Wednesday, December 19, 2012

KDC - Naive To The Bone

Last night I was having dinner with my friend.  In between bites of my burrito, he asked "Have you heard this band KDC yet? They are pretty awesome".  I decided checking them out would be the first thing I do the next day.

KDC is indeed pretty awesome.  Their music varies so much but still sounds totally concentrated and focused.  You'll find some technical noodling similar to Botch right along side some slower more epic parts reminiscent of Modern Life is War.  This is all not without a healthy does of fast hardcore and powerful breakdowns. The musicianship here is impressive, along with a vocalist who seems to find the perfect way to fit in to this music despite all the changes.

I can't wait to see this band play live.
Check it out here.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Kids - Henley

I haven't posted in a while and I apologize for my lack of action here.  I heard these two songs from Kids today and they reminded me of why I started writing about and sharing music on this blog in the first place. 

Kids are from Northeastern Pennsylvania and play a brand of hardcore that varies in influences but comes off powerful and natural.  There's an urgency to this music that I love to hear.  Songs can range from slow and melodic to thrashing in just seconds.  The vocals maintain and intense scream throughout. 

I find myself hearing a dark hardcore sound consistent in the presentation, even when the song structure and style changes.  For instance, the first song, "Superman" will bring you through a barrage of twists and turns with slow melodies, blast beats, mid tempo stomps and finally, an upbeat dancing rhythm.  The second track "Johnny Red Rides Forever" is more to the point with a shorter run time and less variation.  I'm pretty impressed by what this amounts to.  Hopefully we'll more from them soon!

Check it out here.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sea Of Storms - Demo

Before I begin this review I would just like to ask bands to stop using this Black Flag logo.  Please.  Just stop. 

Sea of Storms is from Richmond, Virginia.  They play a pretty upbeat brand of what one would probably called post-rock, I suppose.  At times I'm getting a vibe similar to bands like Quicksand and Statue, though when things start rocking in the upbeat sort of way there's a bit of Planes Mistaken for Stars/Samiam influence coming out. 

The vocals go from a quivery melody to commanding yells that demand your attention and nail down some urgency.  Musically no one is straying too far from the pack.  They are playing as a team here, no one is breaking off and coming out on the forefront.  Instead you just get a machine where are all the parts seem to work in harmony.

The production is pretty clear and you have no problems making out the instrumentation.  I can picture this band probably being able to replicate this offering in a live setting without a problem.  Featuring ex-members of Wow Owls and Mouthbreather.  Check it out here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cowboy Boys - Planet Mexico

Cowboys is a new band from Philadelphia that displays a heavy sound which seems to be influenced by Botch, Breather Resist and bands of the like.

I'm impressed by how the songs flow and maintain their intensity.  All the instrumentation is locked in well and the desperately shouted vocals are like icing on the cake.

Distorted bass, frantic drums, and guitars that range from pummeling to blistering highs.  It's a nice formula that comes together without sounding forced at all. There's a nice rawness happening here that I enjoy in bands like this.

My only gripe here is that the production quality is a little muddy.  It doesn't make the song structure and talent any less impressive, however I'm probably missing some nice intricacies in the music.  I'm definitely excited to see this in a live setting.  

Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Blistered - Reject Their Shame

Blistered is from Tampa, Florida. There's a definite similarity to the South Florida classics like Culture and Morning Again here.  If you close your eyes you may think it's 1995 when you're listening to this.  I like to imagine everyone in this band wearing XL shirts and camo shorts, but that's probably not the case.

This is extremely well executed in fostering a very particular sound.  All the ingredients for making the perfect "90's metalcore stew"  are here; chugging guitar, sleek bass, vocals that span from spoken to's all there.

No lyrics are available on the bandcamp page, but my interest is peaked to search them out.  The production has a bit of rawness to it, but nothing to be upset about. I'm definitely interested in future listens.

Check it out here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Braille - S/T

Braille is a hardcore band from Philadelphia that displays a noisy, blown out sound. I actually started to feel a little bit of an early 90's Ebullition records vibe partially attributed to the melodic nature of the guitar and commanding vocals.  There's lots of spots on here where the vocals take a break and let the music speak for itself. 

"Illegal Zoo" was by my favorite track of the four. It has a dark melodic tone that gives way to a classic upbeat riff.  The contrast is great and works quite well.

The production does a great job of translating a noisy soundscape that attacks you in that "in your face" sort of way that this music should. 

Have a listen here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Adobe Homes - Pinata

Adobe Homes have a sound that varies from a bit relaxed and laid back to extremely harsh and intense. The low gain guitar and strained vocals take the forefront of the recording as the proficient drumming and nicely tone-shaped bass provide a nice backbone. 

I'd be interested to see how these songs are pulled off in a live setting, as their times where the guitar seems to carry a purposefully empty style to it. I'm assuming the drum and bass fill up the space a bit more live.

