AUGUST REVIEWS

CYANIDE PILLS
CYANIDE PILLS       
(Damaged Goods)
Effervescent pop punk party from Leeds.
4/5
A spike-domed, pogo-pop sugar rush, Cyanide Pills consolidate on their well-earned live reputation and a pair of singles with a debut album of manic, pogoing energy. A self-titled 19-track burst of day-glo punk, it draws on the more tuneful exponents of the class of ‘77, marking the band as rightful descendants of the Boys and the Ramones. For once the raw, straightforward sound has been left alone on a punk album and it’s all the better for it. An authentically trebly assemblage of leather ‘n’ drainpipe jeans rock ‘n’ roll, the Pills’ debut is all fizzing wiry guitars and nagging two-minute alarm calls of teenage alienation, which alternate between dumb/smart political rants (‘Dictator’,  ‘Conquer The World’), power-driven stormers (‘Interrogation Room’) and gawkily convincing youth-club romances (‘Only You’). Energetic and up for it, Cyanide Pills kick out a spirited Brit-punk rave-up like nobody’s business. Here’s a chord, here’s another – you know the rest.
Hugh Gulland

Also Available:
Conquer The World 7”
Suicide Bomber 7”
Break It Up 7”

ALLEGAEON
FRAGMENTS OF FORM AND FUNCTION
(Metal Blade)
These guys can really play.
4/5
There’s little doubt that Allegaeon are a supremely talented bunch of individuals. Their brand of superior melodic technical death metal features some truly outstanding performances by the band members. Guitarist Greg Burgess has spent five years as the guitar instructor at the Music Institute of Lexington. The tremendous skills that Allegaeon possess means that ‘Fragments Of Form And Function’ is a refreshingly different melodic death metal album, full of strong songwriting  and immense displays of musicianship. They also incorporate a fair amount of prog into the mix but it never feels forced or overlong. The production is a tad over-glossy but it merely serves to highlight the outstanding musical performance Allegaeon deliver.
Paul Hagen

ANGELUS APATRIDA
CLOCKWORK
(Century Media)
Intense Spanish thrash.
3/5
Angelus Apatrida were formed in rural Spain ten years ago and their two previous self-released album have helped to provide them with a sizable following in their home country. They may be a Spanish band but they sound pretty much like they’ve come straight out of the ‘80s Bay Area thrash scene. These bruisers riff hard and heavy and provide solid and sturdy thrash metal songs. ‘Clockwork’ suffers from a lack of variety yet the music on display is hard to argue with; it does exactly what you would expect. There’s also a slight NWOBHM influence on Angelus Apatrida’s third album, which is ably demonstrated on an adequate cover of Iron Maiden’s ‘Be Quick Or Be Dead.’
Paul Hagen

ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI
BEFORE TODAY
(4AD)
Pop terrorist tries to paint the town…
3/5
‘Before Today’ is something of a tricky album, simply because it throws so many styles into one giant melting pot – and not always with the best results. Tackling genres as diverse as ‘60s pop, funk, soul, ska, glam and punk, it’s probably not surprising. Opener ‘Hot Body Rub’ has an uneasy jazz vibe (similar to Soul Asylum’s ‘Stranger’) – which sits uncomfortably next to the breezy pop of ‘Bright Lit Blue Skies’. There’s no doubting Ariel’s talent – and on ‘Beverly Kills’ and the outstanding ‘Can’t Hear My Eyes’ he really shines – but ‘Before Today’ is just too inconsistent to be truly great.
Rob Mair

BAD RELIGION
30 YEARS LIVE
(Epitaph)
Seminal SoCal punks still slay live.
4/5
Bad Religion helped to pioneer the ‘90s Cali punk sound with a string of albums of fast, intelligent songs. Ahead of their upcoming fifteenth studio album (due in September), Greg Graffin and co. remind us why they’re still a force to be reckoned with by unleashing a 17-track live record (that you can download for free from Badreligion.com). It includes career-spanning fan favourites recorded in LA this year, such as ‘Suffer’ (on this issue’s covermount CD), ‘American Jesus’, ‘Flat Earth Society’ and many more. It’s free and it’s awesome. What are you waiting for?
Ian Chaddock

BEST COAST
CRAZY FOR YOU
(Wichita)
Californian duo with a summer soundtrack debut album.
4/5
As delightful as LA duo Bobb Bruno and Bethany Cosentino’s string of singles released earlier this year were, you could be forgiven if you doubted whether or not their particular style – two or three minute songs mining surf rock and garage rock influences – could last for an entire album. Now that ‘Crazy For You’ has been unveiled, any doubts can be erased. Best Coast specializes in music that – much like summer – is bittersweet. You love the summer, and you’re having the time of your life, but in the back of your mind you know it’ll come to an end soon. Much like this fantastic debut.
Michael Bednar

BETTY AND THE WEREWOLVES
Teatime Favourites
(Damaged Goods)
Catchy indie/pop punk to sink your teeth into.
3/5
Fresh from the Camden Crawl, Betty and The Werewolves are three girls and a token bloke on drums from London and Cambridge playing the indiest indie music you’re ever likely to hear. If you took The Raincoats, The Slits, Kenickie, The Wedding Present and Kate Nash, shook ‘em all up in a big box marked ‘C86’ and poured ‘em all out the resulting sound would be something like Betty and the Werewolves. They’re twee as you like but in a good way, winning you over with cheeky lines like “Los Angeles is a long way from Ruislip” (‘David Cassidy’) and “you asked me if I like the Libertines, well who the fuck are they?” (‘Purple Eyes’). This music is sweet enough but thankfully not saccharine.
Lee Cotterell

