THE FIRST LISTEN 2K13

RATED AND SLATED

New releases go under the microscope

cass mccombsCASS McCOMBS – ‘Big Wheel and Others’
Alright, so this is one of last years most lauded releases.  Nomadic American singer-songwriter Cass McCombs’ seventh LP made many an end of year list and if you’re yet to wrap your ears around its Alt-Folk tinkerings, you might wanna take notice.  At 22 tracks long there’s ambition on display if nothing else.  Conversely there’s also some indistinctive filler, which makes consistant play through a chore…(7) More

isolationprocessTHE ISOLATION PROCESS – ‘The Isolation Process’
Imagine, if Depeche Mode ditched their synths and went Metal.  Imagine, if Dave Gahan joined Alice In Chains and you’d have a pretty good idea what makes this Swedish three-piece so special.  Comprising former members of bands such as Come Sleep and Lingua, The Isolation Process’ self titled debut is a stunningly dense combination of Metal moods and textures that’s way above its peers.  Completely absent of the racked screams…(10) More

beastmilkBEASTMILK – ‘Climax’
Beastmilk’s new album Climax has the angst of Glenn Danzig and The Misfits, while also granting enough sincerity to melt the heart of Robert Smith and The Cure.  Immediately it hits the ground running with opener ‘Death Reflects Us,’ a horror-pop tune which summons Morrissey’s ‘Irish Blood, English Heart.’  The vocals beckon like a possessed Jim Morrison doing a duet with Ray Davies of The Kinks, on ‘The Wind Blows Through Their Skulls’…(9) More

wooden shjipsWOODEN SHJIPS – ‘Back To Land’
By now, we know what this San Francisco psyche crew is all about and their rise from the underground, to rock n’ roll overground has been a prominent one.  Their heady mix of trippy pyschedelia and minimalist drifts bridge the gap between the woozy freeness of Crazy Horse and the tightly wound simplicity of Suicide and the Velvet Underground.  Since 08′s Vol. 1 and 09′s Dos they’ve composed fermented grooves and languid guitar journeys…(7) More

midlakeMIDLAKE – ‘Antiphon’
Jazz musicians by trade, Texans Midlake have often been angled by their alt-folk-rock material.  Inwardly, outgoing vocalist Tim Smith was never satisfied with their work.  His depature has cleared the way for a renewed and revitalised outfit, with guitarist Eric Pulido taking the mic, to create a much more progressive sound.  In Antiphon they’ve succeeded in expanding their horizons; pushing their craft and diversifying…(7) More

lights&motion_saveLIGHTS & MOTION – ‘Save Your Heart’
Save Your Heart, the sophomore album of freakishly talented, Swedish multi-instrumentalist and sound engineer Christoffer Franzen, is out on Deep Elm Records just a few short months after his heavily lauded debut album, out in January of this year. Reflecting on how he hears music in colours, Franzen states that he wanted Save Your Heart to be “more of a blueish or violet colour in terms of sonic identity”…(8) More

tidesfromnebulaTIDES FROM NEBULA – ‘Eternal Movement’
Polish instrumental post-rockers Tides From Nebula know their way around the cosmos.  Drawing on their own inner beliefs on existence, consciousness and identity, their latest studio album sees the band characterising the energy of life and movement.  Through colourful and dense layers of guitar and synth they focus the blurred lines drawn by their contemporaries, adding deft embellishments…(8) More

future of the leftFUTURE OF THE LEFT – ‘How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident’
Future of the Left bring alternative rock to a whole new aesthetic with their latest release How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident. Though the term “alternative” is abstract and FOTL strive at being Kandinsky artists that re-imagine the alternative rock canvas. The opener ‘Bread, Cheese, Bow and Arrow’ crawls in with a White Stripe guitar hook and Jack White faux-southern snarls…(5) More

melvins_cabrones(the) MELVINS – ‘Tres Cabrones’
You’d think a band who set a 51-gigs-in-51-days Guinness World Record last year, would use their 30th Anniversary year to relax, drink some camomile tea and listen to cassettes of meditative dolphin noises. (the) Melvins are not letting up; the legendary godfathers of grunge are making their mark on 2013.  Following on from the covers record, Everybody Loves Sausages earlier in the year…(7) More

WAKDWE ARE KNUCKLE DRAGGER – ‘The Drone’
It’s difficult to fault the ethos of this album.  It’s so bone-crunchingly heavy and malevolent, the band sound like they’re burrowing into your consciousness the way At The Drive In used to.  Kinda like the sound a pig would make, if it had been stuck with a very large needle, hog-tied and sliced with a razor between the nostrils, The Drone twists the whole Hardcore/Thrash/Noise Rock genre beyond all recognition…(7) More

chelseawolfeCHELSEA WOLFE – ‘Pain Is Beauty’
The third studio album from Sacramento singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe is a massive departure from her previous offering ‘Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs’. There is a real ethereal quality about the 12 tracks on offer, which begin with the brooding ‘Feral Love’ – an ambient, pulsing beat setting the tone for the rest of an album that has a real mesmerising quality…(8) More

deathremainsDEATH REMAINS – ‘Stand. Fight. Believe’
When two of your bandmates drown on your first foreign tour, you can be forgiven for deciding that a career change might be in order.  But not Vocalist Barry O’Connor and Axeman Marc Yacas of Death Remains, who after some understandable time out, recruited three new band mates, changed their name from After Death and started over. In the three years since forming, these Londoners have toured extensively and self-released an EP…(6) More

courtesy dropCOURTESY DROP – ‘Songs To Drive To; Cry, and Make Love To’
Creating an impressionable album title can be essential towards gaining attention. For Nashville’s Courtesy Drop, Songs To Drive To; Cry, and Make Love To creates three distinct elements for listeners to closely interpret and explore.  As autumn concludes, the album functions well as a period piece by bringing a sense of closure to fall’s decaying foliage. The cover of the album appropriately, a snapsho…(7) More

mojofuryMOJO FURY – ‘The Difference Between’
This is only Mojo Fury’s second studio release, but they are by no means newcomers.  Since ’04 they’ve churned out three EPs before their full length debut in ’11. Prior to Visiting Hours Of A Travelling Circus, multi-tasking singer Michael Mormecha was also the drummer. His Phil Collins-esque transformation in ’09 paved the way for Andrew Kearton to bang the skins…(4) More

antlered manANTLERED MAN – ‘This Devil Is Them’
With their new album, Antlered Man hasn’t just created songs; they’ve created a baffling experience.  Although settling in the netherworld of industrial rock, the band manages to get sinister without overtly scaring their listeners.  The album begins with ‘The Ballad of Hamhock Fullsleeve,’ a tune with theatrical glimpses of Tool and Silverchair. While the track is explosive, it’s mainly a variation of the same riff…(6) More

pearl jamPEARL JAM – Lightning Bolt
Pearl Jam are one of the Seattle ‘Big Four’ whose singers managed to survive the height of their fame. So whilst Alice in Chains and Nirvana fans are left fantasizing about what could have been, PJers have been subjected to a steady stream of album output every few years since 1991. The irony of Lightning Bolt is that, musically, it strikes the same chord more than once…(6) More

morcheebaMORCHEEBA – ‘Head Up High’
Cards on the table, this is the first Morcheeba offering I’ve listened to since Big Calm.  For me that was an iconic 90’s album, consumed over and over, mostly in a haze of some kind of fog or other. Trip hop beats with bullseye vocals and lyrics, often the album of choice to soundtrack most days.  There’s no particular reason why I haven’t listened to them since, I just haven’t.  So I was kind of excited to be given their new release Head up High to review…(9) More

annacalviANNA CALVI – ‘One Breath’
For the second time in two years, British singer songwriter Anna Calvi has made her way into Black Box Studios in France with her crooner attitude and vintage guitars, and walked out through the velvet curtain with a modern orchestral art rock masterpiece in her hands. She’s still with Domino Records for the new release but this time the post-production was wrapped up in Texas by her new producer John Congleton…(8) More

the red paintingsTHE RED PAINTINGS – ‘The Revolution Is Never Coming’
Goddam! We nearly let this one pass us by.  What a crime that would’ve been.  Australia’s The Red Paintings are described as orchestral art-rock.  We tend to agree but would probably add ‘unique’ and ‘dazzling’ to that classification.  This crew know how to put on a show and their debut has been six years in the making, it’s over 70 mins long and has blown a huge budget to be one of the most extravagent and cinematic albums you’re likely to hear all year…(9) More