I found myself enjoying the structure and dynamics in "There are cicadas in the trees" the most out of the whole record.  At times I'm hearing a mid 90's influence to bands like Moss Icon, other times things are much more modern. Have a listen here

We Were Skeletons - Blaming and Aging

I've been privy to the live experience that We Were Skeletons has to offer and have always been impressed with their musicianship and song structure.  On "Blaming and Aging" you'll hear some of the band's trademark chaos, however, there's a large turn into the Hoover/Four Hundred Years neighborhood on many of these tracks. 

I find the infusion of this style to be executed quite well and brings in a distinguishing characteristic and reminds me somewhat of the first time I heard the early works of Engine Down. Strained vocals, discordant guitar and playful drums make up the large backbone of the record.

Most of these tracks take on an epic proportion, some breaking the five minute mark.  There's a lot of play between quiet and loud dynamics here that bring the listener on a nice rollercoaster ride while emphasizing the long journey you feel as a some of the parts develop over the course of the song. The production is pretty spot on for what this band is going for and I doubt you'll have any complaints about the ability to hear each instrument perfectly. 

Have a listen here.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Damascus - Of Whom I Always Think

Here's some solid instrumental work from this New Jersey quartet.  There's the essence of bands like Explosions in the Sky or Caspian here, but with perhaps a bit more heaviness (which almost visits Russian Circles' neighborhood at times).

The production here is clean and gives you a nice glimpse into each instrument.  There's no slacker in this group; everyone seems to be pulling their weight to make a some pretty solid compositions.

There's some smooth transitions here that keep the longer pieces flowing and prevent stagnation.  The band can build up a part to nice dramatic payoff and not lose their intensity afterwards.  Good stuff here.

Listen to it here.

Trenchfoot - Endless Disgust

Trenchfoot has a new 7" out and it's incredible.  If you're familiar with their past work, then you know what to expect...just add a bit more intensity. 

The band's dirty, unpredictable sound wins me over again on this release as their fast changing song structure and feedback-laden guitar tracks generate eight songs of ferocious hardcore.

Each song times in at a minute or under with the exception of the last track, "Tom", which clocks in at 2:24 and keeps a more mid tempo profile.  This band just gets better and better.

Check it out here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ken Mode - Venerable

Ken Mode lands somewhere in that neighborhood with bands like Botch, Breather Resist and the Minor Times.  At times the band also seems to bring you something a bit more straight forward (though never boring or predictable). 

"Venerable" is ten tracks of really nice, interesting hardcore that has an aggressive attack to it.  The production here is nice and full with a great drum sound that provides a solid backbone.  With thick, distorted bass tone and a guitar sound that has the perfect blend of overdrive and saturation, the front end of this sounds massive.

If you're looking for some mid paced heaviness that maintains an angry vibe throughout then check this out.

Listen to the whole thing here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Heemeyer - S/T

Heemeyer come to us from Tulsa, Oklahoma and play a dark and aggressive form of hardcore that incorporates a little bit everything.  It's a nice mix of technical playing swirled about with heavy attention to maintaining a hard hitting sense. 

The production is a bit bass heavy, but seems to work in the favor of the band to emphasize a more pummeling sound.  The opening track "Misery On Hoof" will give you a good representation of what this band can do as it lands in influences that seem to incorporate Tragedy, Takaru, Botch and perhaps a bit of Majority Rule.

The throaty vocals never let up as the scream above some reverb heavy snare drum.  The bass and guitar seem to lock in perfectly with an extremely dirty tone that sacrafices a bit of clarity in favor of chaos.

"Turn In/Tune Out" was the standout track for me as it's extremely well executed breakdown around 1:30 just had had my head moving uncontrollably.  "Rung by Rung" follows suit incorporating some of the same scooping rhythms to create that fast moving feel. All in all, this is a pleasant surprise and a record that I'll be definitely replaying for the next few weeks. 

Have a listen here.

Convul - I'll Be Seeing You

Convulsions recently changed their name to Convul and are getting ready to release this new record, as well as hit the road for some touring. 

With each release this band seems to add something new to their routine.  "I'll Be Seeing You" is no different.  I was told that the this release should be listened to as one piece of music, rather than separate songs, though each song is quite a departure in tone and style between tracks that it's hard not to separate it.

The record starts out similar to the sound we've come to expect from these guys with a heavy 90's influence of chugging guitars and technical drums. It's a solid opening that dissolves into an aggressive breakdown. 

Though the record takes some turns after that incorporating what seems to be a heavy Torche influence mixed with perhaps some older Converge material.  We're also hit with a lengthy composition of slow, reverb heavy guitar that seems to last around 11 minutes. I couldn't help but feel it dragged on a bit and found myself wishing to trade the piece in for a couple songs that would match the band's previously initiated flow on the album.

The production communicates a pretty healthy sound that clearly represents all the instruments very well.  The band seems to have taken some chances here that might take the listener a second or two to adjust to.  I admire the creativity expressed and at times it's pretty ingenious.

You can preview the track "Dream Walker" here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Heart On My Sleeve - Stand​-​by, We're Going In For Life

Based on the name, Heart On My Sleeve pretty much gives you exactly what you would expect. What you're going to get here is four songs of heart wrenching emo with heavy screams and dramatic melodies.