BITTER END
GUILTY AS CHARGED
(Deathwish)
Everything about Bitter End screams (or shouts) hardcore.
3/5
From the raw black and white artwork, to the fact they’re signed to Deathwish, one of the most hardcore labels out there, Bitter End are clearly projecting an image of old school hardcore. Luckily their music is worthy of such an image and ‘Guilty As Charged’ is ten tracks of brutally delivered, metal-infused hardcore. They’re not claiming to be original (which is probably just as well, seeing as there is barely any fleck of originality here), but what you see is what you get. And that’s some pummelling, no-frills hardcore with enough grit and intent to be worth listening to.
Sarah Maynard

BLACK CANDY STORE
BACK TO THE WALL
(7Hard)
French rockers channel their inner circa-1990s Seattle.
3/5
Black Candy Store may hail from the south of France, but their debut album could have been recorded in Seattle. All the hallmarks of grunge are here – the angsty lyrics, the quiet-verse-loud-chorus dynamics and the crunchy guitars mixed with tender acoustic moments. Opener ‘Back To The Wall’ shows off the group’s rock side, while ‘Wounded’ is an exercise in dramatic power balladry.  There’s nothing on this album that Alice In Chains or Soundgarden haven’t done, but it’s an enjoyable enough listen and Black Candy Store are no amateurs. With a little more time hopefully the band can find their own sound.
Michael Bednar

BRUTAL DELUXE
WALL OF DAMAGE
(Chimerical)
Genre-benders return to little fanfare.
2/5
Brutal Deluxe are one of those bands that have survived despite all hardships, though most people are unaware they even exist, which is a shame, because they can obviously play, and are adept at mixing styles like a blender, without giving a damn what people think of the end product. Their new record ‘Wall Of Damage’ goes through thrash, grunge, rock, and just about everything in between, though makes no real impression. The production is too thin and quiet, and while the performances are good, there’s just no invigoration. There are merits here, sure, but for the most part, the album is turgid and boring. Maybe next time…
Bruce Turnbull

BRUTAL TRUTH
EXTREME CONDITIONS DEMAND EXTREME RESPONSES
(Earache)
Re-release of genre-defining grindcore debut album.
4/5
Given Brutal Truth’s 2009 return to the fold with new album ‘Evolution Through Revolution’ after a 12 year recording hiatus, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that former label Earache have decided to re-release their 1992 debut. It may be 18 long years since this album first hit, but it’s brutality and chaotic intensity is still peerless, with the rampaging aggression of ‘Time’ and ‘Denial Of Existence’. It’s still obvious just why they remain a guiding light of the grindcore genre. The inclusion of a bonus CD and DVD just helps to make this even more of an essential package for any fan of extreme metal.
Nick Mann

BUTCH WALKER AND THE BLACK WIDOWS
I LIKED IT BETTER WHEN YOU HAD NO HEART
(One Haven)
Butch tells it how it is.
3/5
The first thing that strikes you about this album is that it sounds like it’s had big bucks spent on it but was actually written and recorded in just five days! The big production feel comes from the orchestral swirls in places that fill this already impressive album (recorded in the famous Abbey Road studios and added due to the wonders of modern technology). Butch is an excellent lyricist that delves deeper than most into affairs of the heart and razor sharp observational cutting commentary all bundled into a very enjoyable album that is edgy despite the polish.
Simon Nott

CHRIS SHIFLETT & THE DEAD PEASANTS
CHRIS SHIFLETT & THE DEAD PEASANTS
Foo Fighters guitarist takes a trip to the country.
4/5
Let’s get one thing straight – if you’re expecting something like the Foo Fighters (or even Shiflett’s punk band Jackson United) then this isn’t going to be what you expect. The Californian six-stringer embarks on a hazy drive down a roots/country road for this solo record, with nine tracks that clearly take influence from the likes of Johnny Cash, The Replacements and Eddie Cochran. From the uplifting ‘Get Along’ to the country swing of ‘Death March’ and the mandolin-infused ‘Bandaged’, this journey into Americana is a heartfelt and summery experience.
Rachel Owen

COMEBACK KID
SYMPTOMS AND CURES
(Victory)
All the best elements of Comeback Kid over the years rolled into one killer album.
5/5
Comeback Kid have gone through their fair share of changes over the years, not least vocalist Scott Wade leaving the band following fan favourite ‘Wake The Dead’ and guitarist Andrew Neufeld stepping in on vocals. 2007’s ‘Broadcasting…’ showcased Neufeld’s more versatile vocal stylings but with ‘Symptoms And Cures’, he’s now more comfortable as the voice of the band. The result is a blistering, fast-paced record that incorporates the depth of sound that CBK have learnt to craft with the straight-up hardcore sensibilities on which their band was first built. Gang vocals, passionate melodies, searing guitar riffs. What more could you want?
Sarah Maynard

DARKER MY LOVE
ALIVE AS YOU ARE
(Dangerbird)
Latest album evokes spirit of ‘60s/‘70s rock ’n’ roll.
3/5
Recorded at San Francisco’s legendary Hyde Street Studios, it’s no surprise that Darker My Love’s third album draw on the sound of psychedelic California rock circa Jefferson Airplane and The Byrds, as well as the Beatles and Dylan. They strip away the fuzz and distortion heard on their previous records to show us a more vulnerable side. Intricately arranged and emotionally heavy, standouts include ‘18th Street Shuffle’, a groovy, grungy track with synth and the clavinet, and ‘Rain Party’, a captivating song with Azure Ray’s Maria Taylor’s haunting vocals blending beautifully with singer Tim Presley. Raw and exposed, Darker My Love give us their strongest album to date.
Caitlin Peterkin