crowdburnCROWDBURN – ‘Ignition’
Another month and another Swedish Metal Album – maybe it’s all the dark nights but Scandinavia seems to be a hotbed of metal and one band of the moment is Crowdburn.  Their new long-player arrives to the clamor of a slavering cult following and has already garnered an impressive amount of attention from metalheads everywhere, including a combined 500,000 views for their two supporting videos on YouTube…(7) More

morethanconquerorsMORE THAN CONQUERORS – ‘Everything I’ve Learnt’
If More Than Conquerors keep on making music as impressive as their debut album, they will certainly avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump.”  It’s a beyond devious curse, but this band is crafted enough as musicians to ward off any disheartening spells. During the intro to ‘All That We Can,’ the innocent vocals of singer Kris Platt instantly surge forward and reign supreme.  Although…(9) More

crazyarmCRAZY ARM – ‘The Southern Wild’
For this largely unplugged release, Plymouth Punks Crazy Arm have listened to their fans and built on the rounds of rapturous reception for their acoustic tours over the last two years.  Where its predecessor and Headwarmer fave Union City Breath was loaded with guitar driven punk-rock, The Southern Wild is steeped in the rich history of English, Irish and American country, folk and bluegrass…(7) More

J100BLACK ONASSIS – ‘Desensitized’
Black Onassis is ex-Kasabian guitarist and founding member Chris Karloff’s new project, alongside Nick Forde. So it was with great expectation that I downloaded Desensitized onto my USB stick, stuck it in my car headunit, cranked up the 5-channel amp and let it rip.  In many ways Desensitized carries that influential Kasabian sound but it is such a bizarre listening experience…(6) More

temperancemovementTHE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT – ‘The Temperance Movement’
After just one EP and some invigorating live performances, expectations for this debut LP from British Rockers The Temeprance Movement, are disproportionately high.  Despite that weight upon their shoulders, this is one of the most stirring Rock ‘n’ Roll offerings in a long time.  No histrionics, no poses, just talented musicians doing what comes naturally.  There’ a tendency in Rock music to over-emphasise, but TTM understand the concept of economy…(8) More

sebadohSEBADOH – ‘Defend Yourself’
Sebadoh were last recording in the studio back in ’99.  On The Sebadoh they struck Indie-Rock gold with enduring and catchy cuts that still serve as their best work to date.  Not since ’94s Bakesale though have they self produced and with Defend Yourself, they’re back chancing and romancing with self-worth and grunge-lite virility to recall the warm glow of those early lo-fi recordings…(8) More

josepharthurJOSEPH ARTHUR – ‘The Ballad of Boogie Christ’
Double albums aren’t an easy sell. There needs to be enough balance and quality throughout to engage both the uninitiated and hardcore fanbase for consistent play through.  At worst, a double disc can appear a little self-indulgent and pretentious.  At best, it’s a jewel encrusted box of seemingly endless delights that rewards with repeat listens…(6) More

windhandWINDHAND – ‘Soma’
Once you’ve heard 30-seconds of the ‘Orchard’, the first track on Windhand’s sophomore release you know exactly what you’re in for – tar thick distorted guitars, drumming that sounds like it was done in the studio next-door and Dorothy Cottrell’s perfectly haunting vocals.  It all comes together almost perfectly to create Soma, a slow-churning typhoon of sludgy greatness…(8) More

toucheamoureTOUCHE AMORE – ‘Is Survived By’
With their new release Is Survived By, Touche Amore hop on a vessel and voyage between the distant territories of hardcore and alternative music.  The band must have frequent flyer miles, because their journey back and forth is relatively habitual.  Producer Brad Wood (Smashing Pumpkins, Sunny Day Real Estate) leaves imprints of 90’s alternative fingerprints throughout every track…(7) More

65days - Wild Light artwork65DAYSOFSTATIC – ‘Wild Light
Good music can be astonishing, at times.  Bewildering, captivating and extraordinary in the true sense of those words.  Only occassionally heard and recognised as such, music that uplifts, stirs the soul and provides some kind of meaning behind everything, yields true power.  The purveyors of the finest sounds can rest easy, knowing their endeavour and industry should be rewarded by millions and billions of record sales…(10) More

balanceandcomposureBALANCE AND COMPOSURE – ‘The Things We Think We’re Missing’
There are three words that sum up Balance and Composure’s music: alternative grunge revival.  The band’s new album functions as a modern adhesive that binds the slabs of emo and 90’s rock.  Producer Will Yip is the true mastermind of the record, creating a refined audio experience.  Having worked with bands like Circa Survive and Title Fight, Yip is the perfect person to magnify B.a.C.’s elaborate music…(7) More

katatonia_dethronedKATATONIA – ‘Dethroned & Uncrowned’
When these Swedish masters of sorrowful metal released Dead End Kings last year to critical acclaim, they arrived at a point of collective supremacy through years of tireless exactness.  Probably their most exceptional release to date, the culmination of soaring choruses and thunderous metal marked a step towards a more progressive sound, making for a hugely gratifying listening experience…(8) More

avengedsevenfoldAVENGED SEVENFOLD – ‘Hail to the King’
Avenged Sevenfold (or ‘A7X’ as they are known to their friends, or ‘Angel is a Centrefold’ to those who have mis-heard) have been doing this type of thing since last century and it’s starting to show.  ‘Hail to the King’ has an unintentional retro vibe that sometimes borders on the cheesy, which is not necessarily a bad thing if you like your metal with a slice of Camembert…(7) More

arctic monkeysARCTIC MONKEYS – ‘AM’
Since their ’06 debut and its ’07 follow up, these hugely popular Steel City kids seem to have been searching to re-establish their identity.  Self style included, such was the finite nature of their early colloquialisms, subsequent recordings simply had to find a new direction to maintain momentum and retain interest.  But with the sluggish Humbug and last years passable Suck It And See, they’ve tried and tested without leaving a lasting impression…(6) More

tyrTYR – ‘Valkyria’
Hailing from the Faroe Islands and it’s inescapable Viking past, Tyr return with their seventh full length steeped in buccaneering heritage and marauding concepts.  Telling the tale of an anonymous warrior destined for Valhalla, TYR have often been described as Folk Metal and there’s no doubting their unabashed use of cultural and historical influences…(6) More

nineinchnailsNINE INCH NAILS – ‘Hesitation Marks’
The empirical genius of Trent Reznor knows no boundaries.  An eternal appetite to follow no path, no code, but to create his very own vocation that blazes a trail for the rest of us to follow like lap dogs.  No matter which way he turns, the ride we’re taken on as listeners is unmistakable, singel-minded, quite prodigious and utterly fascinating.  Almost entirely ditching the balls to the wall industrial rock ferocity…(9) More

Black Spiders_DRCD13006_BK_PackshotBLACK SPIDERS – ‘This Savage Land’
The second long player from Sheffield’s masters of the riff, is expectedly not backward in coming forward.  With all the subtelty of a wrecking ball, This Savage Land swings into action astride huge pummelling chords and Pete Spiby’s absolute rock vocal.  Massive choruses to incite bare chested bravado and beer in the air moments, ‘Knock You Out’ and ‘Stick It To The Man’ kick down the door and demand you pay attention…(8) More

strayfromthepathSTRAY FROM THE PATH- Anonymous
Sumerian Records is like the Twilight saga of labels.  It’s constructed an exclusive fan base where fanatics eat up everything the company has to offer and with this latest release by Stray From The Path, they’re looking to expand an expanding franchise of screamo bloodsuckers.  Along with fellow label-mates Asking Alexandria, Born of Osiris and heart throbs I See Stars…(4) More

jarsofclayJARS OF CLAY – ‘Inland’
In 1995 Christian rock outfit Jars of Clay released their eponymously titled debut album, that turned out to be one of the most superbly crafted pieces of musical material ever written. In spite of this, the album flew under most people’s radar (particularly in the UK) but several albums followed, each aspiring to match, but steadily falling short of that glorious debut. Acoustic Taylor guitars were gradually abandoned in favour of a rockier electric sound…(8) More

vistachinoVISTA CHINO – ‘Peace’
From the ashes of Kyuss and Kyuss Lives! comes Vista Chino – the brainchild of vocalist John Garcia and drummer Brant Bjork.  Not for a long time have we been this excited about a new band and with good reason.  These boys, with a little help from their friends, virtually defined stoner-rock with three utterly essential releases back in the 90′s.  In particular 94′s Welcome To Sky Valley became the Abbey Road of stoner…(7) More