Though the name makes it easy to predict what this will sound like, you still get a quality set of songs that have been obviously crafted by some folks who are well acquainted with this particular genre and style.  I appreciate when this band takes things in their upbeat direction and you can hear this on songs like "Forever Summer" and "Bitter Verses".

This music is less about chaos and more concentrated on melody and dynamics.  Think of bands similar to Last Letters or Funeral Diner for better comparison.  All in all, not a bad batch of songs.

Have a listen here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sixteen - 3 Songs

I'm always a fan of bands using a configuration that is less than orthodox, such as with Sixteen, which consists of just guitar and drums.  For some bands this can result in sounding empty and uneventful, but for a band like Sixteen it sounds pretty damn good.  You may think this is just another "twinkle daddy" band, but I find Sixteen rising above the classic perception of bands in that genre with something a bit more distinct.

The fact that this guy can really play guitar, using a nice combination of pull offs, scales and open chords to create a canvas that works both the the melody and harmony at the same time, is really a selling point.  There seems to be a trading off of vocal duties as well which keeps things moving and varied.

"Michael Palledorous" was the standout track to me as it launches into an upbeat frenzy of anger and love gone bad.  I'd love to get the chance to see these gentlemen pulls this off in a live setting.

Have a listen here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Retribution - Consumed

Retriburtion is a straight edge hardcore band from Michigan. They carry a pretty traditional sound that will remind you of bands like Have Heart, Carry On, Betrayed and others of that genre, but perhaps a bit more on the fast and thrashy side at times.

The production here is very raw and up front. This makes everything sound a bit dirtier, but at the same time more intense. The overall sound gives an impression of just bordering on exploding. High gain guitars, heavy reverb-ladden snare and bright sansamp bass tone create a nice full canvas beneath the shouted vocals. Some gang vocals are thrown in to tie up that traditional sound.

If you're looking for a band to fill the void of quality, traditional hardcore in your life, then Retribution may be able to do that.

Have a listen here.

Not The Bees! - Another Hour To Burn

Not The Bees! returns with a new set of songs that seems to take the sound of their first release and refine all the loose ends. If you're not familiar, Not The Bees! is a band from New Jersey that reminds of what would happen if the older material of both Hot Water Music and Saves The Day had a baby....and maybe throw in a small dose of Gaslight Anthem for good measure.

At times you'll hear the band strumming big open chords, leaning more to the rock n' roll side of things.  Other times, like on a tracks like "Stay Indoors" or "Maiden America" you'll hear more single note action coupled with sharp start/stop strumming patterns that seem to follow more of the traditional pop punk tricks. They mix it up nice in this regard, as nothing ever gets too predictable.

The gruff vocals on here are what capture that Hot Water Music flag for me, and personally I enjoy the way that they're executed here. Five tracks of some catchy stuff, for sure.   

Have a listen here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cavities - 64 years

Cavities have it all. Seriously. This band pulls off just about every dynamic I can think of and they do it flawlessly.  Whether it be frantic, fast drumming or swirling lead guitar runs, these songs are woven together with some careful attention to detail.

Within these songs you're probably going to hear a technicality that will be reminiscent of bands like Itto or Ampere at times.  However the band also manages to maintain a pretty epic sound which has me thinking of early Envy or perhaps some of the more on point Funeral Diner material.

The production on here is pretty great, communicating a big sound that clearly highlights every instrument and nuance.  Why is there not more talk about this band?  

Have a listen here.

Lurker - split 7" with the Flops

This is a split, though, I could only find this Lurker side online so I'm going to ahead and review this because I find totally interesting.  Lurker is all over the map musically.  They throw anything from technical metal, to blast beats (see "Pinched Nerve") to 80's punk (see "Dumb Drunk Dialogue") at you.  Somehow this is all blend pretty well and never comes off as sounding forced.

The vocals come out of nowhere with a high pitched cadence that have a very "matter of fact" delivery to them.  These vocals are very distinct, a definite gamble that pays off.

The production could use some cleaning up, but it never interferes with the listener's ability make out what's happening. My least favorite track was "Diet of Worms" here which hangs a bit too much in the 80's punk neighborhood without any variation.  Other than that, you get some pretty distinctive work. 

Have a listen here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Greek Favourites -Forget Shit And Move On

Last night I caught The Greek Favourites for the first time at a show in Bethlehem, Pa at The Secret Art Space.  Knowing nothing about the band, I didn't really know what to expect.  What I got was a refreshing sound that seemed to encompass a Dillinger Four style pop punk sound with some all out screaming and chaos.

These songs have a lot of character in that they never just ride straight and get boring.  There's always some sort of pause, interesting guitar lead or staggering drum beat that pops out and lets you know you're not dealing with just some average crew here.

"Forget the Shit and Move On"  is four tracks of something that I find new and exciting. I'm pretty happy to have run into this band.

Check it out here

Deep Heat - Low Lights

We're playing a show on Sunday with Deep Heat and I thought it would be a good to check them out prior to the show.  I'm very happy that I decided to do this because, as I've discovered, Deep Heat are pretty nice on the ears.