THE DEEP EYNDE
SPELL*BOUND
(Fiendforce)
Brooding goth rock.
3/5
Hollywood band The Deep Eynde have a nice line in subdued goth songs and this album is certainly an atmospheric listen. Singer Fate Fatal has a distinctly melancholic delivery and, while in no means a miserable album, ‘Spell*Bound’ has a nicely gloomy sound to it. There are a few strong tracks on here but the album as a whole gets dragged down by a distinct lack of energy. Over the course of its 15 tracks, the pace rarely increases past second gear. But I guess that’s the point. As far as goth albums go, it’s perfectly passable but it’s unlikely to have too much appeal beyond The Deep Eynde’s current fan base.
Paul Hagen

THE DESTINY PROGRAM
GATHAS
(Bastardized)
Fourth outing from the melo-metalcore stalwarts.
3/5
Certainly more uplifting than most of their contemporaries, German metallers The Destiny Program follow up their lauded 2007 release ‘Subversive Blueprint’ with the equally as captivating ‘Gathas’, an album that sits somewhere between Poison The Well, Cult Of Luna, and Sonic Syndicate. A potpourri of harsh to clean vocals, melodic guitar leads, and atmospheric synths, tracks like ‘Avesta’ find the band in full creative swing, raising melancholic atmospheres from their tortured manifestos. The melody in their sound comes from the instrumentation, although there are a couple of good hooks. Still, there is nothing here to surprise or inspire.
Bruce Turnbull

THE DESTRUCTORS/THE BLACK MARIAS
ZENGUKEREN
(Rowdy Farrago)
Peterborough punk times two.
3/5
Paving the way for their ‘Dead Beat To White Heat’ full-length (which hits shelves this August), old school scuzz punks The Destructors return with another knuckle-happy split EP to add to the rap sheet, this time sharing the play time their hometown compadres The Black Marias. A rambunctious release as per usual with Oi boys the Mariah’s adding a more melodic, early Rancid-esque quality to the mix; the 7 songs featured are brash, opinionated and include a brutish Dead Boys cover and spanking new tracks for both bands.  A definite pick-up for fans of the D boys or of street punk in general. 
Tom Williams

DEVO
SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY
(Warners)
Welcome comeback album from the idiosyncratic new wavers.
5/5
A bit of an occasion this one: ‘Something For Everybody’ is Devo’s first album in two decades, and the first album on which the Ohio conceptualists have given outside parties any kind of free rein on the production. However, the jittery electronic rhythms, funny/smart lyrical twists and jerky stop-start pulses all spell classic Devo, while the input of a cast of well-picked collaborators steers the music well clear of retread territory. ‘What We Do’, ‘March On’ and the hilarious ‘Don’t Shoot, I’m A Man’ are worthy additions to the Devo repertoire, sparking with weird mechanical energy and incisive verbal satire, further proof, should you need convincing, that De-Evolution is upon us.
Hugh Gulland

DIRTY LITTLE RABBITS
DIRTY LITTLE RABBITS
(The End)
Debut release from the brainchild of Slipknot’s bin banger.
4/5
Dirty Little Rabbits, the creation of Slipknot’s Shawn (Clown) Crahan has seen him take a daring departure from his day job. Their stripped back self-titled debut is an amalgamation of gutsy female vocals from mid-‘90s starlet Stella K, spiralling organs and channelling guitars. From the effortlessly graceful ‘Hello’ to the claustrophobic ‘Professional Hit’, it’s an accomplished release. Anyone hoping for a Slipknot-esque sound will be sorely disappointed – this is a completely different story. Dirty Little Rabbits’ music speaks for itself. This debut has been seven years in the making, yet good things come to those who wait.
Ben Connell

DIRTY SWEET
AMERICAN SPIRITUAL
(Acetate)
As classic rock as you can get.
3/5
Dirty Sweet’s follow-up to 2007’s ‘Of Monarchs And Beggars’ sees them expand further on their classic American rock sound, taking in ballads, blues and country. It’s an exceptionally polished album and the band are clearly excellent musicians. Sprinkled throughout the album are a number of catchy, hard-hitting songs, such as opening track ‘Rest Sniper, Rest.’ The trouble is that these moments are too infrequent and means that the album occasionally becomes ponderous and, to a certain extent, a bit dull. It would have been nice if they’d kept their foot on the accelerator a bit more. Still, Dirty Sweet are probably one of better current day exponents of classic rock.
Paul Hagen

THE DISSOCIATES
WAITING FOR THE BACKLASH
(Tap-Ass)
Tight post-punk EP from talented London boys.
4/5
It’s rare that you hear a band that’s so unmistakeably English and also so clearly influenced by the US post-punk and post-hardcore scenes from over the years. They tackle subjects such as urban decay and politics on the likes of ‘Welcome To London’ and ‘On The Motorway’. The punked up ‘Left Of Centre’ shows their more aggressive side whereas the choppy ‘Under Heavy Manners’ is a retro, fuzzy garage rocker. If you like bands such as Fugazi, Mission To Burma and The International Noise Conspiracy then this six-track EP needs to be listened to. You can download it for free too so hit up their site and discover a band still pushing forwards.
Rachel Owen
 
DRAGSTER
Here Come The Meat Robots
(STP)
Another shot of low-down dirty punk ‘n’ roll anyone?
4/5
Coventry’s finest exponents of sleazy punk ‘n’ roll finally deliver the follow up to their 2006 debut and it’s well worth the wait. A change of rhythm section hasn’t affected their sound much; they’re still channelling Motorhead and Mudhoney through a garage punk filter and vocalist Fi still snarls her words with that ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude. It’s good to hear live favourites like ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ and ‘Kill Voodoo Kill’ captured in a studio at last but it’s not all monsters and serial killers, mind you. They take a break from their customary Sci-Fi/Horror/B-Movie fixation to get ‘Drunk’, have a pop at a ‘Weekend Punk’ and stray into Dead Kennedys territory on the title track.  A bourbon soaked work of art.
Lee Cotterell