foyvanceFOY VANCE – ‘Joy Of Nothing’
We all know that life is a series of ups and downs, good times and bad, purple patches and blue spells; it’s fair to say Foy Vance’s dial on Joy of Nothing, is set to wistful. This chap has definitely been unlucky in love; no diamond anniversaries on the horizon me thinks. Hailing from Northern Ireland and moving to the US as a child, he returned to Ireland to kickstart his music career…(5) More

blessthefallBLESS THE FALL – ‘Hollow Bodies’
Following their last, Awakening reaching a heady 31 on the Billboard Chart, Arizona quintet Bless The Fall continue their assault on the premier league of Metal-core with latest opus, Hollow Bodies. Having undergone plenty of changes in their time together it’s no surprise that there’s another change to the rosta this time – Elliott Gruenberg filling the gaps by adding some much needed weight on guitar...(7) More

pusciferPUSCIFER – ‘All Re-Mixed Up’
Let me start by saying I think Conditions of My Parole is a fantastic album – truly amazing in fact.  Admittedly a remix album was more or less guaranteed considering there have been three remix albums preceeding this one, but I have to wonder what the fucking point is?  If there were some truly jaw dropping remixes in here we would be having a different conversation, but quite honestly, there isn’t…(4) More

blackfieldBLACKFIELD – ‘IV’
Israel’s leading counter-culture musician Aviv Geffen returns with Steve Wilson and guests for the new Blackfield album.  Started back in ’01, Blackfield and Geffen’s stock has continued to rise since ’11s Welcome To My DNA and for this 4th collaborative project, both continue to contribute writing, vocal and guitar parts.  This time they’ve enlisted the consumate vocal abilities, albeit fleeting, of Suede’s Brett Anderson, Anathema’s Vincent Cavanagh and Jonathan Donahue from Mercury Rev…(7) More

whitehillsWHITE HILLS – ‘So You Are…So You’ll Be’
Life is too short and time too precious.  What makes you think, ‘pioneer’, that your sprawling, drained-out drudgery contains anything of note?  Beyond its obvious boundaries, what is there to draw me away from my daily routine?  Continued minutes of wide open vacuous noise-scapes and irritating feedback?  Indecipherable lyricism that might as well not be there?  Expectation can drown your hopes; hinder your productivity…(8) More

end of greenEND OF GREEN – ‘Painstream’
After 21-years in the business End Of Green have finally been snapped up to a label with an international presence, which should allow them to expand beyond their metal-hotbed home nation of Germany.  Their first release on Napalm is hitting stores as we speak and has the mix of Metal, Alternative, Goth, and Pop that took them to 17 in the German Album charts with their last opus, High Hopes in Low Places…(7) More

karnivoolKARNIVOOL – ‘Asymmetry’
Architects of Australian Hard-Rock Karnivool, return with album number three and where debut Themata and its ground-breaking follow up Sound Awake redefined their realm, Asymmetry should cement their star in the halls of the gods.  Suitably challenging and densely layered it follows no path, choosing instead to mislead and mystify with raw, disjointed riffs that coil and contort…(8) More

deadlettercircusDEAD LETTER CIRCUS – The Catalyst Fire
‘The Catalyst Fire’ is Dead Letter Circus’ second contribution to the Australian music scene, their debut album ‘This Is the Warning’ reached number 1 down under and was even voted by listeners of an Australian radio station as one of the ‘Hottest 100 Albums of All Time’.  Let’s remember to put this in context though; Australia isn’t exactly renowned for churning out genre defining musical acts…(4) More

jetplanelandingJETPLANE LANDING – ‘Don’t Try’
This Derry four-piece have been plying their trade for well over a decade now and in that time, they’ve unleashed 3 albums of agit-political-post-hardcore experimentation that have crossed genres and boundaries with consumate ease.  Album number four moves adroitly forward from the exploratory Backlash Cop, into a more straight-up aural assualt that should re-position them as serious contenders…(8) More

dangeroussummerTHE DANGEROUS SUMMER – Golden Record
“Golden Record comes from The Voyager Golden Records that were sent into space in the 1970′s… in hopes that one day they will be intercepted by extraterrestrial life.” – AJ Perdomo, The Dangerous Summer’s lead vocalist and bassist.  As a member of the human race, I can safely say that you wouldn’t want aliens to intercept this record.  It sounds like the type of music only heard on cheesy US shows like Dawson’s Creek…(2) More

crocodilesCROCODILES – ‘Crimes of Passion’
Album Number four from Crocodiles takes the form of Crimes of Passion and the warhol’esque cover promises much. This San Diego outfit came together in 2008 and they don’t shy away from throwing in a few curve balls into the sound mix.  First things first, don’t bother with this on your crappy old apple bud headphones with some latte-swilling number cruncher invading your space…(7) More

cb6CB6 – ‘Succession’
By forging a sound of Earth Crisis’ days on Victory Records, with the raw spark of Bridge 9 CB6 look to survive against the grueling cutthroat nature of hardcore music.  The band’s new album parallels Earth Crisis’ Destroy The Machines, while packing a strong left hook like Cruel Hand.  As the vocals and guitars are enormously similar to their peers from Maine, CB6 search to emulate the crossover of metal and hardcore hostility…(7) More

kingbathmatKINGBATHMAT – ‘Overcoming The Monster’
Often by the time a band reaches album number seven, their best days are behind them.  So when King Bathmat’s latest landed, our expectations were of a good solid progressive album that very much continued where they left.  What we got was more than a surprise.  For those not familiar, King Bathmat have been releasing their brand of eclectic Proggery every couple of years since 2003’s debut “The Truth Button”, but what makes them so differen…(8) More

whigsTHE WHIGS – ‘Enjoy The Company’
Hailing from Athens, Georgia this three piece are standing up an all too familiar sonic adventure that hopes to render the dark themes heard on 10′s In The Dark, to kick open the doors to a more optimistic future.  Recorded in New York with John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth) twiddling the knobs, Enjoy The Company tries to leave a lasting impression on the paradigm of American Garage-Rock…(7) More

planktonwatPLANKTON WAT – ‘Drifters Temple’
Music, as consumed by your average earner/spender, is experienced internally. We cart it along on our commutes and treks and apply it to our tasks, chores and leisurely pursuits. It tempers our moods and helps to define moments beyond three dimensions and cordial interactions. So it’s a head trip, right? Aside from pumping a fist at a gig or shaking your ass at a house party it’s a head trip. Let’s agree on this for the sake of this review…(7) More

highonfire_livevol1 HIGH ON FIRE – ‘Spitting Fire Vols 1 & 2′
Live Albums by their very nature have an impossible task –what sounds good on the night will sound very different when you’re listening to the MP3.  So for every storming Live release they’ll be twenty clunkers and when an act is as well known for it’s live show as High On Fire, then the task is almost impossible.  Fortunately the Spitting Fire Volumes deliver…(9) More

night versesNIGHT VERSES – ‘Lift Your Existence
Night Verses first full album follows last year’s well received Out of the Sky EP and ‘full’ it certainly is, with 15 steely tracks squeezed into 74 exhilarating minutes.  The album is bookended by tremolo picking whammy fused opener ‘Introducing: The Rot Under The Sun’ and the epic finale ‘Phoenix: I. Rising II. Falling’ with everything in between a relentless pounding of some of the best modern metal music out there…(9) More

wiretreeWIRETREE – ‘Get Up’
It’s the right time for blended Indie-Rock.  A soundtrack to the sticky summer days with power pop melodies and perfectly weighted guitar hooks to stretch out to under a blissfully blue sky.  Hailing from Austin Texas, Wiretree is the brainchild of singer-songwriter Kevin Peroni – a native steeped in the sounds of UK and US acts such as The La’s, Radiohead, The Kinks, Elliot Smith, Big Star and Grandaddy…(8) More

defeaterDEFEATER – ‘Letters Home’
By confiding in a heavy narrative, Defeater’s music is like listening to an audio novel.  Since their first album Travels, the band has created a massive three album story about the lead singer’s grandfather who served in World War II.  With this latest release on Bridge Nine, Defeater’s storytelling can become a minor burden.  Although an established and respected band, Letters Home works fundamentally for their fans…(7) More