There's an early 80's pop feel going on here that reminds me of Joy Division at times, though, not in any sort of copycat manner.  I suppose a comparison to a modern day band like La Corde wouldn't be out of order here.

These songs contain catchy melodies with an upbeat tempo. You'll find these tracks are laced with beautiful, rich clean guitars that seem to overlap and create some nice texture.  There's a dark feel to them that I love, as a band like this never gets happy or poppy, but remains gloomy in their upbeat composition.

The vocals alternate between male and female, though, keep a nice consistency while adding some nice dimension to the formula.  Pretty excited to see this live.

Check it out here

Friday, August 17, 2012

Disobey - S/T

Back in January I reviewed Disobey's debut called "Human Suffering in Five Movements".  Since then the band has been playing quite a bit and writing new material.  This self titled effort is comprised of three songs that carry the same Tragedy influence as their first release, though their dark hardcore sound seems to be developing it's own characteristics as the band matures away from being just another d-beat clone act.

The production on these songs is pretty large, presenting the band with a hard hitting sound.  The vocals are a little louder than I'd prefer, but I'm not too bothered by it. There's a great mix here of slower parts that groove nicely.  The opening bass line of "Use" lays down the groundwork for a nice 70's metal style jam before the song picks up. 

With addition of some nice melodic guitar leads and dynamic pauses, these songs carry a good deal of variation and movement that never gets stale.  With a great live show to back it up, I would recommend checking this band out when they come your way.

Check it out here.

Cavalcades - Coping

Cavalcades give me the impression of a screamier version of Small Brown Bike due to it's melodic and mid tempo nature.  At times the melody falls off and gives way to what sounds like all out screaming chaos perhaps reminding me of Birds In Row at those moments.

You'll find five tracks of pretty consistent music that sticks to the aforementioned battle plan.  I find the delivery pretty appealing though I do wish the recording quality was a bit more focused.  You'll find some mid gain guitars, unflattering bass tone and pretty dry drums.  When things are raging in a music fury it all comes together pretty well, though the quieter parts enunciate some of the production downfalls. 

All in all, pretty awesome.  Check it out here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Retribution - Consumed

Retribution doesn't offer anything groundbreaking, but what they do offer is some straight forward hardcore that seems to have a nice, raw sound to it that communicates more desperation and genuine effort than the usual macho posturing scenario that this genre is known for.

When the band is taking you for a ride with some fast beats they have a very tight sound which is complimented well by the frantic vocals.  Launching into breakdowns and two step parts to break things up, the songs have a nice flow that never seems forced or unnatural. 

I dare say there's a bit of 90's influence in here and at times I can hear a heavy Downcast sound.  This style hasn't moved me lately, but this stuff does. 

Listen to it here.

Pity Sex - Dark World

Pity Sex has that sound that can simultaneously be poppy yet super depressing.  This may seem strange, but picture the mood of Dinosaur Jr mixed with Minus The Bear and I think you can start to get a good idea. Personally I find myself focusing less on individual instruments, but rather taking in the composition and the feeling as a whole. 

I'm really impressed by this for the feeling that it communicates.  I think most of this rests on the shoulders of the song writing, though the blown out production style takes what kind have been a sterile pop sound and adds some nice grit and rawness to it. 

There's five songs here that keep a consistent sound that draws me in.  Even when the vocals are alternating between male and female the same vibe is maintained without any drastic change. I'll be listening to this all week.

Listen to it here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Plastic Cross - Grayscale Rainbows

Plastic Cross features some members spanning through a history of New Jersey Hardcore (The Scarlet Letter, The Degenerics, Doc Hopper) and deliver nothing short of what you'd expect from this batch of seasoned veterans.

You can certainly hear elements of all those past bands within these compositions,though, the formula takes on a new shape with some interesting melodic singing, noodly guitar work and carefully calculated stops that come out of nowhere. Just about every song of the sixteen tracks here carries a run time just around one minute (with the exception of "Future Science" and "Dead Can't Dance"), though a plethora of twists and turns are found within a very short time.

Based on the song titles and what I can make out of the lyrics I am pretty interested to get a lyric sheet for this.  With song titles like "Totalitarian Eclipse of the Heart" and "Philosophy Student Action Figure" my curiosity is peaked.

Host / KYOTY - split 7"

Host comes at us at full speed with a brutal assault of d-beat influence hardcore that still maintains it's melodic edge.  The production here lends itself to display the band's heavy sound very well.  With crushing vocals and interesting guitar leads, these songs definitely stand out well and distinguish themselves clearly. There's nice mix of tempos here and the songs move like a well oiled machine.  There's just about something for everyone in this as it takes from a wide pool of different styles to put together something all it's own. 

KYOTY provides one five minute track of instrumental heaviness that has me thinking of a mix between bands like Russian Circles and Pelican.  There's an ambient element to it at times, and I must admit I prefer when this band is taking more of a Sabbath-influence approach with their single note heaviness as opposed to the soaked delay pedal activity.

Listen to the Host side here

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Siddhartha - Subject to Change

Siddhartha play an interesting style of music that has me thinking of some of the early 90's emo in it's presentation (Think Managra or Embassy).  Mid gain guitar work falls beneath some desperately shouted vocals while the drumming seems to dance a bit more, stretching out beneath the songs to add some spice.