EMAROSA
EMAROSA
(Rise)
A near perfect release from a band about to hit the big time.
5/5
You get the impression that Kentucky’s Emarosa are on the cusp of something great, and their eagerly anticipated second album could be the one that launches them into the big league. Having released their 2008 debut ‘Relativity’ to mixed responses, the band know that album two could make or break them. Luckily for them, it should be the former. Jonny Craig’s vocals are what really set Emarosa apart – unique, effortless and intense. The aptly named opener ‘A Toast To The Future Kids!’ is nothing short of perfection, and the remaining nine tracks pave the way for a very bright future, indeed.
Ben Connell

END OF A YEAR
YOU ARE BENEATH ME
(Deathwish)
The most intelligent hardcore album in years?
4/5
Sitting on the edge of a genre as constrained as hardcore, End Of A Year have done something pretty special in making an album that might appeal to more indie kids than it would hardcore aficionados. Measured, intelligent and beautifully-crafted – but still edgy and aggressive – ‘You Are Beneath Me’ is a triumph of musical accomplishment. Sounding something like a cross between The Hold Steady, Bane and Christiansen, this NY-based group combine raw emotion and proficient technicality to great effect. Throw in killer lyrics (spoken-word opener ‘Composite Characters’ is almost poetic) and it’s easy to see why End Of A Year are garnering high praise.
Rob Mair 

EVERYONE EVERYWHERE
EVERYONE EVERYWHERE
(Tiny Engines)
Flawed debut shows much promise.
3/5
Everyone Everywhere may be from Philadelphia, but their songs make them sound as if they were straight out of California. The album brings to mind lazy, aimless August afternoons, when life is still moving slowly but the reality of responsibility is hovering in the back of the mind. The lyrics are hazily sung and at times indecipherable, and the songs sound clean and sharp without being overproduced.  Everyone Everywhere are technically excellent musicians, but the songs sound dangerously similar to each other. At times, it seems the band is trying a little too hard to deviate from the typical pop song structure, but with a little work the band could get it right.
Michael Bednar

EXIT INTERNATIONAL
SEX W/ STRANGERS
(Undergroove)
The doubled bass assault amplifies the intensity of the rock.
3/5
Two bassists and a drummer fuel this band. Strange huh? But they manage to flesh out their sound with all sorts of beats and ‘toys’. Essentially, the bass-heavy trio come up with gritty rock, enthused with yelps in all the right places and promising decimating live performances. This EP is four tracks of potentially crushing material that begs to be experienced in a live setting but is also a fun rock ‘n’ roll experience in its own right. Aptly titled ‘Sex W/ Strangers’, you’ll feel a bit like you’ve done something naughty with someone you knew nothing about after listening to it.
Sarah Maynard

THE FALLTHROUGH
AS THE DAY BREAKS
(Lockjaw)
Debut mini-album from Brighton punks.
3/5
Influenced by the likes of the Bouncing Souls and Strike Anywhere, this four-piece’s first release of 2010 is a fun and exuberant listen. Consisting of former members of Once Over, Ragweek and A Man Down, they’ve certainly paid their dues and toured all over the world off their own backs last year. This love of life and determination shines through on anthemic melodic punk tunes such as ‘Easy To Forget’ and the EpiFat-esque blitz of ‘Life In Red’. If you like your punk fast and melodic then you need to check out this mini-album.
Rachel Owen

FOR ALL THOSE SLEEPING
CROSS YOUR FINGERS
(Fearless)
For fans of A Day To Remember…
4/5
‘Cross Your Fingers’ is the debut album from Minnesota five-piece For All Those Sleeping. They combine pop punk with hardcore, and it sounds awfully similar to A Day To Remember. The beginning of ‘The Midnight Society’ is almost identical to ADTR’s winning combination of hardcore beatdowns and sunny pop punk. But nevertheless, the songs are great in the main, and ‘Outbreak Of Heartache’ and ‘If I Wanted Your Two Cents I’d Rob You’ are highlights. They’re outrageously catchy and undeniably enjoyable, so despite their unoriginality, they are still very much worth checking out.
Lais Martins Waring

FORLORN
THE ROTTING
(Rising)
Dark British metal from Birmingham newcomers.
3/5
Kicking off with a riff that could have graced ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ is a good start for West Midlands quartet Forlorn, a band that flirt with early death metal in the Death and Autopsy vein, but also keep things modern with a touch of metalcore in their instrumental breakdowns (and the occasional growl). Essentially, the band’s fibrous debut ‘The Rotting’ is a classy affair, full of thick, nasty riffs and headbanging double-kicks. Production is clear, illuminating all aspects, and the song writing is of a particularly high standard, keeping the listener on their toes. With this amount of potential, album number two could be a real eye-opener.
Bruce Turnbull

FRENZY
IN THE BLOOD
(People Like You)
UK psychobilly veterans unearth something special.
4/5
This is the album that Frenzy have always wanted to make, in fact they had already made it before PLY snapped them up. Their heritage is steeped in psychobilly but they have always pushed the boundaries, too far for fans on some occasions, but times have changed. The basic running gears of psychobilly are there – double bass driven as in the past – but their lyrics go far deeper than the genre is associated with. They do allow a little escapism to creep in with out-and-out rocker ‘Johnny Rocket’. Frenzy rock like crazy here and capture their live energy. Check out ‘Hero’ on this month’s BC covermount CD.
Simon Nott