icaruslineTHE ICARUS LINE – ‘Slave Vows’
Anger is an energy that counts for nothing unless you know how to wield it correctly.  LA agitators The Icarus Line have a spent the best part of a decade mastering that energy via pulse-quickening performances and four albums of malevolent and changeful Punk-Rock.  Fresh from a year spent mostly on the road, album number five was recorded almost completely live in singer Joe Cardamone’s studio…(9) More

stormbringerSTORMBRINGER – ‘MMXIII’
Stormbringer is a band with arena rock aspirations, mixed with a gritty dive bar appeal. While the production sounds striking, there’s nothing too musically diverse about this debut that could elevate them to iconic metal insanity.  The record begins with a Sabbath ordeal of heavy guitar bites and distortion; the title track a mere uneventful intro as a repeating chord rings out over a two-minute interlude…(5) More

lemuriaLEMURIA – ‘The Distance is So Big’
Indie rockers Lemuria have just released their third album, entitled The Distance is So Big.  The album is out on Bridge Nine Records, and although they’ve graduated to Bridge Nine from their previous label Asian Man Records, it must be noted that, sound wise, they were much more at home back at Asian Man. Their brand of indie punk, driven by poppy rhythm guitar and sweet male-female vocal harmonies fits right in…(4) More

jamesyoungerJAMES YOUNGER – ‘Feelin’ American’
With his new album Feelin’ American, British rocker James Younger has figuratively taken his sound across the Atlantic. Produced by one of the members of Hot Hot Heat, the album tries to obtain a certain new-wave “revival” prevalent in modern music.  The first track ‘Monday Morning’ is a double feature of The Strokes and Neon Tress; an endeavor at achieving alternative radio success…(4) More

davematthewsDAVE MATTHEWS BAND – ‘Away From The World’
Imagine the scene: it’s summer, you’re in the back garden relaxing with your new girl/boyfriend, knocking back a few drinks and those all too rare British sun rays are beating down.  It’s almost the perfect day, but something is missing… Away From The World.  Album number eight from this genre-fusing outfit formed in Charlottesville, Virginia back in ’91, carries laid back jazz-jams and grooves…(8) More

letliveLETLIVE – ‘The Blackest Beautiful’
Notorious LA rockers Letlive. are seemingly on a vertical trajectory destined to make them the must see act of the year, and one of the most important bands on the scene today.  Following the acclaimed Fake History, Jason Butler and team are expanding an accessible post-hardcore blueprint towards global dominance; authoritative, commanding and pioneering, theirs is a sound like no other…(8) More

owenOWEN – ‘L’Ami du Peuple’
Artist Mike Kinsella has humbly captured his indie-folk songwriting talent through his latest release.  Seen as a one man Simon and Garfunkel, there is no need for a counterpart to Owen’s music. With the early July release of L’Ami du Peuple, Owen sustains his ability to create momentous hymns of praise.  The opener ‘I Got High’ begins with light guitar strumming over delicate dings of a glockenspiel…(8) More

queensrycheQUEENSRŸCHE – Queensrӱche
When asked to review Queensrӱche’s new album, my first thought was ‘which one?’ Not which album, but which Queensrӱche? The last 18 months have seen the Grammy nominated artists fall out to such an extent where punches were thrown and singer Geoff Tate reportedly spat at drummer Scott Rockenfield during a show. Needless to say the band didn’t continue long after that…(8) More

kyteKYTE – ‘Love To Be Lost’
After three years of floating under the record radar, KYTE has drifted back into sacred indie territory.  Their latest release, Love To Be Lost, offers tranquil and sensational interludes over harmonious piano melodies.  The first track ‘Breaking Bones’ rushes in with extremely youthful vocals, like a teenager pouring his heart out.  Its follow-up “Scratches” begins with an Angels and Airwaves intro…(5) More

hushnowTHE HUSH NOW – ‘Memos’
Memo to The Hush Now: having three tracks smack bang in the middle of the record, back to back, that seem to have the exact same structure but with different tones, is not the way to go about this album.  That has to be the only gripe to be had with the overall arrangement here. There is nothing that can really be found to fault in technicality either. But…(4) More

poltergeistPOLTERGEIST – ‘Your Mind is a Box (Let Us Fill It With Wonder)’
Besides trying to provide wonder, the latest effort by Poltergeist will have listeners trying to provide their own lyrics and melodies.  Point being, the album features no lead singer or any words to sing along to.  Making this an instrumental listen from a band comprised of the original members of older British group Echo & The Bunnymen…(6) More

thesemonstersTHESE MONSTERS – ‘Heroic Dose’
These rapidly-paced villains from Leeds – drummer Tommy Davidson, bassist Ian Thirkill and Samuel James Pryor on guitar and vocals – have attempted to create a masterpiece that is crude, abrasive and completely mosh-tastic in it’s own right.  In many ways it works, as you progress through the tracks, the twists and turns prevent you from settling…(6) More

palmsPALMS – ‘Palms’
With the demise of Boston post-metallists ISIS comes a new, distinctive take on a sound they helped to evolve and pioneer for well over a decade.  Bass player Jeff Caxide, with long time accomplices Aaron Harris (drums) and Clifford Meyer (keyboards/guitar), have actualised an expansion from their early metal and hardcore experimentation, into something resembling public evolution…(8) More

flotsamandjetsamFLOTSAM AND JETSAM – ‘Ugly Noise’
Most music fans would only encounter Flotsam & Jetsam when answering “who did Jason Newstead play for before he joined Metallica?”.  With the answer most likely to be: “some thrash band with an odd name”.  But Flotsam & Jetsam are still plying their trade and thanks to fans funding recording through Pledge Music, the band have been able to release their 11th LP via Metal Blade…(7) More

imperialteenIMPERIAL TEEN – ‘Feel The Sound’
After over a 5 year hiatus, ex-Faith No More keyboardist Roddy Bottum’s band Imperial Teen is back for another stab at the hit parade.  You might remember them from their single ‘Yoo Hoo’, whose signature call and response style and sparkling boy/girl harmonies charmed their way right onto the soundtrack to the hit movie Jaw Breaker in the late 90’s.  Working with much the same ‘Yoo Hoo’ groove…(7) More

tesseractTESSERACT – ‘Altered State’
I’ve realised this review has taken me almost four hours to write over two days.  The reason for this unacceptable drop in productivity?  Every time I try to write with headphones in I end up zoning out and listening with my eyes closed, something I haven’t done for years.
  Although only the second full length album from home-grown prog-metal agitators Tesseract, Altered States immediately comes across as the work of veterans…(10) More

boysetsfireBOY SETS FIRE – ‘While A Nation Sleeps…’
So Boy Sets Fire have found a new home on Bridge Nine; the humble abode to historic bands such as H2O, Have Heart, American Nightmare and just about every promising hardcore band to date.  Absent from the scene after a “permanent” leave in 2007, the band quickly found itself playing numerous one-off shows and re-establishing itself as a band which hardcore desperately needed…(9) More

sleepingwithsirensSLEEPING WITH SIRENS – ‘Feel’
Throughout the past few years, Sleeping With Sirens have quickly become the golden boys of Rise Records.  While the label has recently signed legends like The Bouncing Souls, Hot Water Music, Further Seems Forever and punk icons 7 Seconds, Rise continues to push SWS across the thinning threshold of post-screamo music.  With the latest release Feel…(2) More

blacksabbathBLACK SABBATH – 13
Despite health problems and the resistance of drummer Bill Ward, the original members of Black Sabbath have reunited to produce 13, their first album in over 3 decades.  Officially out on Universal, the album features drummer Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave) and credits the insane production talents of Rick Rubin.  The producer insists that this is ‘pure’ Black Sabbath, not ‘retro’…(10) More

huntervalentineHUNTER VALENTINE – ‘Collide & Conquer’
An album with a name such as this is a very bold promise.  The idea that these three women think they can give us an insatiable ear thrashing to overtake our souls should be commended.  They are aiming high, striving for greatness and alhough their collection isn’t on par with perhaps the almighty “Queens of Noise” The Runaways, Ontario trio Hunter Valentine give it a decent shot.  From the recesses of popular American reality show the Real L-Word…(6) More