There's a lot of melody here as things seem to keep careful attention to creating a whimsical texture of guitars.  Even when the band gets on the more aggressive side (see "You Are Not Alone") the music still retains a clarity and seems to sound a bit subdued.  I'd be interested to see how this translates in a live setting.

Have a listen here.

We Must Dismantle All This - Eomaia Scansoria

We Must Dismantle All This play fast, angry hardcore that features rapid drumming, high gain guitars and an intense screaming vocal. Things move pretty fast here, though, if you pay attention you can catch this band pulling a mid tempo beat or breakdown for just a second (See "Poison The Heavens"). This music is fast, fast and more fast.

As the name implies, some of these songs deal with deconstructing civilization as a means of attacking power structure. The lyrics are pretty well written in my opinion as they touch present a nice balance between abstract and outright.

The production on here is not bad, though the overall master is a little low.  Turn up your speakers for this one to get the desired effect.

Check it out here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Woodwork - S/T

Woodwork is a new band from Toulouse, France, though, they sound more like they would fit right in back in 1993 in the United States.  The sound here is very much inspired by 90's hardcore.  At times I'm getting a strong 108 "Holyname-era" vibe mixed with a later Unbroken sound.  Subject matter here keeps in the political realm focusing on issues of political and social oppression. Lyrics and explanations to the songs are both provided giving the listener some further insight into the band's perspective.

Woodwork provides a pretty nice representation with these four songs, letting the listener know what they're all about both musically and lyrically.  The tempos and music change up on a regular basis, not harping to much on any one part. Things never get stagnant as these guys run through some pretty tightly written songs.

The production is a little rough and even reminds me a bit of some of those old sub par recordings of the 90s, though not nearly as badly produced as any Chokehold material. 

Have a listen here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mio - jedes wort eine lüge

Leipzig, Germany was probably one of the greatest cities I have ever had the pleasure of playing in.  Mio comes from Leipzig and I can't help but envy their being situated in a city that has such a thriving network of DIY hardcore.

Mio gives us five songs of female fronted chaos here that sounds very similar to bands like Koaspilot, Caught in the Fall and Orchid. 

The production is a little raw here and I think with a better recording some of the more chaotic musicianship would shine a bit more.  That said, the music seems very well cared for and carefully arranged.  The highlight is the epic "hin und wider" which clocks in at almost eight minutes.

Check it out here

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pray For Teeth - Demo

Pray For Teeth is from Pittsburgh and has a dark hardcore sound that can remind me of His Hero is Gone at times.  They create a very hard hitting composition that communicates a good deal of doom and gloom, while still staying upbeat and exciting. 

The production on a whole keeps things pretty dark, as the higher end brightness is pretty absent.  Though, it seems to work, not sounding muddy or overly bass heavy.  The high gain guitars rage over top of some very pummeling drums, as the vocals stay in the lower register of the things, belting out a sustained growl.

The band mixes up tempos and drum work which keeps the listener on their toes (check out "Hive" for a good example of how seamlessly this band can change things up).  You get some classic d-beat here, but you also get a nice variety of mid tempo, slow and even some sludgy moments.   "Puritan Eyes" seems to be the Opus, coming in at 7:27 sitting mainly in a slow and epic presentation with use of delay on the guitar. 

Have a listen here.

Apart - Gray Light

Apart jumped on a show last night at the last minute and I caught their set.  I knew nothing about the band at all so one could say I was going in fresh, with no expectations.

The band played a short set due to jumping on the show, however from the first note (opening with "Carolina Cold") I found myself totally drawn into the power of the drums, the urgency of the screams and melodic nature of the strings. As the set went on the drummer precisely bashed the large cymbals to create a warm hum and emphasize every transition with some drum fills that alerted you of the change without being too showy.

Apart could possibly be lumped into that whole group of bands that are defined by the Touche Amore/Pianos Become The Teeth sound, however, there's something about Apart that chooses to take their sound a bit further.  Perhaps the dynamics of these songs where every pause is placed to create a good deal of intensity, or perhaps it's how the lyrics are communicated in a scream that never lets up or gets exhausted. A great record here, if you're into this sort of thing.

Listen here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Go Deep - Counseling

I'm usually not a fan of this 80's style hardcore, but the way this band pulls it off really sounds unique to me.  The vocals, especially, have a very nice projection to them in the way that they fall over the music. The lyrical presentation has a very honest theme to it which appeals to me as well.

When Go Deep is all out fast they seem to have that sound that stradles the border of punk and hardcore due to the guitar voicing (see the beginning of "Enthusiast" for the best example). Songs like "Elders", "Bundle of Joy" and "Enthusiast" also feature some nice modern breakdowns that are very well executed and never sound forced.

The band doesn't present anything all that new, and to be honest some of the faster drum work can sound a little sloppy at times, but the complete package works for me. 

Listen to it here.

