retirement breaks walls down and in doing so, it paints itself as a stroke of genius that'll no doubt end up paying big dividends. Anika Pyle's nasal vocals really set the album on fire, as expected. [more]
At The Gates - At War with Reality (Cover)
At The Gates: At War with Reality
Century Media
Whether either band likes it or not, the careers of At the Gates and their British colleagues in Carcass will always be connected. Both bands began their careers playing music much more brutal and less accessible than the melodic death metal they pioneered and ultimately became best known for. Both bands influenced an entire generation of heavy music, for better (Darkest Hour, The Black Dahlia Murder) and for worse (almost every modern metalcore band). Both bands spun off into more well known, but less essential groups (The Haunted and Arch Enemy, respectively.) Finally, and most importantly, both bands disappeared for nearly two decades, only to return with fantastic comeback albums. [more]
The American Scene - Haze (Cover)
The American Scene: Haze
Pure Noise
The American Scene made a confident and bold statement for the scene they often found themselves in with their "debut" LP (depends on who you ask, given the nine-track makeup of 2011's By Way of Introduction). 2012's Safe for Now was an excellent refresher in early 2000s emo rock, culling shades of the Jealous Sound and Hot Rod Circuit and using common but well-expressed themes of romantic entanglement to create a well-formed, formidable and often emotionally powerful record. [more]
The World/Inferno Friendship Society - This Packed Funeral (Cover)
The World/Inferno Friendship Society: This Packed Funeral
Alternative Tentacles
This Packed Funeral is World/Inferno Friendship Society’s comeback album. For those of you following the saga, the band’s last full-length, The Anarchy and the Ecstasy, was, by design, the band’s most melancholy release. Where they used to laugh with devilish glee as they ran from police and dallied with older women, they were spitting at old band mates and sitting at the side of the Raritan River, alone. There wasn’t any indication that the band was going to end per se, but as they withered down to a “paltry” five members, one did wonder if the sense of fun and mischief heard in their earlier releases have left the band in lieu of “growing up. [more]
Swingin' Utters - Fistful of Hollow (Cover)
Swingin' Utters: Fistful of Hollow
Fat Wreck Chords
Reviewing a Swingin' Utters record is not an easy task. The long-running band is constantly evolving, and in their 25-plus years they've moved from a heavily street punk-influenced sound to one that showcases more Irish folk influences to one that lends much to Americana and good ol' rock n' roll. On Fistful Of Hollow, the band continues to experiment, but maintains a foothold in the more rock-oriented sound that came to the fore on 2013's Poorly Formed. In doing so, the Swingin' Utters solidify the next evolution of their sound and show that growth is still possible for a band barreling toward the 30-year mark. [more]
Mischief Brew - O' Pennsyltucky [Cassette] (Cover)
Mischief Brew: O' Pennsyltucky [Cassette]
Fistolo
The Stone Operation, Mischief Brew’s last LP, bore a minor controversy. The album was a hard charging, kicking, electric anarcho-punk album (and their best release to date). It displayed both of the band’s core strengths. First, as always, song composition came first, and each of the songs were dynamic, shifting, and twisting as the band raced toward the end, and in several instances, even blowing up at the end like the earliest Greg Ginn tunes. Second, despite that the band kept the amps at 10, they maintained the knotty, shambolic nature of their identity. They blasted it out like the Subhumans, but there was a little bit of “O Danny Boy” in the edges. [more]
Mineral - 1994-1998 (Cover)
Mineral: 1994-1998
Arena Rock Recording Co.