wisdomofcrowdsBRUCE SOORD with JONAS RENKSE – ‘Wisdom of Crowds’
When we learned these two craftsman were joining forces, thoughts turned to an amalgamation of cinematic Rock and darkly atmospheric Metal, in widescreen.  History tells us when great minds collide, great things happen and with a stockpile of luxuriant back catalogues already amassed, brothers Soord and Renkse are about to throw their most constructive, observed and powerful work out there to date…(10) More

aliceinchainsALICE IN CHAINS – ‘The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here’
Much like the ’09 comeback Black Gives Way To Blue, masterful Seattle pioneers Alice In Chains return with another wedge of blues infused, grunge tinged, alternative metal.  Whatever we call it, its one of the most anticipated releases of the year, with good reason.  What we love about the Chains is that they’re still so true to their origins…(7) More

templetonpekTEMPLETON PEK – ‘Signs’
From the depths of heavy metal’s womb emerge Brummie 4-piece Templeton Pek and their debut album of riff-tastic melody – Signs.
  What is striking about this debut in particular is the commanding voice of vocalist Neal Mitchell combined with the annihilating thrash of the guitars and the insatiable pounding of the drums. It’s a match made in rock and roll heaven.  Opener ‘Who We Are’ is as dominant as they could wish for…(8) More

queensofthestoneageQUEENS OF THE STONE AGE – ‘…Like Clockwork’
Six years on from the groggy slingshot Era Vulgaris, Josh Homme has re-grouped his Queens to throw back some dirty, blues-driven desert rock in our faces.  Whilst its been a while; emerging via some Crooked Vultures and a self-titled re-issue tour, album number six yields few surprises.  Invariably a better record than its predecessor, despite a dubiously experimental edge, Like Clockwork is positively heaped with familiar riffs and sinister snarl…(8) More

kylesaKYLESA – ‘Ultraviolet’
Kylesa inhabits a tremendous amount of post-grunge finesse that lacks the radio charm of The Pixies and Silverchair.  Though Kylesa is in no form FM friendly, the songs are beyond intricate enough to entice casual listeners of alternative music.  The album embarks on a voyage of experimental rock, which is fused together with the arena flair of fashionable bands.  Heard on the second track ‘Unspoken’, the music sounds like disturbing worship tunes…(7) More

asgASG – ‘Blood Drive’
The easiest way to label ASG’s new album is by making up a new genre of music.  The album Blood Drive can be summed up in about three words, “Epic Conquest Music.”  Listeners will be able to envision a knight riding on a stallion, decapitating enemies in search of his captured love held in a castle.  However, this album is no gallant knight’s tale.  Comparable to metal legends Mastodon, ASG targets a specific audience…(5) More

red hareRED HARE – ‘Nites Of Midnight’
Anyone remember Swiz?  Back in the 80′s they were one of the most popular bands of an emerging D.C. scene that would also spawn the likes of Dag Nasty and Jesus Eater; all bearing the unique vocal assault of Shawn Brown.  Guitarist Jason Ferrell has re-assembled the elements to include bassist Dave Eight and Red Hare furthers the music they were making more than twenty years ago…(8) More

irontongueIRON TONGUE – ‘The Dogs Have Barked, The Birds Have Flown’
The controversy over just how hard Little Rock can actually rock has officially been settled.  The debut album from Arkansas natives Iron Tongue, out on Neurot, is a sledgehammer of pure soulful hard southern rock and roll straight to the gut.  Tales of desperation and loss are told by stormy vocals and wicked bluesy riffs that never fail to drive the story home.  The ironically titled opene…(8) More

triggereffectTRIGGER EFFECT – ‘What’s Left To Eliminate?’
Montreal
’s maniacs of hardcore Trigger Effect are set to release their new album What’sLeft To Elimate? and at 26 seconds in, the band signals their intent with something akin to machine gun fire at a hated enemy; a warning shot for those new to their sound of profound musical warfare.  With a vocal structure similar to the 90’s throwback Snapcase…(7) More

goldbladeGOLDBLADE – ‘The Terror Of Modern Life’
Deep from the echoes of the ominous punk rock golden era, British riot titans Goldblade and their edgy raucous collection emerge.  The Terror of Modern life is the resurrection of all things bedlam and opposing. Throughout the 13 tracks on offer, this British 5-piece combine skilled guitar harmony with pulsing drums and raw, grainy vocals that are destined to start a ruckus…(9) More

appleseedcastTHE APPLESEED CAST – ‘Illumination Ritual’
This Kansas post-rock accumulation is one of the few surviving outfits that can actually be regarded as true originators of the ‘real emo’ movement of the late nineties.  Initially signed to the boundless Deep Elm family, they set the bar – alongside label mates Brandston, Starmarket, Planes Mistaken For Stars and other luminaries like Braid, Sunny Day Real Estate and Texas Is The Reason…(7) More

soulsavers_thelightSOULSAVERS – ‘The Light The Dead See’
What happens when you have a distinctive singer write and contribute outside of their usual band? Where does a band end and the artist begin?  This is the conundrum we’re faced with when listening to Soulsavers new offering The Light The Dead See.
  No strangers to using excellent vocalists, the remix and production duo have swapped the considerable vocal talents of Mark Lanegan, for…(9) More

wampireWAMPIRE – ‘Curiosity’
From the very first old-school horror movie-esque note, this album immediately gives you the feeling of destination: Party hard. Well with a band name like Wampires what more do you assume?  Sadly, it’s not the all out rocking affair you might’veanticipated, but fear not friends, all is not lost!  This 9-track collection is an amalgamation of zany electronic organ…(8) More

mikalcronin_mciiMIKAL CRONIN – ‘MCII’
His self titled debut was all about endings and the music reflected the mood in a way.  This follow up is a huge leap forward for a man who’s embraced change and seen his stylistic musings shift from muddled and confused, to mature and positive about the future.  Taking a lead from Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust years, Cronin has taken to more instrumentation…(8) More

marklanegan_dukegarwoodMARK LANEGAN & DUKE GARWOOD – ‘Black Pudding’
Upholding his reputation as an esteemed collaborator, Mark Lanegan has recently combined forces with London-based multi-instrumental bluesman Duke Garwood.  Their first studio release, Black Pudding, is set to hit shelves 14th May and on it the new duo cuts their teeth on nappy boot leather and rusty nails, never selling us short of the soulful grittiness…(9) More

generationalsGENERATIONALS – ‘Heza’
Here we have Heza, the new album from the New Orleans based guitar and vocal duo that are
Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer, aka Generationals.  They’ve got the moniker of Indie on wiki and I hear there’s a limited edition red vinyl from their new collaboration with the Polyvinyl label; which is nice.  Having played it through a few times, it’s got a free-wheelin soul…(7) More

popevilPOP EVIL – ‘Onyx’
Trotting out the cliches from the bible of American Rock and coating them in Monterey Jack can do two things – sound horribly contrived and antiquated, OR, crush all preconceptions with life affirming, fist in the air bravado and justified chest beating.  It’s a tough nut to crack and although Michigan maestros Pop Evil do it better than most, too often…(6) More

stagecoachSTAGECOACH – ‘Say Hi To The Band’
After ten years of contemplation and practice, you’d expect that the overly perfectionistic beings within this band would have presented an album that is absolutely mind-boggling.  Something that is at the height of it’s genre, or even ever-so ambitiously genre-defying. Needless to say, south-England 5-piece Stagecoach fall ever so slightly short of that all-important mark….(6) More

suicidaltendencies13SUICIDAL TENDENCIES – ’13′
Like a ghost from the past Suicidal Tendencies return with their latest full length for 13 long-years (see what they did there).  And if you thought that LA’s original Cyco Squad had mellowed in the 30 years since their self-titled debut, then you’re sorely mistaken.  From the opening bars of ‘Shake It Out’ it’s clear nothing has changed…
(8) More

bloodlightsBLOODLIGHTS – ‘Stand Or Die’
Formed in 2006, Norway’s punk-metal gods Bloodlights have now spawned Stand or Die, a record which doesn’t drift too far from the acclaimed bands of yester years.  The rebel punk sound of opener ‘Roll With Me’ is a sonic boom that features a thrashing 60’s drum adaptation of The Ventures surfer groove…(8) More

everythingburnsEVERYTHING BURNS – ‘Take Your Aim’
After numerous setbacks including line-up changes, a new label a vivid reminder to look both ways before you cross the road, Everything Burns return with the follow up to debut effort “Home”.  This sophomore release is an all-to-brief eight-track affair, with two being intros, almost reducing this opus to more like an old-skool EP!…(4) More

american fangsAMERICAN FANGS – ‘American Fangs’
Have you had enough of the same old pop-punk vibe that felt like it began with Blink 182, evolving into the mass-produced mess that is Paramore?  Fear not fellow punkers, because I guarantee that this debut will have you head-banging and dancing until you’re neck muscles cramp and your legs fall off.  With fast-paced fret-board work…
(9) More

watertankWATERTANK – ‘Sleepwalk’
There really does appear to be something happening in the French music scene.  Obviously grasping the fact that adopting musical culture beyond their own borders is the way to go, we’re witnessing some great bands and inspirational releases hitting home harder than most.  Add to the list Watertank – hailing from Nantes…(8) More

pursonPURSON – ‘The Circle And The Blue Door’
Just out on Rise Above/Metal Blade Records is the debut album of Purson – Britain’s newest face of ethereal prog rock.  If your music collection is lacking in dark whimsy and nostalgia for late 60’s psych, wait no further to pick up a copy of The Circle and the Blue Door.   Vocalist, 22-year-old Rosie Cunningham, channels, as if through ritual séance…(7) More