Dead Dog - Don't Touch Me

Dead Dog is from Athens, Georgia and seem to join the garage rock team with noisy guitar and vocals that are just slightly off key.  The production quality is very raw and fits the genre well.

For the most part Dead Dog features a lead female vocal that can provide a anything between light crooning to excitable yelling. There's also a male vocalist that takes the reigns for a few songs and, although there is contrast, the varying vocals sound pretty consistent. 

This is music that doesn't seem to take itself too seriously and mostly focused on providing that fun, "get up and go" to it's listener.  At times I'm reminded of bands like the Dead Milkmen or Screaming Females, though this seems a little more streamlined and direct.

Get it here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hollow Earth - We Are Not Humanity

Hollow Earth are from Detroit, Michigan and we have here what seems to be a bit of a concept album that lyrically focuses on the problem of humanity taking more than we need.  Each song seems to very eloquently address an aspect of authoritarianism, oppression and cultural destruction.  The lyrics are well written and flow well within the body of the song, never coming off as forced or unfitting. 

Musically Hollw Earth brings you heavy hardcore that reminds me of bands like Morning Again, Culture, Indecision and Run With The Hunted.  There's definitely a nice 90's influence here, but with an updated twist of modern production and approach. The vocals bounce between a powerful scream and delibrate speaking. The guitars carry a high gain sound that punches through with clarity over the large drum production..

I can't help but comment on how well I feel these songs are put together.  It seems though there is a lot of attention to detail here where the flow of the songs and the musicianship were bonded and blended perfectly.

Listen to the whole thing here.

Kids - S/T

Kids come to us from Pennsylvania and play a fast, angry style of hardcore that incorporates a great deal of noise and some nice variation to spice things up. On average you're seeing songs clock in at under a minute, with a few going past that. The short bursts of 30 second aggression are well done and even fit in some nice transitions while the longer songs take a bit more time to stretch out, breathe, and show you a bit more of the band's musical canon. 

The production is very dirty and grity, but it adds to the bands overall presentation well. The guitars are distorted and noise ridden, while the vocals (which seem to be done by multiple people) maintain an angry and desperate scream. Lyrically, the band is pretty up front about how they feel.  These are prose that forgoe the abstract and go straight for a "matter of fact" approach that seems to mainly translate anger and despair.

While I'm all for d-beats and blast beats, the distinguishing characterists that Kids brings to the table is their seemless incorporation of different tempos and approaches in addition to the usual suspects.  They keep things interesting in a way that a lot of bands of this style seem to miss. "Mertle Beach...Murder Beach" was the standout track for me for it's discordant interlude.  I'll have the chance to see this band live next week and I'm pretty interested.

Have a listen here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Stockholm - Crawl

Stockholm is from Atlanta, Georgia and play a slightly mature version of pop punk that at first reminded me of a band like Lifetime. After the first track though the band slows things down and carry a more mid tempo power pop feel.

The production has a bit of an unpolished feel, but still comes across extremely clear.  There seems to be two vocalists trading off, both with having a pretty clean melodic voice, but avoiding any nazzle twang that this music is sometimes prone to. The guitars have a nice sound that seem to compliment each other.

"Crawl" opens the record off and is a bit deceiving due to it's fast pace.  The three tracks after remain in more of a mid tempo neighborhood, delivering something like later Get Up Kids.  They return back to their fast pop punk signature on their last track "Lost Cause".  If you find yourself a fan of the 90's emo bands like The Get Up Kids, Texas Is The Reason, etc, then you'll probably find Stockhom to work pretty well for your tastes.

Check it out here.

Beau Navire - Lumens

A while back I reviewed the Beau Navire/Republic of Dreams split which was my first introduction to the band.  On "Lumens" one can see a few changes. Some of these songs seem to have a more aggressive approach to them at times.  Of particular note is the production which seems to translate the band in an intense and desperate way.  All the instruments are pushed pretty hard, creating an "almost about to explode" sort of vibe to my ears.

These 10 tracks have a good deal of variation and dynamics.  When the band is doing all out chaos (see "Prisms") it's pretty explosive and relentless.  Things can also be brought down to a nice mid tempo feel that has more emphasis on the melodic sensibilities (see "Dead End, Start Over" or "Amongst Ashes"). 

Lyrically the band seems to fall into an abstract, yet political neighborhood.  Of particular note are songs like "Communique'" and "Disgust and Fate" which emphasize mass struggles of community.  Other songs fall into the personal realm, but maintain the abstract approach.

I have to say I'm please with where the band went compared to the split.  I'll definitely be playing this on a regular basis.

Take a listen to it here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Off Camber - Cat 4 Upgrade

I got to see this band last weekend and they were extremely impressive with their hard hitting brand of experimental hardcore that goes anywhere from straight trash to noodling guitar and off time drums. The strained female vocals provide a powerful and desperate scream over top.

The production could use a little bit of fine tuning, as there may be a little too much grit and unpolished tracking.  It works in giving you an idea of where the band is taking the songs though. 

Overall you get 4 songs that run all over the landscape of hardcore and punk while sounding pretty cohesive and exciting.  The musicianship is pretty experimental and takes some risks that end up paying off.  I get an overall 90's Ebullition records sound from the entire presentation, which only made me like it more.  