Now's a great time to be a Mineral fan. Hopefully you're catching them on their reunion shows. If you can't (like me) then what's the next best thing? A reissue with bonus tracks of course. No matter what revival or new bands come around these days, as awesome as they might be, there'll always be the ultimate and untouchable records that are The Power of Failing. and EndSerenading. What makes this collection even more pertinent, is not only does it act as a brilliant jumping on point for newbies and the unexposed, but it's a deep breath of nostalgia for fans of the '90s who were lucky enough to catch Chris Simpson's words. [more]
Black Clouds - Dreamcation (Cover)
Black Clouds: Dreamcation
Collect Records
When the most melodic post-rock ambience and experimental shoegaze clash with thundering guitars and smashing drums, you get something that shakes you to the very core. You get something that fits in right up there with bands like Deafheaven and Nothing. You get something that ingrains itself in your mind and wraps its hand around the very fibers that make you what you are. You get Black Clouds. Everything Is Not Going To Be OK set the stage and raised the curtains. Dreamcation now takes this spotlight and in doing so, it leaves you further mesmerized. This album's as guitar-centric, solo-draped and as intricate as you'd expect it to be. And then some. [more]
Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out (Cover)
Exodus: Blood In, Blood Out
Nuclear Blast
Metal purists will always insist that Exodus' finest hour is their 1985 full-length debut, Bonded By Blood. It's a monster of a record that has earned it's legendary status to be sure. There's even a retro-thrash band named after it. However, for this listener, Exodus' truly shining moment is 2004's Tempo of the Damned. In the last decade and a half of thrash metal, Testament's The Gathering is the only thing that even comes close, and that record will be turning sixteen before too long. With the return of vocalist Steve "Zetro" Souza, the true followup to Tempo of the Damned has finally arrived in the form of Blood In, Blood Out. [more]
Pianos Become The Teeth - Keep You (Cover)
Pianos Become The Teeth: Keep You
Epitaph Records
Kyle Durfey's always written gut-wrenching and emotionally turbulent songs to cope with his father's death. He's given me some of my most connective tunes to date. In essence, Pianos Become The Teeth have been therapy sessions not only for their lead but for fans like me as well. 2011's The Lack Long After was the record that got me through severe depression over the last few years and it still holds up as one of the best post-hardcore/screamo records I've ever heard -- which had me tentative about the shift in direction that Keep You takes. [more]
Guerrilla Monsoon - Big City Plans [10-inch] (Cover)
Guerrilla Monsoon: Big City Plans [10-inch]
Paper + Plastick
A good punk rock band from Birmingham? Yep. Thank God, it's about time something changed. Guerrilla Monsoon, who formed in December of last year, signed to Paper + Plastick earlier this year which was followed by the release of a split with Gameday Regulars. Now, Big City Plans is the band's latest offering. A 10-inch, eight-track EP -- four songs new and four songs old. Let's start with the new. The record kicks off with "Flock the Nest," showcasing instantly the band's recognisable brand of emo-based melodic punk rock. Melodic guitars, a combination of emo/gruff vocals and an impressive rhythm section. [more]
Lagwagon - Hang (Cover)
Lagwagon: Hang
Fat Wreck Chords
If you talk to anyone in the late 20s to late 30s demographic that is a fan of the offshoot genres of punk music, most will probably have a favorite band from the golden years of Fat Wreck Chords. NOFX would probably be the most common answer, followed by Strung Out who have always maintained a ravenous fan base. No Use For A Name certainly deserves mention as well. For me, and I’m certain thousands others, it was Lagwagon. I won’t drone on about the band’s history; they’ve been around a long time and have made some very memorable records. [more]
Restorations - LP3 (Cover)
Restorations: LP3
Side One Dummy
Restorations pretty much established themselves with LP2 in a bigger and more expansive way. This was the album that announced them in the way most bands want to be viewed or defined. As someone who took a while to get into them, I boast this about that record because it was the one that really won me over. In spades. Few bands can pull off such an assured sound, and they did. Their music dips in and out, varying from conventional to intricate to wandering to intense. A deep range, indeed. But what makes Restorations click is that when they traverse these forks in the road, they do so with an extra edge and a bit more conviction. [more]