GENTLEMEN OF DISTORTED SOUND
BONE IDOL EP
(Bare Knuckle)
Meat and potatoes hard rock anyone?
2/5
Formed in 2006 by Dublin-born Gareth Nugent (yes, he IS related to Ted Nugent) this is Gentlemen of Distorted Sound’s debut EP, the result of years perfecting their line up, losing a drummer to Uriah Heep along the way and honing their sound. We’re talking highly polished hard rock, the kind you hear in sweaty bars all over the world on any given Saturday night. Things kick off with ‘Electric’ which could be an outtake from The Cult’s late Eighties output followed by ‘Beautiful Face for Evil’. ‘No Gods’ has a hint of ‘Kashmir’, followed by a cover of ZZ Top’s ‘La Grange’ all topped off with the grunge lite of ‘Breathe’. If all this sounds like your bag, by all means knock yourself out.
Lee Cotterell

GIRL IN A COMA
TRIO B.C.
(Blackheart)
Pleasing all-girl pop punk.
3/5
This female trio from San Antonio, Texas comprise of sisters Nina and Phanie (careful, you innuendo fans) Diaz, on vocals/guitar and drums respectively, with bassist Jenn Alva, and were apparently named after the Smiths song ‘Girlfriend In A Coma’. Hell, they’ve even done tour support for His Miserableness. So, if you add in the fact that they’re on the delectable Joan Jett’s label, these ladies would seem to be in a good place. Nina’s voice has an endearingly eccentric warble to it, and though this second album has straightforward punk tracks like ‘Slaughter Lane’, the band are strongest with strident, complex pop songs like ‘In The Day’.
Shane Baldwin

GOOD RIDDANCE
CAPRICORN ONE
(Fat Wreck)
Californian melodic hardcore punks’ singles and rarities.
3/5
Having split in 2007 after 16 years together, Good Riddance were always underrated and their driving melodic hardcore was ahead of its time. This 21-track collection combines their singles, split songs and six previously unreleased tracks, as well as a commentary about each song by vocalist Russ Rankin. There’s not a bad track on here (and there’s definitely a few belters, such as ‘Always’ and ‘Stand’), making this a decent release to either complete your GR collection or discover their much missed brilliance for the first time.
Ian Chaddock

GOO GOO DOLLS
SOMETHING FOR THE REST OF US
(Warner)
Stadium rockers return with another collection of anthems…
3/5
Nine albums into their stellar career, John Rzeznik and co. have little reason to change a formula that has already brought them countless awards and sold squillions of records. And indeed, they stick close to their winning recipe here. Heartfelt but never cloying, honest but never passionate and bombastic rather than explosive, ‘Something…’ is what you’d expect from a band now well-entrenched in the psyche of Middle America. That’s not to say it’s bad, just safe. ‘Hey Ya’ and ‘Home’ are uplifting and inspiring, and its testament to their songwriting skills that this tried and trusted sound is still interesting and appealing.
Rob Mair  

HAWKWIND
BLOOD OF THE EARTH
(Eastworld)
Interstellar trance-rock from the hippie veterans.
3/5
‘Are they still going?’ was a question reviewers were probably asking of the Hawks 25 years ago, and while line-ups have come and gone – they famously once included a pre-Motorhead Lemmy in their ranks – Hawkwind plough inexorably on. Long time ambassadors of hippie-squat anti-authoritarianism, Dave Brock and co. continue their lifelong hard-riffing space-rock mission. Electronic swoops and squawks battle it out with warp-drive guitar and drums, with occasional ambient interludes. It may all add up to a themed sci-fi opera of some description, but it does sound exactly and reassuringly like Hawkwind, and that‘s no bad thing. Time just doesn’t seem to exist for them.
Hugh Gulland

HELLYEAH
STAMPEDE
(Spinefarm)
Ex-Pantera sticksman’s new band’s second album.
3/5
Featuring members of Pantera, Mudvayne and Nothingface, Hellyeah are somewhat of a metal supergroup. Sadly the Texas quintet’s self-titled 2007 debut fell a bit flat but this sophomore album shows a marked improvement in songwriting, with the likes of Southern riff lickin’ opener ‘Cowboy Way’ and strip joint anthem in waiting ‘Pole Rider’ (“She’s not built for comfort/She’s built for speed”) both hitting the mark. Unfortunately the second half drags and becomes a little repetitive but, while it’s not yet a stampede, this could be the start of the charge.
John Damon

HORSEBACK
THE INVISIBLE MOUNTAIN
(Relapse)
North Carolina stoner rockers second album re-released.
3/5
With the third Horseback album on the way, brainchild Jenks Miller sees his sophomore effort re-issued through new label Relapse. It’s a welcome re-release too, as this psychedelic stoner journey is one that should be taken by more metallers looking for something a bit more intelligent than knuckle-dragging chug-fests. Heavy as fuck and with a sludgy intensity, it’s the sound of Miller battling his demons and one that fans of the likes of Neurosis will certainly enjoy. Roll on album number three, I for one can’t wait to hear more of Miller’s weird and wonderful work.
John Damon

INDICA
A WAY AWAY
(Nuclear Blast)
Finnish band’s latest release full of quirkiness and oddity.
3/5
This album’s cover art depicts the band standing in a forest and it sounds like that’s where this band wrote this ‘A Way Away’. Some listeners may be put off by how whimsical the whole thing is – with swelling strings, bells, odd wind instruments, lyrics that sound ripped from a diary and references to Guinevere and Sylvia Plath in the same song – but there’s no denying that Indica know how to craft a great pop tune. They sound like they’re having a great time and their infectious energy makes up for some of the album’s more over-the-top moments.
Michael Bednar