ArcaneRootsARCANE ROOTS – ‘Blood & Chemistry’
Their first EP had moments of brilliance and the hype surrounding this debut LP has understandably engineered a place for this Surrey trio on everybody’s lips.  There’s a force at work here, something that suggests these boys have a hugely enticing future.  Everything’s present…(8) More

restorationsRESTORATIONS – ‘LP2′
Philadelphia post-punk’s Restorations return with their second release LP2.  Not the most imaginatively titled album ever, but this is on another level to recent rock releases; there’s not a single track on LP2 that sounds like the rest.  The first thing to noice aside from the rawness of the guitars and one mother of a vocal performance, is the production; as clean and crisp as anything I’ve heard…(8) More

melvinsMELVINS – ‘Everybody Loves Sausages’
Known for influencing the more popular grunge bands such as Nirvana and Soundgarden, the Melvins are regarded as one of the most potent forces to have paved the way for modern alternative music.  In Everybody Loves Sausages, they offer a 13 track covers-record that pays homage to the artists who sparked their unique sound…(5) More

hacrideHACRIDE – ‘Back To Where You’ve Never Been’
Having not released an album in four years the cobwebs were beginning to gather over Hacride.  But you can finally blow them off ‘cos they’re back, with two new members and their career best, adding credibility to the claim that with acts such as Gojira, Gorod and Alcest, France is really where it’s at when it comes to technical heavy music.  The first thing to note…(9) More

the oceanTHE OCEAN – ‘Pelagial’
As hardworking outfits go, The Ocean have to be up there with the serious globe trotters amongst us.  Two years of ceaseless road hogging, often to the far reaches of the planet, has garnered a ridiculously fanatical following that will surely lift this latest gargantuan offering out of the depths and into the stratosphere.  Musically they’ve grown over the last decade…(9) More

steaknumbereightSTEAK NUMBER EIGHT – ‘The Hutch’
Despite having a collective age of less than eighty, Belgium’s strangely titled Steak Number Eight are back with their third release The Hutch, demonstrating further evolution in their brand of Post-Rock/ Stoner/ Sludge Metal. Slowly building recognition across Europe (in the UK, Metal Hammer gave away…(8) More

anacondasANACONDAS – ‘Sub Contra Blues’
If you’re one of those people who cower in the corner, whimpering at the discordant cruelty of an ISIS or Pelican soundwave, Anacondas will have you tearing your hair out.  The full-frontal aggression of former Brighton crew Johnny Truant, from which they’ve spawned has returned in some form, along with earth-shakingly unclean drum and vocal sounds that could curdle milk…(7) More

heightsHEIGHTS – ‘Old Lies For Young Lives’
All the way from across the pond, U.K.’s post-hardcore heavyweights Heights have effortlessly settled into the distinct genre of contemporary American hardcore.  With this latest heavy hitter, the band conveys a style of “slower-paced” hardcore which doesn’t rely on tasteless breakdowns, striving not too far from the essence of Modern Life is War and earlier American Nightmare…(7) More

coliseumCOLISEUM – ‘Sister Faith’
With this their fourth LP and second for Temporary Residence, Louisville trio Coliseum know how to combine bitingly incisive hooligan punk with cool streetwise suss.  Power and passion is the name of the game here, make no mistake and while they’ve retained the raw characteristics of their earlier work, Sister Faith emerges from the darkness of Punk and dips a toe in the pool of Alternative Rock…(8)
More

scaramanger sixTHE SCARAMANGER SIX – ‘Phantom Head’
Let me start by saying this isn’t a bad album.  It isn’t.  So what’s my problem?  This may sound ridiculous but like the small pieces of mouse shit on your ribeye steak, there are a one or two little avoidable niggles that it if not present, would have allowed you to focus on what makes an album really tasty.  But let us focus on the good for now…(6) More

YYYs

YEAH YEAH YEAH’S – ‘Mosquito’
Album number four from New York-ians the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s carries few surprises.  Aside from the comic exagerations of the flourescent artwork, Karen O and co serve up another platter of artsy post-punk that pays careful attention to their agit-pop ancestors of the early 80′s.  With three critically acclaimed LPs already bagged, are we to expect a fourth?…(8) More

coldwarkidsCOLD WAR KIDS – ‘Dear Miss Lonelyhearts’
This is really interesting – let’s talk a bit about presentation.  If i hammered out an intense drum roll followed by a wirey guitar phrase pinned down by a driving bass line and then yelped out a lyric, I imagine your head would crane around.  Wait . . . what?  Is there a band happening over here?  Now what if I didn’t really have a ton to say…(6) More

helldoradoHELLDORADO – ‘Bones In The Closet’
Love this lot!  Trumpets, surf guitar, maracas, saloon piano, all imbibed with the raw Rock of the dust bowl; what we have here is confident, full of barrel-chested swagger and a stubborn belief in what they’re doing.  What sets this release apart is its sense of authenticity and off-beat charm.  There are vital indications this crew genuinely believe in heritage…(8) More

peacePEACE – ‘In Love’
Sometimes you have to look back to move forward.  The lads in Peace have been doing that in spades if the Birmingham four-piece’s debut album is anything to go by, but man does it work.  Britpop era comes to mind throughout, which could send you running a mile, but stick with it.  Widely touted by NME as one to watch…(9) More

viennadittoVIENNA DITTO – ‘Liar, Liar EP’
Darkly alternative electronica-blues is not something we regularly come across these days.  In fact this 4 tracker defies description in a lot of ways and probably doesn’t naturally fall into any sub-sub-genre.  Self described as Voodoo Sci-Fi Blues, their take on the worlds increasing appetite for the avant-garde is expressed through expansive soundscapes…(7) More

borednothingBORED NOTHING – ‘Bored Nothing’
Disclaimer – this is actually a positive review.  Down to the nutz and botz.  Punch factor is a measure I apply to any and all individuals who march into the public forum.  Wanna be a rock star?  Welcome to scrutiny.  Wanna be the funny dude who isn’t hilarious but gets the girl at the end of the film?  Here’s your seat on the alter…(7) More

stonesourSTONE SOUR – ‘House Of Gold & Bones Pt 2′
Part 1 of this double set was occasionally brilliant but bordered too close to tedious AOR, too often.  It’s a strong record but serves as a placeholder for something more dense and engaging to follow.  As the packaging describes, Part 2 is ‘The Epic Conclusion’; so it seems Corey’s kept the best till last…(8) More