Take a listen here.

Courtesy Drop - What Makes This Place Worth Calling Home

At times Courtesy Drop has the gruff, Small Brown Bike sound for the late 90s and early 2000s.  Other times they are leaning towards something a bit more modern and come off sounding like Balance and Composure or other bands of that influence.

The band seems to excel at mid tempo melodic compositions that stay pretty straight forward to focus more on power and drive than technicality.  Some songs can be a bit more upbeat (see Tylenol and Fireball for example) while others stay a bit more tame. It works for them pretty well.  The mid gain guitar and non-deviating drums create a a pretty solid background to the gruff vocal style.  The production could use some cleaning up, especially the distant drum sound. It doesn't stop you from being able to get a good idea of the band's direction though.

"What Makes This Place Worth Calling Home Group Effort" seems a bit out of place as it sounds something more that would appear on a Pianos Become the Teeth record and takes the band out of the melodic position they were floating over for the four tracks before.  The melodic vocals on this track, unfortunately, went a little bit into the modern sound and left the gruff style behind at times. The "sing along" part in the middle was a bit confusing as it seemed they tried to showcase every kind of vocal style imaginable.  There's a bit more streamlined version of the song later on in the record that cleans up these small foibles, and really shows the power and potential the song has.

I was a little confused on "The Good Old Days" as the vocals don't come in until about 2 minutes in.  What's confusing here is the preceding 2 minutes is a wonderful verse/chorus tune that reminds a bit of very early Get up Kids material.  I feel the band could have easily inserted some wonderfully catchy vocals in there.

Have a listen here.

Between Your Mind and Tongue - Building the Foundations to Future Ruins

Between Your Mind and Tongue are from New Jersey and play an extremely varied style that incorporates screamy hardcore, prog, and even some influences of more traditional hardcore.  There's definitely a focus on experimentation here and at times the flow can seem a little jagged as they move from part to part.  Nonetheless, the band never gets stagnant as they cruise through a variety of influences.

The production quality is a little muffled, but can work for them, especially when they fall into some chugging guitar parts that emphasize their heaviness.  The screeching vocal work sits just right in the mix adding more power to the grand scheme of things rather than sitting on top.

There's only 3 songs here, but you get quite a picture painted for you.  The use of dynamics and quick changes is consistent throughout the tracks.  I find myself enjoying the noisy, dirty style of the heavier parts, as they pass up the generic hardcore route and opt for something that carries a more drastic and doom ridden sound.  Impressive stuff.

Check it out here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Cowards - Solitude

Though this EP is about 2 years old, I was just reminded of what a great record this is.  Cowards are from Duluth, Minnesota and play a style of hardcore with a good deal of twists and turns while still keeping an introspective melody.

I'm partial to the production here as it has just enough grit to translate a raw sound without the pitfalls of anything getting lost.  Crushing bass tone and mid gain bright guitars shine over some busy drums and deep throaty vocal lies just beneath the whole thing.  Think Ampere or Envy mixed with something a bit heavier. 

This EP mixes things up well, providing us with two short songs and two songs of a more epic scale.  Both formats work out pretty well for the band as they seem to execute both with ease. The longer songs will provide some slower moments that carry a drawn out jam quality to them at times while the shorter tracks are more fast paced with part after part firing away.  A good listen for anyone interested in bands like Ampere, Itto, For Want Of, etc.

Have a listen here.

Dead Letter Auction - The Bridge

Dead Letter Auction was from Fort Wayne, Indiana and play what many would call post-punk. That will give you some idea, but I'll forgo the labels here and just attempt to describe what I'm hearing.

Tight drums and solid bass create a nice foundation as the swirling guitars layer the music with some very nice texture.  This is all topped off by some vocals that remind me a bit of old Ebullition records bands or perhaps some later Dischord bands (Bluetip comes to mind). There's a high pitched whine to them, at times reminding me of Hot Snakes or Four Hundred Years. 

I found myself very impressed with this collection due to it's flow.  There's not a bad song here among the five.  "The Medium" and "The Mourning" are the most laid back of all the tracks, giving you a breather in a somewhat introspective manner. The production here is done pretty well as every instrument is able to occupy part of the mix evenly.  Definitely a band that has gone under the radar.

Have a listen here.

Friday, June 1, 2012

By The Grace of God - For the Love of Indie Rock (Classic Review Of the Week)

I was 17 years old when I found myself in the local record store gazing at the newest effort featuring some members of Endpoint (one of my favorite bands). Without hesitation I put my money down to purchase this cassette (The cassette purchase was mainly because I had a tape deck in the car and wanted to hear this immediately).  It hit my tape deck minutes later and I blasted it.  My initial thought was "this is what I love about hardcore".

By The Grace of God exemplified on this EP everything I wish hardcore could be; everything it can sometimes be; and the potential it can have. It's the kind of record made by the kind of people that have made me stick around all these years, hoping to catch these small, brief glimpses of greatness.