IN THIS MOMENT
A STAR-CROSSED WASTELAND
(Century Media)
Third album from Californian female-fronted metallers.
3/5
In This Moment have enjoyed success Stateside but are sadly best known for being fronted by metal pin-up Maria Brink here in the UK. Which is a shame because here ITM combine the metalcore of their debut with the soaring melodies of their sophomore effort, resulting in a varied listen. However, the fact that this is somewhat of a Western concept album seems a little strange (considering the last record was based around ‘Alice In Wonderland’) and the likes of ‘Gunshow’ seem a little forced. However, the vicious ‘Just Drive’ and piano ballad ‘World In Flames’ shows Brink and the boys’ ability and proves they should still have their moment.
Rachel Owen

JETTBLACK
GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY
(Spinefarm)
Rock of the past…today!
3/5
Following a UK tour earlier this year, Jettblack unleash their collection of retro rock anthems. Heavily influenced by the likes of Skid Row and Motley Crue, and with song titles like ‘Two Hot Girls’ and ‘Mother Fucker’, you can probably guess what you’ll be getting. To be honest, it isn’t really that bad. The production is pretty slick, and there’s a healthy dose of humour in there, with lyrics like “I know she’s your sister, but I can’t pretend/When it comes to lovin’, I have no friends”. It’s a fun album, but I can’t imagine this band going further than one album with this shtick.
Tracey Lowe

JOHNNY GET THE GUN
JOHNNY GET THE GUN
(JGTG)
Debut by pop punkers shows great promise.
3/5
Essex trio Johnny Get The Gun are by no means trailblazing, but with their debut EP they prove that they’re more than capable of creating good music. While the songs nod to past artists, they’re free of the melodrama that sinks other pop punk bands. ‘All Good Things’ and ‘This Night To End’ are showcases of the band’s emotional, melodic side, while ‘You Will Be Mine’ (which you can hear on this month’s covermount CD) and ‘Give You More’ prove they can rock out too. It may be a little rough around the edges, but it’s in a charming way. Definitely a band to watch.
Michael Bednar

JUST SURRENDER
PHOENIX
(LAB)
Third effort by band likable enough, but nothing new.
3/5
Just Surrender believe in the concept of self-fulfilling prophecies.  This fact is obvious from their song titles: ‘Carried Away,’ ‘Burning Up,’ ‘Lose Control.’  Perhaps they thought the dramatic titles would make the album more exciting. The band’s third album, ‘Phoenix,’ is by no means a bad one, but it’s nothing the listener hasn’t heard before. Filled with catchy pop hooks, driving guitar riffs and the nasally vocals endemic in the pop punk world, the album is enjoyable enough, despite the cringeworthy lyrics.  “I’ve seen things no man should ever see,” cries the lead singer – you’d think he was singing about genocide rather than a broken heart.
Michael Bednar

THE KIRKZ
AGROCULTURE
(TNS)
Virulent punk rock booty from Cheshire East’s finest.
5/5
After a dozen years scraping the circuit, Macclesfield four-piece The Kirkz are seasoned in the financial drawbacks of the punk rock pursuit, but you can bet it hasn’t stifled their momentum, or their creativity for that matter. Marking their fifth release overall and their biggest to date, ‘Agroculture’ is a true product of the ‘Punk-O-Rama’ generation and tours a socio-politically vibrant landscape atop a punchy third wave backing. Loaded with fast, tongue-in-cheek tracks with a definite Gilman Street air and delivered with melodic satisfaction, it’s a wonder the States haven’t snapped these farmer boys up yet. Perhaps it’s just a matter of time?  
Tom Williams

LITTLE FISH
BAFFLED AND BEAT
(Custard/Universal)
‘70s New York-loving retro rock sounds from Oxford duo.
4/5
It’s obvious from boisterous, soulful and raw opener ‘Darling Dear’ that Juju Sophie (vocals/guitar) and Nez Greenaway (drums) are big fans of the cool-as-fuck female-fronted post-punk US bands. In a similar vein to Juliette Lewis And The Licks and The White Stripes, it’s a sound that harks back to a time when rock ‘n’ roll was sensual and visceral in equal measure and on the powerful ‘Bang! Bang!’ and Lou Reed-esque, piano driven ‘Sweat N Shiver’, it shows that this is a versatile pair. Little Fish’s future is bright and Juju Sophie could well be a star in the making.
Rachel Owen

LOCATORS
LOCATORS
(Heptown)
Attempted tribute to ‘70s punk falls flat.
2/5
These days, it’s not uncommon for modern artists to take styles and influences from prior decades and create something fresh and new out of what’s already been done.  Others simply regurgitate what’s gone before them, without any element of innovation or change, and on their debut album Locators fall under the latter category.  Despite their black leather jackets and song titles such as ‘Razorblade’ and ‘Demons Coming My Way’, you get the sense that this album is more of a tribute to the greats of the past than a work meant for a long shelf life.  For much of the album, the band sounds as if they haven’t got their heart in it.
Michael Bednar

LUCIFER STAR MACHINE
STREET VALUE ZERO
(Nicotine)
Violent punk ‘n’ roll sophomore album from London brawlers.
4/5
“Kick in the bollocks/Slap in the face”, shouts LSM vocalist Tor Abyss at the start of ‘City Low Life’, one of the album highlights (on the covermount CD), setting the tone for the rest of this low down and dirty second album. If you’re looking for polished tunes look elsewhere but if you’re after gutter-dragging gritty anthems such as ‘Devil On A Rampage’ and ‘Pussy Champagne’, coming on like G.G. Allin and Motorhead in a drinking contest, then this is for you. A varied album, it incorporates elements of psychobilly and hardcore into its maelstrom of chaos. This is the rise of the ‘Machine.
John Damon