TblackangelsHE BLACK ANGELS – ‘Indigo Meadow’
Sometimes you come across something that for no apparent reason is just “cool” – The Black Angels are a prime example and in their fourth full-length release the Austin, Texas natives unleash a more refined and measured version of their brand of psychedelic rock with the production quality…(7) More

mudhoneyMUDHONEY – ‘Vanishing Point’
What can you say about Mudhoney that hasn’t already been said.  Perennial survivors of the original grunge movement that spawned the entire nineties and noughties cross-section of pre and post Nirvana.  These dudes started it all – making baggy knitwear look cool, torn jeans and DMs, battered guitars that rarely come out of a gig intact, mass stage invasions…(8) More

scholarsSCHOLARS – ‘Always Lead, Never Follow’
Oh wait, another Brit band trying to score at the big time?  Another disc to add to the pile marked ‘routinely dull’?  Not here.  Happily these Hemel hobos take a contemporary mix and throw in razor sharp tunes with the sort of hooks you’d normally only see in a butchers basement…(7) More

balthazarBALTHAZAR – ‘Rats’
There’s a lot to be said for simplicity.  The beauty of any plan can be in its simplicity; as Walter Sopchak once said.  Simplicity can win hearts and minds, convince and steer; soothe.  Taken literally, in its musical form, it can be just as effective as the most complex of song structures…(6) More

uncleacidUNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS – ‘Mind Control’
Cambridge is not a location you’d naturally think of as synonymous with psychedelic Doom-laden Rock.  Shouldn’t we all be in punting gear, sipping ice teas and cider?  Not this crew.  This quartet prefer to keep things desert Rock style with ruggedly transcendental, tar-thick grooves…(7) More

spocks beardSPOCK’S BEARD – ‘Brief Nocturnes & Dreamless Sleep’
Brothers Neal and Alan Morse formed Spock’s Beard in LA over twenty years ago; a self proclaimed ‘song writing-based progressive Rock band’, their sound whilst complex in structure, has an accessibility and (dare we say it) pop sensibility that has the power to convert…(7) More

tropicalbluesbandTHE EXPERIMENTAL TROPICAL BLUES BAND – ‘Liquid Love’
Belgium is known for Chocolate and Poirot, now you can add an eclectic album inspired by fantasies, sex, love and apparently, burgers. The Experimental Tropic Blues Band recently re-released 2011 opus Liquid Love (named after the famous singles bar in NYC) featuring band members who go by the names Dirty Coq, Boogie Snake and Devil D’Inferno…(5) More

AXIS OF – ‘Finding St Kilda’axisof
This Northern Ireland trio are already stirring up a bit of a ruckus, having shared stages with The Bronx, The Joy Formidable and Therapy?  This debut acquaints us with some killer post-hardcore groups that strive to lay down raw affectations and crushingly heavy stoner style guitar with agitated caterwauling.  Akin to…(8) More

StrfkrSTRFKR – ‘Miracle Mile’
You’ve got to wonder sometimes what a band hears in its music to think people will want to fork out their hard earned and heavily taxed cash for.  In these rainy days of down turn and compressing industry, the masses need encouragement, affirmation and assurance that faith in investment will be returned with sack fulls of fulfilment and a sense of musical profit…(4) More

clutchCLUTCH – ‘Earth Rocker’
Maryland veterans Clutch have a reputation to justify and with 9 albums already notched since their inception back in 1990, album number 10 will do that reputation no harm at all.  Keeping up the grand traditions they’ve worked so hard to build – heating up brutally simplistic desert rock with a white hot intensity and a warped melodic centre…(9) More

atomsforpeaceATOMS FOR PEACE – ‘Amok’
Thom Yorke’s post-Radiohead sounds have both confused and captivated since we first wrapped our ears around The Eraser before the groups sumptuous In Rainbows.  His instantly recognisable vocal the only constant, where his Oxford outfit are still one of the biggest Rock acts around, his side projects are built on more modest foundations…(8) More

harpersimonHARPER SIMON – ‘Division Street’
Being honest, the name Harper Simon is one you may not be all that familiar with.  He’s never registered on our radar before, but he does have a rather successful old man who hasn’t done too badly for himself in the music biz.  So putting aside any preconceptions, let’s lend an ear to Division Street.   It’s a very stereotypical American sound…(7) More

swinginguttersSWINGIN’ UTTERS – ‘Poorly Formed’
Remember the last time you heard the word casserole in an album? Nope, neither do we! But that’s the last reference to a slow cooked oven dish you’ll see here.  This off-the-hook slamming album from the Swinging Utters is no slow burner.  Formed in the late 80’s this 5 piece Cali band are a polished act…(8) More

comethespringCOME THE SPRING – ‘Seven For A Secret’
The UK music scene has always been something to be proud of.  Historically we’d be hit left right and centre by bands from the capital and second and third cities as often as the rain.  And so it goes, although a shift appears to be in progress from the densely populated to the rocky coasts and Yorkshire market towns…(8) More

implodesIMPLODES – ‘Recurring Dream’
‘Wendy’, the first track from Implodes new album Recurring Dream, functions more as a statement of intent than a musical intro. The statement seems to be: FEEL this music. Not in an emotional sense but in a physical one. It possesses a kind of gravity, as does the album . . . gravity in each sense of the word...(9) More

sensesfailSENSES FAIL – ‘Renacer’
Senses Fail always gave the impression that they had a truly great album within, waiting to get out.  Internal wranglings and the departure of longtime guitarist and primary songwriter Garret Zablocki (to be replaced by Strike Anywhere’s Matt Smith) seem to have provided the kick up the arse they needed to unleash such an album…(8) More

brmcBLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB – ‘Spectre At The Feast’
What is the point of locking into a groove? I imagine there are limitless theories but here is my bite-sized observation: it is to seize and exploit a fantastic accident. A group of musicians start hammering out a tune and then suddenly all the planets align and they are ON TO SOMETHING…(4) More

ratattackRAT ATTACK - ‘Rat Attack’
We hear the term party rock and run a mile; it usually means yet another horrifying group of skinny college geeks winning hoards of equally immature young female followers with over exuberant banalities.  Normally, we’ve barely heard the opening two bars and we’re stabbing at the stop button…(7) More

lost souls clubTHE LOST SOULS CLUB – ‘High Noon’
If hope of new material from The Jesus & Mary Chain is all but lost and BRMC continue to drop slabs of frustrating failures, then the new EP from UK upstarts The Lost Souls Club might just be the perfect tonic to our tribulations.  Taking a tried and tested formula to the limits of expectation is no mean feat…(7) More

intronautINTRONAUT – ‘Habitual Levitations’
Intronaut threw me, I won’t lie. I read a few bios before heading into their corner and it made me a little carsick. When people start throwing around descriptives like “genre-fusing”, “genre-defying”, “genre-confounding” I’m ready for bed. Mix into that the inclusion of “jazz improv”, “polyrhythmic”, “prog meets math” (this last one makes me feel like I took shrooms…(8) More

howtodestroyangelsHOW TO DESTROY ANGELS – ‘Welcome Oblivion’
Trent Reznor is never one to play it safe.  He could’ve gone for the big seething industrial record riddled with Metal guitars, to satisfy the great unwashed who bought into NIN via the Head Like A Hole or Wish singles; the vicious and hugely successful Downward Spiral.  Instead and in keeping with a carefully cultivated…(8) More

itchITCH – ‘Manifesto Pt 2′
Former King Blues frontman Jonny ‘Itch’ Fox clearly has a lot on his mind.  Manifesto Pt 2 follows the slightly banal Manifesto Pt 1 in showcasing imaginative remonstrations with the institution.  After The King Blues demobilized the self proclaimed voice of the people and confrontational realist…(6) More

amplifier echo streetAMPLIFIER – ‘Echo Street’
With four EPs and three blinding LPs in their space-locker, Manchester’s Amplifier are now comfortably tucked into the Prog-Rock stable and with the follow-up to the critically acclaimed double The Octopus about to drop, they’re looking to explore new worlds and expand new horizons with a rapidly expanding fan base.  Now a firm four-piece…(6) More

golden voidGOLDEN VOID – ‘Golden Void’
This Bay Area quartet are actually something of a phenomenen.  Connected as teenagers and coalesced as young adults, they create magic music.  Brought back from the mountains, mist in the hair and awash with inherited memories of the 60’s and 70’s, listening to this self-titled debut you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a lost collection of fuzzed-up Sabbath cuts…(9) More

mount moriahMOUNT MORIAH – ‘Miracle Temple’
So firstly Moriah is not where the dwarves live in Lord of the Rings, that’s Moria. Mount Moriah is a biblical mountain range. This southern east coast US band have vocals and guitar in the shape of Heather McEnitre, backed up by Jenks Miller on lead, bass from Casey Toll and the rest from James Wallace…(6) More

connyochsCONNY OCHS – ‘Black Happy’
I suppose the final task of any singer/songwriter, when compiling a collection, is to determine when the songs are ready to be shared.  Are they worth recording? Can they be improved?  Is this the artist’s finest, clearest statement? There are certainly classic cases of icons sitting on their work for too long…(4) More