Literature - Chorus (Cover)
Literature: Chorus
Slumberland Records
Everything about Literature is bigger on LP #2: Bigger label, bigger hooks, bigger production. They named the album Chorus for a reason. While the band’s songs still feel like a power-pop time warp at times, it’s hard to deny such peppy, poppy tracks. Plus, at least they have good taste. Arab Spring stole some tricks from the Buzzcocks (sometimes too brazenly), but with Chorus, Literature is more suggestive than literal with their influences. The Jam and the Bongos come to mind, all nervous energy and cascading chords, and maybe Vampire Weekend as well. Being a twee band, Literature is certainly in good company on SLR. [more]
Gates - Bloom & Breathe (Cover)
Gates: Bloom & Breathe
Pure Noise
New Jersey's Gates had first gained rightful notice on the strength of two free EPs. Initially came 2011's promising The Sun Will Rise and Lead Me Home, released on the digital download, donation-based Death to False Hope; the next year, they self-released the improved (noticeably in the vocal department) You Are All You Have Left to Fear. Both offered a hybrid of post-rock and emo in a dramatic package that wasn't unlike their neighbors to the near north, Moving Mountains, a sound that can be rather affecting when done well. [more]
Rats in the Wall - Dead End (Cover)
Rats in the Wall: Dead End
Blacknoise
Brad Logan has been relatively quiet since Leftover Crack slowed down following 2007's Deadline. Little did we know that behind the scenes, he was fiddling with new bands, including Pagan Idols, who never released any official recordings, and several proto-versions of Rats in the Wall. Dead End, the band's first proper LP, shows that all the tinkering and testing was worth it. Logan and crew harness their skills and fashion a release that both salutes the classic tropes of hardcore without falling pray to cliché. Fittingly, the album opens with Logan's classic roaring guitar. [more]
Dads - I'll Be The Tornado (Cover)
Dads: I'll Be The Tornado
6131 Records
If people weren't flocking to Dads after Pretty Good, they'll definitely be doing so now. As they continue jamming indie rock with emo and punk, what they manage to paint yet again is another heartfelt sketch on family and loss. I'll Be The Tornado is highly focused, driven and a record that never seems content. A lot of this comes down to John Bradley's words -- and he's never sounded as hungry and angsty as this, which makes the songs resonate that much more. As a guitar-centric indie-rock ten-tracker, Dads map out a path for powerful, connecting darts, take aim and leave you enjoying the pain. [more]
The Melvins - Hold It In (Cover)
The Melvins: Hold It In
Ipecac
The Melvins are in the middle of their David Bowie phase, and frankly, it’s working. Of course, the “David Bowie Phase” may be characterized by an artist rapidly recording multiple releases in a single year while collaborating with a wide range of other artists to help stoke the creative fire. The David Bowie Phase might also contain the usage of a certain substance to help charge productivity, but in the Melvins case, it is unlikely as Melvins drummer Dale Crover once famously stated, “The best advice I can give to a band? Stay away from the weasel powder.” The last album credited to “The Melvins” proper was 2010’s The Bride Screamed Murder. [more]
Liz Prince - Tomboy [Book] (Cover)
Liz Prince: Tomboy [Book]
Zest Books
If you're a fan of Liz Prince's work, then you already know that "Tomboy" is Prince's first foray into full-length graphic novel territory after years of churning out comics on the Internet and in the pages of publications like "Razorcake." Like much of Prince's output, it's a highly personal story. In this case, the story is a memoir of Prince's childhood, adolescence and teenage years, told through the prism of a girl who isn't interested in being a girl. [more]
Sick Of It All - Last Act Of Defiance (Cover)
Sick Of It All: Last Act Of Defiance
Century Media
For close to 30 years, Sick Of It All have been the definitive name in hardcore. Although they have never been a band to reinvent the wheel in a vein similar to the likes of Refused or Fucked Up, they've consistently churned out solid releases year after year. Last Act Of Defiance is unapologetically a Sick Of It All record in the truest form. [more]

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