MADNESS
KEEP MOVING
(Salvo/Union Square)
The Nutty boys revisit their sober years.
4/5
Marking the fifth release in Union Square’s revamp series, Madness’ 1984 cut ‘Keep Moving’ saw the Camden collective shelve a hefty portion of their baggy trouser wearing playground mischief in favour of a subtler, more matured approach. Arguably foreshadowing their later demise, the album  marks the departure of keyboard whizz Mike Barson (until his ’99 return) and its sombre overtones are consequently echoed in the singles ‘One Better Day’ and ‘Michael Cane’. Perked up slightly by US single and romcom mainstay ‘Wings Of A Dove’, the reissue follows the usual formula, including the original album, promo videos and bonus tracks, spread over a lushly presented two disc package.
Tom Williams

MAGIC KIDS
MEMPHIS
(True Panther)
Twee indie pop that lacks the tunes.
2/5
This is a perfectly harmless release. The wimpish delivery has touches of ‘The Boy Least Likely To’, with moments of dream pop softness. ‘Superball’ has a substantial chorus but mostly the recording methods lack punch and energy. This is a young band, and in the string arrangements there are moments that pay tribute to the Beach Boys, Beulah or the Elephant Six Collective, but the melodies just don’t quite have the mix to wrench at the heart. It’s too simple and lacks genuine melancholy.
Jonathan Falcone

MASTODON
JONAH HEX
(Reprise)
Digital release of EP soundtrack from Atlanta prog metallers.
4/5
The movie adaptation of popular DC comic series ‘Jonah Hex’, the story of one man’s struggle between good and evil, seems to be the perfect first outing into soundtrack territory for fantasy-obsessed prog metallers Mastodon. The EP features four new tracks – ‘Death March’, ‘Clayton Boys’, ‘Indian Theme’ and ‘Train Assault’ – as well as two alternate versions of the first two. Recorded by viewing movie footage and writing spontaneously in the studio, this EP proves that Mastodon can pen epic, heavy soundscapes at the drop of a (cowboy) hat. Another worthy addition to their catalogue.
Ian Chaddock

MOGWAI
SPECIAL MOVES
(Rock Action)
Live album showcases considerable talents of experimental Scottish band.
4/5
Singing?  Mogwai don’t need no stinkin’ singing, as they demonstrate on this CD/DVD recording of highlights from three concerts they performed in New York City in April 2009. Through meandering instrumental pieces, Mogwai are able to convey incredible emotion. The songs on this collection, all performed impeccably, are culled from Mogwai’s entire body of work and manage to evoke everything from a dark and dreary city street populated with lowlife denizens, to a sunny picnic on a spring day.  ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ is especially powerful, building slowly over the course of several minutes to a crashing, euphoric finale.
Michael Bednar

MONICA AND THE EXPLOSION
SHUT UP!
(Hands Up)
Sassy Swede + Paul Slack + acoustic punk = jolly good time.
3/5
Acoustic punk?  From Sweden?  With the ex-drummer of punk legends U.K. Subs?  It may sound like a gimmick, but one listen to the album and any of those notions are dispelled. Monica Welander is the frontwoman of this three-piece band, and she’s got enough sass to pull the album together. Songs like ‘Take It Or Leave Me’ and ‘Shut Up’ are fiery musings with a little bit of Joan Jett attitude thrown in. The album might be a little rough around the edges but that only adds to its charms. Let this explode out of your stereo and enjoy!
Michael Bednar

NONPOINT
MIRACLE
(Powerage)
Reliable old Nonpoint.
3/5
Nonpoint are back with a new guitarist, new management, a new label and a brand new album. But the Ft. Lauderdale’s quartet’s eighth album continues in much the same vein as their previous albums; it’s packed full of anthemic, driving metal that sounds comfortable on daytime radio. Mudvayne/Hellyeah’s Chad Gray and Greg Tribbett give ‘Miracle’ a slick production that allows the band to play to their strengths. Nonpoint even manage to make Pantera’s ‘5 Minutes Alone’ their own. Singer Elias Soriano has an extremely impressive voice and it’s shown to full effect on the three bonus acoustic tracks. The addition of those three tracks mean that ‘Miracle’ has 16 songs and runs for far too long, however.
Paul Hagen

PARANOID VISIONS
BLACK OPERATIONS IN THE RED MIST
(Overground)
Not so modest Irish punks.
4/5
Here we have a very weighty double CD set from long-standing Irish punks Paranoid Visions, covering their whole career from 1982 to the present day, with one disc entitled ‘Black Operations’ and the other ‘In The Red Mist’. No less chunky is the 20-page booklet which tells a tale of inter-band bickering and music-biz woes that are even more bizarre than most, including a court case over the use of their song ‘Beauty Queen’ in the movie ‘The Commitments’, sadly not included here. 39 tracks of arrogant, self-assured punk rock, even if you’re not always sure what they’re getting at. What’s not to like?
Shane Baldwin

THE PERFECT CRIME
EVERYTHING ELSE CAN WAIT
(Speechless)
Aptly titled debut album for fans of melodic hard rock.
3/5
‘Everything Else Can Wait’ proves that rocking doesn’t have to mean all anger and aggressive playing and no melody. ‘Are We There?’ and ‘Deliver Me Your Sins’ mix gentler moments with hard-driving guitar riffs and tortured vocals.  Maintaining this delicate balance throughout, the album is all the better for it. The Perfect Crime might not be the most original band in the world but the album is reflective of past influences rather than outright derivative, and their debut is an indication of good things to come. 
Michael Bednar