blodig alvorBLODIG ALVOR – ‘Mørkets Frembrudd’
Maybe it’s the dark nights and cold winters but the Scandinavians seem to love their Metal and hailing from Norway, Blodig Alvor (translation: Bloody Serious) are the latest offering from a scene that has given us acts such as Kvelertak, Man The Machetes and Blood Command.  Their debut Mørkets Frembrudd (translation: Dark)…(6) More

deathfixDEATHFIX – ‘Deathfix’
As labels go D.C based independent Dischord has always been synonymous with early hardcore, original punk and a do-it-yourself approach to production and distribution.  Seminal groups like Minor Threat, Rights Of Spring, Jawbox and of course Fugazi have pioneered not only the scene from where they were born, but the label from whence they came…(8) More

stevenwilsonSTEVEN WILSON – ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing’
As a Canadian male coming of age in the late 70s/early 80s, a sincere reverence for Rush was standard issue.  A fatal mistake like mentioning a fondness for Toni Basil’s ‘Mickey’ might be cause for having your ass handed to you.  I learned quickly that when confronted by the bong-stinking friends of older brothers…(8) More

cosmoalbumcoverCOSMO JARVIS – ‘Think Bigger’
Album number four for this English singer/songwriter marks a bold step forward from his 06 debut and where 11′s Is The World Strange… missed the mark, Think Bigger showcases his song writing ability to much greater effect.  Proceedings kick off with ‘Love This’ a jaunty number with a cool as f*** hook…(8) More

meME – ‘Even The Odd Ones Out’
The Australian Rock scene is rapidly becoming one of credibility and enterprise; no longer fasting on the life long residual legacy of AC/DC, there’s a new emergence of hope that they can compete with their colonial cousins.  And while the future is becoming a little brighter, not one act to present themselves so far has borne the bold theatrics of four-piece ME…(5) More

delphicDELPHIC – ‘Collections’
You have to give Manc trio Delphic credit, they are nothing if not ambitious. They arrived onto the scene in 2010 with Acolyte, not a massive commercial success but critically praised, bringing comparisons with New Order (errr…not quite).  They return with Collections – not a greatest hits despite the title…(6) More

dropout danDROPOUT DAN – ‘Forever, Instead’
Cambridgeshire born Daniel O’Dell knows how to convey everyday sights and sounds into parables of love, life and emotive story telling.  As British guitar-toting troubadors go, he’s got the lot – great songwriting, musicianship, style and enough emotional scarring to bely his years.  This 5 track EP sees O’Dell perched firmly on a single stool…(8) More

deadsonsDEAD SONS – ‘The Hollers & The Hymns’
Have the Arctic Monkeys changed their name?  Has Alex Turner switched allegiences to a rival gang?  No?  Well then this lot must be their sparring partners because as debut albums go, The Hollers & The Hymns from Sheffield five-piece Dead Sons is almost a carbon copy of Your Favourite Worst Nightmare…(5) More

humanflyHUMANFLY – ‘Awesome Science’
Although a relatively unknown name, Humanfly have been the purveyors of monstrous riffage for nearly 12 years now.  Shifting adroitly through the years, from fast hardcore to DIY Punk and on this their fourth album proper, prog-rock that carries similar dynamics to The Mars Volta and King Crimson.  It’s large and lumbering, loose and loud…(8) More

foalsFOALS – ‘Holy Fire’
Being from Oxford, the Math-Rock tag kinda works for these boys and has rightly stuck-fast since compulsive debut Antidotes.  Whilst we will always associate the jittery guitar pics, jibes and musical twists and turns with this quintet,  10′s Total Life Forever hinted at a move towards more conventional and traditional song structures.  This third release continues very much where TLF left off…(10)
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lights&motionLIGHTS & MOTION – ‘Reanimation’
“Melodies and harmonies, movies and images, loneliness and melancholy are my influences”, says self-taught multi-instrumentalist Christoffer Franzen.  It’s easy to see why this wonderfully ambient and cinematic post-rock epic is causing a stir, such are the rich tapestries of sound woven throughout its core.  Hailed in some corners as one of the most important…(9) More

heavensbasementHEAVENS BASEMENT – ‘Filthy Empire’
What does Nickleback do with too little irony and The Darkness with too much irony?  Goddamn heart-stopping rock, that’s what!  Filthy Empire is Heavens Basement’s first studio album following two EP’s in 08 and 11 and from the moment it starts, you know they’re here to rock the shit out of your ears…(9) More

biffyclyroBIFFY CLYRO – ‘Opposites’
A double album is always a risky strategy for any band these days; particularly when full album play through is a lost art, with singles, playlists and shuffle the order of most music consumption.  So to retain interest from start to finish the release needs to be tightly packed with killer cuts that compel the listener not to skip or stop; coercing a frequent return to absorb it as intended by its creators…(7) More

cultoflunaCULT OF LUNA – ‘Vertikal’
When a band known for intricate and challenging records takes five years to release an album, you can be sure it will be something of an event and that’s exactly what Vertikal is, from Cult of Luna.  An awkward, moody and dark opus, inspired by the science fiction film Metropolis it challenges the listener right from the outset…(9) More

joy formidableTHE JOY FORMIDABLE – ‘Wolf’s Law’
Sometimes it feels like a band has been around for years, when adulation for their debut continues long after its release.  And when this Welsh trio unleashed The Big Roar in 2011, few were surprised by its success but the longevity they’ve enjoyed since must have surprised many; particularly given the competition for places in this space…(8) More

tomahawkTOMAHAWK – ‘Oddfellows’
Six years since the native american compositions heard on 07′s Anonymous, Mike Patton’s alternative metal supergroup are back with a return to the balls out eccentricity of their debut and its follow up Mit Gas.  Although perhaps not as elaborate, Oddfellows as an entire body of work transpires to be just as angry…(8) More

FFAFFUNERAL FOR A FRIEND – ‘Conduit’
Bridgend Post-Hardcore outfit FFAF have been fairly prolific since their inception 12 years ago.  Debut Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation is hailed as a landmark and while releases two, three and four dabbled in more melodic and eclectic overtones, album number six is a return to the Hardcore-Punk that saw them achieve gold certification so early in their career…(6) More

woundsWOUNDS – ‘Die Young’
To cut your teeth in this business takes guts, nuts and a whole load of what some might call karma.  Having supported Gallows and Cancer Bats and been on tour with Bring Me The Horizon and While She Sleeps, Wounds are certainly working hard at their craft…(7)
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voivodVOIVOD – ‘Target Earth’
Target Earth is not only the thirteenth studio album by French-Canadian Metal outfit Voivod but a watershed in their career – their first release since the death of founding member Denis “Piggy” D’Amour and the return of original Bass Player Jean “Blacky” Theriault (replacing Ex-Metallica player Jason Newstead)…(8) More

badreligionBAD RELIGION – ‘True North’
There’s not a lot that can be said about a Bad Religion record that hasn’t already been said; 16 times.  Pacy punk rock that darts out of the blocks and doesn’t duck…(7) More

bodufsongsBODUF SONGS – ‘Burnt Up On Re-Entry’
This is the first release for Mat Sweet on Southern and where his previous four for Kranky demonstrated a minimalist acoustic purity, BUOR is darker and more dream like, with each lament built upon raw electronics akin to Bright Eye’s Digital Ash In A Digital Urn, or some of Trent Reznors more sedate moments…(8) More

arbouretumARBOURETUM – ‘Coming Out Of The Fog’
Coming Out of the Fog is the fifth studio album offered to you, dear listener by Baltimore’s very own Arbouretum.  As a whole body of work it swaggers along with a slow sauntering confidence; unrushed, slow and thick as blackstrap molasses…(8) More

someskeletonsSOME SKELETONS – ‘And Signs & Ampersands’
This is the new EP from Nottingham band Some Skeletons and if this selection of five songs is anything to go by, I am hoping we will be hearing a lot more from these chaps in the future…(9) More

crownsCROWNS – ‘Stitches In The Flag’
There’s no denying my lack of expertise in Cornish folk (or ‘Fishpunk’ as their hashtag goes…me neither) but if the debut release of Crowns is anything to go by, its definitely something that has been missing from our lives..(7) More


omertaADRENALINE MOB – ‘Omerta’
Ok so this was released last year and we’re ashamed to say we missed it.  But as iTunes recognised by slapping a Best New Metal Act tag square on their foreheads, ‘supergroup’ Adrenaline Mob’s first fruits will certainly make you take them seriously and it’ll take a bold man to deny their frenzied desperation…(8) More