The sing along moments on songs like "Goliath" and "November's Lie" are among the most passionate ever put to tape. There's definitely that aspect of very traditional hardcore here, however it's flawless execution and passionate lyrics set this apart from any other in the genre.

I'm happy to have been around to experience this band when it happened back in 1996. This will always be one of the best hardcore records ever made, in my humble opinion.

Download it here.

Animal Faces - Anomie

Animal Faces open this record with a get up and go track called "Can't See Why" which instantly had me thinking they were sort of like what would happen if you mix Planes Mistaken For Stars with Kid Crash. 

The production on these songs is huge. A nice warm reverb collects the drums well, making them sound huge.  The bass has just enough mid range to make it stand out along side the bright guitars.  The vocals sit just right in the mix, complimenting the music as if they were another instrument.

This is some upbeat, fairly straightforward rhythm happening here, but it employs some really great musicianship which makes it stand out.  For example, the drumming on a song like "Breathe Lightly" takes a mid tempo composition and adds a great dimension of dynamics that really carry it with spastic rolls and precises pauses.  The guitar and bass work throughout these 6 songs carries some very nice playing, while giving a lot of attention to how each instrument affects the overall mood of the song. You can hear the band exemplify their best effort of musicianship on "Sleep Tightly", a 2 minute instrumental journey with many peaks and valleys.

All in all, I'm totally impressed with what I'm hearing here. "Watered Down" was the standout track for me, due to it's catchy musicianship and excellent vocal delivery. I can't believe how much good music is coming from Toronto these days.

Check it out here.

Burn Your Life Down - "Don't Try"

Burn Your Life Down has an EP coming out on Glory Kid Ltd soon and I was asked to take a listen and scribble down some thoughts on it. 

BYLD seems to take a low gain guitar approach to their sound which takes on a little rock and roll influence in it's delivery.  It took me a few songs to get used to the guitar tone, as it's a little different for this style. This probably translates well live, on recording though I find myself searching for a little bit umph from the chugs or a bit more sustain from the single notes.

The screaming vocals tend to have a bit of sassiness to them at times and other times they culminate into a frustrated spoken word. It's nice that they change and move with the songs and it definitely adds some nice dimension to the canvas. Overall I can detect some influences of Deadguy, Achilles, Breather Resist and Botch, both musically and vocally.

The song writing has some nice twists and turns which include mostly groove oriented guitar hooks that keep from the traditional fare. Picture lots of pull off guitar notes coupled with some floating 4/4 drums. Every now and then the band throws in some raging fast parts, but they're used sparingly to create more emphasis on the groovier elements. What you can hear on the link below is "Base Women", a sample track from the Ep. You'll get a nice variety of that frustrated spoken words, raging fast parts and groovy breakdowns littered through this one. This should help gauge where this band stands with you. 

Listen to the track here.

Best of the Month - May Review

As I said before, May was a slow month for the blog, but I did manage to find some hidden gems among the bunch.  My favorites for the month:

Itto blew my mind this month with their unique mix of technical musicianship (bordering on prog) and their desperate screamy sound.  Can't wait to seem the live on this tour they're doing.

Not on Tour doesn't really have the best name for a band, but they are pretty damn good melodic punk that has a some gruff edges to it.

Hop Along returned with a new album called "Get Disowned" that expanded upon their previous indie croonings and won me over. 

Nation on Fire probably play one of the most refreshing takes on fast hardcore coming from New Jersey at this point in time.  I hope this band keeps things moving. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

We Were Skeletons / MNWA - split 7"

We Were Skeletons sounds a bit more aggressive on this one than I've previously thought.  There first track "Wolves" belts out in 53 seconds and gives you a non stop raging of screaming and powerful chords.  They return to their more familiar ground with the 4 minute noodly and melodic compisition of "The Ghost of Jean Glam".  The song carries more of the dynamics you've come to know from this band, taking things from waltzy and open to a more concentrated technical barrage.  Of particular note here is the epic ending which crawls and screams with feedback as the slow drums bring us to a close.

MNWA remind me of a lot of the screamier bands I was hearing in the early 2000s.  The recording is a bit harsh, and although I tried my best, I don't seem to hear any bass or low end present.  Perhaps they are just comprised of drums and guitar.  There are dual screams here that take you way over the top with some throaty and vivid growls. Musically you get some feedback laden guitar keeping things on the dicordant side while busy drums hold up the backbone.

Have a listen here.

Itto - S/T

Itto is from Chicago and remind me a bit of early Capsule due to their technical, mathy work behind the instrumental wheel.  There's a good amount of off time, noodly guitar and spazzing drums.  This is not without some nice, melodic interludes that even things out and create some nice dynamics. Vocally things don't get too over the top, but they communicate a good amount of desperation.  There's a nice balance between some spoken word type delivery into the more aggressive side of things.

Music like this inspires me and I really can't say enough about how a band like this really shows the potential of where some tasteful musicianship can take a song.  I can see how this might be a bit to "prog" for some, but the band's use of some of the more inventive time signatures is pulled off with power and aggression to make this seem less sterile.

I'll have the pleasure of seeing them play next month and I'm most excited.  Definitely some good stuff here.

Check it out here.