POLICE BASTARD
IT’S GOOD TO HATE
(Iron Man)
Powerful Midlands punks.
3/5
Even by the standards of your average long-standing punk band, the personnel turnover of Police Bastard since they formed in Birmingham in 1994 has been pretty staggering. The pedigree of those members has been somewhat impressive as well, with various Police Bastards turning out, at various times, for the likes of Doom, Rubella Ballet, Sensa Yuma, Contempt, English Dogs and The Prodigy. You can guess who did the last two, surely? Anyway, after a lengthy hiatus, the band reformed in 2006 and continue to deliver hardcore/grindcore in its most virulent form, as these two discs of studio and live material ably demonstrate.
Shane Baldwin

RUBELLA BALLET
NEVER MIND THE DAY-GLO HERE’S…
(Overground)
Anarcho but fun.
4/5
Worthy as the ’80s anarcho punk movement was, it was also often dour, dreary and severely monochrome. So, when Rubella Ballet bounced on the scene, no less politicised or committed, but draped in bright colours, it really was a breath of fresh air. Carrying on from Overground’s ‘Anarchy In The U.V.’ CD (covering the band’s early days) this collection includes the ‘If’ album and ‘Arctic Flowers’ single, both released by Ubiquitous in 1986; and the ‘At The End Of The Rainbow’ album, which came out on Brave in 1990, along with Jungle’s 1984 single ‘4f’, all remastered and with a suitably, er, day-glo booklet. Go on, cheer up you miserable buggers.
Shane Baldwin

SILVERY
RAILWAY ARCHITECTURE
(Blow Up)
Genius twisted pop.
4/5
This is the sophomore album from London’s Silvery, who do a brilliant line in weirded out, ‘70s new wave pop. Driven by swirling keyboards, their quirky Sparks meets XTC meets David Bowie is classically English and has been gathering them a string of fans from Mark Lamarr to Zane Lowe. Founder and singer-songwriter James Orman takes in a host of influences including ‘70s detective shows and historic machinery to produce a truly original pop masterpiece. Catch them on tour in October.
John Damon

THERAPY? 
CROOKED TIMBER DELUXE GOLD EDITION
(DR2)
Return to form for Ireland’s darkest power trio.
4/5
It’s hard to believe that Therapy?  have been going nearly 20 years as it seems like only yesterday ‘Teethgrinder’ was all over Radio 1.  Back then, they were touted as the next Nirvana but reached their short-lived commercial peak a few years later with ‘Troublegum’.  They’ve since been plugging away to a loyal if slightly diminished hardcore following.  This re-issue of 2009’s ‘Crooked Timber’ is a return to form, right up there with their classic early releases.  The remixes that make this a ‘Deluxe Gold Edition’ may be superfluous to all but the most diehard fan but, this is the band at their most urgent, stripped down, darkest, Big Black influenced best and well worth getting if you’ve not bought a Therapy?  album of late.
Lee Cotterell

UNDERDOG
MATCHLESS
(Bridge Nine)
Lost NY hardcore heroes ‘best of’ collection.
4/5
Back in the late ‘80s it looked like Underdog were going to become one of the mainstays of New York hardcore alongside the likes of Sick Of It All, Agnostic Front et al. Sadly, they imploded before that could happen. With a straight-up hardcore sound with elements of melodies and guitar solos thrown in, a strong link to the skateboard scene and insane live shows, their sound proves how powerful NYHC can be. Featuring 26 songs that include their 1985 and 1988 demos, as well as their 1989 ironically titled only full-length ‘The Vanishing Point’, this is a worthy addition to any hardcore fan’s collection.
Ian Chaddock

VERBAL WARNING
RED STAR RADIO
(Platinum)
Notts/Derbyshire old school punks kickin’ it ’77 style.
4/5
Originally formed back in the early ‘80s and rising from the ashes with a new line-up in 2005, these punk veterans unleash their first new album in four years in the form of the John Peel saluting ‘Red Star Radio’. Mixing humour and politics into their melodic old school punk sound, fans of the Ramones and the Dead Kennedys are sure to enjoy this, even if the Proclaimers cover is a little unnecessary. Still sounding fresh and invigorated with ‘Is It Too Soon’, ‘A Ploy Named Sue’ (on the covermount CD) and the ripping ‘Z List Celebrity’, you’ll be having as much fun as the band clearly are.
Ian Chaddock

VICE SQUAD
LONDON UNDERGROUND
(Last Rockers)
Bristol pin-up punx bring back the spirit of ‘77.
5/5
After realising their 2008 ‘Fairground For The Demented’ was too new school for release, punk rock originals Vice Squad headed back to the drawing board and whipped out this testament to their formative years. ‘London Underground’ finds the perfect medium between clean, crisp production values and street punk sardonicism, with each song unfurling like a whip and cutting the eardrum asunder.  Arguably the grittiest release of the band’s 32 year career and with singer Beki Bondage’s switchblade vocals sharpened to lethality; the album proves that there’s still plenty of life in the old ‘Squad yet.
Tom Williams

THE YOUNG VEINS
TAKE A VACATION!
(One Haven)
Panic At The Disco offshoot.
2/5
Remember Panic At The Disco had a decent debut? Then on their next album they went a bit strange and Beatles-esque? Well, the Young Veins is basically a continuation of the latter. Former PATD members Ryan Ross and Jon Walker are at the forefront, creating a psychedelic, Beach Boys sound, sadly without any decent melodies. I get that the whole idea of this album is to sound laid-back, but it just comes across as soulless and repetitive. I can’t see this appealing to many classic PATD fans, but maybe that’s the point. The energy seems to have drained from the potentially great Ryan Ross. Disappointing. Hipsters may enjoy it though.
Tracey Lowe

 

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